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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Got a teacher on your list? Try a time-turner

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, you might remember, Hermione had a time-turner that basically let her be two places at once — so she could take even more classes. That would be so convenient, especially during passing time in a public high school. What are teachers expected to do during this frantic…

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What is a 3, anyway?

In the world of standards-based grading, a 3 means proficient. Does that means it’s kind of like a C? Or more like a B? Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter. It does. It has to go in the gradebook. In late August, I wrote this post about my first foray into the world of proficiency-based…

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‘I don’t know this word’… Why student knowledge and context matter

My friend Mary, a bookseller in Chicago, told me I need to read Educated, a memoir by Tara Westover. Westover was was raised by American survivalists, and her story explains how she broke with her family’s extremist ideology and left home to seek her education, culminating in a Ph.D. from Cambridge. The part that stuck…

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Grit offers good – but not great – insights

I just finished reading Grit, and I have to say I’m disappointed. I know Angela Duckworth’s argument that passion and perseverance can overcome obstacles and lead to success has met with mixed reviews — especially from those who believe the focus on grit discounts the impact of poverty — and I have to say I…

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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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Why a brand-new master schedule isn’t the solution

Note to readers: I try to post every week, but a summer full of PD workshops has turned out to be busier than the school year! I hope you’re having a restful July.  In the past few weeks leading AP summer institutes for Macro/Micro teachers, I’ve had a lot of discussions about the “school day.”…

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