Thursday, December 27, 2012

Do this one thing to feel better and gear up for 2013.

Here it comes. Drumroll . . .

Simply review your accomplishments and progress in 2012.

Yup - that's it. But research shows it really helps with job satisfaction.

Unless you're in a time warp or aging backwards like a Dr. Who character, you're one year older. You are therefore wiser than you were a year ago. Even if it isn't conscious, your brain has made associations and learned from your experiences.

And, you made progress. You took your students from where they were in January to where they got to in June. Depending on your grade level and subject, they gained knowledge, developed skills, or both.

You have taken your current students from where they were in August to where they are now.

Try to think of specific gains, whether by a class or by a particular student.

You also made connections with students. Think of some of those connections.

What other progress or accomplishments did you achieve in 2012? Think of them specifically. List them on paper or computer, to feel even better and have a concrete record to view over the next few days as you prepare for the New Year.

Reviewing progress is one of the best ways to fight the daily grind. And it's an excellent thing to do with your students, who feel the grind as much or more than we do.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"When you feel like giving up . . .

remember why you started."

I am swamped. The daily grind has gotten to me. I forget to do the things that keep me centered and grounded. The fun and novelty of September have worn out. I need to remember that the ground of what I am to be about is love: care and concern for the growth of others. It is more than just working a job, but a very important mission.

Why did you start? It is still a valid reason now. All it takes is remembering.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Is it possible to have a good life without "following your passion"? This guy found out.

Here is an interesting New York Times article by a man who did not have one overarching career passion as a young man. (Same as me.) He notes that the "follow your passion" mantra really didn't apply to him, and actually can scare people about "MAKING THE WRONG CHOICE."

However, he speaks to the qualities that can make any career enjoyable and successful.  I hope it is true with you.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The thrill might be gone. But you can meet the challenge of the normal.

No matter where you are, the school year is well underway. The thrill of the first week has subsided; it feels almost like summer never happened. Now normalcy: the daily task of instructing, encouraging, measuring, consoling, admonishing . . .  in short, teaching. This is a hugely important task you are involved in. Choose your viewpoint: you are fighting against ignorance and sloth, or you are promoting goodness and growth. Either way, your students need you. Fortunately you are equipped to meet this challenge. You are skilled and caring. There are people who love and support you. Go boldly and bless people in the week to come!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Do this, teachers, to feel better (and spread some encouragement)!

Usually when I am doing final grades in our computerized accounting system, I'm crunched for time and don't add comments.

Not so today.

So I'm adding a positive comment for each kid. So far, only one has been difficult. (Finally realized I could comment on her quiet demeanor, which can be quite a plus some days.)

Boy does it feel nice.

You might be a much more reliable commenter than I have been, and you're thinking I'm just getting to where I should have been long before. Guilty as charged.

If you're like me and usually bypassed the comments, however, I recommend it. It's really fun thinking back on each kid and dropping a little encourager, one of our most important roles.

Monday, April 30, 2012

What to tell yourself when you feel like giving up:

Have you tried to start a new habit or pattern of thought, and you're having a hard time sticking to it? We've known for awhile that it's a good strategy to focus on one day at a time rather than forever.

This is what Henrik Edberg recommends in his nice blog post. In it, he offers a "script," prewritten words you can use to encourage yourself to stick to that new behavior until 30 days are up and it is ingrained.

"Just for today I will. . . ."

Try it and see if it helps!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

When times get tough, this eternal truth (via Honest Abe) can really help.

“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. 

They presented him the words: ‘And this, too, shall pass away’.’’ 

~ Abraham Lincoln, 1859

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Try this one technique when you have a big, daunting thing to do.

Although this is not encouragement per se, I'd like to offer a strategy I learned recently, for when you have one or several very large somethings to be accomplished.

Often, you'll read of long, involved, seven-step action plans, or whatever, but this idea is far simpler and makes a lot of sense. And it's been working in my life.

List the long-term things that need accomplishing. Here are mine, just to remove this post from the realm of the hypothetical: clean out and sell my deceased mother's house; self-publish a book I've written; be proficient at teaching via Moodle by next September.

For each one, simply write the next, logical step, and do it. Don't list the nine or thirteen steps that will need to be accomplished to arrive at the big finish. That's too daunting; you might rebel or give up, just from seeing so many darned steps. Simply write the very next step. Then do it. Then write the next and do that. Repeat 'til done.

Be well!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Thank you.

A couple of people lately have thanked me for doing this blog. I appreciated it, as I often wonder if there's anyone out there. And tonight while finally cleaning my classroom, I came across my file of thank you notes and positive comments from students. It was really nice to read through them and remember the kids.

Being as independent on the job as we are, we don't have a manger nearby monitoring what we do and giving us positive feedback when we do well. Of course there are advantages to being relatively unmonitored, but still, we are in a fairly "thankless" profession. And, thanks from the students? Occasionally, yes; but to them, school is "kid jail," and we are the Overlords, not fellow beings who need thanks and kindness as much (or more) as anyone.

So, allow me to thank you, though I don't know who you are. I trust you are an educator, if you're reading this blog, and that's enough for me to know: you do an important job helping prepare young people to be good, competent, positive adults. Think about that grand purpose, and the progress you've made this year so far!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This one sentence from Dr. Wayne Dyer can change the way you interact with every single person.

I am remiss. I was searching this blog to find this quote, and I discovered I hadn't passed it on yet! I truly thought I had, because it has really helped my outlook, keeping love near the center of what I'm about as an instructor and encourager. I hope it helps you, too: 

"See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see."

~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

Monday, February 6, 2012

Thank you, music and art teachers.

It's been a very discouraging couple of days, reading of our district's potential $2 million deficit, which, of course, can't be allowed to happen. On top of that, with report cards in the mail Saturday came a survey to parents with a whole host of things asking us to rate how much or little we'd like to cut them. One was "replace staff with online courses." YIKES!

on Saturday I did get to spend the day at solo and ensemble festival held at our school. I heard the fruits of talent and hard work. I heard judges patiently giving words of instruction and encouragement. I saw parents volunteering to make it happen. I saw lots of kids enjoying music and being around others of like mind and spirit. It's one of those days that gives me hope for the human race. So - here's a special thank you to music and art teachers. Knowledge is what they measure on the ACT, but you address the soul. Thank you.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Do this one thing, to feel better about your job. (And help your students, too.)

I wish I could remember where I read this tip, I would surely give it credit. It was a tip to those who work at desks, in business, who often say they work all day reading and typing, but feel at the end of every day as if they've accomplished . . .  nothing. In the words of Macbeth, "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time." Yikes! I should have titled this post, "How not to be Macbeth"!

So, here's the tip: even if the employee is alienated from his or her work (meaning that it isn't really meaningful other than the paycheck it brings -- see previous post), IF he or she will stop and ruminate at the end of the day on the progress made, it will bring at least a little sense of fulfillment. And, dispel a little of the what-am-I-really-doing-here spiritual malaise that I guess can be common in cubicle land. The article also advised managers to overtly remind their people about the progress they're making.

You and I have one head start in that we are involved in a great cause, preparing the next generation to be as able as it can be, for the good of our state, nation, and world. Plus, many of us teach curricula that progress from day to day, and it is clear we are farther ahead than a month ago. Still, the day to day can get ya down and down. So, stop and think about the progress you've made lately: the good you've done, the stuff the kids know or can do, that they couldn't a few short weeks ago. Hey - good job!

And why not remind the kids of the progress they've made, too? They're in a day-to-day grind perhaps even more than we are: they get no paycheck and feel as if the future we're preparing them for is light years away. "Hey, gang, let's stop a minute and look at the topics we've learned about. . . ."

Have a productive week as you bless others.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Read this great little story from Zig Ziglar to remember your calling.

Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, in his new book, Born to Win, shares this story about having and remembering a higher purpose for what you do.

“Three men were busy at the same task, and a passerby stopped and asked each of the men what they were doing. The first man said, “I am cutting stone.” The second man said, “I am earning my living.” The third man said, “I am building a cathedral.” All three of the men were involved in cutting stone. The first man saw no purpose or value in what he was doing, and my guess is that his days were long and tedious. He probably went home tired and exhausted every night and dreaded going to work each day.

The second man had a different perspective . . .

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Go, You!

"Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come -- and you are that idea." 

 ~ Alan Cohen