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”

Change Your Mindset, Change Your Life

The Seven Greatest Gifts We Can Give Our Students –  Gift #2

Another essential gift we must give to our students is the power to believe in themselves. We need  students to believe that with hard work and effort, they can achieve anything they set their minds too. Too many people go through life doubting themselves and being afraid to follow their dreams. We must give students the gift of knowing that if they change their mindset, they can change their life!

Luckily, Dr. Carol Dweck has brought the idea of developing students mindsets to the forefront of education and I am very grateful for her work. In her amazing book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck defines two contrasting mindsets that people generally fall into; a growth mindset or a fixed mindset.

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7 Days of 7 Secrets: The Greatest Gifts We Can Give Our Students

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! We hope your students are showering you with the well-deserved praise and appreciation that you deserve. We would like to mark this occasion with a series of short blog posts that will help you show YOUR appreciation of your STUDENTS! We are going to post a mini-series of articles explaining the greatest gifts we can give our students (No, we are NOT talking about Fidget Spinners again). We are talking about the knowledge and skills that kids need to be successful in life. We believe that we need to teach kids the real skills they are going to need to be successful in the world, no matter what career, college, or community they end up in. So, enjoy the gifts you receive this week, and pay them back a hundredfold with these!

Gift #1: The Big Secret to Success

Continue reading “7 Days of 7 Secrets: The Greatest Gifts We Can Give Our Students”