Category Archives: teaching

Handle parent-teacher crucial conversations effectively

In my years as a school counselor, I coordinated and lead a lot of parent-teacher conferences.  Lucky for me, I worked in a school with an amazing dedicated team of teachers who came to those conferences prepared and eager to serve.  It’s an important mindset to cultivate.  However, I also talk with parents and teachers who encounter a very different environment.  Typical problems include an unwillingness to listen, a need to be right or prove a point and a lack of sensitivity to the intentions and efforts of others.  How can you best ensure that a conference starts on the right track, ends with an action plan for moving forward and doesn’t get derailed in between?

Here are some tips to create a positive environment during crucial conversations:

  • Begin by clarifying what you really want to accomplish in the meeting. Are you sharing information and bringing someone up to date?  Do you want to make a decision about services or placement?  Are you creating a behavior plan or academic plan for moving forward?  Make sure everyone is prepared for the goal and on the same page.  Being blindsided as to the real purpose of a meeting creates tension.
  • Ask yourself how you need to act to accomplish your goal?  Calm and focused? Confident and prepared with the facts?  Sensitive and empathetic?  Take some time to create a positive mindset beforehand.
  • Avoid the extreme choices of:
    • Maintaining peace and harmony at all costs by withdrawing, not speaking up or not identifying what you think is the best goal and why.
    • Being more concerned about making a point than making a difference.  Being determined to win and express your opinion at any cost.
  • Instead of looking for differences and either/or decisions, look for common ground and make decisions that incorporate everyone’s concerns.  Anticipate and encourage cooperation and investment in a positive outcome on everyone’s part.

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 Wyatt Learns about Good Manners

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.  Wyatt_the_Wonder_Dog_Cover_Manners_Kindle

Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Good Manners

 

 

 

 

4 ways to teach your best lessons

Take a trip back in time with me and visualize your most memorable teacher.  Maybe it was the one who inspired you to be an educator.  Maybe it was someone who encouraged you in a subject area that you were challenged in.  Maybe it was someone who recognized a gift that you had.  For me it was a teacher in middle school (I’ve long forgotten her name)  who encouraged me to write.  She taught English, always a favorite subject of mine anyway, but she assigned writing topics and through her comments helped me recognized a gift that I had.  At the time, my grandfather was writing a column for the local newspaper and I sent him some of the work I produced in that class, which he proudly published.

In this day of data and research driven lesson plans, it is sometimes  easy to lose the heart of teaching.  Even school counselors who deliver classroom lessons on character education and mindfulness often get lost in prescribed lessons and collecting data on behavior changes.  What can we do to create lessons that capture and inspire students?

Here are four teaching suggestions:

Get personal:  As a student don’t you remember how much you enjoyed those stories that teachers shared from their personal lives and experiences?  Sometimes it made the material come to life.  Sometimes it gave you insight into them as a real person with a family and outside interests.  Sometimes it helped you understand a mission or passion they had.  Keep the shared experiences relevant to the topic at hand but put some of yourself into the mix.

Get relevant:  Students are engaged when they see how the material relates to their lives.  I remember a teacher I was observing in a math class who was teaching problem-solving through word problems that she made up which were practical as well a  bit humorous.  I was so entertained that I had a hard a hard time remembering to observe the student I was there for.

Get inspirational:  Use your material to inspire students to change the world and to be the best they can be.  Every lesson no matter the topic has a personal application and a history.  Share your personal desire for a peaceful world, saving endangered species or finding a cure for cancer. Help students to visualize a future that is better because of their focus and effort.

Get innovative:  While it is easy to fall back year after year on the same tired lessons, challenge yourself to add something new and innovative each year.  Your dedication to being a lifelong learner yourself will transfer the same enthusiasm to your students.

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 Wyatt Goes to Kindergarten

Wyatt has never liked change, at least not at first.  Once he tries something new, he usually finds he really likes it.  Now that he is about to begin kindergarten, Wyatt is really worried.  Will he make friends?  Will he get lost in the new school?  Will he miss his mom?  Join Wyatt in his latest “wonder-full” adventure! Wyatt-kKindergarten_thumb
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Goes to Kindergarten

 

12 Grab N’ Go Lesson Plans for School Counselors

Motivation: Helping children find their why

He has the potential to do so much more…

She daydreams all the time and never focuses on the lesson.

He doesn’t care and it shows in his work.

How do you motivate an unmotivated child?

In truth, every child is motivated toward something.  It just doesn’t always line up with what the adults in their life want them to be motivated toward.  How can that be turned around?

I believe that the key to motivating a child is to help them find their why.

It’s hard to be excited about learning to read if you don’t see the advantage of it. But what if you know that being able to read means you will open a world of stories and fantasy? What if you learn it will challenge your imagination and creativity? What if you learn it will expand your world and take you places you may never be able to visit otherwise?

It’s hard to get excited about learning math if you don’t see the point of it.  But what if you learn to see it as a puzzle to be solved?  What if you see it as exercise for the brain?  What if you learn that it will help you make money, count money, budget money and buy things?

I don’t know what the why is that will hook your particular child with any given activity. But I think we need to at least help children see the reason behind learning and develop their why.  We need to present learning as exciting, challenging, mind opening and life changing.  Instead it is often presented it as something a student just has to get through to pass a test and make it to the next grade so they can eventually graduate and do what they really want to do.  That doesn’t motivate me… does it you?

What is your why?

Maybe we ultimately need to ask ourselves what the why is behind the work that we do.  If our why is to share the thrill of learning and becoming the best that we can be every day, then we need to ask ourselves if we are translating that enthusiasm and excitement into the lessons that we teach and the life that we model. Enthusiasm is contagious.

Listen to what Marva Collins, renowned teacher who is quoted in the book Mindset said to an unmotivated second grader in her class on the first day of school, “Come on, peach,” she said to him, cupping his face in her hands, “we have work to do.  You can’t just sit in a seat and grow smart… I promise, you are going to do, and you are going to produce.  I am not going to let you fail.”

There are lots of strategies that can be put into place to motivate a child.  We can use stickers and candy and treasure boxes of toys.  But in the long run these things lose appeal and research actually shows that they have an adverse effect on the desire to learn and grow.  Instead what if it is possible to nurture a growth mindset that will encourage kids to become life long learners ?  What if the answer is to truly see students as successful, enthusiastic learners and hold that space for them as they grow into it?

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 Wyatt Learns about Good Manners

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. Wyatt_the_Wonder_Dog_Cover_Manners_Kindle

Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Good Manners

 

 

DISCover Your Personality Style

Good counselors and educators do things well.

Great counselors teach and inspire others to do things well.

This month I was at the Kentucky School Counselor Conference in Lexington, Kentucky (shout out to all the GREAT counselors that I met there), where I taught a session on understanding personality style and working in your strengths. One of the advantages of training counselors in DISC personality is the enthusiasm that they bring to the session.  DISC training adds an innovative and creative tool to the counselor toolbox.

Not familiar with DISC personality training?  Here are the basics:

The Four Basic Personality Styles

According to the DISC personality program, there are four basic personality styles.  We are all blends of these.  Here are the characteristics of each.:

D:  dominant, determined, decisive

I:  interactive, inspiring, influential

S:  stable, sweet, supportive

C:  competent, cautious, conscientious

Why DISC works

There are several reasons why the DISC is a good fit for anyone working with children.  Here are some of the reasons that as a certified DISC trainer, I love sharing this with counselors, educators and parents.

  • DISC is a great tool because it is easy to understand.  This means that counselors can quickly learn the basic four personality styles and share them with parents, students and educators on their team.  Unlike some personality assessments that take the equivalent of a college degree to understand, DISC can be taught in a quick one time session.
  • DISC is a great tool because it is practical and immediately applicable.  Most participants in my sessions not only quickly understand how it works but they begin sharing insights about themselves and other participants while we are still in the session.  They also gain insight into interactions with coworkers, family members and friends.
  • DISC is a great tool because it transforms relationships.  When you learn the personality styles, you don’t just understand yourself better, you also begin to understand and celebrate all the other personality styles around you.  It helps you encourage leadership traits (which show up differently for the different styles) and you learn how to motivate each different style by working in their unique strengths and interests.

If you aren’t familiar with DISC personality assessment, I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity.  Similar to the growth mindset work that Carol Dweck has done, DISC encourages an openness to learning from failure as well as success.  It celebrates our differences and encourages us to focus on and develop our strengths.

Interested in learning more about your personality style?  You can take an online assessment on this website.  I’ll even do an interpretation for you to help you make sense of the information.  Check out the sidebar on wyatthewonderdog.com for more information.

Want to learn how understanding personality can transform your perspective and relationships?  Check out these additional articles on DISC and children:

Personality Style and Motivation

Celebrate Your Child’s Unique Voice

Parenting and Teaching the High Energy Child

 

Parenting with Heart: Understanding your Child’s Personality Style

Do you sometimes feel that your children are speaking a different language?  Do you wonder how to motivate and inspire them?  In this ebook you will D-I-S-Cover your own personality style and how to speak the language of other personality styles to create a winning  environment in all the seasons of your family’s life. parentingheart Click on the link below to purchase the ebook: Parenting with Heart: Understanding Personality Style

Teaching with Heart:  Understanding Personality Style

Do you sometimes feel that students at your school are speaking a different language?  Do you wonder how to motivate and inspire them?  In this ebook you will D-I-S-Cover your own personality style and learn to work in the strengths of each personality by recognizing the secret fuel and environmental needs for each.  Understanding the personality styles of students can revolutionize how you interact and lead in the classroom! teachingdiscover

 Click on the link below to purchase the ebook:

Teaching with Heart: Understanding Personality Styles

 

Interested in having a DISC training come to your school?  Get more information here:
http://www.dreamachievercoach.com/dream-academy-educator-training/

 

Taking the drama out of conflict

“He’s not following the rules!  He’s a cheater!”

“She is being mean to me and my friends. She won’t include us in her club.”

“She took my markers and lost them.  Now I don’t have any.”

Some days it feels like all we do as educators and parents is solve conflicts between kids. Maybe you even feel  like you’ve tried everything and you are at the end of your  rope. “Why can’t kids just get along?” we wonder.  It’s frustrating. It’s exhausting.

Here are a few ideas but get ready… most of them mean changing your mindset as well as your strategies.

  • Re-frame conflict as opportunity instead of a battle of the wills- As a parent, I used to actually thank my children when they were having a disagreement.  Sounds crazy I know, (and they’d look at me like I had lost my mind) but I’d explain that life is full of conflict and it’s good that you can learn to solve conflicts as kids.  It’s true of course;  learning to solve conflicts is a necessary life skill.
  • Create conflict rules-For example: no blaming, no name calling and no threatening. Help children define what the rules mean.  Calling someone a cheater is name calling.  Refusing to be someone’s friend if you don’t get your way is threatening.  Saying it is all your fault is blaming.  Post the rules and refer to them when needed.
  • Take the drama out of the  situation-You can of course sympathize a bit with hurt feelings but don’t let it rule the day.  Begin by establishing the facts.  What happened first?  What happened next? Teach children to clearly identify the problem. It helps to have them state the problem without any feelings attached.  Teach the difference between the facts and the feelings.  And while we are talking about feelings…
  • Teach children to be responsible for their own feelings-Most of us think that others have the power to make us mad, or sad or to hurt our feelings. Disagreements provide a great opportunity to teach that others don’t have that power.  We control our own feelings by what we tell ourselves about the situation.
  • Teach a variety of ways to problem solve and resolve conflicts-Does one child want to play with a toy and the other not want to share?  Ask them to list all the possible solutions to the problem.  Then rather than you as the parent or teacher making the executive decision have them work together to decide which choice is best.
  • Recognize your own feelings surrounding conflict and interpersonal differences.  Just as  children come with their own personalities, we as parents and educators have our own temperament and our own history with conflict as well.  Were you the youngest child in your family who felt continually picked on by the oldest?  Were you the middle child who felt you had to create conflict to get noticed?  Our own history may flavor how we react to conflict in our children.  Make sure that you are operating out of a calm space and teaching good skills rather than taking sides or replaying your own history.

As parents and educators, we aren’t just solving kids’ problems today, we are teaching them how to solve much bigger conflicts later in life.  Does this take more time than simply telling kids to stop fighting and get along?  Yes!  But in the long run you are teaching important skills as well as saving time because children are learning strategies to solve their own problems rather than rely on you to solve problems for them.

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Wyatt Learns about Good Manners

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. Wyatt_the_Wonder_Dog_Cover_Manners_Kindle

Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Good Manners

On Teachers Pay Teachers:

Free Product Situation Cards for Lessons on Conflict

 

 

 

 

 

Five effective ways to teach kids in the digital age

I often hear experienced teachers complain about how students have changed over the years.  Children who will spend hours locked into a video game can hardly pay attention for ten minutes to a classroom lesson.  It seems that children of the digital age expect to be entertained in the classroom rather than taught.  One teacher told me she felt she was becoming less and less of a teacher and more of a manager of electronic devices.

At the same time children are becoming more and more dependent on social media to be… well- social.  We are raising a generation that does not know basic social skills; how to talk rather than text, how to read and respond to body language and how to engage in productive and rewarding relationships.

It seems to me that we can either throw up our hands and admit that electronics win or we can work with the system and help children realize the benefits of both electronics and real world communication.

Five ways to use the features of electronics to engage kids in the classroom:

  1. Build in excitement and challenge–Part of the draw of video games is the excitement and challenge of accomplishment. Gamers want to accumulate points and unlock treasures.  They want to reach higher and higher levels of play. Challenges and threats of losing lurk around every corner. As educators we need to look for creative ways to infuse the same excitement and challenge in any classroom lesson.  Building in creative thinking skills  and identifying personal goals for achievement can help. Teach children to challenge themselves to be their personal best.
  2. Provide opportunities to learn and develop social skills–In this way you are providing something that children miss out on with technology.  First teach team building and cooperation skills.  How do you handle conflicts and differences of opinion? What habits and attitudes does an effective team practice?  Then set up teams, groups or partnerships where children solve problems.  After each experience process difficulties and how they could handle them differently next time.   Grade children not just on solving a problem successfully but also on how they solved the problem as a team.  Their future employer will be forever grateful.
  3. Create opportunities for mentoring–This could be with adults that you bring into the classroom to share their expertise on career day, science day or a historical  occasion.  It could involve partnering with an older or younger classroom as reading buddies or to practice math facts. This also opens the door to creating relationships across differing age groups.  Just as technology often opens the door to other world views and environments, the classroom can also be a chance to experience differing perspectives.
  4. Be a role model for passion and enthusiasm–As a teacher you have great influence on young minds.  Share your interests and excitement for the world.  One teacher I know starts every morning out with a current pop song and has everyone in the room begin the day dancing and singing (and no she wasn’t the music teacher–she just loves to dance.)  No matter what lays ahead in the day, it always starts off with a blast of energy.  Another teacher is passionate about saving endangered species and she teaches kids how to make a difference in the world’s environment.   You don’t have to convert kids to your passion, but instead teach them to find their own and follow their heart.  The digital world explodes with color and energy, but our own passions can provide the same impact.
  5. Make learning experiential–Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”  Whenever possible make learning experiential.  The digital world creates passive experiences that seem real but in the classroom you have the opportunity to create active real life experiences.  For instance, you could create an environment similar to a historical time.  Have a colonial day and dress up, act out or make items similar to what you are learning about.  You can make this as elaborate or as simple as you want. It’s not about making a big show, it’s about making it memorable.  One teacher, I know had students act out typical student behaviors from a time period that they were studying.  Imagine classroom visitors’ surprise when all the students stood up and in unison said welcome as soon as guests entered the room.  Do you think the kids ever forgot that experience?

The greatest way teachers can help kids of the digital age become life long learners is to infuse the classroom with many of the characteristics found in the digital world while pairing them with meaningful relationships.

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 Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Cooperation

Wyatt wants to play Frisbee. Max want to build a fort and Callie wants to have tea party. How do the three friends reconcile their differences? Can it be done? When Wyatt doesn’t get his way, Max’s mother suggests he be the Superhero for the day. Join Wyatt as he learns how the magic of cooperation and compromise can bring the five friends closer together.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog -Cooperation Cover
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Cooperation (Volume 6)

Lesson Package for Wyatt Learns about Cooperation on Teachers Pay Teachers