Monday, April 23, 2018

8th grade- itis.

8th grade-itis is setting in.  It is an affliction that infects 8th graders as they get closer to ending their Middle School career.

What does it look like?


Lack of motivation.

Signs of deafness toward teachers.

An itchy middle finger.

Compulsion to break rules.

A grandiose sense that they are invincible.

Poor choices.

The list goes on....

If you have seen this before, or its relative- Senioritis, you know what I am talking about.

As we move into this time of epidemic, please remember- they are only kids testing life as they grow through a rite of passage and stage of human development.

Be Mindful.


Mark Levine


Sunday, April 22, 2018


Empathy is an essential part of being human.  From what I understand, we are the only animals that can practice empathy.  Even though all humans are apparently capable of empathy, I am finding it more and more common that people choose NOT to practice this human art.

Empathy- putting yourself in one's shoes.  Understanding what it feels like to be another person as they go through whatever it is that they are going through.  It is a human condition!

In our world of fast food, remote controls, drive throughs, we are certainly aiming towards losing this human condition.  We are becoming the ME culture.  We are becoming so selfish that we are losing the capacity to feel for others, to understand and show empathy for their suffering.

"As long as it doesn't effect me, I am good"

I see this on social media and hear it on the news...

Maybe it is because I am a teacher.

Maybe it is because I was a Therapist in another time.

Maybe it is because the way I was raised...or born.

I DON'T choose to be empathic, I just AM.

We need connections and relationships.  We need others.  We are not designed to be isolated in our own minds and concerns.

To Be Continued...

Be Mindful.


Mark Levine


Saturday, April 21, 2018

World Teachers

I engage in many types of Twitter Chats about various teaching subjects.  I see this as part of my reflective professional development that boosts my teaching and thinking.  I participate in 3-9 chats per week.

Last night, I was lucky enough to catch a chat put on by teachers from the Philippines.  The chat was at 9:30 am their time and 8:30 pm our time.

What I noticed throughout the chat was that generally speaking, anywhere in the world...we all struggle with similar issues.  We wonder if we are using the best approaches to meet the needs of the students.  We all want to make sure that our students are going to be ready for college and the world that they will enter after.

I felt empowered to share what works for me, for Illinois, and for the States with these wonderful educators from the Philippines.

I left the chat feeling like I have tapped into such a wonderful world of educator thinking and reflection.  I felt proud to be included in such a bond with educators around the world.

I am a teacher, a teacher of students and the world.

Be Mindful.


Mark Levine


Friday, April 20, 2018

A touch of Spring

Okay...the weather was nice today.  It reminded my kids that it is Spring and the end of the school year is in sight.  My students showed me exactly what I am in for during the last 26 days of school.

Limited Attention.

"I am done" attitude.

Slow work.

Lack of digging deep into their skills.

But also...



Less feelings of stress.

That feeling like you want to dance.

I know today was the first day of nice weather and it woke my kids up.  I know this.  I know the novelty will wear a bit in the coming days.

I will not give up on my lessons.

I will not give up on my students.

I will continue to teach the skills and content and have my students read, write, and think until I get every last possible drop of learning out of them...not because I am mean, but because I care.

Be Mindful.


Mark Levine


Thursday, April 19, 2018


I have been watching the interactions between students and other teachers lately.


I wanted to see if student compassion-seeking was visible.

Answer... Very much so.

If we take a step back and look at the way that our students greet us, ask us questions, say hi to us in the hallways- what you will see are:

Students looking for approval.

Students wanting to be cared for and heard.

Students that want to be loved and nurtured.

Students that are looking for someone to see them as important.

Students that want to matter to someone they respect.

Sometimes this kind of thing is easier to watch from the outside first.  Then, take a reflective look at what happens when students approach you.

For me, this little exercise has given me more insight into what student looking for something from me looks and feels like so I can truly be there and present for my students.

Be Mindful.


Mark Levine


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Missing the Growth

I have had a rough year this year when it comes to attendance at school.  I have had various illnesses, and major injury, and other life circumstances.  I have taken my usual extent of days of for various Professional Development at Illinois Reading Council Conference, Secondary Reading League Conference, NCTE, and many other smaller scaled meetings.

In truth, I am not even willing to count up the days that I have missed.  I am embarrassed and feel terribly about it.

What bothers me the most is the fact that I let my students down and missed watching them grow.

Did they meet academic goals?

Yes!  Most of my data for my students this year is amongst the top in the district.

But learning is so much more than the academic growth. 

I have come to see my classroom as a place of growth in life understanding.  I often have students come back to me and explain how the ways in which we learn and the openness to have students be heard was life changing for them.

I allow students to speak their minds, have opinions, and challenge their own (older) thinking.

This cannot happen when I am not there.  There is so much more to my class than the academics.

Can I make it up to them?  No.

Can I forgive myself?  Working on it.

Be Mindful.


Mark Levine


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Notebook Memories

Many of my students asked if it was time to toss their notebooks today.  They showed me several spiral notebooks with warn out tops and springs with the words, Social Studies- Levine on them.

My initial reaction was, "Sure, why not?"

Then, after a few seconds of thought I said, "Wait, maybe you might want to hold on to them."

These notebooks are filled with social studies notes.  They are also filled with memories, their memories of who they were and what they thought this year.

I explain the following to them:

You know, you might want to hold on to those.  When I was younger, I kept all of my notebooks and folders and when I was a bit older and getting ready to move...I found them.  Looking at them reminded me of who I was back then.  I studied my handwriting back then.  I looked at my methods of taking notes.  I enjoyed looking at the side notes that I wrote to myself or someone sitting next to me.  I listened to my voice of my writing and wondered what I was thinking when I wrote this...what or who was important to me back then.

Also, many of my past students have contacted me in the past and told me that they used the notes from my class for their high school and even college classes.  

You never may want to save them...

Or, maybe your parents or guardians might save them for you.

All but one of them kept their notebooks today.

It made me smile and remember...

Be Mindful.


Mark Levine