Could design thinking help us design better school policies?

I’m reading Tim Brown’s book Change by Design, part of my prep work for my job as Chief Educator-in-Residence at Quarter Zero, and I keep wondering: What if we used design thinking to tackle everyday problems in schools? For example, tardies. Tardies drive high school teachers and administrators crazy for so many reasons, but here…

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Schoolwork deadlines: Are they valuable, or just arbitrary rules?

Few issues spark more disagreement among teachers than late work. On one side: The real world has real deadlines. High school students need to learn this lesson now. On the other: Grades should reflect what students know — not their ability to meet arbitrary deadlines. Both sides have good points. The real world does have…

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Help students learn to manage stress during ‘testing season’

The ACTs and state testing are just behind us, and AP tests, final projects and final exams are right around the corner. Remember what it felt like to be a high school student under that kind of stress? Even teenagers who don’t have a mental illness, like anxiety or depression, can feel overwhelmed and stressed…

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Memorization isn’t understanding, but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad

Now that we can google every fact, formula, date, direction, definition and synonym, many of us deride memorization as a pointless exercise. Instead, we focus on building understanding, developing critical thinking and scaling Bloom’s Taxonomy. To a large extent, I agree with this shift. I think our students are far better served by learning to…

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We talk about equality of opportunity, but do we really demand it?

In February, I wrote a blog post about the difference between social justice and socialism. In it, I defined social justice as “the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities.” One skeptical reader responded: “There is literally NO ONE that disagrees with that definition of social justice. Everyone wants equality…

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Be a good role model — because your students ARE paying attention

In the past few weeks, two former students (both female) told me I had been a role model to them — but for different reasons. One, who had suffered academic bullying in high school, said I had shown her how to be a strong woman. She emailed to tell me how she had finally stood…

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Five questions for parent conversations

For teachers, parent nights and parent phone calls are often a deep source of stress. It’s never fun to be the bearer of bad news — and there will be some difficult conversations when students are struggling. We want to communicate with our students’ parents, but we don’t want to say the wrong thing, and…

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You can’t teach entrepreneurship unless you’re truly willing to learn from failure

Note: This post was originally published on Quarter Zero’s Idea Board. As Chief Educator-in-Residence for Quarter Zero, I’ll be posting there every 2-3 weeks. I’ll also continue to post to this blog and NeverBore.org, but possibly less frequently. Five years ago, my high school student entrepreneurship program nearly folded. We’d had a lot of failures…

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How could we care about students and not want better opportunities for them?

“You don’t have to be indoctrinated by these loser teachers that are trying to sell you on socialism from birth.”   Donald Trump, Jr.   It’s hard not to be upset by the fact that one of our president’s sons — also a member of his inner circle — referred to our profession as “loser…

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A ‘fitbit’ to remind us to talk less

How much of your class time is teacher talk? How much is student talk? I noted in my book, Beat Boredom, that less than 2 minutes of a typical 60-minute English class is spent in genuine student-to-student discussion. That’s deeply concerning because students are better engaged and learning more when they are talking. Did you…

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