Welcome to Core Connections, a blog by Success at the Core. You'll find stories of best practices, inspiring experiences, and effective strategies related to leadership development, classroom instruction, and student engagement.

Making Content Relevant: “By Words, the Mind is Winged”

Andrea Brixey

Last spring, I wrote on this blog about making content matter.  There is a funny thing that happens when you write a blog that comes together nicely–a blog that others read, a blog that your boss shares at staff meetings, a blog that your husband brags about at dinner parties. You can think that you’re done.  If you can write about it compellingly, you’ve got it.  Right?

Teaching is never like that.

Last week, on a Monday afternoon, I was looking at a bunch of nice kids doing their best imitation of being interested in the beginning chapters of To Kill a …

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Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?


Remember Verizon’s “Can you hear me now?”  commercial? This TV ad reminded me of blog writing.  When I write a blog, I feel like I am that ad man, saying things but unsure a connection has been made with someone “on the other end.”

Connections are how some of us learn things.  We connect with a topic, and then even the least competent teacher cannot keep us from learning. But most of the time, we connect first with a teacher, and that teacher helps us understand.

Watch some of Success at the Core’s Teacher Development videos.  Notice how the featured teachers …

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From Theory to Action


Have you ever wondered if the work you are doing is the right work? Are you spinning your wheels, staying busy with little impact? Is your message getting across? Do all people hear the same message?

That was the fear three years ago, when my district hired a new director of professional development and instruction, as well as all new content-area TOSAs (Teacher On Special Assignment). We all asked, “What is the work to be done? Why? Who says so?” And everyone seemed to have their “pet projects”— things they thought should be done.

Our new director was great at seeing the …

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Coaching the Love and Logic Way


I recently attended a series of classes on Love and Logic to help me deal with my tween-ager. While sitting in class during the fifth session, I realized how much of parenting the “Love and Logic” way can be applied to instructional coaching. The topic of this particular class was “Guiding Kids to Own and Solve Their Problems.” Here are the steps and the related parental responses:

  • Step 1 – Show empathy.

“What a bummer.” “I bet that’s frustrating.”

  • Step 2 – Send the “Power Message.”

“What do you think you’re going to do?”

  • Step 3 – Get permission before sharing ideas.

“Would …

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