Building relationships? Just be yourself

“How do you build relationships with students?” A colleague asked me that yesterday, and I was stumped for a minute. I always struggle with that question and feel a little ashamed — because I don’t do many of the things experts say we are supposed to do. I do stand at the door when kids…

Read More

Is flipping ‘out’?

Does “flipping” your classroom really work? I’ve written about this a few times since I first flipped my AP Macro class two years ago. In my (anecdotal) experience, it’s been extremely effective. But a new study from West Point (reported in this EdWeek blog) says not so fast. Is it time for me to reconsider?…

Read More

Great teaching? Only if they’re learning

He’s a great teacher, but when he was explaining calculus, I really couldn’t understand it. He ran a good workshop, but when one of the teachers didn’t get something, he just explained it the same way again. Is anyone else confused? I heard both of these comments this summer — just part of casual backyard…

Read More

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?…

Read More

High-engagement activities make for a strong end to the school year

What do you do with your class after an AP test? Amuse the students with movies and games Engage the students in a high-interest project or lesson Count down the days till school is over Nothing at all Some AP teachers are done teaching on test day, thanks to their schools’ mid-May graduations. But for…

Read More

Schoolwork deadlines: Are they valuable, or just arbitrary rules?

Few issues spark more disagreement among teachers than late work. On one side: The real world has real deadlines. High school students need to learn this lesson now. On the other: Grades should reflect what students know — not their ability to meet arbitrary deadlines. Both sides have good points. The real world does have…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

You can’t teach entrepreneurship unless you’re truly willing to learn from failure

Note: This post was originally published on Quarter Zero’s Idea Board. As Chief Educator-in-Residence for Quarter Zero, I’ll be posting there every 2-3 weeks. I’ll also continue to post to this blog and NeverBore.org, but possibly less frequently. Five years ago, my high school student entrepreneurship program nearly folded. We’d had a lot of failures…

Read More

What would teenagers want to learn, if we let them choose?

While I was researching for my book, Beat Boredom, a few years ago, I visited a high school that prides itself on student-directed, project-based learning. I was excited to see it, and after talking with the school’s passionate leader, I was predisposed to be impressed. But when I got there, instead of seeing energized students…

Read More