Teach Students to Quit (Episode 38)

       Today, we’re gonna show you how to teach students to quit
       Watch the YouTube video here >>> https://youtu.be/2_wc-a2blyk
       If you’re like me, you had teachers, coaches, parents, and other well-meaning people tell you, “Quitters never prosper.” And I believed them … because it sounded wise and encouraging. I think the heart behind the idea is good, not wanting us to be quitters and building up a strong work ethic and grit, which are great qualities that we want in our kids and ourselves.
 Today, we’re gonna show you how to teach students to quit.         Yeah, and we still have the problem of kids not having enough grit. So much softness and willingness to quit, expecting it to come easy to them. This is definitely an issue and something to keep teaching, but as I’ve been a teacher and gotten older and had my own kids, I’m learning that I think we’re going about this the wrong way.
       I was reading Seth Godin a while back and he said: “Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.” And that really resonated with what I’ve been feeling for a long time and even teaching with my students.
       It’s funny because while at the same time we’ve been telling them to try hard and not quit because “Quitters never prosper,” we’ve been giving everyone a trophy to protect them from bad feelings when they try really hard and fail.
       Yeah, and I think there’s a contradiction here. I think what would be a better approach is teaching our kids to quit the right things. I straight up told my middle school students, “Maybe you’re good at that and maybe you suck at that. There’s no shame in sucking at something. That just means that thing isn’t your strength. You’ve got strengths...lots of them...but that one is a weakness or something you don’t care about.
       So what if we could find a way to teach our kids grit and how to quit? What would that look like? How would that give our students (and maybe even ourselves) a greater self-awareness of our strengths and weaknesses?
       I think the students would feel more free to find what they’re passionate about. I think they’d feel less shame for sucking at something. I think they’d feel more freedom to leave things they don’t care about and hunt for the things they’re great at. Yes, internal grit is important, but isn’t it so much more valuable to have grit in something you love? I know I make so much more progress and grit is easier when I love something.
       "You're totally killing their dreams?" a student once said to me. I responded, "I'm not killing their dreams. I'm asking them to think about whether they should." And that's real. We need people in our lives asking us to think about what we're good at and what we're not. It's one of the reasons I like Simon Cowell from American Idol. For all his lack of loving tone, what Simon Cowell did well is tell the truth. Sure, someone could have bought him some tact for Christmas, but he wasn't going to let any delusional person leave that studio thinking they were a good singer if they weren't.
       Now, we need people asking and saying those things in love, just as badly as we need people urging us with love to get more gritty.
       What if you suck at it, but need to be good at it? Then get as good as you need to be, but be a realist about how good you can get. Make sure your weaknesses don't take you down, then double down on your strengths.
       What if you really love it, but you suck at it? There's no reason we shouldn't do things we love, but we might need a reality check about whether we can earn a living doing it. Maybe we need to teach and learn the difference between things we can do for a profession.
       So all said, let’s certainly not abandon teaching grit, but let’s round it with teaching when to quit. Because we need both.
       Conversation of the Day: What is something you quit doing? And how did it feel?
          Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.

Monday Morning Motivation (Episode 37)

        The 20th installment in our series: How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again ... Today, we’re gonna look at why Monday mornings suck! Or do they?
       Watch the YouTube video here >>> https://youtu.be/PgAQFTD2poQ
 The 20th installment in our series: How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again ... Today, we’re gonna look at why Monday mornings suck! Or do they?
       We can count on it. Sunday evening and Monday morning … our social media feed fill up with a dozen memes about how horrible Monday mornings are … but the truth is that for a while now, it’s been making us sad for teachers.
 The 20th installment in our series: How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again ... Today, we’re gonna look at why Monday mornings suck! Or do they? The 20th installment in our series: How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again ... Today, we’re gonna look at why Monday mornings suck! Or do they? The 20th installment in our series: How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again ... Today, we’re gonna look at why Monday mornings suck! Or do they? The 20th installment in our series: How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again ... Today, we’re gonna look at why Monday mornings suck! Or do they? The 20th installment in our series: How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again ... Today, we’re gonna look at why Monday mornings suck! Or do they? The 20th installment in our series: How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again ... Today, we’re gonna look at why Monday mornings suck! Or do they?  The 20th installment in our series: How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again ... Today, we’re gonna look at why Monday mornings suck! Or do they?
        So we wanted to dive into why Mondays suck. I know I am one of those people that struggles with dreading the alarm clock. I’m tired and there is no chance to sleep in, responsibility buzzes and I gotta get going. Can’t be tardy. Gotta survive. But I want to do more than just survive.
        We want to say that we love our fellow teachers, we know the feelings you have about Monday, we’ve been there, but we just can’t sit back and watch everybody so sad and complaining every week. We can all do something about our Mondays. So let’s get into it.
        First off, this is about self-awareness. Do you actually want Mondays to NOT SUCK? Or do you just want to complain that they suck? Or do you know that your colleagues hate Mondays and you know you earn social kudos for tapping into how everyone else feels by complaining too?
        Have you really thought about why you don’t like Mondays? Have you made a list of why you don’t like the start of each week? Do it now. That’s the first step to fixing something is actually seeing it. Put it down in front of you. What things are in your control? What things are out of your control? See what’s going to come at you, then prepare your attitude. We have control over our attitude.
        And let’s be real here, there’s a lot to complain about the teaching profession today. Unions, no unions, low pay, admin that expect too much, testing testing testing, helicopter parents, kids’ shorter attention spans, single family struggles, lack of parent involvement, lower student respect, rampant after-school activities, the out-of-control entitlement attitude of students, the overall lack of respect for our profession. On and on and on. We could talk about those things, sure, but not complaining. We’re teachers. We’re better than complaining. We get crap done. We change the world every week … every day.
        Every Monday, we have the opportunity to make an actual difference in the future of this world. You GET that. THAT IS EXCITING. You ARE that. Do you realize who you are? Do you remember why you became a teacher? We know the system has lots of things in your way of doing that, but you have a career where you actually get paid to change the future on Mondays. Not only the future, but you get to change each kid’s today. As much as you’re able and energized to do, you are the ones who are going to do it.
        And we get to change each others’ Mondays. We already are. It really bums us out how much our attitude collaboration seems to be dragging us all down. What could Mondays feel like if we were all firing each other up and cheering each other on?!
        Are we motivating each other to be stronger or are we encouraging each other to live into the criticisms of stereotypical burnt-out teachers?
        So let’s get back to why Mondays suck. Maybe you’re dreading the worst class of students in your career? What if you’re on a staff that has a poisonous atmosphere? What if you’re not a morning person and hate the alarm clock?
        Or is it cause you’re tired? Saturday and Sunday flew by and you’re wishing you could have another weekend. We’ve been there, for sure. Working on the weekends, working at nights, working over breaks, working over summer. No wonder we’re wanting another break to rest after our breaks … because we didn’t rest during our breaks. We need the rest. You might be burning your candle at both ends and it’s killing you.
        I want to do more than just survive. I want to be around people that are more than surviving. I chuckle at some of the online complaining memes, they’re funny and I connect with them. I’m becoming more aware, though, that not all of them are just funny, they are actually tearing us down. They are making us worse instead of stronger. It reminds me of the saying, “You show me your friends, I’ll show you your future.”
        You show me your memes, I’ll show you your future.
        So how can our collective voice as teachers be empowering, not just for our students, but for each other?
         So fellow teachers, we want to re-empower you with Monday. Each week you get a new opportunity of growing up humans who will change our world. Which means you get to go to bed Sunday night and wake up Monday morning and go to the best job in the world. Remember why you chose this calling and this calling chose you. You are awesome. You are the change. You are the ones who can encourage your fellow teachers. You can encourage your students. Your admin. Your custodians. Your parents. You are the change. So let’s stop the collective complaining and take charge of our Mondays again. We got this. 
        Conversation of the Day: What do you love about teaching that you get to do on Mondays?
          Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.

Finding Your Best Yes (Episode 36)

        The 19th installment in our series: How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again ... Today, we’re gonna help you find Your Best Yes.
      Watch the YouTube video here >>> https://youtu.be/CpJJrkD4M60

      I got this catch phrase from the book The Best Yes by Lysa Terkurst, and she's from our town. I'll be up front and confess that during this phase in my life audiobooks are the only way I can get my reading in. So I read her book and pretty much remember only the title. But the title and the main idea have made their way into our vocabulary and are helping us focus.
 We're back with the 19th installment in our series "How to Leave on Time and NEVER Take Papers Home Again." Today, we’re gonna talk about how a simple question can help you focus on what you should be doing.        Here’s the way this simple question works: at any point during your day, you can ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing ‘my best yes’?” Because if I’m saying “yes” to this task, I’m saying “no” to other tasks. It’s being self-aware of what I’m doing and taking charge of my moments.
        Maybe school got out 20 minutes ago and we’re vegging on Instagram before we start plugging away at our never-ending to-do list. This question we would ask, “Is this my best yes?” If you answer “no,” then you ask yourself, “What would my best yes be?” And you go do that. There’s nothing wrong with vegging for a few minutes, just be aware of what you’re doing and say, “Yes, vegging for 5 minutes is my best yes right now. Set my alarm for 5 minutes of vegging, then choose a new best yes.”
        Or maybe you’ve got four important planning tasks to choose from. Before you dive right in, you could ask, “Which one is my best yes for right now?” Which one do I have enough time for right now? Which one do I have the energy for right now? Which one is super urgent and has to get done? Which one am I procrastinating doing but really should do? It’s self-awareness. I think we can get so wrapped up inside ourselves that we need to stop and see ourselves and our situation from the outside so we can breathe, then do the best yes.
        So it’s a simple question with a deep process. “Is this my best yes?” This is just one more tool to help us not let all our time slip through our fingers each day. 
        Conversation of the Day: Try this question all day today and share the most interesting struggle of your day. Let’s see what we learn about ourselves, our motivations, and our distraction points.

          Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.

Do You Hate the Janitor? (Episode 35)

        Today, we’re gonna talk about a way to communicate empathy with your students through asking questions about how their actions affect others’ lives
        Watch the YouTube video here >>> https://youtu.be/eA_4_quQAD4
       We try not to just tell kids what to think, we want to model ways to question their actions and thoughts so they may grow in knowledge and character, just like we hope to personally do throughout our own lives.
        So ... SITUATION: a student sweeps all those little spiral shreds of paper off his desk onto the carpet.
 Today, we’re gonna talk about a way to communicate empathy with your students through asking questions about how their actions affect others’ lives.          That kid doesn’t get it. Sure, I could call him lazy for not sweeping it into his hand and carrying it to the trashcan. I could be very overt and direct with him about his behavior. But we want him to discover what he just did.
        So I ask him … “Do you hate the janitor?”
        And he looks up at me dumbstruck. It’s a shocking question.
It puts the student on the defensive, but in the times when this question is fitting, we want the student to defend their reasoning for their choice. Did you just make that choice because you hate the janitor?
        STUDENT: “No, of course not.”
        ME: “Then why are you choosing to make his job harder?”
        STUDENT: “I didn’t realize it was.”
        ME: “How do you think this will make his job harder?”
        STUDENT: Tells obvious answer.
        ME: “Next time you see him, can you apologize to him for sweeping paper on the ground and ask his forgiveness?”
        STUDENT: “Uh….”
        ME: “You can do it. It’ll help to see his face. He’ll be super grateful and forgive you. I guarantee.”
        Now, I know the kid isn’t going to actually go to the janitor and ask forgiveness, but the process helps him actually see the janitor for once.
        How can you help your little 1st and 2nd graders through this process of seeing others outside themselves?
        My example with little kids is helping build the foundation of being able to identify feelings and be aware of other people. We talked about feelings and how you can use clues from a person’s words or actions to tell how they are feeling. We talked about treating others the way you want to be treated. I asked a lot of things like, “If [insert other child’s name] took your eraser, how would you feel? So should you take their eraser?” or “Do you like people yelling in your ear? So is yelling in someone else’s ear very kind?” I tried to use teachable moments and we would roleplay if I noticed a trend in behaviors that were disrespectful or unkind.
        With older students, maybe it’s them putting books back in my library in non-alphabetic order, I can ask them, “Are you trying to take time away from my daughters?”
        STUDENT: “What? … No.”
        ME: “Do you realize that when you don’t take the 20 seconds to look at the author’s name and put it where its last name should go, you’re making me do the work for you, which keeps me from going home on time to my daughters and wife who are waiting for me?”
        STUDENT: …
        ME: “I’m not mad at you at all, I just kindly ask you put the books into the library how they belong. Thanks.”
        “Do you hate the janitor?” It’s the kind of question that jolts them out of themselves and gets them to think about others. We don’t want to blame or shame them … we just need a moment for them to be pulled out so they can see. Then we restore them and tell them we know they can do it.
        Sometimes that’s all we need. We can all get wrapped up in ourselves if we’re not careful or if others don’t help us see the world around us.
        Conversation of the Day: What’s something students do on your campus that you wish they would see its impact on others?
          Hop on over to watch the video and share your thoughts in the conversation.
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