In class kids

A Fresh Look at Cultural Responsiveness

How Culturally Responsive Teaching Re-Draws the Boundaries of the “In” Crowd

Why is it that so many kids crave to be part of the “in” crowd? What do they hope to gain? Regardless of what they’re looking for, being a part of the “in” crowd is a healthy desire.

We’re not talking popularity status. We’re talking about the astounding evidence that shows how students in the “in-group” and “out-group” have a vastly different life and educational experiences. Spoiler alert: you play a HUGE role in determining which students feel part of the “in-group.”

The Research

This post is about understanding how students in the right “in-group” tend to do better in your class. You’ll discover the secret to expanding the boundaries of the “in-group” to include ALL students.


You can see “in-groups” form when thousands of complete strangers gather in a stadium (pre-COVID) to cheer on their favorite sports team. For 2-3 hours, a social miracle of human bonding occurs. Nearly every person in the stands accepts and cheers WITH every other person, regardless of their age, political affiliation, gender, ethnicity, or knowledge of the sport. All it takes is sharing just one common, passionate value (our home team) to forge an “in-group.”

Other in-groups form as people gather in the streets to protest police brutality. Maybe they disagree on 25 other things, but on the one topic of police brutality, they have a common bond, and they’re all in the temporary “in-group.”

The groups an individual identifies themselves with are his/her “in-group.” Members of the “in-group” display co-operation, good-will, mutual help, and possess a sense of solidarity. There is a feeling of brotherhood and readiness to sacrifice themselves for the group (Masuda & Fu, 2015).

In a classroom, the “in-group” is typically the group of students whose culture matches (or is embraced by) the teacher. Teachers could be inclusive or exclusive in how they build their “in-group.”


“Out-groups,” on the other hand, refer to those groups with which individuals do not identify themselves. Contrasting in- and out-groups are Democrats and Republicans, Yankee fans and Red Sox fans, and Pakistanis and Indians.

In- and out-groups will form in any classroom, even if the teacher does nothing but teach. It is true that “birds of a feather” will flock together. On their own, students usually create their own “in” or “out” groups. In-group members use the term “we” (vs. “they” for the out-group.) They identify with “our class” more than “the class.”

In a classroom, the “out-group” is the group of students whose culture is different from (or not acknowledged by) the teacher. Yet savvy teachers create an entire class as their newly organized “in-group”, and continually embrace others and expand it to include ALL the students as part of their BIGGER class “in-group.”


Cultural Responsiveness!

The well-established “empathy-gap” between teachers and students of different cultures creates a barrier to learning worthy of attention. Recognizing and respecting all cultures in your classroom will yield high results both relationally and academically (Bottiani, Bradshaw, & Mendelson, 2016).

A student’s culture includes their ethnicity, religion, sexuality, language, skin color, and more. It is how a teacher responds to each student’s unique cultural identity that determines whether they feel part of the “in-group” or “out-group.” Teachers can positively respond by supporting students whose culture is different from their own.

Why does that matter?

Because not only do teachers influence the students’ choices of which group to be part of, the students who feel part of the “out-group” perform and behave below the “in-group” norms.


The short answer is: Feeling excluded, isolated, or rejected increases the levels of cortisol in the brain. Simply put, feeling a part of the “out-group” is stressful. And the chronic stress experienced by minority cultures is causing devastating impacts on their body and brain. (Stanley & Adolphs, 2013).

When your culture (something HIGHLY relevant to you) is excluded or discriminated against in ways you can’t easily control, it is stressful. When this continues for months, years, or a lifetime, it is classified as chronic stress.

(For a quick review of other forms of stress – healthy stress and acute stress – revisit last month’s post The 3 Biggest Lies You’ve Been Taught About Stress)

1. Chronic Stress and Student Behavior

As you might recall from last month’s issue on stress, a useful approach to reducing stress is to seek more control and/or make things less relevant. However, when students engage in one of these strategies in the classroom, they can be perceived as “behavior problems.” A culturally responsive teacher sees the real problem is the over-exposure to chronic stress.

In the classroom, a student may behave a bit edgy, aggressive, or have a verbal outburst. Another student may appear to be disinterested or apathetic toward learning. A culturally responsive teacher recognizes these behaviors as a biological survival response to chronic stress – get more control or make things less relevant. They take the student’s response as feedback and seek out more relevant learning activities.

2. Chronic Stress and Student Academic Performance

Chronic stress associated with being part of the “out-group” impacts several areas of the brain (including the emotional systems, attentional systems, memory systems, and more.)

The constant worry of “Do I fit in here? Am I (and my culture) seen here? Will I be harassed today?” consumes the emotional systems of the brain, led by the amygdala. Since (social) survival is of greater importance than dividing fractions to the brain, attention is diverted away from the math lesson. This, in turn, significantly decreases the likelihood of accurate memory formation (Quaedflieg & Schwabe, 2018).

Put simply, stress hormones from chronic stress block cognition. When this plays out day after day, the result is students who don’t feel part of the “in-group” experience lower levels of academic achievement (Frazier, Gabriel, Merians & Lust, 2019).

This can lead to students in the “out-groups” being mislabeled and placed in special education classes. Without support or intervention, these patterns can be perpetuated and confirmed by teacher biases.

3. Chronic Stress and Student Social Connectedness

The defining feature of students in the “out-group” is a lack of belonging to the larger community. As social creatures, feeling isolated contributes to a stressful experience at school.

However, the majority of minority students perceive they are discriminated against by their teachers. Although a teacher might not think they are discriminatory, it is the student’s perception that matters most. And because of this common perception, minority students commonly report feeling their academic efforts are pointless (D’Hondt, Eccles, Houtte, & Stevens, 2016).

Practical Applications

There are many systemic changes needed to reduce the chronic stress experienced by students whose culture doesn’t place them in the “in-group.” As we work as a society to make those needed changes, there are things you can do in your own classroom and school to foster greater cultural responsiveness. Start opening the arena of success to more students with the tools below:

A Culturally Responsive Approach to Behavior

  1. Let empathy guide your discipline strategies. On the surface, it might seem appropriate to invoke a harsh discipline on a student who is using explosive vulgar language toward you. What happens when you look a layer deeper? Underneath the surface, a neuro-biological survival process is at play. In a classroom, this survival behavior often makes it difficult for the student, whose culture puts them in the “out-group,” to act well-behaved. Re-think whether a suspension is an appropriate response for a student who feels left out and may have responded with anxiety or distress.As you examine your discipline strategies, consider approaches supporting students getting more control over their minds and bodies. Instead of, “That’s it – go to the office!” consider, “I can see you are very upset right now. How about you take 3 minutes to step outside and take a few deep breaths. I’ll come out in a minute to see how else we can help you get re-centered.”
  2. Proactively teaching self-regulation skills will always yield better results than reactively trying to manage a student’s behavior. Invest the time to teach your students ways to build their stress resilience. Here are a few suggestions based on the most well-researched stress preventers/reducers:- Start each class with a brief gratitude exercise. Students can share something they are grateful for with a neighbor, write in a journal, or drop it in the chatbox (Rusk, Vella-Brodrick, & Waters, 2016).- Daily exercise builds stress resilience. Incorporate more movement in your teaching (high knees for 30 seconds in between each practice problem) or invite students to meet up with you before school for a 20-minute powerwalk around the schoolyard (Puterman et al., 2010).

    – Mindfulness practices build your ability to control what your mind is focused on. Start by inviting students to focus on their breath, a picture of nature you display, or a calming visual in their mind for 10 seconds. Slowly build up to 60 seconds (Wielgosz et al., 2019).

A Culturally Responsive Approach to Academics

  1. Maintain high expectations for ALL students. Those who feel part of the “out-group” already feel less than their peers. Carefully examine your mindset for any “deficit thinking.” Deficit thinking is the pattern of assuming deficiencies among students (often based on race, SES, family structure, or language spoken). This type of teacher mindset is in direct contrast to culturally responsive habits of maintaining high expectations for all students.Challenge yourself to identify the strengths of each student you work with. Write them down by their name in your grade book or another document you often visit to remind you of these strengths.
  2. Culturally relevant instruction. As you prepare for each upcoming unit, evaluate your curriculum to ensure it represents all the students you teach. Your reading materials, characters you study, the music you play in your classroom… it all sends a message to your students. Make adjustments to ensure all students can find a way to connect to the characters, stories, and themes of your curriculum.
  3. Use culturally-specific holidays or events as an opportunity to teach the rest of the class about a cultural tradition. Knowledge and awareness are the seeds from which tolerance and compassion grow.

A Culturally Relevant Response to Social Connectedness

  1. Find a common purpose. Savvy teachers create an inclusive, whole-class “in-group.” This is often done by finding one common purpose that all students can get behind – similar to the diverse sports fans who all rally around their home team. Some teachers get the “whole class” behind helping hurt animals, getting others to vote, wounded warriors, or the community food bank. The whole class fights hard all year (or semester) for that “one big thing.” This could be the “we, the class team” vs. “others.”
  2. Be a Caring Adult. For some students, their classroom community at school is where they feel most safe and accepted. When familial stability or connection is low, the teacher-student relationship can mitigate the effects of a poor home environment (Benner & Mistry, 2007). You don’t have to be their teacher AND their parent – just offer the same safety and warmth that every child should feel at home.
  3. Seek for Equity, not Equality. Some students have a greater need for a caring adult than others, based on their home life. As you get to know each student personally, invest your time with students who need a supportive relationship that you can offer. Remember, equity is giving more to those who need it most. Those who are already in the “in-group” and have supportive home lives are already in the arena of success.Spend time with students who would be considered in the “out-group” in your classroom or school. Learn about their lives. Listen. Ask questions. Then listen some more. There is evidence that spending just a few minutes a day with individual at-risk students can improve the teacher’s view of that student (Driscoll & Pianta, 2010).

Every culture-based barrier for students has been built over time. Now is the time to break down the barriers excluding those in the “out-groups” from the opportunities afforded those whose culture matches yours. Start with one of the ideas above and continue on your path of becoming a more culturally responsive teacher and leader.

Stress in school

The 3 Biggest Lies You’ve Been Taught About Stress and How You Can Go from Surviving to Thriving

For most educators, stress levels slowly ramp up over the first couple of months of school. The word on the street is many of you already feel like you’ve gone from 0 to 60 on a stress-o-meter!

Yes, this school year brings unprecedented challenges. Every September we help you rise to the challenge. This  post’s self-care issue might be the most important ever because … Read more

reopening school strategy

The Overlooked Element of a “Safe” Return to School (Virtual or Face-to-Face)

Ensuring students and staff are physically safe is a top concern these days. But there is another, often overlooked, component of safety that schools must plan for as well. Ignore this and students might be physically safe in school, but learn little. Focus in on this and students’ capacity to learn opens up.

What’s the big “THIS”?

The Research

Creating a safe learning environment for all cultures, genders, and races is paramount for learning. There are three main categories of safety:

Physical safety includes safety from influences that can harm one’s body (corporal punishment, fights on the playground, and a novel strand of a virus) (Côté-Lussier & Fitzpatrick, 2016).

Emotional safety includes safety from influences that can trigger a fear, anxiety, or stress response (Ahmed, Minnaert, Werf, & Kuyper, 2008).

Social safety includes safety to connect with peers and ask for support without worry of being teased or socially rejected (Gianaros et al., 2007).

All three of these components are essential for the brain to feel safe enough to engage in the learning process. But here we focus on the science of emotional safety. Why is it so important for the brain? How does it impact learning? And, the surprise element of how YOUR emotional state impacts students’ feelings of emotional safety.

This is highly relevant for any school, whether you are doing in-person instruction or virtual learning.

How Student’s Emotions Impact the Brain and Learning

The brain is constantly gathering information from the environment to determine the level of safety at any given moment. When it perceives any level of uncertainty, it is registered by the amygdala and flagged as a potential threat. If the threat is deemed valid, the brain diverts resources to mitigate or eliminate the threat. Remember, one of the brain’s primary functions is survival (Adolphs, 2010).

The amygdala has an inverse relationship with another critical brain region – the pre-frontal cortex. When the amygdala is activated, it can decrease the function in the pre-frontal cortex. Why does this matter?

The pre-frontal cortex plays a significant role in attention, learning, and recall. In other words, when a student is emotionally upset, their ability to pay attention, learn, or recall information can be drastically compromised (McGarry & Carter, 2016). How does this relate to the current situation with the Covid-19 pandemic?

Your students might bring feelings of fear, anxiety, or stress with them to your in-person or remote learning environment. New protocols of temperature checks, mask-wearing, excessive screen time, and internet issues can potentially trigger uncertainty. Fear of getting or spreading the virus has the potential to cause a decrease in prefrontal activity and cognition.

In addition, students track YOUR emotional state, and that tracking impacts their own perception of emotional safety.

How the Teacher’s Emotions Impact the Student’s Brain and Learning

Earlier we mentioned that the brain is constantly gathering data from the environment to determine the level of safety. In the context of a student in school, one significant source they collect data from is YOU.

Your student’s amygdala is scanning your cues to determine whether you’ll be a source of negative emotions (fear, anxiety, stress, anger, hopelessness, etc.) or positive emotions (hope, calmness, enjoyment, excitement, etc.) (Lei, Cui, & Chiu, 2018).

Your own psychological health (levels of stress, anxiety, fear, threat) can be sensed by your students. Powered by their mirror neurons, your students can ‘sync’ up with your emotional state. This can be a powerful tool to help create calmness and excitement. It can also be worrisome if a teacher is sending signals connected to anxiety or stress (Kilner & Lemon, 2013).

After all:

  • Teachers with higher stress levels tend to have classrooms with more behavior problems as well as worse academic outcomes (La Paro & Pianta, 2003).
  • Teachers with higher stress levels tend to have poorer achieving students. (McLean & Connor, 2015).
  • Your higher stress levels are bad for BOTH you and your students (they take on your stressors). Chronic complaining can have an adverse impact on your brain, putting you at risk of a number of physical and mental issues. How? Repeated stressors is a major trigger for persistent inflammation in the body. The chronic inflammation can then lead to a range of health problems, including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease (Godoy, Rossignoli, Delfino-Pereira, Garcia-Cairasco, & de Lima Umeoka, 2018).

Practical Application

Pause for a minute before you start up school. Creating a safe space for students to learn requires focusing on: “What do our students need” and not What does the staff want to do?”

Consider how you and your school will answer these questions, rooted in creating an emotionally safe environment for students:

  • If you plan to start in-person: “How will I create a classroom climate of joy and excitement, rather than fear or anxiety)?”
  • If you plan to start virtually: “How will I frame this in a positive way, instead of it being an inferior form of education?”
  • How will I manage my own anxieties around Covid-19 so it doesn’t rub off on students?

Here are three suggestions to help you create a learning environment where students feel emotionally safe so high-quality learning can occur.

1) First Day Back Celebration

Have you envisioned the morning of your first day back with students? At one extreme, students are lined up 6ft apart, standing alone on red Xs, waiting for their dreadful turn to have their temperature checked or fill out a questionnaire. Staff members are lined up enforcing all the new rules and quickly reprimanding any student who moves an inch off their X or isn’t wearing their mask properly. This will likely raise levels of anxiety and stress for students.

Instead, design your return to school to be a celebration beyond anything they’ve ever seen:

  • Have positive messages plastered everywhere in happy, bright colors.
  • Use music to boost levels of positivity. Encourage staff to move to the music and model new ways of greeting each other.
  • Provide students with their own “dance circle” 6ft apart for them to move to the music as they wait their turn.

Students can detect the emotional climate of a teacher within seconds. Seize the moment to make a positive, calming statement about being back in school (Babad, Avni-Babad, & Rosenthal, 2003).

The same applies to a virtual start to school. Carefully plan your first virtual session, especially those first few minutes.

What not to do: “Hey everyone. I’m your teacher. I know it totally sucks that we are still doing school on Zoom, but [insert political rant]. Let me take roll.” (Not your best option!)


  • Turn up the tunes as students are arriving.
  • Have a funny meme showing on the screen.
  • Start with an energetic, “Hi there, friends. I am so excited to get to know you all this year. We are going to have a ton of fun and learn a lot. This whole virtual thing opens up so many new doors for us and our learning. I can’t wait to share them with you.”

2) Manage Your Own Anxieties

There are plenty of valid reasons you might feel anxious about the plan your school has adopted. For your own well-being and that of your students, consider a few of these tools to manage your own anxieties:

  • Commit to ceasing complaints about anything in the first 3-4 weeks of school. You are a role model. The more you complain, the more that becomes the “norm” (both for you and the class climate). Complaining is both contagious and stressful. When you complain, your brain says, “Yikes… loss of control over one more thing. Ramp up the stress hormones.”
  • Adopt a daily mindfulness practice. A simple five-minute meditation or mindfulness exercise to start your day could be a game-changer.
  • Celebrate every COVID protocol, especially wearing a mask. Create a mantra that reminds you of your value of health, student safety, or citizenry – whatever works for you. Say it to yourself every time you put your mask or face shield on. My own mantra this summer has been “AMOR FATI” which is Latin for “the love of fate.” Play the hand you are given. Avoid being a “mask moper.”

3) Create Fresh, Fun Traditions

With all the new regulations for in-person learning, it could be easy to slip into a policing mentality around distance, hand-washing, walking in the hall, etc. This will promote greater fear and anxiety. Anticipate those moments and create fun traditions that act as a reminder of the new ways of safely interacting.

  • A school-wide hand-washing song. Have the lyrics focus on the positive attributes of students at the school, including taking care of each other. And, of course, make sure it is 20 seconds long! Check out these YouTube goodies
  • Students might feel more comfortable if there was an agreed-upon way to communicate someone is too close for their comfort level. Consider creating a class-wide or school-wide gesture for those situations. It could be as simple as a double thumbs up. Remember to keep it positive or even a bit silly.
  • If there are materials that need to be separated and cleaned daily, transform that task into a fun energizer. Pick an upbeat song to play as students deliver their supplies to the “sanitation drop-off zone”.

The same principles can be applied for distance learning. With a few months of experience under your belt, you likely know where things can go awry. Upgrade your approach to remote learning with new traditions that infuse excitement, positivity, and connection.

  • Start each session with something joyful! Share a great story of something you saw or heard on the news about someone helping another person. Make your question of the day uplifting (“Think of a favor you saw or did for another… how did you feel? How did the other person feel?”). Share a new uplifting song, world event or good thing happening at home.
  • Insert mini dance breaks to break up the monotony of screen-time.
  • Create traditions of “show-and-tell” from their home to help students get to know each other. For older students, you can call it “Random stuff with a story”. Facilitate friendships with new “in common shares” of 5 things you have in common with another.

We recognize the uncertainty inherent in the current situation. The goal is to create solutions to help you AND your students to feel emotionally safe. Pick one of the strategies above to jumpstart this unique school year with a burst of positivity so students feel more emotionally safe. We honor the work you are doing to educate your students in the best and safest way possible.

Adolphs, R. (2010). What does the amygdala contribute to social cognition? Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1191(1), 42-61.
Ahmed, W., Minnaert, A., Werf, G. V., & Kuyper, H. (2008). Perceived Social Support and Early Adolescents’ Achievement: The Mediational Roles of Motivational Beliefs and Emotions. Journal of Youth and Adolescence,39(1), 36-46.
Babad, E., Avni-Babad, D., & Rosenthal, R. (2003). Teachers brief nonverbal behaviors in defined instructional situations can predict students’ evaluations. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95(3), 553-562.
Côté-Lussier, C., & Fitzpatrick, C. (2016). Feelings of safety at school, socioemotional functioning, and classroom engagement. Journal of Adolescent Health58(5), 543-550.
Gianaros, P. J., Horenstein, J. A., Cohen, S., Matthews, K. A., Brown, S. M., Flory, J. D., . . . Hariri, A. R. (2007). Perigenual anterior cingulate morphology covaries with perceived social standing. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 2(3), 161-173.
Godoy, L. D., Rossignoli, M. T., Delfino-Pereira, P., Garcia-Cairasco, N., & de Lima Umeoka, E. H. (2018). A Comprehensive Overview on Stress Neurobiology: Basic Concepts and Clinical Implications. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience12, 127.
Kilner, J. M., & Lemon, R. N. (2013). What we know currently about mirror neurons. Current Biology : CB23(23), R1057–R1062.
La Paro, K. M., & Pianta, R. C. (2003). CLASS: Classroom Assessment Scoring System. Charlottesville: U of VA Press.
Lei, H., Cui, Y., & Chiu, M. M. (2018). The Relationship between Teacher Support and Students Academic Emotions: A Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 8.
McLean, L., & Connor, C. M. (2015). Depressive symptoms in third‐grade teachers: Relations to classroom quality and student achievement. Child Development86(3), 945-954.
McGarry, L. M., & Carter, A. G. (2016). Inhibitory gating of basolateral amygdala inputs to the prefrontal cortex. Journal of Neuroscience36(36), 9391-9406.

Getting Everyone on the Same Page: How YOUR Classroom Can Experience “Brain Synchronicity”

Have you ever had a class where, for whatever reason, you and the class didn’t feel connected like you’ve experienced before? Or perhaps you’ve taught at a school where the leadership and staff were not in sync? It’s not pleasant.

What if you could intentionally create that “in-sync” experience with your class or staff? And what if you knew how to use it to improve student behavior, attitude, and learning? Things could be a lot better. Ever heard, “We gotta get everyone on the same page”? It’s possible and we’ll show you how! Read more

Brain Based Teacher

Would You Rather be Trendy or Evidence-Based?

Your Classroom Might Be Slowing the Learning!

Where do you look for guidance on ensuring your classroom is set up for optimal learning? Pinterest will show you some really pretty classrooms, but the scientific research will direct you to the BIG 3 – the three factors in your classroom that significantly impact student learning.

Lean in for the breakdown of TWO of these three factors. No matter what your classroom situation is, you’re about to get some fabulous insights. Read more

Self-care September: Stress Less by Filling These 4 Buckets

It’s not a secret – being a teacher is HARD work. For some, teaching may be physically exhausting, emotionally draining, and socially lonely. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The work you are doing every day is too meaningful for it to be dragging you down.

Every September, we dedicate this newsletter to YOU – to you taking care of yourself. You may want to take this issue extra seriously. Why? You might be like many who find their stress levels going up, and within months, you’re “running on empty.” Start the healthy habits now, while you can, so they will be in place when your four “vitality buckets” start feeling dangerously empty.

You simply can’t be at your best for students until you are at your best, too. We’ll keep it simple and very practical because you’re worth it. Your first step to self-care begins with… Read more

How to Jumpstart Your School Year Differently

For many of you, the new school year will be starting soon.

For others who are on a different school calendar, consider re-reading this information the next time you have a fresh start with a new group of students.

There is A LOT to do to get ready for a new group of learners to walk through your classroom door.

Perhaps you are overwhelmed with how to spend your time at the beginning of the year and what to focus on.

So, what are the most pressing issues that need to be addressed from the beginning of a term or year?

Well, the answer depends on who you ask. If it was me, I would put everything you’ve been told on “pause” and FIRST get inside your students’ brains. How? Keep reading – your classroom prep may have to wait until you do this one thing… Read more


Are We Getting Closer to a Cure?

Are We Getting Closer to a Cure for Alzheimer’s Disease?

It is hopeful to think of the millions of people who will (one day) be able to still remember that dream vacation, their wedding day, and recognize the face of their children. But how close are we, really, to a cure? Are we really on the verge of curing the #6 cause of death (Alzheimer’s Association, 2018)?

Scientists are working frantically to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but it seems like there are VERY FEW people out there who actually have the know-how and power to prevent the loneliest death imaginable. Who is it? Keep reading to find out … Read more

How Would Your Students Describe Your Classroom?

Would Your Students Describe Your Classroom as Boring or Chaotic?

“This month seems like a lost cause for learning.” Have you heard someone say something like that before? I’ve got an idea for you this month to keep you green and growing all the way till the school year’s over. It’s never too late to try something new that can boost student learning.

This is a great time of the school year for an experiment. Practice going a bit too far in either direction with the strategies below and see if you discover more boredom or chaos. Your student’s not-so-subtle pushback will be the precise feedback you need to find the balance between … Read more

Fool-Proof Strategies to Jump Start any New Habit

It’s Time to Do a Simple Experiment at Work;

Have you ever tried to start a new exercise routine, only to quit a week or two into it? Or had the best of intentions to give students more frequent and specific feedback, but never got it jumpstarted? Believe it or not – even the best of intentions and motivation only get you so far … and in many cases it’s not very far.

The key to successful habit formation is NOT you. Yes – you read that right! Prepare to be SHOCKED to learn what you are missing and how EASY it can be to become a pro at starting and breaking habits. Your life is about to get really good, really fast. Read more