Tag: #emotionalfitness

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!

 

 

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.

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.
Emotional Fitness: Why I make friends with the roughest kid in class – Episode 030

Emotional Fitness: Why I make friends with the roughest kid in class – Episode 030

There is no doubt that the hardest part of teaching is the emotional labor we perform, day in and day out. That is, the lifting of our students spirits, keeping a straight face when they do something bad, even though it was really really funny. Doing our best to not get visibly angry and frustrated when our students misbehave. Understanding that everyone has a bad day, and doing our best to not punish our kids for pushing our buttons, knowing full well, that we may be the only person in their life who will hold their ground, and give them a safe boundary to live in.

This emotional labor will usually compliment the culture and mindset of our school and of our immediate peers. I teach at a Magnet Math, Science, and Technology high school with a population that runs very near 3,000 students. Even though we are a magnet school and we have various STEM related programs, we also teach students who are not in these programs and are taking on-level coursework. Often times I pick up clues from various teachers and students that these on-level students are not “worth their time” to invest energy in. The main reason being that these students will not go above and beyond what others expect from them. This is by no means the culture of our school.

The majority of our teachers make it their priority to see every child, no matter what their background or story, as their own; and to build affirming relationships with every student.

This is the meat of our profession.

The relationships that we build with out students, and with each other, makes this thing we call education, flow and function. And if we are to perform emotional labor, we must be aware of our emotional fitness. For teachers, we can define emotional fitness as:

The ability to understand our emotions in our classroom and engage our students with the most appropriate emotion at the moment.

I want to emphasize this very important point: Emotional fitness is not a reaction.

To respond to a negative situation is a reflex; which is not thoughtful and more instinctual. It is also not intuitive, nor is it evaluated thoroughly to make sure the negative situation is given the appropriate response. Reactions and reflexes work like that.

However, just like a muscle, our emotional fitness must be worked out consistently. And just like a muscle, our gains and strength come from resistance.

There are too many adults (teachers included) who easily dismiss children and students for a variety of reasons. Children are not always easy to understand, they do not listen, and many adults do not have the patience or the emotional fitness to understand them. The resistance to ignore and dismiss is a sign of your emotional fitness. Are you fit enough to put your own negative feelings and frustrations aside in order to help a student?

Sarcasm is used quite a bit in the classroom, but deploying sarcasm effectively also requires an affirming relationship. Mainly because the safety net of knowing that a sarcastic teacher really does care about his/her students makes the sarcastic hit seem not so rough. Without really knowing the receiver or thrower of a sarcastic comment, those comments can be difficult to catch and deal with.

Resistance then becomes the standard. But not a resistance TO someone else or their need, but rather a resistance to OUR OWN shortcomings and misgivings. You see, the truest test of your emotional fitness in the classroom is to continue to support the unsupportable student. To show kindness to the least kind. To not display anger to the angriest in your group. To show compassion and appropriate attention to those who would prefer to be hidden in plain sight. And to display unconditional love to those who for many, have already been deemed unlovable.

My emotional fitness is why I make friends with the roughest kids in my classroom; why I place an extra emphasis on making sure that these kids get the appropriate attention and affirmation that they deserve. Because resisting the urge to throw in the towel, to judge, and to prosecute a child who (more then likely) already has a difficult time is to be compassionate and kind is to say to the unloveable; you are worthy.

And it sends the message to the rest of my students. If I put this much energy into the “difficult” kid, then that means he will put that much energy into my own relationship with him (you). Which leads to feelings of safety, agency, and care. Which leads to a nurturing classroom environment.

We should never, ever, dismiss or ignore any of our students. We must always resist the impulse to throw in the towel. Even if it does mean we have to repeat ourselves 11 times, or bring extra pencils to give away to “those” kids, or tell that child for the 4th time to put away his phone, or stay that much longer after school to listen to what “that” child wanted to tell you. It is the emotional labor you put into your classroom, to make sure every single one knows they can, they will, and that they can and will do for themselves, that makes one emotionally fit.

Growth comes from resistance.

Model resistance for your students, and watch them grow.

And at the end of every lesson, every classroom, every experience…

Seal It With YOUR Smile

🙂