Leadership Insights

A teacher leading students in a mindfulness training

Mindfulness is Not About Keeping Kids Calm and Compliant

By Jennifer Gunn August 26, 2019

The buzz around mindfulness in schools has reached a fever pitch, as evidenced by mindfulness sessions for educators found at every conference and professional development event around the country. One unintended strand of the spread of mindfulness is that some view its practice as a means for keeping students calm, compliant, and under control. And,… Read More

New School Year Challenge: Mending a Toxic School Culture

By Jennifer Gunn August 5, 2019

Even the best schools can hit a school culture slump. Catty or complaining cliques, staffing changes, sinking morale, exhaustion — it can all lead to a toxic school culture. The new school year is the perfect time to take action — whether you’re a school leader or classroom teacher — and reinvigorate your school’s culture,… Read More

Many people express anxiety about public speaking or performing for a crowd. Although it’s a largely overlooked part of education, that’s exactly what teachers do almost every day! Every teacher is a leader with the unique opportunity to set the tone and expectations in the learning setting. While many teachers embrace these challenges, others struggle…. Read More

What Matters Most in the Classroom

By Jennifer Gunn February 19, 2019

In the ever-changing landscape of education, teachers and leaders often find themselves searching for clarity in a sea of standards, curriculum resources, and competing priorities. Think about your learning community: Are both teachers and students clear about what must be learned, why students are learning it, and how they can be successful? Are students able… Read More

A farm kid from Wisconsin, for the past two decades Diana Laufenberg has taught seventh-12th grade Social Studies in several states, most recently at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, an inquiry-driven, project-based high school focused on modern learning. It’s here where I first met Laufenberg, at the yearly conference Educon, where she was swarmed… Read More

How to Encourage Student Self-Efficacy

By Jennifer Gunn January 7, 2019

A confident classroom is a successful classroom. How do you build a culture of academic excellence in classrooms that promote student accountability, confidence, and success? By encouraging a growth mindset for all learners, finding ways to boost their confidence and their sense of academic potential. Here’s a look at a few ways to cultivate student… Read More

What Equity Really Means in Schools

By Jennifer Gunn December 28, 2018

Equity and equality are two different concepts that are often used interchangeably. Many people think that equity in education means everyone getting the same thing, but it actually means that everyone gets access to what they need. So how can we work to truly narrow the gaps and improve student learning? Let’s take a closer… Read More

It’s unfortunate but true: every school deals with cases of bullying. Cyberbullying is also a widespread issue, and many learning communities struggle with both forms of mistreatment. But some schools are testing out more innovative methods, yielding positive results here in the U.S. and abroad. Let’s look at a few examples to see what’s working… Read More

The Impact of a Thoughtfully Designed Learning Space

By Kara Wyman, MEd December 18, 2018

A school’s design can greatly impact students’ ability to learn. The layout alone can either make it confusing for students and their families or it can create a welcoming environment where staff, students, and resources are connected and accessible. The design can promote an inclusive school culture, hands-on learning, and community engagement. Many schools today… Read More

Creating a Culture of Wellness at Your School

By Tara Saucier, PhD, RN December 14, 2018

Wellness is often emphasized in educational settings, but there’s more to it than promoting good health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), students who are healthy are better learners, and academic achievement creates a lifetime of benefits. Recognizing the benefits of wellness According to Action for Healthy Kids, children who attend schools… Read More

Exploring Tinkergarten’s Learning Model

By Jennifer Gunn December 10, 2018

The outdoor education movement gets children outside to experience hands-on learning in nature. Some organizations are taking this approach to the next level. One innovative example is Tinkergarten, which offers outdoor classes and activities that incorporate play-based learning. Available to children and families in 47 states, Tinkergarten’s activities are designed to “help kids develop a host of important capabilities, including empathy,… Read More

Understanding Culturally Responsive Teaching

By Jennifer Gunn December 3, 2018

Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) is so much more than a trendy education term, but many educators struggle to define it. They are unsure of how it’s different from other equitable teaching practices and they can’t explain how to utilize it in their classrooms. Zaretta Hammond’s popular book Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain: Promoting Authentic… Read More

In order for students to be successful in school, they first have to be in school. Seems logical, right? But for millions of students in the U.S., attendance is a barrier to success with lifelong consequences. Here’s a look at how chronic absenteeism impacts learning, and how schools can begin to turn the tide. Measuring… Read More

Many states are coping with teacher shortages, particularly in low-income districts with students of color. The coping mechanism has largely involved hiring under-qualified teachers to fill vacancies, leaving our neediest students receiving lower quality teaching. Meanwhile, teacher education programs have seen a large decline in enrollment, which translates to less certified and qualified teachers for… Read More

The Impact of Income on Student Success and What We Can Do About It

By Mary Jane Pearson, PhD October 30, 2018

The American Dream depends upon the belief that, regardless of your background, if you work hard enough you can achieve your goals. But extensive research has shown that income does impact student success. As educators, what can we do about this national issue? Read on to find out how one Portland school addressed the challenge. Research on… Read More