Tag: Influence



In Future Driven, I wrote about how educators often want something that can be implemented quickly. We want something we can learn on Tuesday and use on Wednesday.

We want the strategy that can be used tomorrow. We want the handout, the cheat sheet, the quick fix. The hack. We want solutions that can be tossed in the microwave and heated up when we need them. Even if they taste like crap.

But the best solutions aren’t microwave friendly. They come through deliberate practice. They come through deeper thinking. They come by shifting perspective. So kick the quick fix to the curb. Do the hard work of challenging the status quo. Ponder the deeper questions and look at the world in new and interesting ways.

Question everything.

Getting better results doesn’t happen by having a magic bullet. There are no magic bullets. Better results come from having a long term perspective and working diligently to make things better now and in the future. We need to have a process for growth we can rely on, not just a quick fix.



Quick fixes usually make things better just for a moment. But looking good is not the same as being good. Looking good is on the surface. It’s superficial. We want to actually be good and continue getting better. Ultimately, we want to help students succeed for the long term, not just for today.

Lots of educators are working tirelessly every day to try to make sure students succeed. They are trying to be as productive as they possibly can. They’re putting out fires left and right. They’re dealing with urgent problems. They’re attending workshops to learn new ideas. And trying to implement new ideas.



But many feel like they’re spinning their wheels. And it’s no wonder.



In the busyness of everything that’s urgent, it’s really easy to neglect the importance of growing. Are you really examining your own growth? Are you looking inward? Are you developing greater self-awareness? Are you reflecting? And most importantly, are you really investing in building your own capacity?



Schools need to create environments to support educators in the process of growth. We must make sure professionals are given time, encouragement, and opportunity to build their own capacity. Leadership needs to support growth, not just demand productivity.



We focus lots of energy on problems. But how much time are we focusing on how we can become better problem solvers? Too much professional learning seems to try to “teacher-proof” the instructional process. It turns educators into implementers instead of initiators. And that’s clearly not professional learning. I believe professional learning should actually help people grow as people and professionals.



One of the best strategies for solving problems is building capacity for solving problems. Everything about your school can be improved as the people in your school grow and learn together, all of them—students, teachers, everyone. The best way to improve a school is for the people in the school to be focused on improving themselves. The entire school becomes a dynamic learning environment.



Here are 5 ways you can be more dynamic in your learning and build your capacity for solving problems:



1. Listen Before You Act



As we get input from our colleagues, mentors and PLN, we can grow into problem-solving before we rush into problem-solving. We become more like the people we spend the most time with. Spend more time with people who are growing and who are capable problem-solvers. Soon, you’ll be stronger too. 



2. Think, Don’t React



Better schools are built on better thinking. Take the limits off and look at issues from all sides and as objectively as possible. Emotions may say one thing, but careful thought may lead you in a different direction.



3. Test Ideas and Solutions



We can become better problem solvers when we are open to trying creative solutions. Generate lots of ideas and test them. We can’t keep doing the same things and expecting different results. Try a slightly different approach. Try a radically different approach. And see what works. Sometimes a massive change is needed.



4. Make Time for Learning



The most successful people make time for learning, not just doing. Benjamin Franklin, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates all follow the 5-hour rule. At least five hours a week should be dedicated to learning something new. Always be learning.



5. Look Within, Reflect



Self-awareness allows us to examine our own thought process. When we take time to reflect, we learn more from our experiences and the experiences of others. Without reflection, we are constrained by our bias, blind spots, and habits. We won’t grow as problem-solvers unless we acknowledge the areas where we need to continue to learn and grow.



So what’s your reflection on these thoughts? Are you making time to learn and grow? Are you only focused on being productive (checking off your list each day)? Or, are you also focused on building your capacity? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I would love to hear from you.












      

Read More 5 Ways to Build Capacity for Solving Problems



George Couros had a great post recently, Relationships Are the Foundation of Great Schools (But They Aren’t Enough). He points out that it’s essential to build great relationships in schools, but we can’t stop there. It’s also essential to leverage strong relationships into growth for self and others. We become stronger when we are connected and when we are committed to pushing for better outcomes.



This discussion reminded me of the study from Judith Kleinfeld (1975) where she coined the term Warm Demander to describe teachers who are both warm (relationship builders) and demanding (communicating high expectations). She found that students whose teachers combined these qualities were more successful academically. But I’m guessing they were also more successful in a whole variety of ways.



I’ve noticed over the years just how difficult it can be to balance warmth and expectations. Some people tend to be really relationship-oriented but struggle to communicate and insist on high expectations. Others have very high expectations and push students to succeed but don’t make the personal connections that are needed to go next level.



I believe students will always do better with a teacher who cares about them, believes in them, and seeks to know them better. Strong relationships are extremely valuable in the classroom. The teacher who is demanding but fails to build relationships may get results in the short term, but it will probably only last as long as they are still pushing. 



The teacher who can build relationships while maintaining high expectations has the best chance to inspire learning. They can have a transformational impact. They help a student have a pivotal experience. They help them change directions. The student takes a new path entirely because of the influence of the teacher. 



From the beginning, warm-demanding teachers are communicating with students that they are going to push them. They let their students know they have very high expectations because they care about them. Let students know up front that you’re going to expect more of them than they think they can give. Then it won’t be a shock when you actually do expect more of them than they’ve been used to.



I noticed this tweet from Tobie Taylor Jones and thought it captured the essence of the warm-demanding teacher.

I wrote this for my students. It was inspired by another piece; please forgive me as I don’t know the original author who inspired me! All my students have read it. After being with me for 1/2 the year, they said this is accurate! I hope they know I love them. @Bville_Schools pic.twitter.com/Vcn6qF9GRj

— Tobie Taylor Jones (@tobiemichele) February 3, 2018



It’s so important to bring this type of energy and attitude to the classroom. Life will be demanding, and kids can’t develop the resilience and perseverance needed if they aren’t pushed out of their comfort zones. We don’t want to send kids out of our schools believing they are entitled. In life, you must work for everything you get.



Here are some other resources that provide more information about what it means to be a warm-demanding teacher. It’s important to build relationships and be relentless to ensure students are meeting their growth potential.



Being a Warm Demander – Steve Barkley

How does a teacher communicate caring and expectational beliefs in a way that most positively impacts student achievement? Judith Kleinfeld coined the term warm demanders when describing teachers who most successfully supported student achievement. Creating four quadrants with a vertical scale running from low to high expectations and a horizontal scale running from low to …

——————– 

The Warm Demander: An Equity Approach | Edutopia

“Warm demander” teachers expect great things from their students, convince them of their own brilliance, and help them reach their potential in a disciplined, structured environment. Recently, I was talking with a high school student about his frustrations with a first-year teacher. The student said, “I like [the teacher] because he’s understanding, but he doesn’t require enough discipline.

——————– 




(null)

——————–



Where are you on this continuum? Do you build relationships while also being relentless? I think it’s true for teachers and for school leaders. It’s important to be caring and to communicate expectations. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I want to hear from you!

Read More Build Relationships and Be Relentless



George Couros had a great post recently, Relationships Are the Foundation of Great Schools (But They Aren’t Enough). He points out that it’s essential to build great relationships in schools, but we can’t stop there. It’s also essential to leverage strong relationships into growth for self and others. We become stronger when we are connected and when we are committed to pushing for better outcomes.



This discussion reminded me of the study from Judith Kleinfeld (1975) where she coined the term Warm Demander to describe teachers who are both warm (relationship builders) and demanding (communicating high expectations). She found that students whose teachers combined these qualities were more successful academically. But I’m guessing they were also more successful in a whole variety of ways.



I’ve noticed over the years just how difficult it can be to balance warmth and expectations. Some people tend to be really relationship-oriented but struggle to communicate and insist on high expectations. Others have very high expectations and push students to succeed but don’t make the personal connections that are needed to go next level.



I believe students will always do better with a teacher who cares about them, believes in them, and seeks to know them better. Strong relationships are extremely valuable in the classroom. The teacher who is demanding but fails to build relationships may get results in the short term, but it will probably only last as long as they are still pushing. 



The teacher who can build relationships while maintaining high expectations has the best chance to inspire learning. They can have a transformational impact. They help a student have a pivotal experience. They help them change directions. The student takes a new path entirely because of the influence of the teacher. 



From the beginning, warm-demanding teachers are communicating with students that they are going to push them. They let their students know they have very high expectations because they care about them. Let students know up front that you’re going to expect more of them than they think they can give. Then it won’t be a shock when you actually do expect more of them than they’ve been used to.



I noticed this tweet from Tobie Taylor Jones and thought it captured the essence of the warm-demanding teacher.

I wrote this for my students. It was inspired by another piece; please forgive me as I don’t know the original author who inspired me! All my students have read it. After being with me for 1/2 the year, they said this is accurate! I hope they know I love them. @Bville_Schools pic.twitter.com/Vcn6qF9GRj

— Tobie Taylor Jones (@tobiemichele) February 3, 2018



It’s so important to bring this type of energy and attitude to the classroom. Life will be demanding, and kids can’t develop the resilience and perseverance needed if they aren’t pushed out of their comfort zones. We don’t want to send kids out of our schools believing they are entitled. In life, you must work for everything you get.



Here are some other resources that provide more information about what it means to be a warm-demanding teacher. It’s important to build relationships and be relentless to ensure students are meeting their growth potential.



Being a Warm Demander – Steve Barkley

How does a teacher communicate caring and expectational beliefs in a way that most positively impacts student achievement? Judith Kleinfeld coined the term warm demanders when describing teachers who most successfully supported student achievement. Creating four quadrants with a vertical scale running from low to high expectations and a horizontal scale running from low to …

——————– 

The Warm Demander: An Equity Approach | Edutopia

“Warm demander” teachers expect great things from their students, convince them of their own brilliance, and help them reach their potential in a disciplined, structured environment. Recently, I was talking with a high school student about his frustrations with a first-year teacher. The student said, “I like [the teacher] because he’s understanding, but he doesn’t require enough discipline.

——————– 




(null)

——————–



Where are you on this continuum? Do you build relationships while also being relentless? I think it’s true for teachers and for school leaders. It’s important to be caring and to communicate expectations. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I want to hear from you!

Read More Build Relationships and Be Relentless





I’m interested in how educators can help students develop resilience and problem solving. On the one hand, students need to develop independence and healthy coping. On the other hand, caring adults need to provide appropriate support.



After all, we have more wisdom, life experience, and emotional support than most students. You never know what they are facing at home. You never know the battles they are fighting on the inside. Life can be tough.



It’s not uncommon to see difficult behaviors surfacing as a result of what a kid is dealing with on the inside. Kids don’t need more judgment, harshness, or anger in their lives. What they really need is for the caring adults in their life to lend them some strength to carry on, to help them get to a place where they can be stronger on their own.



Remember, how you treat your students says far more about you than it says about them. No matter how they act or what they say, you have the opportunity to speak encouragement and hope into their day.



Here are five ways to offer your strength and dignity to a student who is struggling. It’s all about lifting them up and helping them stand on their own.



1. Focus on who students are becoming, not just who they are right now.



Every kid needs someone to believe in them, to advocate for them, to champion for them. You never know who this child might become some day. He or she has great value and worth, and you can help shine a light on it.



2. Show acceptance even when you can’t show approval of the behavior.



Students are going to make harmful decisions. But don’t make it all about you. Their job is not to please you. We want them to be better people, not just compliant students. So show them you care for them even when you have to correct them. 



3. Never give up on any student. Little miracles happen every day.


Kids who are hurting the most often cry out for love in the most harmful ways. It can be easy to give up on them. Sometimes it seems impossible. But you can be a mother’s best hope. You know she wants to see her child succeed. Say, “You can do this! This is important. I believe in you.”


4. Value people over performance.


Your value as a person should not be based on successes or failures, wins or losses, how you look, the size of your bank account, who your friends are, or even how much you accomplish today. We need to treat every person will great care and concern simply because they are worthy of all the human dignity we can offer. 



5. Offer a quiet voice, an open mind, and a patient response. 


When you give a student your full attention in the moment, you are giving a valuable gift. Just listen. Don’t react. Don’t try to solve the problem. Just listen and encourage. Be patient. What is making us think we have more important things to do? I am writing this for me as much as anyone. I can be terribly distracted. I want to do better.



If we build great relationships with kids and combine that with high expectations and support, we can help students be stronger and find a new path.



Are you in a place to lend your strength to a student? What gifts can you offer to make them stronger? Share a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 5 Ways to Lend Your Strength to Students





I’m interested in how educators can help students develop resilience and problem solving. On the one hand, students need to develop independence and healthy coping. On the other hand, caring adults need to provide appropriate support.



After all, we have more wisdom, life experience, and emotional support than most students. You never know what they are facing at home. You never know the battles they are fighting on the inside. Life can be tough.



It’s not uncommon to see difficult behaviors surfacing as a result of what a kid is dealing with on the inside. Kids don’t need more judgment, harshness, or anger in their lives. What they really need is for the caring adults in their life to lend them some strength to carry on, to help them get to a place where they can be stronger on their own.



Remember, how you treat your students says far more about you than it says about them. No matter how they act or what they say, you have the opportunity to speak encouragement and hope into their day.



Here are five ways to offer your strength and dignity to a student who is struggling. It’s all about lifting them up and helping them stand on their own.



1. Focus on who students are becoming, not just who they are right now.



Every kid needs someone to believe in them, to advocate for them, to champion for them. You never know who this child might become some day. He or she has great value and worth, and you can help shine a light on it.



2. Show acceptance even when you can’t show approval of the behavior.



Students are going to make harmful decisions. But don’t make it all about you. Their job is not to please you. We want them to be better people, not just compliant students. So show them you care for them even when you have to correct them. 



3. Never give up on any student. Little miracles happen every day.


Kids who are hurting the most often cry out for love in the most harmful ways. It can be easy to give up on them. Sometimes it seems impossible. But you can be a mother’s best hope. You know she wants to see her child succeed. Say, “You can do this! This is important. I believe in you.”


4. Value people over performance.


Your value as a person should not be based on successes or failures, wins or losses, how you look, the size of your bank account, who your friends are, or even how much you accomplish today. We need to treat every person will great care and concern simply because they are worthy of all the human dignity we can offer. 



5. Offer a quiet voice, an open mind, and a patient response. 


When you give a student your full attention in the moment, you are giving a valuable gift. Just listen. Don’t react. Don’t try to solve the problem. Just listen and encourage. Be patient. What is making us think we have more important things to do? I am writing this for me as much as anyone. I can be terribly distracted. I want to do better.



If we build great relationships with kids and combine that with high expectations and support, we can help students be stronger and find a new path.



Are you in a place to lend your strength to a student? What gifts can you offer to make them stronger? Share a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 5 Ways to Lend Your Strength to Students

 



Educators should be the most excited people on the planet for kids and learning. Your passion is needed in your school. Imagine what your school would be like if every person brought great passion every day.



A passionate, caring educator makes all the difference. When I think about the teachers in my life who made the greatest impact on me, they were passionate. They had high expectations and they expected success. They were deeply caring. They helped me be more than I thought I could be.



Here are 7 thoughts you might consider about being a passionate educator:



1. Passion is developed, not discovered.



You can’t expect passion to settle on you like a fog. It’s not just about finding something you like to do. For most people, you don’t just wake up one day and suddenly think, “Eureka! I’ve found my passion!” Passion and commitment feed each other. You won’t generate maximum passion without maximum effort to become everything you can be. As you continue growing and giving, your passion will also grow. And you will make a greater impact on the world around you. 



2. You are responsible for nurturing and growing your passion.



It’s never helpful to blame your circumstances for your lack of passion. I realize there are immense challenges you face as an educator. We can have personal issues that pile up. It’s easy to blame something outside of us for squelching passion. But the truth is there are educators who remain passionate in the worst possible situations. And there are also educators in thriving environments with tremendous support, who are lacking passion nonetheless. Don’t allow your passion to be a victim of anything outside of you.



3. Your students deserve a passionate teacher.



Our kids’ futures are too important to have educators in their lives who are just going through the motions. Every day counts. And your kids are counting on you. Great teachers bring so much passion and persistence to the classroom the kids know this person is not gonna settle for less than my best. Your students need you to bring your best to help them be their best. Bring it!



4. When teachers are more passionate about learning, students will be more passionate too.



Great teachers ignite the passion to learn. Your passion and commitment becomes contagious. Your energy and enthusiasm will spill over into the whole classroom. If your students master every standard without discovering joy and passion in learning, is that success? I don’t think it is. You want to be so passionate about teaching and learning that your students look at you and think, “I want to do that when I grow up! That’s a fun job! Teachers make a huge difference in people’s lives.”



5. Passion is pouring yourself into something you care deeply about. 



It’s important to always remember your ‘why’ and focus on making a difference. When it gets really hard and you want to quit, remember why you started. Remember your purpose. Remind yourself what kind of teacher you set out to be when you began. You wanted to be a difference maker. I’m guessing you didn’t want to just be average or mediocre. You wanted to be great. And you can be great! Let your passion lead you to greatness!



6. Passion will lead to greater significance and meaning in your life.



It’s living beyond yourself and using your talents and abilities in a way that impacts a greater good. You were created with gifts that make you great. When you use these gifts to the fullest, you will find the greatest significance and meaning. You’ll have more energy. You’ll jump out of bed in the morning to do the thing you were meant to do. And no one will have to make you do it. You will do more than expected. Passion and commitment will always surpass accountability and compliance.



7. The greater your passion, the smaller your problems.

Ever talk to educators who think the solution to every problem is better kids and better parents? Some people can’t resist the urge to blame and complain. They can’t fully realize their passion because they think, “If only…” If only something outside of me would change, I could be great. Too many educators are choosing dis-empowering thoughts. They are choosing to believe things can’t change. They are thinking the problems are too big. But that’s just not true. We must challenge our beliefs about what is possible. We can create schools that work for kids. We can have powerful learning that is irresistible. We can overcome the obstacles. When you are passionate and you focus your energy on solutions, anything is possible. 



Who is responsible for your passion? I hope it’s you. Let me know what you think. Leave me a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 7 Thoughts on Being a Passionate Educator

 



Educators should be the most excited people on the planet for kids and learning. Your passion is needed in your school. Imagine what your school would be like if every person brought great passion every day.



A passionate, caring educator makes all the difference. When I think about the teachers in my life who made the greatest impact on me, they were passionate. They had high expectations and they expected success. They were deeply caring. They helped me be more than I thought I could be.



Here are 7 thoughts you might consider about being a passionate educator:



1. Passion is developed, not discovered.



You can’t expect passion to settle on you like a fog. It’s not just about finding something you like to do. For most people, you don’t just wake up one day and suddenly think, “Eureka! I’ve found my passion!” Passion and commitment feed each other. You won’t generate maximum passion without maximum effort to become everything you can be. As you continue growing and giving, your passion will also grow. And you will make a greater impact on the world around you. 



2. You are responsible for nurturing and growing your passion.



It’s never helpful to blame your circumstances for your lack of passion. I realize there are immense challenges you face as an educator. We can have personal issues that pile up. It’s easy to blame something outside of us for squelching passion. But the truth is there are educators who remain passionate in the worst possible situations. And there are also educators in thriving environments with tremendous support, who are lacking passion nonetheless. Don’t allow your passion to be a victim of anything outside of you.



3. Your students deserve a passionate teacher.



Our kids’ futures are too important to have educators in their lives who are just going through the motions. Every day counts. And your kids are counting on you. Great teachers bring so much passion and persistence to the classroom the kids know this person is not gonna settle for less than my best. Your students need you to bring your best to help them be their best. Bring it!



4. When teachers are more passionate about learning, students will be more passionate too.



Great teachers ignite the passion to learn. Your passion and commitment becomes contagious. Your energy and enthusiasm will spill over into the whole classroom. If your students master every standard without discovering joy and passion in learning, is that success? I don’t think it is. You want to be so passionate about teaching and learning that your students look at you and think, “I want to do that when I grow up! That’s a fun job! Teachers make a huge difference in people’s lives.”



5. Passion is pouring yourself into something you care deeply about. 



It’s important to always remember your ‘why’ and focus on making a difference. When it gets really hard and you want to quit, remember why you started. Remember your purpose. Remind yourself what kind of teacher you set out to be when you began. You wanted to be a difference maker. I’m guessing you didn’t want to just be average or mediocre. You wanted to be great. And you can be great! Let your passion lead you to greatness!



6. Passion will lead to greater significance and meaning in your life.



It’s living beyond yourself and using your talents and abilities in a way that impacts a greater good. You were created with gifts that make you great. When you use these gifts to the fullest, you will find the greatest significance and meaning. You’ll have more energy. You’ll jump out of bed in the morning to do the thing you were meant to do. And no one will have to make you do it. You will do more than expected. Passion and commitment will always surpass accountability and compliance.



7. The greater your passion, the smaller your problems.

Ever talk to educators who think the solution to every problem is better kids and better parents? Some people can’t resist the urge to blame and complain. They can’t fully realize their passion because they think, “If only…” If only something outside of me would change, I could be great. Too many educators are choosing dis-empowering thoughts. They are choosing to believe things can’t change. They are thinking the problems are too big. But that’s just not true. We must challenge our beliefs about what is possible. We can create schools that work for kids. We can have powerful learning that is irresistible. We can overcome the obstacles. When you are passionate and you focus your energy on solutions, anything is possible. 



Who is responsible for your passion? I hope it’s you. Let me know what you think. Leave me a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 7 Thoughts on Being a Passionate Educator



A teacher at one of our elementary schools shared this recently. She was talking about how she encourages her students to persist in the face of difficulties.



Instead of saying something that makes a wrong answer seem like a curse or worse, she encourages the process. She says to students with curiosity and wonder, “Oh, that’s my favorite mistake!”



Students are then able to view problem-solving as something that is not just about getting a right answer. It’s about having thinking that perseveres. It’s about staying with the problem longer.



Thomas Edison failed over and again in trying to invent the incandescent light bulb. He documented 1,000 failed attempts before he was successful. When a reported asked him how it felt to fail 1,000 times, he replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” 



Our district has adopted new math curriculum, and it’s challenging. But kids are rising to the occasion. And a big reason it’s successful is the focus on the process and the greatness of teachers to promote perseverance and model growth-mindset thinking.



Here are five questions to ask your students to help them reflect on their own mindset. The questions might need some unpacking for younger students. But I think all kids can think about these ideas.



1. When I start to feel like quitting, what will I do in that moment to persevere?



This might be the most powerful question on the list. When people decide exactly how they will respond to a difficulty in advance, they are far more likely to push through in the face of the challenge.



2. What are my thoughts telling me about how successful I might be at learning this skill? If these thoughts are limiting to me, how might I think differently?



Lots of kids are thinking thoughts that are self-limiting. “I’m not good at math” for instance. It’s helpful to think of phrases that are filled with belief and resourcefulness to replace the negative thinking. Teachers can help students find the words for this.



3. What am I saying or doing to myself that is holding me back?



There are many things that can undermine a growth mindset. Excuses, justifications, worries, perfectionist thinking, thought patterns, past failures, etc. It’s important to recognize what unhelpful beliefs students need to overcome.



4. What would I want my teacher to say to me when he/she sees me taking a risk, trying hard, or pushing through mistakes to pursue this goal?



This question is helping to shift the perspective to expecting success. When I try hard, good things happen. My teacher will say this to me, and that feels good.



5. Imagine how you will feel when you accomplish something that is really challenging. Describe that feeling. 



Again, this one is beginning with the end in mind. Getting a picture of success is so important. Humans are the only creatures on the planet with imagination. We can experience the whole range of emotions through our minds. Visualization is extremely valuable. It teaches the brain to expect success.



When gymnast Mary Lou Retton won her first gold medal, a reporter asked her, “How does it feel to win gold?” 



She replied, “Just like it’s always felt.”



“But this is your first gold medal?” said the puzzled reporter.



“Yes, I know. But I’ve experienced this moment thousands of times in my mind,” she explained.



The power of belief cannot be understated.



What do you think about these questions? Do you have suggestions for other questions that might be helpful for students? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 5 Reflective Questions to Encourage a Growth Mindset



A teacher at one of our elementary schools shared this recently. She was talking about how she encourages her students to persist in the face of difficulties.



Instead of saying something that makes a wrong answer seem like a curse or worse, she encourages the process. She says to students with curiosity and wonder, “Oh, that’s my favorite mistake!”



Students are then able to view problem-solving as something that is not just about getting a right answer. It’s about having thinking that perseveres. It’s about staying with the problem longer.



Thomas Edison failed over and again in trying to invent the incandescent light bulb. He documented 1,000 failed attempts before he was successful. When a reported asked him how it felt to fail 1,000 times, he replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” 



Our district has adopted new math curriculum, and it’s challenging. But kids are rising to the occasion. And a big reason it’s successful is the focus on the process and the greatness of teachers to promote perseverance and model growth-mindset thinking.



Here are five questions to ask your students to help them reflect on their own mindset. The questions might need some unpacking for younger students. But I think all kids can think about these ideas.



1. When I start to feel like quitting, what will I do in that moment to persevere?



This might be the most powerful question on the list. When people decide exactly how they will respond to a difficulty in advance, they are far more likely to push through in the face of the challenge.



2. What are my thoughts telling me about how successful I might be at learning this skill? If these thoughts are limiting to me, how might I think differently?



Lots of kids are thinking thoughts that are self-limiting. “I’m not good at math” for instance. It’s helpful to think of phrases that are filled with belief and resourcefulness to replace the negative thinking. Teachers can help students find the words for this.



3. What am I saying or doing to myself that is holding me back?



There are many things that can undermine a growth mindset. Excuses, justifications, worries, perfectionist thinking, thought patterns, past failures, etc. It’s important to recognize what unhelpful beliefs students need to overcome.



4. What would I want my teacher to say to me when he/she sees me taking a risk, trying hard, or pushing through mistakes to pursue this goal?



This question is helping to shift the perspective to expecting success. When I try hard, good things happen. My teacher will say this to me, and that feels good.



5. Imagine how you will feel when you accomplish something that is really challenging. Describe that feeling. 



Again, this one is beginning with the end in mind. Getting a picture of success is so important. Humans are the only creatures on the planet with imagination. We can experience the whole range of emotions through our minds. Visualization is extremely valuable. It teaches the brain to expect success.



When gymnast Mary Lou Retton won her first gold medal, a reporter asked her, “How does it feel to win gold?” 



She replied, “Just like it’s always felt.”



“But this is your first gold medal?” said the puzzled reporter.



“Yes, I know. But I’ve experienced this moment thousands of times in my mind,” she explained.



The power of belief cannot be understated.



What do you think about these questions? Do you have suggestions for other questions that might be helpful for students? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 5 Reflective Questions to Encourage a Growth Mindset





Some things we communicate intentionally. And sometimes when we fail to communicate intentionally, we send a message that we didn’t mean to send.




Here are 11 things you might unintentionally be communicating to your students.



1. When you don’t wait for all students to get quiet and give you their attention before you start talking, you might be communicating that it’s not really important that they listen to you.



2. If you complain about the school, other teachers, or the way things are, your students will probably think it’s okay to be negative about the school, other teachers, and probably your classroom too.



3. When you pass a student in the hall or they enter your room and you don’t say hello or call them by name, they may think you don’t really care about them.



4. If you give a grade for every assignment or activity and talk about how “this or that is going to be on the test,” your students may think your class is more about grades than learning.



5. If the questions you ask have just one correct answer, there’s a good chance your students will think your class is all about right answers, not about being better thinkers.



6. If you only recognize the ‘A’ students or celebrate the kids who have high test scores, that may communicate that only the ‘smart’ kids matter and that growth is not valued.

7. If you make mistakes in front of your students and then act defensive or embarrassed, you might be sending the message that only perfection is accepted and risk taking is not appreciated.



8. When you break a school policy or act like the rules are no big deal, you might send the message you don’t really value a culture of respect and shared responsibility.



9. If you aren’t intentional about making your classroom innovative and future driven, you may be sending the message to students that what their parents learned in school will be good enough for them too.



10. When you come in dragging, lack energy, or just don’t give your best, you might be communicating to students that it’s okay to try hard only when you feel like it.



11. If you don’t give students choices in their learning or opportunities to pursue their passions, they may view learning as more about compliance than actually being about…well…learning.



We have to be very careful about what we are communicating. Kids are always watching. They want to see alignment between our words and actions. They are looking to see what we really think, what we really believe, and how much we really care about them.



What is being communicated in your school unintentionally? I think that’s a good question to consider. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More 11 Things You Might Unintentionally Be Communicating to Your Students





Some things we communicate intentionally. And sometimes when we fail to communicate intentionally, we send a message that we didn’t mean to send.




Here are 11 things you might unintentionally be communicating to your students.



1. When you don’t wait for all students to get quiet and give you their attention before you start talking, you might be communicating that it’s not really important that they listen to you.



2. If you complain about the school, other teachers, or the way things are, your students will probably think it’s okay to be negative about the school, other teachers, and probably your classroom too.



3. When you pass a student in the hall or they enter your room and you don’t say hello or call them by name, they may think you don’t really care about them.



4. If you give a grade for every assignment or activity and talk about how “this or that is going to be on the test,” your students may think your class is more about grades than learning.



5. If the questions you ask have just one correct answer, there’s a good chance your students will think your class is all about right answers, not about being better thinkers.



6. If you only recognize the ‘A’ students or celebrate the kids who have high test scores, that may communicate that only the ‘smart’ kids matter and that growth is not valued.

7. If you make mistakes in front of your students and then act defensive or embarrassed, you might be sending the message that only perfection is accepted and risk taking is not appreciated.



8. When you break a school policy or act like the rules are no big deal, you might send the message you don’t really value a culture of respect and shared responsibility.



9. If you aren’t intentional about making your classroom innovative and future driven, you may be sending the message to students that what their parents learned in school will be good enough for them too.



10. When you come in dragging, lack energy, or just don’t give your best, you might be communicating to students that it’s okay to try hard only when you feel like it.



11. If you don’t give students choices in their learning or opportunities to pursue their passions, they may view learning as more about compliance than actually being about…well…learning.



We have to be very careful about what we are communicating. Kids are always watching. They want to see alignment between our words and actions. They are looking to see what we really think, what we really believe, and how much we really care about them.



What is being communicated in your school unintentionally? I think that’s a good question to consider. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More 11 Things You Might Unintentionally Be Communicating to Your Students





This summer I heard Ron Clark speak and tell his story of how he became one of our nation’s most celebrated teachers and ultimately founded the Ron Clark Academy. It’s truly an inspiring story for educators. 



He came into education almost by accident. He was only going to teach temporarily until something better came along. But then he started to love it. And the kids loved him. And he was having unbelievable success, even with the most challenging students. He was setting very high expectations, and he was creating learning experiences that were irresistible.



And then the principal of the school came to him and said, “Why are you being so showy? You’re making the other teachers very uncomfortable.” 



He was getting fantastic results. He was bringing passion, enthusiasm, and energy to the classroom. Kids were learning. Kids were having fun learning. Test scores were skyrocketing. You would think everyone would want to replicate what Mr. Clark was doing, right? You would think they would want to learn from him, right?



Wrong.



Years ago, after I had given a suggestion to a teacher about a practice another teacher was using, I was surprised by the response.



“Oh, she runs circles around all of us.”



The teacher said this with a measure of envy and a touch of self-defeat. It seemed like she was saying she could never do that. I hadn’t intended there to be a comparison between the two teachers. I was just sharing that so-and-so tried this one practice and it seemed to work.



Average minds want other people to have average minds too. They feel threatened by the boldness and daring of those who want to do something great. How dare you try to be great? You’re making us look bad. You’re making me uncomfortable.



So what kind of dreams do you have? What kind of difference are you trying to make? If you want others to be comfortable and accepting of you, maybe you should keep those hopes and dreams just a little smaller.



When you dream big and want to do more, be prepared for opposition from mediocre minds. There will always be naysayers who want to protect the status quo. They want to retreat to average and aim for nothing greater.



But you are different. You have gifts that you want to use. Everyone has gifts if they are willing to take the risk of using them. You aren’t going to waste them. Don’t waste your gift! 



People may not always appreciate your gift, but don’t let that stop you from using it. Don’t let someone else keep you from pursuing excellence.



Find those people who will allow you to change, grow, develop, expand, and be great. Better yet, find those people who will challenge you and encourage you to be great. Be around people who lift you up and want to see you dream big. 



Keep dreaming big.



If you want to be a difference maker, you have to be a risk taker. Your students will reach their potential only if you are willing to unleash your own potential. It’s never a competition to be better than the teacher down the hall. Everyone has greatness in them. 



They should want to be great too! We want them to be great too!



We should all be pursuing greatness together, cheering each other on, celebrating each other’s successes, and learning from one another. 



That’s what we are ultimately pursuing. We want collective greatness. We want to create a school where excellence is everywhere. Not just pockets of excellence. We want a school where kids are experiencing learning that will literally change the course of their lives.



What can you do to further your dreams and help your school find collective greatness? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. Be great!

Read More What If We Aimed for Collective Greatness?





This summer I heard Ron Clark speak and tell his story of how he became one of our nation’s most celebrated teachers and ultimately founded the Ron Clark Academy. It’s truly an inspiring story for educators. 



He came into education almost by accident. He was only going to teach temporarily until something better came along. But then he started to love it. And the kids loved him. And he was having unbelievable success, even with the most challenging students. He was setting very high expectations, and he was creating learning experiences that were irresistible.



And then the principal of the school came to him and said, “Why are you being so showy? You’re making the other teachers very uncomfortable.” 



He was getting fantastic results. He was bringing passion, enthusiasm, and energy to the classroom. Kids were learning. Kids were having fun learning. Test scores were skyrocketing. You would think everyone would want to replicate what Mr. Clark was doing, right? You would think they would want to learn from him, right?



Wrong.



Years ago, after I had given a suggestion to a teacher about a practice another teacher was using, I was surprised by the response.



“Oh, she runs circles around all of us.”



The teacher said this with a measure of envy and a touch of self-defeat. It seemed like she was saying she could never do that. I hadn’t intended there to be a comparison between the two teachers. I was just sharing that so-and-so tried this one practice and it seemed to work.



Average minds want other people to have average minds too. They feel threatened by the boldness and daring of those who want to do something great. How dare you try to be great? You’re making us look bad. You’re making me uncomfortable.



So what kind of dreams do you have? What kind of difference are you trying to make? If you want others to be comfortable and accepting of you, maybe you should keep those hopes and dreams just a little smaller.



When you dream big and want to do more, be prepared for opposition from mediocre minds. There will always be naysayers who want to protect the status quo. They want to retreat to average and aim for nothing greater.



But you are different. You have gifts that you want to use. Everyone has gifts if they are willing to take the risk of using them. You aren’t going to waste them. Don’t waste your gift! 



People may not always appreciate your gift, but don’t let that stop you from using it. Don’t let someone else keep you from pursuing excellence.



Find those people who will allow you to change, grow, develop, expand, and be great. Better yet, find those people who will challenge you and encourage you to be great. Be around people who lift you up and want to see you dream big. 



Keep dreaming big.



If you want to be a difference maker, you have to be a risk taker. Your students will reach their potential only if you are willing to unleash your own potential. It’s never a competition to be better than the teacher down the hall. Everyone has greatness in them. 



They should want to be great too! We want them to be great too!



We should all be pursuing greatness together, cheering each other on, celebrating each other’s successes, and learning from one another. 



That’s what we are ultimately pursuing. We want collective greatness. We want to create a school where excellence is everywhere. Not just pockets of excellence. We want a school where kids are experiencing learning that will literally change the course of their lives.



What can you do to further your dreams and help your school find collective greatness? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. Be great!

Read More What If We Aimed for Collective Greatness?



The current generation of students is dealing with more stress and anxiety than ever before. I’m sure there are many reasons for this, but regardless of the causes we must work to help address the reality.



Here are the stats as reported in an article from Time:

A study of national trends in depression among adolescents and young adults published in the journal Pediatrics on November 14, 2016 found that the prevalence of teens who reported an MDE in the previous 12 months jumped from 8.7% in 2005 to 11.5% in 2014. That’s a 37 percent increase. (An MDE is defined as a period of at least two weeks of low mood that is present in most situations. Symptoms include low self-esteem, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, and problems with sleep, energy and concentration.)

We hear the stories every day of kids fighting depression, feeling overwhelmed, struggling with problems with friends, parents, or both. There seem to be more kids than ever who are no longer living with parents at all.



And here’s the thing, if you are depressed or filled with anxiety, how are you going to focus your energy on learning? You probably won’t unless you shift your thinking. Or unless something in your environment helps you shift your thinking.



One of our teachers commented, “I want my class to be an oasis for students. For the time they are in my class, I want it to be so good they forget the problems on the outside.”



So how do you do that? How can you help kids shift energy from a focus on problems to a focus on learning? 



Here’s what won’t work.



“Class, yesterday we worked on such and such and today we will do such and such. So let’s get started.”



Ready, set, go.



It’s an abrupt attempt to start learning. That won’t work because a bunch of kids in class are still thinking about how bad they feel, what was said to them that’s hurtful, or how they are going to deal with that personal problem. They are distracted. They aren’t emotionally in a good place to learn.



I believe every learner would benefit from more ‘right-brain’ directed starters in class. Lead with something that helps them access positive emotions, creativity, empathy, and connection.



It might take a few minutes to plan and execute these strategies, but it will be well worth it. In the end, there will be more learning by  helping students get the right focus. Start class by shifting the energy. Get kids in the right mindset first.



So here are 9 possibilities to make this happen. Find ways to open your class with one or more of these. And, look for ways to have these things show up throughout your class, too. It will help to inspire learning. 



1. Humor – Tell a joke, make fun of yourself, or do something zany and off the wall.



2. Music – Play upbeat music as students are coming into class. It’s amazing how the right music can put us in a different mood. 



3. Relaxed Breathing – Slow, deep breathing and quiet relaxation can help students to calm body and mind.



4. Imagination – Have kids write or share with each other on topics that require imagination. What if you could time travel? What time would you visit? Why?



5. Drama – Create some fun drama in the class. Have a debate about something ridiculous. Launch an investigation. Make it absurd. Be over the top.



6. Play – Toss a ball around the class. Have a quick game. Nothing too competitive. Just bring some whimsy and playfulness to class. 



7. Movement – Stand up and stretch. Give a high five to someone. Or go for a quick walk outside of class.



8. Sharing Gratitude – Ask students to share something they’re thankful for. Help them be grateful for the little things.



9. Stories – Share stories real and imagined. Find out what’s going on in their lives. I always had some winning stories that I told just about every year. Kids were on the edge of their seats.



These techniques are not intended to treat anxiety or depression, but they can temporarily relieve the symptoms. Of course, students who have depressive disorders need professional help. But for the time they are in your classroom, maybe you can help them focus on learning by using these strategies.



What do you think? Do you have other ideas for shifting the energy in your classroom? I listed several general categories. I would love to hear your specific ideas. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter

Read More 9 Ways to Shift the Energy in the Classroom



The current generation of students is dealing with more stress and anxiety than ever before. I’m sure there are many reasons for this, but regardless of the causes we must work to help address the reality.



Here are the stats as reported in an article from Time:

A study of national trends in depression among adolescents and young adults published in the journal Pediatrics on November 14, 2016 found that the prevalence of teens who reported an MDE in the previous 12 months jumped from 8.7% in 2005 to 11.5% in 2014. That’s a 37 percent increase. (An MDE is defined as a period of at least two weeks of low mood that is present in most situations. Symptoms include low self-esteem, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, and problems with sleep, energy and concentration.)

We hear the stories every day of kids fighting depression, feeling overwhelmed, struggling with problems with friends, parents, or both. There seem to be more kids than ever who are no longer living with parents at all.



And here’s the thing, if you are depressed or filled with anxiety, how are you going to focus your energy on learning? You probably won’t unless you shift your thinking. Or unless something in your environment helps you shift your thinking.



One of our teachers commented, “I want my class to be an oasis for students. For the time they are in my class, I want it to be so good they forget the problems on the outside.”



So how do you do that? How can you help kids shift energy from a focus on problems to a focus on learning? 



Here’s what won’t work.



“Class, yesterday we worked on such and such and today we will do such and such. So let’s get started.”



Ready, set, go.



It’s an abrupt attempt to start learning. That won’t work because a bunch of kids in class are still thinking about how bad they feel, what was said to them that’s hurtful, or how they are going to deal with that personal problem. They are distracted. They aren’t emotionally in a good place to learn.



I believe every learner would benefit from more ‘right-brain’ directed starters in class. Lead with something that helps them access positive emotions, creativity, empathy, and connection.



It might take a few minutes to plan and execute these strategies, but it will be well worth it. In the end, there will be more learning by  helping students get the right focus. Start class by shifting the energy. Get kids in the right mindset first.



So here are 9 possibilities to make this happen. Find ways to open your class with one or more of these. And, look for ways to have these things show up throughout your class, too. It will help to inspire learning. 



1. Humor – Tell a joke, make fun of yourself, or do something zany and off the wall.



2. Music – Play upbeat music as students are coming into class. It’s amazing how the right music can put us in a different mood. 



3. Relaxed Breathing – Slow, deep breathing and quiet relaxation can help students to calm body and mind.



4. Imagination – Have kids write or share with each other on topics that require imagination. What if you could time travel? What time would you visit? Why?



5. Drama – Create some fun drama in the class. Have a debate about something ridiculous. Launch an investigation. Make it absurd. Be over the top.



6. Play – Toss a ball around the class. Have a quick game. Nothing too competitive. Just bring some whimsy and playfulness to class. 



7. Movement – Stand up and stretch. Give a high five to someone. Or go for a quick walk outside of class.



8. Sharing Gratitude – Ask students to share something they’re thankful for. Help them be grateful for the little things.



9. Stories – Share stories real and imagined. Find out what’s going on in their lives. I always had some winning stories that I told just about every year. Kids were on the edge of their seats.



These techniques are not intended to treat anxiety or depression, but they can temporarily relieve the symptoms. Of course, students who have depressive disorders need professional help. But for the time they are in your classroom, maybe you can help them focus on learning by using these strategies.



What do you think? Do you have other ideas for shifting the energy in your classroom? I listed several general categories. I would love to hear your specific ideas. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter

Read More 9 Ways to Shift the Energy in the Classroom





What stands in the way of a brighter future and better schools? 



Well, mostly people. 



People who tell others they can’t or won’t.



People who crush dreams and steal hope.



People who won’t be parents to their kids.



People just showing up and going through the motions.



People who want higher test scores more than inspired learning.



People who cling to the past like it’s a security blanket.



People who protect the status quo.



People making decisions for schools who are removed from the realities of what schools face.



People who spew hate and discord.



People who don’t make kids a priority.



People who are selfish.



People who turn on each other, or a good leader, when something goes wrong instead of battening down the hatches.



People who make performance in sports or academics or anything more important in a kid’s life than being a person of high character and respect.



People who make their own comfort their primary concern.



People who are petty.



People who complain about other people. I hate that!



People who are negative, pessimistic, or who go on rants. Rants are the worst!



Well, that felt good. But the problem is the more I think about the items on my rant list, I realize I’m probably guilty of many at some time or another. Like complaining or ranting. Ha! 



As they say, it takes one to know one. In fact, someone suggested the things we tend to like the least in ourselves, we often magnify in others. In other words, we’re more likely to see faults in others in areas we too have struggles. 



And here’s the other thing, it doesn’t do any good to complain about what other people need to do. We need fewer excuses and more solutions. We need less focus on problems and more focus on actions. It starts with us. I cannot control another person, but I can control me. 



I can encourage.



I can reach out.



I can step out.



I can lead up.



I can lift up.



I can never give up.



I can be the change I want to see. 



I can set the example. 



I can keep growing and giving. 



I can dream of a better future.



I can work to be stronger myself, cause I have plenty of room to grow and learn. 



I’d like to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Fewer Excuses, More Solutions





What stands in the way of a brighter future and better schools? 



Well, mostly people. 



People who tell others they can’t or won’t.



People who crush dreams and steal hope.



People who won’t be parents to their kids.



People just showing up and going through the motions.



People who want higher test scores more than inspired learning.



People who cling to the past like it’s a security blanket.



People who protect the status quo.



People making decisions for schools who are removed from the realities of what schools face.



People who spew hate and discord.



People who don’t make kids a priority.



People who are selfish.



People who turn on each other, or a good leader, when something goes wrong instead of battening down the hatches.



People who make performance in sports or academics or anything more important in a kid’s life than being a person of high character and respect.



People who make their own comfort their primary concern.



People who are petty.



People who complain about other people. I hate that!



People who are negative, pessimistic, or who go on rants. Rants are the worst!



Well, that felt good. But the problem is the more I think about the items on my rant list, I realize I’m probably guilty of many at some time or another. Like complaining or ranting. Ha! 



As they say, it takes one to know one. In fact, someone suggested the things we tend to like the least in ourselves, we often magnify in others. In other words, we’re more likely to see faults in others in areas we too have struggles. 



And here’s the other thing, it doesn’t do any good to complain about what other people need to do. We need fewer excuses and more solutions. We need less focus on problems and more focus on actions. It starts with us. I cannot control another person, but I can control me. 



I can encourage.



I can reach out.



I can step out.



I can lead up.



I can lift up.



I can never give up.



I can be the change I want to see. 



I can set the example. 



I can keep growing and giving. 



I can dream of a better future.



I can work to be stronger myself, cause I have plenty of room to grow and learn. 



I’d like to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Fewer Excuses, More Solutions





If you’ve followed my blog, you might know I really like to refer to classroom management as classroom leadership. But that’s not how we typically think of it.



Regardless of what we call it, it’s challenging. It’s one of the toughest things for early career teachers to get a handle on. And even seasoned teachers will have their fair share of challenges and not know how to respond in every situation.



It really has to be an ongoing process of learning and growth. No one ever has it all figured out.



So if you’re struggling with student behaviors, give yourself a break. Keep working at it. Learn from others. Study different methods. And reflect on your own failures and successes.



In this post, I’m looking at some of the BIG mistakes that can happen when a teacher is frustrated or has a lapse in judgement. It’s important to think about these in advance to plan for these NEVER to happen. When they do, it undermines the development of a positive classroom and healthy culture of learning.



These behaviors are harmful to kids and can harm your ability to develop a respectful, orderly classroom environment.



9 Mistakes That Will Sabotage Your Classroom Management



1. Painting a child into a corner.



Your most challenging students will often try to engage the teacher in power struggles. A skilled teacher can avoid these high stakes moments. The goal is to stop a disruptive behavior while also keeping the student in class. It’s important to avoid a showdown between student and teacher. These situations end up with everyone losing. The teacher doesn’t have to win in the moment. The situation needs to be addressed in the moment, but fully resolving a problem can happen at a later time. After some time passes, the results are often much better than escalating the situation when emotions are hot. 



2. Handling private matters publicly.



Students don’t want to lose face in front of their peers. You can always delay and say, “Let’s talk about this later.” Just be sure to follow up as you promised. If a student feels disrespected or belittled in front of others, it will not end well. Try to keep tough conversations private. The tone will often be much different when there is not an audience.



3. Failing to give a kid a fresh start.



We all want to have an opportunity for a fresh start. We don’t want to be judged by our worst moments. Our students need forgiveness too. So after an issue is resolved, let the student know they have a clean slate. Today is a new day. Let them know you believe in them and expect them to do great.



4. Using cutting sarcasm.



Sarcasm can be very dangerous. I’ve seen it used in a way that is not threatening and is just playful, but sarcasm can be degrading and manipulating. The best advice is to not use sarcasm at all. 



5. Speaking poorly of someone’s friends or family.




Never criticize a student’s friends or family members. You can certainly stand up for what’s right, but don’t pass judgments on people. It’s also very important to never talk badly about a student when they are not present. If you wouldn’t make a comment in front of that student’s mother or grandmother, you probably shouldn’t say it to a group of students or another teacher. If your harsh comment gets back to the student, it will be difficult to ever repair the relationship.



6. Speaking poorly of another staff member.



Never criticize another staff member in front of students as this creates a toxic environment. And, always defend a colleague if students are being critical. Even fair criticism isn’t fair when it’s shared at the wrong time and location. Tell your students if they have a concern with another teacher they should go talk to that person directly. If you have a concern with another teacher, you too should speak to them directly about it and not complain about them behind their back.



7. Losing control of your own behavior.



Always remember you’re the adult and a professional. You have to stay in control of yourself and your actions. If you act badly, it will make it much more difficult to address the student’s misbehavior. The student and the parents will be focused on what you did instead of focusing the responsibility on the student’s own actions. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked to help a student reflect on their own bad behavior, but they are focused on what the teacher did instead. Sometimes that happens when the teacher was completely upright. But sometimes it’s because the teacher showed up poorly in the situation.



8. Comparing a student to a sibling or another student. 



Avoid comparing students to one another or to a brother or sister. These types of judgments chip away at dignity. You wouldn’t want to be subjected to public comparisons with another teacher. Students don’t like this either. Even comments like “Your sister was so smart or funny” that seem positive may chip away at a student’s dignity. People want to be noticed for who they are and not compared to someone else.



9. Rushing to judgment without listening.



This one encompasses so much. It’s easy to jump to conclusions or make assumptions in the course of a day working with students. Teachers make so many decisions. I shared recently about a situation where I really embarrassed myself by making a quick judgment in a situation. The key is slow down and approach problems with a sense of curiosity. Work to understand what is going on with the child, what needs they are trying to meet, or why they are not successful even when expectations are clear and consistent. In a recent post, I shared 21 phrases that can help with these conversations.



Of course, there are many other factors involved in building a positive classroom culture. What are some of your thoughts? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 9 Mistakes That Sabotage Your Classroom Management





If you’ve followed my blog, you might know I really like to refer to classroom management as classroom leadership. But that’s not how we typically think of it.



Regardless of what we call it, it’s challenging. It’s one of the toughest things for early career teachers to get a handle on. And even seasoned teachers will have their fair share of challenges and not know how to respond in every situation.



It really has to be an ongoing process of learning and growth. No one ever has it all figured out.



So if you’re struggling with student behaviors, give yourself a break. Keep working at it. Learn from others. Study different methods. And reflect on your own failures and successes.



In this post, I’m looking at some of the BIG mistakes that can happen when a teacher is frustrated or has a lapse in judgement. It’s important to think about these in advance to plan for these NEVER to happen. When they do, it undermines the development of a positive classroom and healthy culture of learning.



These behaviors are harmful to kids and can harm your ability to develop a respectful, orderly classroom environment.



9 Mistakes That Will Sabotage Your Classroom Management



1. Painting a child into a corner.



Your most challenging students will often try to engage the teacher in power struggles. A skilled teacher can avoid these high stakes moments. The goal is to stop a disruptive behavior while also keeping the student in class. It’s important to avoid a showdown between student and teacher. These situations end up with everyone losing. The teacher doesn’t have to win in the moment. The situation needs to be addressed in the moment, but fully resolving a problem can happen at a later time. After some time passes, the results are often much better than escalating the situation when emotions are hot. 



2. Handling private matters publicly.



Students don’t want to lose face in front of their peers. You can always delay and say, “Let’s talk about this later.” Just be sure to follow up as you promised. If a student feels disrespected or belittled in front of others, it will not end well. Try to keep tough conversations private. The tone will often be much different when there is not an audience.



3. Failing to give a kid a fresh start.



We all want to have an opportunity for a fresh start. We don’t want to be judged by our worst moments. Our students need forgiveness too. So after an issue is resolved, let the student know they have a clean slate. Today is a new day. Let them know you believe in them and expect them to do great.



4. Using cutting sarcasm.



Sarcasm can be very dangerous. I’ve seen it used in a way that is not threatening and is just playful, but sarcasm can be degrading and manipulating. The best advice is to not use sarcasm at all. 



5. Speaking poorly of someone’s friends or family.




Never criticize a student’s friends or family members. You can certainly stand up for what’s right, but don’t pass judgments on people. It’s also very important to never talk badly about a student when they are not present. If you wouldn’t make a comment in front of that student’s mother or grandmother, you probably shouldn’t say it to a group of students or another teacher. If your harsh comment gets back to the student, it will be difficult to ever repair the relationship.



6. Speaking poorly of another staff member.



Never criticize another staff member in front of students as this creates a toxic environment. And, always defend a colleague if students are being critical. Even fair criticism isn’t fair when it’s shared at the wrong time and location. Tell your students if they have a concern with another teacher they should go talk to that person directly. If you have a concern with another teacher, you too should speak to them directly about it and not complain about them behind their back.



7. Losing control of your own behavior.



Always remember you’re the adult and a professional. You have to stay in control of yourself and your actions. If you act badly, it will make it much more difficult to address the student’s misbehavior. The student and the parents will be focused on what you did instead of focusing the responsibility on the student’s own actions. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked to help a student reflect on their own bad behavior, but they are focused on what the teacher did instead. Sometimes that happens when the teacher was completely upright. But sometimes it’s because the teacher showed up poorly in the situation.



8. Comparing a student to a sibling or another student. 



Avoid comparing students to one another or to a brother or sister. These types of judgments chip away at dignity. You wouldn’t want to be subjected to public comparisons with another teacher. Students don’t like this either. Even comments like “Your sister was so smart or funny” that seem positive may chip away at a student’s dignity. People want to be noticed for who they are and not compared to someone else.



9. Rushing to judgment without listening.



This one encompasses so much. It’s easy to jump to conclusions or make assumptions in the course of a day working with students. Teachers make so many decisions. I shared recently about a situation where I really embarrassed myself by making a quick judgment in a situation. The key is slow down and approach problems with a sense of curiosity. Work to understand what is going on with the child, what needs they are trying to meet, or why they are not successful even when expectations are clear and consistent. In a recent post, I shared 21 phrases that can help with these conversations.



Of course, there are many other factors involved in building a positive classroom culture. What are some of your thoughts? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 9 Mistakes That Sabotage Your Classroom Management





A positive school is built on positive moments. It doesn’t just happen by accident. Every interaction counts. It takes a concerted effort on the part of everyone to create an environment that is awesome. So what are some things everyone should know to be more positive in their own mindset and help contribute to that positive environment we all want? 



Here are ten thoughts to consider:



1. Your positive attitude, more than your talent or expertise, will determine your impact.



Positive people inspire and influence others. If you want to help others be great, you have to demonstrate a positive attitude. Your ability to be joyful, hopeful, and resilient will inspire others like nothing else.

2. Positive attitude is not believing everything is okay; it’s believing everything is going to be okay.



Positive people find the silver lining in the most difficult of circumstances. They learn from difficulties. They don’t pretend everything is okay. That’s not positive thinking. That’s denial. Positive people just believe that things can get better. They expect things to get better. And they believe they might just learn something from the difficulty along the way.



3. Positive attitude is not feeling happy all the time.



Even people who are positive feel negative emotions like sadness, disappointment, and regret. But these feelings do not overwhelm them, partly because they are able to also feel positive emotions simultaneously. For example, perhaps at the same moment they grieve for a loss, they are also thankful for the blessing they had for a time. Even when things are at their worst, positive people view negative feelings as temporary and expect their emotional well-being to improve.



4. When you bring positive energy to a space, negativity leaves.



Negative energy can create a toxic culture and spread throughout your school. It’s so important to create and nurture a positive environment to keep the negativity out. Scientists have found that people’s brain patterns actually start to align as they spend time together. Attitudes are literally contagious it seems. 

5. It takes at least 4 positive experiences to overcome a negative one.



I’m not sure this number is actually correct. But I do know we need to relish the positive moments and use them to overcome the setbacks and difficulties we face. It you do 20 things right today but make one mistake, you will be tempted to ignore all of those positives and focus only on your mistake. It takes deliberate celebration of the positives to help overcome the negatives. Relish those positive moments.



6. Sharing gratitude grows your positive reserves.



When you focus on the positive experiences in your day and share those with others, it makes you stronger and helps others too. We often start our meetings just by sharing the good things that are happening. What are three things you’re thankful for in the last 24 hours? Who are you thankful for? If you want more energy and enthusiasm, focus on showing appreciation. Lift up others, and you’ll be lifted up too.



7. Positive people are problem solvers. 



They don’t make excuses. They find solutions. When you are negative, you see only problems. In fact, negative people seem to find a problem for every solution. But positive people can open their minds more possibilities. They can see possible solutions that others might miss.



8. Positive people are playful.



“Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying.” I remember these words from my childhood. My mom would say it after making fun of some unfortunate circumstance. It was a way of coping, and I’m thankful we had permission to see the humor in little misfortunes. Positive people don’t take themselves too seriously, and they are eager to have fun while getting the job done.



9. Resilience is built on positive thinking.



Positive thoughts give you power over your circumstances. Don’t let negative thinking give your circumstances power over you. Reality does not shape you. The lens through which you view reality is what actually shapes you. Make that a positive lens. Some of the happiest people in the world have very little of what this world has to offer. But they view the world through a positive lens and make the most of whatever they have.



10. Positive people are happier, more creative, more productive, and have more energy.



We often think hard work leads to success. We just need to work harder, try harder, be more committed, sacrifice more and then we’ll be happy. But that’s never enough. Turns out, it’s better to start with being happy and then let that drive your productivity, creativity, and success. This amazing TED Talk makes the case much better than I can.




What is your best tip for keeping a positive attitude? Share it with us all so we can learn from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 10 Thoughts On Positive Attitude to Share With Your Team