Halloween - Another Cultural Experience


I woke up late on Tuesday morning, quickly showered and jumped into my yoga pants and sweatshirt (which would be worn under my homemade emoji when I got to school). I felt relaxed, comfortable and yet anxious about the crazy energy of Halloween.  I arrived at school on time and ready for the madness. But wait... the boys are in full uniform? I am on the only one in "not so" costume attire?  

As we shift into new situations, cultures and communities sometimes we assume more than we should. After 11 years at Town I assumed that Halloween at Cathedral would carry similar madness. However, the madness was quite different. Students came to school dressed to learn in the morning and after lunch changed into costumes to parade and party.  This is different than Town's morning parade/contest and afternoon classes.

Worse mistakes to be made? Yes, so I was in workout clothes all day?  No big deal.  Next year I will know.  Happy November - I have almost survived a trimester at Cathedral!

Emoji Team 2017.jpg

Competition... good or evil?

Where and when I grew up it appeared that competition was everywhere. Not everyone earned a prize and we learned to accept that. And yet over the years as and educator I have been in environments that have looked at both sides of this debate.

My early years at Town I was told that boys loved competition and I often put them in scenarios of which they competed in the classroom.  That was until I walked into a conference of which the message stated that the only students that liked competition were the ones that felt they had the ability to win. Immediately I switched a few things up in my classroom, as I didn't want to force the students who struggled in math at times to participate in mathematical competitions of which they likely had no chance of winning.  It felt unfair.  

After running my first marathon, I ran an article that spoke to me and that I felt related well to competition in relationship to growth mindset.  The article pointed out that every year in Hopkinton, Massachusetts over 30,000 runners show up to run/compete in the Boston Marathon understanding that only about 10 of them have a chance of winning the race.  Immediately I switched my thinking again. How can we drive students in ways in our classroom so that they practice and participate in the activities that guide them to assessment/performance day the same way recreational marathoners train and participate in race day? How do we make them competitors of their own game? 

So while sitting at my first middle school chapel the other day, I was a little worried when I heard that competition plays a big role at Cathedral School for Boys.  However, the director asked the boys why I was impressed with their answer. The boys said that competition plays a positive role in the community when it is used to make all the participants better. I hope this is true... let's watch and see!

New Beginnings and New Landscape -Cathedral

As I reflect on my first few days in my new school community I recall something that one of my new administrators said last week, “entering a new school community is similar to traveling to a foreign country.”  And what I have realized is he’s absolutely right.  

On Wednesday, I entered Cathedral School for Boys, equipped with 19 prior years of experience, 11 of which were in an a different all boys school in San Francisco.  I had woken up early after a night of restless sleep, likely due to that nervousness and anticipation that a lot of teachers have on that last night of summer.  My morning routine was no different than years past and my lesson plan for day 1 (have fun and get to know the students) was also quite similar.  But as I approached my new school I immediately felt that despite spending the last 7 days preparing to be at Cathedral (in some ways the last 6 months), I was simply in a foreign space and frankly the feeling was not much different than a foreign country.

All of sudden I started to wonder…

My New Space

Who are these people?  

How am I supposed to act?

What am I supposed to do next?

Where am I supposed to be?

Where do I get this or that?

What are they thinking?

Who am I supposed to know?


When I looked into the sea of students and parents I didn’t know a soul.  I entered my first all school chapel not knowing if I was supposed to sit, stand, clap or sing. I didn’t know what door to exit or enter, what was the fastest way to the bathroom or what time people not on duty ate lunch. I wasn’t sure where my mailbox was, who keeps chocolate in their classroom/office or where in the neighborhood I could grab a quick diet coke.

Immediately on day 1  I had to go into observation mode to pick up social cues to allow me to respond to my new setting. I quickly discovered that despite a few emails and information about some students that I would be teaching I couldn’t pick them out of a room yet, in fact I was barely even comfortable finding the next room I was meant to be in.

Learning about the culture and climate of a school is no different than learning about the culture and climate of a foreign country.  This only further proves that we need to teach our students to be globally and culturally competent so that they can adapt to new environments in the future.  They need the tools to know how to deal with adversity, cope, be able to effectively communicate, empathize, and observe without judgement to name a few. Because, at the end of the day, no matter how many guidebooks you read, or how many places you have travelled before, when you enter a foreign land you are going to realize things you could not predict or anticipate and things you can only learn by being there wholeheartedly.

I am learning a tremendous amount from this experience and each day I have “aha” moments that bring me a step closer to understanding this new land, Cathedral School for Boys.  Year 20 is going to be all that and more!

Threshold... What does it all mean?

Sunday, August 20th.

It's been awhile since I posted in "Stories for the Garage?"  I have thought about writing quite often. I had few posts being written in my mind including titles such as:

  • Top Ten of Town
  • What Did the Garage Really do for My Career?
  • Saying Goodbye
  • From One Hill to the Next: They are Still Boys

Perhaps some of you don't know that I am in the transition. None of those titles did it for me and I let it ride.  For all intensive purposes I have had the summer off, and I have let myself be just that... OFF. .  For once, I have such little cultural knowledge of where I am going that I can't possibly imagine it and therefore I cannot really work.  Oh wait, I am also a graduate with a master's degree as of May 2017, no Thesis to write!!! This is obviously not a bad thing.

But I am inspired to say I am standing on a threshold. I believe something amazing is ahead, despite what I am leaving behind.  So the eve before new teacher orientation, I hit send.  Something soon will inspire me to write more. I will have will be more stories to tell. But for now, it's on to Cathedral, I will start searching for my marigolds!

Celebrating and Reflecting -2017 Kiva Kids

What reflective boys we have! We might not have had enough hours in the day to fully prepare for our Kiva Celebration and the boys were fairly bummed that they had left a few things out of their presentations, spoke to the floor or wall more than to the community and some even said I could have rehearsed a bit more on my own.  But when I asked what they wanted to do about it, they suggested that they take our final two math periods to fix their slides and make them "A" quality work.  

We are often harder on ourselves than others are on us.  That said, I too made a mistake by leaving one students videos out of our final collection.  I guess June can get crazy around here and we all need to reflect on how we can do things just a bit better next time. 

Enjoy the presentations from this years Annual Celebration. Enjoy our updated video. Enjoy looking through the Tackk's that show reflections from the experience too!

Kiva Celebration 2017


Bouncy Ballers


Balloon a Palooza

Prestige Worldwide

SCZ Inc.

WEZ Putty

Raffle Castle




Anderson Kiva Kids Reflection https://tackk.com/6z3jlu

George The Long and Winding Rode https://tackk.com/d4gyvm

Jack Raffle Castle Makes History! https://tackk.com/huxk2f

Vivek lhttps://tackk.com/k0xmx9

Thomas' Experience in The Bouncy Ballers https://tackk.com/44v6jh

Peter Stovellhttps://tackk.com/u8xgnm

Pearce https://tackk.com/zd1xlv

Rob RRJL is in business!https://tackk.com/25g2yp

Theo Winning with prestige worldwide https://tackk.com/auev4z

Zachary M Zachary's kiva tales https://tackk.com/egpy20

Zachary L Kiva Kids at Town School https://tackk.com/ehftua

Callen Kiva Kids at Town School for Boyshttps://tackk.com/vpmnny

Ryan Prestige over comes some Worldwide problems https://tackk.com/xgfhl4

Sean Kiva and More https://tackk.com/ke8v82

Liam RRJL avoids micro finance crisis https://tackk.com/jv45yd

EliThe Kiva Tales https://tackk.com/hx0kkc

Wynant All About Kiva Kids https://tackk.com/vn7yuq

Alex The Kiva Experience https://tackk.com/9dec9a

Stephen Balloon-A-Palooza is "Blowing Up!"https://tackk.com/77ea0y

WilliamBalloon-A-Palooza is Unpopable! Well, Sort of. https://tackk.com/b2t0vy

RomanRRJL'S Next Task https://tackk.com/dkbdjs

Nicholas (Nico)Kiva Kids https://tackk.com/xgd87z

JacksonScheer https://tackk.com/ec54dc

Thomas The Chronicles of the Raffle Castlehttps://tackk.com/h1km40

NoahBalloon a Palooza coming out of thin air https://tackk.com/eb1xwg

HaydenThe Journey https://tackk.com/feeblb

How Could I Say No?

With all the craze in fidget spinning I found it hard to say no. Sure, I put up the sign in my classroom that read "At Your Own Risk" and asked boys to put them away. I also read articles from many perspectives about these "toys".  Should we encourage the madness, discourage the craze, be more sensitive to those who need these to stay focussed, ban them from our classrooms? 

I didn't know the answer.  What I did know is that I had 20 or so 6th graders saying, "We need custom spinners for our Kiva Project".  We set up a circle graph of which the different companies, who were now fully paid back, could buy into this new concept/idea if they had enough money to do so.  They contacted a company to see if "backordered til late May" really meant that or could we get our hands on a few.  Then we looked into buying options, coupon codes and applied our new knowledge about algebraic equations to figure out what we could afford 100? 150? 200? More?

With a $50 coupon, if you spent $500 the boys would get a $50 off coupon.  So, we set up their algebraic equation for the $2.45 unit price spinners with a $50 set up fee.  $2.45x + 50 = 500.  Soon we were talking about purchasing 185 spinners for the same cost as 171.  The unit price went down from $2.54 all inclusive from $2.74 too.  

And it happened...  6 out of 8 groups pooled together $470 to buy 185 fidget spinners with the hopes of doubling their money.  We waited, and stressed, will they arrive? And guess what? They did!!! And, even the Assistant Head of School was purchasing them!! And we did double our money:) 

Assistant Head of School buys fidget spinner!!

Launching It's A Livable Life

Been spending the week setting the stage for a great math project and some hard core number crunching in the garage.  While I have been running the Minimum Wage Project for many years, I had reasons to delay the project this year and an internal struggle about how to make sure it includes some very intentional work with decimals and percents. I am excited about the direction it is going in just the few days we have engaged.  We began with an abbreviated version of the socioeconomic class simulation I created years back and currently diving into what it means to live a life of dignity.  While we will start by looking a life through min wage to create a "base" pay and assess cost of living, the boys will eventually look at housing costs as the driver of their monthly budget and utilize percents to come up with a proposed "livable wage" for our home in San Francisco and beyond!  


Day 1: Amenities Challenge and Hunger 101

Day 2:; Amenities Challenge Part 2

Day 3: Warm Up On Multiplying What does Min Wage Mean? and Min Wage Warm Up

Day 4: Finish Min Wage Warm Up and 4 Question Formative Assessment (Check in one Decimal Comps) 

Day 5: Driving Question, How do we ensure a livable wage?  (Define Living with Dignity)

Days 6: Begin baseline wage (min wage) computations.

Brainstorm "what's a livable life".

Brainstorm "what's a livable life".

Every Year We Have "Firsts"

One of the most exciting parts of the year is when a company has enough money in their account to make their first loan. On Friday, while some of the groups were ordering product and  others were writing thank you cards, two groups decided that they had enough money to invest. The new scratch map, with hidden colors underneath, was an exciting new addition to the program.  

Angel from Colombia

Las Rosas De Pachali Group from Guatemala

Stay tuned for more loans, reflection and fun.  We are only getting started!  

Sales, Reflection and Fun!

The garage is hopping! Sales have started and their is excitement in the building. Alongside the enthusiasm for making money in the hopes of changing lives, we have been reflecting on our experiences and considering how we are developing global competence through this project.  

As part of my professional growth project this year, I am having the boys use tackk.com to write about their journey. When asked what they thought of this aspect of the project they offered the following:

  • A way to reflect and intentionally think about what we are doing.  
  • A place to go back to and relive our journey. 
  • Something to share with our parents and other friends.
  • An opportunity to see how our friends view the project and experience similarly and differently. 
  • Fascinating to see the multiple perspectives.

We have only gotten started on these blogs and if you have feedback or suggestions for posts please do offer them.  Also feel free to comment on the boy's tackks themselves.  They would love to hear from you. 

The waiting begins...

The boys have created their business plans, filled out loan applications and they are currently waiting to be funded so that they can start their business.  I love these few weeks of waiting as the boys begin to understand what it would be like to be waiting for a loan on Kiva.org.  When asked, "How do you feel as you are waiting for your loan? How do you think this relates to people on kiva doing the same thing?" I got many replies.  But in the end, this one really spoke to me.  



Kiva Advertisements 2016

Welcome to our Kiva Advertisement Viewing Post.  We will be utilizing the advertisements to launch a Thanksgiving lending party where each boy will be able to make a loan. Reflections of the party will be posted in the days to come.  This year, I allowed the boys to choose anywhere in the world (where kiva.org works) that they wanted to investigate and here is what we came up with.  Enjoy the show!  (and feel free to vote as well - you can find the form here)





Sierra Leone



Costa Rica


Are you convinced?  The boys would love you to decide which one you think hit the criteria they determined best. Vote using this form.  1) Most knowledgeable 2) Most Convincing 3) Most personal and clear. 

  • Do you understand what Kiva.org is?
  • Is it personal?
  • Does it make you feel you can help?
  • Is it simple enough to understand?
  • Do you come out knowing you will likely get your money back?
  • Are the statistics/charts clear?

Let's Not Hate.

I will begin by saying this post is not political.  But, if we can learn something from the last few days and grow together, that wouldn't be all bad.

This morning during morning meeting the boys were asked to check in to the question, when is it hard for you to feel empathy or support for someone? I was somewhat surprised as I saw many of them sign in using the word "hate"? Examples) "when I hate somebody", "Somebody I hate". One of the boys then asked me, "Ms Goggin, do you hate anyone?" I took a moment to quickly bring myself back to my 6th grade self before answering this question.  While I recall great friendships and fun in middle school, I do recall the day to day drama and unkind behaviors that were present at good ole Dartmouth Middle.  I recall being "in love" with someone one day and thinking they were "such a jerk" the next.  I recall the revolving door of friendships too.  I am not sure if I truly hated anyone then, but certainly I had dislike at times for people. But now?  

After placing myself in their shoes and weighing out what hate likely means to them, I responded to my students explaining that I in fact don't hate anyone.  They of course challenged me and said I had to answer that way.  Yes, their are times we have to tell a white lie or two, but honestly?  I couldn't think of anyone in my mind that I feel that strongly about.  In fact, I can't think of that many people in this world I even dislike.  I went on to explain to my 12 year old friends that over time I have learned to release this kind of energy from my life relationships. That I part from relations that cause too much strain or pain.  I also told them that it is important that when someone acts a way that is hurtful or unkind to consider the why.  Is something else going on in their life that is causing them to act in way that is uncharacteristic?  Is the reason they are acting this way because they don't know better? 

Before I knew it I was sharing with them the story of Amanda Lindhout, who I had the pleasure of hearing speak at IBSC Conference this summer.  While I have yet to read her book, A House in the Sky, she spoke about the book and her story in length during her keynote address. Sharing her experiences during her 15 months in captivity and her journey to forgiveness as she cannot bear to live with the hate.  The boys connected this story to what they know of Nelson Mandela in the end.  It was a pretty powerful 20 minutes. 




A Visit From Kiva

The boys have officially begun their journey into microfinance here in the garage.  We have spent a few days learning what it means to be in the world of advertising and a few other days investigating "what is Kiva?" and "how do we sell it alongside learning statistics?.  We  have started to examine the question: How can we as members of Goggin Advertising create ads for Kiva tat convince new and existing lenders to make a loan to ______________?  

The boys are exploring this unit with the guiding questions:

How can we be better consumers of statistical representations?

How can we be better creators of statistical representation? 

In the early stages of their planning, I decided to incorporate a few people who could offer advice and information.  Ms. Stuart visited to talk to the boys about copyright and then we had a visit from Jessica Hansen at Kiva to answer some of their questions.  My favorite question?



What's your favorite part of working for Kiva?

"I believe in what they do.  I love that I work for a company that changed their mindset about working with people in poverty and focusses more on helping them help themselves." 





The boys are so thankful for Jessica's time. They wrote some messages to her.  

I think it was very helpful to get to talk to someone who works at Kiva. We all had a lot of questions and it was nice to have someone who could answer all of them. It was interesting to hear why they enjoyed working for Kiva. It was also interesting to hear that the micro-financing institutions get to choose whether or not they pay interest, and I wonder what percent do. - Eli

I thought that Jess coming was really cool because we got to talk to someone who works at Kiva which alone is amazing. She answered a whole Buch of questions and it was nice to fill up my mind with knowledge. I hope that she or someone else can come back. -Jackson

I thought Jess coming was very helpful, informative, and cool because I learned so much and I will more than definitely use that information when I make my ad. Jess was so nice to come to our school and inform us about Kiva and its impact on the world and answer our questions, and really saved us time on our ads as well as saving us a lot of research. One huge takeaway I had is that Kiva really impacts people's lives and the communities around them. After that lesson I'm even more psyched to be working with Kiva. - Nico

I thought a big take away from today was how kIva was like a family they now everyone there working with each other .i also thought another big part was that the Kira employees really have seen the success kivas makes and they believe in kiva with all there heart. I also liked having Jesse their and having some of my question answered.i also loved hearing about how kiva has supported many family's and have put there kids in a good education. - Theo

Stay tuned for more to come... it's going to be a great year!

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime" -Lao Tzu

Gender Equity #worldslargestlesson

With the help of Emma Watson, and World's Largest Lesson, the 6th grade boys looked into Gender Equity issues for a few days in math class.  After learning a little bit about what the Global Goals are in advisory, the boys took a two day deep dive into Gender Equity.  The conversation was thoughtful and engaging and full of multiple perspectives.  I am always impressed with how much 12 year olds KNOW on one hand and how little they KNOW on the other.  This is going to be a fun year for sure:)

More engaging conversation into gender equity to come through the lens of poverty as we embrace micro finance and poverty in the days and months to come. Stay tuned! But for now, check out my lesson slides, World's Largest Lesson website and the results of our survey as seen in the graph below.  We also computed mean, median and modes and talking about statistical questions to be explored in our our future. 

Looking for Global Partners Early and Hard - We Have Empty Seats:)

With Global Collaboration Day here I decided to try and find some global collaborators for a project we have been doing in the garage for a few years.  How fun is it to write non-fiction word problems about where we live and share them with others?  

If you are a educators, please visit my collaborative slideshow. Consider adding a problem you create yourself that we may use in the classroom and then think about how you see this fit into your classroom.  I have learned not to come to the table fixated on the details of projects and have made changes along the way.

Don't like the media- Let's change it!

Want to add math talks with the problems? -Sure.

Math Mystery Skypes to launch? - In.

No time for anything crazy but see value in the basics- Works for me!

Feel free to take a look around my site to see other ways we can collaborate on global projects.  I am openminded and ready to work together.  

Prime Time (#19) Where did the years go?

Disco Friday Kick Off - It's going to be a good one.

Disco Friday Kick Off - It's going to be a good one.

It's been a busy school year thus far and so in between getting ready (with a new "organized" and "adult" looking teacher desk space), trying on a new math program, and grad school assignments that keep piling on, I haven't had a chance to reflect, embrace and officially blog my "hello" to what is bound to be another great year.  #19!! Where did the years go? 

I thought I would take an opportunity for the first time ever to reflect on the first few days of school in a different way.  Sure, they are exciting. New schedules, new students, new smiles, new energy. But all of this requires a level of energy teachers likely haven't tapped into for months. Some of us had an opportunity to rest and rejuvenate more than others, but finding the energy to be 110% every moment of the first few weeks is difficult.  

Yet in those moments when you can't imagine having to repeat something which feels so obvious for the 1 millionth time in 7 days of classes you find something that keeps you going.  For me, it was this group conversation. 

Me: "So boys, I want to share with you my homework policy.  To begin, you have received a 100% on last night's homework because it appears to me you have all given the assignment a good shot and have completed every question"

Boy: "So what your saying is no matter if they are right or wrong I get a 100%?"

Me: "Yes, as long as it is here by the beginning of the class period and you include all necessary work"

The excitement in the air was clear.  I crossed my fingers and hoped we could move on, as I asked "Are their any questions?" (of course their are-duh!)

Boy: "Why do you grade homework this way?"

Me: "Well I am aware that many of you have different home lives and levels of support for homework. My intent is that we all try our best, use the resources we have and then come in and ask questions about what was confusing.  In the end, I just want everyone to try their best and then use it as a learning too." I went on to describe that some students get their work corrected at home with a chance to redo and therefore them earning a 100% while another hardworking students who doesn't get their papers corrected by parents or tutors before class and earns a lower grade doesn't seem fair.  

They seemed to agree.  Again, I crossed my fingers.  The conversation went on with a few confirming questions and then it came..

Boy:  "So can't I just kind of fake it, put down some numbers and hand it in and claim I don't understand?"

As I was about to explain (for the 19th year in a row) that it would be a waste of time, that you wouldn't learn anything that way, that in fact it was just turn into required extra help or academic discipline issues, the boy (that appeared in prior days to be least likely to say the right thing at this moment) raised his hand.  I took a chance...(that's is what teaching is about).  

Boy:  "Seems like an awful waste of time, we are supposed to do homework to get something out of it."

And while I was quite positive their could be a dozen more what if's and questions... I left it at that.  With the hope that the leadership of this young boy prevails in the weeks to come and that this year we learn and do simply because we want to get something out of it.  

Good Luck to all who are starting teaching for the first time and to those of us who despite our tenure have an easy time forgetting over the months how hard these first few weeks are.  And for those of you not in teaching but are connected to teachers... be patient with us in September, it's a hard month!




International Boys School Coalition

What an exciting first trip to Vancouver, BC. If you missed my presentation today, you can find it here.   Please feel free to reach out with more questions about how to incorporate Kiva.org into your school or classroom.  To hear more about PBL and Global Competence with this project, you can learn more here too! Enjoy and keep in touch.