Solitude

Laurence Sterne once said, “In solitude the mind gains strength and learns to lean upon itself.” As we think about our own teaching and/or learning experiences, how often do we establish a calm and peaceful learning environment?

Food for Thought:

  • Incorporate mindfulness breaks into a typical day
  • Provide opportunities for students to “be still and listen”
  • Provide for effective transition and/or movement breaks
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Discipline

Discipline is a process that uses teaching, modeling, and other appropriate strategies to maintain behaviors that ensure a safe, orderly, and productive learning environment by changing unacceptable behavior to acceptable behavior.

In thinking about your own teaching experiences, how often do you reinforce appropriate behaviors? How often do you focus on the inappropriate behaviors?

Food for Thought:

  • Recognize and reinforce ALL positive behaviors, even the “baby steps” that some kids make
  • Work with parents and families to create a successful plan for success
  • Explicitly teach, model, and practice appropriate behaviors and/or expected outcomes

A Matter of Choice

Haim Ginott once said” I have come to a frightening conclusion. I am the decisive element in my 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 my students life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or hurt, humor or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and my student humanized or de-humanized.”

Upon reading this, I am constantly reminded that all our “choices” have a consequence. Only we are in control of this.

Food for Thought:

Stop and Think: Be Proactive vs. Reactive

Be mindful of difficult moments

One Less Defeat

Maya Angelou once said, “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.”

Reading this reminds me of a recent situation that I encountered with students. Several of them were really struggling with a new skill. My philosophy has always been to push kids to excel by stretching their limits. This particular group of students does not respond to this. On this particular day, all of the inappropriate language and teacher bashing hit a critical point in which I was forced to make a decision: stay engaged with the group or leave them be. Ultimately, I chose to stay engaged and posed a challenge to them: offering them a choice to be creative in your insults, i.e. no swearing allowed. This indeed took them by surprise, as I opened an “outlet” for them. Immediately, we took a quick break and tackled the next work task without any fail.

Food for Thought:

Know your students

Anticipate difficult spots and plan accordingly

A New Attitude

Maya Angelou once said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

When reading this quote, I am often reminded of the many times, we sometimes feel powerless. I then take a step back and remember that we do have autonomy over most of what we are asked to do. Sometimes this requires changing our mindsets, even though it can be difficult.

Food for Thought:

Turn at least one negative into a positive

Advocate your students

Collaborate with colleagues on a regular basis

Share a “best practice” with a colleague

Hear Me

Ram Dass once said, “The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.” When reading this quote I am often reminded about all the missed opportunities for our students for peer-to-peer discourse activities.

Food for Thought:

Less teacher talk and more student talk

Daily reflections for students to share thinking

Circulate and watch and/or listen to the kids

Lift Me Up

John Holmes once said, “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” This make me stop and think about all the negativity we experience as teachers. What we must remember is to stop and think before acting. Will my reaction be in the best interest of my students?

Food for Thought:

Be still and listen

Be proactive instead of reactive

Be positive with a colleague and/or student that you have difficulty with