Let’s get serious about stereotype threat

It’s been 20 years since Steele and Aronson first published their work on “stereotype threat,” demonstrating that we are profoundly influenced by internalized cultural stereotypes about ourselves. Since then, more than 300 peer-reviewed experiments have found similar results. Time and time again, we find that individuals perform worse in school, limit their career options and…

Read More

Lean Startup: Powerful for teachers

Last week, I had the opportunity to teach the Lean Startup/Design Thinking method of entrepreneurship to an inaugural group of Minnesota teachers. It was the most fun I’ve ever had leading a workshop. (The image above is from a pitch deck designed by several of the participants.) The feedback I got from teachers was similarly…

Read More

AP test scores are out… So what?

I am one of those nerdy teachers who cannot wait to check her students’ AP scores in July. Pass rates, distributions, average scores — it’s all interesting data to me. I always want to know how my latest cohort of students compares to previous groups, whether I’m reaching my goal (93% with a 3 or…

Read More

If school comes easy, find a bigger challenge

Near the end of the school year, one of my freshmen (I’ll call her Meg) complained to me about our school’s grading system. “Why does homework have to be 20% of my grade? If I can get As on tests without doing assignments, why does homework count against me?” We had a little post-AP test…

Read More

A cynical take on the value of school

Last week, a Slate.com article on a new technology to track mental engagement (Pay Attention!) raised the issue of boredom in school, quoting this stat: “82 percent of U.S. high school students report being sometimes or often bored in class.” Like me, the writer Mary Mann (also the author of Yawn: Adventures in Boredom) clearly…

Read More

Show kids the possibilities

Silver Falls State Park, the site of the wedding Last weekend, I went to a former student’s wedding in Oregon. In high school, she was a journalism kid, a writer who was always interested in other people, especially the underdogs. She wrote a particularly compelling editorial — after a school shooting in rural Minnesota —…

Read More

A perfect place to learn

Last week, I experienced the ideal learning environment. For five days, I learned Spanish at an adult immersion program in Samara Beach, Costa Rica. The fresh air, the warm sun, the sound of the ocean, the small classes (just six students with an instructor), and the motivated students were all big factors — and ones…

Read More

Is the teacher supposed to get it wrong?

Oops. Nothing feels worse than making a mistake that could confuse your students for days, if not weeks. Today, in a summer course for new econ teachers, I drew a graph wrong. That really shouldn’t happen at this point — I’ve done this for years, and I know how to show firms shifting production from…

Read More

Let’s use – not abuse – standardized tests

Watching Frontline’s documentary of Michelle Rhee during the same week AP scores were released has me trying to wrap my head around this issue of standardized testing and how we should use test scores. I know many teachers hate standardized tests of any kind — and for good reason. They cause anxiety. They are biased…

Read More

Fail fast… or not at all?

It’s been a few years since I have failed a student. Usually, the extensive scaffolding, phone calls home, opportunities for retakes and frequent attention/harassment I provide are enough to keep everyone on track, at least enough to earn an honest D. In the few cases where they are not — the student who rarely comes…

Read More