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Lecture explores why racial literacy should begin in schools

By Samuel Reed III on Apr 14, 2015 12:39 PM

Earlier this month, Penn held its annual lecture named after Constance Clayton, Philadelphia's first Black superintendent. The title of the lecture was "Do Black and Brown Lives Matter? Reframing Public Media Racial Narratives for Urban Schooling." Addressing that issue was Dr. James Peterson, director of Africana studies and an associate professor of English at Lehigh University.

Peterson, a leading hip-hop scholar who regularly appears as a media contributor on MSNBC and other media networks, spoke about why the Black Lives Matter movement means so much for organizing and transforming classrooms and communities. Educational institutions, he said, should be at the forefront of unpacking the issues of systemic inequities found in schools, police departments, and other areas of civic life.

Honoring the heroic work of student leaders

By Samuel Reed III on Aug 4, 2014 10:49 AM

Many young heroes attend schools like Beeber Middle School. Any of the student leaders who worked alongside parents, teachers, and the community to keep Beeber Middle School off the closing list last year could be called heroic. The same could be said for the many students who strive to succeed academically and socially in a challenging and under-resourced school.

On Wednesday, the National Liberty Museum will honor two rising 9th graders from Beeber Middle School for a Young Heroes Award. The annual award goes to ordinary young people in the Philadelphia area who have done extraordinary things in the areas of civic engagement, conflict resolution, promoting liberty, diversity, and school or community leadership.

Deciding which of my students to nominate was not easy. I chose to nominate Sarah Louiness and Xavier Muchison, because they embodied the composite of all the young heroes I teach and encounter every day. They challenged me to be a better teacher and a better person.

Poems that teachers love

By Samuel Reed III on Jun 2, 2014 05:05 PM

April is National Poetry Month, but after reading the contributions of 90 teachers and educational thought leaders in the anthology Teaching with Heart: Poetry that Speaks to the Courage to Teach, I think every month should be National Poetry Month.

This collection, edited by Sam M. Intrator and Megan Scribner, celebrates the “magic and messiness” of teaching. A sequel to Teaching with Fire, published over 10 years ago, Teaching with Heart provides stories, reflections, and poems that, at their core, marry the muse from treasured poets like Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, and Maya Angelou with the voices of novice and seasoned educators. The words that flow on the pages will inspire and sustain teachers and lovers of language and stories.

Q&A with author of 'I'm Your Teacher Not Your Mother'

By Samuel Reed III on Feb 26, 2014 05:24 PM

Why are so many students performing poorly in schools, and who is accountable for students’ success? The debate about these  questions looms large in educational reform arenas. I recently read I’m Your Teacher Not Your Mother, a self-published book by first-time author and veteran teacher Suzette Clarke, who taught middle school English and social studies in New York City public schools for 15 years. What follows is a frank discussion with Clarke, who urges parents to recognize their responsibilities.

Teachers, let the public know you're #HerePastJune

By Samuel Reed III on Jul 9, 2013 10:55 AM

School vacation, for many teachers, is not time off, but time on.

Contrary to popular perception, many educators don't spend the summers just relaxing at the beach or rejuvenating for the coming school year. Plenty of teachers take advantage of the summers by organizing, participating in professional learning communities, and lesson planning, among many other things.

On June 25, the first day of this “school vacation,” many Philadelphia public school teachers rallied in Harrisburg with more than 1,000 other teachers, counselors, nurses, safety workers, librarians, and others from across Pennsylvania to demand equitable funding for public schools.

Curriculum Fair and Education Summit taking place this Saturday

By Samuel Reed III on May 3, 2013 10:23 AM

Teacher Action Group Philadelphia and the Campaign for Nonviolent Schools will hold the 4th annual Education for Liberation Curriculum Fair and Citywide Summit on Saturday, May 4, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Folks Arts and Cultural Treasures charter school.

The theme for this year’s curriculum fair and summit is “Flipping the Script in Philadelphia.”

Join the conversation: Books that boys can't resist

By Samuel Reed III on Feb 17, 2013 03:40 PM

Girls will read books about boys. Boys will not read books about girls. Yes, that is a generalization, but any astute educator will agree with me. We need to understand that boys can be fickle readers, and one of the best ways to attract a boy to a book is to put a corpse on the cover or 'diarrhea' in the title.

- Danny Brassell, “Ten Ways to Get Boys Reading" 

Join me for an #engchat conversation at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18, on the theme of getting reluctant adolescents to read.

The District needs to hit the redesign button

By Samuel Reed III on Feb 13, 2013 01:49 PM

A version of this testimony was given at the Feb. 12 City Council hearings on school closings.

My name is Samuel Reed III, and I am a proud member of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and the Teacher Action Group, two organizations that are working with PCAPS, a coalition of parents, students, teachers, and community members calling for a one-year moratorium on school closings.

I would like to thank City Council for adopting a non-binding resolution calling for a moratorium on closing 37 schools in September. I would like to echo the sentiments of Councilman Curtis Jones, who notes that people shouldn't make whole decisions on half-information.

I want to counter the current notion that frames the one-year moratorium as hitting the pause button. Instead of hitting the pause button, City Council should use its influence to persuade the District to hit the redesign button.

With school-closures pitch, District needs to improve its art of persuasion

By Samuel Reed III on Jan 18, 2013 02:03 PM

I have attended several of the community forums where the public has weighed in on the Philadelphia School District's facilities master plan. The comments and counterproposals regarding the closing of 37 schools and relocation of others have been passionate, provocative, and persuasive.

The District, on the other hand, needs to study up on the art of persuasion.

There's a language problem with the way the District discusses underutilized school buildings. The language of "empty seats" is just that -- empty.

Events: November is Family Literacy Month

By Samuel Reed III on Nov 5, 2012 05:08 PM

Literacy events and programs provide opportunities to improve the educational outcomes and quality of life in our city and beyond. Throughout November, schools, libraries, and other literacy organizations will be participating through read-a-thons, book drives, celebrity appearances, and more. 

Here are several events worth checking out in Philadalphia. 


Pencils Down: It's time to rethink tests

By Samuel Reed III on Oct 30, 2012 01:44 PM

How reliable are tests in measuring what really matters for 21st-century learning? And should high-stakes tests really be used as a punitive evaluation of teacher quality? With all the controversy surrounding standardized tests and cheating, it’s time for teachers, parents, districts and policymakers to consider alternatives.

TAG Philly Story Slam - reframing the 'failing school' refrain

By Samuel Reed III on Sep 18, 2012 05:09 PM

If you love stories, you should plan to attend TAG Philly's annual Teacher Story Slam. The back- to-school event will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, at Zocalo Restaurant, 3600 Lancaster Ave.

Let me tell you a story…

Because the human brain is wired for stories, I bet you were all ready to follow a narrative with an attention-grabbing opening, a topsy-turvy plotline, and some satisfying ending or lesson to learn.

Connected educator: Meenoo Rami of #engchat

By Samuel Reed III on Aug 24, 2012 02:26 PM

Meenoo Rami is a consummate connected educator, a National Board Certified teacher and debate coach at Science Leadership Academy. She is also the founder and moderator of #engchat.

I will co-host the Connected Educator Month #engchat event with Rami at 7 p.m. EST on Monday, Aug. 27. (If you would like to keep pace with Rami's prolific Tweets, then follow her at

To gear up for our conversation, I asked Rami a few questions. In keeping with Twitter's 140-character limit, the questions and responses are short and concise. 

Reed: What motivated you to start #engchat?

Rami: I wanted to learn from my colleagues, build a community for English teachers, and find a place where questions, ideas, and resources can be shared easily.

Bellwether blogging training: 7 things for teachers to learn

By Samuel Reed III on Aug 14, 2012 04:43 PM

Educators from across the country attended the Bellwether Education Partners training session called "Better Blogging: Skills and Tools for Teacher Bloggers" on Aug. 11 in Washington, D.C. This intensive training, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, convened a diverse range of teacher bloggers looking to improve their writing skills and digital presence.

Here are seven tips I learned for teachers and bloggers alike.

  1. Stories matter. Carl Cannon, Washington editor of RealClearPolitics, emphasized in his opening remarks that telling stories is essential even in the digital age. Teachers need to share compelling stories that influence the education reform agenda.

Mark your calendar: Connected Educator Month events

By Samuel Reed III on Aug 5, 2012 10:14 PM

As teachers gear up to return to schools, the U.S Department of Education is launching Connected Education Month (CEM) in August 2012. Throughout the month, there will be online events and activities designed to help teachers develop skills to enhance their personal learning networks.

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