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5 Steps to Uncurling the Hedgehog Student

Here’s a huge problem that every educator encounters on a pretty regular basis: the classroom full of blank stares as you describe an assignment. Or worse, the rolling eyes and heavy sighs. Been there? I’m sure you have. How do you overcome this kind of resistance? How do you handle the “Hedgehog Student“?  You know […]

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11 Characteristics of Meaningful Work

Note from the Editor: While this piece is related to business practices and targeted to managers and business leaders, the parallels to education and student learning are striking. Teachers, curricula developers, and education leaders can find plenty herein to ponder, reflect on, and apply in practice.  It was originally posted at Switch and Shift.  Managers […]

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The Paradox of Students’ “Deficits” as Society’s Strengths

The Economist article, “In praise of misfits,” lays out the business-related benefits of what the author  calls “creatives,” “anti-social geeks,” “oddball quants,” and “rule-breaking entrepreneurs.” While the entire article is well worth the read, we have pulled out a few quotes to help frame the idea that we should work tirelessly to help our school […]

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@NYTimes’s Journalistic “Issue” vs. Journalistic “Integrity”

The NYTimes recently published a piece on teacher evaluation. I submitted the following comment (which they did not post) to the online forum: I searched through NYTimes’ archive of medical / law / finance / congressional / military reform articles looking for pieces that fail to quote a doctor / lawyer / banker / policy-maker / […]

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Matt Damon’s Save Our Schools Speech

Below is the speech Matt Damon gave at the Save Our Schools March on July 30, 2012 in Washington, DC. I had incredible teachers. And as I look at my life today, the things I value most about myself — my imagination, my love of acting, my passion for writing, my love of learning, my […]

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At the Intersection of Youth and the Future

Painting a picture that was both harrowing and hopeful, Van Jones titillated the gathering of educators on the final morning of ASCD’s 2013 Annual Conference with both the peril and promise of tomorrow. In short, despite the copious challenges we find ourselves in today, we can look to the generation currently in our schools to […]

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A REAL Paradigm Shift in Education

I envy Thomas Paine’s way with language. I’ve been searching for years for words that would have the impact of those he penned in his 1776 pamphlet, “The Crisis.” Admittedly, “These are the times that try men’s souls,” and the words that followed, weren’t a howling success. Only about a third of the colonists agreed with Paine’s call for […]

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From “Deficits” to “Neurodiversity” — the Time is Now

In a recent commentary piece at Education Week, author, speaker and educator Dr. Thomas Armstrong argues for tipping from a deficit model to a more inclusive (and enlightened) model that values students’ strengths, regardless of their learning profiles. He writes, I believe it’s time for a paradigm shift in the field of special education. Fortunately, […]

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Social Emotional Learning Core Competencies

Seeing the forest despite the trees. Our nation’s educational focus continues to zero in on “achievement” as defined by test scores in specific academic areas and the resulting gaps therein. This hyper focus exacerbates our nearly systematic blind eye related to learning for living and cultivating life long learners. As a result, policies that increase […]

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The Effective Teacher

There are several dimensions taken together in varying levels of degree that embody the effective teacher. Since teachers range from preschool through post secondary levels, and are unique people, no two teachers will have the same combination nor will all of them be present in every excellent teacher. There are also qualities that effective teachers […]

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Classrooms as Cages vs. Classrooms as Everywhere

Over reported research leads to “brain-based” products, perhaps at the cost of student learning. Under reported related research might provide an answer.

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Teddy Bears Can Be Action Figures

Marquin Parks shares the story of learning that a former student has decided to follow in his footsteps and become a teacher.

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Pulling the 10 of Hearts

There was Mr. White in middle school. He taught a Social Studies class that had an extra spoonful of African and African American experiences and influences on the world. A lot of his talking points and teachings were in line with many of the events and ideologies that my own father talked about with us […]

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Race and the Missing Ed Reform Agenda

When we talk about education reform and fail to mention race, we leave the opportunity to face a central piece of the racial achievement gap at the door. And that is not putting students first.

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Quick Rant: Early Childhood, Poverty, and PBS

Let’s just be clear for a second: Millions of children living below the poverty line have NO access to quality early childcare to nurture their minds. They enter school already well behind their more affluent peers. That deficit is minimized (not solved, just lessened) by the quality programming on PBS, the flagship of which is […]

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What we talk about when we talk about gaps

We debate testing, tenure, and “great teachers” ad nauseum. We one up each other over who is putting students more first than anyone else. We parse choice, accountability, and common core until we can barely stand one another. We do this, not because we are gluttons for punishment, but because we know learning matters, and […]

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On Being a Bold School

Over the past three years, I have been told a number of times that the work that we do at Maplewood Richmond Heights Middle School is innovative, outside the box, and exciting. Sometimes the word ‘bold’ even creeps into the equation. Certainly the experience-based learning environment is highly engaging and plays to students’ passions, but […]

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Reflecting on the Bammy Awards

The first annual Bammy Awards were held this past weekend in Washington DC to celebrate teachers and educators through recognition and acknowledgment. The black tie affair brought together the likes of Diane Ravitch, Linda Darling-Hammond, John Merrow and a host of teachers, bloggers, administrators, and assorted arm candies (as one husband referred to himself). With a red […]

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Learned Humanity

While in DC this past week for the Bammy Awards I had the chance to tour the Holocaust Museum with a few colleagues. It was powerful, moving, and saddening. I left convinced more than ever that what we do matters, and matters mightily. Wandering the beautifully and hauntingly constructed museum, the visceral taste of blind bigotry […]

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