Student Leaning Head On Book In Classroom

Are you all teachered out?

Already counting down to the last days of the school year?

Living for spring break and the relief it offers? (The holiday season already a distant memory?)

Given up on all those idealistic teaching goals that you envisioned for the year?

Have only one goal left…survival?

Sounds like you are all teachered out…

You started the school year with lots of enthusiasm and dreams of all you would accomplish–the difference you were going to make in your students’ lives.  But teaching is an exhausting job that drains your energy cup pretty quickly. If you aren’t refilling it you will find yourself depleted and barely surviving.

There are a couple of reasons why this happens:

  • we equate caring for our own needs to being selfish
  • we erroneously believe that we don’t have time (this is actually a boundary issue not a time issue)
  • we expect others to just know that we need a break and rescue us without our asking

Here’s the bottom line:

You can’t share energy that you don’t have and no one is going to rescue you.

It’s up to you.

When it comes to taking care of ourselves, most of us equate that with the shadow comforts.  I had a tough day at school so I will skip the gym and treat myself to pizza and cupcakes for dinner while I veg out on the couch.  Taking a bubble bath or going on a shopping spree is not going to change your life or awaken your inner soul.  Ultimately things we do to indulge and comfort ourselves drain us even more.  Here’s how to refill your energy cup and get back on track to thriving, not just surviving.

5 Essential Needs to Renewal

1. Take care of your body

Start with the basics. Make sure that you are getting adequate exercise, eating a healthy diet and getting the required number of hours of sleep.  Cutting corners because of a heavy workload eventually results in losing momentum and energy.  You may even wind up sick and forced to take the time to get well.

2. Take care of your environment

This is not actually about recycle and reuse, although I believe in that.  This is about maintaining an environment in the classroom and at home where you are organized and manage the clutter that naturally accumulates in a busy lifestyle.  Managing the details of your life will mean that you naturally feel better and calmer when your environment is set up to create energy rather than block energy.  Create systems and follow them regularly.

3. Take care of your relationships

Take the time to relax and enjoy your family and friends.  Step off the to-do-treadmill and create moments of connection and memories of love.  Create boundaries around your work and your relationships that encourage positive growth.

4. Take care of your self-development

Was the last class you took a required in-service where you sat in the back of the room and graded papers?  Cells that are not expanding aren’t stagnant, they are actually dying and this is true for our brain cells as well.  Take the class you’ve always wanted to take, read the books you wanted to read and expand your mind. It will impact your teaching in a positive way.

5. Take care of your spirit

There is no better way to refill your energy cup than through realigning your spirit with your beliefs. You do this through prayer, meditation, inspirational reading, reflection, gratitude or worship.   Pause and enjoy the beauty of the world around you as you reconnect with it’s creator.  In the process, you just might be reenergized with your purpose and destiny.

Wyatt’s Little Book of Lesson Plans, Worksheets and Games

Just for you!  Here are activities, lesson plans, discussion questions, coloring sheets, word search puzzles and games for each of the six Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books.  Over 75 pages of ideas so that you can create lessons on cooperation, teamwork and leadership skills to quickly extend and incorporate the Wyatt stories.

 

                     

http://wyatthewonderdog.com/activitybook

 

Angry teacher looking pupil with hands on hips at the elementary school

Top 3 Mistakes Educators Make

 

Educators often make the same mistakes.

How do I know?

I was a school counselor for 20 years and I’ve made them all myself.  The problem is that these mistakes don’t bring about the desired results, even though on the surface, it appears that we are helping and doing our job. Sometimes what feels like the right thing to do, doesn’t really serve our students or us.

1. Become a Teaching Machine

A teaching machine tries to do it all.  She plans each lesson perfectly and throughly. She is organized. She is invested and involved with every student.  She spends every evening and weekend grading papers, planning lessons, talking to concerned parents, etc.  She attends to everyone’s needs…but her own.

Sounds like the perfect teacher of the year, right?

In reality, no one wins if you become a teaching machine.  Students don’t learn to take initiative.  Parents don’t learn boundaries.  Administration and coworkers begin to expect you to do it all.

Ultimately you burnout.

You sacrifice your mental, physical, and spiritual health.  You may not even be aware of how stressed you are but you know that you’ve lost your zest for teaching.  Eventually you come to resent your students, parents, coworkers and the administration at your school. The worst part is that as hard as you’ve worked, you still don’t feel appreciated or respected by your students or coworkers.

The truth is that you are so much more than a teaching machine. Everyone around you benefits when you set boundaries and realistic expectations for yourself.  When you take care of yourself physically and emotionally your students get a rested and energized you.

2. Become the Behavior Police

Have you become so frustrated that you are constantly lecturing your students and staying on their case?  Have you given the class the big, long, loud repetitive lecture that starts out with: You are never going to succeed at ________ if you don’t begin ____________.  When you get to the next grade, teachers aren’t going to do _________ for you any more and you need to take responsibility now for blah, blah blah…”   It is then followed up with every annoying thing that they have done in the last month to push your buttons and aggravate you.

Here’s a more important question.

Did that lecture give you the results you were looking for?

In other words, after your lecture did your students say…

“Thank  you so much for showing me the error of my ways. I will change that behavior right now. You are the best teacher ever.”

In our dreams… right?  Teacher lectures generally fall on deaf ears. I know as a student myself, when I got the teacher lecture, I left the planet. I tuned out and figured she must be talking to all the other students in the room but me.

Of course you need to guide and instruct students but the timing and delivery is crucial. Lecturing when you are frustrated and on your last nerve is not effective.  Instead provide the same information in short conversations that lead into a lesson where the behavior identified can be practiced.  Model  and explain the type of behavior that you want to see prior to the situation rather than lecturing about the behavior after the event.

Remember,  less is more. Don’t hit students with a hundred things to change. You want to address one point at a time during a relevant teachable moment. That’s about all kids will process.

3. Become Disconnected with your students

Having a healthy connection with your students is the basis of teaching. This means that establishing a positive relationship will be essential in order to teach them the facts that you want them to learn.  This doesn’t mean that you have to become warm and fuzzy if that is not your style or that you need to become emotionally involved with students.  In fact having clear boundaries is an important part of the process as well

The mistake however that a teacher may make is that their relationship with their students becomes one-dimensional. They are all about doing but not about being:   “Turn in your homework. LIne up for lunch. Get out your textbook. Complete this worksheet. Pay attention.  Stop Talking.”

Instead stay connected to with your students’ heart and energy. Be connected to things that mean something to them.  Be interested.  Be curious.  Take time to get to know them as unique individuals who bring a great wealth of experiences to the room to share.  Your positive expectations will set the goal for them to strive for.

Happy National School Counselor Week!

In appreciation for all you do:  Grab ‘N Go Lesson Plan

Being Organized for Success

 

Wyatt Learns about Being Organized

It’s time to catch the school bus and Wyatt can’t find anything.  Where is his backpack?  his lunch money? Wyatt is about to learn a valuable lesson about the importance of being organized and the benefits of planning ahead.  This adorable story offers simple helpful ideas that kids and parents can use to make life less stressful and more fun.Wyatt_the_Wonder_Dog_Front_Covr-Organized[1]
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Being Organized

Cute girl with her hair on the air, isolated on white background

5 tips for thriving with your strong willed children

Is your child a strong willed child?

Do you have one in your classroom?

Determined

Spirited

In charge

Self-reliant

Competitive

We can either embrace their strengths or spend our days in power struggles.  We can appreciate the value and leadership they can bring to any group or we can challenge their determination.   We can give in to their demands or we can listen and give choices when possible within established rules and routines.

These are children who want to be in charge of themselves and their world.  When they are determined, they may have a hard time seeing alternatives or envisioning the consequences of their choices.  They have big emotions and live active all-or-nothing lives.

Here are 5 tips for surviving and thriving with the strong willed child in your life

  1.  Avoid power struggles by establishing rules and routines–Plan ahead and be prepared to state the  routine calmly:  Bedtime is at 8:00 so that you get plenty of sleep before school.
  2. Give choices whenever possible–Before you got to bed we can read one book.  You may pick out the one you want to hear.
  3. Look for win/win solutions–I know you don’t want to miss that t v show so I can record it for you.  You can watch it after you finish your homework tomorrow.
  4. Listen and acknowledge their point of view–I understand that you don’t feel tired right now but your body works best when we follow a regular bedtime.
  5. Provide opportunities for challenges and active learning– I love your ideas for how to build a lego fort.  Let’s see how quickly you can get ready for bed and if there is time we can work on it together until bedtime.

Celebrate the unique qualities of the strong willed child.  The same characteristics that make them a challenge to parents and educators, can also be traits that put them in charge of their own corporation or  make them the next president of the country.  Find ways to channel that talent into productive pursuits.  What can they be in charge of at home?  In the community?  At school?  If you can pique their interest and develop in them a passion for excellence in a productive arena, you will make your job much easier.

Wonder how Wyatt handles a bossy friend?

Wyatt is always wondering about something and lately it is how to get his friend, Max to change his bossy ways.  What can he do?  Join Wyatt as he considers some rather unusual options until he finally discovers that a heart to heart talk with Max can create a new friendship with an old friend.

Grab a copy of  Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Good Manners here

Wyatt_the_Wonder_Dog_Cover_Manners_Kindle
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Good Manners

 

 

Brother shouting at sister sticking her tongue out

Friendship Troubles

Friends

Making new friends.

Handling  challenging situations.

Knowing when to move on…

What do you do when a friend wants to do something that is unkind, thoughtless, or involves breaking the rules?

What do you do when a friend is bossy, self-centered and treats you unkindly?

If a friend  treats you badly, is it okay to treat them the same way?

Relationships are messy and there are not always clear cut answers.

Problems = Opportunities

As adults we need to learn to welcome opportunities to help children navigate the murky waters of friendship.  The social skills that children learn (or don’t learn!) will serve them all their lives.  Everyone has a basic need to belong, to feel loved and cared for. Learning social skills at a young age will equip children in their adult years  to handle  the problems that arise in any friendship.

Look for opportunities to:

  • Teach children to  recognize their own self-worth. Kids who feel comfortable in their own skin are often the best at encouraging others to be their best selves as well.  By sharing with children your vision for their authentic and best self, you are empowering them to see themselves in their best light.
  • Teach children empathy.  Children who are  good at listening and observing other’s feelings make supportive and thoughtful friends.
  • Teach children to see friendship troubles as opportunities to learn and grow.  Too often we see conflict as something to be avoided or ignored rather than an opportunity to understand someone else’s perspective and develop a deeper relationship.

 

Grab ‘N Go Lesson Plan for Busy Educators: 

Friendship and Conflict Lesson Plan

 

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about  Good Manners

Wyatt_the_Wonder_Dog_Cover_Manners_Kindle

 In this book, Wyatt learns what to say to a bossy friend and how to turn a challenging situation into an empowering one for both characters.  You can find the book here:  http://wyatthewonderdog.com/manners

boy with backpack

Make 2016 an Intentional Year-Here’s How

January is the time of year for setting goals and planning for the future.  It’s also the time of year when it can be hard to drum up some excitement for the learning opportunities ahead. Blustery weather, overcast days and early nights when everyone is cooped up inside can quell even the most spirited among us.  The thrill of the beginning of school seems long gone and the anticipation of the end of the school year seems far, far away in the future.

What can we do to get 2016 off to a great start and create the conditions necessary for a great school year?  There’s a lot!

Five Strategies for a Magical and Intentional Year

  • Set an intention–Not to get all woo-woo on you here but this is a useful technique for whatever you are doing that is new.  Athletes, entertainers and CEO’s use this technique successfully to create optimum performance.  It can work equally well for educators.
    • Begin with the end in mind.  Picture or visualize how you want your classroom to be as we move into 2016.  The tendency is to be so busy doing (managing student behavior, putting up bulletin boards, making lessons plans) that we expend all of our energy and don’t take the time to be.  Imagine how you want the room to feel;  excited, enthusiastic, focused, curious, etc.
  • Revisit your teaching method–Look at your materials and curriculum with a renewed fresh look.  Imagine that you are seeing it for the first time.  How will you engage students, pique their curiosity, personalize the message?  Make sure the classroom environment reflects your new vision.
  • Stay positive–it is really easy to let the negative drag you down.  There are always too many things to do, too many students to adequately serve, too few resources, too many meetings to attend and not enough time.  Reserve judgement.  Expect the unexpected and see it as a learning experience.  Choose to be a positivity role model for your students and you will find your enthusiasm is contagious.
  • Focus on and process the experience as much as the material.  It’s easy to  bemoan the fact that it’s hard to teach or counsel students because of all the extenuating factors in their lives.  Instead view those circumstances as teachable moments.  Sometimes the biggest lesson you can teach is how to handle disappointment and adversity.
  • Take care of yourself–there will never be enough time to do it all.  One reason you became an educator was because of your creative, heart-centered giving spirit. Make sure sure that you direct that energy toward yourself as well as the students you serve.  When you take care of yourself, you are modeling for students how they can take care of themselves and that is an invaluable lesson.

By following a plan, you will be able to not only meet the expectations of parents and students, but also to enjoy the fruits of your efforts.

Grab ‘N Go Lesson Plan for Busy Educators:

Winning and Losing Lesson Plan

 

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning

Wyatt the Wonder Dog didn’t make it on the All Star baseball team and he feels like a loser.  All  his friends will be playing baseball this summer, while he and his pesky sister, Callie, visit grandparents at the beach.  How Wyatt learns to handle disappointment and failure will be an important lesson for the future.  Will he give up trying new things?  Will he have the confidence to try again?  Are there some things that take more practice and persistence to learn than others? Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns About Winning
Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning (Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books) (Volume 5)

 

 

New Year's Resolution

One Word for 2016

Happy New Year from Wyatt the Wonder Dog!

What do you dream of for you and your family in 2016?

Do you have a vision for your family’s future?

Do you have an idea of the values and the principles that are your family’s foundation?

Wonder how to make that dream happen?

Resolutions and setting goals are often the stuff that the month of January is made of. What if instead of focusing on what you want your family to do in 2016, you first focused and who you want your family to be?  This is the power of choosing one word as a focus point for the next year.

Why One Word?

Goals and resolutions are useful but they are the doing part of creating  dynamic and rewarding family relationships. Most goals or resolutions fail because individuals focus first on doing rather than on being.  While actions are important and necessary, they must come from a mindset of who we want to be or our vision of our best self. Focusing instead on one word gives a family a north star, a central point to focus on.  It can be the starting point for setting personal and family goals.

Selecting a Family Word

Begin by having each person select their word for the year.  You might begin by giving some examples to get the creative juices flowing.  Visit Mike Ashcraft’s website, My One Word to see some examples of words that have been chosen and why.

Even small children can be encouraged to select a word as their focus for the year.    Not only does it immediately engage their creative side but also gives great insight as to their interests and goals.

Once each member of the family has selected a word for the year, it is then time for everyone to share their words and then select a family word to focus on.  Some questions to think about might be:

What  words  would describe what you think the family should be?

What do you really want the family to accomplish together?

How should we treat each other?

How is our family different and unique?

How can our family be the best we can be?

What are your dreams for our family?

Write down the ideas and then select one or more words for the family to focus on for the year. Just as determining your own one word can empower you personally and help you determine your priorities, it can transform the family as well.  Whether you are planning a vacation or chastising a child for a behavior problem, you can ask both the child and yourself:  Am I following our family’s one word with my words and actions?  If not, how can I change my words and actions so that I am true to the mission of our family?

I can’t think of anything more powerful that you can do as a parent than to develop a focus in 2016 by selecting one word to guide you and your family through the year.

Busy Educator’s Grab ‘N Go Lesson Plan on One Word for the Year

One Word Lesson Plan

Wyatt Learns about Being Organized

It’s time to catch the school bus and Wyatt can’t find anything.  Where is his backpack?  What about his lunch money? Wyatt is about to learn a valuable lesson about the importance of being organized and the benefits of planning ahead.  This adorable story offers simple helpful ideas that kids and parents can use to make life less stressful and more fun.Wyatt_the_Wonder_Dog_Front_Covr-Organized[1]
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Being Organized