Saturday, November 7, 10am-12pm : Had we not been out of cell service, my family would have heard the news. We would have seen the messages stacking up from friends and family on our phones, rejoicing in the announcement. But as it was, we were located somewhere off the Kancamagus Highway, playing in the woods with our good friends. Crouching low with Nina, my good friends’ almost three year old, I pointed out a chipmunk eating a nut. She looked at it, smiled, and said: “It reminds me of the geriatric spider monkey in the zoo living in its natural…


Teachers across the nation are asking: How do I possibly show up in my classes and for my students over the next couple of days and weeks? In considering the current results of the elections — with so much still unknown and with so many of us with an already near-empty gas tank — it will be difficult to show up as an educator today and in the days to come if you do not take care of yourself. …


Consciously or not, we feel and internalize what the space tells us about how to work. -David Kelly, founder of IDEO and the d.school

Two new spaces on The White Mountain School campus — the digital recording studio in the Catherine Houghton Arts Center and the Inquiry, Innovation, and Impact Lab (I³ Lab) — are inspiring ingenuity and critical thinking and have been catalytic in helping us more fully realize our mission. Committed to inquiry and engagement, these newly created spaces have ignited curiosity and creative problem-solving. Being a school of inquiry and engagement, we believe first and foremost that…


Doing a SWOT analysis of our schedule

The other week at The White Mountain School, we launched the year’s first student Academic Listening Session. What is an Academic Listening Session and why did we do one? They are optional in-person feedback opportunities for students to engage with a number of the faculty program leaders, in which the role of the faculty is simply to listen. What will we do with what we heard? It will help us inform tweaks or changes to our programs and/or opportunities to better clarify what and why we are doing certain things. In other words, it is a mechanism for doing our…


What happens when you encourage faculty to explore what they hope students learn and how they hope to teach and assess? What happens when teachers are encouraged to imagine different ways of engaging students in thinking and learning — when those teachers are invited to design a teaching, learning and assessment (and oh yeah, grading) system that meets the needs of each learner. Well, when a group of The White Mountain School faculty opted in to spend an intensive week doing just that, the results were nothing short of extraordinary.

I want to be a part of a community that…


Below are the notes for my opening words at the 2018–19 Awards Ceremony at The White Mountain School.

Student presenting her LASR project: “A Water Color Response to a Dance World”

Welcome to the Awards Ceremony. We here tonight to recognize a few of our students who have done truly exceptional work in respective disciplines of study. Before we launch into celebrating these specific individuals, I want to reflect back to you the amazing and inspiring work I have seen throughout this year.

On Monday morning, at 7:30am, I came across Chris (a senior) alone in McLane. He was — not surprising for those that know him — dancing. “I have been up…


Industrial Age systems, from which traditional grading emerged

Well, to some kids and parents, quite a lot. Kids don’t just receive grades, they become them. “I’m an A student,” they say confidently. “I’m an C student,” they say while trying to become invisible. A student’s entire identity and self-worth can be built around their GPA. But what do those letters say about learning? Nothing.

To “assess” etymologically means “to sit beside.” As Regan Galvan and I co-wrote in Independent School Magazine “The teacher’s role is to… Determine what each individual student needs and appropriately differentiate instruction; sit beside each child, encouragingly and with care, and provide the precise…


  • Co-authored with Becky Schaeffer, Assistant Director of Admissions and Academic Administrator at Waring School

How do I find the right school for my child? In what learning environment will they thrive? New and different models of teaching and learning, while improving schools, are making it harder to place students into the right independent school. With admissions letters right around the corner, it is time to do your research. Schools and the systems within schools are changing arguably faster than ever before. Why? As independent schools feel the market pressure of increased school options (such as charter schools, for-profits, and micro…


We embrace experiential education. We believe students — no, humans! — are wired to learn, and we believe that learning is relational. We inspire our students to see learning opportunities everywhere, not just within a four-walled classroom, and we do this through our commitment and focus on student-driven inquiry. Our project blocks — 3 hours on Saturday morning — provide both the time and space for students to engage deeply in an immersive, experiential learning opportunity. Every semester, each class will meet once for a Project Block. …


A S.ESH session in early September. 5 teachers, 4 disciplines.

Teachers teaching teachers! There is no better form of professional development and that is exactly what we are doing. Twice a month, teachers meet in small interdisciplinary teams to workshop one another’s curriculum. What catalyzed this commitment to have faculty give up one free period every other week so as to spend 70-minutes workshopping colleagues’ lesson plans? Last spring, White Mountain made an institutional decision to provide meaningful feedback on more than just disciplinary knowledge, committing to additionally focus attention on the essential skills and habits. These skills and habits are transdisciplinary and shared across classes. At mid-semester, all of…

Mike Peller

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