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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Message to Educators: I Believe in You, Be An Angel of Kindness



If I could sing you a song to start your year (or encourage you in the middle for those in the Southern Hemisphere) it would be this one:


Take these words and pull them into your life like the oxygen you breathe:

Lonely the path you have chosen
A restless road, no turning back
One day you will find your light again
Don't you know
Don't let go the chance
Follow your heart
Let your love lead through the darkness
Back to a place you once knew
I believe I believe I believe in you
Follow your dreams
Be yourself an angel of kindness
There's nothing that you cannot do
I believe I believe I believe in you

Tous sais tu t'en iras tous sais
Coeur ouvert à l'univère
Ou suis ta quête
Sans regarder derrière
N'attends pas
Que le jour se lève
Suis ton étoile
Va jusqu'où ton rêve t'emporte
Un jour tu le toucheras
Si tu crois
Si tu crois
Si tu crois en toi
Suis ta lumière
N'étint pas la flamme que tu portes
Au fond de toi souviens toi
Que je crois
Que je crois
Que je crois en toi

Someday I'll find you
Someday you'll find me too
And when I hold you close
I know that it's true
Follow your heart
Let your love lead through the darkness
Back to a place you once knew
I believe I believe I believe in you
Follow your dreams
Be yourself an angel of kindness
There's nothing that you cannot do
I believe I believe I believe in you
I believe I believe I believe in you
I believe I believe I believe in you...
 You might want to play the song as you read these words, as I wrote them while listening!


This Song is on my Ipod and I play it at the beginning of each day, sort of like an athlete gearing up for the big game.  My big game is any time I am ready to teach and my prayer is that I will be a person who blogs, speaks, and encourages others to follow their dreams, to BE YOURSELF AN ANGEL OF KINDNESS!


Perhaps the part that touches me the most is the beginning

"Loneliness is the path you have chosen..." 
for in teaching never are you more surrounded by other people and yet so alone.  Your classroom is your domain, your place and yet your place is a different role than the others in it.


I can teach my students so many things...
 

technology,
wikis,
blogging,
digital citizenship,
information literacy,
virtual worlds,


and yet,
if I do not teach them the reality of:

loving yourself,
your ability to accomplish great things,
the need for each of us to be an angel of kindness, and
to follow their dreams


then I'm wasting my time.

These are things which transcend learning and yet are enmeshed in the process of learning. But being this kind of teacher is not in the things that you think.
  • False praise is recognized by kids and makes it so they don't trust anything you say.  Your praise should be genuine and honest - everyone is not good at everything.  You should strive to be an encourager not one who spouts of false, impotent praise. Find what students are good at - that is what you encourage.  Encourage good behavior traits.  (Read my favorite parenting book of all time Have a New Kid by Friday: How to Change Your Child's Attitude, Behavior & Character in 5 Days - and yes, it works, and no it is not hype.)


  • Hold Accountable. Be Fair.  We all long for this.Teachers who just want to be friends with their students are very likely the foes of tomorrow.  It is not popular that my students have to work bell to bell or that I don't teach any "crip classes" (just ask my Current Events students who are groaning about this,) however, the fact that my classroom is a safe place where I hold kids accountable for their actions and that I treat all kids equally in terms of not playing "favorites" with behavior means that they can relax and know that I am dependable.  Moody, inconsistent teachers cause students to feel like they are on quicksand, never knowing whether Jeckyll or Hyde will show up to teach that day.

    Additionally, employees who consistently break rules and underperform and are not held accountable by their supervisors is a killer of performance and teamwork in any organization. (Read Influencer: The Power to Change Anything)


  • Expect Excellence - I expect the best of my students and I get it.  When I started here 8 years a go, I told my headmaster that it was my goal to build one of the best technology programs in the world. Whose measuring?  Well, just me.  But it is still a question I ask myself:  am I creating world class students.  I look at them and SEE the best students in the world.  It is not false delusion, I believe it with everything I am.  I know it in my heart.  I breathe it out and into their psyche with how I treat them and what I say.  EVERYONE wants to be believed in.  EVERYONE.  And you'll see the kids will rise to the expectation. 

    Realistically, are they going to have the best test scores in the world?  I don't know, but are they going to be steered to the best life uniquely suited to them and their purpose in this world - my goal is to get them in that direction. WE will use 100% of the time I have with them to help them reach their best (and teach the content I have as well.)  (A great "old" book that I love is from the excellence guru Tom Peters In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies (Collins Business Essentials).  Excellence is truly a habit.)


  • Look every child in the eye every day as they enter the classroom.  If I have one rule, one goal - this is it.  The days I make sure to stand at the door and greet them by name and look them in the eye are the days of ultimate breakthrough.  Always. 

    Don't believe me?  Well, tomorrow, whether you're a teacher or in any profession, intentionally look each person in the eye when you first meet them, (when they are usually unguarded.) If they are tired, worried, upset, sick - you'll see it written in their eyes and facial expression.  (For more on reading body language, check out this cool new book that comes highly recommended by School Library Journal What Every BODY is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-Reading People)

  • Don't whine.
    "You kids never listen."  "I just said that."  These are things that weaken your position.  What is your problem?  Be positive, work to have change and if you're going to complain do it with an adult, you're undermining your own ability to influence your class for positive change.  We all have these days and it is usually when we're tired, emotional, or just worn out.  Watch for them and watch what you say.  My worst days of teaching are when I'm like this.  (If classroom Management is your issue and you do have these problems - one of my all time favorite books is Fred Jones Tools for Teaching: Discipline, Instruction, Motivation  there are solutions for this sort of thing!)

These are just some of the things from my own classroom, certainly not a comprehensive list, but there is a point to this. You CAN do anything you dream of, but we don't always have the knowledge to do it in our dreams.

We are all influenced by two things and two things only:  what we read (see/hear), and the people we meet.  That is pretty much it.

And any time in my life when I want to change -- when I want to pursue that lonely road of teaching or authorship or speaking - I spend a lot of time on my knees in prayer but also a lot of time reading and talking to people who are experts in the field.

With the Average American reading less than one book a year, is there any wondering why so many average people are out there?  If you want to improve yourself, if you want to be better - go on a quest for your holy Grail -- move ahead.

I read once (cannot remember where) that moving towards goals are kind of like firing a guided missle - until that thing is fired, it cannot triangulate on its objective.  You've got to pull out and move ahead towards your goal and make adjustments as you go.

Be the angel of kindness.  Be the one who believes in kids and helps them.

And if there is an obstacle standing in your way:

Whatever it is, move ahead - work to be that person you want to be. Stop whining and get up off that chair.  We are in a quest to do and be.

Now, back to this video, did you watch it?  Aren't they beautiful? Don't they sound beautiful?  These are an amazing five singers but it took more than a beautiful voice to make each of them and they are the product of many different people who have given them advice, helped them, promoted them and yes... taught them.

Such excellence requires a lifetime of dedication and commitment.

For you to  follow your dreams and be yourself an angel of kindness" you've got to pursue it in ways that WORK.   
Most people don't fail for lack of effort but lack of appropriate engagement:  engagement with the sources of information and expertise that they need to thrive and succeed, engagement with a decision to move ahead, engagement to realize that things don't happen overnight and that divas aren't born, they are developed.

Listen to this song again and know this... I believe in you.  Believe in yourself.

There is nothing that you cannot do -- now, go out there and do it!





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