Find your weird and run with it

by Punita Rice Teaching

weird ed

Last month, I shared a guest post about one of my favorite weird lessons, over on the blog of Doug Robertson writer of “He’s The Weird Teacher,” and the usual host of the weekly #WeirdEd Twitter chat (Wednesdays at 10pm EST). Weird Ed is a chat for teachers and other education leaders to come together to chat about all things weird that they do in the classroom. As Doug says,

“You just gotta find your weird and run with it as hard as you can.”

Doug Robertson, aka The Weird Teacher

One of the ways I ran with my weird as a teacher was through teaching one of my favorite lessons — a lesson about the theory of the technological singularity, and applying major concepts from our curriculum to that theory / using that theory as a lens for engaging more deeply with the concepts from our curriculum. Definitely weird stuff. As a guest blogger for Doug’s site, that’s the lesson I wrote about (and then co-hosted the Twitter chat about! Visit the #WeirdEd hashtag to peruse some of the conversation).

You can read my guest post over on Doug’s site here. I’ve also written previously about this lesson (you can read more about that here), and about why I think teachers will have to do more to teach students “philosophical thinking skills,” especially in the future (you can read that here).

Thanks Doug for having me on your site! You can follow Doug on Twitter here.

On Cultural Proficiency – Radio New Zealand Interview

by Punita Rice Teaching

Punita Rice for NinetoNoon Radio New Zealand

Last week, I chatted with Kathryn Ryan, host of Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon (live!) about the importance of cultural proficiency in education, name pronunciation, and why teachers should understand their students’ backgrounds.

The gist of our conversation was this: My saying your name correctly is a way of showing you respect… that empowers the student. 

(More here).

You can listen to our conversation here. Or, you can click here to directly download the mp3.

Thank you Kathryn, and thank you Radio New Zealand for having me, and for highlighting the importance of cultural proficiency!

The Spokesperson Phenomenon – EdWeek

by Punita Rice Teaching

Education Week Teacher Punita Rice Spokesperson

Last week, Education Week Teacher published an essay I wrote about the spokesperson phenomenon — that thing that happens in a classroom, where a student (almost always, a student of color, though other minority and/or marginalized identities also experience this) is expected or positioned to serve as a representative for their entire culture, race, or other category of people.

(I’ve also touched on the spokesperson phenomenon in Brown Voices — read more about the project here.)

In the article, as a general rule, I advise against this behavior on the part of teachers, but there’s some nuance there (I definitely don’t prescribe that culture be ignored):

This is not to say teachers should never ask about students’ backgrounds or invite them to share their heritages with their classes. But there is a fine line between inviting them to share, and pressuring or positioning them to speak as representatives of their culture.

Read more here.

3 practical tips for how to support students’ cultural backgrounds without positioning them as spokespersons:

  1. Treat students as individuals – get to know them, understand their backgrounds and their comfort level (and/or ability!) to share.
  2. If inviting students to share something, do so ahead of time (plus this lets you vet what they’re sharing and put it in a broader context) — and also lets you avoid putting them “on the spot,”
  3. As a general rule, avoid singling out POC students.

Some final words from the piece:

When we invite our students to share their backgrounds and values—all of our students—then we foster inclusion and respect for diversity. But when teachers position students of color to serve as spokespersons for their culture, we risk making them feel othered and we detract from their own opportunities for enrichment, learning, and growth.

Read more here.

You can read the whole piece here, and you can read about another piece I wrote for Education Week Teacher here.

Why Pronouncing Students’ Names Correctly is Important

by Punita Rice Teaching

Teachers - Pronounce Names Correctly in the Classroom

There are a million names from as many backgrounds, so it can feel overwhelming to expect teachers to get every single name right. But pronouncing students’ names correctly does matter. Here, I’m sharing YouTube video I recorded on why pronouncing names correctly is important, and I’m also sharing my list of practice ideals for how teachers can get names right. Read on for the why and how of getting students’ names right.

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On Having a Baby During your Doctorate in Education

by Punita Rice Career, Culture, Motherhood


Recently, a newly pregnant student in the same Doctorate program I graduated from reached out to my friend Dr. Alexandra Murtaugh. (Alexandra previously shared advice for moms here, here, and here). The student was reaching out for guidance in navigating our program through her pregnancy and with a new baby in tow. Alexandra shared some great words of wisdom with her, and also passed the query along to a few other women who became mothers at some point in their doctorate journey — including me, and Dr. Natalie Duvall (who previously wrote about balancing being a mother with being a teacher here). Here, I’m sharing some snippets of the advice Alexandra, Natalie, and I shared with the student. If you’re interested, read on:

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Empowering Moms by Nursing in Public

by Punita Rice Culture, Motherhood

Normalize breastfeeding in public

About two weeks ago, I saw neighbor of mine sitting outside on a bench in our community nursing her infant. Publicly. Proudly. Then, last week, for the first time, I nursed my younger son in public myself (without a cover). This was my first time truly nursing in public. I did so using the two-shirt method (top shirt gets pulled up, bottom shirt/nursing tank gets pulled down, baby nurses from between those two), so I was still pretty discreet about it, but it was still a milestone for me in my journey as a nursing mom. While I nursed my older son for 18 months before  weaning him, I only ever nursed him in public a handful of times, and even then, only with a cover, or while wearing him in a baby-wrap.

Toddler Wearing / Nursing in a baby wrap
An (old) picture of me wearing my son in a “Fly Tai” wrap.

(Admittedly, I would still prefer nursing in public while using a baby-wrap, but my younger son is still too small for us to really get the hang of me nursing him while wearing him. Once we’re able to make that work, I’ll probably still opt to do that instead of the two-shirt method when we’re out and about, but this time around, it will be for my own convenience, and not because I don’t feel right nursing publicly.)

I just never before had the confidence to nurse in public loudly and proudly. And I’m not alone; a lot of moms feel weird, uncomfortable, or embarrassed to nurse in public. Even though nursing in public is now legal in all 50 states, a lot of moms still feel like it’s not considered “normal” everywhere, or that some people find it inappropriate or weird (one mom reported feeling like other people thought it was “gross,” as shared in this story by my friend Priska Neely). To reduce the apparent stigma that still lingers around breastfeeding in public, there’s the Normalize Breastfeeding movement. Read on for more on this movement, and about how nursing in public empowers other moms to do so.

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5 Reasons You Should Be Blogging

by Punita Rice Career

Why blog? 5 Reasons you should be blogging

Have you ever contemplated starting a blog, and then thought, eh, why blog, what’s the point? Then read on, because there are definitely reasons why blogging can be great for your career!

Blogging can support your career because it can let you help others, it can help you establish yourself professionally (online), it can create new career opportunities for you, it can improve your communication skills, and it can even make you money. So why blog? Because all of these are good things, and all of these things can be beneficial to your professional life long-term. Read on for the 5 reasons you should be blogging.

Why blog?

On my own blog, I share content about my work with my outreach organization (you can learn more at, or my research around South Asian American experiences, or even my experiences during my doctorate program. This has had a lot of benefits for me professionally.

First, I’ve gotten to share a lot of my knowledge and expertise, and therefore help others interested in obtaining that knowledge. Second, my blog (and website in general) have kind of become like my business card. Because of that, I’ve been able to position myself as a person who others (like people interested in my area of research) can connect with. This has had the added bonus of helping me in my own efforts to contribute to said area of research. Third, because I’ve been able to connect with others, I’ve stumbled onto unexpected opportunities to work on a lot of exciting projects (that I might not otherwise have been exposed to). Similarly, because of expanding my network of connections, I’ve also been able to connect with people both in my field of research and in fields adjacent to it, — which has been immensely helpful in my conducting further research for my book. Fourth, blogging has also helped me hone my skills in communicating about my research in a non-academic way (and has certainly helped me sharpen my overall writing skills further). And finally, blogging has been able to serve as a (modest) stream of income. Below, I’m listing these advantages blogging has provided me as 5 reasons you should be blogging to support your own career (and to answer the question: Why Blog?).

5 reasons you should be blogging to support your career

5 Reasons you Should be Blogging
5 Reasons you Should be Blogging

So why blog? How can blogging help your career? As I’ve outlined in the infographic above, here are 5 good reasons:

  1. Blogging can help you help others.
  2. Blogging can help you establish who you are professionally.
  3. Blogging can create new career opportunities for you.
  4. Blogging can improve your communication skills
  5. Blogging can let you make money.

Why blog? To help others.

First and foremost, establishing a blog where you share your knowledge and expertise — particularly if you’re just “giving it away for free,” is a means of helping others who might benefit from what you know. Blogging lets you share your knowledge and expertise with an incredibly wide audience — which means you can help countless others who might benefit from what you know.

Why blog? To establish your professional self.

Establishing an internet presence (especially through an ongoing blog) helps you cultivate and present a professional persona, and share your story. In so doing, you can also establish your authority and credibility, and present yourself in a way that showcases the professional self you want to share with others. Plus, because you’re creating original content, you might even stand out from others within your field. Blogging lets you establish and share who you are: Your narrative, and your authority within your field. Regardless of what field you’re in, you can probably help others within your field, grow your network, and at the very least, build your own personal professional bona fides as a content expert by starting a blog.

Why blog? To create career opportunities (and connections).

Building a presence online through blogging can widen your reach and can create opportunities for your career. Through blogging, you might connect with new people, expand your professional (and maybe even social) network. Almost ten years ago for The Atlantic, Andrew Sullivan wrote about why he blogs; as Sullivan discovered when he started blogging, having a blog lets you connect with others around your topics of interest, which means a lot of new connections. For instance, readers of your blog might reach out and share links, stories, and facts that might add context, nuance, and complexity to the blogger’s understanding of the world (and might even contest it). Therefore, having a blog can give you the opportunity to expand your horizons, connect with others around your interests, put your own input, knowledge, and/or expertise into the ongoing discussions around the things that most interest or concern you, and essentially, take part in a global conversation. And as I mentioned earlier, through my own blogging, I’ve also been able to connect with others either within my field of research or in fields adjacent to it, which has been great on a personal level, and also immensely helpful in my work (and also in my conducting further research for my book!).

But even if you’re not driven to build your professional (and social) connections for its own sake, it can also be fantastic for the growth of your career. Widening your network and reach means, by default, more possible opportunities for potential collaborations, exciting projects, and possibly even new jobs.

Why blog? To improve your communication skills.

Blogging and writing for an internet audience can help improve your ability to communicate through your writing. And, it can help you organize your thinking better (I wrote about this previously here).

Why blog? To make money.

Blogging can be a way to make extra money. Though it’s not super common, it is entirely possible to generate a good stream of income through blogging (or at the hopefully, generate enough money to cover the costs of running the blog itself!). It can also, through leading to new career opportunities and connections, result in an entirely new career path, or new chapter in your current career path.

So… if you’re still asking yourself, “Why blog?” It should now be clear: Blogging can be great for your career! Again, here are those 5 reasons you should be blogging to support your career: (1) to help others, (2) to establish yourself professionally, (3) to create career opportunities, (4) to improve your communication skills, and (5) to make money. And for your pinning pleasure, here’s another pinterest friendly version of the 5 reasons listed on this post, in another color scheme.

5 Reasons you Should be Blogging
5 Reasons you Should be Blogging

A Note about Bluehost Webhosting

By the way — if you are looking to establish your own professional website, and if you want to do everything yourself, I can’t think of a better route to go than to set yourself up with Bluehost Webhosting.

bluehost Punita Rice
I recommend Bluehost!

(This isn’t a sponsored post, but if you decide to click through and end up actually making a purchase / becoming a Bluehost customer, they will give me a referral fee for sending you their way, which means you’ll be supporting this website.) My experience with web hosting is limited to some stressful interactions with GoDaddy and mostly excellent interactions with Bluehost. They have excellent customer support and competitive pricing (I’ve had almost entirely great experiences with their customer service, minus the extremely rare occasions where someone on the phone hasn’t been able to walk me through complex questions — but that’s not the norm — which is saying something), and that’s why I love them, and why I’m a Bluehost affiliate. 

And by the way, if you don’t want to build out your site yourself, hiring out is an option. There are a lot of web developers and designers who will create a clean, custom looking, professional website for you, with a built-in blog that you can easily update (built on a blogging platform like — not Also, if you’re in the tech industry and you’re looking for work, my sister-in-law’s company, Knak Digital will help place highly qualified folks in tech, digital, or marketing industries into amazing new careers. 

5 Ways Living in New Zealand has Changed Me (Guest Post)

by Maiera Mazelev Culture

How Living in New Zealand Changes You

[Ed note] Maiera Mazelev is not only one of my oldest (and best!) friends, but she’s also easily the most courageous person I know: A few years ago, she packed up all her belongings, and moved from Maryland, to the other side of the world (not literally, but almost!) to Australia, and now Auckland, New Zealand, where she happily resides (and feels at home), not least of all because she has learned to go with the flow (even when she’s getting rained on). And in so doing, she’s also changed as a person, from the logistical (how she gets from place to place), to the most fundamental parts of herself (she’s changed her pace of life, and learned to enjoy her own company through living in New Zealand). Here in this post, Maiera is sharing 5 big ways living in New Zealand has changed her: (1) she has learned to prefer public transportation, (2) she is able to be one with nature, (3) she’s become way more patient (and is slowly adjusting to a slower pace of life), (4) she’s learned to be a “tourist” in her own home, and (5) she’s learned to embrace being alone, and even doing nothing. Even if you have no intention of packing up all your belongings and moving to another country (or ever living in New Zealand yourself), you might enjoy this peek into how changing your environment can change you, and learn from what Maiera has learned.

Here’s Maiera on how living in New Zealand has changed her…

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Meredith’s Top 5 Benefits of Being a Working Mom (Guest Post)

by Punita Rice Culture, Motherhood

Being a Working Mom Means you Value your Time with Kids

There are challenges that come along with parenting, regardless of whether you stay at home full time, work at home, or work outside the home. And plenty has been written about the challenges that come with being a working mom (here’s a post by Taryn Watts about the challenges of being a working mom, and here’s another by Ashley from Balancing today). But today’s post isn’t just about why being a working parent is hard — it’s mostly about the opposite of that: the things that can make being a full-time, working parent, fantastic.

My friend Meredith Green has been a full-time working mom for a few years — she took maternity leave for 12 weeks when her older son Nolan was born, and did the same thing after her younger daughter Nora was born, but went back to working full time after each leave. I chatted with her about what she loves about the balance of being a working parent. And here, I’m sharing some of our conversation about what the five things she loves about being a working mom (and one thing she doesn’t love). If you’re interested in learning more about what Meredith thinks about being a working mom, read on!

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