Mamaroneck High School English Department Visits Trumbull

Professional Development – April 6, 2015

PREFACE – professionally – there is nothing more rewarding than when your presenter(s) seem to be an extension of your own thinking and voice.

That being said – Mamaroneck High School’s presentation is entitled One English Departments Odyssey… but to me, it is a reflection of my odyssey.

Before I get going with my gushing…

The thing that sticks out to me most is how well they work together from top to bottom. Their Assistant Superintendent, their Principal, their Department Chair, their teachers… all together.

OK, buckle up…

Today, they were here sans the Assistant Super, but their Principal, their DH, their teachers came to us to present to our department. What makes them good is their authenticity and their confidence in their methodology. I question some of their approaches, but I do so productively – meaning, I take what they do and look to own it myself… in the end, that is what makes what they are accomplishing in their classrooms great…. they own it. And now, so do I.

The way Groninger began the presentation brought me immediately back to the NCTE Conference… to why change is needed. I scanned the room, looking to my colleagues, and many seemed intrigued… I want to know… How many were as inspired as I was (even though this was my second time around). The first time I thought about their methodology, I couldn’t sit still. I needed to change and collaborate immediately… which I did, on the floor in the Gaylord Convention Center. Was anyone in my department feeling the same way?

I hear each presenter present and I hear myself. My neck hurts from nodding along… I feel like I’m at a J5 concert. I am thankful that they are able to articulate my thinking to the professionals that matter to me most. The ones I work with!

Now, toward progress!

The research is key… it is how we educate students, parents, and our colleagues.

So, what will it take to continually MOVE FORWARD!!

I am on an island with Jalowiec and Shupp… I see some people building bridges to join us, but how do I bring them closer to us… I want them to help us expand… WHY? Mainly because it helps students.

We need a VISION.

Mamaroneck’s Vision…

  • Rich, current and diverse classroom libraries
  • cultural capital around reading
  • climate of excitement and shared experiences
  • closing of social and academic gaps
  • honor choice
  • student centered classrooms
  • increased participation and success in whole class texts writing performance, and use test scores.


  • RICH classroom libraries that students feel they have ownership in
  • Creating a reading culture in my classroom and beyond
  • Understanding yourself as a reader
    • I want students to be able to articulate their needs.
  • Excitement and camaraderie
  • Student Choice
  • A classroom truly centered on students.
  • Higher proficiency in the reading of whole class texts… Basically better and more experienced readers.

What now??

What now indeed THS English department?

Are you coming along for the ride, because I am not getting off this one for a while.

Please come and join me… join us! I want to keep working!

PS – the following is a note to self – if you aren’t me, stop reading.

Hey McCaff –

  • You need to conference more
  • You need to keep a running list of the Book Talks you have done
  • You need to DO MORE book talks
  • You need to mix up the ways students talk about their books
  • You need to check the Next List more!
  • Read – Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight – NOW.
  • You need to have your students do the End of Quarter READING LADDER with reading rates – REFLECTION.
  • You need to think about the end of the year… get the students going on a means of reflection.
  • You need to get “I am reading…” posters for your colleagues.

ENDNOTE: Well, you clearly kept reading, thanks for respecting my privacy…

A special thank you to the administrators and teachers at Mamaroneck High School (my North Star) –

  • Margaret Groninger
  • Waldina Pineda
  • Juliana Zalon
  • Mary Jordan
  • Elena Elmoznino
  • Elizabeth Clain

Thank you Jess Spillane for believing in us and bringing them here to inspire others.

Thank you THS English Department for respectfully listening to our presenters… I hope you found something that made you think… if you did, my door is always open – C31 – 2nd floor no name hallway.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s