- The Student-Teaching Model Is Outdated: Here's How We Can Do Better - September 15, 2021
- Visualize: How Seeing What's Coming Changed My Teaching - August 16, 2021
- 10 Lessons About Teaching from My Youngest Son - June 24, 2021
- Ending the Epithet “Try-Hard” Once and for All in Classrooms - June 18, 2021
- From STEM, Let's Pivot to the BRANCHES of the Humanities - May 25, 2021
- Would Education Collapse If Teachers Stopped Working for Free? - May 20, 2021
- 10 Ways to Teach Like Ted Lasso: Part II - April 21, 2021
- 8 Tips So Your Substitute Plans Don't Suck - April 14, 2021
- 10 Ways to Teach Like Ted Lasso: Part I - March 12, 2021
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers: Habit 3 - First Things First - February 26, 2021
We're halfway through the second decade of the 21st century, and, with it, we have much to look forward to:
1.Gaining a fresh start - singer Brad Paisley is credited with saying, "Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.” Far too often we need a breaking point. Sometimes it's the school year. Sometimes it's the new year.
2.Pick up a book and gain perspective - Gallup and The Atlantic published a study in 2014 that served as a warning sign for literacy - only 28% of Americans read about a book a month, which is down from 42% in 1978. Conversely, the amount of Americans who don't read has increased in that similar time span from 8% to 23%. Among those 23% are surely a high amount of teachers. How does one help learners when they cease to learn themselves
3.Stop watching national TV news and start reading it instead - the Walter Cronkite era has long but died out, and gone is much of the fair reporting of the news. In its place has come a hyper-partisan, super-angry, sound-byte-driven, celebrity-obsessed national media. You ever realize when you're being pulled into a movie and your thoughts changed without even realizing it? That's what the national media is doing to people today. You won't find that in news you read; rather, you'll form an opinion on your own.
4.Enriching your life with "random acts of kindness" - it's amazing what doing something nice - without even thinking about it - will do for your day. A colleague who had to endure the pain of losing her child last year asked some of us to participate in a "random act of kindness" honoring her daughter. I bought a kid a donut at the bakery. As he ate it and I watched him, I almost cried thinking of her loss. But then I smiled thinking knowing I made that young boy's day.
5.Continuing or reconnecting with an old tradition - whether it's watching the ball drop on the couch with your family as you clink sparkling grape juice, celebrating the first day of snow melting by running outside, having the students share their new year's resolutions, or having a family reunion, traditions are fantastic. Keep yours going, find and connect with an old one you used to love, or start your own.
6.Connecting with that student who irks you the most - you know who that student is. You see them on the absentee list and do a little jig. In 2016, make it a point to go out of your way for them. They probably need some friendliness in their life. Maybe you're the only one who can provide it.
7.Visiting other teacher's rooms - NEA's Education Week reported there are plenty of teacher bashers out there. Sometimes it makes us feel like we're on our own, pushing ourselves to teach students something new we think would be great for them, re-teaching something they didn't learn, grading assessments, and just trying to get out the door at the end of the day. But we're in this together. Think about the last time you saw a colleague whose company you enjoy but is on the other side of the school. Go visit.
8.Contacting home to celebrate - it's amazing when I call home to say "Johnny did x,y,z really well" that I have to first tell parents, "Take a breath - this is good news!" Let's turn a leaf by beginning to make positive phone calls home.
9.Learning when/how to turn off work email - the more students (or more demanding students) you teach and the more involved you are at your school or district, the more emails you'll get. Don't be answering them all day. Pick a time in the morning to answer them, and then pick a time in the afternoon to answer them. Then enjoy your students, enjoy your free time, and enjoy your day.
10.Throwing a post-No Child Left Behind party - Ding, dong, the witch is dead!
11. Contacting a state legislator - now that the Every Student Succeeds Act is in place, the states have a larger role to play in setting educational policy. Don't let them cut out the experts -- YOU! -- because they will trod ahead on their own if you remain silent.
12.Registering to vote and then voting - select which state legislators you have to contact by electing them. The National Census reports that only ⅔ of Americans are registered to vote, while approximately 60% of them vote in presidential elections, 40% in national and state elections, and 20% in local elections. That means 1 in 5 parents aren't helping to choose a pro-public education school board. When you do register and vote together as a bloc, as our local teacher's union does, we generate plenty of attention. In the last week, I've spoken to at least 10 people about a hotly contested State Senate race because we have 600 teachers who will receive our endorsement.
13.Enjoying the end of the presidential race - God, we can't wait until it's over. It doesn't matter your party, your opinion, or your profession.
14.Listening to music (in class) - Spin Magazine reports that Americans listen to an average of 4 hours of music each day, while Buffer analyzes the impact of music on the brain. The results? Some things can be negative (music certainly can distract us), but the overall benefits are great. And who's thinking about the 2016 Presidential Election when listening to Coldplay's new album or a throwback to Bruce Springsteen?
15.Spending time with family - Yes. More of this, please.
16.Finding things cause a contagion of smiles - poet T.S. Eliot is credited with asking New Year's patrons to "Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year." Laugh. Live. Love. Smile. Pass it on to others. Repeat 365 times or more.