Grit offers good – but not great – insights

action adventure challenge climb
Photo by Martin on

I just finished reading Grit, and I have to say I’m disappointed.

I know Angela Duckworth’s argument that passion and perseverance can overcome obstacles and lead to success has met with mixed reviews — especially from those who believe the focus on grit discounts the impact of poverty — and I have to say I side with the critics.

First of all, I was surprised by how little she addressed the problems faced by disadvantaged youth. “Grit” has been championed by so many people in education the past two years that I expected the book was going to be all about that.

Instead, it was mostly about talking to champions — like world-class spellers and swimmers — and figuring out their strategies for success. Unfortunately, that means it suffered from a lot of hindsight bias. I kept wondering as I read: How many people worked just as hard with just as much passion as these champions but didn’t achieve success?

Duckworth does make some good points, though, so I’ll share a few of my a-ha moments.

  • She tells a good story about a chronically tardy teenager who got a job at American Eagle. The boss told her, “Oh by the way, the first time you’re late, you’re fired.” The girl’s behavior changed overnight. As Duckworth observed (albeit anecdotally): “Lectures don’t have half the effect of consequences.” As a teacher in a school with very few consequences for behavior, I wonder how great a disservice we are doing.
  • She weighs in on the debate over telling kids to “follow their passion” v. telling kids to “be practical” and focus on getting a decent job. The larger issue, she argues, is that most kids don’t even have a passion to follow. So true. We need to help our students develop a sense of purpose — to counter their growing feelings of anxiety and despair and to give them a reason for wanting to learn.
  • She explains how often we see the final performance — a TED Talk, an Olympic race, an A on a test — and do not see the hours upon hours of effort that went into it. This is especially problematic for teenagers, who assume successful peers are “naturals” and they are just failures. We need to peel back the curtain… somehow.
  • She writes about one experiment conducted with seventh-graders, where half received essays back with Post-it notes saying, “I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know you can reach them,” while others received a placebo note: “I’m giving you these comments so that you’ll have feedback on your paper.” Twice as many students (80% compared to 40%) with the high expectations note revised their essays. A good reminder of the simple strategies we can use to build our students’ motivation and self-confidence.

Grit is a fine response to our over-emphasis on IQ — especially with a president who taunts people by alleging they have low IQ scores — but it didn’t break much new ground for me. Mindset (Dweck) is a more thorough and compelling analysis of many of the same issues.

Martha Rush is a teacher, blogger, author and speaker. Visit or join the NeverBore LLC Facebook group for more information. @MarthaSRush #beatboredom



Relationships: Necessary but NOT sufficient for student learning

businesswomen businesswoman interview meeting
Photo by Tim Gouw on

“They don’t care what you know until they know you care.”

“No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.”

“Great teachers focus not on compliance but on connections and relationships.”

“Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

It’s that time of year when the teacher-web is heating up with inspirational reminders that we have to build relationships with the kids we teach.

Well, duh.

But what does that mean, exactly?

It’s easy to define the opposite — a lack of relationship. Here are a few illustrative examples of what NOT to do:

  • Don’t bother to learn kids’ names, or mispronounce them
  • Ignore children in distress
  • Never allow students to question you or your methods
  • Tease and belittle kids who don’t meet your standards

You get the gist. If you behave like this, you shouldn’t set foot in a 21st Century classroom. Find another career.

But knowing what not to do doesn’t mean we therefore know what to do.

Building authentic, supportive and (to quote Zaretta Hammond) “warmly demanding” relationships with our students is hard work. Just like building real adult relationships. It takes time to build trust, establish clear channels of communication, clarify expectations and learn from one another.

Unfortunately, many teachers — feeling pressured by calls to simply “build relationship first” — slip into “get students to like me” mode. After all, they’ll learn from me if they like me, right? (Again, the transitive property doesn’t apply here.)

Here’s what we do in a misguided attempt to build relationships by currying favor:

  • Neglect to hold students accountable for behavior or learning
  • Spend class time chatting and socializing rather than fostering learning
  • Offer too-easy, feel-good assignments to inflate student grades
  • “Friend” students on social media

These teacher behaviors can make you popular with students, and they do build a kind of relationship, but they are not what our students need from us.

Our students need us to model curiosity and enthusiasm about learning. They need us to challenge them to take on increasingly difficult tasks, so they will build important skills like writing, calculating, reasoning and public speaking. They need us to unlock access to future careers, by helping them set goals and work toward them. They need us to hold them accountable.

When we forget our critical role and become our students’ friends instead of their teachers, we miss the opportunity to expand their knowledge, ignite their passions, build their resilience and create more opportunities for themselves in the future.

I know many of us become teachers because we like kids. That’s good. But our job is so much bigger than getting them to like us in return.

Martha Rush is a teacher, blogger, author and speaker. Visit or join the NeverBore LLC Facebook group for more information. @MarthaSRush #beatboredom

Let’s stop emphasizing ‘nice’ for girls

asian blur book child
Photo by Nguyen Nguyen on

What is your first response when someone makes an unreasonable request of you?

  • Hell no!
  • With all due respect, a firm no
  • No, but… (feeling guilty)
  • OK, I guess I’ll do it

Be honest. Is it easy to stand up for yourself, or do you hem and haw and feel guilty later?

This might surprise people who know me, but I’m in the “No, but…” camp. I’ll say no, but I’ll stew about it and question myself and wish that I could somehow find a way to appease the person. I think this is part of growing up female in this culture.

To be clear, I’m not talking about #metoo situations or anything that rises to the level of harassment. Just irritating requests, like, “I can’t come to parent night Thursday, so can I just meet with you Wednesday at 6 instead?”

My ambivalence annoys me — why would I feel bad about saying no to this? — and it worries me when I think about young women in our culture.

Objectively, I can look at these situations — a parent demands that I make a ridiculous exception for her son, a company offers me unacceptably low pay for contract work, a family member asks for a truly inconvenient favor — and see that the only rational response is “no”.

But like many women, I grew up wanting to be “nice”, wanting to please people — so voicing my refusal causes agony. I don’t remember my mom or dad ever telling me to be this way, but I also never saw my mom confront anyone or assert herself.

In any case, I think this goes well beyond our individual parental role models. Even if my mom had encouraged me to take a stand, never undervalue myself, and refuse to feel guilty, I’m not sure her message could have overcome our societal preference for niceness in girls. Just last week, a colleague shared this article with me, revealing that likeability matters more than GPA or alma mater for women job-seekers. Argh.

Being a nice yes-person has its advantages, of course, especially in the education field. Teachers are not generally rewarded for being confrontational, and it’s not like we ever have to ask the boss for a raise or a promotion. Go along and get along, and you can survive a long time in public education.

But despite the research on new job seekers, an overwhelming desire to be nice doesn’t work very well in business (as I’m learning) or politics, and it’s not a great mindset to pass on to our daughters.

You don’t become a successful entrepreneur by letting people walk over you. You don’t become an effective lawyer by backing down in negotiations. You won’t make a medical breakthrough if you’re not willing to step on a few toes.

I don’t have a daughter, but if I did I would talk about this with her all the time.

Instead, I’ll keep working to instill in my female students the self-confidence that I don’t feel in myself. And I’ll hope that when some future boss, friend, or family member make ridiculous requests of them, they’ll be able to say “no” without feeling a twinge of guilt.

Martha Rush is a teacher, blogger, author and speaker. Visit or join the NeverBore LLC Facebook group for more information. @MarthaSRush


Is boredom good for us?

iphone conference keynote smartphone
Photo by Startup Stock Photos on

I’ve been hearing a lot recently about the “benefits” of boredom.

One of the teachers honored by the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies said she tells her high school students they need to feel bored. They need to unplug, unwind, step back from the world of constant stimulation and just let themselves BE. Even if it’s hard.

Manoush Zomorodi, host of the @NotetoSelf podcast, wrote an entire book on this subject called Bored and Brilliant. She also argues that boredom holds the key to insight and creativity. We need to give ourselves time without stimulation, she argues so that we can truly think.

They are both right — to a point. Downtime without any scheduled activity, unplugged from our devices, is a good thing. But boredom is only valuable if we are in charge of what we do next.

You see, boredom is our brain’s signal to us that it’s time to stop what we’re doing and move on to something new. Boredom is great when we can take that message and run with it.

See the rest of this post at

Martha Rush is a teacher, blogger, author and speaker. Visit or join the NeverBore LLC Facebook group for more information. @MarthaSRush

Why a brand-new master schedule isn’t the solution

white and black weekly planner on gray surface
Photo by Bich Tran on

Note to readers: I try to post every week, but a summer full of PD workshops has turned out to be busier than the school year! I hope you’re having a restful July. 

In the past few weeks leading AP summer institutes for Macro/Micro teachers, I’ve had a lot of discussions about the “school day.” Meaning: How long is your class period? How often does class meet each week? How long is your quarter/trimester/semester?

Nearly every one of the 30+ teachers I have met is on a different schedule.

Some schools have an eight-period day, with 42-minute periods.

Others (like me) have a six-period day, with 57- minute periods.

Others have seven 48-minute periods. Or block scheduling, with some 45-minute periods and other 85-minute periods. Or a modified block — I don’t even know what that means.

We have quarters, trimesters, semesters. I honestly think no two districts in the U.S. run on the same schedule. Why? What are we gaining with all of this local control and experimentation?

I can tell you what we’re losing — the ability to actually share lesson plans with teachers in other districts. The opportunity to develop best practices and collaborate, across districts, on implementation. I might have a fabulous, coherent, well-organized lesson, but no one else can pick it up and use it because they don’t have 57-minute periods.

I was curious whether all this experimenting has led to actual quantifiable gains, so I spent some time this week researching to find out if anyone knows what schedule is best for kids’ learning or mental health. The answer, sadly, is no.

Despite all of the time and money we’ve put into up-ending student schedules, it’s all moving chairs on the Titanic.

A number of doctoral candidates have actually done intensive research on this, believe it or not. Jay Roland Dostal, who got his Ed.D. from the University of Nebraska, wrote the best (most comprehensive) thesis I found.

His topic was “alternative scheduling and its effect on science achievement.” He compared disciplinary reports and science achievement at high schools with seven-period days and four-period block schedules — with extensive pre-testing, post-testing and statistical analysis.

His findings (in short): “The reality is, that changing the school scheduling vehicle in and of itself doesn’t have a direct impact on student achievement according to the results of this study.”

Well that’s disappointing.

In the long run, Dostal concludes, the quality of instruction matters more than than the format of the school day. Frustrating, isn’t it? We should be putting our time and money into improving instructional strategies, but instead many districts keep changing schedules, eager to jump on the next bandwagon.

My high school, for the record, hasn’t changed the basic makeup of our six-period day in the 21 years I’ve taught there. I guess they had the right idea all along.

Martha Rush is a teacher, blogger, author and speaker. Visit or join the NeverBore LLC Facebook group for more information. @MarthaSRush


What do we do when students don’t know seemingly everyday words?


When is the last time you encountered words (in English) that you didn’t know? How did it impact your understanding? How did it make you feel?

I encounter unfamiliar words once in a while, but I honestly can’t recall a recent example. The last time I was truly stymied by vocabulary was my sophomore year in college, in a poli sci class. I remember reading a challenging text and stumbling over words like “diaspora” and “hegemony.”

There were so many unfamiliar terms that I couldn’t make sense of the reading at all. I was so frustrated that I was nearly in tears by the time I got to my TA’s office hours.

Why write about this now?

In the past week, I’ve had several conversations about vocabulary with colleagues, and they helped me realize that I might be overlooking critical vocabulary deficits in my students. (This is caused by their lack of reading, but that’s another subject.)

Sure, I know that my AP Macro students don’t know what “expenditure,” “propensity” and “aggregate” mean. I know that my AP Psych students don’t know what “longitudinal,” “adaptive” and “conditioning” mean. We discuss and define those words in class; they are part of the explicit course content.

But what about more common words like “prior,” “preference” and “novel”? I’d like to think that high school students come into class knowing these, but unfortunately, many of them don’t. They see the words “novel stimulus” on a test about infant development, and they are baffled.

This deficit not only makes learning the subject more difficult — it makes students lose confidence in their abilities. What’s worse than realizing you are lost in a text or conversation?

So what should we do about it?

When I was in high school, English teachers always assigned us vocabulary workbooks – no doubt aimed at boosting our SAT scores. We had to define – and use in a sentence – all sorts of words we never used again, like “traduce”  and “unctuous”.

I promptly forgot most of them, so that doesn’t seem like the best approach.

Nor is it good enough to merely use the words in class. Too many students are willing to let unfamiliar terms brush past them – without asking – because it’s too embarrassing to speak up, and they’ve grown accustomed being confused.

One option is to simplify our readings and tests, like we do (quite reasonably) for English language learners. No one expects a new English speaker to know a word like “hinder,” so it’s fine to replace it with “make difficult.”

But if we do this over and over — for our fluent English speakers — we’re just contributing to their vocabulary deficit. When they meet any college text, they’ll be hindered, to say the least.

Nancy Fenton, a rock star AP Psych teacher at Stevenson High School in Illinois, includes a handful of words like “prior” and “novel” — words that appear on tests but aren’t necessarily psych terms — in each unit study guide. She’s taken the time to figure out which words show up frequently and really impede her students’ understanding. That’s a great idea.

Another strategy is to ask students to put unfamiliar words on Post-its or online Padlets to share anonymously, so they can ask for help without feeling self-conscious. I’m sure I’d be surprised by the words that show up, but at least I would be aware.

Then how do we get students to internalize and remember these words?

I might need to ask an EL or language arts teacher for help with that, but ignoring the vocabulary deficit is definitely the wrong approach. We can’t very well expect students to be successful if they don’t know what we’re talking about.

Martha Rush is a teacher, blogger, author and speaker. Visit or join the NeverBore LLC Facebook group for more information. @MarthaSRush

Let’s give our students better role models – and more ways to pursue ‘success’

Eddy Kwon (second from right) with MYCincinnati. Used with permission.

This was a difficult year at our high school. We lost two students and several recent graduates to suicide. The losses weighed heavy on our community, and students responded with petitions and other initiatives calling for less stress, more understanding, and more help dealing with mental illnesses, especially anxiety and depression.

The student newspaper ran an article headlined, “Does Mounds View have a problem?” — and I think we were all starting to think the answer might be yes. Many of our students are very driven, sleep-deprived and stressed out, and perhaps it’s gone too far.

But then the past few weeks happened. The shocking news that suicides are up 25% in our country since 1999 — and up 40% in our state. Then Kate Spade. And Anthony Bourdain.

And suddenly it seems the problem is not ours — not our school’s, specifically — but our nation’s problem, our culture’s problem. What are we doing to ourselves? Why is despair on the rise? Why are so many people living in misery behind their shiny facades?

When I talked with other teachers at the AP Economics reading in Cincinnati last week, they said their students are having the same experience — the same ramped-up ambitions, the same flagging high school spirit, and the same struggles with anxiety and depression.

Welcome to the hyper-competitive, unsustainable, empty-feeling 21st Century. I felt so hopeless. How can we change our schools and communities and combat this malaise? 

But then I found a ray of hope in Eddy Kwon.

Eddy, a former student, had reached out through Facebook earlier this year, and when I found out he was living in Cincinnati, I suggested we meet up while I was there grading. We had dinner, and he filled me in on his past 10 years.

Let me say first that Eddy was an amazingly talented high school student — a musician, an actor, a writer, an editor, an all-star at pretty much everything he did. Like many of our high-achieving students, he could have done anything. He went to the University of Cincinnati to study classical music and conducting, but he soon realized it wasn’t a good fit.

So he started doing other things. Playing gigs around Cincinnati. Engaging in social activism. Changing his major to jazz. His pursuit of a purpose led him to help found MYCincinnati, a free after-school youth orchestra in west Cincinnati, and he became the director in 2015.

The program — which uses music as a vehicle for social change — has grown from 11 students its first year to 120. The staff — once two people — is now 15. 

A few days after we had dinner, I got to see some of Eddy’s MYCincinnati students perform during a show called “Lost Generation” at Cincinnati’s Fringe Festival. The students’ music was beautiful, haunting and professional, and it was obvious that they adore Eddy.

More pertinent to the topic at hand, it was obvious to me that Eddy finds his work (and his life) deeply meaningful. Here is this stellar young adult, who had every opportunity to “get ahead” financially, build a huge resume and rack up big credentials in our society, and instead he’s built a life based on purpose.

He told me about the work his group is doing to give students a place to belong, help families achieve homeownership, and build community in Cincinnati’s underserved Price Hill neighborhood. He also told me that he’s worked long hours for many years for not so much pay, but that’s OK.

I asked Eddy what motivates him, and he said: “I’m motivated by the idea that ‘small is all’ — that, like fractals, the micro reflects and shapes the macro. There are many avenues of social and political change that I cannot access. But, through engagement with my own, personal creative practice, I can find a deep, transformative, and life-affirming peace. I can share this process with my students, and together, slowly, we can create the kind of community in which we want to live.”

That’s it. Eddy is one of the most accomplished, most content young adults I know — and yet none of what he is doing fits this checklist-for-success approach our teenagers have bought into. His life, his work, is the exact opposite of what our students think they want for their lives.

After our conversation, I wanted to box him up and bring him home, so I could share him with our school community (and the world). I want our students to hear his story so they can start thinking differently about success — and who they want to be in this world.

Eddy’s path isn’t for everyone. I know that. I’m not suggesting that the solution to our growing collective despair is for us all to renounce “highly competitive” colleges and professional careers and become community activists.

But I think his story has something to teach all of us — as teachers and parents — about how we talk to young people about their futures and who we use as role models. Success isn’t a TV show or a powerful position or a big paycheck or a fat resume. That’s clearer than ever. It’s finding something you truly believe in and dedicating your life to it, and Eddy has found it.

Learn more about MYCincinnati: Shostakovich ConcertSnatch Me UpZiyad’s Story.

End this year on a thoughtful note

woman wearing gray long sleeved shirt and black black bottoms outfit sitting on gray wooden picnic table facing towards calm body of water at daytime
Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on

It’s the end of another school year, and that means lots of lists, lots of dotting i’s and crossing t’s.

Check in the textbooks. Box up the classroom shelves. Try to impose order on the chaotic school-year filing system.

Then, return the IEP/accommodation plan binders to the office. Turn in final grades. Report progress toward this year’s official improvement goals.

Check, check, check.

The end of the year always brings a sense of accomplishment and closure, but it also brings a roller coaster of emotions: sadness, exhaustion, irritation, impatience, relief. We love our students; we’ll miss them; and sometimes we’re tired of them, ready to see them go.

Somewhere in this process, we need space and time for a little more serious reflection on how this year went — and what we could do better next year. Rather than slamming the door on this year’s grade book and breathing easier once the most challenging kids leave for the last time, we need to actually stop, think and learn from our year.

Here are some questions to consider as you’re grading the late tests and shredding the old bubble sheets. Not as an administrative hoop to jump through, but just for you.

  • What was my greatest (or most surprising) victory this year? For me, it was seeing how much better my AP Macro students performed when I flipped the class and gave them class time to work through problems, rather than listen to me lecture. Also, I managed some fairly challenging parent emails without getting frustrated or flustered this year!
  • What was my worst mistake or biggest disappointment? I hate this question, but it’s necessary. I didn’t pay close enough attention to two of my senior boys, who were floating by just above passing. I was so focused on my overwhelmed freshmen that I didn’t notice quickly enough when these seniors started to trend lower.
  • Which relationships need more attention? Relationships with colleagues. I’m part-time, and I’m not in the building in the afternoon, and this is the first year I rarely made it to lunch with my department. I regret that because I work with great people, and I feel disconnected now. I miss their insight, as well as their humor. I need to make more effort next year.
  • What did I learn from my students? Among many things, I learned that performance doesn’t capture a student’s experience. One boy, who struggled all year, shocked me by thanking me last week for making Psych class so interesting. If it hadn’t been so engaging, he said, he would have stopped coming. He’s going to take it again in college, possibly even pursue it, despite the difficulties he had.
  • If I had it to do again, what would I do differently this year? This could be a long list. #1? I wish I would have used more team-learning in Psych and given them more opportunities to discuss and apply the concepts they were learning. That’s also on the agenda for next year.

I hope you have a wonderful end to the school year and a restful, recuperative summer!

Martha Rush is a teacher, blogger, author and speaker. Visit or join the NeverBore LLC Facebook group for more information. @MarthaSRush

Our students want to do work — when it’s work that matters


I love this story from last week’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune about North High students presenting research on social issues at a recent University of Minnesota symposium.

One student presented his research on police brutality. Another her work on disparate maternal mortality rates for black women. Other topics included domestic abuse, poverty and immigration.

The students surveyed their peers, researched the problems, and proposed their own solutions.

The article points out: This was “a rare opportunity for the students — mostly freshmen — to make their work for an audience rather than just for a grade.”

This is incredibly important and far too rare.

One of the best ways we can hook students — especially adolescents who feel disenfranchised — is to give them the chance to do authentic work, tackling real-world problems they care about. Then let them share their work with the world.

In research for my book, Beat Boredom, I found many incredible examples of this kind of work.

Students conducting their own inquiries into the quality of their local soil and water supplies.

Students (even in youth detention facilities) learning farm-to-table food preparation.

Students creating documentary films, collecting community history through interviews, founding their own service-learning ventures, developing underwater robots that can remove oil from a shipwreck.

In every case, the students were deeply motivated by the chance to do “authentic” work. And yet, these learning experiences still merit newspaper headlines because they are too few and far between.

If you’re not convinced this kind of work is valuable, consider the Academy of Information Technology and Robotics in Florida. The school recruited low-performing students and taught them all of their subject matter through six-week team challenges.

In one challenge based on the television series CSI, students learned about DNA, as well as learning trigonometry to help with blood spatter analysis, physics to help with bullet trajectories, and the history of the FBI.

At the end of every unit, students presented their findings to community members who work in related fields. By the end of freshman year, these students were surpassing their peers in other county schools; 97 percent scored in the midrange or above on the ninth-grade biology exam.

So don’t just read the North High story and smile and think of this teacher in isolation. Think about what we can do every day in our classrooms to make student learning both relevant and real. Think about how we can design science experiments, writing assignments and research projects that get our students out of the classroom and into their communities.

If we want our students to care about learning, we need to give them important problems to tackle. Not some day – but now.

Martha Rush is a teacher, blogger, author and speaker. Visit or join the NeverBore LLC Facebook group for more information. @MarthaSRush


Teaching writing is everyone’s job

(c) Can Stock Photo / thepoeticimage

Nothing is more difficult to teach — at least at the K-12 level — than writing.

You can teach kids vocabulary terms and math formulas and scientific principles all sorts of ways, both good and bad. You can lecture, assign reading, assign videos, hand out worksheets, develop experiments, create matching games.

But no one can learn to write by hearing about it, reading about it, watching videos, using flashcards or playing games. Every individual has to actually do it in order to learn how.

What makes this more difficult is that we can’t assess student writing using a multiple-choice test or even, if we’re honest, a finely tuned rubric. Evaluating student writing is always subjective, and it requires extensive, individualized feedback and hands-on guidance from a careful and reflective reader. Talk about time-consuming!

Unfortunately, our response to this challenge has been to assign less writing or to teach students writing through formulas, like the old “five-paragraph essay.” (My editor once told me this format is so widely discredited that no one is teaching it anymore — and yet, my students have all learned it. Hmmm.)

Or the new “claims-warrants” structure — which I honestly don’t even understand.

When I was in elementary school, it was “7 steps to a good report!”

The justification for these methods is “If not this, then what?” But every attempt to break down writing into a formula ends with students asking questions like:

How many paragraphs should my paper be?

And how many sentences in each paragraph?

Seriously? Is that what writing is? (How many paragraphs should a blog post be?)

How many times in your post-academic life have you been asked to write anything that fits this kind of formula? For most of us, the answer is “never.”

So what do we write — and how — once we get out of school and into a workplace?

For most professionals and many non-professionals, writing is a critical skill. At the very least, you have to be able to write a resume, a cover letter and clear, coherent, appropriately toned emails.

In many jobs, you also have to be able to write data analyses, research reports, proposals, contracts, promotional campaigns, persuasive sales talks, job evaluations and complaint letters. You have to be able to clearly express a point and support it with reasoning and evidence, in a whole host of different disciplines and venues.

I’m not arguing here that we should only teach “real world” writing in school. I value the humanities, and there’s definitely a place for teaching creative writing, poetry, and literary analysis. But we can’t only teach English-class-style writing, and we have to help our students learn to break out of that mold.

What’s the answer? I’ll take my cue from higher ed. At the University of Wisconsin, “helping students improve their writing skills is a responsibility for all faculty” ( Similarly, teaching writing in our own disciplines — and helping students understand where writing fits in subjects like chemistry, math and economics — is a shared responsibility for all high school teachers.

I propose we each assign at least one full-on writing assignment each year. And that we be prepared to coach our students along the way, rather than giving them a fill-in-the-blanks formula.

Accept that it’s subjective. Accept that it’s a challenge. Do it anyway.

Martha Rush is a teacher, blogger, author and speaker. Visit or join the NeverBore LLC Facebook group for more information. @MarthaSRush