Adjusting Our ELL Course: Watch Out for the Curves!

The Big TentThe Yakima School District embarked on an adventure in August of the 2015-2016 school year. We began a cohort of teachers who wanted to learn how to use video to improve their instruction of English Language Learners. Like most adventures in education, this looked like a relatively straight road. We soon found out that it was filled with crazy bends, steep climbs, rapid descents, and radical hairpin turns.

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Design Thinking, Empathy, And Equity

I honor and admire Design Thinking for many reasons — its ingenuity, how engaging and rigorous it can be for students, and ultimately that it serves as a vehicle for Deeper Learning. But mostly I value Design Thinking because it gives me hope — hope in the power and potential that it holds for our students as human beings. Design Thinking has the unique power to leverage the intersection of equity and innovation through deeper learning and empathy.

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Three Ways To Connect With The Making Community

Making in Schools

This is the fifth in a six-part series titled Making in Schools.

Starting making in your classroom can be daunting. Where do you get supplies? What does it actually look like when you give a student a hammer, a soldering kit, or a sewing machine? And what can students actually do with making tools?

Below, we outline three types of resources that will come in handy when you start making in your classroom — and all involve connecting with the larger making community. Even though these resources come from the Bay Area, where Lighthouse Community Charter is located, similar resources exist in communities across the country. Our hope is that by sharing our approach to seeking out resources you will feel empowered to seek out similar resources — wherever you are.

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You’re Invited to Tch TeamsFest 2016!

Join us in Palm Springs, California on May 19-20th for TeamsFest, Teaching Channel’s annual gathering for teachers, schools, districts, states, and nonprofits who are interested in video-based professional learning. The events at TeamsFest focus on the use and implementation of Teaching Channel’s blended learning platform called Teams. However, if you are into video for modeling and analyzing practice, TeamsFest is for you!
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Innovating Educational Growth

The Big Tent

How do you get a three year old to obey? By making it her idea! My very opinionated, passionate, threenager is extremely strong willed. As our family was sharing our one word goals with each other, imagine my surprise when she selected the word “obey.” This has become a magic word that I pray never rubs off! Instead of the usual “Mom, why are you being mean to me?” when I correct her, her response has changed dramatically. All I have to say is, “What word are you working on?” and she says “Oh, yes! That’s right! Obey!” I will admit her response is certainly not absent of some sass and sighs, but nonetheless I am wowed by this vast improvement. The innovative idea that one word changes your life is tremendously successful because of it’s simplistic complexity. New Year’s resolutions are not new, and words have always inspired us, but this new way of thinking about a resolution has simplified and enhanced the power of the goal.

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Unstoppable Learning: Making Room For Students’ Passions

I came back from my morning run completely energized. I took my headphones off and continued to puzzle over Sugata Mitra’s compelling segment on the TED Radio Hour, Unstoppable Learning, which I had been listening to and which suggested that in many ways, teachers are getting in the way of learning.

A tough pill for me — a teacher of seven years — to swallow.

I scrawled some thoughts in my journal — “students in pursuit of learning,” “fostering curiosity,” “CHOICE,” “unstoppable learning…” — and grinned as I imagined what this transformation could look like in my classroom. This always happens, I reflected. I get the best ideas when I have more time to listen, to read, to run. I always learn the most when I have space just to think. As a new mother and a classroom teacher, lead teacher, mentor, fellow, friend, and wife, my days are jam packed. Further, my time is often completely scheduled. The time and space to read and think is few and far between. But making space for it is so, so important.

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Supporting Great Teaching: Creating Systems for Development

Getting Better Together

Great teaching is special. There might be comprehensive rubrics to measure it and best-selling books to define it; but there is something intangible yet deeply felt when you see the eyes of students in the middle of a powerful lesson, delivered by a powerful teacher.

Students’ eyes are on the teacher, on the work, and looking to each other. Students quickly and intentionally discuss and debate the learning of the day. At the conclusion of such a lesson, the bell seems like a surprise and an interruption all at once. This type of environment is special to witness and shouldn’t be a unique experience. We want all students to experience this, every day. This year, through my work as an instructional coach, I am more convinced than ever that the best teachers grow out of rich and empowering systems.

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Three Ways Teachers Can Embrace The Madness!

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when everyone seems to be enthralled with college basketball – from the die hard fan who has followed their team all season, to the bandwagon supporter hoping for a Cinderella story. Brackets are being frantically filled out and office pools are the topic of discussion for a few brief weeks. Can you feel it in the air?

Personally, I am not the biggest basketball fan, give me football any day. But even I get excited this time of year. And so did my students. Instead of fighting the sports talk and bracket madness, turn it into a teaching opportunity and if you’re feeling inspired, try blending it. Here are a few ways to do just that.

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#TchLIVE: NSTA 2016 Preview


One of the highlights of my year is going to the National Science Teachers’ Conference. This year, I’m so excited to meet my fellow Tch NextGen Science Squadsters there!

In preparation, I’ll be leading a #TchLIVE Twitter Chat about #NSTA2016 on March 24, 2016 at 4PM PT. Come prepared to talk about the sessions you’ll be attending, and why. And, if you’re new, get a feel for what to expect at the conference from veterans.

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#TchStressAway: Is Stress Really The Enemy?

Last month, I made a concerted effort to think about managing stress through a series of challenges called #TchStressAway.

As I engaged in each of the challenges, and extended them to the 200 teachers that joined my journey, I became mindful of my own reactions to stress. I’ve since decided that stress is inevitable. An overachiever my entire life, I constantly stack too much on my plate, and I imagine this will most likely continue. In fact, I’m beginning to realize that I seem to seek out stressful situations. I take on responsibilities even when encouraged not to. I create “to-do” lists that I know I won’t be able to finish. And I dream up new ideas to explore, even where there’s no reason to do so. Most of this is simply innate to me as an individual, so it’s an aspect of my life I want to manage but not necessarily get rid of.

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