Let’s give our students better role models – and more ways to pursue ‘success’

This was a difficult year at our high school. We lost two students and several recent graduates to suicide. The losses weighed heavy on our community, and students responded with petitions and other initiatives calling for less stress, more understanding, and more help dealing with mental illnesses, especially anxiety and depression. The student newspaper ran…

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End this year on a thoughtful note

It’s the end of another school year, and that means lots of lists, lots of dotting i’s and crossing t’s. Check in the textbooks. Box up the classroom shelves. Try to impose order on the chaotic school-year filing system. Then, return the IEP/accommodation plan binders to the office. Turn in final grades. Report progress toward…

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Why I actually like AP season

There are a lot of reasons people hate the AP (Advanced Placement) program. To start with, the stress of AP testing season, which is upon us. Then the fact that some colleges no longer give credit for passing AP tests, so it feels like wasted money. Some people hate AP because they don’t believe high…

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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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The grading is the hardest part

For all the time we spend talking about assessment, we don’t spend nearly enough of it talking about time. I mean the time it takes to grade everything. In an ideal world, our work would look like this: Students learn a new concept, like the flaws of Keynesian fiscal policy. Students have several opportunities to…

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The teacher’s way is rarely the only way

Last week, I asked a few hundred of my former journalism students: Did you ever feel like you received an unfair grade in high school? If so, why was it unfair? I asked them to share their stories with me, and I received just one — from Alistair. His experience is good food for thought,…

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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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First, don’t embarrass anyone

One of my former students, now a sophomore, visited the other day and reminisced about last year’s econ class. It was a hard class for him, but he pulled through with a B-. Out of the blue, he said: “I wasn’t afraid of you.”  I was a little taken aback. “What do you mean?” I…

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Parenting with a future teen in mind

I became a teacher the same year I became a parent: 1994. It’s impossible for me to separate the two in my mind. I can’t imagine teaching without the parent perspective, and I can’t imagine parenting without thinking of our children as the teenagers/students they would become. As our kids grew up, I frequently found…

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We have so much to learn

What did you read over break? As usual I plowed through a few fun books, like Ruth Ware’s The Lying Game, Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, and Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. But I also set aside time for a few “good” books — you know, the ones that require a little more…

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