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Showing posts from 2013

Educators Need To Build A Kingdom

One my best friends and colleagues - Jon Corippo - has always described the role of the teacher as a Maker of Kings. He saw his role, as well as that all of all teachers, as one who helped each student become king of their own destiny – or really in charge of their own learning (master learner).

     But how does this really work? Well, if one is going to be a Maker of Kings, then one has to first Create Their Own Kingdom. Every master teacher, or teacher leader, that I know has created one’s own kingdom. These teachers have created, and continue to create on a daily basis, a very special place where their students feel safe, feel inspired and feel like they matter.
     When it comes to these teachers’ classrooms, or kingdoms, students inherently know that they are going to do something special, do something cool and do something that matters. They know that their interests, skills, talents and selves are going to be utilized and appreciated.

     As a teacher, I was alway…

Two Types of Educators (Part 2) - 10 More Ways To Tell Them Apart

My List of Bad Words in Education

For many reasons, I’m not normally a big fan of universal bans – i.e. calling something completely useless, without value or even counter productive.Seems like absolutes are often dangerous.But there are times, when the time has truly come for some things.I think most of us would agree that areas of human rights, human dignity and freedoms are not something most of us want to compromise on or consider negotiable.

Well, I don’t have anything that is nearly that important or crucial – at least on the global human level.But maybe, in the world of school and education, there are some things that need to be completely eradicated and declared obsolete.I don’t advocate burning of things, but have to admit I’m tempted here.

So, as we approach another new year, I’m suggesting that the items on this list disappear forever from the education lexicon:

NOTE TAKING (at least how it’s often used)
We have to be honest about this one.Let’s face it, this is still mainly copying down what someone el…

Educators Need More Than ‘Hustle’, Have To Also Be A ‘Hustler’

Anyone in education should know that it’s hard work. In addition to the expectations, demands, versatility and creativity, there is supreme emotional strength needed to survive and be successful.

     We’ve all heard over and over since our youth things about ‘hard work,’ ‘early bird gets the worm,’ and more. Like in all professions, there are those that deliver and those that don’t. In some ways, it’s really that simple.

     What teachers and educators need to learn is to be a ‘hustler.’ That’s right. Learning and winning with students is a game. Those that learn to play the game, and play it well, will rise above any adversity thrown at them by government bureaucracies, students, parents, colleagues or other.

     Again, educators need to become ‘hustlers.’ This doesn’t have to be the negative street connotation, but rather about those that learn that all systems can be mastered, legally and ethically, to get them to work for you. We have to play and maneuver at high lev…


It might be hard to find something that has transformed the world more in the last decade than social media. Indeed, governments, corporations, organizations and social movements have been formed, or even transformed, through effective use and implementation of social media.

     In education, as usual, we have been slow to understand and ultimately embrace effective uses of social media. Maybe it’s the word social that scares us from the beginning. We are all very aware of the negative activity, topics or images on social media. Indeed, it’s very reminiscent of the early concerns about the internet.

     When the web was first available to the public, we heard lots of concerns related to everything from personal security to pornography. And even though those issues were and are real, we also soon realized the potential positive power of the Internet to transform business and economics, shopping, travel, communication and more.

     To me, social media, is in the middle of th…


With expressions like School to Work, Career Ready and others, it seems like Education is focused more than ever on getting students ready for the world of work. However, hasn’t this always been one of the foundational goals? Yes, there were others such as citizenship, democratic participation, character and more. But working or employment was always part of the goal right? Well, this is both a good and bad thing. How could that be bad? Well, the problem is that many of the Myths of Learning, as I like to call them, come from our historical world of work. And they now seem archaic, outdated and ineffective.
     Here are a couple of those myths:

LEARNING MYTH #1 – LEARNING IS QUIET. For most adults, and even current students, learning is often associated with being quiet. Our libraries and classrooms are founded on this to some degree. And indeed, there was a time when “quiet” was a foundation at work. When work was being part of the assembly line or factory, interact…

Two Types of Educators (10 Ways to Tell Them Apart)

Make All California Teachers Truly California Teachers - Unleash Them

One of my many mantras is about trying to make education as real world or relevant as possible. This can apply to all areas of education including teacher hiring, retention, promotion, compensation, etc. Although I’d like to see tenure, unions and a host of other things reformed, I’d rather start with something that I think is more agreeable, possible, tenable and reachable.

     Essentially, I would like to see California adopt a statewide standard and process for teacher mobility and salary compensation. As you know, we already have a statewide credentialing process, a statewide teacher retirement system, a statewide recognition of sick leave accumulation, state department of education and many more examples of our education has a state standard of what teaching is in CA.

     However, in terms of teachers being able to move from one district to another, there is not a standard or anything that equates to mobility, competition or professional recognition. Teachers are comp…


Education, among many things, is about opportunities. Right? If Education is about creating, utilizing and benefiting from opportunities, then consider how often we say ‘yes.’ Or rather, consider how often we say and hear the word ‘no.’ Saying the word ‘yes’ is often harder that it seems and quite often the opposite of what we naturally do. Yes, we say ‘no’ more often and much easier.
Indeed, a survey conducted a few years ago at UCLA reported that the average one-year-old child hears the word ‘No!’ more than 400 times per day. Might seem crazy, but think about how often we tell a child ‘no’…sometimes repeatedly in several seconds. You could argue that more active, or even creative children, might even hear the word ‘no’ even more often. 
     Simply, we all grow up hearing all of the things we can’t or shouldn’t do. When we get to school, and advance through educational systems, we tend to hear ‘no’ far more often than we hear ‘yes.’ Walk on to the campus of any public school…


 FEAR. It’s a crippling and stifling condition that is not conducive to many positive things - including learning. But that is exactly the overwhelming conditional plight in education. Everyone is scared. That’s right scared. We are scared to ask questions, deviate, experiment and especially FAIL.

     Fear of Failure is a well-known challenge or hurdle that prevents anything truly great from happening. All major progress and successes throughout time were made possible by experiencing and navigating failure. It is well documented that trying new things, then re-designing them after documenting how they failed, ultimately leads to greater success. So, if we are afraid to fail, then we are essentially afraid of getting to a higher level of success. We are essentially afraid to learn and adjust from our mistakes – also simply called real learning.
(courtesy of Emily'
     In schools, teachers are afraid to deviate from the pacing guide or textbook. Administrators…

Uncommon Culture and Common Core

Much is being written about the Common Core State Standards and the implied transformation and reformation of public education. For over 20 years, school reform has been a hot topic that has embraced everything from standards and accountability to career technical education to tech integration and more.

     And now, we have a new system that has been embraced by almost the entire nation, state by state. Seemingly, it is a move in the right direction. Under the new standards, the focus is on critical thinking, divergent answers, as well as processes and application. Again, this makes sense. Our previous implementation of standards focused on low-level rote learning that did not allow for in-depth analysis or higher-level learning. Although there are a lot of unanswered questions about the implementation of the CCSS, most have high hopes that it is a move in the right direction – at least in terms of the power of any set of standards.

     There is the rub. How powerful…

Rigor Redefined

For years now in education, one of the biggest buzzwords has been “Rigor.” It was universally agreed, or at least seemingly so, that all students need to be challenged. Students need hard work and need to be worked hard. In theory, this sounds good and probably is good.

     However, it seems that educators and lay people alike might have interpreted “rigor” as just more of the same. If a test has 50 questions, then 100 are more rigorous. If a student might normally write a five-page essay, then a 10-page one is more rigorous. If a student might have two hours of homework, then four hours is more rigorous.

     Some of this classic definition of rigor was also related to the bell curve. In other words, only a handful of students could actually reach the top, be academic or be working at rigorous levels. Indeed, there was a built-in elitism here in that most people were not supposed to make it.

     The 21st century workplace and educational system cannot afford to have peo…

All Students Need A Major - Long Before You Get To College

For those of us who have been to college in our lives, do we not remember when we were able to “declare a major” as one of the most important and exciting times of our educational lives.I remember being an 18-year-old freshman that got to take one intro course in my major along with my required General Education classes.It was exciting and exhilarating.It was a class that seemed real, had immediate connections to the real world and what I wanted to do.There were older students in there as well who had just declared their major.

    And although I eventually changed that major (as is often the case), I remember that being such an exciting journey.I remember feeling that I had arrived at my life finally.Some of us got that feeling when we discovered that cool elective in high school or maybe had that first part-time job.But when we had a major in college, we were finally somebody.We were starting a career and that gave us identity, purpose and a mission.

     The problem with that ty…