Project Based Learning and Culturally Responsive Teaching

(Also published on www.gettingsmart.com)

PBL is starting to catch on across the country and it’s important that we understand why it works. As we look for answers to close the opportunity gap, for our historically oppressed groups in society, it’s useful to see the connections between PBL and culturally responsive teaching. Both CRT and PBL push us to teach deeply, be relevant, and develop skills. They also redefine the student:teacher relationship and change the learning process.

See why it works!

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School Reform won’t happen without Equity! – Response to New York Times Magazine

It sounds so easy yet it’s so hard. School Turnaround. Reform. Program Improvement. Lots of experts outside of education have all the answers. Instructional leadership, coaching teachers and getting into classrooms. Simple enough. Then why hasn’t it been done before, especially in the hardest areas? Because to engineer for equity, leaders need the proper building blocks:

  1. Mindset
  2. Time set
  3. Alignment
  4. Refinement

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Maximize your impact on the first day of school

The first day.

There’s Nothing like it. Definitely one of the best days of the year, second only to graduation. You may be asking yourself, what should I do be doing on a important day like this? Where do you get the most return and how do you make the biggest impact?

In short, it is all about making sure everyone feels good, has what they need, and making magic happen behind the scenes. The school, the teachers, and the classrooms are the stage. You, and your support team are backstage, pulling levers, moving the spotlight, and playing the music.

So what should a leader do on the first day of school?

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Add Sriracha to your Welcome Back PD

The school year is right around the corner and you know what that means. Welcome Back PD. Teachers and staff are coming back ready. This time, don’t make it a series of dry PowerPoints. Add some sriracha to your welcome back PD. You want these to be moments that matter, and that takes intentional planning. But sometimes it’s blander than boiled chicken.

You better put some sriracha on that thang!

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SFUSD CRL Learning Academy Resources

What’s up Learning Academy colleagues!

We are just getting started on our journey of exploring Culturally Responsive Learning. What a great experience we shared, thinking about transforming our schools, changing mindsets and structures. Below are a few resources, links, and materials. Shout out to Eric Guthertz, my co-facilitator.

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Guest Lecturing at UC Berkeley PLI with Cohort 19

Big props to my PLI family, Cohort 19. I got to go-instruct with Dr. Thomas Green and share some reflections on leadership with the students in the UC Berkeley Principal Leadership Institute, this week. I had a blast and got to reminisce on my journey that started 7 years ago, when I was in their shoes.

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A Principal’s reflection on NTAC 2018

I just returned from my first New Tech Annual Conference, (one of my featured 7 summer conferences). It was 5 days of deeper learning about deeper learning, and I’m exploding with excitement to start the new year. This years theme was “The Power of Us” and I got to bond with my staff, learn new ways to approach developing teams and build some quality projects. Here are some of my reflections and thoughts about leading PBL in schools.

See what I learned!

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How to win the war and transform your school – Book Review- Transforming School Culture


There’s a war waging. Bullets are flying, bombs are bursting, and the kids are the casualties. School Leaders are on the frontlines. The battle is for school culture, and ultimately the future of our students.

The opposition has been winning since John Dewey had his one-room schoolhouse. But, there is a way to tip the scale. You just have to know who’s in the platoon and which weapons are at your disposal.

Do you want to win the war?

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12 things principals can do to empower immigrant youth

You see what’s going on in the media, at our “border.” You know it’s wrong and of course you care, but maybe you aren’t sure where to start or what to do about it. You can/should donate money, march, call senators. But what could/should be happening at your school? What’s your role in sparking action?

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Creating Powerful Moments in Schools – Book Review – The Power of Moments

There are roughly 2,300 days of school throughout our K-12 education.2,300! We all can think of at least one moment that was extraordinary in our schooling experience. That chemistry project where you built an ecstasy molecule with toothpicks and foam balls. Your field trip to Lake Tahoe. And, the teacher who told you that you were ‘destined for greatness’. And, the crew of friends that made you feel invincible.  Or, that plaque you got in summer camp, back in 1993.

These are moments that matter, that stand out, and we will never forget them. The problem is that there are not enough of these moments, during our 2300 days of school. And our students are slowly being pushed out, checking out, and dropping out of school. But, it is possible to create these moments for our students and staff.

But how do we engineer them?

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