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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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An Example of Deliberate Practice from my Actual Life

One of the best reasons for infusing character strengths into our instruction is totally selfish: even if we completely fail to help our students grow character, our lives become richer as we grow the strengths in ourselves. And yet, this personal character growth is not truly selfish, either — not if our aim is to help our […]

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The Imperative Nature of Deliberate Practice

So, guys. Guess what? My pop-up debate Teacher Innovator project was one of seven winners of the prize! It won! And that’s because of you. I don’t know what I’m more excited about: the fact that hundreds of you believed in the project enough to vote for it; the fact that this summer I’ll fly to […]

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Working Better with Parents

The past few weeks have provided me several opportunities to reflect on parenting from the teacher’s perspective. Some of the opportunities have been normal — parent/teacher conferences, my interactions with my children — and others have been serendipitous — a conversation with a mentor, repeated run-ins with an intriguing parent. Also, one of the chapters I was […]

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How Humility Makes Us Better, Saner Teachers

Humility isn’t one of the highly predictive character strengths I work on with my students, but the older I get, the more I realize its centrality to a life well-lived. The pursuit of humility, once we properly understand the term, yields better relationships and faster growth. With that said, it makes great sense that we dig […]

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Can Pop-Up Debate Produce Grit in Students?

With little more than one day left on the voting for my Character Lab project (update: voting has ended!), I thought it would be worth sharing with you exactly what I’m hoping to research next year with pop-up debate and grit. So let me show you the actual application that happened to get chosen as one […]

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What are the Keystone Habits for Success?

In my last post, I introduced the concept of keystone habits and invited you, dear Teaching the Core family, to weigh in on what you suspect are the answers to these questions: What are the keystone habits for success in school? How about for specific areas of literacy skill, like reading, writing, speaking, and listening? Which habits are most […]

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Keystone Habits: Unlocking Success for our Students and Ourselves

Charles Duhigg is a champion writer. Through years of deliberate practice, he’s attained a level of excellence that makes the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Times bestseller list possible. In his book The Power of Habit, you begin to see how Duhigg reached this level of success. Yet, more importantly, you see how we can teach our […]

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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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Why I #LoveTeaching

I recently met an award-winning educator named Gary Abud on Twitter, and he told me about the #loveteaching campaign he’s promoting during this week. He made a cool explainer video about it (click here), but here’s the skinny if you’re short on time: this week, Gary is trying to get as many folks as possible to share […]

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