teacher time

Finding Time for Teachers

I have received two important pieces of feedback over the past several weeks regarding our implementation of #innovationhour to transform faculty meetings. After the first innovation hour, a faculty member came to find me.  She said that she is usually so scattered when she is trying to do something new.  The commitment to spend innovation hour doing something that is …

No Right Answers in a Math Classroom?

A Math Class Where There Are No Right Answers? I have been thinking a lot about right answers this week.  If there was no need to get a right answer in math class, how would this change the culture of the classroom? There are a lot of math tasks  where the focus is not on the right answer and yet …

precision

Is Precision the Same as Getting the Right Answer?

There is some very compelling research out there that underscores the importance of making mistakes in learning. It seems like part of the issue in getting kids to have a growth mindset in math (as well as other subjects) is that they consistently get mixed messages.  We tell them that mistakes are okay but then we continue to value the …

When Using Roles Isn’t Helping Group Productivity

Roles Aren’t working? I have had mixed experiences with roles despite the overwhelming evidence that roles are a way to promote productive groupwork. The thing about roles is that many times they can seem contrived or we put them in place but don’t really use them. In Jo Boaler’s book Mathematical Mindsets, in Smarter Together! Put out by National Council …

failure

We Might Let You Fail Because We Believe In You

Despite grappling with the issue of trust and how that plays into learning, I am convinced that trust is one thing that could transform public education.  The research shows that the most important thing to achievement is one’s belief that they can achieve; that they are capable; the one thing that creates this belief is trust. When I was in …

empowered

Empowered or Engaged?

During a recent reading of Innovator’s Mindset  by George Couros, I came across a quote that really got me thinking.  He wrote, “Students need to be empowered, not engaged”. All year I have been focusing on the many ways that we could “engage” students so that learning could be more personal. This quote really made me consider the value of …

Creating Self-Directed Learners

One of the obstacles I hear from teachers is that students aren’t self-directed enough to manage their own learning.  This makes sense to me because for years we have been training them to be passive and compliant.  So, this is a real obstacle.  It can seem overwhelming. But what if we addressed this issue using the same skills we have …

Transforming Traditional Math Problems into Groupwork

Transforming Procedural Math This week, I headed out to Seattle with two of my colleagues to think about how we might be able to re-culture math for higher achievement.  The message and the research is loud and clear that the number one thing that increases math achievement is one’s belief that they can do it.  I went into this course …

trust pitbull

What Does Trust Look Like?

What Does Trust Look Like? Is student motivation as simple as trust? Recently, a history teacher reflected on the success of a very self-directed, project-based learning exhibition saying, “I just trusted them…” and several days later on a podcast about how to get started with #geniushour, I heard this again as a first step in seeing students productively use independent time …

Transforming Faculty Meetings

I have written about the irony of our teacher professional learning system in this country that is so inconsistent with what we know about how people learn and best teaching practices.  Recently, I combined the idea of competency based learning, genius hour and personal learning to develop an innovation around traditional faculty meetings. Proficiencies Vermont’s educational Quality Standards (EQS) outline …