3 Reasons You Should Read Ruby K. Payne’s book: A Framework for Understanding Poverty (Revised Edition)

The life of a wife, mom, teacher, wanna-be-edublogger, and a lengthy list of other roles I play is not easy to navigate. Can you relate?

I originally started writing this post about two months ago! I know, right!? That’s quite a bit of time. Well, I am happy to say that life and health has been and is good. However, my work-life balance was not good. I was not focused. I was all over the place. My friends and co-workers were asking me how I was able to do all that I was doing, and to be honest I was not doing it all. Okay, I take that back. I was doing it all, but none of it was as good as it could have been. I had to put blogging on the back burner until I figured how to focus and manage my time. I am still not sure I figured it out, but Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Teacher Work week Club is helping me to become more productive day in and day out.

With that being said, I have done tons of reading since I have last posted. Reading is food for my brain while writing is working out for my mental stability. I need them both in my life like I need air to breathe.

I recently finished reading five different books. “Midwife’s Confessions” by Diane Chamberlain, “Most Wanted” by Lisa Scottoline (pronounced like Fettuccine), “The Ice Cream Girls,” by Dorothy Koomson, “The Mistletoe Secret,” by Richard Paul Evans, and “A Framework For Understanding Poverty” by Ruby K. Payne, PhD.

I know, I know…Why? How? When? I enjoy reading in my leisure time (not that I have much). It’s relaxing to me, and keeps my brain mentally stimulated. I feel more intelligent when I read and write. I am also a member of a book club, and we are approaching our 7th year. I am not an extremely fast reader, as I over analyze many things or get distracted by the other million and one things I need to do on any given day, but I enjoy the stories, and the conversations that arise after having read.

The Chamberlain and Scottoline books were for my book club. It took me about 5 weeks to finish “Midwife’s Confessions.” I finished “Most Wanted” in about a week!  I listened to this book on CD while driving to and from work, and any other time I was in my car. I call it vocabulary development for my little one (LOL!) It only took me a week to complete it, and to my surprise, I enjoyed listening to it. Even though I enjoyed listening to it, I still read at least 1-2 chapters each night before bed. To me, there is nothing like having a real book in my hands and turning the pages and seeing the amount of pages left to read get smaller and smaller.

“The Ice Cream Girls,” and “The Mistletoe Secret,” were also book club reads. I read both of these books because I could not find the audio books in the library. However, each of these books were fairly easy reads, and page turners. I could not wait to find out why these girls were called Ice Cream Girls! That part was actually my least favorite, but the meat of the book, the character development and the plot was thick and juicy and I could not put it down. Richard Paul Evans is one of my favorite authors, because his books are easy to read, touching, and profound (sometimes trite and predictable), and I have read the entire The Walk Series, and the Mistletoe Series, among other books that he has written. I am never disappointed.

So where does “A Framework for Understanding Poverty” come in to play? This book was not a part of my book club. However, I am a lifelong learner. I am on a journey to become a Renewed Teacher. This book is the first featured book from my school’s Professional Development Lounge! I read the 4th edition of this book during my senior year of college or the beginning year of my graduate studies back in 2006-2007. My principal mentioned the revised edition to me, and I grabbed the book, and started reading it as soon as I could. It took a while to finish, but below is a list of 3 reasons why I highly recommend “A Framework for Understanding Poverty” and why you should read this book (I also highly recommend the “Midwife’s Confessions,” “The Ice Cream Girls,” and any Richard Paul Evans book).


Image courtesy of Pixabay and Pic Collage.

3) You think you know what poverty is or is not. 


Image Courtesy of Google Images.

The working definition of poverty that Payne shares, regardless of race or gender, is “the extent to which an individual does without resources.” Notice that it does not mention money. Although money is a resource that I am currently without. LOL! In chapter one, Payne mentions financial resources, but there are also other areas in life which cause people to live in poverty including, emotional, mental/cognitive, spiritual, physical, support systems, relationship/role models, knowledge of hidden rules, and language/formal register.

As I read this in the book, I was able to pinpoint a few of my students, family members, peers (and at times myself) that may have financial resources, but are under-resourced in other areas of their lives. As I write this sentence, I think about the special on ABC Thursday night: Menendez Brothers’Truth and Lies. They were wealthy financially but the relationships and role models in their lives along with their emotions and mental stability were poverty stricken.

Poverty is not just about the money you make and have. It is much deeper.

2) You work or live in a poverty stricken area.

A key point to remember from Payne’s book is, “Most schools and businesses operate from middle-class norms and use the hidden rules of middle class.” As a resident or employee, you must understand the hidden rules of people who live in poverty, and not expect it to be the other way around (Payne believes we should equip our students with the culture of the middle class. I believe equip is the wrong “E” word and feel expose and allow them to make their own choices is more appropriate.) Even if you grew up in poverty, you may think that you “get it.” I believe that I “get it.” However, as a college educated human-being, you are probably not living in poverty any longer. If you are, it is more than likely situational where the circumstance can change and is only temporary. Compared that to generational where a family has lived in poverty for at least two generations. least not the way that you were when you were growing up or when you were in college. LOL!


Image courtesy of Google Images.

I have sometimes intentionally and mostly unintentionally distanced myself away from a life of what I thought was poverty and have attended college, graduate school, and have formed more and new relationships, developed new beliefs and a different mindset (while still holding on to some old relationships, beliefs and mindset ideas). In college, you would not imagine the quarrels my father and I got into because I was growing and somewhat changing. It was rough, but it all worked out. After all, he did raise me to become a better person and more educated than what he was. I don’t know if that will be possible. My dad was awesome! God rest his soul. Love you, daddy! I am learning real-life experiences out-ranks formal education many times in life.

1) You are an educator, employer, policymaker, or service provider.

I believe that anyone that has chosen to work with people has a responsibility to learn and understand how and why people are the way they are. It helps to develop empathy as opposed to sympathy. It aids in helping one to take offense slowly, and put down the guards of defense. As person who works hard at not being judgmental, this is fundamental for me. Growing up, I was told that I was the best and the smartest, and that I had to work harder than everyone else to show that I was the best, and well, I believed that. School was my job, and I had to be the best at my job. Why wouldn’t I believe what my mother and father believed about me? Why wouldn’t I believe that message when many of my teachers and other adults throughout my childhood reinforced the same message? I’d like to believe that I thought I was the best meant I was the best, but not necessarily better than everyone else. I would like to believe that I was somewhat humble in this belief. I am not sure that I was.

But this brings me to my point. Everyone is raised to believe something, and people who were raised in poverty have a totally different mindset and belief system than those that were not raised in poverty. Chapter 2 in Payne’s book focuses on language and story and how they impact thinking, school, and work. Beliefs come from words and these or lack there of are powerful.


If none of these reasons resonate with you, I will be slightly surprised, but not disappointed. But if you need a good non-fiction book to read, this is the book to read.

If you are looking for ways to build better relationships with the people you spend most of your day with, read this book.

If you are looking for ways to understand yourself better, read this book.

As an educator, employer, policymaker, or service provider, it ought to be our personal duty to seek out how we can better serve our clients and this book provides some insight for that.

As mentioned earlier, I read a previous edition of this book when I was in graduate school. During this time, I also had the opportunity to attend a conference where Dr. Rita Pierson was the speaker. I have yet to forget her name and the impact she had on my career as a beginning teacher. I was sad to learn of her passing back in 2013. Pierson was a nationally renowned public speaker and led hundreds of workshops for aha! Process, Inc. since 1997. aha! Process, Inc. was founded by Ruby K. Payne! Not everyone will agree with what Payne says in her book. But when you meet a person like Dr. Rita Pierson who is as passionate, real, humorous, and has such a strong belief in the power of relationships who also happens to represent Ruby K. Payne and her company, I can’t help but think that this book could be helpful in so many ways.

As we continue to grow and renew our passion for teaching, let’s open our minds and read how to cognitively approach poverty. If you decide to read the book, come back and add your take-away and your reasons why you think others should read it as well. I am always looking forward to hearing from you!

Also, remember to follow the blog or follow me on Pinterest

Until then, Happy Teaching!

Krystal L. Smith, The RenewED Teacher

3 Ways for Teachers to Check-In and get Checked-Up!

If you have not already done so, you will probably be going to see your doctor to get a flu shot soon, or some other immunization to make sure you and your family stay healthy as we fall deeper in autumn and near winter. But this is not the only check-up you need at this time.

This is just one way to take care of yourself. But there are many other ways in which to so.

Now that many of us are 4-6-8 weeks into the school year, I’m sure the honeymoon phase has ended for some of you, while others are just trying to keep their heads above water with keeping up with paperwork, school events, and family and friend social desires or obligations. But do you notice what I haven’t mentioned in this paragraph. You have been doing your best to take care of all of these other things, but you left yourself out of the equation.


Image courtesy of Pixabay and font Pic Collage.

It’s Time for Your 4-6-8 Week Check-Up!

If you are feeling burnt out and tired, it’s time to take some time for yourself. Take time to ease your mind, body, and soul with these tips!



Image courtesy of flickr.

Ease Your Mind

  • Look for positive things each day.
  • Make positive phone calls home to your students. It helps build rapports with families and students.
  • Reread notes from current and former students about how you are the best teacher ever!
  • Give a compliment, and watch you get a compliment.
  • Read an inspiring book such as Awakened or Unshakeable by Angela Watson. If you are a wife, read The Happy Wives Club by Fawn Weaver (I read it over the summer and it has contributed tremendously to my positive frame of mind).
  • Try to complain less and try to develop an attitude of gratitude. (I often have to tell myself that things could be worse when something bad happens. This often helps me to find something to be thankful for. I am not always successful, but 90% of the time it works).
  • Watch a mindless movie or show.
  • Pray and/or Meditate. I just finished a 21-Day Prayer Challenge hosted by Linda Kardamis over at Teach 4 the Heart. I prayed everyday for different people and different reasons, and it felt internally rewarding to do something so personal and discrete for others.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Build a Beautiful Body Inside and Out

  • I workout at least 3-5 days a week. When I say workout, I mean lift heavy weights and run as fast as possible. If I’m not sweating, I might as well go home and sit on the couch. My motto when at the gym is: Go hard or go home! This takes care of my mind and body! But this is not for everyone. Do what works for you, or try something new. A co-worker of mine will be hosting a Pound Workout after school this week. I will be there. I am excited to try it!
  • I have a co-worker who takes a bath after work every day. Heaven! I wish I could do this, but there are other things I want or need to do more. I think I will start with once per week.
  • Watch your diet. (But you can cheat every once in a while! This is why I don’t have six pack yet.:-)) You would not put olive oil in your car to fill the tank, so be just as mindful about what you fill your tank with.
  • Get a massage. I am overdue for one. While everyone does not enjoy being touched, let alone by a stranger, there are other options. Maybe start with a facial, hand or foot massage. Then maybe do a body-wrap. There are ways to ease into a full body massage. A good friend and co-worker of mine, took about 4-5 years to get a full body massage, and now she gets some form of a massage every year! Check-out some options at Massage Envy which is located all over the country.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Satisfy Your Soul

Teaching is your passion. I get it. But when teaching gets touch, and it will, you will need an outlet that will satisfy your soul.

  • Bake – I work with some talented women that have made cupcakes for my wedding and my sister’s bridal shower and received rave reviews. These are their other passions.
  • Knit, quilt, create clothing or other products – Another teacher in my building who used to be a Zumba Instructor, now has an Etsy store. Her creations are amazing. This is her other passion.
  • Create baskets – After attending one of my friends/co-workers bridal showers, I fell in love with making gift baskets. She and her mom buy baskets from random places in order to have them readily available for when it is time to make a gift. I love seeing her creations, and getting ideas from her, when I make them.
  • Join a band – If you can sing or play an instrument, why are you not sharing your talents in some capacity?
  • Start a blog – Wow! I used to love writing in high school and in college. As I continue to write these posts, I can’t imagine what I would do if I were not writing my thoughts, ideas, fears, and attempts at renewing myself down in some format.
  • Spend time with family and friends.
  • Attend a religious service. (Maybe visit a service with a different denomination.)
  • Do what it is that makes you happy. Find that one thing that it is work that does not feel like work. That is what this blog does for me. 🙂

So teachers, are you ready for your 4-6-8 week check-up? Don’t try to do everything on this list. Maybe start by picking one idea from each section and implementing them into your life one at a time.

As wise teacher sent me a text a few weeks ago. The text said, “You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.” I agree 100%.

So teachers, as we continue to grow and renew our passion for teaching, let’s follow the directions of all flight attendants: “Secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.”

Do you have other ideas to add to this list? I’d love to hear them. Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments section, and I will add them to a future post! Also, remember to follow the blog or on Pinterest

Until then, Happy Teaching!

Krystal L. Smith, The RenewED Teacher


How to Prepare for Monday

“I hate Mondays!” proclaims the lasagna loving, orange, fat, mischievous, sarcastic tabby cat we all know as Garfield.


And you know what? I’m not too fond of Mondays either. I COULD sit here and type a list of reasons why and get all of you riled up, and listen to your rants and complaints about Mondays, but that’s not my style, nor is it the purpose of this blog.

I am more interested in coming up with solutions to problems. I hope that you are too! As a renewed teacher, I realize I don’t have time in my daily schedule to complain about things that are beyond my control. (Even though I occasionally find myself expressing my many annoyances. Hey, being a renewed teacher is process. I am not perfect.) But as I grow professionally and personally, I am learning that time is precious. Each minute and what you choose to do with those minutes can be beneficial or detrimental to your life. I choose to make the minutes of my life beneficial, and that means letting go of many of the things that are beyond my control.

Monday coming around each week is a problem beyond our control. How we plan for Monday is all up to us!

To make Mondays less traumatizing and the week ahead a little easier to look forward to, planning ahead for tedious things is important.

Let’s start planning!

1. Meal Prep

20160925_222809I often cook meals for  days at a time. On Saturday or Sunday, I wake up early, throw about 4-6 chicken breasts in the oven, brown some ground turkey for spaghetti or chili, cook some turkey burgers, cut up vegetables, and pack my husband’s, my son’s, and my lunch for Monday. This past Sunday, I baked egg muffins with spinach, onion, green and red peppers. We eat these for breakfast with oatmeal, turkey bacon or turkey kielbasa, and a piece of fruit. I also made a big pot of chili, a fresh vegetable salad, and chicken salad. Although I spend about 2 hours doing this on the weekend, it saves me at least 3-4 hours during the week. It saves time because I do not have to cook a whole meal when I come home from a long day at work. All I have to do is cook a side or two and heat up the meat, and were good to go in 15 minutes or less. Additionally, I am into eating clean, so meal prepping allows me to manage what goes into my body. I also do not have to worry about spending money on something quick from a fast-food restaurant or corner store if I happen to be running late to work. For more on meal prep, please click here.

2. Clothing Prep

I learned this from my husband. When we dating, and I would visit with him, I noticed him ironing 5 shirts and 5 pairs of pants. I was curious about what he was doing. He told me that he likes to have his clothes out and ready for the week so that he doesn’t have to scramble for clothing during the week in the mornings. I thought it was a genius idea, and I still do. I have been getting 5-6 outfits ready for the workweek for almost 10 years now. I even do the same thing for our son now! It saves me so much time in the mornings and makes me not dread waking up because I am already prepared to get dressed. 20160925_223610

3. Plan Work-Outs

This one may not be for everyone, but what ever you do with your spare time…whatever that thing is that you do that keeps your mind and body clear, insert here. But if you’re like me, and you enjoy looking fit and being healthy or are trying to lose or gain weight, you need to workout (and meal prep). Working out can take up a tremendous amount of your time if you let. I unfortunately let it. But I don’t say that to complain. I do have personal fitness/physical goals that I am working towards, but working out also clears my mind. I enjoy being healthy. This is a picture of me at the gym. I am currently finishing up Jamie Eason’s Live Fit Trainer, and you can see a screenshot of one of the workouts below. I plan to do REMIX RIPPED next. I am very intimidated, but I enjoy challenges.

In 20160925_224652order to workout 4-5 times a week for at least 45 minutes to 1.5 hours, I have to plan. I need to plan which days I will go and at what times I will go and schedule the dates. In addition to this, I also plan what body parts I will work on and on which days I will do them. I break it down to days in which I will lift weights only, cardio only, lift weights and do cardio, and plyo-metrics. On weekdays, sometimes I am at the gym at 5:00 am. Other times I am there at 5:00 pm. On the weekends, I like to be there as soon as the gym opens which is 8:00 am or 9:00 am. I enjoy starting my day off with a good workout. My mental state is 10 times better when I do. Working out on Sunday helps to prepare my mental state for Monday.

4. Create Lesson Plans and Make Copies by Friday


Image courtesy of flickr.

Don’t you hate when you go to the copy machine and all it does is play for least favorite jam? And it usually plays when you really need your copies the most. Planning my lessons and copies the week before I need them, usually works for me. Our lesson plans are due on Fridays. I am sad to say that this week beat me to the punch. Because I create my plans based on what my students need and where they are, I usually plan a little each day starting on the Wednesday before. When I begin planning at this time, I am usually able to have my plans done by Friday. If I wait until Friday to begin planning (which is the case this week), I usually am not done with my plans until Sunday (which means I’m working on them at home) or Monday morning. When my plans are done by Friday, I am able to make my copies on Friday and have them ready and organized for the following week. I try to make copies all at one time to prevent having to go to the copy machine multiple times throughout the week. However, there are so many amazing teachers out there in the Pinterest world! They share a wealth of awesome ideas I think will work to help my students learn content and concepts better. Because of this, I am always copying something new. However, I still feel good because my necessities are taken care of.

5. Last But Not Least: Sometimes You Have to “Just Say No!”


Image courtesy of Deviant Art.

I remember when every time someone asked me to do something, I did it. I went out to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, parties, clubs, home events, and could not figure out where my weekends went. I finally had to stop, and put myself and my family first. This is no easy feat as I do not always want to stay home to cook, clean, grade papers, or even workout. I’d much rather catch up with my friends and family over a nice meal or go shopping. But in the past, the closer Monday came, the more apprehensive and stressed out I felt. These were not normal feelings for me. Something had to give. I had to start saying no to somethings and be very particular about what I said yes to. But I still think the government, or whomever is in charge of things of this nature, should add one more day to our week, and I prefer it be between Saturday and Sunday. One more day to sleep in!

I don’t do each of these ideas perfectly all the time. But when I am able to at least commit to getting two of these items checked off of my list on Saturday or Sunday, Mondays are much easier to love…like. 🙂

As we continue to grow and renew our passion for teaching, finding practical ways to plan our lives and make the most of the minutes we have in our days is of the utmost importance. When we are prepared personally and professionally, we are able to be prepared for our students.

I enjoy sharing tips and ideas with other educators, but I do not blog because I have all of the answers or even any of the answers. As I share what works for me, I’d like to hear what works for you! So post your comments, tips, and ideas on how you prepare for Mondays and the week ahead.

Thank you for reading, commenting, following, posting to other social media outlets, and being a supporter of the RenewED Teacher!

Until next time…Happy Teaching!

Krystal L. Smith, The RenewED Teacher

If Your Students Won’t Stop Talking, It’s Time to Let Them Talk More!!!

Do your students talk too much? Is it stressing you out? If so, why don’t you let them talk more?

(I have been informed by a few people that they want to follow my blog, but were not sure how to do so. You can  follow my blog by scrolling to the bottom of this page and clicking the follow button and entering your e-mail address! 
Thank you!) 

Courtesy of Pixabay and Pic Collage.

While this might sound strange, hear me out. If you constantly hear a little buzz of chatter in your classroom, and you cannot tell from which direction it is coming, this is a sign that your students need more time to talk.

Think about it this way, when you need water, your body tells you when you are dehydrated. On the moderate end, your mouth gets dry or sticky, you may feel sleepy or tired, and you could develop a headache. On the extreme end of dehydration, you may feel an extreme feeling thirst, irritability or confusion.

Just as there are signs and symptoms for dehydration, there are signs and symptoms displayed by our students when they are bored, uninterested, antsy, already “get it,” or need more time to talk. On the moderate end, YOUR mouth gets dry and sticky, you and your students feel sleepy or tired, and you and your students could develop headaches because YOU are doing all of the talking. (Click here to read article on How Teachers Can Talk Less… by Angela Watson). On the extreme end, you and your students feel irritability because they know you see how bored they are, and you are doing nothing about it. They start acting out, talking, and being off task. You are confused about why they are bored, uninterested, and exhibiting these behaviors.  You stayed up late the night before because you were so excited to prepare what you thought was an awesome lesson with great and interesting standards-based content. You couldn’t wait to share it with them!

So what is going on? Well, I will be the first to admit it! Sometimes (Okay, Most times) I talk too much, and I need to make a bubble and shut up! As teachers, I’m sure we all need to “shut up!” sometimes.  Before I continue, I need to mention I am not a fan of this phrase unless it is used in a jokingly manner (For example, one of your students says something so funny, and your only response is a burst of laughter, and you saying “Shut up! That’s hilarious!” There is no disrespect intended here, and it’s loving and fun!). The phrase is rarely used in my classroom except in these rare and extremely funny occasions, and it is treated as a curse word when students use it otherwise due to its disrespectful tone. When/if they use it, my students often have to think of and write 5 alternative statements they could have said instead of those bad words. But nevertheless teachers, we need to shut up!


Courtesy of Google Images and Creative Commons.

You might be wondering,” How am I supposed to do that? I am the teacher!”

Today, I am sharing a strategy with you that could perhaps help you to do so. I have begun using this strategy in my classroom that allows my students to talk more, learn more from each other, and gets them to listen to me more when I actually do need to be the only one talking.



Courtesy of Penny Juggins, Fairfax County, VA

Have you ever heard of Clock Buddies? I learned about it at a training I attended about 2 years ago with world-renowned educator and author, Marcia L. Tate author of “Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites.” I am a huge fan of Clock Buddies as it gives my students several opportunities to interact with each other and with me academically. Students are out of their seats, moving around, engaged with each other and me, and learning from each other. The other day, a set of buddies approached me because they could not agree on the correct answer. One student was correct and the other wasn’t. I think I told the students to use a place value chart to settle the dispute. They were able to come to a mutual agreement with evidence to prove it!

Clock Buddies is meant to be a quick and easy way to create pairs for partnered activities while avoiding the problem of kids always having the SAME partners. It begins with a clock face, with slots for names extending from each hour on the dial. The basic idea is that each student has his or her own copy of a Clock Buddies sheet, with the names of [4-12] classmates on each hour’s slot. Each of those other students, in turn, has this student’s name in the matching hour slot on each of their clock sheets.”

My Personal Clock Buddy Experience

In order to break the ice, Marcia had each of us in the room (about 25 people) walk around for about 5-10 minutes or so, while listening to an old Motown song. In this time frame she had us make appointments with different people in the room for 12 different time slots on the Clock Buddy Sheet she gave us. Once the song was over, she began her presentation. We didn’t use the clocks, but she did inform us that we would. She also cleverly mentioned that having students walk around the room and talk before starting her lesson was a strategy that helped students become engaged and ready to learn before the lesson actually began. I bought in. About 20 minutes into the lesson, she gave us a writing task, and said to meet with our 12 o’clock buddy to complete it. We used the clocks throughout the remainder of our 3 hour time frame with her, and it really helped to keep us focused and engaged on what she was teaching us, and to hear others’ perspectives, and many opportunities to engage in discourse.

What Can You Use Clock Buddies For and When Do You Use It?

  • Anytime!
  • Homework review
  • Partner reading
  • Think, pair, share
  • Question, answer partners
  • Test review
  • Writing activities
  • Partners for field trips
  • Games
  • Gym activities that require two people
    • Can you think of anymore? If so, please share!

Why You Should Give Clock Buddies the Time of Day!


Courtesy of Pixabay.

Earlier this year, I surveyed a group of teachers on how they continue to stay inspired and motivated to teach. One response was by one of my friends, fitness buddy, and co-workers, Lena Fitchwell. She said what motivated and inspired her to continue teaching each year is by “Changing things up.” As the school librarian, she does an amazing job at cross-curricular teaching. She is always taking a new class and keeping up with what’s new in education and using new strategies to keep her students engaged. I don’t know one child in our building that does not enjoy library (not even the kids that dislike reading!) As teaching can become boring and monotonous if you let it, Clock Buddies is a chance to change things up, everyone!


Where Can I get Access to Clock Buddies?

You can simply Google or use Pinterest to find a variety of different templates for Clock Buddies, but why would you, when you can click right here for a FREE COPY!


Courtesy of Pixabay and Pic Collage.

Tips If You Decide to use Clock Buddies in Your Classroom

  1. Students need to write their name on the paper. Either in the center of the clock or at the top of the page.
  2. Teach students how to ask: “Are you available to be my Clock Buddy at 12 o’clock?” I have heard students respond by saying, “Sorry, but maybe when we make appointments for 3 o’clock, you can be my buddy!” The language is helping students to speak politely to one another.
  3. Make sure students know that must have 4 different names on their sheet (they may not have their best friend as their clock buddy more than once).
  4. Start with 4 slots only. It can become quite daunting for your students to start with more.
  5. Only fill one slot at a time. Tell students to stand up and find a buddy for their 12 o’clock slot, write each other’s name on the line, and return to their seats. Then have students complete the next time slot. Continue this pattern until all 4 slots are filled.
  6. Some students will not want to participate or stand up, encourage them to participate, but do not force them. Explain to them they are still responsible for completing the work, but they will not receive a grade for participation. Once they see the rest of the class having fun with their buddy, they will most likely want to join. At this point however, it may be too late if everyone already has a buddy. You can use this as a teachable moment on how sometimes you can’t always get what you want when you want it, and have the student sit this one out, or you can choose two students you want this student to partner with since they have no scheduled buddies. Hopefully in the future this student will learn to partake in an activity when the opportunity presents itself or risk not being able to make his or her own choices.
  7. If you have an even number of students, the teacher may not need to be a Clock Buddy. If you have an odd number of students, the teacher may need to participate as a Buddy. (I typically choose students that may need more help with specific topics or have difficulty reading.)
  8. Watch out for students that may be intentionally or unintentionally left out. Do not sweep this under the rug. Be upfront about what you notice and make it clear to your students that you notice it, and that it’s not cool. You do not necessarily need to name the student(s) that were left out because most of them already know who you’re talking about including that student. Just tell them that everyone needs to be included. 2-3 students should walk up to the left out student the next time it’s time to choose a buddy. J
  9. Be willing to give up some control and quietness with this. You will observe your students talking about what you actually asked them to talk about and learning from each other.
  10. Make multiple copies of the clocks. Each day will be different if even one student is absent.
  11. The more you use Clock Buddies, the easier it gets in your classroom. You also learn different ways to use it, and it becomes less time consuming to set the buddies up over time. It should also alleviate the need for students to talk so much when they are not supposed to.

Courtesy of Pixabay.

As we continue to learn, grow, and renew our passion for teaching, we must try new things. Will you try Clock Buddies in your classroom? How will you use this strategy? If you decide to use it, come back and tell us how it worked. Did it work well? What things would you change? Did the students like it? Did they stop talking less when they were not supposed to? Do you have any suggestions or tips that I may have overlooked? Please share. Thank you for reading, commenting, following this blog, sharing, posting to other social media outlets, and committing to renewing your passion for teaching.

Until Next Time, Happy Teaching!

Krystal L. Smith (The RenewED Teacher)

An Opportunity to Prevent and Reduce Back to School Stress

Last week, I was approached by another blogger named Maria Stefanova at Music, Teaching, and Parenting. She is working on a new blog post titled “Surviving the Beginning of the School Year Stress.” What teacher doesn’t need these tips? I guess the teachers that know how to deal with stress effectively do not need them. If you are one of the stress-less teachers, we need your tips too so please comment and share your ideas too! 🙂


Image courtesy of picserver.org.

Maria’s purpose in reaching out to me was to collaborate. First and foremost, I am honored. So I say thank you for thinking of me, and offering this opportunity, Maria. Secondly, I am really interested in what other teachers have to say about this topic. She has chosen to interview a variety of teachers to compose this exciting and upcoming post I am sure will be useful for all teachers.

You will be able to read this post on Maria’s Site next week so please return here to access her site. Or visit and join Music, Teaching, and Parenting now to have direct access to her site when the article posts.

I offer three tips to surviving beginning of the school year stress:


Image courtesy of pixabay.

  1. Pre-Plan (Be Pro-Active)  – You already know that back to school is a stressful time of year. Take a moment to consider what causes you the most stress.
  2. Pamper Yourself – I am a huge believer in taking care of oneself first. That does not mean neglect your friends or family. It just means to have a little “me” time. Pamper yourself.
  3. Contact Families Early – My sole purpose for this is to build relationships with the families. Nothing causes more stress than an unfriendly family member of one of your students.

This is just a little taste of what you’ll get when you visit Maria’s site to learn all the ways to avoid the stress and relieve the stress we teachers fight during the first few weeks of school .

In the meantime, as we continue to grow and renew our passion for teaching, take a few moments to consider how you prevent or reduce stress, and share some of those tips here. I am still working on how to leave work on time everyday. 🙂

Happy Teaching!

Teachers: Your Students’ Tests Scores Do Not Define You!

I have wanted to write about this topic for about 3 weeks now, and I haven’t really had the courage or words to express how I really felt. I think I am ready to share one of the mains reasons I considered quitting teaching. The pressure of state testing.


Image courtesy of Pixabay.

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail with the state standardized tests’ scores of the students in my building. I immediately printed out the document and began hunting for and hi-lighting the names of my former students. With high hopes, I anxiously noted whether they scored advanced, proficient, basic, or below basic. I also considered how near each student was to reaching the proficient standard if they were right on the border. After doing this, I found a print out of scores from the previous year and compared my students’ fifth grade scores with their fourth grade scores. I stopped dead in my tracks.

It did not seem that many of my students made progress. One of my student’s scores dropped so low (proficient to below basic), I cam convinced she bubbled the wrong answers. She scored no less than a “B” on every assessment we took in class. But nevertheless, some student’ scores increased, some students’ scores stayed the same, and some students’ scores decreased. Without getting into too many details, I had high hopes that all scores would remain in the same proficiency level or increase. I was angry, disheartened, defeated, and deflated. I had nothing but angry thoughts in my head as I considered how hard I worked and how hard many of my students worked, and how challenging that test must have been for them.

What started out as a productive day for me had turned into a few hours of frustration, and probably panic. I felt incompetent and as if all of the effort we put into preparing for the test was for nothing. This is enough to make one want to give up and quit teaching. Especially if it seems there is no hope of helping the students to grow and improve.

Collage 2016-08-30 23_50_45-2

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Pic Collage.

I went to the gym to work out my frustration, and then came home to talk to my husband about how I was feeling. He was a good listener which is what I needed at the time. Later on in the evening, I Googled, “How to Improve Test Scores,” and discovered an interesting find.

I came across an inspiring letter written by a third grade teacher to her students in Indiana. I read it, and considered doing this for future students. I later thought, “I need this for me today! Right Now!” Then I wondered how many teachers need to hear or read something like this! I am sure that I am not the only teacher that has worked hard to help their students achieve high standards and believe that they can actually do so, see success happen within their four walls, only to receive a set of standardized test scores claiming to prove that you did not help this child grow academically. I know I am not alone here.

Therefore, using the idea of this teacher, I have written a letter for myself and for all of my fellow teachers out here in the world. It is my hope that this letter will motivate, inspire, and encourage teachers to continue sharing their magic with their students’ year in and year out regardless of test scores. This implies that no matter what, you will continue to have the highest standards in your classrooms while believing all students can achieve them. This implies that you will work your hardest while encouraging and supporting your students to work their hardest; helping them to develop some grit.

Save this letter for when your testing time greets you this spring. And remember: As we continue to grow and renew our passion for teaching, let us teachers stick together and be there for one another as WE define who we are. I am always interested in hearing what you have to say, so share your thoughts about who you really are right here because test scores don’t define you. Thank you for reading, commenting, liking, and sharing! 🙂

Krystal L. Smith, The RenewED Teacher

5 Tips to Build Strong and Real Relationships with Your Students and Their Families

So this post is one day off of my regularly scheduled posting day. I guess I should mention that I was at my school until 8:00 pm last night finishing up last minute organizing for the first day of school. Yea, I am crazy, and my husband was maaaadddd. LOL! But he’s fine now. LOL!


Picture courtesy of Pixabay.

As I ventured off to work this morning, my mind raced a mile a minute about everything. Have all the families and students received the letters I mailed last week? How many letters will I receive back from families with “Positive Thoughts on Their Child?” What will this year’s group of students be like? Will all of my students be in class today? Did they all have great summers? Do I have everything I want to do today copied and organized? Will my promethean board work so I can display my PowerPoint Presentation? Do I have enough time to complete everything? Why is lunch at 1:25pm? I am going to be starving. Will the busses be on time? Will I have enough time to hit the gym or read the final chapter of Awakened today? Will I fall down the stairs in my heels? I mean everything was on my mind! Can you relate?


In this post, I want to share some tips on what I feel is one of the most important things any and every teacher should do to have a successful year. Yes, the answer is build strong and real relationships. I personally feel that relationships are the foundation to a peaceful and successful school year academically and emotionally (for some kids, physically as well. We all know a student that has been or can be physically aggressive or violent towards his or her peers and or teachers and other staff).

I do many things to build relationships with my incoming students and their families. Caution: The only year in which these tips did not work in my favor is when my roster was drastically changed after I had already mailed the letters. Gasp! So please be 100% sure that the class roster you receive is the final one. I send my letters out later and later each year to ensure students were not swapped around unbeknownst to me.

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

So here they are:

  1. Reach out to your students and their families before the school year starts.

Before the students arrive at school or even attend Back to School Night, I type a letter to ALL students and ALL of their families. The letter introduces them to me and some things they can expect throughout the year. I do not discuss academics or behavior specifically, and this is on purpose. My purpose is to inform families I am qualified to teach their child, to put their minds at ease, and build positive relationships that leads to open and honest communication. In the letter, I also take the opportunity to provide my e-mail address for them to communicate with me, and to share some positive thoughts with me about their child. I have a copy of one of the letters below. In addition to a letter from me, my incoming students receive a letter from a previous student I had the year before. At the end of each school year, I have my students write letters to my incoming 5th graders. The kids really love this especially if it’s from someone they know. Most families really appreciate receiving a personal letter from their child’s new teacher. (Yes, I bought all the stamps. I bought 90 this year as I wrote letters for both sets of students and families I will teach this year. This is the first time I have done this. I’m curious to see what happens. My relationship is typically stronger with my homeroom. I don’t necessarily like that, so I suppose it was time for a change. I predict relationships will be equally as strong this year.) I will be adding a template of my letter to TeachersPayTeachers for free this weekend so please pin this post so you can return to it later at your convenience.

  1. If you do not live in the community in which you are employed, make it a priority to have a presence there when you can.


    Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

I reside 30-40 minutes from where I work depending on the day. It can be hassle at times, and maybe even annoying, but I do work with people that have even longer commutes. Because I live pretty far, I am not often seen in the community so I do have to make it a priority to be there so that I can see the world in which my students live. Some things that I do to have presence is shop in the area at the grocery store, coffee shop, nail salon, etc. I also visit the library which is about 5 minutes from my school building. Additionally, I volunteer for different events over the summer. This summer I volunteered to help distribute books to local families in their neighborhoods at multiple pre-designated stops. I also volunteered at a local annual festivity with teachers and administrators in my school district to share out information about our schools.

I have to admit I did receive comp time for doing this, but I would have been there with or without the comp time because it’s an opportunity for me to meet with upcoming students and their families and to reminisce with previous students.

Being visible in the community in which you work shows that you care about where your students come from. It also helps to break down walls with families because they get to see you outside of your profession. When this happens, you are more personable to them. I have walked into Wal-Mart looking like a homeless person before only to see one of my student’s parents working the register. While I was slightly embarrassed for the parent to see this way, I thought of it as an opportunity for her to see me as a human being and not only as her daughter’s teacher. This was about 6 years ago. The young lady has since recently graduated high school this past year. She and her mother invited me to her graduation. I taught her in 5th grade. Yes, I attended. I think that says something about relationships.

  1. Attend Back to School Night or Open House.

Our Back to School Night was this past Monday from about 5:00pm to 6:00pm. Almost all of the teachers in my building attended (as far as I know, all of them were there). I work with an amazing group of committed and dedicated teachers who all want to teach and make a difference in the lives of our students. I must say that I am blessed to have some great co-worker/friends! But these back to school nights give us teachers opportunities to meet with families and mingle. It gives the families an opportunity to visit your classrooms to see what’s inside and how things are organized. I am sure that it eases the nerves of many of the incoming students and parents alike.

  1. Have lunch with your students.

Real talk with real students. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

This tip is a bitter-sweet one. While I enjoy getting to interact with my students in a more personal setting (less academic), I do not like giving up the adult time I get with my co-workers or the alone time when I choose to have lunch by myself. However the benefit of spending this time with my students almost once every week far out-weighs the small amount of time I miss with my co-workers once per week. (Sorry! I still love you all!) Here is why – I learn things about my students I never would have known had not sat down and eaten lunch with them.  I get to learn about their interests, likes, dislikes, problems, etc. We have real conversations about real-life things. We also have fun! Last year, my students loved music and dancing. All they wanted to do at lunch was dance. So all I did was put on clean Youtube videos for them to sing and dance to. And guess what? I sang and dance too. I learned all the latest dance steps, songs, memes, vines, etc. They kept me youthful so to speak. LOL!


  1. Invite families into your classroom throughout the school year.

Although I welcome families into my room anytime throughout the year, a few times a year, I specifically invite them in. When we have are Harvest Day in October, I invite the families in to help with our Pumpkin Investigation. After we have our parade of costumes, many families follow us back into the building to visit, observe what we are doing, and many decide to stay and participate. Most times they are very helpful because things get quite messy with the pumpkins. For families that have younger siblings that are not school-age, I welcome them too. Some families will not come if they have to find a sitter to come to the school. I had 2 or 3 little babies in my room last year for the investigation. They were so much fun!

Before winter break begins, we usually have a half day so I invite families into the room to have hot chocolate and some sweet breakfast-like side. We do an art craft and then watch a holiday movie that we have voted on. I have seen students cuddled on their parent’s laps, lying on their bellies on the floor, simply relaxing being with each other. Since I don’t show movies often, it’s a precious sight to see.

Each year, my students and I put on a pretty big 50 States presentation at the end of the year. After an extensive amount of research, and a unit on the states and capitols, students choose a state to narrow their research. To present what they have learned, students create floats, PowerPoints, Prezi’s, Posters, Paper I-Pads, and Books. While I do have a rubric for this project, I give the students free-reign to choose how they display what they have learned. I can’t wait to see how creative the students are this year.

Once the projects are turned in and presented to the class, we choose a date and time and create an invitation to invite families in for the big presentation. We come up with the order of events and rehearse for about 2 weeks or so. I usually thank the families for coming, and then I sit, direct, and let the kids do their thing. I have yet to be disappointed. On Monday, at our Meet the Teacher Night, I had a parent say, “You’re the teacher that does the 50 State’s Presentations! I can’t wait for those in the spring. I will be here!” This was my first time meeting her and her son, so I am assuming she heard about this from word of mouth.


Stay Connected!!!Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

If families are unable to physically make it into your room, invite them in digitally! Use the Class Dojo so that you can post pics of what their children are doing in class. Of course all families won’t use it, but it’s another option for them see what is happening on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Another way to stay connected.


  1. Bonus Tip: I guess there were more than 5. I do not shake hands of my students or their families. I go all the way in for the hug. So tip number six is hug every family member.
  1. BonusTip: Stop always using the words parents and guardians. We have too many children that do not live with their parents and the word guardian just sounds…yuck! Just call them family.

These are my 5 (I mean 7) tips for helping to build real and strong relationships with students and their families. I am proud to say that these tips have worked for me year in and year out, with small tweaks here and there over the years. I am also pleased to say that I can count the number of problems I have had with families on one hand (and I mean that literally). I usually do not have behavior issues with students either. What I mean by that is that I do not have to send students out of my room often or write them up. But every year is different. I’d like to believe that these tips on building relationships have something to do with that. Getting families to trust me is important because it gets their children to trust me and buy-in to what I am trying to teach them.

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

I am always interested in what you have to say so I’d like to know how you build relationships with your students. Maybe I can add a few of your ideas to my bag of tricks and vice versa. Have you tried any of the tips above? How have they worked for you? Remember: as we continue to grow and renew our passion for teaching, please share your thoughts and ideas. Thank you for reading!

Until next time, Happy Teaching! 🙂


Supercharge Your Teaching by Recreating and Reflecting on Your Philosophy of Education


As some teachers are back to work and as the rest of us are about to begin, summer break is a time when many teachers reflect on their school year and then change and improve their teaching instructional strategies, activities, and plans. While everyone else that does not teach thinks we sleep-in, (Okay, we really do sleep in! LOL!) go on lavish vacations, and get a massive amount of time off, in essence, we really get back to the basics of what we believe is the best way to motivate and inspire our students; in other words we essentially revisit, refine, or renew our Philosophy of Education.

When you were in college, were you required to write a Philosophy of Education or an Educational Philosophy? Did you need to use it when you interviewed for your teaching job? Better yet, do you still have a copy of it? When was the last time you read it?

For those of you that may not know or remember what that is, a Philosophy of Education/Teaching is your own personal thoughts and beliefs about why teach the way you do, what you teach, how you teach it, to whom you teach it to, and how you expect pupils to learn what you are teaching. “It is a set of principles that guides professional action through the events and issues teachers face daily. Sources for your educational philosophy are your life experiences, your values, the environment in which you live, interactions with others and awareness of philosophical approaches. (http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/ed416/PP1.html)”

I don’t know if I understood it to mean this when I was in college, or if it just did not make sense to me because I did not have much teaching experience to help me write it, but I do remember writing mine. I had no clue in the world what I was being asked to do. I’ve considered the fact that I was only about 19 or 20 years old when I first had to write one, so I don’t think I had any sound thoughts or beliefs in teaching. I just knew I loved kids, school, and I wanted kids to have fun in school. I wanted them to love numbers, enjoy reading, and learn to appreciate and experience the world around them. I knew I wanted to teach.

banner-1183408_1920After I received the copy of my first Philosophy of Education/Teaching back from my instructor, I read these words, “I’d like to read more about your philosophy!” In my head, I’m thinking, “What do you mean!? It’s right here on the paper! You just read it!” But obviously, it wasn’t there on the paper. So I’m sure I googled some examples, and came up with what I thought was a good Philosophy of Education/Teaching.

Fast forward about 2-3 years to my senior year of college. I had been accepted to the Masters of Arts in Teaching Program at the University of Pittsburgh. I knew I needed a Philosophy of Education/Teaching because I would be interviewed by a surplus of teachers from schools and districts from the Greater Pittsburgh Area to complete my internship. I had to be prepared. This is what I found in an old binder.

Philosophy of Education 2005-2006

Here is a copy of my Philosophy of Education from my senior year of college.

As I sit here and read this amateur Philosophy of Education/Teaching from 2005-2006, I can feel how excited, how passionate, I was about pursuing and getting closer to my dream of becoming a teacher. As I read it, I believe I feel the same way about what I wrote back then, but I have more experience and knowledge now. I have had the opportunity to see things not go the way I hoped. I have experienced the highs and lows of being a teacher so my beliefs have developed over time. I summarize my new beliefs at the end of this post.


The cover of the binder in which I found a copy of my Philosophy of Education. #throwback

So, now I am on a hunt to find the Philosophy of Education/Teaching I used when I interviewed for my current teaching job. I wonder if it is the same, minus the typing error in the first paragraph (whoops!) I would love to see how I developed and how my philosophy changed after my one year teaching internship where I gained invaluable teaching experience. I am sure it is hidden in my portfolio (physical, not digital) in one of

the boxes that my husband so diligently and carefully organized and packed in the basement. I will be sure to post it when I find it. To be clear, I can never find my things when he decides to organize the basement because I have brought more things to hoard. This isn’t the problem. Love you, honey! (It probably really is though.) But he can never find them either! :-/ So wish me the best of luck on finding it.

Let me close with a list that summarizes my current beliefs about teaching:

  1. Students will exhibit the behaviors and attitudes showcased by their teachers.
  2. Students need to trust their teacher to build good rapports.
  3. Students are not blank slates and bring a lot of knowledge to school with them.
  4. Students want and need to learn.
  5. Students need to have fun and use their minds and bodies to learn.
  6. Students need to be active participants in their learning.
  7. Students need support including timely feedback, structure, routines, repetition, information, tools, and resources to improve and to be successful.

As we grow and continue to renew our passion for teaching, please share your Philosophy of Education/Teaching and if possible revisit your philosophy from your college days and share that too! Do any of your old beliefs still hold true? Do any of my beliefs resonate with you? If so, share the one’s that do in the comments section!

Have a great day, and until next time, Happy Teaching! 🙂

How Teachers Can Renew Their Passion

pencil-156639_1280Come a few days before the new school year begins, most teachers I know are excited about the new school year that lies ahead of us. We are eager to meet the new students that will walk through our classroom door (and maybe a bit anxious about the ones we may already know a little (or a lot) about). We are enthusiastic about trying new activities and ideas that we have stayed up all night pinning on Pinterest. And regardless of how last year began or ended, we have hope that this year will be different, and for many of us, that means better.

As we progress throughout the year however, some of these joyous feelings die and die hard, and are masked with feelings of burnt out-ness (Is that even a word? If it’s not, I’m sure we can all create a definition for it). We are overwhelmed with paper work, meetings, standards, tests, behaviors from students we cannot always manage or change, our own personal lives, and a plethora of other grievances and grumbles that can be heard from the teachers’ lounge.

One thing you never hear is teachers saying they want to quit teaching. I bet a lot of us think it though.

stressed-business-woman_istock_000005953904xsmallHave you ever considered quitting your teaching job? Are you dreading going back to work in a few weeks? Do you struggle with a work/life balance? Did you end your year physically and mentally drained? Are you tired of drowning in an ocean of paper work? Are parents over-bearing or perhaps unavailable? Are you anxious about test scores? Do your administrators support you as you need them to? Are your kids out of control? Sometimes it’s not just the students so I must ask, are your co-workers out of control? Do you simply feel burnt out?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not alone. I too have struggled with continuing to stay in this profession.

As there are many reasons teachers are pushed to the limit and consider quitting, many actually do. 40- 50% of teachers quit after 5 years of teaching according to a 2003 study done by Richard Ingersoll. While these numbers may be skewed, I’m sure they hold true to some schools and districts in our nation. However, a more recent study that finished in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics suggests that 17% of teachers quit after 5 years. Nevertheless, I am willing to bet that a much larger percentage of teachers have considered quitting the profession than either of these studies show.

Whether you are considering quitting teaching or not, but planning to be in a classroom come the first day of school, I ask, do you still have that teacher passion and excitement you had when you first started teaching? If you do not, spending too much time here can become dangerous. It can damage your mindset, and hinder you from growing and being the best teacher you can be. If you desire to continue growing to be or become the best you can be, it behooves you to continue doing the things you’ve always done.

I am a self-proclaimed Renewed Teacher. I’ve pushed myself to the limits of my potential, and I had to get comfortable with the uncomfortable, and try different things to rekindle my passion for teaching.

Here are my top 5 tips:

  1. Continueto learn.
  2. Watch the super teacher movies.
  3. Take time for yourself and family and friends.
  4. Commit to being positive and changing your mindset.
  5. Start a blog.

Continue to Learn


This is paramount for me. I simply cannot expect my students to want to learn, if I do not show them that I myself practice what I preach (or should I say teach???). If you are not already Nationally Board Certified, look into it. I am a current candidate and have learned much about my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher. Let me just say, you learn a lot about yourself when you see a videotape of yourself. This is one of the best motivators I have experienced so far, and whether I become certified the first time around or not, I know that I have learned and gained some invaluable knowledge and experiences that will continue to contribute to my teaching ability.

Attend conferences (locally or nationally). Try to at least once a year. Maybe your school or district will even cover the expenses or at least a portion of the cost! Each time I attend one, I have another trick in my bag to use with my students, and I feel a surge of energy. Sometimes its short lived, but the experience is worth a lifetime.

Lastly, pick up a book or an audio book (if you do not have time in your schedule to sit and read) or watch a podcast. I am currently reading Angela Watson’s book Awakened, and the first chapter felt like she was talking about me. I plan to read “Unshakeable: 20 Ways to Enjoy Teaching Every Day…No Matter What,” by Angela Watson next. She is a former teacher that simply “Gets it.”

Take Time for Yourself and Family and Friends


Taking time for yourself allows you the freedom and solitude to reflect and remember who you are and what you want in life.

Invest in life experiences outside of teaching. Do so by yourself, with family, and with friends. These non-work related happenings make you a more interesting person. They aid in developing that work/life balance we all want to achieve.

As mentioned above, read a book (not related to work), go to the gym and take a class, travel, go get a massage, or pick up a new hobby. I have a really good friend who is now a principal that I have learned this from. She is always trying something new for herself, and later including her family and friends. She always seems happy because she always has something to look forward to. I like that idea.



Commit to Being Positive and Changing Your Mindset21969865188_662e7b6724_z

According to Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist and author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success…” there are two types of mindsets. A growth mindset is where people believe their innermost basic qualities such as intelligent or talent can be improved upon by hard work and dedication. The basics are just the baseline. On the other hand, a fixed mindset is where people believe their basic qualities are fixed and there no room for change. They feel that talent, in and of itself, with little to no effort, create success.

What is your current mindset? Is it contributing positively or negatively to your personal and/or professional life? Does your mindset effect what you feel, think, and believe to be true about your teaching experience or your students? Depending on your own current mindset, being positive may be extremely easy or particularly problematic for you to achieve. I recommend http://mindsetonline.com/, as well as Angela Watson’s book “Awakened” to help you discover ways to aid in changing your mindset if that is a goal for you. To determine your mindset, click on the attached link: http://mindsetonline.com/testyourmindset/step1.php.

Watch the Super Hero Teacher Movies8125663526_f7f9ca4fd1_k

To Sir with Love, The Ron Clark Story, The Marva Collins Story, Freedom Writers, Lean on Me, Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, The George McKenna Story, Matilda, Bad Teacher (LOL!)…My list could go on and on. I am a teacher movie fan! If you name it, chances are, I have seen it, and if I haven’t, I will watch it (any recommendations?).

What do I love so much about teacher movies?  They echo the belief that we as teachers can and do make a differences in the lives of our students. To me, that is inspiring and a reminder of why I chose this profession in the first place. These movies emphasize the idea that if we show our kids that we care about and respect them, they will begin to understand and value what we are trying to teach them. Super Hero Teacher Movies support our strongly held conviction that we can make a positive change in the lives of our pupils. Don’t get me wrong, teacher movies have their faults, but that’s a different blog post for a different day.

So pick a teacher movie and get inspired. I will be watching School of Life with Ryan Reynolds later this week. What will you be watching?

Start a Blog

blog-1027861_1920Okay, so I know I just started this blog a minute ago, but I have been thinking about it for two years. I have procrastinated for two whole years! (I’ll talk more on that in a different post.) By starting a blog, you are taking control of your own professional development. You are taking time to document your reflections not only on what you teach, how you teach it, and why you teach it that way, but also the thoughts that go through your head before, during, and after you teach it. Many teachers hate school and/or district led PD sessions because they seem irrelevant. By starting a blog, you are in control of the time, the audience you attract, and the content you share. Speaking of content, you open up doors to share successful ideas, projects, lessons, and other resources 24/7/365. This allows you to serve others, and I don’t know many, if any teachers, that do not want to help current and future teachers. With this in mind, blogs are a great way to meet teacher-friends and interact with teachers that may or may not be like you. If you enjoy writing, and can’t find a reason or the time to do so, a blog is a great excuse…I mean the perfect place to start. It’s an opportunity for growth.

As we grow and continue to renew our passion for teaching, please share your thoughts and experiences. Have you ever considered quitting teaching? What pushed you to consider it? What made you reconsider?

Have a great day, and until next time, Happy Teaching! 🙂