Tag: kindness

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Like many of you, I’ve had so much on my mind lately. I have several blog posts upcoming that will express more of what I’m feeling. But I wanted to share this quick bit with you. 
If we only read and share things that c…

Read More Share Understanding and Spare Pain

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I’m not sure exactly how it got started, but for the past few years I’ve shared a joke every morning with our entire building to start the school day.

It’s important to me to help get each day off to a good start and part of…

Read More How Humor Contributes to School Culture

No one is perfect. Not one of us. But if we’re not careful, we can fall into the trap of thinking we have to act perfect. 

I find it puzzling how students sometimes have the idea that teachers/principals/educators are somehow above making mis…

Read More 7 Benefits of Apologizing to Your Students

We all see things differently. That’s something I continue to learn as an educator and in every other area of life too. I used to get upset if someone expressed an idea I didn’t agree with. It would frustrate me to no end if they took a position that…

Read More The Importance of Accepting Different Perspectives

I recently finished reading A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix by by Edwin Friedman. The author shared a number of leadership insights that were helpful to me or at least pushed my thinking.

But one of his positions knocked…

Read More Is It Possible to Have Too Much Empathy?

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It’s been great to see all the posts today for #WorldKindnessDay. It got me thinking about what it means to be kind. I think there are a few myths out there about this concept, and I wanted to address them.



Myth #1: Kindness is weak.



Kindness is NOT weak. In fact, it takes courage to show kindness. It takes strength. It takes setting aside what’s easy for what’s valuable. Being kind requires strength of character.



Myth #2: Kindness is the same as being nice.



Kindness is NOT just being nice. Being nice is one aspect of kindness, but that’s not the end of it. Kindness is about making decisions that result in healthy relationships. It’s about giving your time, your attention, your caring heart, your extra efforts, your helping hand, your selfless actions to lift up others. 





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Myth #3: Kindness is a feeling.



Kindness is NOT a feeling, it’s a choice. It’s a behavior. You’re not going to like everyone you meet. You’re probably not always going to feel like being kind to them. But you can choose to treat everyone you meet with all the care and concern of people you do like. 



The more you practice being kind, the easier it is to demonstrate this behavior consistently. It becomes a habit. It becomes who you are, and you don’t even hesitate to act in kind ways.




You can never do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

How has someone shown kindness to you? How are you growing in your own ability to be kind to others? What other myths exist around kindness? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Three Myths About Kindness



Earlier this month, we hosted a CharacterStrong training in our school. Our presenter was Houston Kraft, CharacterStrong co-founder. He was amazing with the teachers, staff, and even a few students who attended. 



After the day concluded, I couldn’t stop thinking about how we must bring more of this type of hope, energy, and connection to the daily life of our school. All schools need this work. It’s truly an amazing experience!

As Houston shared with the group, one other idea really jumped out at me from the day. I was reminded just how powerful our lens can be. Our paradigm or perspective can have a powerful impact on the people we interact with. 



It’s true that how we see others, including our students, makes a huge difference in how they see themselves. Let me say that again, how you see your students influences how students will see themselves.



So consider this question Houston presented. Do you see your students as probabilities or as possibilities? Do you see their strengths and what’s possible for them? Or, do you only see the deficits, challenges, and shortcomings? Do you only see what’s probable for them based on how they show up today? Or what might be in their background?



After all, it’s easy to build a case for how another person will behave or what they will achieve in the future. We know that in general past performance is often a good predictor of future performance. It’s also easy to judge on other factors that limit our students and what they can accomplish.

However, if we want to add value, win hearts and minds, or be agents of change in our relationships, we have to see others for who they are becoming, not just for who they are right now. We have to see them as possibilities and not just probabilities. We have to see them as future world changers, as leaders, as influencers, as difference makers. 



And then we need to encourage them, provide experiences for them, and offer opportunities for them to rise up. How we view others has a big impact on how they view themselves. 



5 Ways to See Students as Possibilities



1. Notice their strengths and reinforce them every chance you get.



Every child in every school needs to hear an encouraging word every day. We need to build on the strengths of our students while simultaneously challenging them to stretch themselves to do hard stuff. 


2. Give them opportunities to lead and have responsibilities.


I love this quote from Booker T Washington…

“Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him.” -Booker T. Washington

What are ways you can give a student responsibility and demonstrate your trust in him or her? 



3. Listen to your students and respect their voice, background, and culture.



We need to be very careful about placing judgments on students because of our differences. Instead, we need to listen with caring and curious hearts. We need to recognize we’re not there to rescue, fix, or determine their future. We’re there to help, support, and influence them as they discover the story they want to create with their lives.



4. View mistakes as learning opportunities.


When we view mistakes as learning opportunities, we are far less likely to sort students or determine what’s possible for them based on how they show up right now. Many highly accomplished people have leveraged their challenges, failures, and shortcomings to do amazing things in life. Maybe your student will be one of those stories. And your belief in them can make the difference.


5. Never crush a child’s dream.


Yeah, we all know the odds of making it to the NBA are very slim. But my job as an educator is not to remind kids of what they can’t do. Encourage their dreams. But at the same time, hold them accountable to the value of other things along the journey too. NBA players need to be coachable, they need to be learners, and they need to solve problems and use their thinking skills. So good news…my classroom can help you get ready for the NBA!


What other tips do you have for seeing students as possibilities? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Do You View Students as Possibilities or Probabilities?



I was taught as a kid that the things that you put into your mind would have an influence on who you are and who you are becoming. Garbage in, garbage out. How you fill your cup will determine what spills over in your life. 



Actually, at the time, I remember thinking some of this was just to keep me from listening to the “wrong” type of music in my teen years. 



I think my understanding of the concept was over simplified and more focused on what I should not do. But it has just as much to do with what we should do.

The Bible puts it this way…

Above all else, guard your heart,

for everything you do flows from it.

Keep your mouth free of perversity;

keep corrupt talk far from your lips.

Let your eyes look straight ahead;

fix your gaze directly before you.

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet

and be steadfast in all your ways.

Do not turn to the right or the left;

keep your foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:23-27

Now I understand more clearly the truth of this. We really do become what we think about about. The things that we focus on become more visible to us, more evident, in every area of life. It becomes our lens. And that influences our behavior.



When our family bought a Chevy Malibu a few years ago, all of the sudden I noticed how many Chevy Malibus were on the road. I had never noticed before, but these cars were everywhere. 



When a student or parent says to me, “There’s so much drama in high school” I find it interesting because I know others who haven’t experienced all of that drama. They see social conflict everywhere because it’s the paradigm they engage with. Others mostly avoid the drama, because they focus their attention on other things.



Tony Robbins has described it this way, “Where your focus goes, energy flows.” You move in the direction of the things you focus on. Your energy goes toward those things.



When you practice gratitude, it’s amazing how you will notice more things to be grateful for. I believe you actually start to have more things to be grateful for. Good things come to people who believe the best and expect the best.



Les Brown said it simply, “What you think about, you bring about.”



Below are 8 things that will influence your growth and who you are becoming. We often think this is the type of advice our students need, and for sure they need to hear this message. But I think we all need to reflect on these things. Everyone needs this message.



How are we spending our time? What are we putting into our minds, rehearsing in our minds, and how can we ensure that it is leading us where we want to go? The patterns of our mind are powerful. They can empower us or defeat us.



The things we think about influence our effectiveness in every area of life. If you want to be a more effective educator, friend, spouse, or neighbor, think about how you are being intentional with these things.



8 Things That Influence Who You’re Becoming

1. What you watch

2. What you listen to

3. What you read

4. What you believe

5. How you spend your time

6. Who you spend your time with

7. The things you say to yourself

8. The thoughts you choose to accept



What would you add to this list? What stands out to you on this list? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook. I’d love to hear what you think.

Read More 8 Things That Influence Who You’re Becoming



How important are bus drivers? Our kids’ safety is in their hands. They are the first point of contact in the morning and help set the tone for the day. Bus drivers make a difference. And so do cooks. And custodians. And everyone else who gives so much to the life of a school.



I was speaking last week at the Cypress-Fairbanks Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships Leadership conference in Houston. It was a great event, and I enjoyed making some wonderful connections with educators there.


One of the people I met shared some valuable wisdom with me. The conference provided a shuttle to and from the hotel, and my driver’s name was Tammy.


She drives a school bus for the district, but she’s not just a regular school bus driver. She substitutes for all the bus routes in the Cy-Fair district (one of the largest in Texas) wherever she’s needed.


I can’t imagine how difficult that must be to drive a different group of kids every day, on a different school bus, in city traffic, with your back turned to them. That takes a special skill set!


Tammy is amazing! I was inspired by her commitment and her kindness. I asked her how she handles working with so many different kids while navigating unfamiliar routes.


I’m paraphrasing what Tammy said…and then adding a few of my thoughts too. She shared great advice and encouragement!


1. “They can tell I enjoy them and love them. And that makes all the difference.”


When kids know you care about them and accept them, you’ll bring out the best in them. The quickest way to change another person’s behavior is to change your behavior towards them. Every kid wants to feel like they are easy to love.


2. “When I ask them to do something, I address them as sir or m’am. And when they follow through, I say thank you.”


Kids are going to make mistakes. But if you make it a point to enjoy being with them, and treat them with great respect and care, there is almost no mistake you can’t correct. They’ll be far more open to your feedback when they feel that you have the highest respect for them.


3. “When those middle school students realize they can’t get under my skin, I have them right where I want them.”


The kids are going to test you and see how you respond. If it’s with anger or frustration, the situation is likely to escalate. If you are firm, polite, and also calm and caring, you’ll get a much better result. Let them know you’re in their corner even when you’re correcting them.


4. “I keep doing this because they need me.”


Tammy explained she had thought about retiring, but I could tell she also felt great satisfaction and purpose in what she’s doing. She sees purpose and contribution in what she does. She’s making things better with each interaction she has.


5. “I can tell you put your heart and soul into what you do.”


She said that to me. I was so honored and humbled. She gave me a big hug when she dropped me off at the airport. And I’m not even that much of a hugger. She encouraged me and affirmed me and added value to me.


Who makes the difference in your school?


Every person who works in a school makes a difference. Every person contributes to the culture of the school. 


What if everyone in your school gave as generously as Tammy to love and support the kids and the adults in the school? What if we all showed a little more care and appreciation for every person in every interaction? That’s how you build a strong school culture.


Who is someone who inspires you? How are you giving generously to others? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I would love to hear from you.

Read More What You Do Matters





Earlier this month, Dave Burgess shared a great tweet of a slide from Amy Fast’s presentation at What Great Educators Do Differently in Houston.

“The most important work we do in schools is the emotional labor.” – @fastcrayon at #WGEDD #tlap pic.twitter.com/Doh0cGhXJh

— Dave Burgess (@burgessdave) April 2, 2019

It’s true. It’s so important to do the emotional work, your emotional work to connect and care and empathize, because it influences the emotions of everyone around you. It influences others. 

How important are emotions? Emotions are “energy in motion.” Our emotions are always moving us toward something or away from something. We don’t always have to choose to follow those emotions, but they are powerful. Just understand that when a student or colleague is stuck in a performance rut, there is nearly always an emotional component to that.



Most people want to succeed and do well, right? They didn’t wake up in the morning wanting to fail. But sometimes they lose their way. At some point, their thoughts, beliefs, or feelings start getting in the way. Their words and actions are impacted. They allow the obstacles to weigh them down or stall their progress.

We need to create positive emotions in our classrooms and in our schools toward each other, toward learning, and toward making a difference. We need to support each other and believe in each other and never give up on each other. A positive learning environment is a positive emotional environment.



How often are there moments in your school that bring great joy, hope, and purpose? Those moments help create a heightened state of emotion. A peak state of emotion leads to a greater sense of motivation.



Think about it…

When you are laughing, smiling, encouraging, connecting, complimenting, progressing, and succeeding, you will have more energy, enthusiasm, effort, excitement, enjoyment, engagement and more. 



And conversely…

When you are frowning, criticizing, isolating, blaming, or complaining, you’ll reap what you sow with that too. You’ll have less energy. You’ll be more tired. You’ll be less likely to take a risk or do something great.



If you want to increase learning and performance, create an environment that provides for positive emotional support and growth. Create a positive environment. Create an uplifting environment, a fun environment. Bring your best energy.

Be intentional to create opportunities for students and colleagues to have more positive emotions. When the emotional environment improves, everyone has a better chance to change and grow and experience more powerful learning and connection.



What are ways you create an positive emotional environment in your classroom or school?



How do you set the tone each day for connection and care?



What behaviors need to be addressed that are damaging the emotional environment?



I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for all you do to bring your positive vibes each and every day!

Read More The Importance of Emotions in Learning

Yesterday was Pink Shirt Day. The initiative started in 2007 in Nova Scotia when, “David Shepherd, Travis Price and their teenage friends organized a high-school protest to wear pink in sympathy with a Grade 9 boy who was being bullied [for wearing a pink shirt]…[They] took a stand against bullying when they protested against the […]

Read More 4 Thoughts about Pink Shirt Day



It’s inevitable. Sooner or later there will be conflict. People will have differences. Disagreements will erupt. Mistakes will be made. Stuff happens.



But we can sharpen our skills to be ready when unhealthy conflict begins to rise. And we can use our tools to keep dialogue open and productive. Disagreements don’t have to turn destructive. 



A difference of opinion doesn’t haven’t to escalate into a damaged relationship. The phrases I share below have worked well for me, for the most part. Tone of voice and body language are critically important too.



It doesn’t matter if the conflict is with a student, a colleague, or a parent, it’s so important to listen carefully and let the other person know you are listening carefully. 



Listen carefully and practice empathy. Try to fully understand where the other person is coming from.



Here are 11 phrases that might be helpful…

1. “Let’s work together to solve this.”



All of the problem-solving to address an issue shouldn’t come from one side or the other. It’s not me vs. you. It’s us vs. the problem.



2. “I may be wrong. I frequently am. Let’s look at the facts.”



Our natural tendency is to become defensive when someone challenges us. Take a tentative stance at the start. That shows you’re open to listening.



3. “If I’m wrong I want to correct it and make it right. I may be in error.”



If you start to defend your position right away you set yourself in opposition to the other side. When we set ourselves in opposition to another, it’s their instinct to cling to their ideas and defend them whether there is truly any merit to them or not.



4. “Let me see if I got that.”



Or “Let me see if I understand you correctly?” Listen actively. Acknowledge what the other person is saying. Instead of defending or explaining, start by paraphrasing. Repeat what they’ve said to ensure that you’re getting the right meaning. Ask clarifying questions. It makes the other person feel heard. It shows you are listening.



5. “What’s your biggest concern?”



Sometimes when people get upset they vent about all sorts of things that may be related and may not be related. This question helps focus on what the real issue is.



6. “How are you feeling about that?”



Again this question is acknowledging that there are strong feelings as a result of the situation. It’s good to validate the feelings someone is having. It doesn’t mean you agree with what needs to happen, but you are trying to understand how they feel. 



7. “What would you like to see happen? What would make you happy?”



Sometimes when I ask this question after I’ve listened carefully for a time, the person will say they don’t really want anything to happen. They just wanted to express their frustration. And sometimes there are specific requests. This question get possible next steps out on the table. 



8. “Is it possible that we could…?”



Or “What if…” Help introduce new possibilities to the situation. In emotionally charged situations, people often get locked into seeing things from only one perspective. We’re looking for a creative solution that is win/win.



9. “I’m willing to discuss this as long as needed until we’re both satisfied how it’s resolved.”



I love to say this when I can tell things are really heated. It immediately says to the other person that I’m not going to be your opponent in this discussion. I’m not going to allow this to be an argument. It almost always diffuses the situation.



10. “Let me think about this some more. Let’s try again later.”



Sometimes, even when I’ve tried to maintain dialogue and approach the problem with as much diplomacy as possible, we still can’t seem to either deescalate or find acceptable solutions. Then it’s time to say let’s both think about it some more and try again later.



11. “Do you feel like the situation’s been handled fairly?”



It’s very rewarding when a conversation that could be angry and awful ends up being successful. It actually builds a stronger relationship. Conflict can make us stronger. Sometimes I will even ask if the other person feels it’s been handled fairly. If they can’t say yes, then maybe we need to talk some more.



Don’t allow yourself to become an opponent in the conversation. If people sense that you are defensive, they will set themselves in opposition to you. They will cling to their ideas and defend them no matter what. Even if there isn’t merit to the concern, they will fight for their point of view. They won’t care about what’s right. They’ll only care about being right. They’ll defend the most ridiculous claims and blunders simply because they view you as an opponent.



And conversely, if you truly listen and avoid becoming an opponent, people are far more likely to admit errors of their own. If they are handled gently and respectfully, they will be more open to listening to your perspective too. But make sure they’ve had plenty of opportunities to be heard before you expect them to hear your point of view.



Do you have other ideas for disarming conflict? What’s been your experience with handling conflict successfully? I’d like to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More 11 Helpful Phrases for Disarming Conflict



I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about negative student behaviors and how we respond effectively. 


Here are five ideas that have been on my mind…


1. It can be really easy to become judgmental about negative student behavior, especially when it’s repetitive. It’s always appropriate to be corrective about non-learning behaviors, but it isn’t right to place ourselves in a position of greater worth than the student. We might think, I would never do that. It’s like we think we’re superior in some way. And then we make generalizations about their motives based on the behavior. We act as if we know what’s going on in the student’s heart. 


That’s the type of judgment that causes resentment and steals dignity. Judgement isn’t always a bad thing. We actually know having good judgement is a good thing. That’s how we know when something is right or wrong. But relationships get crazy when we start to judge motives. That’s not ours to judge. Judge behaviors. They are observable and there are standards that must be held. Don’t judge intentions. We can never know another person’s heart.


2. Every negative behavior a student exhibits is probably closely resembling a negative behavior I’ve exhibited in my own life at one time or another. If I’m really honest with myself, it’s probably like I’m looking in the mirror. I may not have done that exact thing to the degree that it was done, but I’ve struggled with that issue at some point and acted in a similar manner. There are only so many categories of mistakes, and I’m pretty sure I’ve covered them all at one time or another.


3. Number two is really important because it reminds me to have empathy, to be understanding, and to work with a student through the issue instead of towering over them and being iron-fisted about the issue. We want to correct the issue and preserve the relationship. We need to walk through this with the student.


4. The things that push my buttons the most might be the things that I actually struggle with the most. It’s ironic, but often we are less forgiving and less patient with the behaviors that are most like the ones we struggle with. Think about an issue that is a struggle for you. Are you especially hard on students when they make a mistake in this area? Maybe not if they make the mistake in the same way you do. But if they make it in a different way or to a greater degree, look out. It might push all your buttons.


5. When students show up poorly and have behaviors that are destructive, I need to also look at the environmental factors at play. If I was in the same environment as the student, might I also act in this way? What can be changed about the environment to help the student make different choices? That does not relieve the student of responsibility or accountability for bad decisions, but I don’t want to just enforce accountability. I want to help create conditions so the student will succeed next time.


I think we could all stand to be a little more patient with our students. Heck, sometimes we need to be a little more patient with ourselves too. Mistakes are opportunities to learn more about who we are and to reflect and become stronger, more caring people overall.


I would love to hear your thoughts as always. What’s on your mind after reading this post? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More When Student Behavior Is Like Looking in the Mirror



I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about negative student behaviors and how we respond effectively. 


Here are five ideas that have been on my mind…


1. Judge behaviors, not intentions.



It can be really easy to become judgmental about negative student behavior, especially when it’s repetitive. It’s always appropriate to be corrective about non-learning behaviors, but it isn’t right to place ourselves in a position of greater worth than the student. We might think, I would never do that. It’s like we think we’re superior in some way. And then we make generalizations about their motives based on the behavior. We act as if we know what’s going on in the student’s heart. 


That’s the type of judgment that causes resentment and steals dignity. Judgement isn’t always a bad thing. We actually know having good judgement is a good thing. That’s how we know when something is right or wrong. But relationships get crazy when we start to judge motives. That’s not ours to judge. Judge behaviors. They are observable and there are standards that must be held. Don’t judge intentions. We can never know another person’s heart.


2. We make mistakes too, just like our students.



Every negative behavior a student exhibits is probably closely resembling a negative behavior I’ve exhibited in my own life at one time or another. If I’m really honest with myself, it’s probably like I’m looking in the mirror. I may not have done that exact thing to the degree that it was done, but I’ve struggled with that issue at some point and acted in a similar manner. There are only so many categories of mistakes, and I’m pretty sure I’ve covered them all at one time or another.


3. Correct the issue and preserve the relationship.



Number two is really important because it reminds me to have empathy, to be understanding, and to work with a student through the issue instead of towering over them and being iron-fisted about the issue. We want to correct the issue and preserve the relationship. We need to walk through this with the student.


4. Are there certain student behaviors that really push my buttons more than others?



The things that push my buttons the most might be the things that I actually struggle with the most. It’s ironic, but often we are less forgiving and less patient with the behaviors that are most like the ones we struggle with. Think about an issue that is a struggle for you. Are you especially hard on students when they make a mistake in this area? Maybe not if they make the mistake in the same way you do. But if they make it in a different way or to a greater degree, look out. It might push all your buttons.


5. Change the environment to help the child change his or her own behavior.



When students show up poorly and have behaviors that are destructive, I need to also look at the environmental factors at play. If I was in the same environment as the student, might I also act in this way? What can be changed about the environment to help the student make different choices? That does not relieve the student of responsibility or accountability for bad decisions, but I don’t want to just enforce accountability. I want to help create conditions so the student will succeed next time.


I think we could all stand to be a little more patient with our students. Heck, sometimes we need to be a little more patient with ourselves too. Mistakes are opportunities to learn more about who we are and to reflect and become stronger, more caring people overall.


I would love to hear your thoughts as always. What’s on your mind after reading this post? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More When Student Behavior Is Like Looking in the Mirror



I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about negative student behaviors and how we respond effectively. 


Here are five ideas that have been on my mind…


1. Judge behaviors, not intentions.



It can be really easy to become judgmental about negative student behavior, especially when it’s repetitive. It’s always appropriate to be corrective about non-learning behaviors, but it isn’t right to place ourselves in a position of greater worth than the student. We might think, I would never do that. It’s like we think we’re superior in some way. And then we make generalizations about their motives based on the behavior. We act as if we know what’s going on in the student’s heart. 


That’s the type of judgment that causes resentment and steals dignity. Judgement isn’t always a bad thing. We actually know having good judgement is a good thing. That’s how we know when something is right or wrong. But relationships get crazy when we start to judge motives. That’s not ours to judge. Judge behaviors. They are observable and there are standards that must be held. Don’t judge intentions. We can never know another person’s heart.


2. We make mistakes too, just like our students.



Every negative behavior a student exhibits is probably closely resembling a negative behavior I’ve exhibited in my own life at one time or another. If I’m really honest with myself, it’s probably like I’m looking in the mirror. I may not have done that exact thing to the degree that it was done, but I’ve struggled with that issue at some point and acted in a similar manner. There are only so many categories of mistakes, and I’m pretty sure I’ve covered them all at one time or another.


3. Correct the issue and preserve the relationship.



Number two is really important because it reminds me to have empathy, to be understanding, and to work with a student through the issue instead of towering over them and being iron-fisted about the issue. We want to correct the issue and preserve the relationship. We need to walk through this with the student.


4. Are there certain student behaviors that really push my buttons more than others?



The things that push my buttons the most might be the things that I actually struggle with the most. It’s ironic, but often we are less forgiving and less patient with the behaviors that are most like the ones we struggle with. Think about an issue that is a struggle for you. Are you especially hard on students when they make a mistake in this area? Maybe not if they make the mistake in the same way you do. But if they make it in a different way or to a greater degree, look out. It might push all your buttons.


5. Change the environment to help the child change his or her own behavior.



When students show up poorly and have behaviors that are destructive, I need to also look at the environmental factors at play. If I was in the same environment as the student, might I also act in this way? What can be changed about the environment to help the student make different choices? That does not relieve the student of responsibility or accountability for bad decisions, but I don’t want to just enforce accountability. I want to help create conditions so the student will succeed next time.


I think we could all stand to be a little more patient with our students. Heck, sometimes we need to be a little more patient with ourselves too. Mistakes are opportunities to learn more about who we are and to reflect and become stronger, more caring people overall.


I would love to hear your thoughts as always. What’s on your mind after reading this post? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More When Student Behavior Is Like Looking in the Mirror



I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about negative student behaviors and how we respond effectively. 


Here are five ideas that have been on my mind…


1. Judge behaviors, not intentions.



It can be really easy to become judgmental about negative student behavior, especially when it’s repetitive. It’s always appropriate to be corrective about non-learning behaviors, but it isn’t right to place ourselves in a position of greater worth than the student. We might think, I would never do that. It’s like we think we’re superior in some way. And then we make generalizations about their motives based on the behavior. We act as if we know what’s going on in the student’s heart. 


That’s the type of judgment that causes resentment and steals dignity. Judgement isn’t always a bad thing. We actually know having good judgement is a good thing. That’s how we know when something is right or wrong. But relationships get crazy when we start to judge motives. That’s not ours to judge. Judge behaviors. They are observable and there are standards that must be held. Don’t judge intentions. We can never know another person’s heart.


2. We make mistakes too, just like our students.



Every negative behavior a student exhibits is probably closely resembling a negative behavior I’ve exhibited in my own life at one time or another. If I’m really honest with myself, it’s probably like I’m looking in the mirror. I may not have done that exact thing to the degree that it was done, but I’ve struggled with that issue at some point and acted in a similar manner. There are only so many categories of mistakes, and I’m pretty sure I’ve covered them all at one time or another.


3. Correct the issue and preserve the relationship.



Number two is really important because it reminds me to have empathy, to be understanding, and to work with a student through the issue instead of towering over them and being iron-fisted about the issue. We want to correct the issue and preserve the relationship. We need to walk through this with the student.


4. Are there certain student behaviors that really push my buttons more than others?



The things that push my buttons the most might be the things that I actually struggle with the most. It’s ironic, but often we are less forgiving and less patient with the behaviors that are most like the ones we struggle with. Think about an issue that is a struggle for you. Are you especially hard on students when they make a mistake in this area? Maybe not if they make the mistake in the same way you do. But if they make it in a different way or to a greater degree, look out. It might push all your buttons.


5. Change the environment to help the child change his or her own behavior.



When students show up poorly and have behaviors that are destructive, I need to also look at the environmental factors at play. If I was in the same environment as the student, might I also act in this way? What can be changed about the environment to help the student make different choices? That does not relieve the student of responsibility or accountability for bad decisions, but I don’t want to just enforce accountability. I want to help create conditions so the student will succeed next time.


I think we could all stand to be a little more patient with our students. Heck, sometimes we need to be a little more patient with ourselves too. Mistakes are opportunities to learn more about who we are and to reflect and become stronger, more caring people overall.


I would love to hear your thoughts as always. What’s on your mind after reading this post? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More When Student Behavior Is Like Looking in the Mirror



I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about negative student behaviors and how we respond effectively. 


Here are five ideas that have been on my mind…


1. Judge behaviors, not intentions.



It can be really easy to become judgmental about negative student behavior, especially when it’s repetitive. It’s always appropriate to be corrective about non-learning behaviors, but it isn’t right to place ourselves in a position of greater worth than the student. We might think, I would never do that. It’s like we think we’re superior in some way. And then we make generalizations about their motives based on the behavior. We act as if we know what’s going on in the student’s heart. 


That’s the type of judgment that causes resentment and steals dignity. Judgement isn’t always a bad thing. We actually know having good judgement is a good thing. That’s how we know when something is right or wrong. But relationships get crazy when we start to judge motives. That’s not ours to judge. Judge behaviors. They are observable and there are standards that must be held. Don’t judge intentions. We can never know another person’s heart.


2. We make mistakes too, just like our students.



Every negative behavior a student exhibits is probably closely resembling a negative behavior I’ve exhibited in my own life at one time or another. If I’m really honest with myself, it’s probably like I’m looking in the mirror. I may not have done that exact thing to the degree that it was done, but I’ve struggled with that issue at some point and acted in a similar manner. There are only so many categories of mistakes, and I’m pretty sure I’ve covered them all at one time or another.


3. Correct the issue and preserve the relationship.



Number two is really important because it reminds me to have empathy, to be understanding, and to work with a student through the issue instead of towering over them and being iron-fisted about the issue. We want to correct the issue and preserve the relationship. We need to walk through this with the student.


4. Are there certain student behaviors that really push my buttons more than others?



The things that push my buttons the most might be the things that I actually struggle with the most. It’s ironic, but often we are less forgiving and less patient with the behaviors that are most like the ones we struggle with. Think about an issue that is a struggle for you. Are you especially hard on students when they make a mistake in this area? Maybe not if they make the mistake in the same way you do. But if they make it in a different way or to a greater degree, look out. It might push all your buttons.


5. Change the environment to help the child change his or her own behavior.



When students show up poorly and have behaviors that are destructive, I need to also look at the environmental factors at play. If I was in the same environment as the student, might I also act in this way? What can be changed about the environment to help the student make different choices? That does not relieve the student of responsibility or accountability for bad decisions, but I don’t want to just enforce accountability. I want to help create conditions so the student will succeed next time.


I think we could all stand to be a little more patient with our students. Heck, sometimes we need to be a little more patient with ourselves too. Mistakes are opportunities to learn more about who we are and to reflect and become stronger, more caring people overall.


I would love to hear your thoughts as always. What’s on your mind after reading this post? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More When Student Behavior Is Like Looking in the Mirror



When you think about your students, what stories are you telling yourself about them? I’ve been guilty of buying into limiting stories about who they are, where they come from, or what they’re capable of.



Of course, I care about all of our kids and strive to treat them all with dignity and respect. But it’s easy to see them a certain way if I’m not careful. It’s easy to make judgments. There are subtle thoughts and feelings. I might believe a story that casts some as most likely to succeed and others as at-risk or some other label.



It’s almost effortless to impose our stories on them or accept the limiting stories others believe about them without a question.



They don’t have a chance.



They’re victims of their environment.



They don’t have the right parents, the right influences, the right resources. 



They have an IEP. 



They’re low functioning.



They’re a behavior problem.



They’re lazy.



They don’t care about school.



They’ll never make it in college.



We can easily make all kinds of assumptions even without thinking. 

I’ve seen on Twitter recently the idea that we shouldn’t judge a student by the chapter of their story we walk in on. That is a powerful thought. So true! We all know people who’ve had difficult back stories who were probably judged as incapable or unlikely to succeed.



And yet, they made it.



Some famous examples include Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Walt Disney, Abraham Lincoln and many others. Not only did they make, they became world changers.



I’m gonna try harder to never tell myself a story about a kid that says they can’t because of where they live, what kind of home they come from, the trauma they’ve experienced, or anything else that limits their possibilities.



Things that have been true in the past don’t have to be true for the future. Alan Cohen writes “our history is not our destiny.”



As educators, we cannot buy into the idea that because a kid comes from the wrong side of the tracks, lacks resources, or has a difficult home environment they have limited capacity.



As I wrote in Future Driven

Treat all of your students like future world changers. I know there are some who are difficult, disrespectful, and disengaged. But don’t let that place limits on what they might accomplish someday. Believe in their possibilities and build on their strengths.

Kids can overcome any obstacle placed in their way. Don’t believe it? How can you know what might be possible with effort, enthusiasm, and continuous learning? 



And when no one else in the world is seeing a kid for the genius of what’s inside them, it’s time for educators to step up and be the ones who find that spark. 



No limits. No excuses.



What story are you telling yourself? What story are you believing about yourself? What story are you believing about your students?



The culture on the inside of your school must be stronger than the culture on the outside. There are so many outside voices telling kids what they can’t do, and it’s no wonder that kids start to believe it.



Every school needs every adult who works there to believe in the possibilities of their students, who will push them to greatness every day, who show them how to reach higher and go further. They may have limits crashing down on them from the external realities they live with, but we can help unleash the greatness they have within them. We can help them overcome and break through the limits.



What are specific ways we can help students realize they have greatness within? How can we unleash the potential they have to pursue their unlimited capacity? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More What Story Are You Telling Yourself?