Angela Duckworth & Grit

I didn’t know it at the time but this TedTalks video has had quite the impact on my understanding of educational competencies and the role the teacher plays in engaging students in learning.

This interview with Dr. Angela Duckworth expands on the video and her research around how optimism is a better indicator of cadet success in the US Military’s gruelling West Point Academy.  Duckworth states that “admission to West Point depends heavily on the Whole Candidate Score, which includes SAT scores, class rank, demonstrated leadership ability, and physical aptitude.  Even with such a rigorous admissions process, about 1 in 20 cadets drops out during the summer of training before their first academic year.”  Duckworth goes on to share her findings of the power of optimism in other case studies as well.

Combined with Paul Tough’s work in How Children Succeed these two resources have helped me better understand the of role grit and perseverance in education and the research around it.


Have a watch and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.



Now this edition of #MeaningfulMonday is a classic and one I absolutely LOVE speaking to both in the classroom and with colleagues as an accelerator for a few things.  One, it’s an awesome, fun, and relatable story.  Everyone will connect with Caine and his journey.  Two, it demonstrates the power of a young mind when they follow their passion.  And three, the power of the larger community that comes together to create impact is tangible.

If you haven’t seen this before and you’re the type of teacher who screens videos prior to showing them to your class, trust me, just go ahead and show it to your class right away.  Drop everything and just turn on the projector, hit play, and marvel at the response.

Make your Monday meaningful y’all.


This week’s edition of #MeaningfulMonday is all about inquiry and a working model to help us all conceptualize how inquiry can be supported by making design and structural changes to our schools.  Underpinning everything is student agency and the shifting role of the learner evident in this example.

I love how the video references pedagogy throughout, clearly emphasizing the start point to their decisions around design.  I recently viewed this clip with a group of educators adopting an inquiry model at their school and the conversations were rich and inspiring.

Have a watch for yourself!

Make your Monday meaningful y’all!

Data We Collect vs Data We SHOULD Collect. Where are you?


Recently I tweeted the above image and within a single day it was retweeted and liked over 2000 times.  That’s something.  Could you imagine if your students tweeted something from your lesson to this extent?  Or if your principal or employer gave you that many kudos for something you shared?  Needless to say I think the notion the image suggests around the role of data in education struck a chord with my PLN and I’d like to take this opportunity to grapple with why I think this is the case.

First it’s important to note that my belief around the disparity the image suggests isn’t an attempt to provoke an either/or debate.  Nor is the graphic to suggest one is seemingly “better” or more powerful than the other.  IMHO it shouldn’t be a conversation about one type of data OVER the other.  In truth the graphic reflects a large part of my philosophy around inquiry and assessment and how the two types of data should be used to shape our role as educators.

I’ve always been a teacher driven by action research and in that driven by data.  I reflect on my practice and use these reflections (ie data) to drive what I do next, what I revise to move my teaching forward, and what I further question to continue to impact my students.  The term data driven does not hold a negative connotation for me.  I have made sure that the data I collect is ultimately shaped by, and includes, the voice and identity of each and every one of my students.

And this is at the heart of the graphic: how do you ensure your students’ stories, passions, interests and goals are woven into your assessment practice, guide your instruction, and shape your pedagogy?

Lofty ideals and big ideas, I know.  But we are in the business of changing lives.  Our students hold the right to have their voice be a part of this process, wouldn’t you agree?

And this is why I believe the graphic resonates so deeply with us all.  For too long in teaching there has been an overemphasis on the first column of data.  It’s easy to reduce our students to data points and quantitative analysis but that doesn’t make it right.

I leave you with one further question: how would the data in the left column be impacted or altered if we used the data from the right column to guide our practice and shape how we build relationship with our learners?  My career has shown me time and time again that when students’ stories, passions, interests and goals are woven into our class culture, our assessment approach as well as our pedagogy (and therefore the data in the first column) is clearer, more accurate, and truer to the student than ever before.

I challenge you to reflect on your own practice and consider how YOU can have your students’ stories, passions, interests and goals drive your teaching.  Please share and comment below.


Whenever I hear educators complain that students “waste time playing online” my blood boils.  I know countless learners who harness the power of the digital realm in inspiring ways.  Whether it be to acquire new understandings, hone a desired skill, or to share their own creativity to an authentic audience, if today’s teacher doesn’t embrace the amazing opportunities afforded by today’s technologies they’re doing their students a disservice.

Case in point, check out The Academic (ironic, no?  I didn’t plan that) as they poke and prod with Facebook Live with this looped track.  I tell ya, today’s youth are something special.

Make your Monday meaningful y’all.


I’ve never watched as many films in my life as I have on airplanes.  I can pretty much guarantee that I will not get any productive work done on a trip while I’m in the sky.  One of the most engaging and endearing films I’ve seen this year is titled Lion.  Watch the trailer now.


Now watch it told by Saroo who actually lived it.

Make your Monday meaningful y’all.


As you all know I am a bit of an inquiry guru.  My educational philosophy is closely tied to increasing student agency in order to best prepare them for the problems of tomorrow in the world of today.  Any opportunities or experiences or curricula or pedagogy that honours student voice and choice is what I’d order of the menu of teaching & learning.

Check out Kevin Brookhouser’s work around 20% time and get ready to be inspired.  You’ve been warned.

Make your Monday meaningful y’all.