6 Ways to Grow Gratitude

You haven’t felt emotion until you have seen a parent cry. Some of you are going to a dark place in your mind, thinking about that condescending jerk from conferences, crying in shame. Although that would definitely engage emotion, that’s not the kind of crying I’m referencing. I’m talking about tears of pride and connection…

The ABCs of Fostering Optimism

This post originally appeared on WeAreTeachers.com.  File this one under “Accomplishment” concepts. We’ve all seen it. A high achieving student shutting down after a few minor mistakes. A kid who doesn’t even try, even when the task at hand is easy. A student who wails, “I suck at math.” Each of these scenes represents one…

Grit Ladders: A Simple Strategy to Fuel Motivation

I celebrate D-minuses. I celebrate class averages that are just barely above passing. Sometimes I even celebrate a kid just turning in a paper. Not because I have low standards. D-minus is not my end goal. A group of kids barely scraping by in their education is far from my definition of satisfactory teaching. But I…

The Cost of Our College Obsession

American education has a faith problem.  No, I’m not talking about the debates about religion and to what extent it influences schools.  I’m talking about the blind, unquestioning faith we have to the god of educational purpose: College. American education is obsessed with college as the answer to all our woes.  College will fix our…

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…

What it’s like to be a kid with OCD (and what teachers can do to help)

One of my greatest thrills is helping my students share their experiences, their passions, and their lessons in writing.  So, I’m geeked to share the following post my student, Bailee Rieman, wrote for WeAreTeachers.  Check it out. What It’s Like to Be a Kid With OCD by Bailee Rieman “I don’t want to live anymore.” I said…

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…

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…

Staying Present in the Classroom: Practicing Mindful Teaching

How am I going to transition to the next lesson? What’s that smell? What am I going to have the kids who finish early do until the bell rings? Do you think any of them actually like this book? I hope our staff meeting doesn’t go long; I’ve got to get home to my puppy…

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…