Not just speaking. Teaching.
One of the most effective and engaging ways to teach anyone to think better—about any topic, really—is to think with them, not for them.
We learn best to bone a chicken or fix the pipes under the sink when we do it alongside someone who can teach us what we need to think about as we go along, who encounters snags along the way and shows us how to navigate them.
When I’m working at my day job, privately tutoring high school students for the SAT, ACT, and GRE, I love working through unfamiliar problems with kids, sometimes even for courses I don’t teach, for this very reason:
modeling thinking while exploring unfamiliar problems, asking questions and sharing observations about foreign material, muddling through for someone else’s benefit is one of the best gifts I can offer.
Doing so shows fearlessness, vulnerability, and, frankly, “vulnerable” is usually how anyone attempting to do something new feels.
Plus, it models what we mean when we ask students to think critically because, frankly, not everyone knows what that means!
The beautiful thing is that modeling this sort of creative, analytical thinking is just as useful for engaging with any audience about modern media, education, American culture, or civics as it is for teasing apart a tricky trig problem.
So that’s where I begin:
When I’m a speaker, I share what I’ve been working on, the questions I’ve been asking, the mistakes I’ve made, the assumptions I’ve uncovered, and the steps I’ve taken to learn and grow myself.
I’m always open to suggestions if you’d like me to speak about something in particular—I take requests!—but here are some of my greatest hits if you’d like some inspiration.
Reform for the Rest of Us
When we talk about education, we’re quick to talk about what they should do—the teachers and students inside school walls—to make things better. But for every person in K-12 schools in the U.S., there are four others modeling American adulthood and telegraphing American “culture” into schools. I examine the messages American culture sends kids and provide actionable tips to affect real change.
Be a Better Manager: How to Teach when You’re not a Teacher
We all teach, every day. As parents trying to help with homework and as management in the workplace, we're all under pressure to transfer ideas and knowledge effectively. If you've tried it, you know it's difficult. From understanding your audience to understanding yourself, I share the unexpected insights I’ve uncovered over the course of nearly fifteen years teaching and coaching people ages 13 into adulthood that you can use in your own everyday teaching.
Decision Making for Teenagers
Ask a teenager what adolescence means and they’ll tell you it’s when you go through puberty, or when your body turns into that of an adult. Understanding the adolescent brain isn’t something we teach in health class. When I talk with teenagers about adolescence, I equip them to embrace the benefits of brain plasticity and offer them insights into their propensity for risk taking and why everyone thinks they “act crazy.” I’m particularly enthusiastic about speaking with students at girls’ schools and organizations.
Anything and Everything Test Prep
Take advantage of my bread and butter. Want real talk about prepping for the SAT and ACT tests to get real results, facing test anxiety, and navigating college admissions planning? As the author of Outsmarting the SAT and Acing the ACT (both Ten Speed Press), which share my personal approaches to creating significant score gains for students, I’m a nationally regarded expert on test preparation who offers honest, useful advice for understanding standardized tests.