1. The Todd. Todd Rogers teaches at Harvard. He's working with us at Match, examining whether certain psychology findings can be translated into the classroom. Small actions that might have small (but measurable) effects on student motivation and effort. Find a bunch of small things that really work (empirically), and perhaps they're additive.

This is a new realm for Todd. His main work has been examining which psychology findings can be translated into voter behavior.

(He's also an evangelist for this product. Our home now features one on the counter. If our kids ever move past juice box phase, I'll be using it daily).

Here's a NY Times story about this type of work and its role in Obama's reelection.

A key job for campaign managers is changing voter behavior from its default state. Obama's team beat Romney's team in this area.

A key job for teachers is changing student behavior from its default state. It'd be nice if individual teachers knew more about precisely how to do that.

2. Lectures about Teacher Prep

University of Michigan's TeachingWorks has a video lecture series again this year. If you're interested in teacher prep, here is the schedule.

Yesterday was the first of the year: our friends from Boston Teacher Residency. It was about how to lead a whole class discussion. The powerpoint slides are already up on the site. My guess is video will follow shortly.

3. East and West

A friend sent me this NPR story. It examines Stigler's work (he's been at this for ages) in the difference b/w how Chinese and American cultures think about learning and schooling.

"The teacher was trying to teach the class how to draw three-dimensional cubes on paper," Stigler explains, "and one kid was just totally having trouble with it. His cube looked all cockeyed, so the teacher said to him, 'Why don't you go put yours on the board?' So right there I thought, 'That's interesting! He took the one who can't do it and told him to go and put it on the board.' "

Stigler knew that in American classrooms, it was usually the best kid in the class who was invited to the board. And so he watched with interest as the Japanese student dutifully came to the board and started drawing, but still couldn't complete the cube. Every few minutes, the teacher would ask the rest of the class whether the kid had gotten it right, and the class would look up from their work, and shake their heads no. And as the period progressed, Stigler noticed that he — Stigler — was getting more and more anxious.

"I realized that I was sitting there starting to perspire," he says, "because I was really empathizing with this kid. I thought, 'This kid is going to break into tears!' "

But the kid didn't break into tears. Stigler says the child continued to draw his cube with equanimity. "And at the end of the class, he did make his cube look right! And the teacher said to the class, 'How does that look, class?' And they all looked up and said, 'He did it!' And they broke into applause." The kid smiled a huge smile and sat down, clearly proud of himself.