Monthly Archives: February 2016

This is What is Best For Kids!

There is no silver bullet that can save education. Actually, there is. Decrease the number of low socioeconomic status families. I am not saying kick them out of the district. I am saying the highest indicator of academic success is socioeconomic status. (link and Doug Timm) Increasing education, income, and occupation as well as decreasing privilege is the number one thing that will help our lowest students. That is a conversation that is appropriate for another blog. It will take the entire country working together with a shared vision numerous years for that to happen. We can all agree this isn’t happening anytime soon. Today let’s talk about something administrators and boards of education can change for next school year that will increase test scores, lower negative student behaviors, and make our students healthier.

This all stemmed from a conversation I had with Eric Sheniger on Voxer last week. He spoke about challenging his participants at conferences to show him how technology was improving students’ learning. Where is the data? Not one of his participants stood up to accept the challenge. This isn’t about technology, though. No, this blog is about iron clad proof. Mike Kuczala, the author of The Kinesthetic Classroom, calls it ignoring “the robust and growing body of research that can help raise the academic achievement of all students”.  I go one step farther. Our school leaders are bordering on malpractice.

I am going to present  research studies showing unequivocally how we can raise the almighty test scores in students. Are you one of those rogue teachers or administrators that don’t believe in test scores? How about academic publishings that show how to decrease negative student behaviors or make students just plain healthier and happier without sacrificing academic achievement and allowing them to have more fun? You will read summaries of scientific journal articles studies that come from a neutral source that is being flatly ignored by 99.9% of schools in the United States of America. All this at a fraction of the cost of new reading and math programs, textbooks, wifi, Chromebooks, ipads, greenscreens, and every other high-cost item that is supposed to change education.

There is one thing that if changed will drastically uplift your school from poor to good, good to great, or from great to outstanding. That cure-all comes in the form of physical movement. This is not just about brain boosts. Nor is it purely about physical education. It is about The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance. Read that again. There is evidence. Strong evidence. Irrefutable evidence showing how physical activity combined with physical education increases academic performance. All of this evidence was reviewed and published in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control, the Prevention National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention, and the  Health Promotion Division of Adolescent and School Health.

1) School-Based Physical Education Studies (14 studies)

Overall, increased time in physical education appears to have a positive relationship or no relationship with academic achievement. Increased time in physical education does not appear to have a negative relationship with academic achievement.

I interpreted this as increased physical education classes either increase academic achievement or don’t hurt it at all. That is a win-win situation. More physed time will either increase your students’ scores; even if it doesn’t it won’t hurt their scores. Again this is only addressing academic performance right now.

The CDC said:

To maximize the potential benefits of student participation in physical education class, schools and physical education teachers can consider increasing the amount of time students spend in physical education or adding components to increase the quality of physical education class. Articles in the review examined increased physical education time (achieved by increasing the number of days physical education was provided each week or lengthening class time) and/or improved quality of physical education (achieved through strategies such as using trained instructors and increasing the amount of active time during physical education class).

2) Recess (eight studies)

Time spent in recess appears to have a positive relationship with, or no relationship with, children’s attention, concentration, and/or on-task classroom behavior. All eight studies found one or more positive associations between recess and indicators of cognitive skills, attitudes, and academic behavior; none of the studies found negative associations.

What this said to me is that recess is only positive. There were 0 negative associations found with giving the students recess. Case closed. Keep or increase recess time.

The CDC said:

School boards, superintendents, principals, and teachers can feel confident that providing recess to students on a regular basis may benefit academic behaviors, while also facilitating social development and contributing to overall physical activity and its associated health benefits. There was no evidence that time spent in recess had a negative association with cognitive skills, attitudes, or academic behavior.

3) Classroom Physical Activity (nine articles)

Eight of the nine studies found positive associations between classroom-based physical activity and indicators of cognitive skills and attitudes, academic behavior, and academic achievement; none of the studies found negative associations.

It is pretty clear. There are no negative associations with using brain boosts in the class. Eight of the nine studies showed that brain boosts increased academic achievement.

The CDC said:

Classroom teachers can incorporate movement activities and physical activity breaks into the classroom setting that may improve student performance and the classroom environment. Most interventions reviewed here used short breaks (5–20 minutes) that required little or no teacher preparation, special equipment, or resources.

4) Extracurricular Physical Activity (19 studies)

All 19 studies examining the relationships between participation in extracurricular physical activities and academic performance found one or more positive associations.

Every study showed that after-school physical activity (not just sports) increased academic performance. It doesn’t get much clearer than that.

The CDC said:

The evidence suggests that superintendents, principals, and athletic directors can develop or continue school-based sports programs without concern that these activities have a detrimental impact on students’ academic performance. School administrators and teachers also can encourage after-school organizations, clubs, student groups, and parent groups to incorporate physical activities into their programs and events.

This evidence has been around since 2010. How many changes has your school district made in the past 5 years in the name of “research-based” reading and math programs? If the data I showed you didn’t convince you check out the book SPARK by Dr. Ratey, or watch this TED talk from Paul Zientarski about Naperville Illinois. Their school district increased physical activity time in 1990. Their test scores blew away every other school district in the state after they implemented this new policy. Just look at their 2015 PARCC test scores.

“The entire district’s scores for English language arts show 68 percent meeting or exceeding expectations, 20 percent approaching expectations, 9 percent partially meeting expectations and 4 percent not meeting expectations.

In math, 60 percent met or exceeded expectations, 25 percent approached expectations, 11 percent partially met expectations and 4 percent didn’t meet them.

English language arts scores by elementary grade show 58 percent of third-graders met or exceeded, as opposed to only 34 percent of Illinois students; 66 percent of fourth-graders met or exceeded, compared to 37 percent of the state; and 67 percent of fifth-graders met or exceeded, compared to 37 percent of the state.

Junior high sixth-graders showed 62 percent met or exceeded English language arts expectations, as compared to 33 percent of the state; 70 percent of seventh-graders met or exceeded, compared to 37 percent of the state; and 74 percent of eighth-graders met or exceeded, compared to 38 percent of the entire state.

Seventy-seven percent of district high school students met or exceeded English language arts expectations, compared to 31 percent of all Illinois students.

Math results for elementary students in third grade showed 63 percent met or exceeded expectations, compared to 36 percent of the state; 61 percent of fourth-graders met or exceeded, compared to 28 percent of the state; and 61 percent of fifth-graders met or exceeded, compared to 27 percent in the state.

In junior high, 55 percent of sixth-graders met or exceeded math expectations, compared to 26 percent of all state students; 56 percent of seventh-graders met or exceeded, compared to 27 percent of state students; and 61 percent of eighth-graders met or exceeded, compared to 31 percent in the rest of the state.

Sixty-seven percent of district high school students met or exceeded expectations in math, compared to 17 percent of all Illinois students.” (link)

Another program, created by Joe McCarthy, that will increase student’s academic performance is called Literacy Physical Education. This program’s success has been well documented for years and is offered absolutely free!

Literacy Physical Education is a program designed to help a specific grade level that is behind, based on the statewide reading assessment to each grade level standards.

Our data shows that students who are in our 12 week class will more than double their peers and up to five the national average on the winter assessment. Students come to the gym every day, fifteen minutes for 12 weeks. Every class embeds fluency, comprehension and spelling into movement activities. Students in this class learn how to combat “learned helplessness” by the end of the 12 weeks. Students will use whiteboards, markers and towels as their learning tools. Paper and pencil is another option for you to use.

Joe (@joeMcCarthy09) will travel to your school district and present his findings contact SPARK PE to find out more. He also has a video of his lessons on YouTube. You can see his whole presentation with the wealth of data he has collected here.

That is what we call data. Irrefutable facts that clearly show how increased physical activity benefits our students academically. It is time to stop blaming parents, grades, homework, lawmakers, teachers, or any other part of education that is being attacked. It is time for school boards and administrators to look at the data. The “research based” idea that increasing physical activity time will increase test scores, student’s health, and attitudes is the answer to the problems you are looking for. If you read this and ignore the data please don’t tweet what’s best for kids. This is what’s best for kids. Use this information to increase physical education classes lead by a certified teacher, create or increase recess time, and implement before and after-school physical activity clubs. Email this, tweet this, Facebook this, to every administrator and board member you know. I know I will be. It’s what is best for kids.


Finding My Success #beyouedu

I’m a little late on the January #beyouedu blog. Last month’s subject was finding your success. In Dr.Will’s video, he speaks about his ability to connect with people in a smaller room when he presents at conferences. Tomorrow I will present to a group of physical education and health teachers at my state conference. If it is anything like it was last year the room will be packed. People will be all be looking at me like I am some sort of expert. They expect me to bring the “tech” to my session.

They will be surprised at how low-tech my presentation is this year. My presentation is one google doc. Not a fancy doc that has tons images or gifs. It is going to be a regular old google doc with links to videos, a shared physical education google drive, a lesson plan creator (largest google form ever), and a link to some of my Seesaw videos. This is in direct contrast to my technology-heavy presentation last year.

The reason for this switch is finding my success. My success is not going to come from having all the bells and whistles. They end up being a distraction. People get frustrated signing into things. My success will come from my ability to impress on people the value of the sharing economy.

The Sharing Economy is a socio-economic ecosystem built around the sharing of human and physical resources. It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organizations. (link)

The sharing economy is bringing disruption to the world right now. Teachers have access to resources that were unheard of even 5 years ago. Amazon, Edmodo, Microsoft, Creative Commons, and ASCD have all paired up to bring FREE resources to our teachers and students under the umbrella of OER. (link) The physical education community has been ahead of this sharing economy for years. There is no reason why new teachers do not have any online resource they need to succeed. Voxer allows you to access hundreds of physical education and health teachers and ask any questions you want. Twitter allows you to connect with hundreds of thousands of teachers. Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and any other social media site have all been infiltrated by teachers.

My success will come from showing the teachers in the room that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I am at my best when I don’t have to worry about the participants logging onto a website or having to download an app. Using the Google shortcut taught to me by Adam Llevo (mradampe), every person who wants access to my presentation will simply click on this link or type in the shortener I will post. You will see that when you click on the link it will force them to make a copy of the presentation. The doc will be named and automatically placed in their google drive. The name of the doc is the conference name. This is where my success will lie. Ease of use and getting the information to my participants to reference in the future.

If someone asks me what does find my success look like I would tell them it is about making connections. Opening myself up to others. How can I serve you? What help do you need to succeed? Here is my twitter handle, voxer id, email, cell phone, blog URL. Use me to help you succeed. I don’t mind. The reason I don’t mind is because finding my success will fail without you.

  1. What does finding your success in teaching/presenting look like? #slowchatpe
  2. What distracts you in the classroom or presentation room from your success? #slowchatpe
  3. How do/did you realize your success? #slowchatpe
  4. How do you use the sharing economy in school? #slowchatpe
  5. Where should we go to find sharing economies online? (people or sites) #slowchatpe





Justice Scalia Absence Affects America

Justice Antonin Scalia passed away of February 13, 2016. You may remember him for the following statement:

There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.

He went on to say, “I’m just not impressed by the fact the University of Texas may have fewer [blacks]. Maybe it ought to have fewer. I don’t think it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible.” (link)

At face value, this statement blasts both black people and smaller colleges particularly historically black colleges and universities. It doesn’t seem reasonable to me that black students need a “slowed down” curriculum nor does it seem reasonable that smaller colleges do not use the same rigor and pace that large ones do. This is my opinion only. Maybe there is data that backs up what he says. I have not come across any during my research, though.

His passing leaves a Supreme Court that is evenly divided 4-4 between the liberals and conservatives.

“The most important rule to bear in mind now that the Court is likely to remain evenly divided for the foreseeable future is that, when the Court divides evenly on a case that is pending before it, the lower court’s order stands and the Supreme Court’s consideration of the case has no precedential value.” link

The Supreme Court is powerless right now. If all the justices split along their party lines the 4-4 split will be cast during every controversial ruling.

You may be thinking how does this effect education? One of the main cases that will be affected by this is Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.

“It appeared likely that an ambitious effort to defund public sector unions would gain five votes on the Supreme Court. Now this effort only has four votes. Moreover, because the plaintiffs in this case lost in the court below, a decision affirming the lower court in an evenly divided vote is effectively a victory for organized workers.” link

This is huge! From what I understand, California teachers had to pay around $1,000 for to their union. Their union would not only negotiate salaries they also have their hands in the legislative system. It didn’t matter if you agreed with what they were doing or not.

To opt out of the thirty percent of their dues that even the union concedes is used for overtly political activities, teachers must must file for a refund each year according to a precise procedure that effectively discourages its use. As a result, many teachers contribute hundreds of dollars in dues each year to support political positions in a variety of areas having nothing to do with education and with which many of them disagree.

“The suit claims state “agency shop” laws, which require public employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment, violate well-settled principles of freedom of speech and association. While many teachers support the union, others do not and the state cannot constitutionally compel an individual to join and financially support an organization with which he or she disagrees.” link

Look at what happened when Wisconsin changed their union rules. Their union enrollment plummeted.

“Given no choice but to join and pay dues to the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) for decades, teachers have for the last three years been able to opt out. And that is what tens of thousands have done as a result of Gov. Scott Walker’s Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill, also known as Act 10.” link

You may argue that teachers unions have lost their effectiveness. New Jersey teachers have dealt with personal attacks from the governor, forced to pay into their health care, their pension funds have not been paid into, computer-based state testing has been forced on schools with no funding attached to it, and the union has done little to nothing to stop it. Couple this with fact that:

NJEA director Vince Giordano received $421,615 in salary and $128,508 in deferred compensation last year (2010), according to tax filings released last spring.

NJEA president Barbara Keshishian earned $256,450 last year. VP Wendell Steinhauer and Secretary-Treasurer Marie Blistan were paid $170,974 each. link


I can see New Jersey teachers not being eager to join a union that looks powerless to protect its members. However, we can not ignore the fact that unions have helped bring teachers salaries and benefits up towards respectability.

Justice Scalia’s absence will affect MUCH more than education. It may affect birth control, immigration, abortion, redistricting, affirmative action, and President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. There are many other dominoes that will fall based on the 4-4 split. If you would like to read about them I suggest you click on this link.

One thing that I am sure about is that the Republican Congress will do everything it can to block President Obama from nominating a Supreme Court replacement for Scalia. This makes the presidential election that much more important in shaping America’s future. Not only will they be electing the commander in chief for the next four years they will be electing the person responsible for nominating the pivotal vote for the next 10-20 years on the Supreme Court. Let the games begin!

Q1: Is your state a closed or open shop? (are you forced to join the union) #slowchatpe

Q2: What does your union do for improving your pedagogy? #slowchatpe

Q3: How do you feel about your union representing you politically? #slowchatpe

Q4: Would you join your union if you weren’t forced to? #slowchatpe

Q5: Who is a union rep in your state you are connected to? #slowchatpe





John Hattie Interview BBC

Jorge Rodriguez @physednow recently introduced me to an interview on BBC Radio with John Hattie. John Hattie is the Director of the Melbourne Educational Research Institute at the University of Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of Visible Learning which is a synthesis of more than 800 meta-studies covering more than 80 million students. I tell you this because when he speaks it is much different than most. He is not giving opinions based on “feelings” or what he “believes”, (which I do most weeks) he is giving a well-researched point of view.  I will highlight the major points of the interview.

Class Size

“Well, the first thing is, reducing class size does enhance achievement. However, the magnitude of that effect is tiny. It’s about a hundred and fifth out of a hundred and thirty odd different effects out there and it’s just one of those enigmas and the only question to ask is why is that effect so small? Because it is small. And the reason, we’ve found out, that it’s so small is because teachers don’t change how they teach when they go from a class of thirty to fifteen and perhaps it’s not surprising.”

This surprised me. You would think that the smaller the class size the more the teacher contact and instruction the child would have. As he stated above teachers aren’t changing the way they teach with the amount of students they have. He wasn’t saying that class size shouldn’t matter. His major point is that teachers should switch up how they teach to utilize the smaller number.

Public vs. Private

“Here in England, if you take out the prior differences from going to a private school where they tend to get parents who choose, as oppose to them sent to the local school, they tend to get a brighter student, you take that out, there’s not much difference. In many places the government school would be better. So, it’s kind of ironic, in the last twenty years where we’ve pushed this notion that parents have choice, so they can choose the school that may not be in the best interest of their student.”

Again another surprise here. You would have thought that private schools would have been a much better option for students. He hammers home the point again and again that it is the individual teachers that make the difference not the school.


“Homework in primary school has an effect of around zero. In high school it’s larger. (…) Which is why we need to get it right. Not why we need to get rid of it. It’s one of those lower hanging fruit that we should be looking in our primary schools to say, “Is it really making a difference?” If you try and get rid of homework in primary schools many parents judge the quality of the school by the presence of homework. So, don’t get rid of it. Treat the zero as saying, “It’s probably not making much of a difference but let’s improve it”. Certainly I think we get over obsessed with homework. Five to ten minutes has the same effect of one hour to two hours. The worst thing you can do with homework is give kids projects. The best thing you can do is to reinforce something you’ve already learnt.”

Unlike Alice Keeler he doesn’t advocate to eliminate homework. Anyone who has ever played sports will tell you that perfect practice makes perfect. We don’t need to beat our students to death with hours of homework, but practicing a newly learned skill doesn’t seem like the worst idea in the world.

Streaming (separating pupils by academic ability into groups)

“It doesn’t make a difference.” Sarah Montague: “But bright kids aren’t held back by less bright and less bright not suffering?” “No. No difference at all. No. Teachers think it’s easier for them and it may be but in terms of the effects of students, no. Now you’ve got to remember that a lot of students gain a tremendous amount of their learning from their other students in the class and variability is the way that you get more of that kind of learning from other students.”

This conversation happens all the time. Should we have general education classes grouped by academic ability? We had a great conversation about this in #slowchatpe on Voxer. There are many benefits of having mixed groups. I employ student coaches to help other students out in both physed and health.

Q1: What would be your ideal class size? Why? #slowchatpe

Q2: Do creating more schools and choices create a better education? #slowchatpe

Q3: What do you think is the proper amount of homework? #slowchatpe

Q4: Do you agree that mixed ability classes are the best for all students? #slowchatpe

Q5: Who is an expert in education that we should know about? #slowchatpe






Judgement Part 2 Bias from Mr. Pink

Dear Mr. Pink (@Positivteacha),

First let me commend you on your awesome name. I know it was given to you by birthright but sharing a name with Steve Buscemi in Reservoir Dogs is so cool!!!

Now down to business. I read your blog and felt the gamut of emotions. I have also read your response blog located here. I will have to attempt to dissect your defense of your original blog in a second post.

You started off with a bang!!  We need more crossover dialogue in education. It proceeded to go downhill fast. “When we were growing up, as you were feeling the triumph of scoring the winning penalty for the school team, I was enviously penning poems about what that might feel like.”  You assume that all physical education teachers excelled in sports. Sweeping generalization one. Just talk about how you had a lack of skills in a class that wasn’t set up for you to succeed. The problem is you weren’t set up for success. 

“Today, I want to breach the gap between us and bring us together in the aim of achieving one goal. Today, I am not concerned with our futures, but the futures of the students we teach and I’m concerned with the power and the responsibility that you –PE teachers- have now, to ensure that these students have the physical and intellectual means to access the marvellous futures they deserve.” This would be a grand statement if your entire writing was not designed to enflame physed teachers. Maybe you desired this. It did get the PE community talking about you. Dialogue has ensued as a result. Maybe you are taking cues from Donald Trump. (American political reference if unaware)

“Who has the most power to influence this change: Mrs Smith from Geography who ‘only buys Waitrose’? Mr Jones from History who road bikes around France in half term? Mr Pink from English who eats pastrami and rocket sandwiches? The answer, of course, is none of these. The answer is you.” You renounced all power and authority to physical education teachers while simultaneously disregarding every relationship that non-PE teachers have with their students. I am happy we are getting credit but you may be doing a disservice to every other teacher in the school.

“As a casual, and slightly envious, observer of the influence you possess, I want you to know I’m fed up. I’m fed up of fifteen year old captains of sports teams proudly telling me, someone they should want to impress, that they’ve, ‘never finished a book’.” Another sweeping generalization here. How does playing a sport or being a captain have anything to do with reading? It seems to me that they don’t value reading. That is the problem here. I would worry about that more than what they do value. It’s not an either-or proposition. The bigger problem here is that you combine sport and physical education together. In the United States, physical education is much more than sports. I have many physical education connections in England and they teach much more than sport. Your blog should have been targeted to coaches not physical education teachers if your problem is with captains and sports teams.

“I’m fed up of hearing students – and teachers-, perpetuating the false dichotomy that people are either ‘clever’ or ‘sporty.’ If smart people can become more active, active people can become smart.” Agreed. Smart people can be sporty and vice versa. Again not an either or proposition.  

Here is where it gets real repugnant. “Please, stop picking naughty boys for your school teams.” This may be a cultural misunderstanding by my, but I fail to see how not reading makes a boy naughty. Boys who are bullies, kick puppies, or don’t follow their parent’s instructions would fall into this category. If your students are not reading it is more an indicator that they don’t value it than labeling them as naughty.

Here is an epic fail of mammoth proportions. “If they refuse to exercise their brains, then they shouldn’t be exercising their legs.” Under this logic, students aren’t learning anything when they exercise or play sports. This is an asinine statement. Here is the first article of 160 MILLION hits that came up when I googled learning by playing sports. They may not be learning what you deem as acceptable but then again your entire blog was written with bias and contempt.

Our job as physical education teachers is not to provide discipline and classroom management for your class. You state, “If they’re proving themselves in Science or History or ICT, give them the opportunity to prove themselves on the field.” How about we switch that and say if they are not proving themselves in physical education don’t give them the opportunity to participate in English? It doesn’t work that way sir.

This paragraph is filled with innuendo and reeks of disdain. “Get your tracksuited torsos into assemblies and tell students what you’re reading. Tell them about your favourite books and how reading has benefitted you personally. If you don’t read yourself, start and start now. It’s never too late. There’s lots of books out there, and they’re not all sports biographies. Try genres you’ve never tried before and get students to do the same.” My offense at this nonsense is that you are telling me what to do and “enlightening” people that there are numerous books in the world. Did you really think that we didn’t know how many books exist in the world? I offer you this. You support my class and I will support yours. I read constantly as well as exercise. I would love to talk about what I am reading. Do you exercise? What are you doing to show students how important physical activity and physical education is? I hope you will respond that you do this in numerous ways.

I don’t know what your definition of an athlete is. If it is making students physically literate than you are wrong when you declared this, “The students who love your subject won’t all become athletes.” If you believe that our goal is to create and train athletes you are incorrect. Our goal is to instill in our students that a lifetime of movement and physical activity is the only way to remain healthy.

If I had to pinpoint one problem with your post it’s that the tone of the post is in direct opposition to the goal of uniting teachers in the best interest of students. I left wondering why students don’t want to read after attending your class. That is not an attack on you but a simple musing of why they don’t see the value in something as important as reading. In your defense, I reflect on why some of my students don’t leave my class with the admiration of lifetime movement and activity that I would like to see in them. Maybe reflecting more on your practices may help instead of imploring physical education teachers to inspire your students for you. 

I conclude with this thought. Work with us and let’s build our students up together. Take an honest look at your blog and see where your bias lays and how it affects your writing and outlook. Let’s turn that frown upside down and join forces instead of writing divisive and inflammatory blogs.

Sensible Conclusions


Judgement is the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions. (google it). I would like to concentrate on the making sensible conclusions part of judgement. As Hoobastank sang; I am not a perfect person. I have noticed that I making conclusions. A lot. As soon as I noticed it bothered me. Haven’t we been told “Judge not, that ye be not judged”? The first instance came when I was on Facebook and visiting the PE Central thread. One woman stated that she gives the fitness test to her students every month. Instead of trying to understand her position I automatically made a sensible conclusion and told her what she was doing was wrong. Was I telling her this because fitness testing students every month was wrong or did I make the sensible conclusion that fitness testing is not the best use of classroom time?


My thoughts then turned to my teaching. I make snap sensible conclusions 1,000 times a day. When two students are arguing I usually know who is wrong before I even get involved. When a ball goes flying across the gym and I see two students standing near where it was I can tell you who was the one who kicked it without even seeing who did it. I make judgements about my students all the time.


So what is the problem with judging? We all do it. We are biologically programmed to judge things. John Medina writes about attention and judgement in his book Brain Rules. He states, “Can I eat it? Will it eat me? Can I mate with it? Will it mate with me?” Those all seem like good reasons to come to a sensible conclusion. Where does the problem with judgment come in?


The problem with judgement is that people can only judge by using their own biases and experiences. When I judge people on social media am I fairly judging them? When I judge my students’ decisions and efforts in class I am using my own lens and perspective. Therein lies the worry. I am judging based on my views and experiences in life. This is where my race, socioeconomic status, religion, sexuality, and culture all play a huge role in the judgements I make. It is impossible to separate my judgments from my biases without metacognition.


One example of bias I came across is an article published by Psychological Science.

“Across both studies, the researchers found that racial stereotypes shaped teachers’ responses not after the first infraction but rather after the second. Teachers felt more troubled by a second infraction they believed was committed by a black student rather than by a white student. In fact, the stereotype of black students as “troublemakers” led teachers to want to discipline black students more harshly than white students after two infractions, Eberhardt and Okonofua said. They were more likely to see the misbehavior as part of a pattern, and to imagine themselves suspending that student in the future.”

That study should worry you. It should make you think long and hard about what your biases are and how they impact your students.  


Q1. How do you avoid judging coworkers? #slowchatpe

Q2. How do you reflect on your biases? #slowchatpe

Q3. What makes you think a student is not a nice child? #slowchatpe

Q4. How do you ensure your classroom management is fair? (appropriate not equal) #slowchatpe

Q5. Who is the most nonjudgmental person in your life? How do you know? #slowchatpe