My Two (or Five) Cents

So many of us are so tired this time of year. The tape plays, “I’m so tired…I’m so tired of being tired…I’m so tired of not making any progress…I’m so tired of this sh%#ty system…” and it goes on. And … Continue reading

Serving One Another, Serving our Students

A note to a teacher I coach. A note to all of us. #theteachertribe Hey Love. Hold space for them to share their worries. Reassure them that they are safe with you. That you love them. That everyone you know … Continue reading

Today, We Work.

Friends, yesterday we held space. Today, we work. I got an email from a teacher I used to coach who works in the south. His class is about a 50/50 split in which presidential candidate they and their families supported. … Continue reading

I Have A Confession to Make.

I’m an unabashed hater of DT and make no apologies for it. And, I now recognize and admit freely, I have judged those who support him. And judged them deeply, without regard for why they may be buying the “outsider” … Continue reading


I started the hashtag #theteachertribe and, soon after, the Facebook group because it felt right. One of those things you do because you can’t not do it. So I did. Then last week I had three people, separately, ask me to … Continue reading

International Women’s Day

My heart feels so full today. I had a great weekend spent with teacher colleagues on Friday and my colleagues in life, my sons, on Saturday. Last night I was so deeply moved by the photos and speeches coming out … Continue reading

You Belong

You belong among the Wildflowers You belong somewhere close to me Far away from your trouble and worry You belong somewhere you feel free You belong somewhere you feel free Tom Petty, “Wildflowers” Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and there’s no … Continue reading

My Guy

I write often in Facebook posts and blog stories about my younger son. He’s a sweet and affection boy who is prone to dramatics; accordingly, there’s a funny story waiting to be written almost each and every day. My older … Continue reading

Word of the Day

My first thought as I wake up these days is “What’s the word of the day, God?” It’s been an interesting practice because I often get words I didn’t anticipate but, as the day wears on, turn out to be … Continue reading


This past summer my family and I traveled to the countryside of France for my brother’s wedding. He and his bride gave me the honor of not only walking my beautiful niece down the aisle, but also of speaking to … Continue reading

The Curve Ball

I’ve made it clear to the universe and my family and friends that this will be my last year teaching in a traditional classroom in a traditional high school. Something else awaits and, while I know not yet what it … Continue reading

A Conversation with My 8-Year Old

Hey, Mom, did you know we have another teacher? Another teacher? Yeah, a math teacher. He comes in once a week. He came last year too. Really? What for? To teach math, duh. Easy Attitude Guy. Right, sorry. (hands up, … Continue reading

Traveling Tuesdays Part VI: No Cameras Allowed

Today we went to the beautiful d’Orsay Musee. On this, our last day of our European adventure, 23 days of foreign country madness with all of its high highs and low lows, we finally figured out the best way to … Continue reading

Traveling Tuesdays Part V: Mind the Gap

(Author’s Note: I’ve since rediscovered where I got the idea for “Mind the Gap.” It’s from Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly, Chapter 5. If you don’t yet have that book, I highly recommend it!) Paris and Rome are very different places. … Continue reading

Traveling Tuesday Part IV: Strangers and the Mediterranean Sea

We actually made it to the Mediterranean?! Let me return to the beginning of the day. When I get excited, sometimes I get ahead of myself. Today we decided to hit the tourist spots early, both for the sake of … Continue reading

Traveling Tuesdays Part III: Finally a Holy (and Happy) Day

We didn’t sleep well last night, which actually lead to a bit of sweetness between my eldest boy and me. Tom was playing musical beds following Craig around last night and at some point my bed ended up empty when … Continue reading

Traveling Tuesdays, Part II: Today Sucked

After getting barfed on yesterday, not to mention the complete washout we experienced on the bus, I thought today would look up. Apparently, not so much. Rome in July is hot–wicked hot. Now when I say hot, I’m not sure … Continue reading

Traveling Tuesdays, Part I: Barf and Bus Washout

My family and I just got back from almost a month away from home. I’m an unabashed homebody so it’s fair to say this was the trip of a lifetime for me. A friend encouraged me to consider this differently, … Continue reading

Fourth Thankful Thursday

Summer is here, the time of year we crave until it comes and we quickly remember it’s often more work than the school year itself. Nevertheless, there are so many glories to behold. Mornings are bright, beautiful, and early, the … Continue reading

Third Thankful Thursday

As of tomorrow, school’s out and summer’s in. For teachers, this is what we call New Year’s Eve. Tomorrow the floors will get swept and the cats will get brushed and the produce will get washed and put away. Next … Continue reading

Second Thankful Thursday

This week brings us closer to the end of school and the beginning of summer. We’re so close, it’s almost as if we’re unable to sit still. We run off to school dances, we draw our way through mixed emotions, … Continue reading

First Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for many, many things and found it not the least bit challenging to find things for which to be grateful after deciding I wanted to create this series of posts. Only I did have to stop traffic … Continue reading


Certainty is a part of my DNA, the perfect mix of a childhood nurturing and God-given nature, both relishing the known, the concrete, the for certain. I love it so much that I seek it out whenever possible, always choosing … Continue reading

Honoring My Gift

I haven’t written in months. I haven’t walked in months either, in large part because when I walk the words come and in order to keep the words at bay I can’t walk. I don’t have time to write, I’m … Continue reading

Ride Baby

Conventional wisdom now says you need 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. I’m an expert teacher. I’m almost an intermediate writer. A bike rider? Pure novice, baby. My hours on a bike reach about 16. Not 16 this … Continue reading

The Power of Rest

One of the things on my to do list this morning is to sign my son up for karate. He’s been waiting for months and the time has finally arrived. Hovering over my shoulder as I pulled up the website, … Continue reading

Genetic Code

I love my dog. I just hate my dog’s barking. He’s a working dog of some kind, likely generations back he was bred to herd things; trouble is, we live in the suburbs and there is nothing of use for … Continue reading

Worthy of a Pass

Every year I have the great privilege of spending a long weekend in the majestic Yosemite with nine of my nearest and dearest personal mentors. We started out as professional colleagues almost 15 years ago when this annual retreat began; … Continue reading

The White Glove

  “Get up!” I holler to (or, I should say, at) my kids. “WHY?” they retort. “Nona and Great-Gramie are going to be here this morning and I need your help getting this house cleaned. Why is it that we … Continue reading

Full Circle

It’s Sunday. In the Lusiani-Elliott house that means it’s cooking day. Every Sunday I cook a traditional Italian meal in hopes my children, as 4th generation Italian-Americans, can stay connected at least in part to the culture that is so … Continue reading

So I’m Not Alone?

I recently came across this hilarious and oh-so-true take on the 5 Stages of Death and Dying, only in this case, it’s the 5 Stages of Grading. I don’t know one teacher who adores the drudgery of grading; in fact … Continue reading

Dresser Drawers

When I get frustrated with the mess of my house, I organize my sons’ dresser drawers.  Why don’t I clean out my own drawers? Why don’t I even just start with last night’s dinner dishes? Why? Because it’s easier to … Continue reading

Be Sure to Ask the Right People

Across the country, education reform is the big buzz these days. Adults gather together to figure out just what is happening to our nation’s schools and work diligently to create changes that will infuse our school system with opportunities for … Continue reading

It’s Possible

  At a particularly low point a few years back my husband gave me a book called The Power of the Possible.  I hadn’t said that I wanted it; in fact I hadn’t said I wanted anything. In the knowingness … Continue reading

We’re a Part of a Village

…and it sure feels good when parents recognize it. A Love Letter to Our Children’s Teachers 

Learn or I Will Hurt You

This threat of learning “or else” is a ridiculous notion. Yet I wonder if that’s what schools do to kids every day. I’ve been guilty of this punishment dance myself (do your homework or I will make you stay into … Continue reading

The Hidden Success in the MORE Failure

 As far as failures go, I just don’t do them. Not that I don’t ever fail, but I generally bail out before I do. I’m one of those people who would rather not try than to try and not succeed—pretty … Continue reading

The Miracle of the 3-Hole Punch

In the copy room this morning, a miracle happened. Someone had come in during the dark of night and lubricated the 3-Hole Punch. You mean to tell me I can hole punch 20 papers at a time and they lift … Continue reading

You Asked for It

I got an email from a retired colleague of mine today that had me doubled over with laughter. It was titled “Why Teachers Drink” and I have to say I could relate on many levels. If I was technolgically crafty, … Continue reading

“My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman.”

I am deeply tied to my work as a Woman’s Studies teacher for many reasons, most of which center on the fact I empower my students by helping them find a more full and authentic sense of themselves. While I … Continue reading

The Power of Yes

Much of my life I have said yes. This was both because I enjoy others and the opportunities they bring into my life and also because I want them to be happy because seeing them that way makes me feel … Continue reading

Where to Start? Try the Beginning.

I have ideas for five books, three magazine columns, two websites, a workshop series, and a partridge in a pear tree. Not really on the partridge; but the rest? All the truth. More to the point, I’ve started each and … Continue reading


I started teaching when I was 22 years old. As if that wasn’t enough, I taught at the school from where I had graduated five years prior. On top of that I had run out of money to finish my … Continue reading

5 Critical Lessons

In my years of teaching, I have learned five critical lessons. Be certain of one thing, if you are open and willing to see them, lessons exist in every moment of every day. These five, however, seem to be universal … Continue reading

Practicing Presence

I attended a funeral mass today for a woman I worked with for the last seven years. Her name was Paula, and she was a delight. Warm, smiley eyes and always a kind word, Paula’s death seems a textbook example … Continue reading

Mastering the Art of Growing Up

I had a rare night at home tonight, alone. I don’t honestly know if I’ve ever been in this house alone at night before. I’m thinking not. Eight years we’ve lived here and not one single night here, in my … Continue reading

Sometimes It’s Just Damn Hard

I’ve been teaching a long time; for the first time I’m in a position to say that, in my heart of hearts, I don’t like my job. The joy of teaching isn’t there for me anymore and that joy is … Continue reading

Teacher as Artist

I have been a teacher for fourteen years; it never ceases to amaze me that I continue to learn more about the job all the time. Tonight, for example, I found myself seeing my work in a whole new perspective: … Continue reading

Living and Learning Butts Up

While I don’t think the good old days were all that “good,” I do think there is something to be learned from them. Our kids today have everything, and yet they often are missing a major component essential to life: … Continue reading

Has it Really Been 20 Years?

I attended my 20-year high school reunion last weekend; as a good friend said, it really was more like a family reunion than anything else—a tribute to the special kind of group we were, a group we still are. I … Continue reading

Fixing Schools from the Ground Up

 I am a part-time high school teacher who should be going home right now to pick my own kids from school; trouble is, the school where I work is on lockdown because of a potentially violent police chase in the … Continue reading

Thank You

 It was any normal Sunday afternoon at the zoo: the sun shone brilliantly, the birds chirped relentlessly, and the animals basked in the glory of people’s admiration. Usually my husband and sons and I go on our own, but this … Continue reading

Receive and Release

 I’ve spent the last two years focusing on releasing, surrendering, and letting go of fear, expectations, putting other’s feelings before my own–all the normal things the average person with a healthy dose of anxiety and a well-honed type A personality … Continue reading

A Lesson Learned in Raising Boys by Teaching Women’s Studies

 I am exceptionally fortunate to not only work in a profession I love with kids I adore, but also to work with easily some of the most amazing people on earth. One of them was Dana Rosenberg, a powerful figure … Continue reading

Deal Changer

 You know when you have a pair of jeans you love and wear all the time, but one day they just don’t fit quite right? You keep wearing them because, after all, they are your favorite pair; however, every week … Continue reading

Ignoring My Way to Peace

In my high school psychology class I teach my students about a game almost all of us play called, “See What You Made Me Do?” It goes like this: you do something I hate, I shout at you, you ask … Continue reading

“That Mother”

 You know the one: pulling her hair out stressed, yelling at her children as they climb the shelves and pull down fruit in a way that makes it all come tumbling down. The one who lectures them in the car … Continue reading

The Ethic of Care

 “Is it a law that I can’t hit my brother?” my son asks. “No, of course not,” I answered, “but in our family we take care of each other, we don’t hurt each other.” “But, I won’t go to jail, … Continue reading