Saturday, October 15, 2016

This video is a good reminder that our students are human beings dealing with many real issues.

A couple of days ago we had an assembly about a tip/help line in Michigan called ok2say. It covered a number of topics. One was bullying. The presenter showed a video where a boy shown bullying others is handed a pair of empathy glasses by a custodian. Now as he looks at other students he sees words above them that tell what they're going through.

It was a very sobering reminder to me: I have 170 students this term, thus 170 human souls, all in different situations, some good, some far from good. Looking for that video, I happened on this one for teachers. It's geared toward the secondary level, but is really applicable for all walks of life. Many of the people we interact with are "dealing with something"; sometimes they are wearing their game face, sometimes it's really affecting them. Regardless . . .

I usually try to keep my offerings encouraging or cheerful here on UpTeach, but I pass this along to you today with the hopes it might be of service.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

What Bill Gates had to say - about you!

public domain image
Hey, Bill gets us! It's nice to hear a person so identified with technology and business understand that educators are what actually make the difference:

"Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important."

I don't know about you, but sometimes it seems we're In a field where technology is adopted first and then somehow worked into the curriculum later:

"IPads for everyone! Oh . . . wait. . . ."

(Plus that's the other computer company. Sorry, Bill.)

But as Mr. Gates notes above, the important work going on in the classroom is getting the kids collaborating and being interested in what they're being asked to do. All with the ultimate goal of living a life of collaboration and passion. That's what you are doing, colleague!

Thanks for the reminder, Bill!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

These words from Haim Ginott might be a little scary, but they're a lot inspiring.

Here we are, colleague, with about a month under our belts.

I'm a bit late, but I'd like to offer the annual re-posting of one of my favorite thoughts. A few years ago Mr. Matt Reeves, then my assistant principal, read this to the staff on the day before school. I like to pass it on as a first post of the school year, a message that is both cautionary and inspiring:

"I have come to a frightening conclusion.

I am the decisive element in the classroom.
It is my personal approach that creates the climate.
It is my daily mood that makes the weather.
As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child's life 

miserable or joyous.
I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.
I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.
In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis
will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or de-humanized."

~ Haim Ginott 

from Teacher and Child: A Book for Parents and Teachers, 1972

Sunday, May 1, 2016

You are part of a cause larger than yourself!

Happy National Teacher Appreciation Week! I thought I'd pass along some encouragement I encountered while attending a great college commencement ceremony yesterday.

First was something one of the (many) speakers mentioned as an aside, regarding her professors: "They never belittled me for what I didn't know; instead they shared what they knew." What a nice encapsulation of what teaching can be. Even though I know not who or where you are, let me say Thank you, for sharing with your students what you know about your content and about living life positively.

2. The student speaker was from Traverse City, Michigan. She had children at a young age, but still transferred to the four-year university. For some reason she felt she couldn't move. So she commuted. Four hours each way. 30,000 miles in two years. As they say where my wife's from, Holy whuh! There are students out there who care about learning and growing. Not necessarily 30,000 miles' worth, but still. And some of them are in your class and have been blessed in their endeavors by . . .  you.

3. Last but not least, I saw a number of young men and women graduating not in robes and mortarboards, but in dress blues and whites. After being pronounced duly graduated, they took their oaths of office to protect and defend a country. Earlier, at the start of the day I had seen a squad of them in two parallel lines hoist and salute the colors of the nation they believe in and are dedicating their lives to. I realize that, like all human beings, they are doing what they do for various reasons, but it cannot be denied they will also be living for something larger than themselves. They did not merely go to college to get credentialed to get a certain job, in order to have a relatively enjoyable life at a certain economic level. They also will live for a larger purpose.

This can be true for most people, though it might take some mental recalibration. We can just exist or do a job to pay the bills and take the occasional trip (or -- Argh! -- pay the regularly-arriving tuition bills). Or . . . we can know and feel ourselves involved in an important cause, and wake up each day in order to serve in that effort. I would put to you, colleague, that you are involved in the mission to fight ignorance and incivility, and to promote reason and compassion. 

Trust me, I know that the tyranny of the urgent, the mud of the mundane, the drudgery of data-driven-ness all serve to distract us from what we are doing daily: dispelling darkness and engendering growth. But allow me to urge you to remember that we have the good fortune and joy (and yes, stress) of not merely having a day job, but being part of that great cause. We are part of a profession that has at its essence living for something larger than yourself. 

Take heart in that, and have a great Teacher Appreciation Week.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

You'll feel better when you read this hopeful article about teaching.

HERE's an essay recently published in Houghton, Michigan's newspaper, by my former student, Heather French of Lake Linden Public Schools. Heather has a cheering disposition and writes very positively of our profession. This will remind you why you went into education. Hopefully you can echo her closing line. Enjoy.


I am so late to the party! The official #loveteaching week is almost over. It goes through tomorrow, Mon., Feb. 22.

Sean McComb, 2014 National Teacher of the Year, with some friends, organized a week, complete with hashtag, for teachers to promote to each other and to the world the joys they find in their profession.

HERE you'll find his essay about it and some encouraging words.

HERE you'll find a collection of tweets using #loveteaching for identification. Why not add to them?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

How to Feel Less Stressed or Frustrated, With One Sentence

By taking a moment to slowly repeat a phrase or sentence (often called a mantra) -- even just a few times -- you can calm yourself and be mentally sharper. You can do this even during class when all the kids are at work or reading.

Like any profession ours can get stressful or frustrating. So when -- not if --
you're feeling stressed, take a moment and slow your breathing. Then, with each breath, say the following in your head:

"I am helping people grow."

If you like, you might try saying internally "I am" (a potent thought in itself) on the in-breath and "helping people grow" on the out-breath. Do this three to four times slowly, then return to the task at hand.

Simply doing any mini-meditation is helpful in and of itself. It can interrupt your body from a cycle of tension and incomplete breathing if you've fallen into one. Plus, the truth and positive message of this particular mantra can help you remember the value of your work, a factor that raises happiness long-term.  Some years I've even posted this as a sign near my desk to remind me that I'm not just putting in time or earning my daily bread.

Because, it's true. You are helping people grow. Say it one more time in your head, before we part:

"I am helping people grow."

Peace and well-being to you, colleague.