Will later start times = more sleep? We’re going to find out.

Will a later start time help our high school students get more sleep, foster better academic performance and reduce rates of anxiety and depression? I think so. But a few weeks ago, I was championing our school’s new start times — the first bell now rings at 8:35 a.m. instead of 7:25 a.m. — and…

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Relationships: Necessary but NOT sufficient for student learning

“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…

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Let’s stop emphasizing ‘nice’ for girls

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…

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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…

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College admissions IS a mania, but that doesn’t negate the value of hard work

It’s college decision season, so the internet is filled with chatter about the insanity of the current college application process. The main themes are anxiety and frustration. Anxiety driven by the fear that nothing short of a perfect GPA, multiple leadership positions, a resume full of volunteering and a patent will ensure college admission and…

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New grading schemes seem logical, but do they improve student learning?

I have one question for anyone promoting an overhaul of their high school grading system: How will it impact your students’ mindset, motivation, and learning? OK, maybe that’s three questions wrapped in one. But I feel like these are questions nobody is asking, and I want answers. If we’re investing time, money and teacher energy…

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Let’s get real about financial literacy

  11% of 18- to 25-year-olds have more than 10 checking account overdrafts per year. 40% of Americans spend more than they earn. Nearly 20% of African-American and Latino households are “unbanked” — meaning they’re not part of the formal financial system in this country.   Are you surprised by these stats (from The Unbanking…

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What can I even say?

It feels ridiculous to write about anything but the Parkland shooting this week. It’s on all of our minds in every single high school in this country, even as we try to keep things normal yet again for our too-vulnerable students. How could we not think about it when we locked our doors yesterday for…

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Not giving up on homework yet

When I first started teaching in 1994, assigning homework was a no-brainer. It was part of the Madeline Hunter model — “independent practice” — and part of preparing high school students for independent learning in college. It’s also how I was taught. In high school in the ’80s, I spent hours each night doing math…

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Living the 1970s dream: A lesson in critical thinking

Are Americans’ lives getting worse? Or does it just seem that way? One of our core responsibilities as high school teachers is to help our students develop critical thinking skills, learn to question assumptions and challenge “common sense”. It’s something we humans are bad at — as a rule — for all sorts of complex…

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