Tag: instruction

The focus of traditional education has mostly been on knowledge. The focus has been on learning more information. But now we have more information available to us than ever before. And the amount of information out there is growing exponentially…

Read More Knowing vs. Understanding vs. Applying

I love the energy and intention of the word relentless. There is power in that word. It indicates persistence, perseverance, commitment, and fortitude. The word is strong and mighty.

When we talk about educators being relentless, that’s often a …

Read More Relentless About the Right Things



“How did you become a Chicago Cubs fan?”



I asked the question to a Cubs fan I was visiting with recently. And I wasn’t being sarcastic, since I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan, and that would be on point for fan behavior between the two teams.



No, I was just curious because he wasn’t from a part of the country that isn’t typically considered Cubs fan territory. He explained that some members of his family were Cubs fans but what really hooked him on the Cubs was when he attended a game at Wrigley Field (Chicago) as a young boy.



That experience, he said, was something he never forgot and resulted in his lifelong love of the Cubs. It was as simple as that.



Experiences are powerful. They can change our entire perspective for good or bad. In this case, a positive experience resulted in a deep attachment to a baseball team.



I’m wondering about how students experience school. Are we creating experiences that result in a lifelong attachment to learning? Are we creating powerful learning experiences that develop curiosity and cultivate interests?



While much of my own school experience was somewhat routine and mostly forgettable, there were some amazing experiences that really led me to want to learn more.



Most of those memorable experiences were projects or trips to visit interesting places. I remember visiting a cave, a Civil War battlefield, and even a museum with a real mummy, all part of opportunities through school.



I also remember creating a news broadcast and interviewing people from our community, as part of a project for class. I also remember competing in a stock market game, and I remember performing a classroom play.



I don’t remember a single lecture from school. I take that back. I remember one very gifted social studies teacher who could tell stories from the Civil War that were so interesting I wanted to learn more on my own. He had us on the edge of our seats.



I don’t remember any worksheet tasks standing out. I don’t remember any tests in particular. 



Here’s the thing. I’m not saying tests, or assignments, or routine work are all bad in school. I’m not saying they don’t have value. But if we want our students to be inspired learners, we better look for ways to connect learning to positive emotions. We better give students experiences that really capture their attention in ways that go far beyond the routine.



In a time where standards mastery seems to be at the top of all priorities, I wonder what types of experiences kids are having? 



What type of experience are they having when remediation has been routine for them year after year in school?



What type of experience are they having when they don’t have the opportunity to pursue things they’re interested in?



What type of experience are they having when they don’t get to learn outside the classroom by taking field trips?



A couple of high school principals were discussing how they are making sure any field trips in their school tie directly to meeting standards. I guess that’s one way to look at it.



But for me, I want our students to have as many opportunities as possible to learn and interact with interesting people and places away from our school campus. I especially want that for our under-resourced students who might not ever have those opportunities otherwise.



There is a time for rolling up our sleeves and doing the routine work of learning and life. But if we’re not also creating peak moments along the way, we are missing the joy in the journey. 



And we’re probably missing out on potential passions, and maybe even missing out on developing a passion for learning.



The routine work should flow from a deep sense of purpose. We need to know our why. That’s where lasting learning is nurtured.



As I wrote in my book, Future Driven,

Don’t just create lessons for your students. Create experiences. Students will forget a lesson, but an experience will have lasting value. We want to do more than cover content. We want to inspire learning.

Is your school making time for powerful learning experiences? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.





Read More Don’t Just Plan Lessons, Create Experiences

Is it more professional to teach in a traditional manner, the way you remember your teachers teaching you? 



Or, is it more professional to teach in innovative ways that might be more relevant to today’s world with today’s students? 



Is being professional dressing a certain way, fulfilling your obligations consistently, or having a certain type of professional demeanor?



Maybe some of those things matter for professionalism. But what matters most?



What exactly does it mean to be professional?



It seems to me that being a professional is doing things in the best possible way to meet professional goals. If the ultimate goal is the best possible learning for students, then being professional isn’t about doing it like it’s always been done, or doing it the way you prefer, or doing it by some personal code that might communicate professionalism for the sake of professionalism.



What’s most relevant for being a professional educator is taking actions and designing learning in a way that works best for the learners you are currently teaching, this group of kids, the ones you are working with right now.



Being a professional is understanding the needs of the students. It’s seeing things from the perspective of the learner, and then seeking to meet their needs to create the strongest learning environment possible. It’s being curious about how your students are experiencing learning. And it’s having enough empathy to understand and adjust.



What’s your professional identity?



It’s only natural to teach in the way that’s most comfortable for you. I think most people have a teaching identity that says, “I’m the type of person who teaches such and such way.” I’ve even heard teachers make comments like, “That just doesn’t work for me.” 



They have a certain idea of their teaching identity. And then they build a story for why their students need the type of teacher they value, the type of teacher that fits their identity.



I’m the strict teacher. These kids need discipline.



I’m the lecturing teacher. These kids need to learn to take notes for college.



I’m the cool teacher. These kids need me to be their friend.



I’m the old school teacher. These kids need to value the things my generation valued.



I’m the dominion teacher. These kids need to fall into line and comply with authority.



But what if your teaching identity isn’t really what your students need? Are you willing to reinvent yourself to do what’s best for today’s learners? All of them?



Being professional means doing beneficial things that aren’t necessarily your natural inclination.



To me, that’s being a professional. It’s creating a classroom environment that will engage and ensure maximum learning even if that’s not what’s most comfortable for me. I’m going to step out of my comfort zone to make this better for my students.



The most professional educators (teachers, administrators, and other roles too) I know are the ones who are willing to do just about anything to make learning better for students. They are willing to adjust their practices to meet the needs of the students. 



In fact, they are actively seeking ways to adjust their practices to meet the legitimate learning needs of their students.



Well, I’m not here to entertain. I’m not doing a dog and pony show.



Is making learning come alive a dog and pony show? Is cultivating curiosity being an entertainer? 



The kids need to learn grit. They need to learn to do the work, even if they think it’s boring. They need to learn perseverance.



Grit and perseverance are connected to things we find meaningful, relevant, and purposeful. Do students find your class meaningful, relevant, and purposeful?



I bet you apply effort to things you find meaningful. In fact, every action you’re motivated to take is because you attach some meaning to it. You might even hate doing it. But you attach some meaning to it. Or you wouldn’t do it.



What about your students? What are you doing to make learning more meaningful for your students? If they aren’t motivated, it’s because they don’t see the meaning in what you’re asking them to do. At least they don’t see enough meaning in it, yet, because when they do, they will engage.



What adjustments are you making?



A professional educator is seeking to make learning irresistible. 



A professional educator is seeking to meet the legitimate learning needs of the students.



A professional educator is willing to set aside personal preferences for peak practices.



A professional educator is enthusiastic, excited, and energetic about learners and learning.



A professional educator isn’t satisfied with going through the motions or arriving at good enough. There is a desire for continuous improvement that starts with the person in the mirror. What are the actions, attitudes, and approaches I need to take to succeed with these students?



What do you think about this riff on professionalism? Does it resonate with you? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I look forward to reading your comments.

Read More What’s More Professional?



Reflection is so important for continued learning and growth. I developed the list below as a tool for educators to reflect on practices that help prepare students for a rapidly changing, complex world. Some of these practices are new. Some are not. Some of them involve technology. Some do not. 


These are all based on important themes from my book, Future Driven. These factors help prepare students for a modern world where continuous learning and adaptability are paramount.



I don’t think I would expect any educator to be pursuing all of these indicators at once. And this list should never be used to think in terms of judging a good teacher vs. a bad teacher. So don’t look at it like that. The purpose of the list is for reflection and growth.


It might give you an idea of where you want to focus your learning for next school year. You could pick one or two and consider how you might develop the practice in your classroom. It might help you consider your next steps in your growth as an educator.


20 Ways to be Future Driven in Your Classroom


1. I provide opportunities for project-based and inquiry-based learning.

2. I give students choices about learning (time, place, path, or pace).

3. I am learning new things about technology and sharing my learning with students and teachers.

4. My students have opportunities to connect with real-world experts.

5. My classroom learning space provides flexibility for student-centered grouping and learning tasks.

6. My students regularly have opportunities to use digital tools to leverage their skills for learning tasks.

7. I utilize Genius Hour or 20 percent time to provide opportunities for students to pursue their passions and interests.

8. I model risk-taking, grit, and perseverance for students and regularly discuss the importance of these characteristics in class.

9. I build strong relationships by greeting students, calling them by name, and getting to know them as individuals.

10. My students assume considerable responsibility for class discussions. Conversations become student-led, instead of teacher-directed.

11. My students take on projects that make a difference in the community or in the world (service-learning).

12. My students have many opportunities to create work that will be visible to authentic audiences.

13. I am intentional about cultivating curiosity in my students by having them develop their own questions, by allowing exploration, or by creating mystery or intrigue.

14. I ask my students for feedback on my teaching and the relevance of my lessons.

15. Empathy is just as important as responsibility in my classroom.

16. I am focused more on what a child can do and not what he/she cannot do.

17. I think about how the future will be different for my students and strive to teach with that in mind.

18. My students have opportunities to experiment with different approaches, rather than just practicing a predetermined method.

19. Character is more important than compliance in my classroom.

20. My students have many chances to take initiative, not just follow directions.



What other practices do you think are important for relevant, future ready learning? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 20 Ways to Be Future Driven in Your Classroom



Reflection is so important for continued learning and growth. I developed the list below as a tool for educators to reflect on practices that help prepare students for a rapidly changing, complex world. Some of these practices are new. Some are not. Some of them involve technology. Some do not. 


These are all based on important themes from my book, Future Driven. These factors help prepare students for a modern world where continuous learning and adaptability are paramount.



I don’t think I would expect any educator to be pursuing all of these indicators at once. And this list should never be used to think in terms of judging a good teacher vs. a bad teacher. So don’t look at it like that. The purpose of the list is for reflection and growth.


It might give you an idea of where you want to focus your learning for next school year. You could pick one or two and consider how you might develop the practice in your classroom. It might help you consider your next steps in your growth as an educator.


20 Ways to be Future Driven in Your Classroom


1. I provide opportunities for project-based and inquiry-based learning.

2. I give students choices about learning (time, place, path, or pace).

3. I am learning new things about technology and sharing my learning with students and teachers.

4. My students have opportunities to connect with real-world experts.

5. My classroom learning space provides flexibility for student-centered grouping and learning tasks.

6. My students regularly have opportunities to use digital tools to leverage their skills for learning tasks.

7. I utilize Genius Hour or 20 percent time to provide opportunities for students to pursue their passions and interests.

8. I model risk-taking, grit, and perseverance for students and regularly discuss the importance of these characteristics in class.

9. I build strong relationships by greeting students, calling them by name, and getting to know them as individuals.

10. My students assume considerable responsibility for class discussions. Conversations become student-led, instead of teacher-directed.

11. My students take on projects that make a difference in the community or in the world (service-learning).

12. My students have many opportunities to create work that will be visible to authentic audiences.

13. I am intentional about cultivating curiosity in my students by having them develop their own questions, by allowing exploration, or by creating mystery or intrigue.

14. I ask my students for feedback on my teaching and the relevance of my lessons.

15. Empathy is just as important as responsibility in my classroom.

16. I am focused more on what a child can do and not what he/she cannot do.

17. I think about how the future will be different for my students and strive to teach with that in mind.

18. My students have opportunities to experiment with different approaches, rather than just practicing a predetermined method.

19. Character is more important than compliance in my classroom.

20. My students have many chances to take initiative, not just follow directions.



What other practices do you think are important for relevant, future ready learning? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 20 Ways to Be Future Driven in Your Classroom



Reflection is so important for continued learning and growth. I developed the list below as a tool for educators to reflect on practices that help prepare students for a rapidly changing, complex world. Some of these practices are new. Some are not. Some of them involve technology. Some do not. 


These are all based on important themes from my book, Future Driven. These factors help prepare students for a modern world where continuous learning and adaptability are paramount.



I don’t think I would expect any educator to be pursuing all of these indicators at once. And this list should never be used to think in terms of judging a good teacher vs. a bad teacher. So don’t look at it like that. The purpose of the list is for reflection and growth.


It might give you an idea of where you want to focus your learning for next school year. You could pick one or two and consider how you might develop the practice in your classroom. It might help you consider your next steps in your growth as an educator.


20 Ways to be Future Driven in Your Classroom


1. I provide opportunities for project-based and inquiry-based learning.

2. I give students choices about learning (time, place, path, or pace).

3. I am learning new things about technology and sharing my learning with students and teachers.

4. My students have opportunities to connect with real-world experts.

5. My classroom learning space provides flexibility for student-centered grouping and learning tasks.

6. My students regularly have opportunities to use digital tools to leverage their skills for learning tasks.

7. I utilize Genius Hour or 20 percent time to provide opportunities for students to pursue their passions and interests.

8. I model risk-taking, grit, and perseverance for students and regularly discuss the importance of these characteristics in class.

9. I build strong relationships by greeting students, calling them by name, and getting to know them as individuals.

10. My students assume considerable responsibility for class discussions. Conversations become student-led, instead of teacher-directed.

11. My students take on projects that make a difference in the community or in the world (service-learning).

12. My students have many opportunities to create work that will be visible to authentic audiences.

13. I am intentional about cultivating curiosity in my students by having them develop their own questions, by allowing exploration, or by creating mystery or intrigue.

14. I ask my students for feedback on my teaching and the relevance of my lessons.

15. Empathy is just as important as responsibility in my classroom.

16. I am focused more on what a child can do and not what he/she cannot do.

17. I think about how the future will be different for my students and strive to teach with that in mind.

18. My students have opportunities to experiment with different approaches, rather than just practicing a predetermined method.

19. Character is more important than compliance in my classroom.

20. My students have many chances to take initiative, not just follow directions.



What other practices do you think are important for relevant, future ready learning? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

      

Read More 20 Ways to Be Future Driven in Your Classroom



Reflection is so important for continued learning and growth. I developed the list below as a tool for educators to reflect on practices that help prepare students for a rapidly changing, complex world. Some of these practices are new. Some are not. Some of them involve technology. Some do not. 


These are all based on important themes from my book, Future Driven. These factors help prepare students for a modern world where continuous learning and adaptability are paramount.



I don’t think I would expect any educator to be pursuing all of these indicators at once. And this list should never be used to think in terms of judging a good teacher vs. a bad teacher. So don’t look at it like that. The purpose of the list is for reflection and growth.


It might give you an idea of where you want to focus your learning for next school year. You could pick one or two and consider how you might develop the practice in your classroom. It might help you consider your next steps in your growth as an educator.


20 Ways to be Future Driven in Your Classroom


1. I provide opportunities for project-based and inquiry-based learning.

2. I give students choices about learning (time, place, path, or pace).

3. I am learning new things about technology and sharing my learning with students and teachers.

4. My students have opportunities to connect with real-world experts.

5. My classroom learning space provides flexibility for student-centered grouping and learning tasks.

6. My students regularly have opportunities to use digital tools to leverage their skills for learning tasks.

7. I utilize Genius Hour or 20 percent time to provide opportunities for students to pursue their passions and interests.

8. I model risk-taking, grit, and perseverance for students and regularly discuss the importance of these characteristics in class.

9. I build strong relationships by greeting students, calling them by name, and getting to know them as individuals.

10. My students assume considerable responsibility for class discussions. Conversations become student-led, instead of teacher-directed.

11. My students take on projects that make a difference in the community or in the world (service-learning).

12. My students have many opportunities to create work that will be visible to authentic audiences.

13. I am intentional about cultivating curiosity in my students by having them develop their own questions, by allowing exploration, or by creating mystery or intrigue.

14. I ask my students for feedback on my teaching and the relevance of my lessons.

15. Empathy is just as important as responsibility in my classroom.

16. I am focused more on what a child can do and not what he/she cannot do.

17. I think about how the future will be different for my students and strive to teach with that in mind.

18. My students have opportunities to experiment with different approaches, rather than just practicing a predetermined method.

19. Character is more important than compliance in my classroom.

20. My students have many chances to take initiative, not just follow directions.



What other practices do you think are important for relevant, future ready learning? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

      

Read More 20 Ways to Be Future Driven in Your Classroom





I completely agree with the tweet below from Jennifer Hogan. High schools can learn from elementary schools. And every level of education should stoke the fire and cultivate curiosity in learning. It’s important for every classroom to inspire kids to want to learn more.




High schools can learn a lot from elementary schools, who do a great job of creating a sense of wonder & cultivating curiosity in kids! Let’s keep stoking the fire! 🔥 #ALedchat #satchat pic.twitter.com/1mbGo4W2OR

— Jennifer Hogan (@Jennifer_Hogan) December 9, 2017

I truly believe that regardless of what level we teach, we should also strive to learn from each other. When we share our knowledge and experience across content areas or with other grade levels, it just makes us all stronger.



The tweet also reminded me of another way high schools might learn from elementary schools.



I’m always amazed when I have the opportunity to visit elementary classrooms. I observe keenly and enjoy seeing different strategies and methods that lead to more learning in that context. I often see things that would be beneficial in the typical high school classroom, too. 



All the way down to primary school classrooms, I have observed students taking responsibility, working collaboratively, and self-managing in various structures. The teacher is often working with a small group of students while other learning activities are happening all around the classroom.



I’ve heard teachers at the high school level make statements that seem to reject this type of learning. 



“Freshmen can’t handle working in groups.”



“Projects don’t work for my students.”



“I would like to do more collaborative things, but I have 30 kids in my class. It’s just not possible.”



“If I’m working with a small group of students, how will I know what the others are doing?”



All of these statements have an element of truth. It can be challenging to do these things, at any grade level. But the statements are also extremely self-limiting. These statements become self-imposed limits, probably based on an experience that wasn’t positive, “I tried that. It didn’t work for me. Case closed.”



Is it possible for projects, collaboration, and small group instruction to be effective at the high school level? Of course! I’ve seen high school classes thriving with these methods. And it makes no sense developmentally that even much younger students can handle self-directed methods while older students cannot.



So why do teachers tend to revert to more teacher-centric approaches in high school? It’s likely because of the efficiency, control, and structure that is provided through direct instruction. It’s partly because it’s what’s comfortable, and perhaps all they’ve ever known. 



By the way, direct instruction is not bad. It can be an effective and necessary method, but it shouldn’t be the only way students learn.



There should also be opportunities for more self-directed, student empowered methods also. We must provide students opportunities to develop agency, ownership, and social learning abilities.



So what does it take to have success with this type of learning?



Structure.



It’s the same thing that makes teachers want to use direct instruction. Every teacher knows that a productive learning environment is going to have structure. And it feels easier to do in a direct-instruction, teacher-centered classroom. And maybe it is easier to do. But that doesn’t make it better.



In the classes that succeed with more collaborative, student-centered approaches, teachers must clearly communicate the structure that will be used. There must be boundaries. The expectations must be communicated consistently and revisited regularly.



Whether it’s an elementary classroom or high school classroom, it takes structure to make any learning strategy successful. We are not talking about anarchy in the classroom here.



However, it will take willpower and determination on the part of the teacher to push through some of the struggles that may happen as students learn the structure. But as the teacher works with students to clarify expectations and provides opportunities for practice and reflection, students will learn to have more independence and exhibit a higher level of responsibility.



It’s not that the students can’t do it. Don’t impose your limits on a classroom of kids. Don’t diminish their capabilities. You are choosing not to pursue success when you embrace disempowering thoughts. You won’t have success with any method if you don’t believe in it and your kids’ ability to succeed with it.



It’s just that you must teach them to do it. You must provide accountability as needed. You must coach them. You have to reflect with them. You have to provide consequences when needed. You have to bring so much passion to the space that students know you’re not going to settle for less than their best.



With your guidance and creativity, you can help your students do amazing things, regardless of the grade level you’re teaching.



Is there a misconception that student-empowerment means not having structure in the classroom? I wonder about that. Share your thoughts below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Another Thing High Schools Might Learn From Elementary Schools





I completely agree with the tweet below from Jennifer Hogan. High schools can learn from elementary schools. And every level of education should stoke the fire and cultivate curiosity in learning. It’s important for every classroom to inspire kids to want to learn more.




High schools can learn a lot from elementary schools, who do a great job of creating a sense of wonder & cultivating curiosity in kids! Let’s keep stoking the fire! 🔥 #ALedchat #satchat pic.twitter.com/1mbGo4W2OR

— Jennifer Hogan (@Jennifer_Hogan) December 9, 2017

I truly believe that regardless of what level we teach, we should also strive to learn from each other. When we share our knowledge and experience across content areas or with other grade levels, it just makes us all stronger.



The tweet also reminded me of another way high schools might learn from elementary schools.



I’m always amazed when I have the opportunity to visit elementary classrooms. I observe keenly and enjoy seeing different strategies and methods that lead to more learning in that context. I often see things that would be beneficial in the typical high school classroom, too. 



All the way down to primary school classrooms, I have observed students taking responsibility, working collaboratively, and self-managing in various structures. The teacher is often working with a small group of students while other learning activities are happening all around the classroom.



I’ve heard teachers at the high school level make statements that seem to reject this type of learning. 



“Freshmen can’t handle working in groups.”



“Projects don’t work for my students.”



“I would like to do more collaborative things, but I have 30 kids in my class. It’s just not possible.”



“If I’m working with a small group of students, how will I know what the others are doing?”



All of these statements have an element of truth. It can be challenging to do these things, at any grade level. But the statements are also extremely self-limiting. These statements become self-imposed limits, probably based on an experience that wasn’t positive, “I tried that. It didn’t work for me. Case closed.”



Is it possible for projects, collaboration, and small group instruction to be effective at the high school level? Of course! I’ve seen high school classes thriving with these methods. And it makes no sense developmentally that even much younger students can handle self-directed methods while older students cannot.



So why do teachers tend to revert to more teacher-centric approaches in high school? It’s likely because of the efficiency, control, and structure that is provided through direct instruction. It’s partly because it’s what’s comfortable, and perhaps all they’ve ever known. 



By the way, direct instruction is not bad. It can be an effective and necessary method, but it shouldn’t be the only way students learn.



There should also be opportunities for more self-directed, student empowered methods also. We must provide students opportunities to develop agency, ownership, and social learning abilities.



So what does it take to have success with this type of learning?



Structure.



It’s the same thing that makes teachers want to use direct instruction. Every teacher knows that a productive learning environment is going to have structure. And it feels easier to do in a direct-instruction, teacher-centered classroom. And maybe it is easier to do. But that doesn’t make it better.



In the classes that succeed with more collaborative, student-centered approaches, teachers must clearly communicate the structure that will be used. There must be boundaries. The expectations must be communicated consistently and revisited regularly.



Whether it’s an elementary classroom or high school classroom, it takes structure to make any learning strategy successful. We are not talking about anarchy in the classroom here.



However, it will take willpower and determination on the part of the teacher to push through some of the struggles that may happen as students learn the structure. But as the teacher works with students to clarify expectations and provides opportunities for practice and reflection, students will learn to have more independence and exhibit a higher level of responsibility.



It’s not that the students can’t do it. Don’t impose your limits on a classroom of kids. Don’t diminish their capabilities. You are choosing not to pursue success when you embrace disempowering thoughts. You won’t have success with any method if you don’t believe in it and your kids’ ability to succeed with it.



It’s just that you must teach them to do it. You must provide accountability as needed. You must coach them. You have to reflect with them. You have to provide consequences when needed. You have to bring so much passion to the space that students know you’re not going to settle for less than their best.



With your guidance and creativity, you can help your students do amazing things, regardless of the grade level you’re teaching.



Is there a misconception that student-empowerment means not having structure in the classroom? I wonder about that. Share your thoughts below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Another Thing High Schools Might Learn From Elementary Schools





Some things we communicate intentionally. And sometimes when we fail to communicate intentionally, we send a message that we didn’t mean to send.




Here are 11 things you might unintentionally be communicating to your students.



1. When you don’t wait for all students to get quiet and give you their attention before you start talking, you might be communicating that it’s not really important that they listen to you.



2. If you complain about the school, other teachers, or the way things are, your students will probably think it’s okay to be negative about the school, other teachers, and probably your classroom too.



3. When you pass a student in the hall or they enter your room and you don’t say hello or call them by name, they may think you don’t really care about them.



4. If you give a grade for every assignment or activity and talk about how “this or that is going to be on the test,” your students may think your class is more about grades than learning.



5. If the questions you ask have just one correct answer, there’s a good chance your students will think your class is all about right answers, not about being better thinkers.



6. If you only recognize the ‘A’ students or celebrate the kids who have high test scores, that may communicate that only the ‘smart’ kids matter and that growth is not valued.

7. If you make mistakes in front of your students and then act defensive or embarrassed, you might be sending the message that only perfection is accepted and risk taking is not appreciated.



8. When you break a school policy or act like the rules are no big deal, you might send the message you don’t really value a culture of respect and shared responsibility.



9. If you aren’t intentional about making your classroom innovative and future driven, you may be sending the message to students that what their parents learned in school will be good enough for them too.



10. When you come in dragging, lack energy, or just don’t give your best, you might be communicating to students that it’s okay to try hard only when you feel like it.



11. If you don’t give students choices in their learning or opportunities to pursue their passions, they may view learning as more about compliance than actually being about…well…learning.



We have to be very careful about what we are communicating. Kids are always watching. They want to see alignment between our words and actions. They are looking to see what we really think, what we really believe, and how much we really care about them.



What is being communicated in your school unintentionally? I think that’s a good question to consider. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More 11 Things You Might Unintentionally Be Communicating to Your Students





Some things we communicate intentionally. And sometimes when we fail to communicate intentionally, we send a message that we didn’t mean to send.




Here are 11 things you might unintentionally be communicating to your students.



1. When you don’t wait for all students to get quiet and give you their attention before you start talking, you might be communicating that it’s not really important that they listen to you.



2. If you complain about the school, other teachers, or the way things are, your students will probably think it’s okay to be negative about the school, other teachers, and probably your classroom too.



3. When you pass a student in the hall or they enter your room and you don’t say hello or call them by name, they may think you don’t really care about them.



4. If you give a grade for every assignment or activity and talk about how “this or that is going to be on the test,” your students may think your class is more about grades than learning.



5. If the questions you ask have just one correct answer, there’s a good chance your students will think your class is all about right answers, not about being better thinkers.



6. If you only recognize the ‘A’ students or celebrate the kids who have high test scores, that may communicate that only the ‘smart’ kids matter and that growth is not valued.

7. If you make mistakes in front of your students and then act defensive or embarrassed, you might be sending the message that only perfection is accepted and risk taking is not appreciated.



8. When you break a school policy or act like the rules are no big deal, you might send the message you don’t really value a culture of respect and shared responsibility.



9. If you aren’t intentional about making your classroom innovative and future driven, you may be sending the message to students that what their parents learned in school will be good enough for them too.



10. When you come in dragging, lack energy, or just don’t give your best, you might be communicating to students that it’s okay to try hard only when you feel like it.



11. If you don’t give students choices in their learning or opportunities to pursue their passions, they may view learning as more about compliance than actually being about…well…learning.



We have to be very careful about what we are communicating. Kids are always watching. They want to see alignment between our words and actions. They are looking to see what we really think, what we really believe, and how much we really care about them.



What is being communicated in your school unintentionally? I think that’s a good question to consider. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More 11 Things You Might Unintentionally Be Communicating to Your Students



I remember a post from George Couros about a teacher sharing how innovation had helped with improving classroom management. The educator reported that “the more innovative I have become, the less classroom management I have to deal with.



It was a great post, and I think the idea definitely has merit. Recently, I’ve noticed another thing. It seems like educators who have the inclination to take risks, innovate, and empower students, seem to have more energy and seem more satisfied in their jobs. 



It seems like innovative educators are happier. They seem more optimistic. They seem to have more hope. 



When they face problems, they see lots of possibilities to address the issue. They are willing to try different solutions. They aren’t always expecting something outside of their control to change. They look to themselves first or partner with colleagues to find solutions instead of expecting a different structure, schedule, program, etc. to make the difference.



There are so many highly committed educators working extremely hard, putting in a ton of effort, who seem to be carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. Sometimes they are trying to ‘will’ students to learn, but the methods they are using are the same ones they used last year or the year before that. They are just pushing harder with the same methods.



The innovative teacher will ask, “What might work with this group of students?” The innovative teacher is willing to try just about anything to reach these kids, all of them. These teachers are working hard too, but they are willing to change and be creative and step way out of their comfort zone to help kids learn.



They aren’t just working harder. They are becoming more flexible in their thinking. There might be a better way to do this. They look for ways to make learning work better for kids instead of trying to force kids to adjust to how learning works in this class.



But why do they seem happier? More satisfied?



I think it’s because they are hopeful for the future. They believe a better outcome is possible if they keep growing and learning. Other teachers are attached to their methods, their way of doing things, and when it keeps failing, well, that’s quite disheartening.



The happiest teachers are the ones who are connecting, learning, trying new things and believing that even though things might be tough now, things can and will get better. 



So what do you think? Are innovative people happier? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook

Read More Are Innovative Teachers Happier?



I remember a post from George Couros about a teacher sharing how innovation had helped with improving classroom management. The educator reported that “the more innovative I have become, the less classroom management I have to deal with.



It was a great post, and I think the idea definitely has merit. Recently, I’ve noticed another thing. It seems like educators who have the inclination to take risks, innovate, and empower students, seem to have more energy and seem more satisfied in their jobs. 



It seems like innovative educators are happier. They seem more optimistic. They seem to have more hope. 



When they face problems, they see lots of possibilities to address the issue. They are willing to try different solutions. They aren’t always expecting something outside of their control to change. They look to themselves first or partner with colleagues to find solutions instead of expecting a different structure, schedule, program, etc. to make the difference.



There are so many highly committed educators working extremely hard, putting in a ton of effort, who seem to be carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. Sometimes they are trying to ‘will’ students to learn, but the methods they are using are the same ones they used last year or the year before that. They are just pushing harder with the same methods.



The innovative teacher will ask, “What might work with this group of students?” The innovative teacher is willing to try just about anything to reach these kids, all of them. These teachers are working hard too, but they are willing to change and be creative and step way out of their comfort zone to help kids learn.



They aren’t just working harder. They are becoming more flexible in their thinking. There might be a better way to do this. They look for ways to make learning work better for kids instead of trying to force kids to adjust to how learning works in this class.



But why do they seem happier? More satisfied?



I think it’s because they are hopeful for the future. They believe a better outcome is possible if they keep growing and learning. Other teachers are attached to their methods, their way of doing things, and when it keeps failing, well, that’s quite disheartening.



The happiest teachers are the ones who are connecting, learning, trying new things and believing that even though things might be tough now, things can and will get better. 



So what do you think? Are innovative people happier? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook

Read More Are Innovative Teachers Happier?





The teacher asked her students to make some decisions about the direction of the learning. The lesson required independent thought and initiative.



But one student resisted, “Isn’t it your job to teach me?”



Have you ever heard a question like that from one of your students? It’s a question that was asked by a student in our school. And to me it illustrates the way many students have come to believe that learning is a product of their compliance with a teacher. 



Just tell me what I need to know. Tell me what to do, what to learn. Teach me. Isn’t that YOUR job?



Another student said to me, “I just want to take notes and then have a test.” This comment came from a student in a classroom where students are expected to own a considerable amount of the learning and develop original thoughts. Learning in this class is demonstrated through projects and authentic activities.



I don’t blame these students for thinking this way. I think, at least in part, they are simply a product of a system that has conditioned them to be passive learners. 



So who owns the learning? The student? The teacher? Both?



How would you respond if you heard these words from your students? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Isn’t It Your Job To Teach Me?





The teacher asked her students to make some decisions about the direction of the learning. The lesson required independent thought and initiative.



But one student resisted, “Isn’t it your job to teach me?”



Have you ever heard a question like that from one of your students? It’s a question that was asked by a student in our school. And to me it illustrates the way many students have come to believe that learning is a product of their compliance with a teacher. 



Just tell me what I need to know. Tell me what to do, what to learn. Teach me. Isn’t that YOUR job?



Another student said to me, “I just want to take notes and then have a test.” This comment came from a student in a classroom where students are expected to own a considerable amount of the learning and develop original thoughts. Learning in this class is demonstrated through projects and authentic activities.



I don’t blame these students for thinking this way. I think, at least in part, they are simply a product of a system that has conditioned them to be passive learners. 



So who owns the learning? The student? The teacher? Both?



How would you respond if you heard these words from your students? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Isn’t It Your Job To Teach Me?





The teacher asked her students to make some decisions about the direction of the learning. The lesson required independent thought and initiative.



But one student resisted, “Isn’t it your job to teach me?”



Have you ever heard a question like that from one of your students? It’s a question that was asked by a student in our school. And to me it illustrates the way many students have come to believe that learning is a product of their compliance with a teacher. 



Just tell me what I need to know. Tell me what to do, what to learn. Teach me. Isn’t that YOUR job?



Another student said to me, “I just want to take notes and then have a test.” This comment came from a student in a classroom where students are expected to own a considerable amount of the learning and develop original thoughts. Learning in this class is demonstrated through projects and authentic activities.



I don’t blame these students for thinking this way. I think, at least in part, they are simply a product of a system that has conditioned them to be passive learners. 



So who owns the learning? The student? The teacher? Both?



How would you respond if you heard these words from your students? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Isn’t It Your Job To Teach Me?

Sketchnote by @woodard_julie



I recently had a conversation with someone who was preparing some remarks for an event where he was receiving an award. I was asking him about his speech, and he said he was aiming to inform, inspire, and entertain. I thought that was spot on. He laughed and said he heard that somewhere, and just thought it was really true about a good speech.



It made me think of school and learning. Teachers really must try to do those things also. In my first year in the classroom, I taught 7th grade social studies, but the next year I moved to the high school to teach English. When I was interviewing for the high school position, the principal asked me how my approach would be different working with older students. 



I said I didn’t think I would have to entertain them as much. The principal objected. She said you need to be just as creative and engaging with the older students. It was really good advice.



Some teachers really hate the idea of entertaining. Not everyone feels like they are cut out for that. And some don’t feel like they should have to do that. 



But I think all three are important, including an element of entertainment. It’s probably more true today than ever. In fact, edutainment is actually a thing. Look at TED talks. They are extremely popular because they inform, inspire, and entertain. The most popular ones do this extraordinarily well.



Sometimes, I think we get in a pattern of only informing or delivering instruction but don’t focus on how we are going to inspire or entertain. All three of these are needed to really make learning irresistible. 



We need to inform to increase understanding and make meaning.



We need to inspire to infuse learning with a sense of meaning and purpose.



We need to entertain to ignite the wonder, awe, and whimsy of learning.



I challenge you to think about your classroom. How are you seeking to not only inform, but to also inspire and entertain? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I want to hear your thoughts to take the conversation deeper.

Read More Does Your Classroom Inform, Inspire, and Entertain?

Sketchnote by @woodard_julie



I recently had a conversation with someone who was preparing some remarks for an event where he was receiving an award. I was asking him about his speech, and he said he was aiming to inform, inspire, and entertain. I thought that was spot on. He laughed and said he heard that somewhere, and just thought it was really true about a good speech.



It made me think of school and learning. Teachers really must try to do those things also. In my first year in the classroom, I taught 7th grade social studies, but the next year I moved to the high school to teach English. When I was interviewing for the high school position, the principal asked me how my approach would be different working with older students. 



I said I didn’t think I would have to entertain them as much. The principal objected. She said you need to be just as creative and engaging with the older students. It was really good advice.



Some teachers really hate the idea of entertaining. Not everyone feels like they are cut out for that. And some don’t feel like they should have to do that. 



But I think all three are important, including an element of entertainment. It’s probably more true today than ever. In fact, edutainment is actually a thing. Look at TED talks. They are extremely popular because they inform, inspire, and entertain. The most popular ones do this extraordinarily well.



Sometimes, I think we get in a pattern of only informing or delivering instruction but don’t focus on how we are going to inspire or entertain. All three of these are needed to really make learning irresistible. 



We need to inform to increase understanding and make meaning.



We need to inspire to infuse learning with a sense of meaning and purpose.



We need to entertain to ignite the wonder, awe, and whimsy of learning.



I challenge you to think about your classroom. How are you seeking to not only inform, but to also inspire and entertain? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I want to hear your thoughts to take the conversation deeper.

Read More Does Your Classroom Inform, Inspire, and Entertain?