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…

23 Practices for a Thriving Life

This is part one in a series on nurturing thriving learners from AffectiveLiving and WeAreTeachers. “Why do people go to school?” This is one of my favorite questions to ask my students. “Because we have to,” is usually the first thing I hear. But they know my response to what I call “have-to-ism:” You don’t…

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…

Empowering Students to Change the World

It’s a bittersweet snow day today.  It’s sweet because . . . well because it’s a snow day.  It’s bitter though because my Positive Psychology class’s planned service field trip will have to be cancelled.  Empowering students to value altruism is central to my philosophy of education, so to help overcome this snow day bummer, I thought I…

Why you haven’t heard from me in a bit

Hi all, You may have noticed that I haven’t posted here in months.  Let me explain why: I have a new job, one that has taken a lot more time, attention, and energy than even my most liberal guesses.  I’m now a parent of a fussy, growing, baby boy.  So, if you’re wondering why I…

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…

[VIDEO] Is Teaching Worth It?

For all the great educators I’ve met, including those who are soon to lend their passion and talents to the field. Please share this with an educator you know! Huge gratitude to Kevin Romeo, Daniel Juan Martinez and the whole RHINO MEDIA PRODUCTIONS team, as my student volunteers.

Why I have faith in American educators: I see America teaching

Traveling always strengthens and reaffirms my faith in teachers across America.  Read on for a reflection I wrote for WeAreTeachers during a recent stint to work with a small village in Alaska. For years I’ve been teaching. For these same years I’ve been exposed to conversations about teachers in America. Each day I hear people talk about what…

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…

To Make Change This School Year, It’s All About the Benjamins

Some critics of education quip that teachers need to change, as if we don’t face change on a weekly, a daily, a minute-to-minute basis. Think about all the changes you were expected to make in just the last year of your teaching. Ten. That’s the number – a conservative estimate – of changes we faced as a…

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…