Friday, May 25, 2018

Fear of something

I am one day away from summer break.  Today, I begin hitting my writing assignment ( a teaching professional book) hard and with intention.  I have been living the topic for over 30 years, so I feel that I have a lot to say.  I have been applying my thinking to teaching and learning for about 20 years, so I feel I have expertise and experience.

The issue?

Sorting out the great stuff from the good stuff.

Giving the book and chapters flow.

Making sure that this piece can be read and marked up to be revisited.

Making sure the manuscript fits the requirements of my editor and publisher.

Making the book engaging and timely.

Believe it or not....

The writing is the easy part.  Starting did not take long and I knew where to begin.  It is the editing...cutting out the unnecessary stuff that frightens me. I know I have great people to look over what I am doing to make suggestions.  I know I have the perfect editor. 

What am I afraid of?

I am not sure.  I was hoping to come to that conclusion while I was writing this...but... just fear, not answers.

I have always done best when I have jumped in with both feet, I go!  See you on the other side.

Be Mindful.


Mark Levine


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Old Endings

Is the opposite of New Beginnings called Old Endings?

It kinda feels that way today.

Today was "take down the room day!"

As we have a cleaning service come in and clean our classrooms over the summer...and they clean the walls and refinish the floors...

It all has to come down!!

Books off of the shelves and on to the stationary shelf.

Decor off of the walls.

Everything must be labelled "Levine, Room D107."

I have some 80+ Dream Catchers on my walls (story for another time) and each of them has to gently be taken down and packed.


I had 5 wonderful National Junior Honor Society students that had their work done and were able to spend 3 hours with me!

I did....nothing.  Well, I explained and delegated. It was very nice to say the least.  I know I will have some sorting and fixing to do when I return in early August...but that is part of the fun of re-setting up the classroom for the new year!

With a couple of school days left...

Here is to Old endings!

Be Mindful.


Mark Levine


Wednesday, May 23, 2018


Tomorrow night is a milestone in 200+ students' lives.  They will celebrate their promotion to High School with a kind-of graduation ceremony.  It will mark the end of their elementary lives and open the doors to the most impactful years of their lives.

I could not be more proud of the hard work that my students have put in for the past several years.  even though they are not believing me, they are ready for this next step!

I am lucky enough to participate in the ceremony.  I get to see the pride, the joy, the nerves, the smiles, and the tears first hand.

Like a proud father, I hand these students over to our High School. I am hopeful that some will come and visit me, keep in touch, or simply remember me.

At the end of the night, I will come home exhausted, emotional, and proud.

Be amazing Class of 2018!

Be wonderful at life!

Be Mindful.


Mark Levine


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Ingredients for a great teacher

My 7th grade students (and the rest of the building) get to experience their next year's schedule and meet their next year's teachers tomorrow.  I wanted them to go into the day with expectations, not judgement.  After talking to them about giving each teacher a chance to show how great they are, I asked them a relatively simple question that got some amazing answers...

"What makes a teacher a GREAT teacher?"

The responses were as follows:

A teacher that uses humor.

An engaging teacher.

A teacher that is firm, but fair.

A teacher that really cares for their students and doesn't fake it.

A teacher that wants us to succeed, but doesn't over-push us to failure.

A teacher that understands that sometimes we have bad days.

A teacher who really knows their stuff without looking at a book.

A teacher that can tell that we are bored and does something about it.

As these answers were given, and I was recording them, I could not help but reflect on where I fit on this list.  I think I did pretty well, but I plan on keeping this list as a reminder of that kids are looking for in a Great teacher.

Be Mindful.


Mark Levine


Monday, May 21, 2018

Home school options

I found out today that I have several students that have been told by their families that they will be home-schooled next year.  I found this interesting and looked into some of the reasons why.

I heard the following explanations...

My parents are worried about safety.

My parents need me home to watch the babies.

I got into too much trouble at school this year.

My parents don't like all of the testing.

We might move mid-year so my parents think this will be easier.

I have no friends, so what's the difference?

Needless to say, there are quite the array of reasons.  I am not sure how I feel about them all.  I am most concerned, for obvious reasons, for the last student.  I want to know if there is more to this story.

Some of these students will or should be going into High School, some into 8th grade.

I completed my conversation with each one by asking if they were planning on going to college.  Every one was very sure that they will be going on to a four year college and create a professional life for themselves.

After these conversations, I felt somewhat cheated.  Cheated out of their education.  I hope for the best.  I wish they saw the value of staying in our school or school system.  I realize it is not mine to question beyond what I already have. I look forward to hearing about their progress...

Be Mindful.


Mark Levine


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sharing Pride

As I scroll through social media feeds today, they are filled with graduations from around the country.  I decided to look closer at the many images included with the social media posts. 

This is what I saw...

Smiling faces


Proud parents

Hopeful graduates

Embracing friends

Cheering classmates

School pride

Readiness to conquer the world

These images made compelled me to reflect and compare this time for these students to the Spring.  They are in the Spring-time of their lives.  They are waking up from years of hard work and dedication and getting ready to spread their wings and become who and what they were meant to be. Even though I don't personally know most of the people in these graduation images, I can feel their pride and sense of accomplishment.  As a teacher, I can know that I am part of that larger picture...

I can share that pride.

Be Mindful.


Mark Levine


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Tasting Summer

I had my first taste of summer today.  My wife and I sat out in the yard and talked about the end of the school year.  As I sat and looked around, I thought about how my yard is so many things to me.  It is my little sanctuary. It is my work space.  It is my entertainment space.  It is my outside cafe.  It is my summer kitchen.  It is my place to sit in peace and reflect on life-past and to come.  It is my moment of Zen to exist in the moment.

It is also, certainly, an ongoing work in progress.  There are countless hours of work left to make it what I want it to be.  It is nice now...but I like the process of making it nicer or special for the summer.  Each year is gets to be a little bit different.

My time in the yard gave me the peace and the centeredness that I was craving to go into the last full week with my students...being present and enjoying them the most that I can.  It is a gift, for sure.

Be Mindful.


Mark Levine