Laura Sofen is a middle school writing teacher in Sparta, N.J. She is also a holistic health coach with a master's degree in teaching.

Articles by Laura

Eagle Scouts Honor Integrity Through Protest

In the years since they graduated from middle school, several of my former students earned the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout. I was proud of them. I read their stories in the local paper and was inspired by the various ways in which these young men improved our community. Each time, their accomplishments and selflessness impressed me. Earning the highest rank in Boy Scouts of America is an admirable achievement.

Finding a New Challenge for the Gifted Girl

Katie is the student I imagined all my students would be like when I first started teaching. In my fantasy, all my students were motivated, conscientious and ready to independently tackle any challenge I proposed. In this same fantasy, I was not the wild-haired, one-legged juggler I’ve become, but rather a calm force of wisdom and benevolence.


Every marking period I contact the parents of my most remarkable students to tell them how great their kids are. I do this for a few reasons. Too often, my attention is consumed with kids who need refocusing, redirecting and all the other IEP-mandated practices teachers do anyway. But mostly I contact the remarkable students because I’ve noticed that the kids who do good work often go unacknowledged.

Why Do I Teach? I've Changed My Answer

When I was studying to be a teacher, I had to write a philosophy of education. This essay was to explain what I believed about kids and the role teachers and education played in their lives. I wrote that all kids could learn, that they all deserved equal access to inspired teaching and that my role was to meet them wherever they were and serve them in the way that best met their needs.Although I still believe those things are true, I've come to realize that my teaching is driven more by a different philosophy than the one I wrote about.

Why Can’t We Be (Digital) Friends?

While working on a project for class, a student of mine casually mentioned the names of some of my relatives. When I looked up in horror, he rattled off all of the towns in which I had ever lived. I was shaken. How did he get all this information about me? Simple. He had an app for that.
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