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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What would teenagers want to learn, if we let them choose?

While I was researching for my book, Beat Boredom, a few years ago, I visited a high school that prides itself on student-directed, project-based learning. I was excited to see it, and after talking with the school’s passionate leader, I was predisposed to be impressed. But when I got there, instead of seeing energized students…

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Let’s show teens we value sleep

This year, my school district pushed back the high school start time from 7:25 a.m. to 8:35 a.m. in response to community pressure and research showing positive results from later starts — such as fewer tardies/truancies, higher grades, fewer car accidents and better mental health. The underlying goal, of course, was to get teenage students…

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Let’s be honest about the struggle — with our colleagues and with our students

Last week, I was talking with a friend who started a new teaching job this year. I was reminiscing on my first few years in the classroom — mostly the frustrations, tears, and rough days — and she seemed surprised. She said, “It seemed like you’ve always known what you were doing.” Nope. Our conversation…

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Second chances do have a downside

I saw a graphic on Twitter earlier this week that said something like: “There is no downside to giving a student a second chance. Zero, zilch, nada.” I scoffed and passed over it, but it kept nagging at me. I went back to find it later, and of course I couldn’t. So you’ll just have…

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Time to stop believing education myths

One of my sons gave me a book called 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology for Christmas. It was a perfect gift — he knows how much I love reading about flaws in “common sense” and popular opinion.  This is one of those books you can flip through and read in any order, so I…

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Not sure ‘rigorous’ is what we want

We use the word “rigorous” a lot in education — as in, “our students take rigorous courses” or “we have rigorous standards” — but what exactly does it mean? Is it a good thing? I looked up rigorous in a few dictionaries today, and among the definitions were words like “harsh,” “strict” and “severe.” Also,…

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We spend billions on ed tech; let’s work on making better use of it

Note: I have teamed up with Andrea Wilson Vazquez (master of makerspaces and coding) to offer Make Tech Matter design-thinking workshops with a tech focus. Interested in scheduling one for your school or organization in 2019? Email me at Martha.Rush@neverbore.org. What is one critical problem facing your community? My colleague, Andrea, and I led a…

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Proficiency-based grading: Still more questions than answers

Every time I think I’ve wrapped my head around proficiency-based grading, I encounter a new question, and I’m lost all over again. At my school, we’ve had a training session and a few meetings since I last blogged about my personal transition (What is a 3, anyway?). During staff training, we all read a blog…

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