Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Students' Truth

About a week ago, I expressed the idea of having my students dig into the idea of Truth.

I asked them, "What is Truth?"

At first, most of my students jumped to expected answers like honesty, what is true, no false, etc.


They realized this question was so much deeper than they were thinking.

In one of my class, a sweet, smart girls said, "WAIT!"

"I think it makes sense to me.  We all have our own truth.  We have beliefs that we hold onto and when others try to tell us differently, we debate and argue.  Like religion.  We have a belief and we are led to believe that it is our truth.  But others, they have their own truth based on other religions.  Our truth is a collection of all of the things that we learn and end up believing to be truth.  It is so much deeper than what is simply true."

Other students were finding their definitions while she was explaining hers. 

They all ended up agreeing that they make their own truths.  That it is their job to prove or disprove their truths and others' truths to figure out their world, and what they believe in.

Needless to say, I was proud of my student that I had last year and now, have again for a year.

As they started thinking (on their own) about examples, the idea of truths and stereotypes came up along with the idea of racism.

This happens to be where we will be going on Friday.

I love challenging students to dig deep into what they don't think that they understand, but they find that they are more intelligent than they know.

That awareness is mindful.

Be Mindful.


Mark Levine


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Student Space

A while ago I wrote about my space in my classroom.  Today, as I am getting ready for the first day with kids, I spent a lot of time thinking about the best way to use my space for my students.

It is about Balance!

I do not want to much floor space, because it is a waste of great space.  I don't want to crowd the kids on top of each other...I want them to have room to breathe.

I want space for my students to meet regularly for things like mini-lesson, and group the tables.  But I also want my students to sit in some creative spaces as well when they are reading, thinking, or writing.

I added a little more for my students today, while tightening up my space.

I have a LOT of students.  I have 6-classes with an average of 28 students per class.  I have 4 classes at or over 30.  These are my honors classes.  I now I have seating for 44 students if I were to count all sitting spaces. 

I am content with this.

For me, the thing is really that I am thinking about this...reflecting...imagining the students being in their spaces and using them for the best learning possible.

I guess I won't really know how it all will work out until...

The kids get to class and it works...or it doesn't.

Be Mindful.


Mark Levine


Monday, August 13, 2018


I have admired the native flute for many years.  Since I was 15-years old to be exact.  Still to this day, it is my Go To when I need relaxation.  This means that I fall asleep to Native Flute music almost every night.

My favorite Native American Flute player has always been R. Carlos Nakai.  I was lucky enough to see him live some time ago at a small College.  Celebrities don't really do much for me...but R. Carlos... I was star struck.

I have been thinking a lot about my love for this music and what is has given me through the years.  What is has given me most...peace.  It quiets my mind.  It puts me in a place that is timeless and without any stress what so ever.

Today, I give you the gift of peace.  I ask that you listen to a song by R. Carlos Nakai, shut your eyes, and bring your mind outside to the most beautiful place imaginable.  If you start to think about present life, allow it to become a puff of smoke and drift away.  Just one or two songs, and you will thank me.

Click Here.  For wonderful sounds of Peace.

Be Mindful.


Mark Levine


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Educational Beliefs Podcast- Introduction

Please join me in my Podcast journey as I look at education through various lenses.

This introduction tells a little about me and my vision for this Podcast.

Thanks for checking this out.

Mark Levine

(Please click below)

Educational Beliefs Introduction

The Night Before School Starts

It is the night before school starts.

Teachers are wondering what this school year is going to bring for them...

What will the institute days be like?  Will the mandates be different?  Will they stand in the way of good teaching and learning?

What decisions have my administrators made?  Are they seeing the big picture?  Are they doing what is best for kids or what they are being told to do from up above?

Is my classroom truly ready?  Will there be enough room for what I want to happen?

Am I prepared enough?  Do I have enough plans to get me through getting to know the needs of my students?

Will I have students with varying special needs?  Will I be able to handle them all?

Will my students be kind to one another and not make fun of someone?  Will I be able to redirect these behaviors before they have an impact on my students?

Do I like the clothing that I have picked out?  Do my clothes set the impression that I want to set for my students?

Will I be too mean or too nice?  What will my students think of me when they meet me?

Should I eat something or drink something before the kids get here?  What if I have to use the bathroom?

Will I do well on my evaluation?  Will it be fair?  Will my students help me by making me look good or will they try to sabotage things for me?  When is my evaluation?

With all of these beginning of the year tests, when will I finally be able to teach my students?  Will I truly be able to get through all of this curriculum?

The list goes on....

And this is only day ONE.

Be Mindful.


Mark Levine


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Reaching the Lost

As the days get closer until the students show up to my classroom, I am haunted by one thought...

How can I engage those students that come to class guarded and not wanting to be at school.  Those students that are so far behind that they have given up trying and simply show up because they have to.  Those that will work harder at not learning than giving in and taking the risk to start regardless of where they are at academically.

Of course, all teachers struggle with this.

I have been feeling like I am at the cusp of figuring this out, as if the answer is on the tip of my tongue (or mind's tongue).

I know I will figure it out!  I am hopeful that this will be the year.  I know I am capable of finding this elusive answer to the academic riddle that plaques me.

What I know is I care enough to sit down and help these students realize that I understand.  I understand that they feel lost and trying now seems futile.  I understand that they are behind and have allowed so much time to pass that they are embarrassed and to get out of admitting to themselves that they are lost, they act out in other behaviorally acting out or attention seeking to take the attention off of the fact that they are lost...they are missing what others might have- the experience of learning that they let get away from them for whatever reason.  It may have been their choice, but all too often, it was a disconnect from a teacher in the 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade that allowed them to get behind.  And...each year, they got further and further behind.

Now they are in 7th or 8th grade, with High School just around the corner, and they are existing at a 2nd or 3rd grade level of learning.

It is not too late!  I need to help my students see this.  They do not have a learning disability as the label suggests... They have been disabled by time and disconnected learning opportunities.

This can be done!

Be Mindful.


Mark Levine


Friday, August 10, 2018


In just 5-short days, I will ask my students to define the word and idea- Truth.

I will ask them to define it in their own words.

I will ask them what it means to them as a person in this world.

I will ask them to reflect on its importance in life.

I will ask them to filter all of their learning this year in my middle school social studies classes through the word, Truth.

Everything that they learn, I want to them to ask themselves as they reflect on events and people in history...What and where is the truth?

My students often come to me with contrary ways of thinking and learning.  They are so accustomed to thinking how the teacher wants them to think, and ding what they teacher wants them to do, and following the opinion that the teacher wants them to have...that they are NOT capable of creating their own opinions and truths...

I want to help my students to unlearn this habit starting on day one buy creating their own truths through the opinions based on evidence that they find about what they are learning...

This in turn will help my students to truly know themselves as learners and as people.

This is something that I have been innately doing for 18 years.  This year I will be most Intentional about the approach, and have student grow an awareness or mindfulness to what is changing as they become thinkers and create their own truths.

Be Mindful.


Mark Levine