The Educator's Notebook

A weekly collection of education-related news from around the web.

Mini-Observations: Tips On How To Do Them Well

“A few years into my principalship at Boston’s Mather Elementary School, teachers prodded me to shift to mini-observations — short, frequent, unannounced classroom visits, each followed by a face-to-face conversation. I used this approach with faculty support and good results for almost a decade. A growing number of schools have adopted versions of mini-observations, moving […]

Four School Structures That Shape Student Learning

“We define instructional design as the structures, processes, and routines that create the conditions for teaching and learning. The specific elements of instructional design include: Class scheduling, Teacher assignments, Student groupings, Course offerings”

What Motivates Students? Here’s A Breakdown Of Approaches

“Our focus is on students’ achievement values. In academic motivation, “value” refers to students’ beliefs about whether and why certain content matters. Understanding the four different dimensions of achievement values (Wigfield & Eccles, 2000) can help us motivate all our students… Utility… Attainment… Intrinsic value… Cost.”

How To Use Student Surveys Successfully

“While many teachers are routinely observed, evaluated, and coached by other adults, they hardly ever receive formal feedback from their students. And this — useful evidence, solicited in real time from the attentive, perceptive, and astute students with whom they interact daily — can provide the most nourishing feedback of all.”

Six Characteristics Of Effective Improvement Routines In Schools

“Because of their complexity, just getting such routines off the ground can seem like a victory in itself, but we cannot emphasize strongly enough how important it is that improvement routines be employed thoughtfully, and that everyone involved has a shared understanding of their purpose. It is important that routines run smoothly, but this is […]


Every week I send out articles I encounter from around the web. Subject matter ranges from hard knowledge about teaching to research about creativity and cognitive science to stories from other industries that, by analogy, inform what we do as educators. This breadth helps us see our work in new ways.

Readers include teachers, school leaders, university overseers, conference organizers, think tank workers, startup founders, nonprofit leaders, and people who are simply interested in what’s happening in education. They say it helps them keep tabs on what matters most in the conversation surrounding schools, teaching, learning, and more.

Peter Nilsson


* indicates required