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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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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