You know that buzz you hear when you walk into a classroom that is completely learner-owned?

That’s world renowned Ron Berger’s classroom… And his students are ALWAYS working on something meaningful. Whether it’s completing a field guide on local amphibians; or drafting plans for a new playground; they behave in the same way professionals would in the REAL WORLD- and they are only 10.

I sat down with Ron, veteran teacher and senior advisor for EL Education to uncover his secrets for creating this ‘ethic of excellence,’ and how we can create it in our students as well. We learn:

  • The power of public exhibition.
  • How to transform static units of study into dynamic ‘expeditions’ of learning.
  • How to build a positive classroom culture of feedback, critique + reflection.
  • How to improve work quality without ever awarding a grade.
  • To unleash curiosity and wonder in our most reluctant learners.

Connect with Ron: Twitter @RonBergerEL, Website (, LinkedIN

Get Project Ideas‘Models of Excellence’ from EL Education

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Ron’s Bio: 

Ron Berger is Senior Advisor at EL Education, a nonprofit school improvement organization that partners with public schools and districts across America, leads professional learning, and creates open educational resources. He is a well-known keynote speaker nationally and internationally on inspiring a commitment to quality, character and citizenship in students. Ron is the author of best-selling education books, including: An Ethic of Excellence, and A Culture of Quality; and co-author of Leaders of Their Own Learning, Transformational Literacy, Management in the Active Classroom, Learning that Lasts, and We Are Crew: A Teamwork Approach to School Culture.

He also teaches at Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he did his graduate work. He founded the website Models of Excellence: The Center for High-Quality Student Work, which houses the world’s largest collection of beautiful student work. Ron was a member of the U.S. National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development.

In his prior work, Ron was a public school teacher and master carpenter in rural Massachusetts for over 25 years, and received the Autodesk Foundation National Teacher of the Year award.