Tag: children

Why school doesn’t matter – Episode 037

Why school doesn’t matter – Episode 037

Let me tell you a story about Matthew;

Matthew is what you would probably imagine as a “trouble maker”; whatever that person is in your mind, he is that kid.

Not only that, Matthew is smart. It has been my experience that for the most part, on average, most of my trouble makers are usually of high intelligence. These are kids rub many people the wrong way for a number of reasons. Most adults would rather not deal with these kids, so they get shuffled along. They are not challenged to be better; they are forced to conform. And for a highly intelligent kid like Matthew; this doesn’t make sense.  Why should I have to “pretend” to like going to school, pretend to be interested in any of these subjects, when Matthew already has a plan for the rest of his life; a plan which doesn’t involve school.  When other kids are seeing their education as a vehicle that will propel them to the life they hope to have, there are many kids like Matthew who for them, the educational system has been a burden that has been more interested in their hair style, their clothing choices, and shut the door on them when it wasn’t their fault they were late.  This is the conversation I had with Matthew which lead to this one question; why should school matter to me, when I never mattered to anyone at school?

 

He’s right.

 

School doesn’t matter to many kids. It’s not a valuable institution to them for a number of reasons. We could generalize these kids and go through the blame game; socioeconomic conditions, bad parenting, poverty, culture, drugs, gangs, cell phones, etc. We could also blame them directly; a generation of disrespect, lack of humility, lack of hard work and labor, unapologetic and spoiled rotten. But that doesn’t remedy an important point in the argument that Matthew makes; why did he not matter to anyone at school? Why did this child spend 13 years in an educational system, and not once, not ONCE, did he feel he mattered to someone?

One of the seven truths that you will learn when you take the Seal It With A Smile course is that the emotional reality of a person IS their reality. When you wake up in a good mood, that good mood lasts. When your in a bad mood, typically that bad mood will ALSO have staying power. If your in a positive feeling, you see opportunity. If you’re in a negative feeling, the walls feel like they are falling down over you. And when your a kid; you lack the cognitive functioning and maturity and experience to understand what’s going on. And when your a kid, not feeling loved or important or even thought of, has a huge impact.

If adults have a hard time dealing with their own emotions, can you imagine how our kids must feel?

OR the better question is; do you feel like they are YOUR kids?

Everyone needs love.

Everyone needs to feel loved. It is part of our development; we are wired to receive it and give it. We are wired to comprehend what that is, and we know when we are sometimes more aware of when we DON’T have it, than when we do. For that reason, Matthew is correct; why should he care when no one cared about him? That is his reality, after 13 years of being in the educational system. No one cared.

School doesn’t matter to Matthew. But he matters to me. And since we started this year, I have made it of high importance to me that he knows he matters to me. How do I do that? I listen to him. I do not judge him or his opinions or thoughts. I accept him exactly as he is. I follow all of the systems I created in the Seal It With A Smile course, and most important of all; I care enough to do this.

The other day Matthew told me he was really trying hard this year; his last year of high school. He’s felt more motivated than ever to not skip school, to not fall asleep in class, and to actually do his work.

Why?

Because he wants to join the military. He sees the benefits of serving and he sees himself being in the Marines for life. Everything about that life excites him, and his recruiter has been rallying him to sign. He’s signing up when he turns 18 in a few months.

How do I know this? Because I listened to him. And I feel honored that the kid that no one would pay attention to and felt like he didn’t matter, wants to serve and protect you and me. The kid that everyone ignored, wants to do something he’s proud of.

Matthew is right; school doesn’t matter to him.

 

But Matthew matters to me.

A 5 Year Pin – Episode 036

A 5 Year Pin – Episode 036

Before I realized it… I received my 5 year pin working for my school district.

I have only taught at this school district; and I have only taught at one school in this school district. Two different subjects and now that I’m starting my 6th year, a little over 1,000 kids.

I took a few seconds pause when my name was called; slightly stunned and in disbelief.  Unsure if my name was actually said through the feedback heavy microphone.

As I sat back down, in a state of shock, the number continued to roll around in my mind, unable to garner any traction.

5 years.

In five years I have moved twice and bought a house, welcomed the birth of my youngest son who is now 4, and have been doing something that I love to do, something that I have found to be my passion.

Yes I can think about all of the lives I have impacted, although to what degree is questionable. I have been fortunate to have several of my students come back and visit me, which is always a joy.

More importantly, teaching has changed me.

(for the better I believe)

It has changed me in a variety of ways. It has exposed me to so many different students that it has allowed me to understand my own teenager in a way that I could not have understood him before. His behavior on the surface appears alien to me so often, when in reality, the things he says and does is within the spectrum of teenagerdom.

My patience has increased over time as I have come to the realization that so much of the extreme behaviors that I see in the classroom and in my own children has more to do with unmet needs, fear, and anxiety, than anything else;

Maslow Before Blooms

My understanding of my own life has increased. Hindsight is always 20/20, but having been around my students has shown me that the anxiety and stress of being a teenager is something that most if not all teenagers experience. The still growing frontal lobe (the part of the brain that is linked to good decision making) is no where near being fully formed (not until 25ish). Which means that the risky behavior that teens exhibit, on some level, can be explained by this underdevelopment. At what other time would it be more fun to push boundaries and take crazy risks? I won’t go into too much detail, but I am very grateful and thankful that I survived my teenage years. And when I think about what my students past, present, and future, are going through right now, it makes my struggles seem more of an annoyance.

My appreciation for my life has increased tenfold.

Knowing what so many of my students suffer and go through on a daily basis has only made me value the time I have with them more and more.  It is so important to me to add as much value as I can to their lives, both in knowledge and in creating experiences with them.  For so many of them, school is an escape from the struggles they must face, alone, at home. So I want to make sure that when they are with me, they know they are safe, I have their back, and I will do what I can for them… so that they can learn to do for themselves.

Which is why the most important lesson of all that I have learned in my 5 years, the lesson that has impacted me the most:

Do not waste time.

Time is valuable.

There is no way we can put a price on the time we have with our students. We cannot recreate or capture the time we have with them, because they will never be the same once they leave our presence. Their growth is exponential and constant; it is critical that we take advantage of this time and go all in with our craft.

Make them smile, make the laugh, build relationships with your kids. Every single one of your students has an amazing story to tell and a story they are in the middle of writing. As their teacher, you will forever be a part of their story, a 189 day long thread woven into the tapestry of who they are and who they will become as a person. Make sure that you bring the best version of yourself everyday; be present and be all in with them and for them.

Be patient and kind to them, so they will know what that feels like.

Be understanding and listen to their needs, so they will know what that looks like

Be willing to adjust and be flexible, so they will know what that is

If you do all of these things daily, you will not only give them experiences that will shape their brains, but you will have also given them them enough experiences for them to do it for others, and give other people those same experiences.

And when you do this, make sure that at the end of every lesson, every experience, every interaction… you seal it with your smile

 

And if you are lucky, at the end of 5 years, you could have over 1000 amazing threads of pure potential be apart of the tapestry of your story.

 

Episode 034 – Special Guest Jake Widmann (Author and Coach)

Episode 034 – Special Guest Jake Widmann (Author and Coach)

Great teachers are not JUST found in a classroom…

I am extremely excited about my interview with Jake Widmann… Author of the book (SEPT 2018) Up: Lessons of Adversity, Hitting Bottom, and Choosing A Life That Matters

Some of our main topics:

  • how he was “that kid” in our classroom… the one that drives you nuts! Jakes gives us some amazing insight into why “that kid” likes to push buttons…
  • the ifonlys and how they are actually a form of interference, or static, that gets in the way of us seeing our true selves and how we put ourselves in the difficult positions we find ourselves…
  • Jake defines self awareness in a way that is not only understandable, but extremely practical…
  • what self care means and why its so important that we, who serve others, take care of ourselves…
  • his favorite quote and how that applies to creating the teaching environment that best supports us and nurtures us!

Great teachers are not JUST found in a classroom…

Enjoy this awesome interview!

WANT MORE JAKE?

IG: sologood.co   AND    jakewidmann

FB: Jake Widmann

www.sologood.co

 

Lessons Learned From Coaching U4 Soccer – Episode 032

Lessons Learned From Coaching U4 Soccer – Episode 032

 

 

This past Saturday officially concluded my first season coaching U4 soccer. Well, it was actually the first time I coached anything really. It was a great experience and the take aways and lessons learned were tremendous.

I felt that not only did I grow as a person, but I am also confident that the lessons learned can be translated to my classroom.

lesson 1: children are led by attention and their needs

Whatever a child feels that they “need” is what captures their attention. We may even argue if it indeed is a real need, but if they feel they need it, it is what they will hold onto. Their attention will be focused on just this. Getting children to pay attention to you, means paying more attention to them.

 

lesson 2: practice, practice, practice

Kids need consistency; it is vital and essential. This consistency is across the board! The most consistent their lives, the safer they feel, the better they will perform and understand the world around them. Creating a consistent environment will create trust in you and personal growth. The key to this consistency is expecting more of myself 1st, before I expect anything from them.  The messages I send them have to be consistent, otherwise I can derail what they expect of me, and throw off my kids as well.

Adults are very sensitive to distrust and inconsistency, kids are too!

 

lesson 3: its all about me, making it all about them

As a coach, I have to be 100% present and accountable. I have to make sure that I’m on time, have a plan of action, and make sure that my players are using their time wisely and practicing in a way that will make them better. In order for me to do this, I have to be hard on myself and hold myself accountable to the things that I say and do.

And when I do this, something magical happens.

All that energy translates into my players. They then start to focus on themselves and try to be the best version of themselves that they can be.  For those players who are not as focused, I don’t take their lack of attention or effort personally. As long as I know that I am giving them my all, the responsibility for stepping up to the plate is on them.

When you know yourself, you can give of yourself.

Cash Out Kids – Episode 031

Cash Out Kids – Episode 031

As we approach the end of the school year, as the state tests are distributed, and as we slowly wind down to the end of school, it is very easy for all of us (teachers included) to loose sight of the fact that… school isn’t over!
 
Yet, around this time, we start to see the clues and signs that yes, the clock is winding down. The biggest clue; behavior. Around this time we begin to see complacency, apathy towards grades, and a rise in misbehavior. And life, like education, has a wide range of influences. To narrow down the list of the things that affect behavior to “one thing” means to ignore the collective influence of society (I write this on 4/20 the anniversary of the columbine massacre), age, socioeconomic trends, etc.
 
And what do we call the students who choose to display this type of behavior? The Cash Out Kids.
 
You have either seen or heard of these kids before; the kids who refuse to do anything. Who seem to have no regard for others, who become more and more rebellious as the days pass. Why? Because at some point, they have made the decision to take their losses and cash out.
Let me first explain that I teach a Forensic Science course for Seniors at a STEM Magnet high school. This means that I have a wide range of students in my classroom. Which means that on a daily basis, much like you, I teach to and reach kids that are all over the bell curve in abilities. I understand that this might seem “dramatic”, but the reality is that, there will be a small percentage of your population that will refuse to try. It might be more evident in at the High School level, but based on my conversations and experiences with kids and adults who interact with kids, I feel pretty confident with my statement
The big question; why? Why do we have kids that refuse? And why is it that towards the end of the year, they all seem to agree to act up at the same time?
 
I cannot offer any data to support my next unscientific observation. What I can say for certain is that the end of the year is a difficult time for students. For those who put in the work all year long, the end of the school year is a time to reap the rewards. They have put in the time and energy required to succeed and can now relax some, coasting on their earlier efforts.
 
For those that are in the middle, the idea of crossing the finish line is the only thing that matters. They don’t care what the official grade is so long as it is a passing grade. For the majority of our students, understanding that they have passed and can move on to the next grade is a reward. They are not so preoccupied with status as they are in making sure they are not downgraded or held back.
 
For the few that don’t “care” enough about anything, much less their grades and their school standing, this is as good as time as any for them to decide to stop putting in effort towards their education. The “attitude” on their part is not apathy but rather a signal that something has gone wrong. The “I don’t care attitude” is more than just youthful hubris; its a signal. 
Without hope and without reaping the rewards (yes, passing is a reward) of others these students decide to throw caution to the wind, and cash out. They make the decision that letting go and walking away with whatever they have is in their best interest. As a teacher, nothing is more heartbreaking.
So what do you do?
The first thing to do is understand that when a student decides to cash out; its because he or she feels that’s in his best interest. He or she sees that as being their best option. Which means that the adults in the lives have failed them. No child should feel that abandoning their education is in their best interest. What they are lacking is someone who can show them that its never too late to turn things around.
Which is true! Every year on the first of the month, adults around the world make promises and resolve to make “this” year, the year they . . .
If we, as adults, live with a carrot of hope dangling before us; children deserve nothing less.
Every child deserves to have an adult in their lives that is crazy about them. Every. Child.
Regardless of their behavior, as the adults in their lives, it is our responsibility to show them that it is never too late to turn things around.
So what do you do with a cash out kid? Everything you can. Because it’s not just about the child; it’s about everyone else who’s watching.
For every one cash out kid, you have a classroom full of kids who are watching to see what you do. The behavior you model for those students, the respect you show that one child, is what your other students will learn. They way you treat that child is a lesson to the other children on how they should treat each other. And in the worst case scenario, should that child decide to cash out completely, you have taught everyone a valuable lesson; you, as a teacher, will not give up on your students. You will have given them all hope, solidified trust in you, and have sent that cash out kid a message of hope. If not a hope in themselves, a hope in you.
Ep 28: The Conversation – PART III

Ep 28: The Conversation – PART III

In this 3rd part of The Conversation Series, I wrap up what I believe is the conversation we should be having right now regarding education. Recent tragedies have shed a new light upon the fact that the educational system is failing our students. We can no longer sit back and wait for lawmakers, researchers, or other stakeholders to address these issues.

In Part I, I talk about the classroom itself and the new role of the classroom, in a world where information is freely available and easily accessible. 

In Part II, I talk about our students and how they are facing serious life altering stressors, to which they have very little control over. No matter what the difficulty, every child should be seen as an opportunity for growth.

Part III is about the Teachers.

WE, The Teachers, are THE most powerful agents of change in the educational system, in the building, and in our classrooms. Yes, our calling is to help our students succeed, advance, learn, and grow. However, as the teacher in the classroom, that spends an significant amount of time with them, face to face; any improvements in their learning and growth happens through us.

THIS is the hardest lesson to understand and accept because learning involves defeat.

Learning is a process.

Learning involves screwing up and getting things wrong. Some of the greatest lessons we will learn in our lives will come from agonizing and painful failures. As a teacher and the adult in the room, we are judge and jury to the beautiful little humans before us. Everyday we find another example in which there are no set guidelines and no manual in which we can reliably depend on.

At a cost of $2.2 BILLION dollars a year in the US teachers are leaving the profession due to high stress, poor working conditions, “bad kids”, poor support, low wages, etc. 40 – 50% of new teachers leave after five years. In other words; defeat.

The emotional and psychological work that is performed by teachers on a daily basis is hardly talked about, much less recognized. Yet it is the most important in the classroom, and creates the most positive impact for our students. There isn’t a state assessment, or an ipad, or a worksheet, or a powerpoint that will significantly impact the lives of our students. It is, and will always be, the teacher.

So if teachers want less stress, better working conditions, “better kids” more support, higher wages, and not look for other work after 5 years, what needs to change isn’t a system; its us.

Teachers, yup, you. Don’t look away, i’m talking to you!

If we want this to change, we have to change. The first thing we need to change; our mindset.

Everyday, I need you… Wait.

Everyday, the world needs you to say or read the following:

“Today I will build the emotional, psychological, and educational foundation of our society. I will learn and grow with my students and fellow teachers and create the human infrastructure in which we all live and thrive in.”

Everyday.

Everyday, I need you to believe this. Not because its BS, but because its true. And if you don’t walk into your classroom, and own it, no one else will.

You are important

You are valuable

You are needed

You are critical to the success of our society and our species.

And if you walk into your classroom, everyday, and believe this with all of your heart and mind, your language and actions will follow

And when your thoughts, language, and actions are congruent (as in, they are in line with each other)

You are unstoppable.

You are a force to be reckoned with.

And when your fellow teachers are all congruent with each other, and your building is congruent with each other, and our society is congruent with each other… that’s a tidal wave of change.

The hardest lesson to learn and accept is the one we need the most. Recite this mantra, believe it, and watch the magic of the human sprit contaminate your students, as you become the rockstar I know you can be, and your students want you to be:

“Today I will build the emotional, psychological, and educational foundation of our society. I will learn and grow with my students and fellow teachers and create the human infrastructure in which we all live and thrive in, sealing every interaction with my students, with my smile”

Go Off On A Tangent! – Episode 021

Go Off On A Tangent! – Episode 021

I was able to connect with my students in a way that was outside of what was norm

I was able to educate them on something that may not have been the normal topic, but it added value to their lives. They saw it as valuable, and because of that, we had a very engaging conversation where they were asking good questions, and they were learning

I was able to develop trust. And if they were trusting me in this particular area, then they would trust me in other areas, like chemistry.

What we were actually doing was having fun and playing with a concept!

It was learning, maybe not what was prescribed for that particular day, but It was learning none the less.

Learning is organic; it happens because human being are constantly learning about the world around them, and we are inquisitive creatures. Sometimes, it’s nice to go off on tangents, to follow a path that has not been traveled before in your classroom

 

Make time for these mental adventures; you will learn a lot about yourself, but also about your students.

 

  1. Keep it professional
  2. Keep it as topic related as possible
  3. Try to tie it into things they are already learning or have learned in your classroom.

 

These tangents reinvigorate your classroom. And more importantly, they allow your students to gain trust.

If they trust you on a tangent, they will trust you in your classroom.

🙂

(UPDATED) The Humble Thread In The Cape – Episode 015

(UPDATED) The Humble Thread In The Cape – Episode 015

(UPDATED) The Humble Thread In The Cape – Episode 015

During this week of Thanksgiving, most of us will be resting and relaxing and hopefully enjoying some time off with family, friends, our animal friends, and loved ones. During this time of reflection, we can also reflect on our lives and find humility within us. But how can we do that? How can we be humble?

Being humble comes from understanding your power; your ability to destroy, to harm, to cause injury and pain, to cause a sense of defeat and humiliation, to cause shame and embarrassment.

This quote from Haim Ginott speaks to the power we have in the classroom.

The difference between a super hero and a super villain comes down to a choice. Both are almost equal in size, strength, and power. It is the choices they make on a daily basis, how they use their unique abilities, that makes them heroic and supermodels of behavior and moral authorities.

When you understand the power you have on a daily basis to hurt and to cause pain… and you choose to do good.. then you will develop humility and the ability to be humble.

Be humble, be a servant, know your strengths; be the hero of your own story.

When you look into your students eyes, they see themselves though your eyes, and they see that so much is possible and that they are capable of so much. If they see you as the hero in your own life, they will search through your eyes, the hero within themselves.

At the end of the day, at the end of the school year, each of us leaves behind a legacy.

You will forever be their first grade, second grade, science, history, English or math teacher. You will forever be their coach or band director.  You will leave an emotional fingerprint surrounding their experience in your class and in your specific content area, forever.

So my question to you is; what is your legacy going to be? What is your story going to be because when it’s all over that’s what you will be: threads in their cape. Your lasting emotional legacy will forever be apart of the threads of their cape.

Each one of us deserves to be the hero of our own story.  Will the threads you weave into their cape them help them soar or hold them back?