Tag: fear in education

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.

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.

Ep 26: The Conversation – Part 1

Ep 26: The Conversation – Part 1

The role of the classroom, and school, has changed dramatically in our society.

What is the NEW role of the classroom, and the school, in our NEW reality, and in the future?

Before information was so freely accessible, the school house was one of the very few places one could have access to information (someone had to teach you to read before you could access the knowledge in books!). Information was power; and access to information was limited.

Those days are gone.

With the swipe of a finger, our students have access to every single piece of information that we teach in the classroom. The knowledge we wish to share with them is free and accessible.

The school and the classroom as places of learning are irrelevant. Those days are over.

Safety is of the utmost importance when it comes to students. And the political debate over what constitutes safety continues… But has anyone cared to ask what makes our students safe? What does a “safe” school mean for them?

A safe school, for them, means that they are receiving messages of AGENCY, SAFETY, AND CARE

AGENCY – “I WILL DO”  When your students feel supported, they can achieve anything.

SAFETY – “I CAN DO” This isn’t just shutting the door and armored guards. Do our students feel safe to be themselves? Do our students feel safe to raise their hands in class?

CARE – “I CAN DO AND WILL DO FOR MYSELF” Do our students feel loved? Do they feel cared for and looked after? Every child deserves to be loved.

THIS is the NEW role of the classroom, of school as a system. School no longer is a place of learning, it is now a place of GROWING. A place where teachers and administrators focus on the person FIRST and all of the students receive messages of AGENCY, SAFETY, AND CARE.

Our schools are more important than ever, and their importance will continue to rise. WE must ensure that our students are loved, supported, and feel safe to be the best version of themselves that they can be. 50 million children go through the public education system every year; students of diverse backgrounds who come together to grow.

When our children grow together and are supported and loved; we all win. The education system is a place where the emotional and psychological infrastructure of our society is built.

Let’s grow.


(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?

The Story of 17 x 24 – Episode 014

The Story of 17 x 24 – Episode 014

Clear your mind….

I want to take you back about 60 or so years, back to the early 1950’s in rural West Texas. Take you to a warm hot day in August; dry mountain air in a small one horse town. Exactly the kind of town you would imagine when you think of a one horse town in your mind. These types of towns continue to exist, they are full of tight knit communities where people know each other not on superficial level, but because they live life together. Most of these rural agricultural towns are at the mercy of weather patterns, supply and demand from large cities which to many seem foreign and threatening. Their shared experiences, both high and low, contribute to a combined and agreed upon awareness and understanding that defines their world view.

Now imagine in our one horse town there existed a middle school, attended by the boys and girls of the town, who are all growing up together, all have the same familiar chores, and responsibilities at home. It would be entirely possible that the teachers in this particular school would be some of, if not the only, college educated people in this small community.

Many of the children in the school are attending at a cost. In the case of middle school children, they are at an age where they are mentally able to grasp responsibility and the importance of hard work. Not only that, but the cost of attending he school, will at some point be recouped by the education and knowledge that they are gaining at the school. In essence, it’s a trade off that many rural parents are hoping will pay off for them, when their children return to the farm, and continue in its operation, maybe even bringing their newly acquired knowledge in implementing it to make the farm more efficient and profitable.

And what if you found a love for numbers. What if you found a love for numbers, and calculating. What if you would help your mother in her country kitchen by making sure her measurements were accurate and were more mesmerized by the measuring cups than the texture of the batter. What if you had a secret desire, hidden in your Heart, growing with your experience, to escape your rural confines; not in an effort to run away, but towards the coziness of a university campus, where bright educated minds can finally answer questions about life and the universe that you are too afraid to ask. Not because of some fear of rejection, but because you know that your physical geography limits your access to these special intellectual people. People who you know in your heart you would get along with, and could spend hours and hours listening to, because their thoughts would be so fascinating and amazing. And so you dream of knowing these answers, dream of finding yourself in a place that’s mentally stimulating and can offer you the answers to the questions that you wish you had.

Your access to this information is due to forces out of your control, so what you end up doing is settling in your mind for the information you have access to at your school. Understanding that at some point you might be able to arrive at a university, having confidence in your abilities and in your developing skills.

And on the first day of school, as a middle schooler, you enter your Algebra class eager to learn, ready to grow, understanding that your mind will be challenged and your want to learn will be fulfilled. You sit nervously in your chair, not only because it’s the first time you will meet your teacher but your also nervously anxious about seeing your friends, about any new kids that might have shown up, which in a very small town is a very big deal. So your anxious, your nervous, your excited…. Truly eager to learn because you feel that your old enough to get to the “real” education you’ve been waiting for. No more kid stuff.. your older, your wiser, and your ready. Your ready to learn and to grow.

Your teacher, a male, walks into your classroom. He looks knowledgeable. He looks and sounds wise and serious. He lays the scope of the land, and it’s all word and no play. He’s serious about what he’s teaching and he’s serious about his methods and his discipline plan. While the other kids might be dreading this kind of teacher, secretly, it’s a comfort to you. It’s a comfort to you because maybe this is the class where the boys won’t cause any more distrCtions. Maybe this will be the class where your really going to get all of the answers. There’s a comfort in his disciplinarian attitude, which you respect.

Day one, day two, day three goes past, and while there are some distractions, your chugging along, interested, fascinated, paying attention to the lesson (even if it is Review) but your going along with it. And it’s wonderful because your more confident in your abilities, your proud of yourself for knowing what you know, and not asking for help. Day four comes and your eager to prove yourself on the quiz he announced two days prior. Desk cleared, sharpened pencil in your hand, your ready to go. Your teachers lack of empathy and disciplined affect don’t faze you so much, not because it’s not intimidating, but because life is hard; your family has taught you that well. His scowled face, which never smiles, doesn’t affect you so much, so there’s no reason for you not to smile at him when he walks up to your desk and hands you your Quiz, straight faced.

It doesn’t seem appropriate for you to smile, even though your bursting at the seams because you know you will get a 100 on this quiz. So as you hold back your smile, you also can’t, hold back your smile. You finally make eye contact with him; he pauses in front of you, his face unresponsive. Then, as he places the quiz on your desk, he says in a calm and controlled tone,

”I’m not sure why you’re trying so hard, your going to end up pregnant in a kitchen regardless”

Steady, deep, and methodical boot sounds fill the silence left behind.

“It’s a waste of time to teach a girl anything” “it’s a waste of my time to invest in any girl” “they should keep girls out of school, so we can focus on more serious items”

This story is still happening today. We are not immune to the ideas of others. That is a 2×2 situation that we are all subject to. Let me explain….

When we are children the idea of counting to 10 seems extremely difficult. But as time passes or abilities increased to the point where we can count to 100. And then at some point we can go beyond that and understand multiplication and understand the vision and at some point we can calculate 2×2. This becomes almost 2nd nature to us because we learn it so early in our development and it becomes such a common sense equation that at some point it is just a known fact about the world. We simply understand this to be true and relying on it; we can regurgitate the fact in a second. In fact there might of been a point in time where you either made fun of someone for forgetting this fact or you were the subject of someone making fun of you for not knowing this fact. Whatever the case maybe we take this as fact we absorb it and it becomes easily accessible something quick to bring up that is useful information for us. This not only happens with facts but it also happens with people and our perceptions of people and the world around us.

Thinking, Fast and Slow is a best-selling book published in 2011 by Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics laureate Daniel Kahneman

In the book’s first section, Kahneman describes two different ways the brain forms thoughts:

System 1: Fast, automatic, frequent, emotional, stereotypic, subconscious. Examples (in order of complexity) of things system 1 can do:
* see that an object is at a greater distance than another
* localize the source of a specific sound
* solve 2+2=?
* read a text on a billboard
* drive a car on an empty road

System 2: Slow, effortful, infrequent, logical, calculating, conscious. Examples of things system 2 can do:
* point your attention towards someone at a loud party
* look out for the woman with the grey hair
* dig into your memory to recognize a sound
* determine the appropriateness of a behavior in a social setting
* give someone your phone number
* park into a tight parking space
* determine the price/quality ratio of two washing machines

The System 1 vs. System 2 debate dives into the reasoning or lack thereof for human decision making.

Overconfidence is a major issue.

Kahneman introduces the concept he labels “What You See Is All There Is” (WYSIATI). This theory states that when the mind makes decisions, it deals primarily with Known Knowns, phenomena it has already observed.

In the case of the teacher who already made up in his mind that we were not going to do anything productive with our lives with the knowledge we had of math. (*And I do want to add that this is not in anyway shape or form to say that women who choose to have that lifestyle are in any way less than other people because raising children and maintaining A positive home life is extremely important and it’s a very tough job and I praise women that make that decision. But there is a big difference between consciously making that decision and having someone else’s opinions of you dictate that decision for you or limit your thinking to believing that all you can do or all you’re capable of doing is that.)

Reasoning rarely considers Known Unknowns, phenomena that it knows to be relevant but about which it has no information. Unknown unknowns in this situation would be our interest in math, our desire to succeed. The teacher our eagerness and showed an awareness of the fact that we were putting in our efforts but he didn’t know how or where that came from. He didn’t even care to know where that drive was coming from and no information was looked for by him in order for him to figure out if this was a passion or if he was in the interest of ours doesn’t even matter to him. He was aware of this but never took the time to probe further.

Finally some people’s reasoning appears oblivious to the possibility of Unknown Unknowns; unknown phenomena of unknown relevance.
He explains that humans fail to take into account complexity and that their understanding of the world consists of a small and necessarily un-representative set of observations. Furthermore, the mind generally does not account for the role of chance and therefore falsely assumes that a future event will mirror a past event.

Teachers do this all the time. We will consistently without fail put that annoying kid in the corner because we know exactly how he’s going to act we don’t want to put up with that we don’t want to deal with it we don’t want to mess with that and that kid is going to go there. That teacher knew based on his observations that we were going to end up pregnant and in the kitchen that in our lives we were not going to be anything more than a set of expectations that

What You See Is All There Is (WYSIATI)

What we see in our students as “bad”or unwanted or undesirable is really influenced by the limitations of their parents. Children are not poor; their parents are. Children are not badly behaved; that was taught and modeled. If we are to truly make a difference in the lives of our children, we need to stop seeing them as 2 x 2… and instead start seeing them as 17 x 24

You will stop to figure out 17 x 24
You will take the time to get that right
You will focus your energy and attention to solving that problem
You will pull in external resources to solve that
You will work hard to get that right
You will own that… understand it, maybe even re read it
You will not simply ignore that equation if it comes across your path.

And you shouldn’t… because you expect that from others….. you expect your assistant primpicals, your admin, your superiors to understand you. You expect your spouses and significant others to understand you. And you expect those people whom you have a deep vested interest in to take the time to underhand you because you are worthy of that time and effort and expense. Aren’t you?

Guess who else is worthy of that… every single child in your classroom…. Every single child in your classroom…. All of them….

Every child is 17 x 24… because so are you…


BE KIND…. so your students have the space to be COURAGEOUS!

And make sure every lesson, every interaction, eveything you do, is Sealed With Your Smile! 🙂

Why there are some days you go home defeated – Episode 009

Why there are some days you go home defeated – Episode 009

In all my years of teaching, there have been days where I have struggled getting through a class period. It is heartbreaking. Not only that, it leaves you feeling less than and like there is no hope for you. It makes you question your sanity, your profession, your livelihood. These moments are the reason why so many teachers leave the profession. At a cost of $2.2 BILLION dollars a year, teacher attrition is a serious issue that affects every school district.
Worse of all is the overwheling feeling that you can’t leave because of the KIDS! In your heart you know that it will be the KIDS that will feel it the most and who you will let down. Underneath it all, you KNOW that they need you.
You understand that they need you, so you go to bed, thinking that tomorrow will be a better day. Tomorrow wont be so horrible. Tomorrow you won’t feel so alone. Tomorrow you won’t feel like your administration thinks your an idiot or incompetent.
What is the undercurrent in education that causes so many issues – FEAR
Your own fear… limits you and prevents you from trying new things. Your afraid of rejection, of the unknown, and (in some cases) of the STUDENTS themselves!
Administration is afraid of what you are doing. They are afraid of you not meeting expectations and of your inability to comply. They are afraid of rogue teachers, of lawsuits, and of backlash. Admin (in some cases) won’t let you unleash your creative potential because of fear.
Students walk into the building full of fear! Fearful of the classroom because certain subjects are overwhelming and frustrating. Afraid of bullying, not fitting in, acceptance, and your normal childhood / adolescent fears.
Parents fear schools because of news reports full of allegations and school violence. They are reluctant to drop off their children and (as good responsible parents should).
Society and the media perpetuate a narravite about education as a blackhole from which we cannot recover from.
One of the FIRST steps to fix this dilemma is to speak about and identify the fear before we can replace it. Once we acknowledge the fear we can see it clearer and we can deal with it.
Once you acknowledge the fear, there are two things you can do to combat this fear, making sure your language, actions, and thoughts are aligned. This will make your efforts more impactful and productive
1) Treat the classroom like a sacred space. A holy, special, and safe space. Protect your classroom as much as you can. Insulate it from toxic thinking, language and actions. You can do this by making sure you classroom is full of communication.
2) What should you be communictating? Kindness. If you communicate kindness, you remove the fear that festers in your classroom. Kindness removes fear and can give your students a sturdy framework from which to learn from. It will give them a sense of security and safety. Kindness develops trust in you as a leader and as a caregiver. It alleviates stress. It allows your students to find the courage you need them to have to learn. Courageous students will learn, grow, and prosper.
Develop courage through kindness… and seal every lesson, every class period, every interaction… with your smile 🙂