Studying our Nation’s Complicated History: Leveraging Productive Struggle for Student Growth

Last winter, I got a call about Emmett Till. The caller was a member of my team, one of a brilliant group of teachers and planners who develop middle and high school history curriculum and assessments. This team member was creating curriculum for Uncommon Schools’ first African-American History course, and asked for help framing his … Continued

Why Trust and Rapport Matter to School Leadership, and How to Foster It

Having an effective principal is a key driver of student success, teacher retention, and teacher satisfaction. Unfortunately, across the country, we’re seeing a decline in school leaders’ average number of years of experience, especially within the highest-need schools. Over the past several years, we at Uncommon have been laser-focused on cultivating a pipeline of teachers … Continued

Two Surprising Secrets to Academic Success

Welcome back to another school year! I love so many things about this season, but I especially enjoy reconnecting with our returning teachers and meeting the new additions to our team. This year, I was thrilled to see a returning teacher, Mr. Shawn Toulson, who also happened to be my student in my first year … Continued

Our Plans for the 2022-2023 School Year

Almost one-year ago, we shared our K-12 plan for the 21-22 school year in Our Plans to Reverse COVID-related Learning Loss. Our approach was designed to address both the academic and the social-emotional needs of our students grounded in the pillars of staff and student wellness, prioritizing reading instruction in K-6, small group instruction focused … Continued

Look Who’s Talking!: Building a ‘Brave Space’ in Class

   “To teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students is essential if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin.” -bell hooks My teenage years included trips to the movie theater where I was mesmerized by 3D movies. I loved watching … Continued

Yes! You can teach sight words efficiently. Here’s how.

Cajsa is a 1st grader at Leadership Prep Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn. In September 2021, after a year and a half of remote learning over Zoom, she started the year as a STEP 1 (Fountas and Pinnell (F&P) Level A), with a reading accuracy of only 83% (90% is a passing score). In just 6 … Continued

One Year of Uncommon Sense

One year ago, we introduced Uncommon Sense, a blog whose intention is to introduce you to some of the incredible members of our Uncommon team along with ready-to-use resources and the cutting-edge research that we utilize to drive student engagement and achievement.  Our hope was and continues to be that when asked, “Are your students … Continued

Getting to Why: Developing Inspirational Leaders by Connecting to Purpose

“If you’re going to live, leave a legacy. Make a mark on the world that can’t be erased.” —Dr. Maya Angelou I began my career at Uncommon Schools as a teacher. As part of my hiring process, I guest-taught a lesson. It didn’t go well. I knew it, and the hiring principal Michael Mann knew … Continued

Using “Just in Time” Instruction to Address Learning Loss

In the June 30th Uncommon Sense post, Our Plans to Reverse COVID-related Learning Loss, we named small-group instruction focused on accelerating student learning as a key driver in our ability to close COVID-related learning loss by June 2022. In this post, we are going to look closely at the classroom of Equel Easterling to see … Continued

Revising Curriculum With the DEI Lens Tool – A Collectivist Approach

In Jerard Walker’s essay, Dragon Slayers (The Iowa Review, 2006), Walker reflects on his journey as a black professor who realizes that black literature is too often approached as a record of oppression. After deep introspection, he designed his classes to challenge that narrative with a focus on the flip side: black courage and heroism. … Continued