Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Our yearly, somewhat scary (but very inspiring!) back-to-school message for you...

Hello, colleague! Maybe you've been been back to school for a while. Here in Michigan we won't be back at it until September, though today is our first PD day back in the saddle.

Whatever the case: Happy New Year!

Here is the annual re-posting of one of my favorites. A few years ago Matt Reeves, then my assistant principal, read this to the staff on the day before school. So now I 'm passing it on as a back-to-school thought 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

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Boost your happiness and increase your success with one word . . .

Success breeds success. And, success breeds feelings of competency, mastery, and worth. Which, in turn, breed success.

So when you have a small success, even catching some falling DVDs you thought were about to make a big random pile on the floor; successfully balancing out the finances at the end of the pay period; or getting your power steering to stop leaking . . . whatever . . .

Say the word, "Success!"  Say it out loud. Hearing a real voice, even our own, is a form of being spoken to. And this way someone (albeit you) is taking note of a small positive thing you've done instead of just cruising along on autopilot. The more you can notice positives, the more positive a world you get to live in.

And now I've written a new post I hope will help somebody out: Success!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

To change your behavior, change your environs.

How are your resolutions going?

Well, I hope. But changing behavior is hard. There are all sorts of pitfalls. One I heard a psychologist talk about was the rebel-against-the-grownup syndrome. When I am telling me not to eat that donut (or "doughnut" if you prefer), I am the grownup bossing me around . . . and who likes to be told what to do?

Lately in my corner of the blogosphere I've been encountering more and more the idea of "Systems, Not Goals."

The big, early proponent seems to have been Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, and wide-ranging thinker. His blog is HERE; I think you'll really enjoy it. He writes often about what psychology and brain science teach us about real behavior and how to affect it. The idea is not to set goals, but to set up systems and habits so that if you will follow them, good things will happen. Instead of setting a goal you might miss and then feel bad about yourself, set up systems and make them easy or even fun to follow.

I've recently come into contact with another thinker/blogger gaining steam, James Clear, who also writes about how to get ourselves into good habits, based on psychology and neuroscience.

His very simply-designed blog (simplicity is one of his keys) is HERE. That'll link you to a specific post about how our environs help or hinder behavior. Like choosing a gym that is on the commute home, rather than even five minutes the other way. Or buying smaller plates so you eat less. 22% less! on 10-inch plates as opposed to 12-inch.

I got to thinking about my classroom. The environment is constantly giving us cues about what to do. And it makes some behaviors easier and some harder.

I know if I go move a crate of journals off the windowsill and set it near my desk so that I have to walk around it I am more likely to grade them. I've had a student and a custodian with ADD thank me  for having a relatively uncluttered, non-busy classroom. At least for them, it facilitated focusing.

How can you structure your environs, whether kitchen, bathroom, office, classroom, so that it promotes behavior you want to see more of? In yourself or in others?

Be well!