Just tell me what to do, please

Two years ago, when I was deep into the writing/editing phase of my book, Beat Boredom, I received a very disheartening email from my editor. She said, basically: This isn’t what we want. Try again. You can image the emotional turbulence. I was frustrated. And angry. And exhausted.   And I wanted to respond: But…

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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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Is boredom good for us?

I’ve been hearing a lot recently about the “benefits” of boredom. One of the teachers honored by the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies said she tells her high school students they need to feel bored. They need to unplug, unwind, step back from the world of constant stimulation and just let themselves BE. Even if it’s…

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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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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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Girls need grit, too

I’ve noticed a small but disturbing trend in my AP Macroeconomics classes: Girls are more likely to give up. Although very few students drop my class — only a handful in the past five years — so far it’s only been girls. When I hear from their parents, I often hear things like: She’s so…

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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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Compassion alone is not enough

In high schools nationwide, and mine is no exception, we are seeing more and more teenagers suffering from mental health crises. Students at my school are talking openly about this – trying to raise awareness by making videos, creating T-shirts, and even speaking to the faculty. This is good. We need to be made aware…

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