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Oskar Cymerman | @focus2achieve

Oskar Cymerman | @focus2achieve

I founded Focus 2 Achieve to provide innovative classroom tools that empower teachers and help students achieve more success. In my first life, I am a husband, a father, and a teacher. In my second life, I spend time discovering what "really works" aka "best practices" in education, problem-solving, and creating products for teachers and students. 

I have a BS in Earth and Environmental Sciences and an MA in Teaching. I teach high school Chemistry and Principles of Engineering and my professional interests focus on discovering and learning how the human mind learns and acquires lasting knowledge and skills, so that I can help my (and other) students learn more effectively and achieve greater academic success.

I am also a fan of the Jedi order (and use DA FORCE frequently), ninjas (both masked and unmasked), and the superhero in all of us. Oh, and I am on a Quest to Change the World, because I can. I believe we all can.

Posted by on in Leadership


Leaders such as a teachers, administrators, coaches, and supervisors are tasked with developing effective and efficient practices to increase the performance of the individuals they lead and their organization's prestige. While there are many practices that lead to improvement, there is one that is vital to the very survival of any group or organization: Collaboration.

Collaboration is so important that it, along with Critical Thinking, Communication, and Creativity, has been slapped with the "21st Century Skill" tag, and rightfully so as research cites effective team building and collaboration as game changers to the health and performance of organizations. Moreover, Collaboration improves Critical Thinking, Communication, and Creativity in individuals as they benefit from others' wisdom and experience, continually look for effective ways to present ideas and influence other team member's decisions, and combine their skill sets with those of others.

Efficient and effective teamwork however, is not automatic. At any level, elementary to executive, successful collaboration doesn't just happen. In fact, much like an NBA team may be built around a young up-and-coming leader, a "floor general", classroom groups or business task forces are a sum of their complementary pieces with the leader at the helm. The teacher is the floor general (or captain awesome) in his/her classroom and it is up to him/her to lead the troops into battle. And, this ain't just any battle. This is the battle for our future, the future of our kids, and the future of their children. This one's big and it must be won.

And it will be.

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Posted by on in Education Resources

The strategy I am presenting you with today is a game changer. It has the potential to make experts out of learners and it makes learning last.

You might already know the learning strategy I am talking about, because it's been around the block. I have not invented it. I knew it before, but it was not until I took a Coursera MOOC "Learning How To Learn" By Barbara Oakley and Terrence Sejnowski that I understood its true power.

So... Ask yourself: Do my students know it? And, do they know how to use it? And, do they use RECALL consistently when studying?

I believe most students mainly re-read information when they study. However, even if your answer to the 3 questions above was a "yes," you will find a few nice Recall Hacks in the Infographic below that can help you be a more effective instructor and your students learn more effectively. And, isn't that what this whole education shindig is all about?


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Posted by on in Leadership


And we do.

Have you ever heard someone say that he or she is not out to change the world? That he or she just wants to contribute in small part; make a difference? I have. I know what people mean when they say that. Such statements come out of modesty and the people making them are commendable. But they are unrealistic. While the person making such claims is humble and honest, he or she does not realize one of the truest laws of the Universe:

Every action we take changes the world.

In more ways than one.

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning


Small Acts Of Kindness

Small acts of kindness change the world. The grand deeds committed by those with means are important too, but they are not nearly as powerful as the billions of little things little people do every single day to help, recognize, and appreciate others. The longer I walk life the more convinced I am that it is the compound effect of the seemingly insignificant acts that sends the biggest ripples through the universe and alters the world most profoundly.

This morning as I was about to turn onto the expressway I always take to work a woman with two dogs started crossing the street. She hesitated seeing my car come to a halt at the intersection. I could've easily just kept turning, maybe cut her off, or maybe make it just in time, but I did not. I waited. And I am happy I did. It is because of what happened next.

The woman continued walking, looked at me through my windshield, gave me a big smile, and waved. Of course, an involuntary reflex forced a big toothy grin onto my face and I waved back. And it felt damn good!

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Posted by on in Education Leadership


The last parent-teacher conference of the year happened last night and while the event I am about to describe did not happen yesterday, seeing the parents reminded me of a father of a student who struggled through my chemistry class 3 years ago, asking me for a method allowing his daughter to quickly "get" chemistry. Unfortunately, I had to tell him that a hack that allows one to instantly become a chemistry genius just does not exist. And though I happen to be a mainly left-brained (and working on my right-brain consciousness) science and engineering teacher, I will venture out of my zone of expertise here and claim that no such hacks exist for any school subject, or life skill, or professional craft.

The truth is that is takes work to become good at something; even more work to become great at it; and a ton more work to become excellent and maintain excellence at any one thing. Therefore, the right approach is needed and it involves problem solving. But, what is the right approach to solving a problem? I believe that becoming an effective problem solver involves asking 3 key questions: What Can I Do?, What Can I Read?, and Who Can I Ask?, seeking answers to these questions, and taking action once you have your answers. 

To Solve a Problem, Ask Yourself: What Can I Do?

A student came up to my desk recently and told me that he does not understand the material we are working on in class at the moment. When I asked what it is he does not get, I received the standard reply: Everything.

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