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…

My Problem With the Grit Movement (And How We Can Fix It)

This post is a part of the Thriving Learner Series and originally appeared on WeAreTeachers.com. File this one under “Accomplishment Strategies.” Imagine hundreds of jigsaw puzzle pieces strewn across a table, waiting to be put together by a student. There are numerous shapes, sizes, and colors. Some puzzle pieces are flipped upside down. The student searches…

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…