Ambitious Learning

What We Talk About When We Talk About Ambitious Instruction, Part II: What about Ambitious Learning?

Categories: Authors, Instruction

Ambitious Instruction, my new book, has a relatively straightforward (phew) definition of rigor: there is academic rigor, which is simply the completion of a task or work at a quality level commensurate with the expectations articulated in the standard(s) said task addresses or is aligned to; and instructional rigor, the curricular and pedagogical practices that position and enable students to realize the cognitive demands of those learning targets. Read more

Asking Questions? Teaching Inquiry?

Are You Asking Questions, or Teaching Inquiry?

Categories: Authors, Instruction

Asking questions—good questions—is, arguably, the basis for a curious, passionate classroom. There is no way to explain that feeling when a classroom is erupting in enthusiastic discussion. It is magical, both for the teacher and for the students.

However, asking questions and teaching inquiry are often misconstrued as the same thing. If I’m asking thought-provoking, open-ended questions, I must be teaching inquiry. Not necessarily. Read more

Ambitious Instruction

What We Talk About When We Talk About ‘Ambitious Instruction’, Part I

Categories: Authors, Instruction

Ambitious Instruction,” the title of my newest book, is not a buzzword. The education world does not need another buzzword; we have plenty as is.

I’ll confess, though, that “ambitious instruction” certainly sounds like a buzzword. I’ll also confess that the term was derived in the jargony annals of academia; it also has the sort of vagary and specificity that sounds like yet another (gulp) buzzword. (You have my complete forgiveness if you’re raising an eyebrow right now.) Read more

Kindness Amidst the Anger Storm

Kindness Amidst the Anger Storm

Categories: Instruction, School Improvement

Based on HEART! Fully Forming Your Professional Life as a Teacher and Leader

“Anger is not impressive or tough—it’s a mistake. It’s weakness. Depending on what you are doing, it might even be a trap that someone laid for you.” —Ryan Holiday

During the fall of my second year as superintendent at Stevenson HSD 125 (birthplace of the PLC At Work® process), I picked up the phone, only to be verbally assaulted by a very angry parent about an issue regarding her son, who was not receiving the resolution she sought.

I listened for about three minutes and tried to deescalate her anger, but it only got worse. Despite my best intentions to understand her concerns, she mostly just wanted to vent, but her yelling and the cruelty of her words got in the way of her message. Sound familiar? Read more