A Call to Help Students Find Purpose

The simplified story is that one of my students cried after I made her pick up garbage for a day. The real story goes more like this: Each trimester, I take my students on a service learning field trip. We spend a morning volunteering at a local homeless shelter. In the afternoon, students pick up…

Podcasting with Weston Kieschnick

This final sprint at the end of the school year is always chaos.  Between teaching, grading, organizing my hot mess of a room, trying to motivate the end-of-the-year sloths called students, and trying to motivate the end-of-the-year sloth called myself, life is jam packed. However, one thing I will always make time for is connecting…

Free eBook: G Words – 20 Strategies for Fostering Grit and Growth Mindset

Hi all, After months of drafting, adding, and re-writing, I’ve finally finished a collection of strategies I’ve used to help cultivate grit and growth mindset in thousands of students.  This beefy 60 pager is free for anyone, no strings attached.  Just click on the link below (or the “free ebook” menu option). Below the image is…

7 Books About the Brain Every Teacher Should Read

My wife and I love to play a game called, “Y’know what blows my mind?”  It consists of one of us randomly ranting about things that blow our mind — things beyond our comprehension.  Outer space.  How tiny humans grow inside larger humans.  How our voices can be made into invisible data, thrown into the…

What Kills Student Motivation? We Asked Them.

“What are your thoughts on student motivation?” my principal recently asked. Knowing that I have an interest in motivation, as well as a love of working with at-risk students, he wanted to know my thoughts on why our achievement gap wasn’t narrowing. As a teacher, I of course had many thoughts. But, the many thoughts…

7 Ninja Moves for Increasing Academic Risk-Taking

We sometimes find ourselves in a culture of product-based praise. The A’s, the high test scores, the right answers: These are our educational celebrities. But we lose ​sight of the process, the effort, the risk it takes learners to achieve those great scores and grade point averages. In doing so, the message is sent: The product is…

How Academic Risk-Taking Dies in the Classroom

Picture a baby. A fresh one. Straight out of the womb. It’s probably making a bunch of noise. It’s probably gross looking (let’s be honest: this whole “cute newborn” thing is a myth). Despite the grossness of this baby, it came into the world wired with a certain skill set. On a résumé, this baby…

An Open Letter to Myself: Don’t Give Up

Twenty-four of my students are failing. Only two are passing. They are failing in the grade book. They are failing in mastering content. They are failing in overcoming the abyss of apathy that is a characteristic of the students I teach. And, because of this, I am failing. I have tried dozens of techniques and…

Three Questions Worth Asking

The following is adapted from a 2014 National Honor Society induction speech I was asked to give to the students of Plainwell High School. Read on ’til the end for a personal challenge.   ————————————– There’s a saying in education: “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.”  Have you heard this before?  I think…

With Trepid Hearts We Step: Overcoming the Thorn of Change

In troves of tromping feet, students and educators begin yet another school year this month.  With the advent of another academic year, there will be loud cries from citizens, educators, researchers, and politicians about all the changes that need to be made in education.  Students need to change.  Teachers especially need to change.  Administrators? Please change. We…

Something Deeper: On Teaching with Heart and the Poetry of Teaching

Teaching is poetry. It’s the creation of something deeper, something sleeping below a classroom structure.  Its meaning is buried underneath flash cards and Power Points, grade checks and rubrics.  The surface seems simple and direct — we see the quizzes and cold-calls as clearly as pure rhymes.  The bells ring and the lines break and we prepare for…