Should Students Lead Parent-Teacher Conferences?

Despite being an avid NYT reader, I had no clue that there was a cool website called Room for Debate. I wrote an opinion based about the value and need for Student Led Conferences using what I saw at the schools in my book on Deeper Learning as well as what I have observed at other site visits and articles like that by Emily Richmond in Hechinger A teacher wrote an opinion based on her experience as a teacher. The comments then debate the two different opinions.  The comments are enlightening on multiple levels – they are very mixed as to the depth of the discourse or the negative reaction but nonetheless, provide an interesting perspective on how people view the role of the student and adults in learning highlighting the difference of a student centered approach to teaching and learning.

Enter the debate and share your perspective:



NYU Honors Monica Martinez as Distinguished Alumna

New York, NY (May 13, 2016) – T72f843b1-af3f-415a-9b5e-c30c2a3a092a-originalhis week the Steinhardt School will launch graduation season with its annual Doctoral Convocation at NYU’s Skirball Center for Performing Arts.  More than 100 students will receive advanced degrees at the event which will begin with a procession through Washington Square Park.  On Tuesday, May 17th, 2,076 undergraduate and master’s degree recipient will receive their diplomas on stage at three separate ceremonies at New York City’s Beacon Theatre. At the events, the school will honor distinguished alumna Monica Rae Martinez (MA ’91, PhD ’04, Higher Education Administration). Monica Martinez is a senior fellow to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, a presidential appointee to the White House Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, and the co-author of the book, Deeper Learning (The New Press, 2014).

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Technology and Learning

I so enjoyed recording the most recent #XQExpertSeries on Technology and Learning with Mary Ryerse, a former principal, and now Director of Strategic Design at Getting Smart and Nichole Pinkard, Founder of the Digital Youth Network and Associate Professor, CDM School of Design at DePaul University because I learned so much (I certainly hope the audience members did as well). I loved how Mary provided us with a system perspective and identified how various layers of the system help support the use of technology and learning. I loved her depth of understanding Nichole provided all of us on the use of technology for learning, particularly around issues of quality and access as well as what can get lost during implementation.  I was happy to simply offer what I have observed and learned on how technology is used in the service of learning from teachers and leaders at schools I have visited, helped start, or featured in my book on Deeper Learning – and that is, start by asking: What do you want students to learn? And then, what’s the best way to help them get there?   As a result, I saw students use technology as a regular part of research and discovery, collaboration and team projects, communication with other students and with teachers, organization, self-direction, and demonstration of work. With technology seen as a tool, students were free to be creative, writing blogs and wikis, designing web sites, and producing videos. My favorite perspective on the use technology, however, has come from Science Leadership Academy. The principal, as well as the Technology Coordinator, Marcy Hull always say, “Technology is the air we breathe here. It should be invisible.”


I do hope everyone learned from this #XQExpetSeries as I know I felt fortunate to have my thinking pushed. After I listened to our recording, participated in the twitter chat, and viewed the picture of the three of us that was used for this particular #XQExpertSeries, I was suddenly struck at how unusual it is to see a panel of all women, and two of them of color, to lead a discussion on technology and learning. Thank you for that XQAmerica for the opportunity to be part of such a dynamic panel –  there are too many conferences where that is not the norm.


Hope thanks to a group of some State Legislators

Last week I had the opportunity to facilitate a a group of women state legislators who are members of a task force on mental health and substance abuse for the organization, Women in Government ( And they gave me hope in our policymakers.

I had some trepidation to facilitate this meeting given the topic/problem is not my content expertise so knew I would have to heavily rely on my meeting design, facilitation, and synthesis skills to help this task force identify policies to address mental health and substance abuse. I am so glad I agreed to facilitate this group. With all of the negativity at the federal level, whether it is refusing to follow the constitution to vote on a Supreme Court nominee; the multiple partisan stalemates in congress and the senate; or the disparaging rhetoric monopolizing the presidential primaries, this meeting reminded me that we have some amazing people in state office who deeply care about the populace, citizens, and how to work in a bipartisan way to create a state infrastructure along with policies. The other really fun part of facilitating this work group was to meet women who are in a state legislative role and be part of a group of wonderfully smart women who are authentically collaborative and work to learn from each other to craft ideas and potential recommendations that other states could consider when addressing mental health and substance abuse. I am just grateful I was reminded that there are some political leaders out there who are working for and with us and taking on major challenges like mental health and substance abuse.

Thank you Women in Government (!

How Deeper Learning Can Create a New Vision for Teaching

School reform has come a long way….we are finally thinking about what students need to know and do but also, how we support teachers to develop these broader outcomes and are transforming from a focus on schooling to learning.  Some call these broader outcomes 21st century skills, some call them work-based skills, college and career readiness skills,  social emotional learning, and XQ reminds us that we need students who have an agile and flexible intelligence. I along with many, feel that deeper learning is a great umbrella term to capture the social emotional and learning competencies.  I was pleased as a Commissioner of National Commission and Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF) and as the author of the book, Deeper Learning: How Eight Innovative Public Schools are Transforming Education in the 21st Century, I was able to write a paper, How Deeper Learning Can Create a New Vision for Teaching This paper is a lead up to NCTAF’s Great Teaching Initiative Report that will be released later this year.  In addition, you can watch the webcast to explore the conditions needed to support great teaching for deeper learning. Panelist include Elizabeth Foster from NCTAF, Laura McBain from High Tech High and myself.  Elizabeth and I will present this paper again at the Teaching and Learning Conference March 11, 2016, if you are attending.