Friday, December 24, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Are you on autopilot?

You can "Take charge of your thoughts instead of allowing them to control you."
~ Norman Vincent Peale

Sunday, December 5, 2010

How Not to Be a Zombie

This New York Times article discusses why - maybe - zombies are so hot right now.  In short, mindless slogging is what we fear, and it is what we fear we have already become: purposeless wage slaves, consumer sheep just going through the motions that we have programmed to do.

Psychologists - and Rick Warren - rightly tell us that having and feeling a purpose to our life is a key ingredient to long-term satisfaction and happiness.

Take heart, non-zombie!  You and I, O colleague,  have an advantage: ours is a helping profession. We can exist not on autopilot, but purposefully, to bless others. Our society depends on our shaping future adults to be intelligent and sane. May you have a good week as you go about that serious work, being mindful of your importance! Zombies be gone!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sincere Condolences

My family offers its condolences to the family and friends of Sam Hengel, who was a son, friend, scout, Tae Kwon Do participant, and student.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Focus on a strength.

"The artist who aims  at perfection in everything achieves it in nothing."
~ Eugene Delacroix

It is true you have some weaknesses, like all of us. Chances are they are not sinking you. Certainly you cannot eliminate them all. Effectiveness depends more on focusing on strengths.

Think of a particular strength of yours.

Give thanks for it.

How can you build on it just a little bit, to bless others?

Be well, O colleague.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How you phrase it affects how you think and act.

Another great article about how the symbols and metaphors we use influence behavior! People holding hot or chilled coffee rated people they read about as having warmer or colder personalities.  Reading about scary bacteria or not, influenced how people responded to the issue of immigration.

This is really making me think about how I phrase things, both to myself and to others. One I know I can do better on is saying "I have to. . ." First, that is rarely true. Second, a better way to say it is "I get to . . . ."

How about you?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Careful the things you say . . .

. . . children will listen.

So goes a wonderful song by Stephen Sondheim. And I got some proof of that truth over the weekend. A former student found me online and relayed that somehow, things I had said or done had given her self-confidence in junior high. I have no idea what I did.

The same is true for me and you now. Things you say and do are affecting people in ways you do not know, and perhaps never will.

Although you are not perfect, you often do affect young people in positive ways. Good job.  Keep it up!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Invisible Fruit

In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day's work.  It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years.  
~Jacques Barzun

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Take heart and be courageous!

Many people tell me, "I could never do your job!" Happened again tonight.

Many people couldn't do what you do for a living.

Go get 'em. Bless those kiddies and future adults.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Feeling tired?

If you could go back in time 20 years for a minute and talk to yourself, wouldn't you tell yourself to enjoy being so young?

Guess what - you're pretty young and vibrant NOW compared to 20 years from now. You are alive and have energy in reserve if you will feel it and use it.

Have a good week. You are helping minds grow.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hang in there . . .

"It's often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock."
~ Chinese proverb

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

the value of what you do: getting them from pit, to peach

Training is everything.  The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.  

~ Mark Twain

Saturday, October 23, 2010

You are often a good example. Keep it up!

The effect of precept is slow and tedious;
That of example is quick and effectual.
~ Seneca

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

four things your students really need

Thanks to Ms. Wendy Byard (see Oct 18 post, below), we have a quick article from Harvard Business Review. 

Four things employees (your students) need.

Guess what #1 is?  Read here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

What is your teaching founded on?

Reading a magazine from our union (not often real hopeful stuff, right?), I turned the page and found a very moving article by English professor and author Wendy Byard. It's about her perseverance in working with a challenging student and the effect it has on him.

So I visited her website and found she is the author of a book whose subtitle includes the phrase "Teaching with Love."

From her website: 
"It seems God has been trying to teach me a great lesson. It wasn't enough that I was a knowledgeable or skilled teacher. It wasn't enough that I worked hard. It wasn't even enough that I cared for my students. No, I began to understand that God wanted much more from me -- what he wants from all teachers. He wanted me to love my students and show it."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

advice from Norman Vincent Peale

"Rid yourself of all sick thoughts -- hate, resentment, inferiority and the like.

Easier said than done.  Try replacing sick thoughts by focusing on positives.  Pray for, or think positively toward, kids who make your life rougher.  Remember your strengths.  Recall your successes.  Think on the many advantages to your job.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Are they getting you down?

The thrill of the new year officially ended for me this week.

Homecoming was last week. Now it's total normalcy. Plus, four weeks of hundreds of only-somewhat civilized teenaged human beings is wearing on me.

So now what? I remember that I like my job for the most part, and that it has many advantages. I think (right now as I write) about small successes I've already had so far this year. I pray for the students who annoy me or worse.

We do what we can do. You have the inner resources for this, as do I. Fight the good fight, acknowledging that it is in many ways a struggle against darkness. Keep well, colleague.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Are you in adversity?

"In adversity keep motivated, for often the best comes from difficulty." 
- Norman Vincent Peale

Note on the pic: A butterfly must struggle out of the cocoon to squeeze moisture out of its wings.  Without the struggle, it falls to the ground and dies. 

Chin up, colleague.  You do have the inner resources to face the challenge, be better for it, and bless others.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Remember that you are successful.

A pastor and instructor of preaching, Rev. Diana Goudie, once taught me this.  I think it's very applicable to teaching.

Judge your success not by how many people follow. 
Judge your success by your faithfulness in showing the way.

Be well, colleague.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

my favorite education quote

Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself. ~ Chinese proverb

Something tells me if you are reading this blog, you are doing a good job at "opening the door," and getting the students to enter.  Though, of course, it is ultimately up to them.  Be well and have a blessed week as you bless others.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Time for a little humor.

"Isn't the principal a dummy!" said a boy to a girl.
"Well, do you know who I am?" asked the girl.
"No." replied the boy.
"I'm the principal's daughter." said the girl.
"And do you know who I am?" asked the boy.
"No," she replied.
"Thank goodness!" said the boy with a sigh of relief.

joke originally found here

Friday, September 17, 2010

How to Improve Your Patience

Feeling hurried and harried yet, at this point in the year? Hope not, but if you need a little patience boost, click here to go to a post at The Positivity Blog.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Read this Mitch Albom column if you need reassurance . . .

. . . that some people do "get" how big our task is.

Mitch Albom is in Korea.  He compares their kids (and culture) with ours. I'm not sure this qualifies as "encouraging," but it is somehow reassuring to me that someone "gets" that we educators do not have an easy task; and that the fact that our kids do not perform as well as many countries' children is not the fault of me and you. Read "Korea's kids just like ours, 100 years ago" here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Think about what you want to happen tomorrow.

“Our thoughts create our reality — where we put our focus is the direction we tend to go.” 
~ Peter McWilliams

I do not know of Mr. McWilliams, but he has very succinctly described the value of a positive focus.  

I'm writing this on a Sunday evening. Let me invite you (and me) to think of something successful from last week at school . . .

. . . Good; now think of how you intend things to go this week: your classroom climate, interactions, learning objectives, etc. Go get 'em. You can do it. 

Be well.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

an inspiring (and challenging) thought as school begins

A couple of years ago Matt Reeves, then my assistant principal, read us this the day before school, and I offer it now as a back to school thought:

"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, Teacher and Child: A Book for Parents and Teachers
(New York: Macmillan, 1972), 15.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Inspiring Video

Our superintendent, Ms. Michelle Burley, steered us in Escanaba to this inspiring video about your importance.  It's geared to the start of the year, and I realize some of you have been at work for weeks, but you 'll gain from it nonetheless. Be well!

Friday, September 3, 2010

How is your language affecting your reality? A link to a great article.

Yes, I do believe there is an objective reality "out there." But you can't deny that each of lives in our own mental universe, made up of our understandings of people and things.  As the Hebrew scriptures tell us, "As one thinks, so one is."

If we will choose more positive language to describe people and situations, we will think, feel, and act more positively, especially in dealing with challenges. I'll confess I often forget to do this, but when I do speak and think more positively, it does change my feelings toward a person or situation. Even using the word "challenge" instead of "problem."  Advertisers and governments daily demonstrate that they do not underestimate the power of words to shape people's actions.

Along these lines, here's  a fascinating article,

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

a joke


"Jill," a teacher reprimanded the teenager in the hall, "do you mind telling me whose class you're cutting this time?"

"Like," the young teen replied, "uh, see, okay, like it's like I really don't like think like that's really important, y'know, like because I'm y'know, like I don't get anything out of it."

"It's English class, isn't it?" replied the smiling teacher.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

an encouraging thought

"We are the great explainers."
~ Yvonne Mains
Yvonne is a colleague of ours at Bark River Harris Schools, in the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  She spoke these words when I was feeling down about whether the world would soon need flesh-n-blood teachers, what with so much distance- and programmed-learning available.  It cheered me up, actually, and still does, whenever I think, "You know, these kids could read/view/practice all this stuff themselves."  But then the rejoinder comes to mind, thanks to Yvonne:

"They could . . . but we are the great explainers."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

how to get things done

Here's an interesting philosophical post about how acceptance of how things are can help you to get things done.

I would add three more suggestions.

1. Start.

2. If it's a cleaning task, handle each item only once.

3. Take five.  E.g., grade five essays, then take a break.  Do five more, etc.

You can do it!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Does it matter what you do?

Author unknown, loosely based on an essay in The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley.

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Let the world know about one of your teachers.

Leave a comment below to "name names," but in a good sense: acknowledging a teacher or two and what they taught you, whether purposefully or "merely" by example.

Then let them know there is a shout-out about them for all the world to see. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Who are you?

What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches.
~ Karl Menninger

We have five weeks left until school begins again, here in Michigan. Perhaps less where you are?

Well -- keep rejuvenating and attending to your be-ing. Become who you are. Those who will be your students are waiting in the wings; you will affect many of them for the better, just as you have done before.

"Believe in yourself!" Here's how . . .

Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy. 
~ Norman Vincent Peale

As school approaches I start to get nervous. Still, after 20 successful years. 

Dr. Peale advises us above to believe in ourselves. Often you'll hear speakers (maybe even me or you!) say that to kids: "Just believe in yourself."  But usually we believe in something we have evidence of. If I've actually been successful at getting on base lately, I'm much more likely to believe in myself as a baseball player, right?

So rather than just mindlessly saying, "I believe in my abilities," I think I'll do a little self-imposed cognitive therapy; take a moment, and reflect on some of the evidence that I am competent: student achievement, kind words students have said about life in my classroom, good evaluations from administrators I trust.  All this helps me believe in myself and have faith in my abilities.

May it be so also with you,

The Teacher Encourager