Tag Archives: blogging

101 Ways to Encourage Students

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100 blog posts

Whoopee!

Today marks my 100th blog post! 

I could lead a cheer, set off fireworks or send 100 helium balloons into the sky.  Writing one hundred posts is quite a commitment.  When I first began writing a blog I didn’t even know how to attach a picture.

But I have a passion for inspiring teachers to help students learn to live successfully.  I want teachers to understand the power they have to change a student’s life forever.  It is for these reasons that I’ve decided to write a post titled 101 Ways to Encourage Students.  I believe this is the best way to celebrate my 100th post.  I’m going to list 100 ideas for encouragement plus one extra idea which demonstrates my commitment to keep on blogging for teachers.

Tweak these suggestions to meet the needs of your own students, and most importantly implement these ideas in your classroom.  Print this page and refer to it often during the school year.  Make a commitment to try at least one idea each time you read through the list.  Here we go…

101 Ways to Encourage Students

  1. Brag about your students to others when the students can hear your comments.
  2. Tell them you were thinking about them over the weekend.  Be specific about what your thoughts were.  Students feel validated when they know you think about them outside school hours.
  3. Make eye contact.  Don’t just look over their heads or at a slide when you are teaching a class.  Make eye contact with individuals.
  4. When they have the courage to raise their hand to ask a question, reassure them with, “That’s a great question.”  Then explain the answer fully and patiently until you are certain they understand.
  5. Tell a student about something the two of you have in common.
  6. Talk about a failure you have faced.  Students can accept their own setbacks better if they know adults who they admire have also faced failures.
  7. Joke with them.  Never joke about them.  Assess their sense of humor and then have fun with them.
  8. When you see them in the hall, smile at them and speak.  Don’t just limit this to your own students.  Often we can encourage a student in our school who is not assigned to us by developing a relationship with them just passing in the hallways.
  9. Tell their parents how much you admire their kid.  Be specific.  These comments always get back to and encourage the student.
  10. If you see a student reading a book you’ve also read, comment on what they are reading.
  11. Never belittle or use put downs with any student.  All students judge teachers by the way they treat the most disenfranchised kid in the class.
  12. Look for ways to build a rapport with every student.  Is It music, movies, a favorite TV show, sports or video games?  How can you connect with each kid by talking about something they enjoy?
  13. Tell them about something great you heard someone else say about them.
  14. Admire a talent that they have.  Tell them you wish you could draw or ______ like they do.
  15. Make fun of yourself.  Let them see you vulnerable and laughing at yourself.  It will make them feel like they don’t have to be perfect either.
  16. Praise progress.  Don’t wait for and insist on perfection before you praise.
  17. Smile when they least expect it.
  18. Teach students how to study successful people.  Biographies, documentaries, DVDs, and online resources put successful people within reach for our students.  Success breeds success.
  19. Do anything it takes to defuse a tense situation.  Kids goof up.  Always work to de-escalate a mistake.  Never, never escalate a negative situation.
  20. Make them feel like you are the teacher who is on their side.  You don’t have to condone unacceptable behavior to make the student still feel like you are on their side.
  21. Be available for chit-chat.  If you are approachable, students will seek you out.  Be available before school, after school, during break times.
  22. Put their work on display.
  23. Focus on their strengths.  We all are too aware of our weaknesses.  Students know clearly what their deficits are.  They need to be reminded of their talents.
  24. Step up!  Intervene EVERY time you see a student being teased or bullied.  NEVER allow it to continue no matter whose student they are.
  25. Teach with enthusiasm.  If you aren’t excited about your class, they won’t be either.  (Yawn).
  26. Look for students who are not easily accepted by their peers.  Befriend them.  When other students see that you enjoy the ones they don’t engage, it will influence their opinion.
  27. Go to your students’ extra curricular functions.  Let them know you came to watch them. It will matter more than you will ever imagine.
  28. Who is your greatest challenge in the class?  Catch them doing something right and compliment them on it.  Smile at them when they glance your way.
  29. Put a positive quote on the board and discuss it each day.  Let them give examples of how they see that quote illustrated in their lives.
  30. Never, never act shocked when they share a problem from their lives.  They’ll never approach you again if you over react.  Listen, empathize and problem solve, but don’t act shocked.
  31. Ask a student for help.  Students love helping a teacher.  My high school students taught me most of what I know about technology.  As a side benefit, they felt valued. “I taught the teacher something.  Yeah.”
  32. Watch for teachable moments and try to capture them. We all learn best when we want to learn a particular skill.  Not every learning possibility can be scheduled or planned ahead of time.
  33. Bring in your favorite song.  Play it and explain what you like about it.  Invite them to share theirs. (Caution: Make them aware that songs must comply with school standards).
  34. Every once in a while bring your students a treat.  Try to make it unexpected and then they will appreciate it.
  35. Supply small items you see that some students need:  paper, pencils, poster board, pens, etc.  Most will really appreciate this.  This says “I care about your success.”
  36. Tell them about something funny or stupid you did when you were a kid.
  37. Finish this sentence for any one of them.  “You know what I admire about you?  I admire…..”
  38. Never allow students to gossip or complain about a student who isn’t there.  Shut it down.  They will notice.  They’ll know that you “have their back” when they aren’t around.
  39. Find something positive about every effort a student makes.  You can address improvements needed only after first recognizing strengths. Criticism without any praise = discouragement.
  40. Orally share inspiring stories with your students.  Yes, you CAN read to high school students.
  41. Tell them about a time you were afraid to try something and how you gathered the courage to do it.  It will help them be courageous.
  42. Put a compliment in writing and give it to them.  Written compliments have 10 times the power of spoken compliments.  They can keep them and read them whenever they feel discouraged.
  43. Stop at their desk and sit down next to them.  Comment on their work or just ask about something going on in their lives.  This will build a positive relationship even if issues arise later.
  44. Use learning games in your classroom.  When learning is fun a positive relationship builds between students and their teacher.  This encourages students to learn.
  45. Notice a talent the student has and ask them to share that talent with the class.
  46. Do everything you can to build friendships inside your classroom.  Assign partners who are welcoming and encouraging to others.
  47. Be an advisor for a club or start a club.  I once started a friendship club between my Teacher Academy kids and the students with special needs in our high school.  Many new friendships were formed.
  48. When you read an article about a student in the newspaper, bring it in and post it in your classroom.  Buy an extra paper and give a copy to them.
  49. If you have someone in your room who has artistic skills, hang one of their paintings, pictures or posters in your classroom.
  50. I’ve often complimented a student on their writing skills telling them I want an autographed copy of their first book when they become an author.  I know those books will be on my shelves someday.
  51. Call a parent to brag about something their child did in the classroom or around the school.
  52. Ask a student to speak in front of a group about one of their experiences or accomplishments.
  53. Ask a student to organize an event.  This lets them know you notice their organizational skills and trust their abilities.
  54. Notice kindnesses you see in your classroom.  Compliment the student performing the kindness privately or in front of others.  What is recognized expands.
  55. Technology can greatly enhance learning.  However, don’t update your website while ignoring the child standing next to you waiting for help.  You don’t like it when they text their friends while you are teaching.  Being attentive works both ways.
  56. Teach students to surround themselves with their own encouragers.  This is a skill they will need for life.
  57. By sharing a problem from your past you will let your students know that you have been through tough times.  They will be more apt to seek you out for encouragement when they have tough times.  Be certain to walk the lines of professionalism on this one.
  58. Recognize birthdays, yes even in high school.  I knew a teacher who kept a box of candy bars and soda pop for students with birthdays.
  59. Visualize future successes for your students and describe those visualizations to them.  Students often picture their own successes first through the eyes of someone they admire.
  60. Ask yourself the “magic question”.   “What is one thing I can do today to encourage success for this student?”  Pick a challenging, quiet or struggling student.  Ask yourself that question and act on it.
  61. Put an index card on your desk.  Give yourself a mark every time you smile at the student who is the biggest challenge in the class.  No one has to know the reason for the card.  How many points can you earn in a day?  Challenge yourself.
  62. Listen when a student speaks.  Really listen.  Listen for clues beneath the surface.  What are they really saying?
  63. Next time you see a student ask them about something they shared with you previously.
  64. Encourage a student to share their dreams with you.  Listen carefully.  Become their dream partner as you encourage them to take the steps toward their dreams.
  65. Find a positive mentor for a student in the field of their interest.
  66. Always talk positively about a student to other professionals.  I believe students sense when you’ve “got their back.”  If you hear another student or adult say something negative about a student, interject a positive comment.  Students feel it.
  67. Be consistently upbeat.  When students have to tiptoe around a teacher’s fluctuating moods, it can be very discouraging for them.  A teacher should always be the adult in the classroom.
  68. Say “I care about you.”  Sometimes say it verbally.  Sometimes say it with your actions.
  69. Write encouraging comments on their papers.  In my job I had to evaluate hundreds of essays.  Sometimes when they would write something particularly well, I would write, “Wow! I wish I had written this!”
  70. Explain to your students the power of focus.  Students can accomplish more if they zero in on their most important goal.
  71. In the classroom, call on everyone to speak.  Don’t just call on those who you know have the correct answer to keep the lesson moving swiftly.
  72. Think of dozens of ways to say “I believe in you.”  You can demonstrate your belief in a student by giving them a responsibility.  They will want to rise to the level of your belief.
  73. Laugh together.  Nothing builds a positive rapport, better than shared laughter.
  74. Give your student a “do over.”  Whether it’s a bad choice they’ve made or an assignment they’ve bombed, everyone deserves a do over once in a while.
  75. Treat every student as you would want another teacher to treat your own child. Pretend there is a little bird in the room watching you.  In these days of electronic devices, there may be.
  76. Give choices in your assignments so that every student has a chance to shine using their strengths.  Students learn material in many different ways.  Choices encourage them.
  77. Teach your students the power of the word “yet.”  I’m not good at math yet.  I can’t write well yet.  When you hear them announce something they can’t do, YOU put the word yet at the end of their sentence.
  78. Be a hope vendor.  Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space at the same time.  Great teachers sell hope everyday.  How can you sell hope today?
  79. Make students aware of their negative self talk.  Have them write down what they say to themselves.  Then show them how to turn those thoughts around…on purpose.
  80. Use uplifting music in your classroom.  The right music can enhance any lesson.
  81. Be relentless about looking for ways for students to shine,  Look for awards, competitions, recognitions, scholarships, and contests.  I gave my own token awards.  It is the recognition itself that encourages.
  82. Students spell the word “love” this way… T-I-M-E.  If you are always in a hurry or reading emails on your computer, you aren’t giving them the time to connect with you.  They want your time and that includes eye contact.
  83. Tell them a true story that applies to any lesson you are teaching.  People connect by sharing a story.  A story lives inside someone longer than any worksheet.
  84. Use quiet words.  Quiet words sink in.  Yelling shuts a student down.  In fact shouting shuts the whole class down. Quiet words encourage a student and helps him breakthrough to understanding.
  85. Share your goals with students.  Let them know when you have taken a step toward your goal. Share it.  It will inspire them to work toward their goals.
  86. Walk your talk.  Be a role model.  Don’t expect them to accomplish what you won’t expect of yourself.
  87. Try to add value to each student’s life.  Students need us in very different ways.  Know them well enough that you understand what they need most from you.  Then deliver.
  88. Do whatever it takes to build a community within your classroom.  If one student is estranged, you don’t yet have a community. Keep working at it.
  89. Go the extra mile to make a memory in your classroom.  Memories last a lifetime and inspire students for years.  Some will happen spontaneously.  Others need some forethought.  Use props, activities, guest speakers, projects, and field trips to build special memories.
  90. Be careful what you “see.”  If you believe a kid is a loser, he will know it and live up to that.  Find any strength you see and focus on that.  How could that one strength lead to some future success?
  91. Teach students how to mentally replay the successes they’ve had in life.  Human nature has them replaying their failures.  Show them how to interrupt and replace those negative memories with positive ones.
  92. Know your students well enough to choose partners carefully.  When pairing students for a project put diplomatic and willing encouragers with someone who may need assistance.  But insist on the contributions of all members of the group.  No slackers.
  93. Demonstrate diplomacy in everything you do.  When you teach students diplomacy you set them up for success in life.
  94. Make the most of moments.  Teachers don’t have much time; so try to make moments matter.  A student once came to me and told me at length about how much it meant to her when I passed her in the hallway and said, “Hey cutie!”  Two words.  One moment.  Huge impact.
  95. Give a student “wait time.”  When you call on them for a response, don’t expect them to answer immediately.  When you give them “wait time” it really says, “I know you can do this.”
  96. Ask a student if you can keep a paper or project that they have done well, to show to your students the following year.
  97. Teach students to build an encouragement folder or box.  Have them gather quotes, poems or stories that inspire them.  Have them keep positive notes or important keepsakes from others in this box.  Share items that have encouraged you.
  98. When a student explodes within the classroom, defuse the situation by staying calm. Talk to him later when emotions subside.  Don’t attack back.  Try this opener.  “Tell me what’s going on.”
  99. Make your classroom so safe that students are willing to push outside their comfort zone in your room.
  100. Join your students in an assignment. When I give a writing prompt, I frequently will write my thoughts as the students are writing.  If asked, I’ll share what I wrote.  Students will value your assignments more because you’ve given them importance.
  101. Teach for the “whatevers” in life.  Every day in every way. teach your students to handle future difficult situations.  Here is the message you must give them.  Whatever comes your way you can handle it. Your classroom discussions and activities must say to them, “I know that you are resilient enough.  You are creative enough.  You are intelligent enough.  You are valuable enough.  You are tenacious, worthy and strong enough to get through whatever life hands you.  Sometimes it won’t be easy but in this classroom I have given you the tools to handle whatever comes you way.”

TEACH...To Change Lives

TEACH…To Change Lives

Available autographed or in large quantities the author: dauna@cinci.rr.com

Also available at Amazon.com

Dauna Easely available for teacher keynote addresses or in-service meetings

dauna@cinci.rr.com

The Secret Dream

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Some Dreams We Share with the World

Thank a teacherFor as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to become a teacher.  This dream was conceived unintentionally by observing an enthusiastic third grade teacher named Mrs. Waggoner.  She didn’t prepare a lesson about careers.  She didn’t ask us to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up.  She simply taught with joy.

Looking back I realize that my parents’ philosophy of child rearing -had they chosen to write it down- would have read like this:  “Do your chores and then go play.”  I had no complaints about that style of parenting.  I did my chores and then ran outside to play until the lightning bugs appeared.  I loved being outdoors and enjoyed a large circle of neighborhood playmates.

But in third grade I discovered a teacher named Mrs. Waggoner.  She was unlike any other adult I had ever encountered.  What made her unique?  She actually enjoyed playing with children.  She would enter whatever game we had devised and laugh with us.  Noise didn’t bother her.  Messes didn’t annoy her.  Instead of telling us to simply sit down and draw a picture during those long winter indoor recesses, she would have us push back all the desks and she taught us how to square dance.  She’d holler out the square dance calls and dance with us, clapping as she skipped around the room.  I was mesmerized by her and studied her like she was some kind of a science experiment.

 teacher

Consequently it was when I was only eight that I decided I wanted to grow up and enter a profession in which I could find as much joy and fun as Mrs. Waggoner. I began to fashion child sized classrooms on the porch, or in the garage.  That dream of becoming a teacher I made public and I rushed toward that goal as though racing along a zipline.  By age twenty I was teaching third grade myself.  Thank you, Mrs. Waggoner for revealing a career path I would love for decades.

 The Secret Dream

writing

But I also had a secret dream.  Maybe you have one too.  I wanted to become a writer.  I can’t pinpoint when this dream was conceived within me.  It wasn’t as clear-cut as meeting Mrs. Waggoner.  I just knew I enjoyed writing stories for fun. I wrote stories for myself and sometimes shared them with my family.  As a teenager, I wrote a collection of very mediocre poems that I kept hidden away.   No one encouraged me in this dream.  In fact, I rarely revealed this interest to anyone.

Why?  Every time I wrote a story or an essay for an assignment I was given a grade of a B minus.  B minus people don’t excel.  B minus people need to look elsewhere to succeed.  So I kept this interest tucked away in a private place. This dream percolated on the back burner, just below the surface of public admission for many years.

Ironically, it was once again a teacher who finally gave me “permission” to allow my writing dream to begin to grow.  She wasn’t royalty, but her name was Miss Throne.  Really.

Miss Throne’s Threat

She was my freshman composition professor at Miami University.

She issued a threat on the first day of class.  She circumvented any effort at tact and told us that most of us would fail her class.   We glanced at each other stunned.  She pointed out that we weren’t in high school anymore.  While we may have been making an ‘A’ in high school English, that didn’t impress her one iota.  She was the Marine drill sergeant equivalent of a college English prof.

 I had never seen an A for my high school writing efforts and I felt my already sagging confidence plummet.  In fact she claimed that most of us would make an ‘F’ on our first writing assignment.  Worse.  All our writing would be done during class with the topic only provided on the day of the assignment. No opportunity to refine and improve would be granted.

It was a grim group of students who showed up for that first classroom writing assignment.  She didn’t smile nor did we.  She distributed our blank blue books and then chalked our essay title in giant letters on the blackboard.

I Am An Eccentric

Decades later I still remember that title and the fear. We wrote furiously until she ordered us to stop.   The next class day was even more sullen as, sure enough, she began to hand back those blue books.  I saw, F, F, D, D-, D- – .  I even spotted an F- !  She wrote those grades in HUGE red pencil on the covers of the booklets.  Public condemnation with no apologies.

What did my booklet say?  She didn’t even return it to me.  I said absolutely nothing.  I figured she had ripped it to shreds in frustration.  You could hear a fly sweat in that classroom.  Silently Miss Throne made a throne of the desk in the front of the room as she perched on top of it and stared at us.  No one said a word.

Then quietly she began to read to us orally.  My essay.  I slid down as far as possible in my seat.  It was several minutes before I realized with astonishment that she liked it.  I have never been more surprised or embarrassed by anything in my life…not even to this day.  My grade?  It was an A minus, minus.  Miss Throne adored minuses. But the grade was no longer of any importance.

That was the day that I realized with stunning clarity that taste in good writing is subjective.  That was the day that I knew that I would allow my writing dream to continue to percolate and grow.  That was the day that I internalized that one day I would have the courage to write and make my words public.  It didn’t happen quickly, but it did happen.  First I became a teacher.  But, now also, I had permission to write.

Teachers Touch Eternity

write

TEACH To Change Lives

Please understand that as a teacher myself, I do not approve of Miss Throne’s methods.  I don’t believe you get your best results from students through intimidation.  I tell this story to prove another point.  Miss Throne does not remember me.  She doesn’t remember my name.  She doesn’t remember that day.  But notice the power one teacher had in my life, in one hour of one day.  I no longer felt that I had to squelch my secret dream.  That one day gave me the courage to write my first book.  My third book Teach…To Change Lives will be available at Amazon.com soon.  And Miss Throne is in it.

Never give up on a secret dream too soon.

What I’ve Learned from Blogging

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What I learned from bloggingCelebrating My First 50 Blog Posts

The last blog post I wrote about Father’s Day was my 50th post!  This is quite a celebration for me.  Why?  I was dragged into blogging kicking and screaming. “No way!” I’d holler when people told me how much I’d enjoy it.

The only thing I knew about the word blog was that it rhymed with fog.  And I was OK with that.  I loved to write but techie stuff bamboozled my brain.  I wrote blogs for two months before I knew how to attach a picture.  I couldn’t figure out how to edit, tag, or link.  I just wrote.  When people talked about SEO I thought they were talking about the president of a corporation.  I just wrote.  When they talked about engaging, I thought they were talking about getting married.  Where was the diamond?  I wanted to know.

What Blogging Has Taught Me So Far

  • Blogging is like any other adventure or challenge.  Starting is the hardest part.  Once you have started you can figure out the rest of the stuff as you go.  Just write.  I used to blog about the things I didn’t know how to do.  “Help!” I’d say. I don’t know how to attach a picture.  Someone would email me and tell me how.  Some of my greatest encouragers even came to my house to show me how to do things.
  • The more I write, the more ideas I have for writing.  The longer I go without writing, the harder it is for me to come up with ideas.  Anytime an idea pops into my head now, I just capture it on a new post.  I may only have a title but I’ll save a draft until I’m ready to go on.
  • I discovered I’m better at writing humor than I ever knew.  A blog is a perfect place to write humor.
  • Brief writing is often better writing.
  • If you read blogs featured on Freshly Pressed, you’ll get better at blogging.  When I started I honestly had no idea what blogging was.  I faithfully looked over the blogs featured on Freshly Pressed.  It showed me how to improve.  One of my dreams is to be featured on that site.  A gal can dream.

  • People from all over the world read my blog.  Isn’t that a riot?  I don’t even really understand how they know I’m writing.  Like I say, some of the bigger mysteries of blogging elude me.  But I did discover when I post in the middle of the night, people from Scotland and the Netherlands are in the middle of the day.  One guy from the Netherlands commented on my blog.  I said, “I see you are up in the middle of the night like me.”  He said, “I’m in the Netherlands and it is the middle of the day.  Your post popped up on a readomatic.  I still don’t know what a readomatic is.  I just keep writing.
  • Ironically while writing this blog, bragging about my new skills, I’ve encountered many challenges.  For instance, it somehow automatically ‘published’ before I finished it.  ??  I don’t know why.  Perhaps I’ll figure out that mystery before I write my 75th blog.
  • I’ve learned that people who knew me well already knew I would enjoy blogging.  They kept suggesting it to me.  They were right.  I was wrong.  Bless the naggers in my life.  You know who you are.
  • Blogging is fun.  Take it from the Queen of Reluctance.  Don’t fight it.  Just write.

Confessions of a Blogging Fool

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Every instinct in me tells me not to reveal what I am about to reveal, but I’m gonna’ do it anyway.  That just shows you how desperate (or stupid) I am.

I’m only pretending to be a blogger, but I honestly don’t know how to blog.  Every time I get on to post something I feel like I’m some kind of a bumbling archeologist digging for tiny clues about what I’m supposed to be doing.

In other areas of my life, I actually feel some tiny bit of competence, but not when I blog.  It’s annoying to feel like such a fool.

Example:  I’m an author.  Yes, I’ve actually written a published book.  I have the cover of that book on a jpeg on my desktop, but I don’t know how to post it on my blog.  !?  How stupid is that?  Today I actually found a comment on my blog from a college instructor, asking for copies of my book.  The poor gal had to be extremely motivated because I can’t even post the bookcover so I know she didn’t find out about the book from me.  Duh.

I can, however, post photos of Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal faking it… or David Letterman.  My skills aren’t nonexistent.  I just don’t get the whole blog puzzle.  I refuse to confess how many hours I have spent trying to post that one simple jpeg that contains the cover of my book on my blog.  You would throw yourself on the floor and laugh for a week.

Last week someone “liked me’ on my blog.  That actually does happen quite a bit and I am grateful.  These people do not know I am clueless.  When I read a blogpost from the person who “liked” me they listed blog do’s and don’ts.  I was amazed.  The post said, “Never blog more than twice a week.  People won’t want to be bothered.”  Oh dear, I’ve been rude.  Forgive me.  She “liked” me in spite of my goof.

Her blog also said not to post in the middle of the night or on a weekend.  Another goof.  I almost always write and post in the middle of the night.  No wonder I’m getting responses from the other side of the world.  And I’m sorry I’m writing this on a weekend.

I’m going to try to follow these mysterious rules.  I have slowed down on my blogging.  If you don’t know what you are doing….do it less.  That’s probably a good rule.  However, that’s not the real reason I’ve been blogging less.  The real reason is I’m writing another book.  Yay!  This one will be an eBook.

Can you imagine the misplaced confidence of a blogging idiot to attempt to write an eBook?  I must be crazy.  But I have to confess, I’m completely absorbed in it.  The invitation was extended to me and I jumped on board.  I’m excited about the opportunity and as  the writing flows, I have a sneaking suspicion that it is going to be great.  I’ll tell you more about it when it is closer to being finished.  But I doubt that I will be able to post the cover.

My book that has already been published is titled Teachers Touch Eternity.  It’s a wonderul inspiring book for teachers or future teachers.  It has a great cover.  But you’ll probably never see it because I still can’t figure out how to post the cover on my blog.

A couple of days ago, one of the “likes” I received I believe belongs to a treasured former student.  Hi Ally!  She will not be surprised that I am clueless about blogging.  She could tell you stories.

Forgive me as I continue to fumble along doing something that is really difficult for me.  I suppose that is the only way to learn a new skill.  I’m a teacher so I should know.  Thanks to all of you for your patience with a blogging fool.