Tag: courage through kindness

Want To Save Education? Stop Making It All About The Kids – Episode 039

Want To Save Education? Stop Making It All About The Kids – Episode 039

It took me a few years of teaching in the classroom to discover EXACTLY how to save our educational system. One day, I had an epiphany; an Ah-HA moment that changed my life.

Stop making it all about the kids.

As a parent, the best thing I can do for my children is to take care of myself and bring the best version of myself to them on a daily basis. Unconditional love and acceptance flow from a person who knows how to love themselves first.
That’s not what we bring to our classroom daily.
The classroom is filled instead with fearful adults who are afraid of their own students.
Nothing can grow properly planted in fear.
It’s time to flip education from the inside out.
It’s time for a seismic shift in our beliefs as to what is acceptable and what is possible.
Its time for our focus to shift toward the adults in the room; teachers.
Teachers are the most important person in the classroom; not the students.
It’s time to stop treating teachers as teachers. It’s time to acknowledge who they really are and what they really do.
Teachers are brain builders; they build the brains of every human being in our society. They, literally, make connections within
the minds of children, that shape and form future humans.
Teachers are neural architects; they help shape the minds that will inhabit our society.
Teachers have an ENORMOUS responsibility and charge. When successful they brain build with love in their hearts; because they have love within themselves. A successful teacher takes care of themselves and brings to the classroom the BEST version of themselves everyday.
Successful teachers are Queen Bees
Successful teachers MODEL self care, unconditional love, and acceptance.
Successful teachers are successful adults; they know they are enough
We need Queen Bees
That is my mission.
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.

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

 

Challenge Yourself – Episode 033

Challenge Yourself – Episode 033

Summer Is HERE!

(for most of us anyways)

While it’s a great time to relax, sleep in, walk around in your pajamas all day, and go full slob… it is an opportunity for two things which we should not take lightly and we should appreciate.

Opportunity To Recharge

Without question; teachers need the summer off. Above our contractual obligations, we put in an enormous amount of emotional labor into our daily practice of teaching. From being able to keep a straight face when something funny yet horrible has happened in the classroom (funny burps and passing gas anyone?) to the hard conversations we have to sometimes have with our fellow teachers AND students. Without question we need to recharge ourselves because we give so much of ourselves for those 9 months. It is necessary.

Opportunity To Challenge Ourselves 

When you are a teacher, you are also a disruptor. A disruptor of the greatest kind because you are causing dissonance. You are responsible for purposefully causing a specific mental conflict in the minds of your students! This is what you do! You create a conflict that causes uncertainty, confusion, frustration, and utterly madness!

When you teach someone 1+1 = 2 or a new skill, you are purposefully disrupting their knowledge of the world around them. And while your intentions might be good and well meaning, it doesn’t stop them from being a disruption.

It’s very similar to building a muscle.

Building a muscle does require activity!

When you do a push up or lift a weight, that in itself causes you to T-E-A-R the muscle you just worked out. It’s the soreness that you feel after any intense workout. But that T-E-A-R in the muscle isn’t just for the sake of pain…

It’s an opportunity.

Because of this now existing tear… you can now B-U-I-L-D muscle. That pain and that tear created an opportunity that didn’t exist. It is NOW the opportunity to create and to build what did not exist before.

Its when you put down the weights, when you stop running, or when you are done with you routine… that is when you are actually building muscle!

The recovery phase is when your body begins to focus on rebuilding what is torn… on filling in this newly created opportunity with new growth and new muscle.

This is why proper nutrition and rest is so important when starting a fitness program.

Without the proper nutrition and rest, all of the work and effort put into a workout will be for nothing because you are not maximizing the opportunity you created in the workout! Rest and eating right is essential to any fitness program. Its where true growth can occur.

So what does this mean for us teachers enjoying our time off?

It means we need to challenge ourselves.

Teaching is an exciting and forgiving profession (for most) because if you do with your heart in the right place, you not only get to come out of it stronger and more experienced… but you also become a better person because of it. But this can only happen if you challenge yourself!

It means that while we tear our collective emotional and psychological muscles for the sake of our kids… We also need to do this for ourselves!

So while you spend your summer in recovery mode getting your much needed break, make sure to do something for yourself, that challenges you, pushes you, creates some healthy dissonance, and helps you see the world in a new light.

Start a hobby that you might have put off, work in your garden, learn to paint furniture, learn beekeeping (these are all things I like to do :), or perhaps expand your circle of relationships and start to build new ones! Whatever you decide to, do something that challenges YOU!

If we want our kids, our students, to overcome the dissonance that we create for them in the classroom, then it is important that WE, the teachers, model this behavior for them. That our thoughts, language, and actions in the classroom are infused with this knowledge, so that we can respond appropriately when they struggle or when they face a difficult challenge.

It is easy for those of us in the classroom to forget that we are a disruptive force in the classroom. We are directly involved in changing the brain chemistry of our students. We purposefully disrupt their perception of the world. Even if they are the beneficiaries of this disruption, it is a disruption none the less.

And when we help our students make sense of the world, we call it learning.

And when we hold their hand through this disruption, we call it kindness.

And when we hold their hand through this disruption, drawing from our own challenging experiences to use in helping our students… we call this teaching.

Plan in your seat

Teach on your feet

And with every interaction that you have with your students.

Every talk, lesson, activity, challenge…

make sure you seal it…

… with your smile

🙂

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.

Why All Teachers Should Make at Least 90k/year: Emotional Labor – Episode 029

Why All Teachers Should Make at Least 90k/year: Emotional Labor – Episode 029

Emotional labor is an invisible but powerful force that is felt but unseen to the inexperienced eye. It’s why moms are so good at making you feel better without applying medicine, and why it doesn’t bother you that you scraped your knee with dad, because you had such a great time (which mom cleaned and put a bandaid on, and dad just rinsed with water)

More often that not, emotional labor at home and at work is done by women.

That is, the labor that most men do not think about; keeping the peace at home, making sure the kids don’t get upset because there’s no more ice cream, calling to get multiple quotes, planning the office holiday party, baby shower, and remembering everyone’s birthdays, anniversaries, food allergies, previous report card grades, resolving conflict, and why you shouldn’t talk about dogs in front of your neighbor, who just lost his puppy.

But when it comes to the classroom… Teachers, Coaches, Admin, Support Staff, Male and Female… We all perform Emotional Labor

As a Teacher, Emotional Labor is the majority of the work we actually perform in the classroom. It’s the silent lifting of spirits, when our students feel down. It is the pushing of pencils, when the little hands wrapped around them do not move.

Its the exhausting last minute push,

the pat on the back that you don’t want to give but you can’t not give,

and you know you need to give,

because that one child has not had enough pats, to motivate him or herself, forward.

This is not to negate, or ignore, that our students, our kids, emotionally labor intensive work, because they do! However, if we are to look at our students as Emotional Labor-ers… as in, those who are ready to perform this type of work; we have a serious staffing problem.

Uninspired, unmotivated, depressed, hungry, tired and afraid is what sometimes walks into our classrooms and sits down in our prearranged chairs. This happens daily, to many of our students. Not because of what happens at home or in their personal life, but because of the Labor that a teacher did NOT perform, in preparation for their students.

The Emotional Labor we put into our classrooms begins before the first bell has rung; it is our motivation for teaching, our emotional and psychological fitness that we walk into with every morning. It is a fitness that we need to maintain consistently, especially when our students become emotionally “heavy”.

This is the framework required for student success; the one that the teacher works at, every minute, of every day.

It is the smile our students see in the morning, and the smile they see when they leave our presence; the smile that seals the positive experience we shared together.

It is the repetitive “lifting” of our students spirits when they seem lost and confused. Of psychologically holding their hand through a dangerous equation or a fear inducing stanza. Removing the fog of confusion as to why a word is spelled that way, and clearing the cluttered mess in the minds of those, who’s past experiences have such a tight grip on their psyche, that is prevents them from moving forward.

It is the understanding that instead of being another stumbling block, another barrier; you are there to serve your students; serve their mind and help them grow into the people that they wish to become.

Which leads to expectations of our students.

We want from our students…

We see compliance and “listening” as an expectation. We want them to listen to us! We want them to comply, to remember… to give us our own form or version of a “reward”

We feel that it is sometimes a reflection upon us! When in reality, their response to us is just that; their response. They are human beings, creatures with a heart and a mind and a unique soul. There is no nine month assembly line that people pop out of and are “wired” to perform or act in a specific way. If humans are not created like that, then our expectations of our students should be the same. As a teacher, the only expectation we should have of our students, is to learn, and to grow.

Teaching is a selfless act; it is one of the truest acts of love one can ever bestow. It is selfless because you leave the other person better than when you have left them. It is purposeful, and it does not require the other person to give back to you, not right then, not now, not in the future, not ever.

There should not be an expectation from our students. The only expectation from our students is that they learn, that they grow, and that during that valuable time in which we spend with each other, that we both walk away better, more enlightened, more enriched, because we added value to each others lives. That the experience was meaningful, joyful, and fulfilling.

The person we should have the highest expectations of; ourselves.

The person we should consistently check, recheck, and evaluate; ourselves.

The person who is (literally) creating neural pathways of cognitive, emotional, and psychological growth in our children, through a safe and nurturing framework (classroom experience), where the brains of the next generation are being built; us

We, the Teachers, are Brain Builders

And in building these brains, we are creating the emotional, psychological, and cognitive framework of our society, and of our world.

This is not work that should be left to the idle hand, to the uninspired, or to the uncaring. This is not the work of someone who “likes summer off”. This is a labor of love. A selfless love.

And that is why Teachers should make 90,000 a year; because you wouldn’t let your child’s leg be operated on, by someone who has not devoted their life to serving others and was compensated adequately for their labor.

Someone who was able to live free of economic hardship, unburdened, and was thus able to provide the best care possible.

Why should your child’s heart, mind, and soul, be any cheaper?

Learning Is An Organic Experience – Episode 022

Learning Is An Organic Experience – Episode 022

When you travel to a new place, it always “feels” as if your voyage, your travel, takes a very long time.  Why?

Since you are traveling to a new destination, one that you have never been before, you are observing everything around you. Your senses are hightened, and because of your awareness of this new place, your brain is trying to retain as much information as possible.

Your brain is now working overtime; it is absorbing massive amounts of new information

This new information has to be reorganized in a way that makes sense to us, and this takes time

So our feeling, our PERCEPTION of time is thrown off, not because time has changed, but because of our EXPERIENCE of our new surroundings causes our brains to process new information SLOWER… which causes us to experience our newness in a SLOWER, more detailed, way.

This is why when you travel to a new destination, it feels like it is taking LONGER

This is why you remember so much about the first time you met someone of significance and importance to you

This is why accidents and traumatic events leave such vivid memories; because your sense and your brain are ACTIVELY recording and retaining as much information as possible.

 

And this is also why, the return drive or flight home seems so quick; because your brain remembers everything going back. It doesn’t spend as much time trying to observe because it has already seen, so in order to be more efficient, it ignores or allows the familiar to not be retained

This is why, people whom you see on a regular basis, you might tend to overlook.

But what does this mean for the classroom

 

It means that learning, is an organic experience.

 

It means that learning, happens.

 

It is a part of being a human being, it is part of the human experience. We are wired to learn, to observe, or retain information, to process our surroundings and to process new experiences fully.

 

So is learning truly is an organic experience; then why do so many of our students have so many problems learning? Why is it that you have to repeat yourself sometimes over and over again, or why is it that some subjects seem completley out of reach.

 

Barring medical conditions, or a diagnosis that specifically states that one of your students will have some difficulty, if the learning is not happening, it is because the conditions, the ENVIRONMENT is not condusive towards allowing the learning to happen.

 

What could affect this learning environment?

 

  • Biology: maslow hierarcy, safety, food, shelter, love
  • External forces: societal pressures (peer pressure, friends) and parental stressors.

 

As the teacher in the classroom, it is up to us to create an environemnt in which the organic learning experience HAPPENS as it should.

 

If we believe that learnign happens naturally, organically, then that means that we need to provide the appropriate conditions for this natrual even to happen.

 

In our classrooms we need to provide: Agency, Safety, Care

      • agency
        • “I will do…”
      • safety
        • “I can do…”
      • care
        • “I can and will do for myself”
          • This comes from an emotionally and psychologically supportive teacher
          • This is not BS; but rather engrained and deeply rooted in collaborating with your students.
        • And if very effective
        • “I can and will do for myself and others…”

If YOU can create this environment through KINDNESS… then your students will develop the courage to be the best version of themselves… because someone important in their lives, gave them a gift of a special and sacred place, where they could be the best version of themselves.

Courage Through Kindness

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.

🙂

A Sense Of Gratitude – Episode 019

A Sense Of Gratitude – Episode 019

A Sense of Gratitude – Episode 019

the year winds or has wound down for some of you, it’s important that we reflect back on the year, but at the same time as most of us are wrapping up our semester and wrapping up everything we have accomplished, it’s important that we have sense of gratitude:

What is gratitude? Google definition – the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
“she expressed her gratitude to the committee for their support”

So I wanted to read a quote that truly sums up a perspective that helps put the school year into perspective

Let’s Unpack the quote:

Gratitude makes sense of our past
– When you look at your past with a sense of gratitude, it helps you understand that you made it! All those times when you didn’t think you would make it, well you did!
– First year teaching, you made it!
– Hindsight is 20/20, so everything that makes us who we are, The good and the bad, is wrapped up in our past. We should be grateful for that because it is us

Brings peace for today
– We should find comfort in who we are.
– Again, there are several times through the day when, in the hectic nature to the day, we forget about the fact that we did it! We survived! We made it and no matter where we find ourselves, we should have some peace, because no matter how bad it was, we survived things that we didn’t think we would

Creates a vision for tomorrow
– Self awareness is critical to our future
– Self awareness is a accepting the mud of past, today, for a clearer tomorrow
– It is imperative that we understand who we are today, in order for us to be able to plan and visualize our future
– It’s difficult for us to plan for our future, without having a firm grip on our present, and a clear understanding of our future

Why is this so important for a teacher?
– We are modeling behavior that we want our kids who see and underatnd
– The more we understand ourselves, the clearer we are about our intentions
– And the clearer we are about our actions, the more precise we preform
– And we model this behavior, our students pick up on this, and they then can be successful

We need to be the kind do person/students we want to see in the classroom

As the adult in the room, it is important that we inspire our students to be the best that they can be… with gratitude.

We have the opportunity to turn a child’s life around, to truly make a difference in the world of some of our kids, let’s be grateful for this opportunity…. For the opportunity to bring hope to our students, by being the kind of people they aspire to be

And make sure that every day
Every lesson…
Every student…
You seal it up with a smile 🙂