February 7, 2020 - Michael Salinger

Eastern Middle School 2020 edition

Sara and I have been visiting Eastern Middle School in Old Greenwich, Connecticut for over a dozen years in a row now. They are easily our most visited school.



kicked the week off with an assembly



A regiment of sustained silent reading is the best way to build background knowledge – that’s a fact.

Because we love them, and they love us.  We’ve seen these sixth-grade teachers through baby booms, blizzards, missed flights… you name it we’ve seen it. The one thing that has remained consistent is the classroom excellence we find in the building.


We come to the school as veteran colleagues rather than visiting consultant/authors. One of my favorite moments this time was chatting with one of the teachers about a visit to her class later in the day. Me: “What ya wanna do with these kids?” Reply: “Something on revision but I want them to think about poetic elements and word choice too.”  “Well,” I replied, “I have a basic revision workshop, or we could wing it – combining a couple ideas.” “Wing it.”


Trying on some emotions before putting them into words.

And we did – it worked out. We ran the new combination lesson twice and the second time it went a little quicker – but it also sidetracked a bit because of a discussion that prompted a little diversion from the plan. It was a welcome diversion and perfect for the class.


Friday casual day – it come to Sara and me dressing alike – we’re that couple now.

But isn’t that what teaching really boils down to – a bunch of preparation and experience and a little bit of winging it? The ability to take a great insight or question from a student and veer a little off course to explore as a notion takes form.


Our go to pizza joint during our stay.

Of course, if you are shackled to a boxed curriculum and forced to be on a certain page at a certain time, constantly trying to catch up because “there is so much to cover” you’re going to miss those moments of discovery and inquisitiveness.


Now I’m not saying to go into classroom without a plan, that would be suicide – but I think a whole lot of teachers should be relying more on their own experience than some script being handed down from on high. I think that there should be just a little bit more winging it going on.


Seeya next year Eastern.

That’s what we love about Eastern Middle – these teachers know how to pick and choose from multiple curriculums to craft lessons custom built for their kids.


Here’s to another dozen years!

Leave a Reply



“Sara and Michael bring infectious energy and joy leavened with deep knowledge of best practices in literacy to their work with children and teachers.” Ellin Keene – Author of Mosaic of Thought and The Teacher You Want to Be
“Sara and Michael bring magic, and a contagious love of words to both students and teachers alike!” Georgia Heard - Author of Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School More testimonials...