When model students become the teachers…

Were you the kind of high school student who always did your homework? Who always studied for tests? Who came to class prepared? Or were you kind who procrastinated? Who scraped by on what you could pick up in class? Who was too busy or distracted to pick up a book or notebook at home?…

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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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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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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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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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