Tag: Seal It With a smile

Fail Better – Episode 042

Fail Better – Episode 042

I have a hard time using the word fail. It’s not my favorite word to use and I am convinced that the way you speak affects the way you think and your actions.

Therefore it’s a word that I avoid using in my classroom and in my personal life.  Unfortunately, everyone I know loves to use the word fail.

In my classroom my students constantly talk about failing classes, epic fails; fail, fail.  The word itself has taken a life of its own. There’s not a day that goes by in my classroom, where we are either in the middle of an interactive laboratory or are reviewing content, where a student risks embarrassment, goes out on a limb and with nervous anticipation says what they believe is the right answer; only to get it wrong.

My natural instinct is to look them straight in the eye, smile, and tell them how that’s a really good answer, and how it was very close to the real answer and please let me explain what the real answer is.  No matter how big my smile can be, no matter how wonderful I can project the tone of my voice, inevitably, somebody says fail. It may not be the word itself; at some point the sense of failure lingers inside the room.

I feel that my attempts at combating failure, has failed. I have failed to stop failure from occurring in my classroom. It is without a doubt a blemish in my career and in my heart.

As a child, my mother always believed in me. My mother, with her 40-year-old child, continues to tell me how much she believes in me. She is without a doubt one of my biggest supporters.  Whether it was dressing up as Frosty the Snowman in fourth grade trying to remember my steps and lines, or as the president of my HOSA club who forgot to order the pizzas for our Friday school fundraiser (and had to apologize to every single person in our school for not having any pizza), she continues to hold her ground, and continues to believe in me

That believe in me has carried me over in some very dark times, both professionally and personally. I value her words more and more each day as they continue to fuel me and inspired me to become a better version of myself today than I was yesterday.

Which is why as much as I hate to accept failure, I must accept it.  As much as I despise the word and how it feels when those consonants and vowels come out of my mouth, I must except the fact that we live in a society the points out highlights and emphasizes failure.

I must sadly accept the fact, that I failed to remove failure from the language of my classroom.

Here’s what I can do…

I can fail better

You see, there is a sycophantic morose obsession in our society when it comes to failure.  People are almost excited when someone that seems at the top of their game, fails. It’s been said that when we hold people up to a pedestal, like the way we hold our heroes, we hold them to a much higher standard than we hold ourselves.

And we love to see them fall…

It means they were human…

After all…

The classroom is no different; there is always going to be the “smart kids”, “the dumb kids”, “the poor kids”, “the rich kids”, etc…

Whatever category you, our students, or anybody else can fit them into, these categories were not designed by children, rather they are absorbed by children because of the adults around them.  Prejudice, stereotypes, and pre-conceived notions of people are all learned by children and taught by adults

And if failure is the great equalizer in the classroom; if failure somehow helps wipe the slate clean in the minds of our studnets, helping see everybody in the classroom as equals…

 

And if failure helps bring down those who we feel are above us, as our tabloids filled with scandal seem to point out, then let us try a new approach to failure

Let’s fail better

Let’s shoot for failure on a different level. Let us embrace failure as being epic; true epic failure. Failure so grand, so magnificent, so wonderful, because you went all in and tried your damnedest…

Failure on a level not seen before; the biggest and best failure you could possibly imagined. Failure that did not exist before, because you have taken a risk…

I’m not talking about your students; I’m talking about you…

You are the model of failure in your classroom; and when you are comfortable, you risk nothin.

And when you risk nothing, over time, you become risk averse.  You do not nurture the fail better mentality. Failing better means going all in; it means to try something new, change things, and become uncomfortable in order to see what works and what doesn’t.

And when you model that in the classroom and when your students see you trying and failing; failing better today than you did yesterday. That becomes a recipe; a nurturing environment. A place where your students, your seedlings, are planted in healthy fertilized ground with the emotional and psychological nutrition to grow into the people they are to become.

Your response and approach to your trials and tribulations; your smiles and positivity when you try something new; your willingness to take risks and go all in, makes for an incredible classroom experience, for your students, and for you.

It creates an experience where students can take risks and learn… not just the lesson… but about themselves.

THAT… is an education…

 

A Sense Of Gratitude (Volume II) – Episode 041

A Sense Of Gratitude (Volume II) – Episode 041

What does gratitude mean in education?

It starts with something that happened to my during my second year of teaching. If you survived the cut throat, desperation and hopelessness that is the first year of teaching (which is all about survival); then the second year is MAGIC! You are more engaged with who you are, what you are capable of doing, what the hell you are supposed to be doing, and how to best serve your students.

Relationships, for me, were something that I wanted to work on. I was comfortable in my classroom, I was comfortable walking the halls of my building and with others in my department. And it’s not to say that I had a major issue building relationships with my students, but rather, I knew there was a deeper more meaningful way to build my relationships with my students.

Depending on who you talk to, this is not common talk in the teachers lounge. Many teachers are out the door at 3:15pm along WITH the students. Many teachers can’t stand kids, and I’m embarrassed to admit that on several occasions, when teachers would talk badly about students, I didn’t speak up when I should have. You would be surprised by how many teachers don’t like kids, much less helping them, and even less wanting to build meaningful relationships with them. For many, the time we spend in the classroom is more than they bargained for.

I wasn’t quite sure how to do it, but I knew there was something else I could be doing. Something that involved more than superficial talk.

I felt stuck.

And then there was Joel.

My afternoons usually consisted of sweaty stinky football players and failing students coming after school to make up grades.  My afternoon tutorials were afternoons that smelled of desperation. Having one on one time with any student is fun, especially when I get to dive into molecular shapes, calculating grams per mol, or any other fun chemistry/science themes.  When Joel would come after school (because he needed to make up work, due to his family problems), it was different.

Joel and I would sit and talk about the cars his uncle and him were rebuilding and fixing up. After all the stinky kids went off, we would talk about his alcoholic father’s issues. About how grateful he felt for his uncle stepping in and playing a fatherly role, and for teaching him about auto body repairs; which he loved. It was great to see his eyes open wide and glisten whenever he talked about popping out doors, or mastering bondo. It was fun for me to just listen to him and to hear him get excited and passionate about doing something he saw himself doing for the rest of his life. His future was very clear to him.

One afternoon, Joel waited until the room cleared out to tell me some interesting news; he made $16,000 selling three cars he fixed. And he wanted my opinion as to what he should do with the money.

I was floored. Not only because of the fact that he saw me as someone who could counsel him in this regard, but because I understood that my relationship with him and my role was not defined by the title on my contract. I suggested that he open up a Roth IRA.

A week later, he thanked me, and told me how the bank manger wanted to shake his hand for making such a wise investment at such a young age.

Joel now has two shops and is doing fantastic.

 

The Friday before my very first day of school teaching, my principal spoke to the entire staff during a very hectic last Friday before the first day. With all of the teachers filling in the cramped cafeteria, legs nervously twitching, and after a monotonous and boring explanation of testing results from the year before, which being a new teacher, made no sense to me, my principal said some words that have haunted me ever since.

He thanked all of us for what we do, for what we will do during the school year. And he thanked us for breaking poverty cycles.

Whenever you find yourself this year, caught in a difficult situation with a student, remember something; you were chosen. You were chosen for that situation. You were chosen to rise above yourself and to transform and to express your fullest potential.

I could have easily told Joel to ask someone else, or to not have bothered with him at all, given him some work, and moved on. Instead, I was given the opportunity to impact someone’s life in a positive way, and I did. And his life will forever be impacted by the time and the energy invested.

And I will be forever transformed by the experience I was chosen for.

I am grateful for the opportunity, everyday, to make an impact.

I am humbled by the opportunity, everyday, to serve.

I carry with me, a sense of gratitude, that transforms me whenever I get the opportunity to express my fullest potential. And I do this by helping others express their fullest potential.

#oneword2019 = Gratitude

REST – Episode 040

REST – Episode 040

With the holiday season upon us, we finish one thing to only pick up another.

We go though everything that we need to in order to finish the year/semester off right, only to pick up all of the responsibilities required to complete during this holiday “break”.

In the melee of everything, what we should be focusing on, is rest.

We need to rest.

You need to rest.

I need to rest.

I respect you enough to not give you explicit instructions on HOW to rest, or what that rest must entail. Fact is, we all rest in various ways, and it’s up to you to figure out what brings you peace, what refills your empty cup, and what helps keep you in harmony.

It is a common misconception from those outside the educational sphere to think that the amount of time we have off more than compensates for our time.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

We don’t have jobs; we have a calling. A mission.

We do NOT exhange time for money; we GIVE time, energy, blood, sweat, tears, emotions, money, etc and we pour it into the lives of others. We GIVE far more than we receive. Which is what high performers do; we share in the spoils of that investment with the rest of society. And more importantly, our return on investment will always be unknown and beyond the walls of our classroom. And it will touch countless lives beyond the souls in our rooms.

This is why you need to rest.

Rest within yourself.

You cannot give from an empty cup; you cannot replenish that which cannot be renewed.

Renew yourself, refill your cup during your time off. Practice and model the self care that so many students do not practice, but desperately need.

I give you full permission to rest in the knowledge that you do not only deserve this time, you have earned it, and you need it, not only so that you can continue to give to others…

Most important of all; because you are you.

There’s no one else like you.

You are worthy.

You are enough.

rest.

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.

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

 

Ep 27: The Conversation – PART TWO

Ep 27: The Conversation – PART TWO

In part two of the conversation, we discuss our students and take a macroscopic snapshot of where they are and what they are going through.

They are facing different pressures than before, and because of that, our students have different needs

There is no sense in trying to judge the merits of these needs; it is more important to identify, adjust, and meet their needs as much as we can

At the end of the day, it is most important that we see each child, every student, as an opportunity.

An opportunity for growth.

 

 

 

Why I Need To Smile – Episode 017

Why I Need To Smile – Episode 017

Why I Need To Smile – Episode 017

It has occurred to me that I must explain my own personal WHY as to WHY it is important for ME to Seal It With A Smile.

Its important because this was not the norm for me growing up.

My father always carried a sullen angry face around… it was his default face. In fact, there are only a handful of times that I can remember when I saw him smile, or I heard him laugh.

And when I come home, after a day of giving all of myself to my students and my classroom, needless to say I feel completely spent. I have a tendency of expecting warm hugs and smiles greeeting me at my door, but that is not the case.

When it comes to a family; there’s usually a fire that needs to be out out, somewhere… And that fire usually occurs the second I walk into  the door… with my angry face 😠

How can I expect a positive outcome to any situation when my facial expression, the first thing that people see, is angry.

I need to Smile more… just like the rest of the world does as well.

There is another reason; we need to model appropriste behavior. We need to show our kids, our students, to be congruent;

Congruency = when your thoughts, language, and actions are in line and are in support of one another.

When you mean what you say, and say what you mean.

When you bring honor to your life; and to those whom you love.

When was the last time you learned from someone who had an angry face?

When was the last time you WANTED to learn from someone who looked mad?

Even if you need to “fake it” till you make it… Do it… because being an adult means taking your responsibilities seriously, and understanding how important it is for YOU to model the behavior you wish to see in the classroom.

If we want our students to step up to the plate, take on the challenges we place before them… we must do the same….

If we want our students to display outstanding behavior and discipline… we must do the same…

And if we want our students to have fun and smile… we must do the same… even on the days when we don’t feel like doing it…

Every day

Every interaction

Every lesson

Every student

Sealed… with your smile 😀