Dear Future Teachers…

I hope you realize how special it is to become a teacher. Teaching is challenging, exhausting, demanding but on top of it all, it’s worth it.

This job is more than just teaching division or the War of 1812. This job is about raising the potential of humanity. You are making the world a better place. You are important.

Continue reading “Dear Future Teachers…”

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#TeacherGoals

New Year #TeacherGoals

Welcome back to the new school year! We hope your summer was as great as ours! I (Zach) took a 10-day trip through the Canadian Rocky Mountains with my brother while Grayson and his family went to Arizona to hike the Grand Canyon. As awesome as summer was, we’re both ready for a new year, new excitement, new challenges, and great new students! While we took a break from blogging over the summer, we definitely didn’t turn our minds off of school. We attended and presented and many conferences and read many new educational books to fire us up for the new year! Continue reading “#TeacherGoals”

Gift #7: The Essence of Empathy

Do you feel… Do you feel like we do?

-Peter Frampton

I recently read a blog post directed towards administrators of schools and other people in charge of hiring new employees. There, it was claimed that it’s too often the case that we hire applicants based on the right answers rather than truly finding the right people.  When hiring a single teacher can really be a 3 million dollar decision over the course of a 30 year career, it’s clear that we should be taking due diligence in hiring the right people. One of the most important qualities that leads to being a “right people” person, in my humble opinion, is emotional intelligence. A person’s EQ, in many aspects, is more important than an IQ. Additionally, emotional intelligence is far more malleable and able to be influenced by “nurture” versus “nature”. And so, as we search for one last gift to give our students, the gift of understanding feelings seems like a necessary choice.

Continue reading “Gift #7: The Essence of Empathy”

Gift #6 – Making a Positive Impact on The World

For years in college classes and in various new teacher training’s, I was told over and over that the larger purpose of school and education is “to prepare students to participate in America’s democratic society.” While this is based off of the highly regarded work of John Dewey, I have to admit, I’ve always had a problem with this definition.

To me, this definition is like when teachers used to say that I would need to know whatever they were teaching “when I got to the real world.” Can you think of a less motivating reason than that to get a kid engaged in learning? I can’t. When I heard that as a kid, I thought, “Phew, I’m off the hook… I won’t need to know this for another 15 years!”

My beef with John Dewey’s definition is that based on his idea, we are preparing students to be a citizen in our society someday in the future. Shouldn’t we be preparing kids to be apart of our society and world right now? Shouldn’t we be encouraging them that they can and should be making a positive impact on the world now? No one said you have wait until you’re 18 before you make a world a better place.

Below I will explain how I encourage my students to be positive and productive citizens, right here and now.

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Kindness Keeps the World Afloat

Gift #5 – Happiness is Helping Others

My first principal, Mrs. Linda Kehm, of Lakeside Elementary School, was best known to the her elementary students as having coined the phrase, “Kindness Counts”. My younger brother even won an award for his public displays of kindness after I had moved on to the middle school. While I was never bestowed with this prestigious honor, the importance of kindness stuck with me, permanently ingrained, and as a teacher I realize how important it is to emphasize its power to students as early and often as you can.

If you’ve been following along with our recent series, The Seven Greatest Gifts You Can Give Your Students, you might be wondering where to begin, or how to fit it all in to our already over-crowded plates. For us, the inspiration and messaging of our classroom culture of kindness all started with one video. That video was the seed that we planted in the beginning and watched grow all year. Check it out! Watch as the camera tracks a single act of kindness as it’s passed from one individual to the next and (spoiler alert) manages to “boomerang” back to the person who set it into motion. Continue reading “Kindness Keeps the World Afloat”

Positive Energy, Powerful Results

The Seven Greatest Gifts We Can Give Our Students

“You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind

The scene was 2003 and the Berkley Bears hockey team was losing by three goals late in the second period of a semifinal playoff game. Players’ heads sagged on the bench, the team looked down and out. Unless of course, you looked behind the bench. There, you would undoubtedly find one particular coach pacing up and down, energy as high as ever, yelling to the players, “All we need is one, boys! All we need is one!” That coach was my dad and one of the earliest and most important lessons he taught me was the power of positivity. This is a lesson I try to teach my students every day and one of the greatest gifts we as teachers can give to our students.

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Developing An Attitude of Gratitude

The Seven Greatest Gifts We Can Give Our Students – Gift #3

We’ve blogged before about the importance of living mindfully, for teachers and students alike. Mindfulness in itself is a gift that we must strive to give to our students. We have to let them know that there’s a fulfilling way to live their lives that leads to contentment. Bringing a sense of peace, calm, and serenity to the classroom can pave the way for a culture of safety, curiosity, and deep learning. In this post, we’ll remind you of all the reasons you want to teach your students to be present in the moment, but we’ll also add another important dimension to this philosophy: cultivating the attitude of gratitude in your students and yourself.

Previously, Zach wrote about one simple word that can change one’s life: YET. There’s another magical word that our classroom reveres… and it isn’t “please” or “thank you”. The word that we put up on a pedestal (right next to yet) is: GET. Yes, the title of this blog post is an in-line rhyme. And yes, YET rhymes with GET… but the way in which this word can change the culture of your classroom is very different and equally powerful. Whereas YET can turn a fixed mindset into a growth mindset, GET plants the seeds of gratitude in the hearts and minds of our kids.

Continue reading “Developing An Attitude of Gratitude”