Monday, November 17, 2014

Crash Course Week 11: Gratitude and Faith

This week we are reading the last two chapters of the book, "Gratitude" and "Faith." Now is the time of year when we really focus on gratitude. How do you encourage your students to show gratitude? Sometimes it's easy to get down and focus on the negatives. How do you stay focused on the important things in your life?

Next week is the last week of the book club. We will finish up with some concluding thoughts about the book. If you need to catch up on your reading and/or comments to blog posts, now is the time to do it. If you would like to receive 12 PGPs and be eligible for the $1000 professional development grant, you must have made a meaningful contribution to every week's blog post by the end of the day Wednesday, December 3.

56 comments:

  1. What a great reminder the gratitude chapter was; life is all about perspective. It's easy to get sucked into your own problems and struggles. It's a painful reminder when we consider many of our students, we don't have it bad at all. I attempt to keep myself grounded with having good Christian friends and trying to stay faithful to church and in God's word.

    One of the most impacted I have seen or students as a whole was last year when Josh Belile spoke. He lost his legs in service to our country. He gave an amazing talk to the students that shook us; his amazing never quit attitude was an eye opener for everyone. But how quickly we forget and go back to our ungrateful words and attitudes when we lose our perspective.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It was a perfect time to read this chapter on gratitude. With Thanksgiving around the corner, it reminds me to thank God for the many blessings in my life--family, children, house, good health and a job that I love. As Kim mentioned her trip to Africa, it caused me to reflect on my own experience and African travels. When visiting orphanages, those children who had so little--next to nothing--still radiated with the joy of knowing Christ. They were truly grateful for our support and welcomed us with singing and dancing.

    Now, many of my students come from trailer parks and have very little. I try to share my faith with them by being Jesus to them. It is my daily prayer for each of them to feel loved and to see Jesus in my words and actions.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love it when I can see something happen in my class or between my students and I feel grateful - full of joy - over it. I love to feel the pride in my kiddos as things like that happen. Sometimes I struggle with whether or not I am actually teaching anyone to be grateful...mainly because our society is raising, in many ways, entitled, ungrateful children. Stemming that tide is hard but I hope I can do just a little bit to contribute.

    Faith. Everything in my life is based on my faith and the faith that I may or may not have in my students. I try to let my students know I have faith in them and that they should have faith in themselves. If finding themselves includes finding a spiritual faith for that person, I believe that is important as well. Students are in such a quagmire of craziness that anything they can have true faith in is a blessing. I just have to have faith that something I've done along the way will make a difference.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Having gratitude is very important in my life. I have had circumstances where everything can be taken away suddenly- so I try to be as grateful as I can, and teach my beliefs to my students. Some days, it's easy to focus on everything negative in ones life. But those are the moments where I take a step back and refocus my energy to everything positive I have going on for me. When the students make comments about how "bad" their lives are, I do the same to them, too. I tell them to name everything they love in life. I asked them if their current mood is forever or just temporary. It's okay to feel sad for a few moments, but it's important to past those feelings.

    I am a religious person, but I am professional about my beliefs. I teach in a very small town that still has religious education classes during the day. The students openly ask me questions about my faith and sometimes I answer and sometimes I vaguely change the subject.

    ReplyDelete
  5. As much as my life revolves around school where many of my friends work as well, it is sometimes in a conversation with a non-teaching friend that I gain perspective. One friend who can usually set me straight had an accomplished career as a health professional until she had a brain tumor a few years ago. Her gratefulness for living another day and sharing that joy lets me know that I have no problems when I match my daily hassles with her concerns of life vs. death. When I veer toward complaining, she will say to me 'people won't remember the complaints, but they will remember the complainer.'

    Likewise, I hope I lift the spirits of my students and encourage them to be grateful. At the junior high level, students throw a lot of words around aimlessly. I spend more time than I would like asking them to retract and think of a more courteous way to treat a classmate. Some do not respond with an accepting attitude, but it sends the message to everyone that I think relationships are important. From time to time, students leave school with no notice: transfer, move, have a family crisis that takes them away, so I strive to make each day count in my interactions with students as it may be the last.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I need to work harder on being more positive with and about my students. Some days I find myself only focusing on what my students are not doing right. Then at the end of the day I only feel frustration and irritation. When I am optimistic and positive, I find myself seeing all the students who are making good decisions or just plain working hard. As another bonus, when I am appreciative and grateful for my students, my attitude rubs off in a good way for my entire classroom. When my daughter was on a travel Volleyball team her coach used to say that all of the players needed to stay positive because negative players suck the energy from the team. Talent helps, but it is positive energy that leads the team to victory. I think the same idea applies to the classroom. Negativity from the teacher sucks the energy from the classroom and discourages learning.
    In my life I work hard to stay positive. When things are not going very well in my private life I try to think about how lucky I am. I have had my share of troubles, but overall have been truly fortunate. I am grateful for my wonderful husband and girls and I try to remind myself of this when I am feeling down. A fun lesson is great, but I think it is more important for a teacher to bring positive energy to the classroom.
    I agree with the writer about the subject of faith. I trust that things happen for a reason. A friend once told me that all of her greatest life struggles resulted in a closer relationship with God. In times of trouble, my friend turned to her faith for answers.  

    ReplyDelete
  7. I model being grateful and positive to my students each day but uplifting them, posting inspirational quotes, and showing them gratitude when they do things that are praise worthy. I believe in telling students you are proud of them, giving them high fives, rewards, telling them I missed them if I'm absent, or telling them I will miss them over the course of breaks. I remind them that I care-- a lot of my students don't hear that often. It helps me to keep positive in return.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Our school has a huge paper turkey on the wall in front of the guidance office- when students come to the counselor with a problem or complaint this month, they are encouraged to write something on the turkey that they are grateful for (either before or after they see the counselor). It's trying to foster an attitude of gratitude.

    Also, when I taught 7th grade Social Studies, we always began studying Africa in November. Right before Thanksgiving break, we would talk about genocide and show the movie Hotel Rwanda (we had to get permission slips from school because of the violence). It provided lots of class discussion about being thankful and also gave students something interesting to talk about at family gatherings- something that they had learned in school. I participated in that activity, along with our other 7th grade teacher, for 7 years and never had a parent complaint about the movie- the lesson on being grateful for our lives as Americans, free from genocide, always had a positive impact. I really miss it now that I teach 6th grade, since it's not part of our curriculum.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kari,

      I appreciate your contributions to the group over the past several weeks. It shows that you are reading what others have posted when you take the time to respond and create some dialogue. I frequently check back after I've posted to see if there is continued dialogue and to see if there is anything potentially debatable. To me, that makes you a valuable contributor.

      Thanks again!

      Troy

      Delete
  9. One way that I try to teach gratitude is that I always say please and thank you to everyone. It would be easy as a teacher who can boss students around to not show them this simple courtesy. In doing it all of the time, some students start doing it and other students just think that I say it too much.
    As far as staying focused on the important things in life and not being negative. I always try to express that I believe in my students by telling them what I know they could have done better instead of focusing on what they did wrong. I also try to get kids to believe in their abilities b/c I believe that helps them reach their potential.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I too always say please and thank you. I think it also creates an environment of respect and you are modeling manners which many of our students need reminders of this.

      Delete
  10. Perfect timing on this chapter because yesterday, my car broke down -- on my way to the grocery store to get food that we were supposed to bring to the Fall Sports Banquet, it was cold, the towing service was completely backed up, and I was running out of time to get everything done. Time to count my blessings right? I was on a main road and many people I know called to make sure I was okay, my husband was home early and was able to come get me, and miraculously he had already purchased what we needed for the banquet. What does this have to do with teaching? Well, I could have screamed and yelled about this and carried my frustration over to the classroom today and even for the next few days, because really, is there ever a good time to have your car in the shop? Or, I could stay focused on the more important tasks and express gratitude for my family, friends, and safety. My car will get fixed and life will march on. I carried this attitude into the classroom today and shared my experience with my students. We joked about it and they were happy to express their sympathy and share their own stories of similar incidents. Hopefully I modeled gratitude, faith, and focus for them today. The vast majority of the kids we teach are good kids -- I enjoy spending my time with them.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I felt the point of the chapters was to see the world from our students' perspective to appreciate our impact as teachers. Not in a Art Linkletter/Bill Cosby-Kids-Say-The-Darndest-Things sort of way, but in a more meaningful, walk in their shoes manner. I recently moved from a school where most families were very affluent to a school where there is significant numbers of low-income families. I see these kids that put on a very strong face and the average observer would have no idea how much turmoil their home life is. I sometimes forget when they seem so well adjusted at school, then a 5th grader asked me what the last name will be on her account because she doesn't know her legal last name or when I loaned a student a $60 quadcopter because he was good at math and I thought he would enjoy calibrating it and two months later when he hasn't returned it I find out he can't afford "toys" like that and wanted to continue to play with it. Many of these kids have huge desires for approval and acceptance and I fear as they get older they will make bad choices to get that approval or acceptance. I hope that me showing them in a small way every day that they deserve to be approved or accepted will strengthen their confidence in themselves. This year has been very humbling to me in that regard and I appreciate more what I do.
    I don't want to stereotype rich kids vs. poor kids, as "rich kids" have emotional needs that are unmet in their own home lives as well and need positive adults to fill those needs.
    I calculated one time the amount of minutes per week I spent with the average student. It was less than 2% of their week. Even though they were at school 7 hours a day, I only saw them for 40 minutes or so a day and rarely on weekends. Instead of being discouraged by the little time I had to influence the student, I decided to try to make that 2% interaction the greatest interaction of their week. We as teachers have the power to make our time more impactful than the majority of the rest of the students' day. I'm thankful for that power.
    I was recently interviewed by a reporter from NPR Education about what makes a great teacher. I'll paste the article below. However, one answer she left out of the article disappointed me. I told her that despite what popular media and our politicians seem to believe, there are a lot of great teachers out there. And, I have faith that if we get out of those teachers way, our students will be better served. That's what faith and gratitude mean to mean. Let's have faith that those who've dedicated their lives to teaching children can change education and gratitude that they've taken on that calling.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/11/08/360426108/five-great-teachers-on-what-makes-a-great-teacher?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really enjoyed what you said.

      I know that coming to school is the best part of some students day. We are their safe, happy place. Those kids have such gratitude for a secure and comfortable place. It is good to remember this, especially close to breaks. Not all kids are happy that they won't be going to school for a week or more. School provides heat, regular meals and teachers that take an interest in kids that may not ever feel like anyone is interested in them.

      Delete
    2. It's sad to think about but very true. Thanks for responding.

      Delete
    3. It's so true-- we have so little time with our students compared to their other outside influences, but my, what a difference a caring and powerful teacher can make in that 2%.

      Delete
  12. The timing of this section was poignant. Yesterday the husband of one of our secretaries was killed in a car accident. It is in times like these that a person reflects on the important things in life and realizes that some of the things that cause stress are really very unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes in life, as in our classrooms, it is easy to forget the bigger picture because we are so focused on the daily minutia of papers to grade, report cards, and minor irritations. I feel that it is part of our responsibility as teachers to help our students also see the “big picture” while at school and to be able to see the priorities in life.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Gratitude seems to be something that I get so busy in my own personal life, outside of school, that something seems to need to happen in order to remind me to be grateful again. I will get frustrated because the laundry is piling up, or I need to go to the grocery but have little to no time to go etc. Just yesterday, due to an interaction with a student, I had to remind myself to be thankful for all that I have. Be thankful that I have enough clothes to wash that it has the ability to pile up, that I have the money to even go to the grocery store or even the simple fact that I have a washer and dryer at home. The action that prompted this was an email that I received from a student that asked where she could purchase just one stamp at an inexpensive price. This stamp was needed for a project that we are doing in class where we send a thank you letter for the person that allowed them to job shadow them. This falls in the category of writing a formal letter and career research as far as the standards state. This particular student wears the same sweatshirt each day, her shoes are so worn that the bottoms are no longer present in parts and often has smell of body odor. However, this student, smiles at me every single day, greets me with a hello and how are you, is the first one to help when needed, turns in all of her homework and is just plain appreciative for any help that she gets. It is a real reality check for me that, at times, I take what I have for granted. So just yesterday, after receiving the email, I walked out of school and thanked God for a warm coat, a vehicle of my own, three healthy and beautiful children, a loving supporting husband, a roof over my head a job that I truly enjoy. I just always have to think, why does it have to take something like this to make me that much more thankful? I am fortunate to have a blessed life.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Gratitude is something we all forget sometimes. I have really tried to practice and teach my kids to “look for the silver lining” when something goes wrong. I know many times it’s hard but it always seems worth the effort. I wasn't sure if my fifteen year old twins were really getting it until this past Friday. My son had his collar bone broken during wresting practice and found out he could not participate on the team for the rest of the season or use his left arm for at least a month. I was feeling pretty bad for him but while we were sitting in the emergency room he said, “Well, the silver lining is I won’t have to play in the pep band for basketball season, I will get to watch the games this year.” It made me smile. It reminded me to be thankful for the little things as well as the big ones.

    I too find much comfort in my faith. It may sound weird but I can tell by the week I’m having if I missed church on Sunday. It seems like when we don’t attend, the week just doesn't run as smoothly. I don’t think this is a punishment by God by any means, I just think we all need that weekly reminder that we are not in this alone; there is someone watching over us and helping us every day- especially in the classroom!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Gratitude is something that is hard to come by these days. I always encourage the students to say please and thank-you in the classroom. Usually, they don't get the rewards. . . aka candy. . . if they don't say thank-you. I encourage the students to be grateful for what they have. Some of them don't have a lot, but there is always something to focus on. There is always something to be grateful for even though it may be small. I myself have to remember this at times.

    I try to stay focused on the important things in the classroom and not let the trivial stuff stress me, or the students, out. I try to remind myself that things could be worse. I have a wide variety of students in my classroom with a different array of disabilities. I want to have faith in each and everyone of them that they are going to make the right decisions in life. There's not a day goes by that I don't doubt myself as a teacher. When students succeed in whatever it is we are doing, my faith in my teaching and my students is affirmed.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Everyday when we have snack everyone knows to wait until everyone has a snack to dive in. This particular school year my students not only wait until everyone has their snack, but they also wait to see who brought in the snack so they can all say thank you together. It almost brings me to tears everyday when I hear them do this. I am constantly saying please and thank you throughout the day because it really does rub off on the kids. Also, whenever a student goes up to the board to work a problem they are always encouraged by their peers with positive snaps (whether the student gets it right or not). Lately, we have been doing hard lessons on double digit multiplication and we use the phrase "phone a friend" when they start to struggle and the friend helps them solve the problem aloud. This helps all of my students know they are not alone up at the board or in their seat whenever they are unsure of the answer.

    I am expecting my first baby in May and have been overjoyed with this excitement. I try to surround myself with all the positive I can get because I know it makes for a healthier and happier person. I think the happy bug has rubbed off on some of my students, and I have even noticed some of their grades going up. Being positive and staying happy make for a healthier person and child. Staying focused on the positive in my classroom, I realize, is a must because these kids hear so much negative everyday from parents, peers, and/or social media. We can be the one outlet they can plug into and know we have faith in them and care for their well being.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Working in a very poor school district, it is humbling to know the backgrounds of the students. Knowing those backgrounds sometimes puts into focus why school isn't always a priority for them. For several years I have worked with a group of students (Tri-Hi-Y) and rah year at this time we get students and faculty and staff to write on a paper turkey feather something for whih they're thankful. Those feathers are then arranged on the school turkey, displayed in the window. Several people stop to read the feathers.

    By modeling an attitude of gratitude for our students, things go better in the building. Gratitude squelches the negative attitude that sometimes tries to creep in.

    I strongly recommend the works of Ruby Payne for those of you working in a district wih a lot of poverty. She has wonderful insights in working with students of impoverished backgrounds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My first teaching assignment, the principal asked us to read Ruby Payne. What an eye opener for me, someone who has been lucky enough to have so many resources available to me throughout my life. It was a great way to begin my teacher career and gave me so much perspective on where students come from and helped me so much in dealing with the many struggles that so many of our students face each day.

      Delete
  18. First, I must express how much I loved the Gratitude chapter. I mistakenly read it last week and didn’t realize it until I went to answer the questions. The great thing was that I really needed to read that chapter last week! I loved when Bearden ended her gratitude chapter with “No matter where my path would lead me next, I planned to appreciate the journey. And I hope that you will do the same.” I was having a pity party for one and that chapter snapped me out of it! It went perfectly with the Improvisation chapter’s Class Notes, “The detours are often exactly what we needed instead.” Just saying, someone knew I needed to read that chapter a week early… and that leads me to Faith.

    I often find myself feeling negative, especially around concert time. It seems the class and I have been working so hard on the concert pieces, but time is slipping away and the music just doesn’t seem up to performance snuff. It can be very discouraging. The one thing that keeps me going, like the author, is my faith, and lots of prayer. I pray every morning for God to give me the strength to get through the day, and for the patience to impart something that will make each student’s day better. I also believe that everything happens for a reason, and there is something to be learned from every positive and negative experience. And when something negative happens, there is some wisdom I must glean from that experience (For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose - Romans 8:28). This was a beautiful and moving chapter, an excellent way to the end the book. I’m glad that it helped fill part of my void.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This year I started something new. At the end of every class every student has to go to two different students and tell them something positive about what they did in class. Since students hear so many negative things I felt that giving and receiving positive comments would be a start to a better day.

    Today during one of my intermediate classes a special needs student had difficulty serving a volleyball for their test. The whole class gave encouragement for over five minutes trying to get him to serve the ball. A few of the students I saw were even praying that he would complete the task. I was so proud of them.

    Gratitude comes in so many ways in my teaching experience. To the students who lift me up when I am down or by the simplest gesture makes me smile. To the teachers who I know will be there when things go wrong and celebrate with when things go right. And to the parents who listen to the suggestions on how to improve their child's education. And special place of gratitude to my family who sometimes take a back seat when my teaching position has to come first. And last but not least to my friends who listen when I have to talk about problems to get them off my chest.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Before final exams, I always have students write a Christmas letter. They must choose a person that has made an impact on them in the last year and write that person a letter, thanking them, and letting them know what an inspiration they have been. I always enjoy reading them and the students enjoy writing them.

    When I teach the novel Night by Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, I always read many paragraphs from students about how the book opened them up to how lucky they are and the fact that they take a lot for granted. I think it helps students realize what’s really important in life.

    I think it’s easy to become burdened down in life and forget about the positive things that surround me daily. I try to think about what I am grateful for every day. I often hear stories from friends, coworkers, or even on the news, that makes me realize just how grateful I am for the life I have. When I have a pile of essays to grade, a lesson to plan, dinner to cook, and my 4 year old is having a meltdown about what to wear to dance class, I get frustrated and my patience goes out the window. Something I’m working on daily is taking deep breaths before reacting negatively in situations like that. I do the same thing in my classroom. If something goes wrong or a student is being especially trying that day, I try to center myself with breathing and turn my energy into positive energy by focusing on something that I’m grateful for. Sometimes it works, other times it’s a lot harder, but it’s something I work on daily.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And "Night" really is about testing faith in humanity, faith in religion, faith in goodness. So, yes, it teaches students a lot about gratitude, but it can also teach them a lot about the strength of faith. Thanks for posting.

      Delete
  21. I co-sponsor National Junior Honor Society and each year we go to a local nursing home to put on skits, read poetry, play music, hand out cards and most importantly, spend time with the residents. Each year my co-sponsor and I are blown away at how great the kids are with the residents. They are awkward and unsure at first but after a few minutes everyone relaxes and the kids are laughing along with the residents. It is so much fun to hear them talk about the moments they share. Every year someone always brings up that a resident they met will have no one visit them for the holidays - it is a great reminder for them of the love and family they have. It always leads to great discussion and the kids feeling gratitude and blessed to have their own families.

    I agree with a lot of what other people have posted. It is difficult to always remain positive but our kids need it and it teaches them a valuable lesson in life. It is easy to be negative, but more important and worthwhile of your time to be positive. I really liked the post that said the teacher had students end class with something positive. I'm going to try this!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I always use please and thank you throughout the day. I ask students to please take out their notebooks. I tell them thank you when they hand in their papers. I always make note of students that have been coming in extra or trying harder than normal. Even if they don't receive the best score, I encourage them on how it is better and their new habits are leading them down the right path.
    Some lessons we have to break into two days because it is too much material. On the second day, I can usually tell students that this homework should be easier if you did good on last nights. If you struggled on last nights, this will be a great opportunity to get some more practice in and correct our errors. I go over homework daily, so students that had a hard time had the chance to ask questions and see some more examples worked out in class. I always try to keep a positive attitude in class. I do have to reprimand students for not doing their homework or for not preparing for quizzes and tests, but I try not to let this make my overall demeanor a negative one.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Being a Life Skills teacher, I fins that many of my students teach me gratitude and not the other way around. Sometimes being a working mother of three, I get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and can find myself complaining about such trivial things. But when I am with my students, many of whom find such joy in the tiniest things, it reminds me of everything that we have to be thankful for in life. Some of our students and their families have had to face so many challenges and yet, they still come to school with smiles on their faces ready to learn. It is an amazing reminder of everything that we have to be thankful for.
    There are many ways that we incorporate gratitude into our classroom for the students also. Part of our Life Skills curriculum deals with many social skills. A very important social skill that we teach is showing the students how to show appropriate gratitude for things. Also, many of our students have such negative impressions of themselves because they have grown up being told everything they can and can't do. It is important for us as teachers and paras to show them that we are grateful for them in our class by pointing out everything that makes them special in our room and in the school. We often let them choose an activity or a topic for our discussion time. This little gesture allows them to feel special and cared for as the class will exhibit genuine interest in the student's topic of choice. Then the entire class thanks them for their contribution. It is a quick simple way to teach gratitude for the students.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Since I am in a Catholic School, we actually TEACH gratitude--students learn from preschool on that all we have is a gift from God and giving thanks to Him is an important way to pray. As part of doing this, my children are able to hear me thanking God for them, and they are encouraged to do the same for each other. We say grace before lunch; saying thank you is truly ingrained in them as part of their daily routine. This year, our student council is offering 'Gratitude Grams' during the week leading up to Thanksgiving, where each student can, for 50 cents, send a sucker and write a message to a classmate, friend, or sibling to thank them for being part of their lives.

    I agree that children are often great models for appreciating the small things--we had been stuck inside for recess due to the recent cold snap, and one day when I didn't have a lot pending on the chalkboard, decided one of their inside recess options could be writing on the board. You would have thought I'd handed them a puppy-they were so grateful, and one student declared that I was 'the best teacher in the world!' Moments like these make it so much easier to get through the day!
    I loved the author's quote about children at the end of the book: "If you need to develop a deeper understanding of faith, spend time with children. Watch how they love without reservation, ...believe what you promise, and look forward to each and everyday." I'm grateful I have a job that allows me to do that!

    ReplyDelete
  25. And she cried. As much as I appreciate the act of gratitude it is the act of faith that moved me the most. Faith in humanity, faith in our country, faith in our families and most important fain in God. God has given us all a measure of faith and we are to nurture and grow it. Children surround us each day with their faith and thankfulness but how many times have I extinguished it because I am in hurry to get to the next lesson. In this hurried “school life” it is time to remember why we do this job of teaching: children. I want to have more fun, listen more, comfort more, learn more, laugh more, console more and observe more. Thank you for sharing the “Oh Happy Day” and Hakeem’s stories. Moving and a reminder of my own faith and that praying also involves doing whether I am at school or at home.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I am so fortunate to work in a Catholic school where we can teach gratitude and thank God for all the blessings he give us! Daily we discuss things that we are grateful for, not things but people; and why they are so special to us. During Thanksgiving week we share a friends name and why we are thankful for that person in our class. Even 3 -5 year olds are able to understand why their friends are special.
    I loved the story of Jevon and Belinda. I wonder in their situation who taught them gratitude. I know that Kim and RCA reinforces gratitude but those to students also learned it from within their families maybe through love and sacrifice? Belinda to be that strong at a young age is amazing!
    I cried getting through the las chapter of Faith. I truly cannot fathom my life without faith. I believe that I am toda, because God has a purpose for me. I believe that each one of my students is in my classroom because God put them their for a reason and as I move throughout my day, I try to constantly be in connection with God as uses me to help these children learn. Is it always easy? No, and I make mistakes but I learn through the hearts of these children that God is real and he is in each and everyone. I laugh so much in my classroom, but I also cry when I see a child that has struggled doing something and they finally succeed. I also cry when I hear my little ones praying for each other.
    I have enjoyed this book so very much. It is not a book about teaching it is a book about life.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I stress please and thank you in my class. I feel like kids today expect too much and don't appreciate things, especially little things. Honestly, I rarely hear thank you in my room unless I remind my students to say it which is so disappointing. Kids have so much today it's sometimes disheartening when they seem to not appreciate things that are given to/done for them.

    I am grateful to have the opportunity to teach again after being hone with my own children for 10 years. Our schedule is busy and hectic, but I often remind myself how fortunate I am to have been given the opportunity to teach again. It is easy to let all the negative aspects of teaching get you down, but I try to stay positive and be at peace with what I am doing in my classroom. When I'm feeling down or stressed out I remind myself of my encounters with former students and how I did have a positive impact in their lives.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I teach with Cathy G. She mentioned the unfortunate accident that took a young man’s life earlier this week. He was a graduate of our school. Events like this make us reflect upon our own lives and the lives of our former and current students. Sometimes we get lost in grading a pile of papers, creating relevant assignments, creating digital curriculum, performing extra duties, attending meetings and we forget what is important not only in our lives but also in the lives of our students. We need to be grateful for what we have and enjoy each and everyday that we are here with each other.
    Since beginning to write this entry, our school has suffered another loss of a staff member. Our students and staff have shown their support, kindness and faith to many who are touched by these unfortunate events. Shortly before we lost our staff member, he posted on Facebook: “Friends, hug your loved ones EVERY DAY! Don't be afraid to tell your friends how much they mean to you.” That is the message that we should follow and teach to our students.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, what golden words to be the last posted on Facebook.

      Delete
  29. This week our building has suffered two incredibly difficult losses. I have never felt so vulnerable within the classroom as I have this week. My interactions with students have always been very business like. I keep my personal life very much to myself and in hindsight probably appear robotic at times. This week has been quite the opposite: tears, prayer, hugs, etc. have all been shared within my classroom and I have never felt closer to my students. Through this weeks evens, I believe they need to see the faculty grieving together and supporting one another through the tough times.

    These chapters also allowed for me to reflect on a project we are beginning this week: Random Acts of Kindness. I LOVE THIS PROJECT - it is simply an opportunity for students to bless those around them and show "gratitude" to those that need/deserve it most.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I always thought I had great perspective on being a teacher. I spent hours crafting the perfect lessons and countless community circles bonding with my students. Then I had my first son. Suddenly I knew just how important my role as teacher was. During the week I have the privilege of being with the students more hours than their parents do. That is a profound responsibility that I take very seriously! I want to be sure that I am the kind of teacher I hope my own boys will have one day. It's not about the spectacular lessons or the number of hours we spend talking about filling each other's buckets. It's about the real, every day simple connections we make. I have a student this year who is a challenge behaviorally. The other students in our room are so kind to him and always forgive his actions. They only come to me when they have exhausted all of their options and it still doesn't solve the problem. I am touched daily with their grace and kindness.

    I certainly lead by example with simple manners in our class. My students are catching on, too. It's heartwarming to hear them say thank you in the lunch line or please when they ask a friend to get something for them. This time of year is my favorite because it "forces" us to get into a grateful mindset. It seems natural to tell others what you appreciate about them and getting students to open up and express their feelings is so much easier. I give each of my students a note telling them why I am thankful for them. This year I'm taking it a step further by giving the students a "I'm thankful for you because _________________." paper to take home and give to someone else.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I think teaching kindergarten has been such a daily blessing and I am so thankful for the bright smiles, positive energy, and carefree, happy personalities of little 5 year olds! It reminds me to try and look at life through their eyes and not let the "grown up" stuff get me all bogged down and start sweating the small stuff! While they remind me to take a breathe and enjoy life and all the "little things", I try to teach them what the word gratitude means as well as what it looks like in their daily lives and provide them with additional opportunities to show gratitude and help others! At our school, we had various opportunities throughout the year such as, food drives, raising money for individuals in our own community, donating their own halloween candy and putting together boxes for soldiers overseas, making cards/caroling for the elderly, etc. With each opportunity we talk about how gratifying it can be to help others, as well as many of these things in our daily life we forgot to be thankful for and not everyone is as blessed as we have been.
    I always try to model daily through prayer, special intentions, and our conversations who and why I am grateful! I think it helps them to also recognize these similar things in their lives-- little and big!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Being grateful for my students was sometimes hard on a daily basis, but when you run into a former students and they show such excitement at seeing you, it's hard not to be humbled by our jobs and our impact. We need to be thankful for these young people who are constantly seeking role models and leadership that will influence their development. Our students want and need to know how much we enjoy working with them, though this constant state of educational flux sometimes dampers our moods. We are all in this together and somehow, our students usually turn out ok!

    ReplyDelete
  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I teach with Cathy G., Sandy G., Tammy F., and Melissa F. who are also participating in this book club. As they mentioned, our small school has taken some hard hits this week. All in the same week, we had two deaths that touched so many lives in our school and community, and a third cause of concern was an injury to a person which will require a long recovery period. One of these deaths left two children without a father, and the other death was of a beloved individual who has been an icon associated with our school as long as most of us can remember. Although much less significant, our school lost electrical power for over two hours yesterday. We have been given lessons in humility, compassion, and servanthood in numerous ways. Reading Kim Bearden's chapters on Gratitude and Faith gave me comfort in a very stressful week. On a positive note, I have never been more proud to work at my school than this past week. Everywhere I looked, I saw examples of human kindness from administrators, teachers, parents, and students. It is comforting to know we reach out to each other during the best and worst of times.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I encouraged my own daughters to travel on a missions trip. They went to another country and helped build homes. They lived and interacted with the people of the region. They came back transformed. Their attitude changed because of their gratitude for what they never realized they actually had. I tried to teach them but it wasn't real until they experienced it. I am humbled when we invite our students to support a food drive or other cause. When students, who should be on the supportive end, contribute or find a way to give I am reminded about about the difference if service and sacrifice. This makes me so grateful for what I have and strengthens my faith in many ways.
    Quote" Gratitude, like faith, is a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it grows, and the more power you have to use it on your behalf. If you do not practice gratefulness, its benefaction will go unnoticed, and your capacity to draw on its gifts will be diminished. To be grateful is to find blessings in everything, This is the most powerful attitude to adopt, for there are blessings in everything."

    ReplyDelete
  36. I'm not sure if it was by design or not, but how wonderful to end our reading with these chapters at this time of year. We were asked by our principal this week to reflect on our gratitude as well. It's so easy to forget to think of the positives or to focus on negatives. But when you really think about it, most of us have so much to be grateful for in our daily lives and teaching situations. My kids have been sick for much of the past two weeks and my husband has been traveling for work. It's been a little stressful to be a mom and a teacher during these times. But when I sit back and think about it, I am grateful that neither of my kids was seriously ill, and that my husband will be home in time to spend Thanksgiving with us. At school, I like to make sure to thank students and adults alike whenever they go the extra mile and help more than the bare minimum. I also keep little treats on hand for quick rewards for students when they are extra kind or helpful towards others. Hopefully these small acts of gratitude will be remembered as a model for how my students can choose to treat others throughout their lives.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I think students now days struggle with being appreciative of what others do for them. A lot of them think that everything should be handed to them. I try to teach my students gratitude by modeling it. Saying good morning, hello, have a nice day, thank you, please, excuse me, etc. Some students may not get this at home, so teachers might be the only type of positive example they see. We often get too wrapped up in our busy lives and forget to be grateful for people and things around us. We tend to take advantage of what we have and don't realize what it would do to us if we didn't have it. Staying positive when things aren;t so positive is hard to do. Keeping in mind that there are some things that just can't be changed will help cope with stressful, busy, negative situations. Learning to be polite, helpful, thankful, and appreciative is the key to a more pleasant world.

    ReplyDelete
  38. What an appropriate chapter! I agree with many that kids seem to want things handed to them and aren't as appreciative as they should be. Sadly most of the time this gratitude is not taught at home. That's where I come in and be a good example. Praising them, encouraging them and showing my gratitude. When they do or say something good I often show my gratitude by telling my kids that they "make my heart happy". They love that. Greeting them, thanking them and just modeling appropriate mannerisms is so important. I have really seen changes in kids that need this positive interaction. I constantly remind myself of how blessed I am, I must focus on the positive or my attitude turns bad pretty quick. Focusing first on God is the only true "Rock" I have that keeps me focused and grateful every day.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Gratitude is the state of mind of thankfulness. As it is cultivated, we experience an increase in our "sympathetic joy," our happiness at another's happiness. Just as in the cultivation of compassion, we may feel the pain of others, so we may begin to feel their joy as well. And it doesn't stop there.
    - Stephen Levine
    This quote helps to sum up how I feel about practicing gratitude. A practice is just what it is. Daily, I must remind myself of the plethora of things for which I have to be grateful. Changing the way that I speak to kids has made a difference in how my kids respond to me as well. Just simply saying “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” or “good morning” is a small step in creating an environment where grateful attitudes can flourish. A few years ago, my former school read the book “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” and brought the entire theme of bucket-filling into our school culture. This is such an easy idea for kids to grasp—filling and dipping from others internal buckets. It is a great visual as well. I don’t want to be a person that takes something from another human being. The more I practice kindness, bucket-filling, and gratitude—the more my students begin to model my behavior. In regards to negative situations, I really have learned to nip things in the bud if it is causing the classroom climate to change. Also, the idea of ‘letting go’ has to be practiced in order to maintain a positive environment. In teaching and in life, I have learned to breathe, pause, let go, be grateful, and laugh. And it doesn't just stop there—it continues with my students and hopefully the cycle is perpetuated in some fashion.

    ReplyDelete
  40. These were very inspiring chapters to read. Gratitude and faith are very important parts of my own personal life and I'm glad that she included such personal insights at that end of the book. They actually made me tear up.

    This past week I shared with kindergarten and first grade students what I was thankful for and then asked them to share with me and their classmates what they were thankful for. I enjoyed hearing their different responses.

    To me gratitude is an attitude that shines through in all you do. Because my faith is so important to me, I look at my job as a librarian who sees 900 kids a week as a ministry. I get to touch 900 students lives every week through stories and discussions about those stories. The teachers that I remember the most from my elementary days are the ones that read to us or recited poetry. That's why I think book choices are so important and can impact the lives of the students I see every week.

    This week I shared Laurie Halse Anderson's great book titled Thank You, Sarah: the woman who saved Thanksgiving. It is a very inspiring story about Sarah Hale, a woman who wrote letters to presidents for 35 years trying to get Thanksgiving declared a national holiday. Finally, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed documentation that America would celebrate Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday of every November. Most people do not know the inspiring story of Sarah Hale. We discuss how grateful we are for her effort and how her perseverance paid off.

    I think gratitude and faith are something that we live out every day - something that people see through word and deed. Hopefully, my students see that in me.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I learned a long time ago that I get better behavior from students, and I have a better mind-set, when I focus on the positives in my classroom. One way I do this on a classroom level is through "Build Your Own Rainbow." Each child had a spot on a pocket chart to build a rainbow, and many times during the day, I make a point to look for students who are going above and beyond in their school work, in the way they are treating a classmate, in hallway behavior....and those children are rewarded with a piece of his/her rainbow. When the rainbow is complete, that child picks a prize from the prize box. (The last piece in is purple, and there's great excitement when someone gets his/her purple!)
    We also have a clip system in the room, and the clips can move up or down. This is school wide. If a clip moves all the way up for good behavior, the child takes a card to the office and at the end of the month those children get a special treat from the principal.
    Positive behavior is contagious with little ones! The more I notice a particular wonderful behavior, the more I see it!

    ReplyDelete
  42. It is easy to get caught up in what we want, not only personally but in our classrooms. For example, I often think of how nice it would be to have devices for all students or to have a fully stocked science lab, but there are other things that I seem to forget about and to be thankful for where I teach. I have great co-workers and administrators. I work with wonderful students who are individuals and I feel as though I learn as much from them as I hope I teach them. I would say that I help students to show gratitude by thanking them for what they do, for being who they are, and showing them that they matter to me. Staying focused on my family and growing personally are two important items to me. With my current schedule it is easy to spend time on other things, but I do my best to spend time with my kids as often as I can - I want them to know that I am there for them and always will be.

    ReplyDelete
  43. The chapter on Gratitude was one of my favorites. I love reading about all of Kim's students. I believe Belinda is wise beyond her years. My favorite quote is "the girls just haven't figured out what really matters yet". How true!
    I do find though that I get so caught up in teaching and making sure my students are learning, I do not spend much time thinking about other things that may be going on in their lives. I do hope though that they are becoming more confident in their math abilities and that confidence will rub off into other areas of their lives.
    I was surprised about the last chapter on Faith. You so seldom hear about this unless you teach at a religious school. I was very happy to read about Kim's faith and dedication to her students.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Helping students express gratitude is a tough task. Some of our students come from wonderful homes with invested parents and while they are teens, so everything is about them, they understand and express gratitude. I have taught kids who have very difficult homes and gratitude is less easy. I try hard to lead by example in my classroom and my co-teacher and I ask our students to complete task that help them express gratitude. For example, we have them write thank yous and we write letters to veterans.

    As I read the book, Kim demonstrated that she is a person of faith. I appreciated that she finds strength through it. I stay focused on what is important in my life by trying to keep my family and my students foremost in my decision making.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I try to focus on gratitude throughout the entire year. This is something I especially focus on in my Social Skills class. Throughout daily lessons, we as a class try to find positives in everything we do. This can be really difficult when students are having terrible days. At the beginning of the year, the students and I come up with alternative ways to say things, especially those negative comments, when we are frustrated with something. For example, if someone says, “I can’t do this,” they would try to rephrase it as, “if I just keep trying, I will get it and be able to move on!” I have several students who focus on only the negatives. This can bring anyone down on even the best days. I also think it is important to use manners as frequently as possible. My students pride themselves on getting compliments about it. Character building is necessary in education. I have noticed that on days I don't show any frustrations, my students are much more productive than on days I have having a hard time. I try to remember this when I have difficult days.

    ReplyDelete
  46. What a great life lesson we can learn from these students who don’t have much in worldly possessions, yet still work hard and are grateful for the things they do have. I loved reading both of these chapters. These chapters had plenty of examples of how we can learn life lessons from our students. I really enjoy reading about Kim’s students, especially in these 2 chapters.

    I love working with my kindergartners because they are so in awe of the smallest things and they are still easy to teach how to be grateful. I work very hard on reminding my students to be grateful for the things in class and I hope that they are able to apply this to their life outside of school. I show them how to be grateful to each other, not just the adults around them. I use every example I can point out in class on how to be grateful and to use their manners. It is so special to see them helping each other and being polite.

    ReplyDelete
  47. I really enjoyed reading these chapters. The part where Kim mentioned, "there is nothing wrong with having nice things, but sometimes we misplace our focus in the pursuit of them and feel empty, despite the fact we continue to have more possessions than ever before.....when I find myself thinking that I need these things instead of the fact that I just want them, I often reflect on the lessons that children have taught me that relationships matter a whole lot more than any material things ever will." This quote reminded me of something I heard the other day that would apply---the saying about not being able to see the forest for the trees. Especially this time of year, it is easy to lose focus of important things...whether it is because you feel stressed because of work or because of the holidays.
    Because I am not in the classroom this year, I won't get to have the same experience that I have had with my students that past few years with the holidays. We would participate with one of the other special education classes in a Santa workshop of sorts---the students were able to go and pick out small gifts for their immediate family members and wrap them. My class would make their own Christmas cards to go along with their presents and the students loved it. The students in my class every year made me realize that the holidays were not about the presents---they were able to go and pick from tables of gifts (items donated by staff that ranged from home décor to toys, etc.) They would painstakingly choose small gifts that they felt their loved one would enjoy---it wasn't about the size of the gift. They would spend then spend just as much time wrapping the gift and working on their Christmas cards. And they couldn't wait to take the presents home to share with their families. It was their way to be able to "give" a gift..and they loved it. I am going to miss that this year.
    These chapters reminded me that it easy to lose focus of what is important in day to day things, but it is important to take a step back and think about others and their situations.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Dearest Educators,
    Tonight I stumbled upon this book club, and I am both humbled and honored by your comments and insights. I was deeply touched that my stories resonated with you and that they provided a springboard for you to share your own journeys with one another. What a blessing!

    Since you have now read the chapter on appreciation, I have an exciting postscript to share with you. As you know, I was forever changed by the children of Soweto. So much so that this summer, 3 beautiful boys from Soweto came to live with my husband and me and they now attend 7th grade at RCA. The boys came here on student visas, but as I write this, I am simultaneously working on paperwork to complete the adoption process. Yep—I now have 3 new 13-year-old sons. The boys were living in deplorable conditions in Soweto, and we felt led to provide them with a better life. They speak 5 languages fluently, but when they arrived (sharing one backpack for the 3 of them), they didn’t even know their multiplication tables. (They sure know them now!) Seeing the world through their eyes has been an inspiration to us all. I have quickly grown to love them beyond comprehension.

    I won’t lie, though—it has been a huge transition. We were empty nesters, and now our home is filled with basketballs, sweat socks, skateboards, and an explosion of laundry. It is loud and sticky, but I am so grateful to have them in our lives. The boys names are Sisipho, Sabelo, and Phakamani. If you want to see pictures of them, feel free to “friend” or follow me on Facebook.

    I thank you for taking the time to read my book and to reflect upon its meaning. Writing it was a deeply personal journey, and through it all, my greatest hope was that it would provide inspiration to others.

    Thank you for dedicating your lives to providing a better world for our children. What a significant role you play in countless lives!

    Love and blessings,
    Kim Bearden

    ReplyDelete