Get free tips, news, and updates delivered straight to your inbox:

Helping Students Become Leaders of their Own Learning

Zaretta HammondHi. Thanks for stopping by Ready 4 Rigor. I’m Zaretta, a former writing teacher turned equity freedom fighter. I say that half jokingly but in a lot of ways it describes my motivation for starting this blog.

Over 19 years ago, I moved from supporting students directly in the classroom to supporting teachers who are committed to getting better results with their culturally and linguistically diverse students.

Along the way I have talked to hundreds of teachers who were committed to closing the achievement gap for their students but didn’t always know what to do. Here are the questions I heard them ask over and over…

  • Students seem so disengaged. How do I get them invested in their own learning?
  • These kids come from poverty and chaotic homes.   What can I possibly do that makes a difference to their learning?
  • I have 19 different cultures in my classroom. How can I realistically respond to each one of them?
  • My kids are coming into middle school classroom reading at the 2nd grade level. I am not a reading teacher. What can I do?

You might be asking some of these questions too or you might be waging your own private movement to bust some of the myths behind student engagement (or the lack of) among low performing students of color. Either way, you are in the right place.

This is a space where we can get answers to our questions and share what we have learned from our own experiences. I know I’ve a lot learned over the years watching teachers who are successful with students of color and want to share how they take everyday strategies and practices folks talk about and put them to work in their classrooms.


Ready 4 Rigor is About Helping You Help Them

The Common Core State Standards have jacked up the expectations around higher order thinking, problem-solving, reading complex text, and doing mathematical thinking. And rightly so. The bar was too low for too long.

But often as classroom teachers we don’t get specific, practical strategies, processes, and tools for helping students reach upper grades with the necessary skills and habits of mind to take on this kind of rigor.

It is time for us to take matters into our own hands. The situation is urgent for our students and we can’t wait for district offices and schools of education to provide the on-the-ground tools we need. That is what Ready 4 Rigor is all about.

I try to look at the achievement gap not from a policy standpoint but from an instructional view. It’s a space to share how-to stuff aimed at the classroom. If you haven’t already, join the conversation. I invite you to subscribe to blog updates — it’s free.


Sign Me Up!



Ready 4 Rigor is About a Learning Revolution

Policy wonks keep telling us to work harder to close the achievement gap, but they don’t provide us the professional development time or learning opportunities. Well then, it is on us to create a learning revolution. We have to disrupt teaching as usual. No I am not suggesting protests, walk-outs or another #Occupy movement.

Instead, we have to come together a build our own communities of practice and personal learning networks around culturally responsive instruction and accelerated reading development.   I want Ready for Rigor to be a space to support each other to build our will, skill, knowledge and capacity to deliver instruction in ways that help each student become the leader of his own learning.

The best way for us to discover what works to put our heads together to create and share common definitions of culturally responsive teaching and making clear ways to operationalize it in our classrooms so that it isn’t just seen as a fad or gimmick.

The benefits of coming together as a community means that you

  • Get support to help you grow as a culturally responsive educator
  • Get a deeper understanding of core concepts of CRT
  • Get tools, processes, and strategies that help make operationalizing CRT in the classroom easier
  • Learn how neuroscience can help you deliver powerful culturally responsive instruction.

Be a part of this community of practice by signing up below.


I'm In!



About Zaretta Hammond

When I was in the classroom back in the day, I taught composition (expository writing). It was where I started to understand how important literacy was to equity, but it was my own school experience that made me passionate about making learning fun and effective.

My mother lied about our address so we could leave our low income predominately black community and travel an hour across town go to school in the predominantly white and Asian, middle class neighborhood in San Francisco’s Richmond district. I learned first hand what it was like to feel marginalized but I also got to see what instruction that was both engaging and rigorous looked like.

Through out my career as an educator, I have always worked to bring that same high level of fun and rigor to instruction for underperforming students of color. I started with my own kids and taught both of them to read before they went to school.

Other parents started asking me about the games and materials I created so I just kept making them and sharing them. Making learning fun and engaging while rigorous has always been part of my method. That’s why I wrote Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain because culturally responsive teaching is about tapping the brain’s desire for a fun challenge. Student teachers in my Foundations of Literacy course at St. Mary’s College always get excited about the learning games I bring in to show them that learning doesn’t have to be boring.

Thanks for letting me serve as your guide on this journey of discovering how to get our students ready for rigor.

I hope you will join me on this journey. To jump on the bandwagon, just put your name and email below and click “sign me up!”


Sign Me Up


Copyright © 2014 Ready4Rigor.  All rights reserved.