Tag Archives: schools

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

When Did This Happen?

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When did this happen?

The shift has been gradual but upsetting all the same.  No longer are teachers automatically respected for their commitment to young people. When I was a beginning teacher the community assumed that teachers deserved respect for entering a profession committed to helping their children grow toward success.  Parents supported the teacher’s decisions.  If a kid was in trouble at school, the kid was in more trouble at home.  Parents supported the schools.  They assumed that behavior guidelines were in the best interest of their child and the classroom at large.

I understand that respect must be earned.  There is a very small percentage of teachers whose names we see in the media, who clearly deserve no respect.  These situations make me heartsick and even furious.  I am angry that those few sully the reputation of a profession that I revere.

But beyond the few who never should have been allowed into the profession, the vast majority of teachers are incredibly hard-working and selfless.  They will do anything to help a child succeed.

Yet somehow it has become so fashionable to speak out against teachers and schools that it has turned into an acceptable parade of negative comments.  You hear it everywhere.  Politicians, media members, community leaders, and parents sitting on the sidelines at school functions have joined the band of negativity.  Trashing teachers has somehow become politically correct.

During my last decade of full-time teaching I taught high school students in a Teacher Academy program.  This was a wonderful group of students who already had identified a passion for teaching even in their teen years.  They were a pleasure to teach and mentor.  They were such positive role models within our high school. Their enthusiasm for helping others using the teaching profession just bubbled over.  Lauren was one of those enthusiasts.  Most of them are young full-time teachers now.  But many of the stories they share with me sadden me.

Listen in as I share one.  A couple of weekends ago I ran into Lauren at a gymnastics meet.  She is currently teaching second grade.  During the week that I ran into her she had stayed late for Parent Teacher conference night.  A father of one of her students had screamed and screamed at her during the “conference.”

“You’re a fool!” he screamed.  After several minutes of this she finally told him he would have to call the Principal and set up another appointment if he wanted to continue the conference with her.  He continued to yell so she left her classroom in fear.  As she walked down the hallway he followed her screaming.   She went into the first empty classroom she could find, stepped inside, closed the door and leaned against the door.  She was afraid to go to her car without an escort that night when the conferences ended.  She had just purchased her first home in this community.  She was afraid to drive straight home to her house for fear that he might be following her.  The next day the school was on “lock down” worried that he might return to school and do harm to her or children.

What made this father so angry?  His son didn’t follow classroom behavior guidelines and his teacher took away a privilege.  Is there any surprise that the child had trouble following behavior guidelines?  What was the consequence for the father?  The police security officer called him on the phone the next day and the dad apologized to the officer.  End of story.

Now a young lady who is such an asset to the teaching profession and her students, is left wondering if she wants to remain in the profession.  When did it become OK to follow a teacher down the hallway yelling at her?  When did it become socially acceptable to bad mouth teachers in the community?

My close friend has a daughter who entered the teaching profession within the past five years.  People now come up to my friend and criticize schools and teachers.  She is surprised at how they seek her out to say something negative about the education system.  But I’m not.

Teachers have become targets.  Somehow we’ve got to turn that around.   Trashing teachers doesn’t fix anything.  It just drives some of the very best people away from a worthy profession and the students who need them so much.

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

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

No Experience is Ever Wasted

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no experience is everl wastedNo experience is EVER wasted.  In no other profession is this more true than in teaching.  But there are two caveats to that statement.

First, we have to be willing to learn from the experience.  No matter how frustrating or unfair the circumstances seem to be at the time, our challenges will help us grow only if we are willing to learn from them.  Sometimes we learn things we never even wanted to know.  But in every experience there is something to learn.

Second, we have to be willing to share our failures with others.  Why let our personal setbacks teach only a personal lesson?  In no other profession can a setback be such an opportunity for learning. Being a teacher puts you in the perfect setting for helping others as a result of your past challenges.  But you have to be willing to share.  You have to show your students your vulnerabilities.

My experience has taught me that most young people think their parents have never made a mistake. That’s too often what we want them to think.  But we teach our children the most when we allow them to know that we have made mistakes.  We have survived those mistakes.  We have learned from them.

When I taught urban kids, they believed that a teacher knew nothing about real life.  Ha!  I have not lived a charmed life…far from it.   Parts of my life have been embarrassing.  I’ve failed plenty.  I’ve faced challenges and painful experiences that no one would choose.  In fact, my past six weeks would provide material for a dramatic documentary.  No vampires were involved, but this time period has supplied me with just about every other beast of a problem you could imagine.

Here’s my challenge for you for this week.  Help someone who needs it, by sharing one of your failures or painful experiences from your own life.  If you are a teacher, you won’t have to look far.  One of your students is right now walking in shoes you have filled at one time in your life.  Most times they won’t reveal their challenge to you until you have been brave enough to share your own with them.

Mission Possible:  Your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to change someone’s life by revealing your own human experience.  (If you are old enough, you will hear the Mission Impossible theme music playing in your head right now.  If I were just a little younger, I could probably figure out a way to insert it into this blog post).  No matter what your age, I hope you are brave enough to accept this challenge.

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

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

If I Were the Boss

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the bossIf I were the boss of the school, I’d give myself a fancy chair,  It would be tufted, comfy and it would swivel.  Since I’m posting this piece the week of Valentine’s Day, let’s make it red.  It’s my fantasy so I can call the shots.

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I have been through one of the toughest times of my life this past month.  You know what helps me when times get tough?  I like to focus on good things.

So today I’m going to focus on the good qualities and traits of some of my former school administrators.  We all are a sum of our traits, some great and some areas where growth is needed.  Today I’m focusing on some of the best things that principals and other administrators and supervisors in the educational setting have done to encourage me while I was in the classroom.

Sit back in my red swivel chair and relax while you read my true stories.  Maybe you might even want to share it with your boss.

The very last school district in which I taught full-time, I had a superintendent named Kathy.  This district was quite large.  It had 4 early childhood buildings, 10 elementary buildings, 4 junior high buildings, 2 freshman buildings and 2 high schools.  The district had an enrollment of over 16,000 students and I don’t know how many teachers.  This superintendent did not interview me for my job, but knew my name, face, and what I taught from the day I walked in the door on my first day of employment.  Wow.

Whenever she would pass me in a hallway she would greet me by name.  She was upbeat and positive.  Since I taught one of two Teacher Academies in the district I invited her into my classroom to be interviewed by my students who were all future teachers.  She came willingly and answered all their questions fully.  Later a group of Middle Eastern future school administrators were traveling the country and wanted to interview her.  They were astonished a woman could lead a district so large. She asked if this could be done in my classroom so my students could also take advantage of the experience.

Whenever I wrote an article that appeared in an educational magazine she would drop me a note complimenting the piece.  I was in awe of her professionalism and consistent encouragement.  I have to admit, if I were the boss, I could never achieve her ability to know everyone by name and face.  I struggle mightily in that area.

Another boss I had was named Herb.  He was an assistant dean (asst. principal) and my immediate up line supervisor.  Herb always had a smile on his face and he was a master of giving compliments.  Once I wrote an article that appeared in a very small local paper.  Several times that day people would mention that they had seen my written piece and say that they had liked it.  “Great job,” they’d say.  Herb said it this way.  He didn’t just walk past me in the hallway, he had me stop.  He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Dauna, I read that article in the paper that you wrote.  I liked it so much I cut it out.  I found myself rereading it all day long.  I took it home and read it to my family at the dinner table.   That was a very inspiring article.”

Herb’s comments and the way he delivered them, made his  compliment one I will never forget because of the eye contact, the sincerity and the specific details he included in his compliment.

My very first principal was named Elmer.  He was my principal when I was fresh out of college. I was twenty years old when I walked into a classroom in his building and yet he is one of the best principals I have ever had.  I wish I had known how special he was at the time.  I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t…not until many years later.

How did he encourage me?  He trusted me.  He gave me many responsibilities within the building and that made me feel competent.  He could feel my passion and ambition for the profession of teaching.  He never stopped challenging me.  While many teachers balk at additional responsibilities, I never did.  When a supervisor didn’t recognize my leadership potential it always made me feel uncomfortable in their building.  It was important for me to excel. Elmer could see that in me.  When I left his building after ten years it was to start a private school.  He had given me so many extra responsibilities, and groomed me so well, he made this giant leap a possibility for me.  He was a true mentor.

And then there was Jon.  Jon remains an enigma to this day.  He was definitely not a touchy-feely kind of a supervisor.  It would take Oprah and Dr. Phil combined  to smooth out some of his people skills. He could pass you in the hallway and be so consumed by his thoughts and current errand that he wouldn’t speak.  He would walk into your classroom and without saying “Good morning” lunge right ahead into some task that was on his mind.  If you approached him with an idea, he would make a snap decision about it, usually opposing your idea.  I think he felt like he might lose some kind of control of the building if he took outside suggestions.  But what I gradually learned about him was that while making a snap negative decision, he would later take your idea and mull it over in private. If it was for the good of the students he was man enough to reverse his opinion.  I respected that.

While Jon was my administrator, my sixteen-year-old daughter died of cancer over one summer break.  When I returned to school in August, the very first time I saw him, he pulled me aside.  He said, “I want to show you something.”  He pulled out an article that appeared in the newspaper about my daughter.  He pulled this article out of his wallet!  He said, “I want you to know that I am carrying this article about Kelsey and that I will never forget her.”

I was stunned and speechless.  This man with the gruff exterior was revealing his compassionate center.  I was touched.

Later in the school year he was being his normal prickly self one time.  When a group of other teachers walked away and no one else was around I said,  “Jon, you can’t fool me anymore.  Underneath that gruff exterior, I know you are just a really decent guy.”  He paused for a few seconds, then finally grinned and said, “Well, don’t tell anyone.”

His gruff exterior was his armor.  But how can you not admire and respect a guy who would admit that he would always remember your daughter?  Impossible.   The comment was made even more poignant because it cost him so much to reveal his vulnerable side.

Cindy was another supervisor who touched me in an extremely positive way.  Cindy always had a positive word of encouragement for everyone around her.  Cindy had the gift of encouraging everyone. It was Cindy’s encouragement that gave me the courage to write my first book.  She read the very first story I wrote for my book even when that story was in its first and very rough draft.  I never would have shown that draft to just anyone.  Cindy was a blue ribbon encourager and one of the people I most admire to this day.

What do all these supervisors have in common?  They are very different people who approach supervision in a variety of ways.  Most of them have never met any of the others.  There are a few who overlap. But they all had a way of making me feel valued.  When we make people feel valued, they can accomplish great things.  When we make a teacher feel valued they learn how they can make students feel valued.  It is the greatest gift any school supervisor can pass along.

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 groupdauna@cinci.rr.com

The Heart of the School

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the heart of the schoolIt’s the month of Valentine’s Day so let’s talk about heart.  Yesterday was a personal treat for me.  I had a speaking gig, but a particularly special one.  I was invited back to one of my former school districts to speak to the secretaries.  First, it felt great that they remembered me fondly and invited me back.  Even better, the day felt like a warm reunion.  I was surrounded by so many familiar and friendly faces.  And let’s be honest.  I was happy to see so many people who had tirelessly and willingly helped me while I was a teacher in a new-to-me district struggling to learn the system.

If you have been a teacher for even a week, you’ve already learned how much the school secretary can help you.  Their charms and skills are a treasure trove for a teacher.  They can find a form, explain the software, tweak a copy machine so that it will actually run copies, and encourage a teacher like no other.  The smart teacher recognizes all this and puts them on the pedestal they deserve.

For just a moment let’s talk about teacher turnover.  Here are some sobering statistics from The National Council on Teaching and America’s Future:

  • One third of all new teachers leave within 5 years
  • Forty-six percent are gone within five years.
  • This figure has grown by 50% in the past five years.

These figures are staggering and yet I know that they are true.  I supervise college level student teachers and stay in pretty close contact with the students I taught in a Teacher Academy program.  I’m watching the truth of these numbers unfold day by day.

Forbes Magazine estimates that teacher attrition costs America 7.3 billion dollars a year!

Why?  I can give you lots of reasons, but I will save that entry for another post.  Please be patient with me.

Today I want to focus on what school secretaries and teacher co-workers can do to help stop that stampede away from a profession that is so worthy.

First, think about this.  Who do we turn to when we are struggling in our job? 

Look at this picture.  Study it.

rejection

It illustrates what we do when we are hurting about our job.  Who DON’T we turn to?  Our bosses.  We don’t want them to know how stressed we are.  We don’t want a superior to know how we are struggling.  Our bosses don’t usually figure out the level of our frustration until we are already gone.  Look at this picture again.  When we are hurting, we reach out, but we only reach laterally or downward.  It doesn’t matter our age, culture or profession.  We reach out for help laterally.  We complain and vent to our peers.  We look for their support.  So what can we do to support one another?  Everything.

  • We can listen.  Sometimes that is all a frustrated person needs, just a SAFE place to vent.
  • We can encourage.
  • We can remind each other of our strengths.
  • We can extend a kindness.  Write a note.  Bring in a treat.
  • We can laugh together.
  • We can be approachable.  It is so important to have someone who will welcome questions.

In my experience school secretaries have played all those roles for me.  They have been the glue that made me stick to a job when I wanted to bolt.  They have made me better at my job.  They’ve showed me the ropes when I was floundering.

School secretaries aren’t just the heart of the school, they are most times also the face of the district.  They are the one person most visitors meet.  Most visitors don’t ever see the superintendent or even the principal of the building. I am in and out of schools all the time in my role of a university supervisor of student teachers.  Visitors judge a school district and its climate by their first contact with the school secretary.  School secretaries are the public relations department of the district without the commensurate compensation.  These days they also have become a school district’s front line protection against terrorists.  When I showed this picture yesterday, it got a great laugh.  One secretary said, “Oh, I NEED that picture.”  So I’m reprinting it here.

When Did I Enlist?

When mid I enlist?

The smart teacher who wants to succeed in the profession will recognize the wonderful ally in a great school secretary.

Secretaries are the Heart of the School

The face of the school,

The heart of it too

Secretaries impress us

With all that they do.

They find us the form,

And answer our questions

The skills that we lack

They don’t even mention.

They listen to troubles

And give us a tissue

They fix up our errors

Never making an issue

They explain the new software

Keep our secrets inside

They smile at the visitors

And open arms wide.

They make everything easier

We cannot be fooled

Our secretaries truly

Are the heart of the school.

On a personal note:  My apologies to my readers who have continued to read my blog loyally these past few weeks, even when I have been too sad to write, I thank you.  The statistics on my blog site show me that you have been checking in and waiting for me to heal.  Thank you.  Your loyalty to my words touched me.  I’m feeling better every day and plan to get back into my post on Mondays.  Thank you for your patience.

Also I had a very dear former student named Michelle write to me on my blog site.  I was so happy to hear from her and wrote right back to her.  However, her email address she provided was not current.  Michelle, please contact me again.  I want to communicate with you!  I need your current email address.

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

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

Bright Ideas for Dark Days

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Bright Ideas for Dark Days

Twenty Tips for Motivating Yourself and Other Teachers

Throughout the Winter Months

When the memory of those beautiful fall days begins to dim, and spring still seems a lifetime away, we may feel our enthusiasm begin to take a dive.  Many teachers begin teaching at 7:00 am and may arrive even earlier.  During the winter months if there is an after school meeting, they may drive home in the dark also.  What are some ways to keep yourself upbeat for your student?  Remember:  We can’t pass along what we don’t possess.  Our students deserve committed and enthusiastic teachers.  Try some of these ideas that have worked for me.

  1. Fake it till you make it.  This isn’t phony.  William James, the psychologist called the the “as if” principle.  If you want to feel enthusiastic, act “as if” you already are.  I learned this lesson clearly during a particularly tough time in my personal life.  It was my job to be at the school entrance to greet young children when they arrived in the morning.  No matter how down in the dumps I felt when I arrived at school, after 20 minutes of greeting one child after another with a big smile and a friendly comment or two, I felt better for the whole day.
  2. Allow for spontaneity.  Change your plans.  Put a new twist on an old lesson.  What is something you have never tried in your classroom before?  Now is the time!  When I was writing my two books for teachers I discovered something surprising.  The story I wrote about was almost always the first time I tried a new activity in the classroom.  If the activity was a success, then I would do it again in subsequent years.  But it was almost always the first time I did the activity that was the “memeory maker.”  Fresh ideas spark our creativity and engage students in new ways.
  3. Build an encouragement folder.  Whenever someone writes you a positive note for any reason, pop that note into a folder.  Pull out all those notes when you need to recharge your batteries.  It will pump up your confidence and make you feel great.
  4. Lighten up!  When you find yourself getting really angry about something, step back and try and laugh about it.  Make it into a comedy routine if you have to.
  5. Read motivational books or inspirational thoughts late at night or before work in the morning.  The morning news depresses me.  I have found that I can’t listen to how many murders, rapes and fires happened overnight and then teach teenagers during the day.  but with the right music and uplifting thoughts in my head, I’m the best that I can be.  Don’t my students deserve this?
  6. Practice kindness.  Kindness helps absolutely everything.  It is the language the blind can see and the deaf can hear.  I’m far from perfect but I can tell you this:  The times I haven’t been kind haunt me.  Kindness lifts everyone, not just the recipient of the kindness, but the giver too.
  7. Take a class that will help you reflect on your job in a positive way.  I teach future teachers but I still take classes with the same titles as the classes I teach.  I always learn new ideas and teaching strategies in every class I take.  I can also be a valuable contributor to a class I’m taking.  Every time I have taken a class I’ve come back to the classroom with fresh ideas to try with my students.  I don’t care how experienced you are, there are always new things to learn if your attitude is in the right place.
  8. Write down new ideas the moment they pop into your mind.  Try to take some action on them within 24 hours.  At my age, I need sticky notes to survive.  I’m full of ideas that are gone in an instant.  The creativity of the sticky notes compels me to use them to organize my thoughts.  There are arrows, tabs, stars, neon bursts, and 4×6 sticky notes for more lengthy ideas.  Use them to jot down ideas and then take action.  Action will put you in a better frame of mind 100% of the time.  Go for it!
  9. Improve your work space.  Buy a new organizer or select a new picture.  I work best when I’m surrounded by quotes that inspire me.  If you don’t have an extra nickel to spare, clean your desk area.  I’m very creative but my desk is always a mess.  Every time I take the time to clean my desk it lifts my spirits.  What is an added bonus?  I find great things.  I come across a new idea for teaching or writing that I only had time to jot down previously.  When I discover it again, I run with it.
  10. Purge.  Don’t stop with just your desk.  Clean out your files as though you were taking a new job.  that happened to me once.  On the last day of school I didn’t know that I would be taking a new job during the summer time.  I left years of files and had to start fresh.  At first it wa scary, but it also felt great.  I now had room to file all the new ideas and items I needed to do my job now.  Purge as though you are moving.
  11. Record uplifting music.  Listen to it on the way to work and while you are grading papers.  I always play music as my students enter the room.  It feels as though something exciting is going to happen.
  12. Compliment a co-worker.  Better yet, put the compliment in writing.  It will encourage the person receiving the compliment, but it will also make you feel great.  Try to encourage.  Try to compliment at least one co-worker per day.  Make it your own secret challenge.
  13. Set goals that move and inspire you.  Don’t choose hollow goals or goals someone else assigns you.  Set goals that matter to you and move forward on them.  When we make progress it builds our self-esteem.  When we feel great about ourselves we can better inspire and motivate others.
  14. Create a new bulletin board or display in your classroom.  Visually appealing surroundings encourage us and our students.  Look at your classroom as though you are walking in the door for the first time.  What strikes you?  We spend way too much time in our classroom to overlook the way it makes us feel.  Imagine how your students react to your room.  Think of an idea that would engage them. Not artistic?  There are wonderful posters available.
  15. Keep a gratitude journal.  I record five things for which I am grateful every day.  Guess what?  This simple activity will keep you focused on what is positive in your life. You will begin to look for positive experiences rather than focus on the daily annoyances that creep into all our lives. Don’t discount this activity until you’ve given it a fair try.  I think the outcome will startle you.
  16. Solve a problem.  Instead of complaining about how things ought to be come up with a solution.  Everyone will be grateful.  You’ll be a hero and that always feels terrific.
  17. Attend an educational conference.  You’ll rub elbows with other educators who are serious about improving their skills. You’ll return to school rejuvenated and ready to try some new ideas you discovered.  You learn as much from the attendees as the presenters.  Better yet, become a presenter at a conference.  Share a few ideas that have worked in your classroom with other educators.  It will grow your professionalism and theirs.
  18. Change your routine.  Do you have a mental list of things you’ve been wanting to do someday?  We all have a list like this.  Take a weekend trip to a place you’ve always wanted to visit.  Call up an old friend or drop them an email.  Read a book you’ve heard everyone talking about. Start a new hobby or reignite an old one.  Do something different!
  19. Share ideas.  There is so much talent among your co-workers.  Find a way to have each of them share their best ideas with the rest of you.  I once ran a monthly professional development experience at the school where I worked.  Each month I had a few teachers share their best ideas.  I was amazed at how much I learned.  Don’t overlook the teacher in the next classroom.
  20. Don’t eat lunch with the crab apples.  This may be the most valuable tip of all.  Hang out with positive people.  Spend time with other professionals who speak positively about students and those who are excited about making their classrooms and your school a positive place to be.

More than likely twenty ideas overwhelm you.  Some of these suggestions may feel way outside your comfort zone or sound just plain crazy.  But I believe if you try even a few of these ideas you won’t be just counting the days until spring; you’ll be doing things that make every day count.

TEACH...To Change LivesTEACH…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 groupdauna@cinci.rr.com:

My Christmas Wish for Teachers

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My Christmas Wish for TeachersGreat teachers are a gift to our children, their future, and our country.  I wish that were enough to keep our best teachers in the profession.  However, the truth is sad. Forty-six percent of teachers who have spent a minimum of four years training to become teachers leave the profession within five years. (This statistic comes from the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future).  That is a staggering figure.  Almost half of all new teachers spend as much time training as they do teaching and then they are gone.

What is even more sobering to me?  I’ve been a trainer for future teachers for at least two decades now.  I know my students well and keep in close contact with many of them.  I find it very disconcerting that so many of my former students whom I know will make top quality teachers, are the ones who begin talking about leaving the profession the fastest.  The teaching profession in its current state is driving away the cream of the crop.  The best ones have options.  They will be successful whatever path they pursue.  The greater their confidence, creativity and initiative, the more likely they are to look for greener pastures. We are pushing away the wrong people.  Is that our goal?

I know plenty of reasons why teachers are leaving the profession or thinking about fleeing.  But that is material for another post.  I don’t want to enumerate the obvious reasons to leave.  I want to beg great teachers to stay.

Today I want to share my most fervent Christmas wish for teachers.  I want you to continue to teach.  I want you to stay in this profession.  From my heart I want to share a truth with you.  It takes time to reap the fruits of your labor.  Often when you are making the greatest difference, you won’t know it.  It takes sometimes decades of commitment for you to really understand what an impact you have created. The difference you make in your teaching career will outlive you.  Great teaching creates a legacy that will span generations.  I promise you this is the truth.   I’ve lived it.  I know it.  I’m sharing only facts with you that I have discovered (sometimes painfully) during my own teaching career.

Please do me the honor of reading some true stories from my own teaching career.  I know this is risky…providing links to my most meaningful stories.  Many of you will stop reading before you click the first link; but I’m hoping most of you will take the time to read some of my true stories.  If you do invest your time, these stories will inspire you.  That’s a promise.

First read about a thank you letter I wrote to a high school teacher thirty years after I graduated from high school.  Find out how this letter changed her life and mine.

https://daunaeasley.com/2012/07/30/full-circle/

Now read about how a college teacher changed my life in ONE hour.  She never knew the impact she had on me.  Even now, she doesn’t remember my name and doesn’t know how she changed my life in one day.

https://daunaeasley.com/2012/07/18/the-secret-dream/

Once I had a senior girl in my class who was planning to drop out on her 18th birthday. Her birthday was only two months away when she entered my classroom.  See how that turned out.

https://daunaeasley.com/2012/08/20/a-lesson-for-teachers/

I’ll be honest.  Twice I almost quit the teaching profession.  Once was in my second year as a teacher.  I ran into some health problems which I hadn’t encountered before.  I blamed them on the stress of teaching.  I was off school for almost a month.  But I stayed in the profession and I’m glad I did.  The second time I almost quit was in my twenty-fourth year.  I went from teaching in the elementary grades to high school and those teens almost ate me alive.  Read about my toughest year ever.

https://daunaeasley.com/2013/08/26/my-toughest-year-in-the-classroom/

When you bring your own experiences into the classroom and share them with your students, you will absolutely change lives.  How am I sure?  Read this.

https://daunaeasley.com/2012/09/10/teachtochangelives/

So you think you can’t make a difference in someone’s life?  Read this letter a student wrote to me.  Her name was Sarah and she gave me permission to share this with you.  It will take your breath away.

https://daunaeasley.com/2012/11/26/dear-teacher/

In several decades of parent teacher conferences, there are about a dozen that were so memorable, I know I will never forget them.  Here’s just one sample.  It’s a great story.

https://daunaeasley.com/2013/03/11/a-parent-teacher-conference-ill-never-forget/

Someday you will be so excited about a lesson you’ve planned.  Then that lesson will bomb and it hurts.  Fear not.  Someone will hear you.

https://daunaeasley.com/2012/08/13/teaching-strategies/

Why teach?  Why put up with the moderate pay, the long hours, the attacks from the media, the test score tunnel vision, and the inner school politics?  A 17 year old girl in my class revealed her reasons and inspired even this veteran teacher.

https://daunaeasley.com/2012/08/06/the-empty-truck/

Great teaching isn’t a sprint.  It’s a marathon.  Here are some tips I put together to help the best teachers stay in the profession for the long haul.

https://daunaeasley.com/2012/10/15/teacher-for-a-lifetime/

light a candle

Great teachers don’t just dump academic minutia into students or give them a list of facts to memorize for a test.  They light a candle within them.  They teach the skill to problem solve.  They demonstrate the  power of persistence and why to fear the comfort zone.  They ignite their curiosity and jump-start their initiative.  They role model the satisfaction derived from hard work. They encourage creativity and build their self confidence so that students will be able to find new paths to success long after they forget a certain algebraic formula or how to conjugate a particular verb form.  Our students desperately need those greatest teachers.  Please stay and make a difference.  The very best teachers teach to change lives.

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