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Tag Archives | do hard things


How to Do Hard Things

The problem with our classes, from a motivational standpoint, is they’ve been surpassed by video games. Video games, as I laid out in my argument last week, are great at making players want to spend the time/effort/frustration costs of mastery; my world history class, less so. The solution, however, isn’t to “gamify” my class; rather, it’s to teach our students, […]

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Your Students Want to Master What You’re Teaching Them

Students want to be good at things because it is fun being good at things. In other words, they are motivated by being good at, or mastering, things. Daniel Pink’s Drive, perhaps the most influential book on motivation of the past decade, is the most famous affirmation of this truth. Pink boils motivation down to three […]

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May Forward: Making the Most of a Hard Month for Teachers

May is usually a hard month for me as a teacher. I’m exhausted. Of the year’s mountain-tops and canyon-bottoms, in May it’s the low, dark places that seem realest. I’ve succeeded beyond what I’ll ever know with some kids, yet with some I know I’ve failed. I haven’t reached them; I haven’t been The One Teacher whose work flips […]

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6 Mindsets of Excellent Educators

If you wander through my school, you’ll see numerous examples of teacher excellence. One of our best educators is stern, intense, rarely cracking a smile; another is warm, inviting, and deeply relational; still another is peppy, exuberant, bubbling over with enthusiasm. Each of them are excellent teachers, and I’d argue that their excellence is something separate […]

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Autopsy of a Dud Project; Analysis of a Teacher’s Heart

During the past couple of weeks, I envisioned, planned, initiated, and carried out a project with students. I thought it was a good idea; it was founded on great intentions. Yet, with the project nearing completion, I am clearly seeing something: the project is a dud. This leaves me with two options: Ignore the failure. Run […]

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Moving Forward in the Midst of Survival Mode: A Retrospective

First of all, thank you. I am grateful for so much from January 2015, and I owe a heckuva lot to this Teaching the Core community. Specifically: You’ve commented on this past month’s blog posts like never before. Hearing your stories, your encouragement, your descriptions of what this blog does for you — I can honestly […]

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On Work Schedules, Perfectionism, and Hidden Autonomy

This post will be short because Tuesday is almost over and homeboy be sleep deprived. A few things: 1. When work schedules meet recovery schedules Since the last post, Crystal’s path to recovery has become clearer and longer. It looks like she will be on bed rest for at least a few weeks, and this means that my […]

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Swords for dominating teaching

There Are No Silver Bullets, but There Are Swords

I’m writing this on the afternoon of my first day back to teaching after a nice winter break. And merely one day back into the thick of it, my body is telling me that, indeed, teaching is work. This isn’t my first goat rodeo, though. As the week matures, I know I’ll re-acclimate to the pace, […]

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