Passion evolves while aptitude holds steady. Should careers align to one’s passions?

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Photo by Jordan on Unsplash

I’ve always thought you are lucky if you are born knowing what you want to do with your life. For me as a child, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I used to play “school.” I used to give my friends assignments and grade them.

By the time I graduated from college, I had three potential careers: actor, disc jockey, teacher. I desired all three equally, although I thought teaching seemed the most dull yet stable. I applied for jobs in all three areas and the first one I got was as a high school English teacher. …


Three steps to help students acquire an internship two days a week with a local business or organization.

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Ninth grade internships in rural El Dorado County, CA — Photos by Michelle Spencer

In 2002 I was the internship coordinator at a newly opened charter school where every single student, starting in ninth grade, had an internship two days a week at a local business, hospital, city agency or non-profit. Here are three scaffolded steps that anyone can follow to gain an internship for their student, regardless of whether the student is enrolled in a public, private, online or homeschool.

Step One: Students Make Phone Calls

It’s daunting for ninth graders to make calls to request shadow days and to interview people with whom they think they’d like to have an internship — I mean think about it. Many 14-year olds haven’t ever placed a formal phone call. How do they engage with that stranger on the other end of the line to compel that person to answer questions about their work? …


When Technical Solutions Overlook Meaning & Symbolism

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Photo by Vladislav Klapin on Unsplash

I was very proud of a student project that involved a significant number of community members, took a whole lot of planning and learning, and brought joy to our school, its students, and parents. It was a student project celebrating Mexican heritage.

Joel, in his Sophomore or Junior year of high school, created the heritage event. It raised public awareness and brought lots of parents and community members to our school. On the day of the event, Joel asked me, “Can we fly the Mexican flag on our school flagpole for today’s event?” Such a great question! Joel had thought of everything. He actually had a clean, crisp, large Mexican flag in his hands. …


How to Ignite Student Curiosity and Learning

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NTHS Staff Rocks! photo by Lacey Boatman

Everyone loves to be silly sometimes. One thing I’ve learned after a twenty-year career in education is that high school students love to see their teachers take risks and really show themselves. A school that laughs together has a stronger culture and does a better job of building relationships and supporting students.

An Entry Event is an instructional strategy used to immediately engage students, raise their interest in a topic, and pique their curiosity. …


How to raise money for your school, improve your school culture, and help other schools get better along the way.

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Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Let’s start feeding each other by opening our school doors instead of paying third parties for professional development.

It goes something like this: one of my favorite jobs ever was being principal of New Technology High School in Napa, the flagship school of the New Tech Network which has over 200 schools and has served 4800 teachers and 82,500 students. We’d get calls from educators wanting to visit the school, to see this thing called Project-based Learning (PBL) in action.

But some of the educators at my school confided that it could feel kinda like being in a zoo — observed by outsiders looking in, each with separate agendas. It felt intrusive or impersonal, and they asked to be taken out of the hosting visitors loop. …

About

Michelle Spencer

Passionate about project-based learning, equity & educational reform. Founder of Clovereducation.com, consultant to schools, districts and edtech companies.

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