Tag: Education

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.
Interview with Hannah from Syllabiblog.com – Episode 038

Interview with Hannah from Syllabiblog.com – Episode 038

I had an AMAZING interview with Hannah from Syllabiblog

In addition to her full time position as a teacher who teachers future teachers on HOW to teach; she maintains her blog and a highly active Instagram Account where she posts about a modern day educators life.

This interview is a breath of fresh air, as Hannah openly discusses the personal and professional issues she dealt with as a first year teacher (trust me, its not what you think). She dives into what motivates her to lead others into our profession, and why self care is so important.

No matter where you are in your teaching career, this interview is a MUST! There are so many take aways to unpack, I highly encourage you to take a listen! Listed below are some great quotes:

“I think a big part of my job is setting an example of what I hope our future teachers should be like”

On what are some important things to tell your students…

“Tell your kids, Yeah I made a Mistake! Its fine.”

When it comes to how she started out teaching… she didn’t (at first) want to be a teacher!

“Oh God No! I didn’t want to do that at all, but that’s ok!”

On her teaching now…

“I just sit there and I think, “I get to do this everyday”. What a blessing!”

 

Make sure to follow her on Instagram and keep up with her posts on her website and blog!

 

 

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.

 

The U niverse – Episode 035

The U niverse – Episode 035

A new school year is a new beginning; teaching is one of the few professions where you not only get to start a new, but you also get better the longer you practice.

It is a calling that refines you through its process.

This weeks podcast touches on that process; the process that went into creating the moment where you meet your students, and your students meet you.

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?

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”