Quiz: Are You a Terrible Teacher or Do You Just Need a Nap?

Messy desk with teachers have class mug

Give yourself one point for every “yes” answer.

1. When you read the scoring directions, was your first reaction, “Ugh. Does a terrible teacher like me even deserve points?”

2. Wait—there were directions? How did you miss those? Where are they? Oh, okay. You’re reading them now. Back to the first question… wait—there were directions?

3. Have you recently received negative feedback from a student, parent, or administrator?

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The “Aha-Moment Cycle” in Teaching

apple blasting off like a space ship

One day, as a relatively new teacher, I finally figured everything out.

Cue clouds parting. Cue beam of light shining down upon me. Etc.

What did I figure out? It doesn’t matter. It was mostly wrong anyway.

It also wasn’t the last time I thought I’d finally figured everything out. 

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Embracing the Rookie Mistake

Messy Teacher Desk

There are two stories from my first year of teaching that I often share when speaking to beginners. They’re not inspirational. Nor are they the type of embarrassing-but-ultimately harmless mistakes that were “really just learning experiences.” In one story, I shut down a student’s motivation for weeks. In the other, I set up a diligent student as a target for a class full of bullies.

I’m not proud of these stories.

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How “The Science of Shopping” Applies to Your Classroom

A few years into my teaching career, a friend who managed a grocery store recommended a book called Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping. The premise of the book caught my attention; it hadn’t occurred to me that the layout of stores might be purposely set up—often with the help of high-priced consulting companies—to pull me in farther, keep me there longer, and make me more likely to walk out with items that I hadn’t thought I needed.

But there was an unexpected side benefit to reading the book. I kept having aha moments about how my classroom was set up. The book also contained so many cool insights that seemed worth sharing with my students, who I hoped to shape into critical thinkers and wise consumers.

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Finally Sitting Down to do “The Thing”

Messy Teacher Desk

This week, after months of procrastination, I finally sat down to do The Thing.

Why did it take me so long?

The same reason it’s taking you so long to do your version of The Thing:

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