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

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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

The Best

According to my Chinese fortune cookie, he who always does his best, his best will better grow. These are powerful words, as they remind me off all the opportunities we are presented with each day to become the best that we can be. What we need to realize is this requires both feedback AND a willingness to change.

Food for Thought:

Be still and listen

Be receptive of critical feedback from colleagues and administrators

Try to collaborate on a daily basis with grade level colleagues to share ideas

Think About Tomorrow

According to my Chinese fortune cookie, school is a building which has four walls with tomorrow inside. This particular fortune makes me wonder what we do as effective educators to make our students more college and career ready on their journeys to “tomorrow.” Think about one way you can stretch at least one kids thinking in your next lesson.

Food for Thought:

Increased amounts of rigor to expand thinking

Increased opportunities for students to share and/or explain thinking

Increased amounts of accountable talk

Let the Light In

Leonard Cohen once said, “There’s a crack in everything – that’s how the lights get in.”

As the First Marking period is nearing an end for many of us, I stop to think and ask myself what opportunities have I provided for students to let their light shine. For some students, this might mean setting them up for success.

Food for Thought:

Differentiated Instruction for ALL students

Celebrate every success

Set achievable goals with students

Clear up misinterpretations in the moment

Motivation

Jim Rohn once said, “If someone is going down the wrong road, he doesn’t need motivation to speed him up. What he needs is an education to turn him around.”

Think about any students you feel might be headed down the wrong road. What educational opportunities are your providing in an effort to educate. What supports are you providing to turn these students around?