The Character of Home®

Faculty/Staff Blog

Our teachers have a profound impact on our students and therefore our school culture, the greater community-and ultimately the nation. We depend on their expertise in choosing curriculum and leading our students towards success. What inspires them? Find out in our blog! Each week they share fantastic TED talks, books, interviews, and articles of interest to serve as a resource for parents, while demonstrating the philosophies and priorities of The Webb School.

Math Department

“Setting up Postive Norma in Math Class” discussed
By Effie O’Neil|
Math Teacher
During one of our math department collaboration days this semester, we discussed the article “Setting up Positive Norms in Math Class” from youcubed at Stanford University, by Jo Boaler. The norms as Boaler describes them are, “(1) Everyone Can Learn Math to the Highest Levels, (2) Mistakes are valuable, (3) Questions are Really Important, (4) Math is about Creativity and Making Sense, (5) Math is about Connections and Communicating, (6) Depth is much more important than speed, and (7) Math Class is about Learning not Performing” (p.1).

Ideas we discussed were: How you approach questions as a teacher is very important. Expect questions and really encourage students to ask questions, make it a really positive thing to ask questions. Make sure to have wait time. Talk about how mistakes are such a valuable part of learning. Highlighting the awesome mistakes students are making is one way to encourage positive interactions. One idea that was brought up was the idea of having to put something up that has a mistake to encourage looking for errors in work and to defuse the pressure of getting something right. Speed is not the important aspect of learning mathematics, it’s the process of learning coupled with the knowledge that everyone can achieve the highest levels of mathematics.

English Department

Discussing the "The Writing Revolution"
By Buck Smith
English Teacher
During a recent English collaborative day , teachers read an article titled, "The Writing Revolution" by Peg Tyre. This article is from 2012, but it harbingers a paradigm shift in writing pedagogy that is currently gaining traction and being implemented by teachers across the country in response to the Common Core. Even though Tennessee decided to phase out the Common Core, its roots will persist in the new curriculum going forward, and nationwide standards for student writing will continue to get more rigorous.

From what I can tell, "The Hochman Method" is the buzz right now amongst teachers struggling to bring their students up to Common Core standards. These new teaching strategies developed by Judith Hochman, former head of The Windward School near New York City, were initially implemented in a few select independent schools and then beta-tested at several public schools. Even some college English composition professors are employing similar strategies. Hochman has a new book coming out in August 2017 that I predict will become a must read for K-12 English teachers and graduate students in rhetoric.

Foreign Language Department

By Moira Smith
Foreign Language Department chair
* "Being an exchange student is so much more fun than just pure traveling. I get to meet and hang out with lots of French teenagers and we have become friends with each other. My host family is super nice. They make me delicious French food and care about me!" Vivian Wu, '14
* "This trip gave me a glimpse outside my everyday life in some place completely new, and strengthened not only my French proficiency, but also my friendships with those who went on the trip." Elizabeth Bigham, '18

Webb Spanish and French students are especially invited to be part of the travel and home stay adventure in March of 2018, when Webb will travel for the first time ever to Argentina and will experience a special France trip in the 100th year of the end of World War I.

Sign up for Argentina by June first and save $100!
With a total trip cost of $3000 for 11 days, a trip to a Spanish-speaking country (airfaire, lodging, expenses included) is totally affordable. Lots of fun things to do. Read more... Argentina .
France 2018 and World War I Centenary trip will also offer $100 off up to June first with World War I sites and Paris and its environs as the focus. Read more...France.

Science Department

Remembering our role in the public purpose of education
Brian Polk

Chemistry Teacher
A s educators, we wear many hats throughout what is sometimes a very tiring day/week/quarter/semester/year. As residential faculty, we are encouraged to be the triple threat of teacher, coach, and dorm parent. If we are not careful, we run the risk of forgetting why this job matters due to our busyness. The article I am sharing with you is one about the public purpose of education. I agree with most of it, but really just love the question and the desire to answer it. Every Monday in chapel, L.R. Smith asks the students to remember why we are here, and then everyone recites the pledge. Teachers need the same reminder: we do what we do because we care about students and relish the opportunity to see them grow into good people. We each have a role in the public purpose of education that we readily adopt, and remembering it often does our tired and weary souls good.

English Department

How "iY" students learn
By Elyse Messick ’11
English Teacher
During our collaborative day we read a few excerpts from Tim Elmore's book entitled Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future . The latest wave of millennials (our students) are called "iY" because of the prominence of the Internet in their lives, and "for many of them, life is pretty much about 'I'". We discussed passages that addressed what life is like for iY students, how they learn, and how we as teachers can best communicate with them.
Read more


Beating procrastination
By Aimee Hoover
Day Admissions Liaison
Is procrastination your enemy? Many people wish they procrastinated less. Beating this cycle takes commitment! In this Ted talk, Tim Urban encourages us to think harder about what we're really procrastinating on to shake this habit.

Procrastination itself is just a symptom. There are a vast number of reasons why students — and people in general — procrastinate. Here are some of the most common along with ways to address them.

Head of School

Suggested readings offered

Frequently Head of School Ray Broadhead addresses the
Webb community with a personal letter sharing school news
and suggested readings. Below are two he offered last week.

On how to distinguish mood swings
from depression in teenagers

Nighttime social media and sleep


Early physical fitness is a path to sustainable fitness for life
By Scott Dorsett, CAA
Director of Athletics
I was reading an article recently that spoke of the importance of physical education in the learning process of our young people. The article was written by Dr. Gregory Myer who is in practice at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital. In his article, Dr. Myer states the importance of quality physical education as well as the quantity the K-12 students are receiving. We in the athletic department, spear headed by Assistant Director of Athletics Jena Jones, have made a big push to make sure our students are learning how to take care of their bodies and feed them properly. It is difficult with time restraints in the day to make sure we carve out enough time for physical education in our curriculum. It is important we make it a priority to do so for the sake of our students and their well-being. More and more research is showing that a healthy and physically fit body leads to excelling in the classroom. This article is just one of many that state the importance of making sure physical education is included in your school’s curriculum. Here are just a few of the take aways from a strong physical education program:

  • Improved Physical Fitness
  • Skill Development
  • Regular Healthful Physical Activity
  • Support of other subject areas
  • Self-Discipline
  • Improved judgment
  • Stress Reduction
  • Strengthened Peer Relationships
  • Improved Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem
  • Experience Setting Goals

It is easy to see that physical education is very important in the learning process of our children in both the near and long terms. If you get a chance, please take a look at the article by Dr. Myer. We will continue to strive to give our students the best possible physical education opportunities as they continue to grow. If you have any questions or comments on this issue, please feel free to send us an email at:
Read more

Powered by Finalsite