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

Introducing Uncommon’s Open Source AP Curriculum Hub

At Uncommon Schools, we are deeply committed to supporting our students to get to and through college, which includes providing a college-ready academic course trajectory with preparation that allows all students to access Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Research indicates that students who take at least one AP course perform better in college than those who … Continued

Our Plans to Reverse COVID-related Learning Loss

The 2021-2022 school year launches in two months and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome our students to a new school year full of fresh opportunities. The reality of COVID learning loss requires us to set a bold and necessary goal: to reverse 100% of COVID-related learning loss by June 2022. To achieve this … Continued

‘I am Black and I am Proud To Be’: Fostering Self-Love and Celebrating Identity in the Elementary Classroom

School Wellness Lessons On the cue of “go” a class of 4th graders races to find their favorite book. Bursting with excitement, they eagerly return to their seats with popular titles such as Goosebumps and Harry Potter. At the start of this community building block, students have space to indulge in 5 minutes of leisure … Continued

What Viola Davis Can Teach Us About Preparing for Discourse

Viola Davis, a true icon of stage, screen, and most likely future EGOT winner, had this to say about her research and process before a scene: Source: BAFTA Ms. Davis prepares to listen. To respond. To use whatever her partner gives her to create the most authentic and transformative theatrical experience. Engaging in effective discourse … Continued