Linda Flanagan

How Ending Behavior Rewards Helped One School Focus on Student Motivation and Character

Handing out colored bracelets and upbeat stickers when students behave well seems like an effective strategy for encouraging civility. Little prizes and public praise would seem to encourage honesty, generosity and other marks of good character, and for years schools have relied on such rewards to elicit the behavior they desire in their students.

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How a School Ditched Awards and Assemblies to Refocus on Kids and Learning

When Paula Gosal took over as principal of the Chilliwack Middle School, she walked smack into the middle of a long-standing debate among the staff over awards. It wasn’t exactly a rumble that Gosal was tossed into so abruptly in the fall of 2016. Most of the teachers at this school for seventh- through ninth-graders in British Columbia had read the literature on awards, and were looking for feedback and support from their new principal. The majority wanted to do away with the school’s awards and awards assemblies, and needed the backing of their principal to make it happen.

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For Teachers Who Dread Math, Finding a Better Way

Several years ago, former fourth-grade teacher Tracy Johnston Zager took an informal survey of two groups of people to find out how they feel about math: mathematicians and teachers who teach math. She discovered that while mathematicians used words like “beauty” and “wonder” to describe math, teachers recalled “dread” and “fear.” These words aligned with what Zager had observed in her job mentoring student teachers who expressed similar reservations about math.

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How to Design a School That Prioritizes Kindness and Caring

Countless schools across the nation strive to make character a feature of education. Whether through classes on social-emotional learning, mindfulness exercises or reminders about the virtues of gratitude, thousands of students are exposed to messages that deplore cheating and bullying and celebrate kindness and consideration.

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How Teens Can Develop And Share Meaningful Stories With ‘The Moth’

Aleeza Kazmi endured her first identity crisis when she was 6 years old. It was during a first-grade art class, when she and her classmates were drawing self-portraits. Seeing herself as just like her white-skinned peers, Kazmi reached for the peach-colored oil pastel to fill in her face. Just then, her teacher intervened. “That’s not your color,” the teacher told her, and handed Kazmi a stubby brown crayon instead. “That was the first time I realized I wasn’t white like all my friends,” she said.

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How Making Kindness a Priority Benefits Students

He goes by Ice, but Tanapat Treyanurak is known among his peers at Hamilton College for his disarming warmth. He grew up in a village in Thailand, where he lived with two older brothers, his mother and father, and his grandmother. Both parents worked long hours, so Ice spent considerable time with his grandmother, who encouraged him to be kind.

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How Parents Can Help Kids Develop A Sense Of Purpose

Jack Bacon was 16 and a junior in high school when his mother died. Though he felt “broken” over her death, he continued to strive in school and sports and pretended to be strong for his sister. Bacon had always been a motivated, goal-oriented student and athlete. But sometime after his mother’s death, following a period of reflection, Bacon felt newly infused with a sense of purpose.

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How Schools Can Help Students Develop A Greater Sense Of Purpose

When Aly Buffett was a young girl struggling with reading, her parents brought in a tutor. The tutor told her, “You’re struggling right now, but I’m here with you, and you’re going to do amazing things,” Buffett said. Now 20 years old and a junior at Tulane University, Buffett believes her tutor’s warmth and confidence altered the path of her life. She realized that the steady support she’d received from her parents, teachers and tutor isn’t something every struggling child receives.

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Are Kids Missing Out By Not Skipping A Grade?

Saxon Scott was 5 years old when her parents decided she could do without kindergarten. She’d sailed through a series of tests that measured her acumen, and moved directly to first grade once preschool ended. Now she’s 15 and a high school junior, and Scott thinks nothing of her relative youth. She continues to shine in the classroom, is friendly with students in her grade, and only briefly laments the fact that she won’t be driving until the end of her freshman year in college. “As someone who skipped kindergarten, I can say it wasn’t a big deal,” Scott said.

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How One Teacher Let Go of Control To Focus On Student-Centered Approaches

When Kristine Riley looks back on how she used to teach her students, she sees order and control. Her third, fourth and fifth grade gifted-and-talented classes had been structured and orderly, and students sat in designated seats. She had assigned the same tasks to every student and had hoped for roughly the same answers from all of them. She used to believe that it was her responsibility as a teacher to impart information to her students. Riley had decided what was important and students were expected to learn what they were taught.

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