Conversations about Education

On this page, we’ll share links and insights into educational practices. We want to address the North Branch experience and the bigger picture of education. 


NBS Middle School teacher, Katrien Vance, was featured on a Making Math Moments that Matter podcast about the approach she and Maggie Buchanan have taken to Middle School math this year, both in the classroom and during distance learning. Take a listen!

Transcript of Head of School, Smith Coleman’s TEDxCharlottesville talk on 9/29/19:TEDxTalkSept2019

NBS Middle School teacher, Katrien Vance, read her wishes for graduates and her essay about what it means to be education on WMRA. You can read the transcripts of these here:


A guest essay by Adam Grant in The New York Times highlights the many benefits of students having a teacher for more than one year. “Great education systems create cultures of opportunity for all… And there are few better ways to do that than to keep students with teachers who have the time to get to know their abilities.”

From The New York Times, an op-ed piece about the importance of “teach[ing] the habits of connection, most of which boil down to thinking of others before speaking to them[.] So let’s put kids together and teach them how to talk, to hear and be heard, to resolve differences and forge consensus…” Read more here:

Here’s a 15-minute Ted talk about framing learning so that failure is something to learn from, rather than something that causes you to give up.

The importance of consistent sleep for teens:

How to help your child when they are new to a group:

In a blog post, a 7th-grade teacher shares “this is my plea to the world to remember the essential role that supported independent reading holds within our instruction, whether it is virtual, hybrid, flipped, or face-to-face. We must resist the urge to cut independent reading as a way to gain more teaching time. Because supported independent reading is also THE teaching.” Read more to discover why IR (Independent Reading) Time is a part of the NBS curriculum up through 8th grade and why it is important to us to be a community of readers.…again-one-thing-you-might-try

The author implores us to “appreciate… picture books, the real wizards of literary world” in the New York Times opinion piece entitled “Your Kids Aren’t Too Old for Picture Books and Neither Are You.”

Helping children build resiliency skills will assist them during the pandemic and throughout their lives. Read more here:

The author of this article refers to “Let’s” as the most perfect word of invitation in the English language. From that suggestion by one child to another springs forth imaginative play that often leads to bickering. Read on to learn why this may be the most important component of dramatic play.

North Branch is a community of readers. Here’s an interesting take on helping teenagers – especially boys – think of themselves as readers by diving into what interests them:–especially-boys–to-read-this-summer/

A love of learning includes experiencing the joy of reading. Sharing a love of stories and books at a young age through the teacher reading aloud is much more important than pushing for early reading.

North Branch students experience time outdoors every day for unstructured play and classroom instruction.

While the title of this interview with Simon Sinek on “Inside Quest” is “Millennials in the Workplace,” there is much here germane to all parents. NBS teachers especially were interested in the correlation between cell phones and a decline in social & interpersonal skills. The good news is that we see every day that hands-on experiences, with an emphasis on cooperation, help to build these skills.

This article in The Atlantic shares ideas for creating an uplifting Middle School experience. Many of these are in practice at NBS: 1) “…those who didn’t have to transfer from their elementary schools fared better.” 2) Keep recess as part of their day. 3) “…implement a 20-minute snack break at 10:45…” It’s that specific: 10:45, the exact time everyone at NBS has snack & break! NBS teachers would add that actively engaging with younger students is a HUGE plus of the NBS Middle School experience.