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The Right Side of the List

When I turned 30, I jotted down a set of goals listing things I wanted to do by the time I turned forty. On the left side, I made a list of personal accomplishments. If life was a vapor, these were the things I wanted to do when I still had the chance. They were […]

The 5 Biggest Mistakes I Made with Genius Hour (and How I Fixed Them)

This post is inspired by Ross Cooper’s latest post on the mistakes he made in doing PBL. It’s a great post. In fact, you should stop reading this now and read his post instead. Go check out his book while you’re at it.  I love the notion of sharing our mistakes along with what we […]

You Don’t Have to Wait to Innovate

When I was a first-year teacher, my team leader Nancy gave me this heaping box of classroom supplies. On the top, she placed a notecard with the words New Teacher Card. On the back of the notecard, she wrote a note explaining that I could play this card when I messed up. “You’re new and you make […]

Want to Be More Creative? Try More Rest

At first I thought it was a teacher thing. I would ask how someone was doing and they would say, “I’m really busy.” This was often followed by a description of how little sleep they had gotten and how much grading they had done. Teachers weren’t whining. It wasn’t a “poor me” attitude. It was […]

17 Things They Didn’t Tell You About Becoming a Teacher

I just launched a YouTube Channel called the New Teacher Academy. It will be a blend of inspiration, humor, and practical advice for new teachers who want to innovate and experiment in their classrooms. Here is the initial kick-off video. Feel free to like it, share it, and comment on it. 17 Things They Didn’t […]

Nine Things Minecraft Can Teach Us About Creativity and Learning

A few weeks ago, my son convinced me to download Minecraft on my iPad. He’s been playing it for a few years now and is at that stage where he is entering portals, creating drop world and doing parkour. Meanwhile, I’m at the basic level. I spent the first few hours trying to orient myself […]

How I’m Using Design Thinking to Develop a Free Resource for New Teachers

I need your help. In the next few weeks, I plan on creating a free resource for new teachers. I plan to use the LAUNCH Cycle (the design thinking framework that A.J. Juliani and I developed) to move from empathy and awareness into research and ideation, before eventually creating a beta concept. I want to […]

Treat Every Lesson Like an Experiment

I’m just going to put it out there. I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to making videos. For the last six weeks, I’ve been experimenting and trying things out. Every time I get ready to publish a video, these fears swirl around my mind. What if it’s not good enough? What if […]

We Need Librarians More Than Ever Before

It was about five years ago when a boy walked up to me and asked, “Hey Mr. Spencer, can you talk to the district and see if they’ll open up the library over the summer?” “I don’t think they can,” I answered. “But the city library is just down the street.” “I can’t go there. […]

Who was the greatest teacher at Hogwarts?

For our number one choice, we went with someone who is not actually a professor at Hogwarts. You guessed it. Argus Filch. That’s right, the mangy, angry caretaker of Hogwarts. You know, the guy with the cat? Okay, we didn’t choose Filch. We actually chose Harry. Harry was a phenomenal teacher. When he trained fellow […]