Tag Archives: school

What Do Great Teachers Do?

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Krista Ramsey

I belong to a Writers’ Group at my local, Midpointe Library in West Chester, Ohio.  This past week I was especially excited to attend because we were going to have a guest speaker – a lady I have admired for quite some time.  Our guest was Krista Ramsey from the Cincinnati Enquirer.   Not only does she write beautiful thought provoking articles, but she frequently writes about issues involving education which is a subject near and dear to my heart.  (As all my readers of this blog are aware).

During Krista’s talk about her writing she shared with us how her writing dream began.  She was in elementary school when a teacher, Mrs. Moomaw, required all the students in her class to write a poem.  She chose Krista’s poem and asked her to read it aloud in front of an auditorium full of people.  It was as simple and yet as significant as that…a vote of confidence from her teacher.  It was that very day that Krista began to think of herself as a writer.  “If my teacher thinks I am a writer, then I must be good at it,” she shared her childhood rationale with us.

“I believe a good teacher wills you into your gifts.”

                                                                                        Krista Ramsey

I couldn’t agree more.  Ms. Ramsey worked on her writing craft for many years but she confessed she didn’t always have the confidence to call herself a writer aloud.  She became an English teacher first.  And yet that one day with Mrs. Moomaw and one act of recognition by a teacher influenced her life in such a way that the writing dream never went away.  She steered herself as directly as possible toward that target that her teacher had revealed to her.  Now all her readers and fans can enjoy her written insights regularly.  As a fan of Ms. Ramsey’s writing, I personally want to thank Mrs. Moomaw.

I was struck by the life experiences that I shared with Ms. Ramsey. It was a similar event in my life that fueled my dream of writing.  I always knew I wanted to teach, but I also harbored a secret dream of becoming a writer.   That dream was not encouraged by anyone for many years.  In fact all evidence pointed to the foolishness of harboring such a dream. But just as in Krista’s case it was one teacher and one particular day in a classroom that gave me the courage to continue to allow my dream of writing to percolate until its time.  Without that one particular day and classroom experience, I doubt if I ever would have written the books that I have authored.

As Ms. Ramsey continued to talk with us about writing, an audience member posed the question, “How do I ever get the courage to call myself a writer?  When am I a writer?”

I loved Ms. Ramsey’s response.

If we told ourselves we have the gifts we want to have, how much more of an impact could we have on the world?

BINGO.  That, in a nutshell is the premise of my entire second book, TEACH…To Change Lives.  A great teacher does reveal talents to their students, but they do so much more.  They teach students how to discover, nurture, and have the courage to develop their own talents.  Ultimately that is the foundation on which to build long term success in life…not just inside the classroom….but in life.

In today’s world we change, not just jobs, but frequently entire professions, multiple times if we want to continue to grow and succeed.  Careers will exist within the next decade that are not even on the horizon today.  We can’t possibly train our students for those careers currently.  They aren’t in our textbooks or even measured on current standardized tests.  But we can train students to recognize their talents and give them the courage to pursue those new careers as they emerge.  THAT is precisely the most important job of an effective teacher.

I consider myself a teacher first.  But that is not my entire identity.  Sometime during my life path I became a professional speaker and then a writer.  In truth, my ability to speak to and encourage a group of people is probably my greatest talent and yet I didn’t recognize that until I was in my forties.  Thank goodness I had the courage to embrace that skill rather than deny it as something for which I didn’t have a college degree..  At the time I entered college I had never heard of a professional speaker.  I didn’t know they existed.  My books happened because audience members asked for them. They willed me to write my first book.

Back at the library someone asked Krista if she had written a book.  Her reply?  “Not yet.”

Whether or not a book exists, there are some things I know for certain after being in Ms. Ramsey’s presence for only about an hour.  Krista Ramsey is an author.  Her non-fiction books are already written, she just hasn’t put a book cover on them…yet.  She could write marvelous fiction if she so desires.  She is also an effective speaker and something of a philosopher.  She could be a counselor if she made that her choice.  The teaching profession lost a great teacher when she moved into journalism. I’m sorry for the students who didn’t get to have her daily influence.  She certainly would have been a gal who would have taught in such a way that she would have changed lives in the process.  She would have been just the kind of teacher who discovered multiple talents within her students and willed them toward those gifts.

Sometimes you feel a kinship with a person from across a room.  I felt myself nodding in agreement at every statement she made.  When I mustered the courage to speak she was nodding my way too.

And so it is with great teachers and their students.  We learn from one another.

Show Your Work: Austin Kleon on the Art of Getting NoticedTEACH...To Change Lives

 TEACH…To Change Lives

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

Also available at Amazon.com

Invite Dauna Easley to speak to your group:  dauna@cinci.rr.com

 

 

 

 

Ankles and Elbows

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JodiI’m embarrassed to admit this in a blog for teachers, but I once had to hire a tutor to help my daughter, Jodi, with geometry.  She was struggling with this subject in her sophomore year of high school.  I understood her frustration.  I only had to think back to my own first encounter with geometry.  Eventually I managed to squeak out a decent grade, but if the teacher had graded me on long-term comprehension, I would have earned an F.

I asked Jodi’s geometry teacher for suggestions and she gave me the name of a tutor.  After Jodi’s first one-on-one lesson with her new tutor I optimistically asked her how it went.  This is an exact quote of her response.

That woman had the thickest ankles and the driest elbows of anyone I have ever met.

I swear to you that is exactly what my daughter said to me.  She gave me a report on the status of the woman’s ankles and elbows. I was stunned into momentary silence.  Then I responded to her in the same tone and manner she had just used with me.

You know Jodi, I thank God every day that I teach young kids and not teens. Please God, don’t ever make me work with teens.  I didn’t ask you about her ankles or elbows. Did she help you understand anything about your geometry?

Her response?  She just looked at me.  Apparently I didn’t deserve a response.

Do you know what I learned from this?  Don’t ever make your fears public, because the heavens will hear you and set you up for a great joke.  Within a year and a half of this conversation I was hired to teach seniors.  Yep.  I started teaching seniors the same year that my daughter was a senior, thankfully not in the same building.  (The photo above is Jodi’s senior picture).

This new job “opportunity” came about pretty suddenly.  I told Jodi about my job change, but she didn’t listen very closely.  Listening to what her mom was actually saying wasn’t high on her priority list during that phase in her life.  I was terrified and frankly reluctant to take this position, but my youngest daughter needed better medical insurance to battle cancer and the new job provided that, so I signed a contract and took a leap of faith.  On my first day I said to Jodi

Well, today is my first day of teaching seniors.  Wish me luck.

She was completely stunned with this news.  Ah-ha.  I knew she didn’t listen to me.

WHAT?  You’re going to be teaching seniors?  Are you serious?

Her tone and body language told me I didn’t stand a chance of success.  And furthermore, I didn’t have anything of merit to teach a senior.

My response to her?

Well, look at it this way, Jodi.  My job should be easy.  Seniors already know everything.

I hate to admit it, but she was right about one thing.  It was a really shaky start.  In my 42 years of full-time teaching, I thought about quitting the profession only twice.  Once was in my second year of teaching when I ran into some serious health problems.  The second time was in my 24th year, when I began teaching seniors.  They came close to doing me in…maybe even killing me off.

But you know what?  I ended up loving teens.  I liked their humor.  I liked their optimism.  I loved their passion about what they believed in.  I learned to overlook their moods and found ways to joke them out of their occasional surliness.  I got used to telling the boys to pull up their pants and telling the girls to cover their cleavage.  My life is now full of former teen students who are now my friends.  When you teach a senior it takes them only one year to begin to appreciate you.  It is a fast turn around.  As soon as they leave for college, they immediately understand how much you really taught them.

I think I had another advantage.  I actually lived with a senior when I began teaching seniors. I absolutely knew how much they didn’t know about life.  I knew I had only one year to teach them all the important stuff.  I knew I had to teach them more than the academics of my field and I did.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t teach them academics.  I did.  But I knew I had one short year to teach them so much more.

Once I was in the middle of a very ticklish conference with a teen girl who was on a bad path.  The guidance counselor was with me.  When the mother of this girl arrived it explained quite a bit about the poor choices the kid was making.  The girl had no role model for success.  We did everything in our power to explain our point of view, but unfortunately we didn’t feel like we made much headway during this conference.  After the teen and her mom left the conference area, the guidance counselor looked at me and said something very wise.

The world will teach them what we cannot.

world will teach them

I never forgot that statement.  The truth of it rocks me.  The world is going to teach them things that we cannot.  And many of those lessons will hurt.  It made me try harder to teach them any life lessons I could while they were still in a somewhat safe environment, inside the classroom walls.

Maybe Jodi even had a point about focusing on ankles and elbows.  Both of those joints are pivotal points in our bodies.  That’s what the teen years are all about, pivotal points.  Our role as teachers is to help students make their best choices during those pivotal points in their lives, not just memorize facts from a textbook.  Some of those pivotal points come while they are with us.  But many will come after they are gone from our classrooms.  What can we do now to help them maneuver those pivotal moments later?

Just for the record, my teaching life took me in such a circuitous route that more than a decade later, I actually ended up teaching in the same building as the woman who had tutored my daughter.  Her name was Nancy.  She was a petite woman, of normal weight whose ankles appeared to be in perfect proportion to her body.  I didn’t do any close checking, but her elbows seemed fine to me also.  Believe me,  I never once told her what my daughter had said about her.  It was my gift to her as a fellow teacher.

TEACH...To Change Lives

TEACH…To Change Lives

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

Also available at Amazon.com

Invite Dauna Easley to speak to your group.  dauna@cinci.rr.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advice for New Teachers

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Advice for New TeachersWhere I live it is spring, finally.  Over the past couple of days I have had a bird (the same bird) fly into my window over and over again.  I’m not exaggerating when I say this bird has flung itself against my window hundreds of times.  I thought certain it would die from its efforts yesterday.  This morning it started again.  I sought the advice of friends and one told me to place paper over the window.   I’m hoping that helps.  I suppose the bird sees the reflection of a tree or himself  in the window.  But seriously, you’d think after maybe fifty slams the bird would learn.

However, the teacher in me noticed a parallel between that battering bird and the young college students I observe as they do their practice teaching in a real classrooms for the first time.  Again and again I hear them say the same things.

When I notice that a few of these fledgling teachers call on the same students to answer all the questions they pose in front of the classroom, I ask them why they don’t ever call on students who don’t have their hands raised.  They pause and say, “Oh, I don’t want to put them on the spot if they don’t know. I don’t want them to think I’m picking on them.”

My answer is always the same.

If you use a more random way to ask for answers, no one will believe you are putting them on the spot.  Pull names from out of a jar or use a  computer program that mixes the names randomly.   Whoever’s name appears will need to be ready to answer.  Using that strategy you will automatically engage more students.  They know before you even begin teaching that they will need to listen. 

You also are saying, “I know you can learn the material.  I believe in your ability to learn.”  More students will listen.  More students will learn.  More students will be engaged in the learning process.  You aren’t putting anyone on the spot.  You are saying “I believe that everyone in this classroom has the ability and the right to learn this material.”  If they are slow to answer, give them the time to think it through.  Experienced teachers call this “wait time.”  Encourage and assist them.  You only put students on the spot when you ridicule them if they don’t know the answer.  Teach them.  Walk them through the steps with no condescension.   Allow no other students to make impolite comments.  If you do this routinely they won’t automatically disengage when you begin to teach.

And while I’m still perched up here on the side of my nest looking down on my fledglings, let me address another common error in thinking.  (Lest you think I’m lecturing, remember I speak from experience.  I happened to have made ALL these same mistakes myself.  I have the stories to prove it and I share them openly).

If you have a behavior management system in place, use it.  If you don’t have a behavior management system in place, get one!

“Oh, but I feel bad making them switch their green light to red, or have them put a check next to their name, or worse,  serve a detention!”  I hear my baby birdie teachers say all the time.

Guess what?  Even preschool-age students can quickly size up a teacher who is fearful of enforcing consequences.  And when they do, you… are… toast.  They then will do anything and everything to force you to set limits.  They will push and push and push until you blow a gasket or collapse.  The faster you enforce a consequence, the faster your entire class will come under control.  Students will be learning instead of inventing ways to stir the pot just to get you to react.  Your classroom will be safer and more learning will occur.  Enforce the consequences early, fairly and without anger,  and the situation won’t ever spiral out of control.   

Side note:  Since I taped paper over my windows this morning the bird has stopped ramming them.

Negative Action + Consequence = New Result

Sorry.  I’m a teacher.  I see a lesson in every event.  It’s a disease of the profession.

I wonder what my neighbors think of my new window treatments?  I’m a recent widow and they probably think I’m afraid of peeping toms.  🙂  Only my blogger friends will know the truth.

TEACH...To Change Lives

TEACH…To Change Lives

Available Autographed or in large quantities from the authordauna@cinci.rr.com

Also available at Amazon.com

Book Dauna Easley to speak to your group:  dauna@cinci.rr.com

Encouragement

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Encouragement

In the rush to enter quarterly grades, hold parent teacher conferences and analyze the data from last year’s test scores, one of the most important strategies a teacher can share is too often forgotten.

What do students need MOST from us?  Encouragement.  Some of them come from homes in which encouragement is never offered to them.  Too many come from homes where discouragement is the main course of the day.

Even those who do hear encouraging words in their homes may turn a deaf ear on the words from a loved one. One time I was offering some words of encouragement to my own daughter, Kelsey.  She looked at me and said, “You have to say that.  You’re my parent.  But other people don’t think that about me.”  She shot down my words just like that.  And sadly she was right.  Much of the world failed to see all the great qualities she possessed.

The Challenge

Stop right now.  Think.  Reflect.  How many times can you offer words of encouragement to students today?  Make it a personal challenge.  Keep track of it if you have to.  Give yourself a point every time you say something encouraging to a student or a co-worker.

Good news!  I bet each of us can think about encouraging words that were offered to us years ago.  Kind and encouraging words have the power to inspire us forever.  I have some that I heard decades ago that I can pull out and replay whenever I need them now.  Why do we forget this?  Because it is rare that we get the opportunity to hear how our words have inspired someone else.  However…remember this because it is important… just because we don’t get to hear their power doesn’t mean their power is diminished.  Encouraging words matter!

Bad news! Unfortuantely the only comments more powerful than encouraging words are negative remarks.  It is sad but true that it takes exponentially more positive words to erase negative comments that we also hear.  It’s a big job, but the kind of people who enter the profession of teaching are exactly the kind of people who are worthy of that challenge.

What Really Matters?

Believe me I know how easy it is to get caught up in the frustrations of the new software that won’t work.  I know how much it hurts when your students’ test scores are compared negatively with the kids from a neighboring community with an entirely different demographic.  The hall duties, test score paranoia, and scripted programs can wear down even the most optimistic teacher among us.

Let me be your zoom lens today.  If you took dozens of  digital photos of your classroom today, how many snapshots would include you encouraging a student?  When the frustrations of the profession start to get you out of focus, zoom in on the kids.  Let the other distractions fade into the background.  Zoom in on the students.  Encourage them.  That is what drew us into the teaching profession to begin with.

Looking Back

looking back

Remember when you were in college and all people talked about was their GPA?  It defined you.  Your grade point average determined if you could get into the college you wanted within your university.  Everyone told you your GPA would get you a job offer.  And to some degree that was true…for your FIRST job.  But once you got your first teaching job, how many people have asked you what your college GPA was?  In real life those numbers fade into the background.

Real life is about persevering during tough times.  Real life is about setting goals and pursuing your dreams.  Living successfully is about overcoming obstacles and pushing through fears.  Life is about taking risks in the face of failure.  It is about choosing the crooked road to live out your dreams. What helps a person do all those things?  It is not test scores.  It is the encouraging words that someone (hopefully a teacher) shared with us along the way.  It is the belief in ourselves that someone planted within us…using encouraging words during our discouraging moments.  Those words are what will follow students forever and help determine their success in life.  At the risk of being tarred and feathered by politicians and the authors of standardized tests, the words you say to your students to encourage them have more power to impact their lives in a positive way than anything else. Period.

TEACH...To Change Lives

TEACH…To Change Lives

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

Also available at Amazon.com

Invite Dauna Easley to speak to your group dauna@cinci.rr.com

How to Encourage Teachers

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spread a compliment

In every school (or business or neighborhood) there are people who spread gossip.  We all know who they are.  But of more significance and greater impact are the people who spread compliments.  Those are the people to whom professionals are most attracted.  They make us feel good.  They make the day seem more positive no matter what the challenges may be.  Here is the great news.  You don’t have to be a supervisor to encourage fellow teachers.  In fact in my career I have been most encouraged by other teachers who I admire who notice and mention to me something that I do well.   Who have you complimented lately?  Why not set a goal of complimenting two teachers per day for every day this week?  Take the challenge.

What can make this a little easier?  I’ve been in a couple of teaching environments where there was a small stack of notes in the mailroom near teacher mailboxes.  These might be Pat-on-the-Back notes, Applause cards, or have a smiley face theme…whatever suits your school theme.  When you see them lying there, you can just write a quick note and slip  it in someone’s mailbox.  When we make it handy we eliminate having to search for a note card or hiking it down to the mailbox area.  Any teacher in the building can start the ball rolling.  Why not you?

thumbs upI’ve also heard of building supervisors or district administrative staff members who carry thumbs up sticky notes.  They leave these anywhere they see a nice bulletin board or a creative display within the school.  It can be a post it note with their name on it or imprinted with a positive theme of any kind.  What about a thumbs up sticky note.  I currently supervise student teachers at the university level.  I like to carry a camera into buildings and take photos (with permission) of wonderful bulletin boards and displays.  I take the time  to find and compliment the teacher and ask her if I may photograph the board.  Teachers are always very complimented that someone noticed and took the time to stop and comment.

listen to parentsDon’t forget to help a young teacher.  I had already been a teacher for seven years when my principal asked me to move into a first grade position that became available.  I had been teaching third grade since I graduated from college.  First grade scared me, but I didn’t really want to mention that to my principal.  At that time in my career, teaching very beginning reading seemed like a mystery to me.  How did you start from scratch and create a child who could read?

There was a wonderful lady in my building named June Hutzelman who became my mentor.  It wasn’t any kind of “official” assignment.  My principal thought I could handle this job and didn’t think I needed anyone to help me.  Ha!  I didn’t want to admit otherwise.  June guided me through the first two months.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit this now, but what she taught on day one, I taught on day two.  Her day two assignments became my day three classroom work.  By about mid October, I had the swing of things and I could maneuver on my own.  I will be forever indebted to June for taking me under her wing.   As a wonderful side benefit, first grade became my favorite grade to teach.  I’ve taught preschool through high school seniors and like them all.  But that thrill of teaching very beginning reading is matched by no other thrill in teaching in my opinion.

When I left full time teaching to become a college field supervisor of student teachers I gave away all of my collected materials to young future teachers or beginning teachers.  I mean I gave away absolutely every plaque, poster, desk item, magnet, bulletin board fabric or border, worksheet, EVERYTHING!  At first I thought I couldn’t do it.  But as the time neared, It felt better and better to give it all away.  They carried away car loads full of items for their classrooms.  Two unexpected side benefits came from this.  I brought no additional clutter into my house; and when I visit them in their classroom, I can see my stuff still being used with students.  It feels just right.

blue ribbonHere’s my favorite idea that I’ve seen in the past couple of years.  A former student of mine, Erin Hunkemoeller,  who teaches Spanish in the Northmont School District in Clayton Ohio, sent me a copy  of a sheet that they call Inspirations.  Two or three teachers create this one page sheet together.  Every school is full of great teachers with creative ideas.  Why not share them?  Inspirations is one sheet with three creative ideas that come right out of their classrooms.  They describe them briefly and include photos.  This strategy affirms great efforts, shares and spreads wonderful ideas and encourages the entire staff.  Northmont receives my blue ribbon award for this great idea that is well implemented.  They are working together to TEACH…To Change Lives.

TEACH...To Change Lives

TEACH…To Change Lives

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

Also available at Amazon.com

Dauna Easley is available to speak.  Contact:  dauna@cinci.rr.com

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

What Great Teachers Do in the Summertime

Standard

Great teacher secretsThe Myth

Every great teacher knows too many people who believe teachers only work nine months a year.  Critics point to the calendar and talk about what a cushy job teachers have.  What bunk.

Using this reasoning, baseball players work only half the year.  Clergy work 52 days annually and players in the NFL work less than 20.  Tax accountants work from January 31st until April 15.  Construction workers work only on sunny days. 

Why is it only teachers are singled out and accused of having an abbreviated work year?

I can hear the uproar from the professional football players.  “Twenty days?  What about all our training days?”

Exactly.  What about all the teacher training days?  Many teachers train all summer long.  They take summer classes to get an advanced degree.  They take classes in new technology or a new curriculum.  They have to accumulate college hours to renew their teaching license.  They have to accumulate in-service hours to fulfill their school district’s requirements.  They pay for these classes out of their own pockets, by the way.  How many professional football players pay for their own training?  They are paid hefty salaries TO train.

Many teachers do home visits during the summer months.  Some have Open Houses or accompany students to competitions during “their breaks. ”  I’ve sanded school desks and painted my classroom in the summer time.  I once worked for a school district that required teachers to scrape all the gum off the bottom of the school desks.  No I’m not making this up.

Teacher Conferences that share new teaching strategies are held during “vacation” months.   Textbooks are reviewed, discussed and adopted.  Websites for student use are designed. The class syllabus is written.  Guest speakers are contacted and learning field trips are scheduled.  Some teachers teach summer school all summer long. I know a teacher who welcomed her students back to school today.  (It’s July 30th as I write this).  Hello Annie.  I hope you have a wonderful year with your students!

future teacherA Great Time

Last week I had the chance to do something I love to do.  I had lunch with a young lady who had just been hired for her first teaching job.  She will be teaching first grade beginning in August.  She was just bubbling over with enthusiasm.  She simply can’t wait to get started.  It made me think back to the very beginning of my teaching career.  What a thrill that was to walk into my own classroom.  Her enthusiasm had me reliving my love for the teaching profession.

What is she doing now?  She is going to garage sales to buy books even though her teacher salary hasn’t started.  She is grouping those books into skill levels so her students can make the best use of them. She’s looking for inexpensive ways to decorate her classroom.  I put together four tubs of books for her to use in her classroom.  I looked around my house for items she might be able to use to help her get started.  I doubt that NFL players have to purchase their own helmets.  If they did, they would have the resources to do so.  Teachers spend so much of their own money simply to buy learning materials for their students.

It made me feel wonderful to pass along some tools this new teacher’s students might use to learn.  Next week she’ll begin meeting with her teacher team to set learning goals and write lesson plans.  Great teachers begin planning for their students’ success long before they walk into the room.  And she is going to be one of the greatest teachers ever.

Before you throw things away, think about a teacher who might value your cast offs.  Even better, purchase a gift card to a school supply store for your child’s teacher.  And if you hear someone spouting off about how much time off a teacher has…educate them.

 TEACH to change lives available at Amazon.com

TEACH…To Change Lives

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

Also available at Amazon.com