About

My passion is learning

My name is Mark, and I serve NYC schools.

I love to read, write, and talk about language and literacy.

I design and deliver professional learning, look at research, and write and think about how to help our schools improve teaching and learning for our most underserved children.

I grew up in San Diego, and after some dallying with housekeeping (near Lake Tahoe) and grocery store management (Trader Joe’s in Queens), became a special education teacher in the Bronx and found my calling in life. I’ve since worked to support Bronx schools with ELA instruction, and I now work to support schools across NYC with instruction for multilingual learners.

For just a bit more context on my own journey (yet more on this in my post, Learning How Kids Learn to Read), I come to this research on language and literacy as someone who has been in the classroom, and then out in the field supporting schools, during which time I had little incentive to read esoteric research. To be frank, when you are in a school, the more immediate and salient concerns are getting the next week’s lessons prepared, IEP goals written, and bulletin boards created for the upcoming superintendent’s visit, amongst ten thousand other things that overwhelm your every minute, every day, every weekend. It has only been when I moved into a supporting role and needed to constantly prepare professional learning for other school teams and teachers that I gained the impetus to dig deeper into unfiltered research. So if I seem unfamiliar with all the internecine academic debates and extant research on reading or linguistics, this is why. I suspect that sometimes academics looking at schools from the outside think educators have some basic understanding of foundational research on literacy and language development, but this is a problematic assumption to make. Only educators who take their own time to begin exploring, or are fortunate enough to have knowledgeable leadership sharing the evidence base with them, will be familiar with even the most basic of theoretical literacy frameworks such as The Simple View of Reading, or know how to articulate individual phonemes (a skill that is trickier than it appears and requires practice). Don’t even get me started on teacher preparation programs—though I do think some slow advancements are happening there.

In my day-to-day work, I create resources that connect research and theory directly to practice. In this blog space, I ruminate and muse more abstractly. I think of this as a kind of canvas to surface things I’m coming across I don’t otherwise have time or space to dig deeper into. So the connections in these posts may not always be the most direct nor concrete! But those connections are made, even when you don’t see them here. 😉

I’m relatively active on Twitter and post some musings and links to research there as well @mandercorn. I also have another blog, Schools & Ecosystems, that I rarely update anymore and that paved the way to this one, which is focused more on the socio-ecological aspect of schools. Check it out if you’re into how the physical environment, like acoustics, greenery, or air quality can affect learning.

Thanks for joining me.

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