Lauren Porosoff

Lauren Porosoff (she/her) is the founder of EMPOWER Forwards, a collaborative consultancy practice that empowers students and teachers to make school a source of meaning, vitality, and community through values-based action. Informed by 18 years of classroom experience and evidence-based psychological science, Lauren develops tools and protocols for instructional design, social-emotional learning, and professional development. Learn more about her work at

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Physical and Psychological Environments for Every Body

Physical and Psychological Environments for Every Body

Categories: Authors, Instruction, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Solution Tree, Student Engagement

I like to think of myself as pretty aware of ableism. I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder back in the 1990s and while I’ve learned to live with both thanks to having worked with great therapists (and, not for nothing, being married to one), my mental illnesses continue to be a trip hazard on my professional path.

Also, my husband and coauthor Jonathan Weinstein and I have a son who is autistic and goes to a school for students with special needs. From the moment I arrived at his campus, I noticed how his school environment is built for students with needs like—and unlike—his. Read more

Flexible Context Sensitivity and Functional Coherence in Student Projects

Empowering Projects: Opportunities for Students to Choose What Works

Categories: Instruction, Literacy

Based on the book EMPOWER Your Students

Fostering Flexible Context Sensitivity and Functional Coherence

Students at my school do lots of projects. They choreograph dances, design experiments to see what affects plant growth, and give talks about Nobel Prize–winning women. In math, the sixth graders map food deserts to learn about the concept of a radius. One time in science, the eighth graders built a potato cannon. Preparing for a test is a project. In English, we do writing projects. Read more

Values-based portfolios can drive meaning and student engagement.

Values-Based Student Portfolios

Categories: Instruction

This blog post is based on the book EMPOWER Your Students: Tools to Inspire a Meaningful School Experience.

Academic portfolios can reveal what students can do and what they need to work on next. They might also reveal interesting correlations, such as whether students do their best work individually or collaboratively, in a particular subject or format, or even at a particular time of year. Perhaps most importantly, portfolios can provide the students themselves with a tangible record of their learning, with all of the associated struggles, opportunities, discoveries, risks, and rewards. But what should go into an academic portfolio? Read more

Foster a sense of community for your students.

Building a Learning Community All Year

Categories: PLC, School Improvement

This blog post is based on the book EMPOWER Your Students: Tools to Inspire a Meaningful School Experience.

How do you build community in class?

Sometimes we do activities designed solely for community building, such as filling out bingo boards with each other’s names (“Find a classmate who was born in another state.”), interviewing each other (“What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?”), bringing in pictures or artifacts for show-and-tell, or creating a class handshake. Usually we do these kinds of activities early in the year; we want to ease into the school year and get to know a little bit about who’s in the room before starting our schoolwork. Read more