Shapshots from the end of a school year that just… faded away

A laptop computer and various desk accessories laid out on a dining room table in front of a window
A laptop computer and various desk accessories laid out on a dining room table in front of a window
The view from “High Marq South,” aka my remote teaching workspace at the kitchen table

I began writing this piece in early June, when I had already met with about a third of my students for their final one-on-one meetings, in which we reflect on the year that was and talk about what they might do next. I’ve been doing this for 9 years now; it’s old hat. And yet, I kept feeling like I wasn’t doing my students justice this semester when our meetings were virtual and our connections were digital. …


A Blog Post for McGraw-Hill

Each school, no matter how much concrete and asphalt surrounds it, has some patch of outdoor space that could be utilized by a creative, adventurous teacher.

This piece was originally published on November 19, 2019.


A Blog Post for McGraw-Hill

The songs of robins and red-winged blackbirds, the green shoots poking through the dirt, and certainly the later sunsets all help me to remember that this, too, shall pass, and that at some point I will be back in the classroom with my students.

This piece was originally published on April 15, 2020.


A Blog Post for McGraw-Hill

The bedrock underlying everything we do at school is, in a word, relationships. This remains true whether we are in the same room together or interacting exclusively through our screens.

This piece was originally published on August 17, 2020.


A Blog Post for McGraw-Hill

Face-to-face learning is demonstrably better for most students, but it’s also much less safe than remote learning. Remote learning is a safe alternative, but it’s inequitable, especially in rural school districts like mine. Parents need to work, and kids need to eat. Every answer brings more questions.

This piece was originally published on November 30, 2020.


Some diagrams, a table, and a graph used to explore a math problem
Some diagrams, a table, and a graph used to explore a math problem
We’re playing with math problems in addition to talking about math

Note: I’m participating in the 2020–21 Math Equity Project, and one of our first tasks was to introduce ourselves with a “Storientation” giving the rest of the cohort and idea of who we are as a person, teacher, and mathematician. This is mine. (For more on the importance of storytelling in classroom culture, see this Edutopia post.)

Hi! I’m Skylar L. Primm, and though I’ve lived in Madison, Wisconsin since 2003, a bit of my heart will always be in my hometown of New Orleans, where I was born, grew up, and attended college. I was the only child in…


Wrapping Up the 2018–20 Teacher Inquiry & Writing Institute

A screenshot from Google Meet, featuring a head and shoulders shot of the author with some art in the background
A screenshot from Google Meet, featuring a head and shoulders shot of the author with some art in the background
The view from High Marq South—aka my Dining Room Table—where most of my teaching happens now

Well. That did not go the way I expected it to. I actually thought that by May I would have not only a solid definition of humane assessment to share with the world, but also a series of beautiful anecdotes of how humane assessment was playing out in my classroom. The hugs and the high fives! The authentic assessments through on-stage presentations! The sample reflections where you can clearly see just how much more human this year made them all feel!

Yeah, no. My expectations were not met. So, what can I draw from a truncated year of humane assessment…


Musings on the Unusual End of the 2019–20 School Year

Green leaf buds just starting to unfurl on small tree branches, with a building and blue sky in the background
Green leaf buds just starting to unfurl on small tree branches, with a building and blue sky in the background
Spring leaf buds outside of my home

The week before schools were shut down, my co-teacher Amanda and I co-led a field experience for the first time in… several years, at least. I introduced students to Nature’s Notebook, a community science tool for monitoring and reporting on phenological changes. Amanda led a poetry writing marathon, based around the theme of unwanted creatures. It was brilliant. Several students said it was their favorite field day of the year.

At the time, the leaf buds on the on-campus trees we observed were just shy of bursting, there was still some ice on the lake at John Muir Memorial County…


Building community and blowing off steam at the end of the semester

It’s been a little over a year since my declaration of independence from rubrics. In the intervening time, I’ve worked alongside my students to develop various alternatives. I haven’t found one rubric to rule them all, but my assessment has continued to evolve in what I believe is a more humane direction, for students and staff alike.

“I have three families: my home family, my work family, and my school family.” –D.

As my friend and fellow TIWI-er Micah put it when we were chatting recently, I’ve been “Marie Kondo-ing our curriculum” all year. In a small, nontraditional school, we…


A Letter for the 10th Anniversary of the Greater Madison Writing Project

A man and two women sitting around an outdoor table, talking. On the table are books, computers, and writing materials.
A man and two women sitting around an outdoor table, talking. On the table are books, computers, and writing materials.
Me and my GMWP Friends (and Writing Partners) for Life, Sandra Taylor-Marshall and Jen Doucette, during our 2015 Summer Institute

…thank you for giving me the confidence to be myself in the classroom and beyond. Without the 2015 Summer Institute and the connections, experiences, and learning I began there, I don’t know where I would be right now, five (FIVE!) years later. Possibly not in the classroom any more. Certainly not feeling fulfilled.

Did the GMWP find me, or did I find the GMWP? I’m quite sure it’s impossible to untangle that web of causality, and I’m simply glad that it happened. In 2015, I limped into the…

Skylar L. Primm (he/him)

Cultivating students’ power, nurturing students’ joy, celebrating students’ humanity. 🧡🌱 skylarprimm.com highmarq.org

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