Secondary Education

Reddit Teachers Reveal the Annoying Conversation Every Secondary Teacher is Having This Week


The start of a new school year brings with it excitement, hope, and new challenges. And for secondary teachers, it often also brings a particular conversation that tends to occur regularly. As highlighted by Reddit, several educators have taken to the platform to share and discuss this recurring annoyance. In this article, we dive into the details of this conversation and how the online community of teachers has responded.

The Annoying Conversation

Every new school year presents teachers with a fresh batch of students who are eager to learn but might also come with certain preconceived notions or expectations. One particular topic that keeps turning up in conversations among secondary teachers on Reddit this week is students complaining about their previous teacher’s methods:

“Why didn’t my last teacher teach it this way?” or “My last year’s teacher said we wouldn’t need to know this!”

These phrases are often voiced by students who struggle to grasp new concepts or feel overwhelmed by the workload. It’s a conversation that annoys many teachers for various reasons.

Teachers’ Reactions

Several teachers on Reddit have been expressing their frustration with these comments. Some respond to their students by pointing out that each educator has their teaching style and that the curriculum requirements may differ from one year to another. Others shared tactics they use when faced with these statements, like refocusing the conversation on growth mindset and individual responsibility for learning.

Some educators mentioned that they try not to get upset by these comments, understanding where students are coming from and remembering that it’s natural for them to compare their educational experiences in different classes.

Moreover, the Reddit community empathized with their fellow educator’s frustrations and offered support through humorous anecdotes and shared moments of annoyance.

How Teachers Can Respond Constructively

The best way to address these challenging conversations is by staying respectful and keeping an open mind. Teachers can:

1. Acknowledge the student’s concern and ask for specific examples to understand their viewpoint better.

2. Remind the student that teachers have unique teaching styles, and it provides them the opportunity to adapt and learn from different approaches.

3. Encourage students to take control of their learning, practice active listening, and reflect on their growth over time.

By redirecting these interactions into constructive conversations, teachers can alleviate frustrations, foster improved understanding between students and educators, and build a more supportive classroom environment.


The start of the school year always presents challenges to both teachers and students. While knowledgeable veterans of troublesome conversations may have already figured out how to respond calmly and constructively, newer teachers may find these exchanges upsetting. Through sharing these experiences on platforms like Reddit, educators form a part of a collective support system that recognizes and validates their emotions. As they navigate this year’s recurring annoyance – the conversation every secondary teacher seems to be having – they’re not alone; there’s an entire online community of colleagues who understand.

Building Relationships With Teens All Year Long

In today’s fast-paced world, building and maintaining strong relationships with teenagers can seem like a daunting task. However, fostering these connections is vital to their growth and development. Here are some strategies for establishing and nurturing relationships with teens all year long.

1. Open communication: Encourage open and honest dialogue with teenagers. Be an active listener, giving them space to express their feelings, thoughts, and opinions without judgment. Make sure they know that their voice matters.

2. Show interest in their lives: Take time to learn about teenagers’ hobbies, passions, and challenges. Attend school events or performances that they participate in and discuss their experiences afterward to show your support.

3. Set boundaries and be consistent: Adolescents need clearly defined rules and expectations to feel secure. Establish reasonable limits together, and always follow through on consequences when rules are broken.

4. Offer time for one-on-one interaction: Plan regular quality time together, engaging in activities that interest both parties. This could be anything from watching movies to exploring a new hobby or participating in community activities.

5. Be patient during trying times: Adolescents often experience emotional turmoil as they navigate newfound independence and societal pressures. Offer support without criticism during these difficult moments, reminding them that challenges will pass.

6. Encourage resilience: Teach teenagers the value of perseverance by offering guidance on problem-solving strategies and empathizing with their struggles.

7. Celebrate accomplishments: Recognize teens’ achievements—big or small—and show genuine pride in their success.

8. Encourage self-care: Adolescents often neglect self-care amid busyness, stress, and academic pressure, so remind them of its importance regularly.

9. Maintain a sense of humor: Laughter can ease tension in difficult situations and foster camaraderie among family members who share inside jokes or amusing memories.

10. Serve as a role model: Show kindness, empathy, and respect for others to cultivate these qualities in teenagers, who often mirror the values they see in older role models.

Despite challenges that might arise throughout the year, remember that investing time and effort into relationships with teenagers will foster stronger connections that last a lifetime. Remain committed to providing love, support, and guidance—as well as adjusting to each adolescent’s unique needs—to build healthy relationships that last all year long.

What Are the Signs of Secondary Traumatic Stress?


Secondary traumatic stress (STS), also known as compassion fatigue or vicarious traumatization, is an emotional condition that develops in individuals who are indirectly exposed to traumatic events in their line of work or relationships. Just like primary trauma victims, people experiencing STS exhibit a range of emotional, physical, and behavioral signs that indicate they are being negatively affected by these traumatic experiences. In this article, we will discuss the signs of secondary traumatic stress to help identify it in ourselves or those close to us.

Emotional Signs:

1. Intrusive thoughts: Individuals with STS might uncontrollably think about and visualize the traumatic situations they’ve been exposed to, leading to feelings of anxiety and restlessness.

2. Emotional numbness: They may experience difficulty feeling empathy or emotions, making it challenging to connect emotionally with others.

3. Anger and irritability: People suffering from STS may find themselves getting uncharacteristically angry and frustrated over seemingly minor incidents.

4. Guilt: Affected individuals may feel guilty for not being able to do enough for the person who experienced the trauma or because they believe they could have prevented it.

5. Sadness and depression: Persistent sadness or even clinical depression can develop as a result of prolonged exposure to others’ traumatic experiences.

Physical Signs:

1. Sleep disturbances: Insomnia, nightmares, and difficulty falling asleep may occur due to constant worrying or intrusive thoughts about the trauma.

2. Exhaustion: People with STS often feel mentally and physically drained, as if their energy has been depleted by the continuous stress of exposure to trauma.

3. Physical ailments: Symptoms such as headaches, gastrointestinal problems, and muscle tension are common signs of STS.

4. Changes in appetite: Eating too much or too little can sometimes be a result of the emotional turmoil caused by secondary trauma exposure.

Behavioral Signs:

1. Social withdrawal: A person experiencing STS might avoid social interactions, leading to isolation and loneliness.

2. Substance abuse: Some individuals may turn to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism for dealing with the emotional pain associated with STS.

3. Difficulty concentrating: The emotional strain of STS can make it challenging to maintain focus on tasks and responsibilities in daily life.

4. Boundary issues: Affected individuals might struggle to maintain professional boundaries with clients, patients, or colleagues, becoming overly involved in their traumatic experiences.

5. Apathy: Over time, STS sufferers may lose interest in activities they once enjoyed and develop a generalized sense of apathy toward life.


Recognizing the signs of secondary traumatic stress is vital for seeking appropriate support and maintaining mental health. If you or someone you know exhibits any combination of these symptoms, it is essential to reach out to a mental health professional for help. With the right intervention, it is possible to manage and overcome STS, allowing those affected to continue providing support to trauma victims without compromising their well-being.

This Free Mindfulness Journal Will Bring Calm to Your Secondary Classroom


In today’s fast-paced and competitive education landscape, educators are constantly on the lookout for ways to improve students’ mental well-being. One increasingly popular method is mindfulness—a practice that involves focusing one’s attention on the present moment while accepting an open and nonjudgmental attitude toward one’s thoughts and feelings. This article explores the benefits of incorporating a free mindfulness journal into your secondary classroom, providing students with a powerful tool to enhance emotional regulation, manage stress, and promote a sense of calm.

The Importance of Mindfulness in the Classroom

Research has shown that practicing mindfulness offers numerous benefits for students at all grade levels. Some of the key benefits include:

1. Increased emotional regulation – Mindfulness practices can help students become more aware of their emotions, allowing them to better understand and manage them when challenges arise.

2. Reduced stress – By focusing on the present moment, mindfulness allows students to shift their thoughts away from past or future worries, leading to a reduction in stress and anxiety.

3. Improved academic performance – Several studies have found a positive correlation between mindfulness practices and academic achievement, with mindful students displaying enhanced focus, concentration, and memory.

4. Enhanced social-emotional learning – Mindfulness encourages self-awareness, empathy, and compassion, which are crucial skills for positive interaction with others.

Introducing a Free Mindfulness Journal

A free mindfulness journal is an invaluable tool for bringing calm to your secondary classroom. Incorporating journaling into your daily or weekly routine can encourage students to internalize their mindfulness practice and reflect on their experiences. To get started:

1. Download or create a free mindfulness journal template – Many templates are available online that focus on gratitude, self-reflection prompts or simply provide space for free expression.

2. Set aside dedicated time each week or day for journaling – Establish a regular schedule for students to integrate journaling into their routine.

3. Encourage students to write without judgment – Emphasize that there is no right or wrong way to journal. The goal is self-expression and the exploration of thoughts and feelings openly.

4. Create a safe and comfortable environment – Students may be hesitant to share personal information from their journals. Make it clear that the journal is for personal use only, and respect each student’s privacy.

5. Incorporate mindfulness exercises – In addition to journaling, consider incorporating mindfulness exercises such as deep breathing, body scans, or guided meditation to enhance students’ mindfulness practice.


Integrating a free mindfulness journal into your secondary classroom can help cultivate a more supportive and emotionally healthy environment for your students. With its multitude of benefits, including enhanced emotional regulation, reduced stress, and improved academic performance, mindfulness can be an invaluable addition to any educator’s toolkit. By introducing this proactive approach to mental well-being, you have taken a vital step toward creating a more resilient and confident generation of learners.

The Edvocate Podcast, Episode 4: How to Create a Culturally Responsive Classroom

Building a culturally responsive classroom is hard. To help you along your journey, here is your guide to exploring and respecting the cultural backgrounds of your students while also using diversity as an asset. If you you listen to this episode of the podcast, and take my advice, you will have a culturally responsive classroom in no time.


Culturally responsive teaching is a theory of instruction that was developed by Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings and has been written about by many other scholars since then. To read more of her work on culturally responsive teaching and other topics, click here to visit her page.

High school Dropout Rates Up; Are Math and Science the Cause?

More rigorous math and science requirements for high school graduation are in place, and simultaneously dropout rates in the country are up.

Research back to 1990 showed that the US dropout rate rose to a high of 11.4 percent when students were required to take six math and science courses, compared with 8.6 percent for students who needed less math and science courses in order to graduate.

The dropout rate is up to 5 percentage points higher when gender, race and ethnicity are considered.

William F. Tate, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences says that part of the problem with adding math and science courses to requirements was that a significant number of students weren’t prepared to meet the revised requirements.

Andrew Plunk, a postdoctoral research fellow in the psychiatry department at Washington University School of Medicine, says the study highlights that the one-size-fits all approach to education requirements is not ideal due to various demographic groups, states and school districts that are all different.

When educational policies cause an unintentional consequence like an increase in students dropping out, the effects reverberate far beyond the classroom walls.

“Communities with higher dropout rates tend to have increased crime,” says Plunk. “Murders are more common. A previous study estimated that a 1 percent reduction in the country’s high school dropout rate could result in 400 fewer murders per year.”

While I do feel that the high drop out rate could be blamed on math and science courses, I don’t feel that the US should ease up on those requirements. I think the key is to better prepare the students. We need to make sure the students are ready for the requirements and aim to help all students graduate high school.

Three Ways Louisiana Is Getting Students Career-Ready

By requiring industry-based credentials for CTE students and encouraging all students to interact with industry professionals, Louisiana’s Jump Start program is revolutionizing career education

In Louisiana, only 19 percent of high school students go on to receive a four-year college degree. There are plenty of high-paying jobs available for the other 81 percent, but matching students with these opportunities and making sure they have the right credentials—like a two-year degree or industry certification—has always been a challenge.

For years, Louisiana students have been able to earn a Career Diploma as an alternative to a traditional academic diploma. But the program was seldom used, and students working toward a Career Diploma weren’t being adequately prepared for jobs in high-demand fields.

In short, there was little or no connection between Louisiana’s career education strategy and its workforce needs. State leaders knew they needed a better approach.

Read the rest of this article on the Huffington Post.

Teens and college students: Tips for better homework and study habits

**The Edvocate is pleased to publish guest posts as way to fuel important conversations surrounding P-20 education in America. The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Edvocate or Dr. Matthew Lynch.**

By Amber Woods

For many teenagers and college students, studying and homework are an unwanted part of their lives. As a young person you would rather be spending homework time doing the other things, which often makes it hard to concentrate and not to get distracted.

Finding the right environment

Procrastination and distraction are the two common enemies when it comes to homework and studying. If you truly want to spend as little time as possible doing your homework and studying, it vital that you prepare your environment so that it is free from distractions. The environment in which you carry out your homework has a significant effect on your productivity. It is therefore important to find out where you feel the most comfortable and productive so do not be afraid to try out different places. If you are studying at home, for instance, your bedroom may not be the most comfortable or productive place for you. Try the dining room, the study, or even create a workplace in the garage, just as long as it works for you.

Before you start with your homework or studying put away and turn off everything that could distract or interrupt you. Your desk should be clear of all books that you will not need during the study session, and there should be no articles or gadgets that will distract you from your work. Switch your cell phone to silent and put it away out of sight. If you are going to be working on a computer, log out of Facebook, Twitter, Skype, your email account and any other apps that will easily distract you. Also, if you are a clock-watcher you need to put anything that displays time out of sight. Simply set the alarm on your cell phone for when you plan to take a break or finish studying. Likewise, if you find yourself spending time staring out of the window, switch on the light and close the curtains.

Getting comfortable

It is important to be comfortable, although not too comfortable! A work station or desk with a comfortable chair is perfect, whereas reclining in a comfortable armchair, or lying on your bed with your books is not going to be conducive to a fruitful study session. You need to make sure that your study environment is well ventilated and not too hot or too cold. If you are hot you will become lethargic and sleepy, and if you are too cold you will be uncomfortable and have trouble with your concentration. If you not able to control the temperature of the environment then you need to dress appropriately and find a spot where you feel most comfortable when doing your work.

Avoiding distractions

Distractions really are the enemy of effective study. You must try to eliminate from your environment anything that you personally find distracts your attention when you are studying. Most people prefer to work in a quiet environment in order to concentrate as they are unable to screen out noise. Others actually find a quiet environment distracting as any sudden sound breaks their attention. The same is applicable to movement; some find movement distracting and others are not affected by it at all.

Before starting your homework or studying make sure that your mind is clear of any other distractions. Make sure that you have completed your chores that need doing, make any necessary phone calls, check and reply to any text messages or emails that you need to and so on. Having all of these things out of the way will free your mind of these distractions enabling you to stay focused on your work.
Make sure that you are not tired when it is time to study as you will not be able to make the best use of your time, and your ability to retain the information you are studying will be hampered. Regular breaks during long periods of study are advisable; perhaps a ten minute break after an hour of study, or a twenty minute break after an hour and a half.

Playing music

Music can distract your attention, but for some people it actually puts them in the mood and helps them to get on with their studies. Various research has been carried out with differing results, but the general opinion is that light background music works for many people, and can actually improve memory retention. Loud heavy music is not recommended and nor is listening to music through headphones as it is believed to decrease a person’s memory retention.

Effective study is all about self discipline and finding the correct environment which suits your style of studying. Not all people are the same, so you really do need to work out what works best for you. When you do find something that works, try to duplicate it again.


Amber Woods is a blogger from Chicago who currently lives in Canada. She’s creative, passionate about learning new things, loves creating infographics, and enjoys writing about education in an easy-to-understand manner.

Why High School Graduation Is the Key to Improving At-Risk Communities: Part II

A guest post by Frank Britt, CEO of Penn Foster

When an at-risk student graduates high school, it creates a significant and positive trickle-down effect: it de-risks a family unit and the power of example encourages friends to also become contributing members as high school finishers, and can be a catalyst for galvanizing a community, and even a single building or street.

At scale, it can help build work forces with higher productivity, leading to lower poverty and reduced crime rates.

What Drives (and Improves) Crime Rates in a Community?

Crime rates are linked to educational attainment, according to a 2013 report by the Alliance for Excellent Education. The report, entitled “Saving Futures, Saving Dollars: The Impact of Education on Crime Reduction and Earnings,” asserts that if male high school graduation rates increased by just 5 percent, the nation could save about $18.5 billion in annual crime expenses. The lower the education attainment levels, the higher the rates of arrest and incarceration.

Reforming school climates and increasing student engagement can help move vulnerable young people away from crime and prison and toward college and a career path, says President of the Alliance for Excellent Education Bob Wise. “The school-to-prison pipeline starts and ends with schools,” Wise said.

Why Should Businesses Care?

It seems like a given—the business community needs to be far more invested in high school–level engagement. To ignore this imperative is to tacitly endorse a model that results in “imperfect” candidates, or simply not enough supply for employers’ growing demand for skilled workers. In fact, this is a root cause of the front line labor shortages we’re seeing today.

Additionally, they are looking at a future generation of consumers with lowered employment and salary expectations—so that’s a real bottom-line consideration.

What can businesses be doing? Starbucks’ recent initiative to help mitigate college costs is one example of a major corporation taking an interest in educating employees. It is a great start, but assumes a steady supply of high school graduates. The time has arrived that the employers such as leading retailer’s shift from supporting high school completion for purposes of philanthropy to instead invest for business productivity reasons. This will become a mega-trend in next five-ten years as there will simply not be sufficient quantities of students to support the next generation of blue and grey color jobs.

Where Do We Start?
Experts affirm that a local-level change agenda is about reestablishing the character of an area. As Charles C. Haynes writes, “Schools are typically the conscience of a neighborhood.” Employers and even colleges are all likely to become even more active players in helping to address the local level completion gaps, and in second-chance adult learners will begin to have allies in their efforts to find on-ramps to higher education.

It starts with a school’s system-wide educational reform initiative that includes creating more diverse academic alternatives for students, such as blended learning and flipped classrooms. Education ultimately improves and strengthens a community, including bolstering the economic infrastructure and increases wages. It empowers people to take better control of their own destinies.

The byproduct is a greater social consciousness with positive consequences and a more prospering community.

Are you ready?

Frank Britt is the CEO of Penn Foster, a leading career-focused online and hybrid education institution that annually supports over 100,000 active students and 1,000 institutions nationwide. His mission is to create a national movement to better connect education, career pathways and job creation, and to promote debt-free and affordable learning. By utilizing the power of practical education, career training and hands-on mentoring, he has helped improve the lives of everyone from underprivileged children and families, to front-line workers and recent college graduates. His efforts recognize the challenges faced by the 7,000 people that regrettably drop out of high school each day, the 4 million middle-skilled workers seeking employment, 50-70 year olds transitioning careers, and the thousands of veterans focused on establishing new career pathways.


Will the pending ESEA actually move funding backward?

By Derek Black of Law Professor Blogs Network

Last week, Nora Gordon focused on one of the more technical aspects of the pending Senate bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act: the supplement not supplant standard. The standard requires that Title I funds for low income students only be used to supplement the resources that state and local entities were already providing those students, not supplant them. Gordon summarized the new revisions and her sense of their importance:

The larger legacy of the Every Child Achieves Act may well be how it cleans up supplement not supplant, a little discussed and often misunderstood fiscal rule with a big impact on how schools actually spend the $14 billion of NCLB Title I funds. The proposed legislation makes two important changes: (1) it requires districts to show they are distributing their state and local funds across schools without regard to the federal funds that each school receives; and (2) it increases local autonomy over how to spend Title I funds.

The problem she says is that:

Under current law, those Title I schools that do not operate school-wide programs must demonstrate that every single thing they buy with Title I funds helps only the neediest students, and would not be purchased with other funds absent the federal aid. In my research, I’ve found this rule often has the unintended consequence of preventing districts from spending money on the things that might help those students most, pushing schools to work around the edges of their central instructional mission. They buy “interventionists” instead of teachers, or “supplemental” curricular materials rather than “core” ones, and are discouraged from investing Title I funds in technology.

Gordon is correct that the supplement not supplant has been a disaster.  As I wrote in The Congressional Failure to Enforce Equal Protection Through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, 90 B.U. L. Rev. 313 (2010),

Although well meaning, the prohibition on supplanting has not met its goal. In fact, in a recent report, the GAO recommended eliminating the supplement-not-supplant standard altogether. The GAO concluded that the standard has become almost impossible to enforce. Enforcing the standard requires too much speculation about what a school district would have spent on education and also requires extremely detailed tracking of spending in thousands of school districts. In short, the prohibition on supplanting funds relies on unreliable projections and unusually labor-intensive work. Possibly for these reasons, the Department of Education has effectively stopped attempting to enforce the standard, treating it as a non-priority. The standard, however, remains the law and a measure that well-intentioned schools may expend effort attempting to meet.

But at this point, the question is not whether we should discard the current supplement not supplant rule.  The question is what we should replace it with.  It is far from clear that moving toward more district autonomy (so long as they provide data) fixes the funding inequities and inept state and local funding effort that Congress needed to tackle with supplement not supplant and other related standards.

The new fix in the pending bill is a compromise that dodges that fundamental problems, and has the potential to incentivize backsliding by state and local districts unless other new protections are added.  Yes, the new bill would provide more information on funding inequality from states so that we can see what they are doing.  But that data is generally available anyway.  The challenge is that data’s complexity, not its unavailability.  So the new freedom for states looks like a give away that runs the risk that states will engage in the very behavior it formerly sought to prohibit (even if Congress and the Department of Education never did a good job of prohibiting it).  Under the proposed new approach, federal money could even more easily become part of districts’ general operating budget, which would allow the money to be seriously diluted or state and local dollars to decrease when federal dollars are available to fill the gap.

So what should we do in reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act?  I laid out the solutions in painstaking detail in the article noted above.  But in short, the Elementary and Secondary Act should 1) demand comparability of resources both within and between districts and 2) distribute federal funds to incentivize states to meet student need (get states to progressively fund high poverty schools), and 3) incentivize integration and punish segregation.  The first two proposal are intuitive, but the third is also necessary because the existence of segregation provides the platform for inequality and drives up the cost of delivering an equitable education in high poverty schools.  Unfortunately, there are longstanding headwinds against these solutions, which explains why the Senate’s proposed supplement not supplant approach does so little.

Get my full explanation of how to fix ESEA here.


This post originally appeared on the Law Professor Blogs Network and has been republished with permission.