Monday, October 17, 2016

Kids Deserve It! Week 3: Chapters 7-9

This week we are reading and discussing chapters 7-9. What are some of the little things you do to make your students and the adults in your school feel like they matter? What do you do when you have feelings of doubt?

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Next week we will read and discuss chapters 10-12. 

99 comments:

  1. Over the summer, I always mail a letter to my students. I address the envelope to the child. I introduce myself to them, and then ask the student to give their parents "homework." Every year, I ask parents to tell me about their child in "a million words or less." It's amazing how much you can learn by just asking parents to tell you about their "everything."
    Doubt is a hard one. I often doubt myself and I am definitely too hard on myself. At times, I struggle with perfectionism. I am lucky in that my husband and I teach in the same building, and the same kids. He often levels me and motivates me again when I think I'm not doing "enough."

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    1. Funny! I was a parent that received the "a million words or less homework", that was awesome yet intimidating too. Couldn't figure out what was "too much". Great idea though!
      I struggle with doubt and perfectionism way too much. I too have a hubby that encourages and motivates me, which I am thankful for. Thanks for sharing, it really helps to know that others share similar struggles. I'm sure you are awesome! Have a great week!

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    2. I love the letter idea! I have received personal post cards from my kiddo's teachers. As a teacher the night before school I call each of the children in my class. And during open house I give them a book called, "The Night Before Preschool." I encourage the parents to read it to their child and then sprinkle "dream dust" on their pillows for good dreams! Like the "million words or less" homework...I send something called, 3-2-1...it is an information sheet for parents to tell me about their child...what they want them to learn at school...and tell me 3 words that describe them and why. I keep this handy all year...

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    3. I have parents write anywhere from a paragraph to pages! I love the 3-2-1 idea!

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    4. I would guess that asking students to assign homework to their parents is fun for the students and appreciated by the parents too- what a great way to start a new year.

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    5. I like your idea of asking the parents to write about their student. I have the luxury of meeting with each of the students and parents before school starts, so I get to ask the parents what the student's strengths are and what he/she needs the most help with. It's great for the student to hear those things come from their parent.

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  2. I appreciated an emphasis on ‘doing the little things,’ to show everyone is a part of the team. This reinforces my effort to have students keep the floor in my room as clean as we can. I try at the end of each class period to remind them to clean up any stray paper, etc. If I can do this hourly, it helps narrow the prospects that any trash on the floor was put there by the present people in the room, each time telling them that we are helping the custodians. A few times I have heard a cutting remark about that being the custodian’s job, resulting in that student staying behind to pick up any remaining scraps visible to the human eye and understanding the importance of speaking only uplifting remarks.

    I haven’t completed this book, yet I cannot imagine a passage meaning more to me than the following as my survival at school depends upon it:
    “…surround yourself with others who will remind you that you matter, that your work matters, and that you are making a difference. Connect with others who will lift you up — who will help you celebrate every single success. Because even the smallest successes are worth celebrating. And those small successes can create the tiniest sparks of hope,” (Nesloney, Todd; Welcome, Adam). I have great friends at school (two have already checked into this book blog in past weeks). They are the people with whom I share the highs and lows. I can say that these are the people that prop me up when I have been chopped down. Not everyone’s confidants must be colleagues; it is also healthy to have confidants that are outside the school walls to have a fresh perspective on life.

    These chapters really hit me in the heart. It is a lifelong need to know that we have mattered and made a difference. As I have friends who are retiring, I see this need to know that their work has been meaningful is one piece of their career that continues to pervade their lives. Certainly former students are the best affirmation of this, however, we as fellow teachers can play a role in staying connected and understanding our former colleague’s roles in our own lives. They offer some good insights into what really is important in this life.

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    1. As a department leader, I try to "visit" with those on "my team" every week to touch base with how things are going outside of our professional learning communities that meet twice a month. Teachers need every pat on the back we can give each other too. As time passes, we need to stay connected with each other and share those insights if for nothing else then to let someone know we care. I also nominate anyone on my team for recognitions that we may have at the end of each year whether for service, biggest fan, or excellence in teaching awards. Small successes are worth celebrating!

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  3. I understand better then ever this year the saying from chapter 4, "When you listen to a child, you give him back his voice." This year started off with students very similar to students of other years. But, after one week of classes, I developed what I at first called "my shadow". One young lady in the last class of the day seemed to always be nearby as class was winding down. (Since I teach Physical Education, there is a little down time during our outside units getting to and back from our outdoor facilities.) She walked with me on the way out and was with me on the way back in. The first couple of days there was little conversation. As the comfortableness increased, she shared a multitude of stories. She shared how her mom was nearly deaf and her dad was rarely home. I was destined to be the person who listened to her. Today she still continues to talk to me, and we have established the ritual of going through all her classes and what assignments she has in each. I know her schedule by heart and have been involved in the planning of some of her projects. I have become her sounding board. She seems to enjoy being at school. "My shadow" has turned into what I have to look forward to by the end of the day. She has become what matters.

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    1. Hi Pamela. I love your post about your "shadow". What a great reminder that we need to listen and be there for our students!

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    2. Thank you for being someone who embraces the shadows;)

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    3. I believe that every student has a "spirit teacher" (like a spirit animal) that they just connect with. It's so rewarding to have that student start as a freshman, and keep stopping by to say hi, talk about their current classes, ask for some candy, or whatever it is that they need that day. Many times it is just affirmation from their spirit teacher, the one who makes them feel OK, maybe even normal for a few minutes a day, as middle and high school can be some awkward years for kids!

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  4. Being present in the hallway near my room and greetings kids when they file in helps them feel welcome. Chapter 7 also talked about seeking out the loners. When I pass a kid in the hallway that fits that category, or I realize that one of my own students fit that category, I always make a point every day to smile at them and say hey, or inquire about their day. Another thing I do to make my students feel like they matter is to conference with them. My approach to discipline changed when I became a teacher in the Maverick Launch program. I refuse to write a detention before I conference with that student. It helps me connect with them, learn about why they acted out, and helps them know that I do care about them, as a person- not just their grade or if they pass my class.

    The school I teach at has a Friends of Rachel (FOR) club that is entirely student ran and organized. (Google “Rachel’s Challenge” if you’re interested; they do amazing work!) The FOR club not only deals with bullying in our school, but also deals with loners and new students who could easily become loners. They reach out to those kids by talking with them at lunch, by putting notes on their lockers, by sending them “how’s it going” emails. It’s inspirational! We have had so many kids feel like they are truly a member of our school because of the FOR club, which is a big deal for a school of 1800! They also make our adults feel special. One example is last year the FOR club showed up with hot chocolate for all of the bus drivers.

    Chapter 8 really resonated with me about leaving my problems in my car. I don’t find myself having personal issues that carry over into my day with kids, but it resonated with me because as a secondary teacher, sometimes I catch myself letting an issue from period 3 carry over to period 4. I have to consciously make a decision to put on my smile and not punish the new class period for the events or disappointment of the last class. It’s times like that, when I’ve had a rough class period, that I start to doubt my abilities as a teacher. Sometimes the teachers that also teach in my program cheer me up during our team meeting time at the end of the day. They let me know I am needed and valued and not to let one class period ruin my day. Sometimes it’s other students that cheer me up. Sometimes it’s my own children, or my husband, or a friend that I talk to on the phone. Sometimes it’s other teacher friends I have, like my neighbor across the street. I feel that having those people around you to help lift you up when you are full of self-doubt is very important. When I first started teaching it was hard to admit that I had a bad day or had an issue with a student that felt unresolved. But the more years I’ve taught, the more I realize that I need to ask for help or advice, or just feel lifted up by my fellow teachers, my family, my peers, or my students.

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    1. It is so hard to not let one class (or even one student) ruin a whole day. I, too, sometimes have to fake it for class! Put on that smile and get through the next hour.
      As a new mom, it's important to have friends or a support group of other new moms....the same goes for teaching! My husband is in the corporate world, and doesn't get why Little Susie's comment made me so mad, or hurt me. Other teachers get it, and we can support each other!

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  5. I believe that small little cards make a big difference. A girl recently came into my room crying. I grabbed her friend and told her to take her to the restroom and talk or do whatever they needed to do.
    The next day I had a card for her, simply stating that I was sorry she had a bad day yesterday, and was hoping that today was better. It was a quick gesture, but let her know that I was thinking about her, and cared. I keep a box of blank cards in my desk for moments like these.

    I doubt myself all the time as a teacher! I've had those classes where I swear that the entire group is conspiring to make me miserable. They have left, I've closed the door, and cried. I have a drawer where I keep every single positive note from any student or parent. When I have those days, I open it up and read a few cards, look over drawings, and remember why I do this. It's the hardest, but probably one of the most rewarding jobs!

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    1. I'm not sure what grade level you teach, but I teach freshmen, and I too have often times had to let girls go into the restroom to talk or work things out. I've also had to sit groups of girls down (that used to be friends and then boy drama started. My oh my!) and chat with them about the importance of friendship and not letting drama get in the way of their classroom duties. It can be exhausting, but I know that sometimes they need guidance. I like your idea of having a blank set of cards!

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  6. What are some of the little things you do to make your students and the adults in your school feel like they matter? What do you do when you have feelings of doubt?

    - I guess the main little thing I have done as an educator was to ask each student how their day is/was. Most of the time I got a comment like fine or okay but now and then when a student really needed to talk, they did. just this school year I got a message saying I had mail at my former building. I picked it up to see what it was and it was a student that I had over 4 years ago that wrote to say how I was the only one ever, including parents, to ask how his day was. I was thrilled to receive the note and a little sad that in all this time nobody had asked him how things were going. So, yes the little things make a BIG difference. I also wen to games after school and if I couldn't attend I'd send a note to the student saying I was sorry and giving an explanation. They really loved the personal touches even in middle school.

    For the adults the same rules applied, I listened. Often my co-workers just needed a moment to vent and get thing off their chest. They needed to know that what they felt was valid too. Students and changes in evaluation, insurance issues, and life in general can be challenging. It's important that we take time to listen and be a comforting ear even if there isn't a problem for us to solve. A lot of the times it's enough to validate what they are saying.

    I had feelings of doubt many times as a teacher. When test came back and my students performed poorly, when a student that I really worked hard with on behavior got suspended again, when my lesson failed, and when I felt like there just wasn't enough time in the school day! So I posted little sayings for me to read when I felt doubtful and kept the motivation going. I'd share inspirational songs with students or quick readings. Sometimes, yes, I'd vent just like my colleagues vented with me. At the beginning of each day, I reminded myself that that's exactly what it was.......a new day and another chance to get better at my craft.

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    1. I agree that it is important to be there to listen! Whether it is a co-worker or student just having someone listen and validate what they are saying has worth means a lot. You may not have any answers and the person may not expect you to give them an answer it is just the knowledge that you took the time to listen!

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  7. I believe just acknowledging students in the hallway makes a difference. Whether it's saying hello, giving them a compliment, or a just a high-five it really goes a long way. I do the same to teachers, although this was awkward at first, as a substitute, it really helped get to know the teachers that I thought weren't very friendly. Teachers are so busy and bogged down with work that I think sometimes they overlook relationship building.

    In the classroom, I like to make sure I talk to all the students and learn each of there names. Giving each a chance to talk and making sure I give my full attention. Little things like eye contact and questions make a difference.

    I truly believe that helping others helps me when I'm having feelings of doubt. I try to focus my attention off of "me" and onto someone else. This usually makes me realize/remember my strengths and crush the doubts. Helping others and seeking advice from some who supports me really strengthens and rewards me.

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    1. I agree with you on feeling busy and bogged down with work! I often hide out in my room during lunch. Partly because I coach and need to work through my lunch, and partly because I take my lunch during my plan (with my husband). I am also very much one of those "introvert-extroverts" that you may have heard of at some point. I socialize because I "need" to, but I would much rather be alone and NOT have to be social! This is something I know I struggle with, and need to work on.

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    2. Getting out of our departments (or grade levels if you're El Ed) is so important! Our school has yearly luncheons that each department hosts, and invites all teachers. We can eat lunch together and mingle and talk. Sometimes it's easy to hide in our rooms, as you said Tricia, but it's important to get out and talk with others too!

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  8. Before we start the school year we have an open house...At the open house I send home a book, "The Night Before Preschool"...I encourage the parents to read it to their kiddo that night and then to sprinkle "good dream dust" on their pillows! The first day of school I make sure I capture a picture of their kiddo having fun and after school I text it to each parent...letting them know that their child had a wonderful first day. I think that goes along with chapter 7...letting everyone know that they are special!

    I think that my feelings of doubt arise in...am I doing enough? Am I bringing everything to the table that I can? Am I up to date with my education? I think my doubts tend to be lessened when my colleagues and I work together to share ideas and notes about things that go well in the classroom...and work together when things don't.

    I also love the idea of leaving it in the car...Sometimes when we are having a bad day...we often lose sight of what is going on in the kiddo's lives. I like to check the baggage at the door! I also really loved the idea of seeking out the positive behaviors...and calling the parents. That really touched my heart! As a mom that would be super exciting to get a phone call...and as a teacher...I see how much that would mean to the child and parent!

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    1. I agree that we often lose sight that kids can have bad days too. We need to model for them the whole concept of leaving it in the car. There was a teacher I recently taught with that had breast cancer. The staff knew, but many students didn't. One day she showed up with a wig after shaving her head. The students were astonished that they didn't know she was going through chemo or that she had cancer. She had hid it so well! I think it taught them a good lesson about perseverance and leaving our baggage at the door, as you said.

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    2. I also love the idea of seeking out positive behaviors! I do this with my students and my own son. I praise the student, but I think it would be even more effective with a call or note home.

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  9. I feel it is important to make other people feel that they matter and not just in the school environment. I try to make sure when I am speaking with either a student or an adult that I always look them in the eye. This may require me squatting down with my younger students but I feel it is important. Additionally, I want the person that I am speaking with to know that I am listening and care about what they are saying. I also try to respond back to emails/phone calls in a timely manner. I also try to keep in mind the saying of treating others as you would have them treat you. I share this saying often during the school year.
    I also agreed with the section of the book where it says we need to leave our problems in our car. This is difficult as an adult to always accomplish and yet we expect our students to do this at their young immature ages. I read somewhere, when I myself was going through some very difficult situations in my life, that it is important to start the day being thankful for 3-4 things no matter how insignificant those things may be in order to have a better outlook on life. I share with my students that we all have things go wrong in our lives! I think this makes me more connected with my students. Believe me I do sometimes get upset and have to refocus. Many of my students have very difficult lives at such young ages and I want their time with me to be as positive as it can be so that is why I tell them often that yesterday is over today is a new one so let’s try to do our best!.

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    1. Your idea to begin each day being grateful for a few things puts the focus on the positive regardless of what else is going on. Believing that every day is a new day can be crucial to moving forward.

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  10. I have always felt like the little things matter the most, no matter the situation. I know that I truly appreciate any little thing someone does for me, so I do my best to reciprocate to my students, colleagues, and friends/family. Here are some ideas of the little things that I do with/for my students:

    -I stand at the door and greet them each morning. I smile and tell them good morning, just so they know I care.
    -On their birthdays, they receive a special card and classroom coupon from me.
    -I give a lot of positive praise for a job well done. I think that a "pat on the back" is sometimes more motivating than a reward.
    -I send hand-written thank you notes for classroom donations and gifts. I have also done this for parent/teacher conferences.
    -I have lunch with students in the classroom.
    -I make special treats for a surprise.
    -I send positives notes home and praise students in my newsletters.
    -I attend the sporting events at school, to support my student athletes.
    -I visit with the students at recess, even if they are not in my class!

    As for the adults, the list is not as long...

    -I bake special treats for our grade level meetings.
    -I have participated in social events for teachers that I am not necessarily "friends" with.
    -I want to implement a staff shout-out board in our teacher's lounge! I think it would be a great positive motivation.

    I would love to hear more ideas of how you do things for colleagues!

    Doubt: to me this is a four-letter word! No one wants to feel it or hear it, but it exists in our lives. It is hard to overcome, but I strive to do my best to keep feelings of doubt out of my mind. One thing that I always tell my students (today, in fact) is to be the best you can be, for your ability. We had a classroom meeting today and we talked about a fresh start with the new nine weeks, and that means trying to be the best. Not everyone is a straight A student, but I told them that I want them to be the best they can be! Make goals for areas to improve! I tell myself these same things all of the time. It is very difficult for me, because I am a Type A, OCD, perfectionist person! I want to be perfect and right all of the time, but that is not life. I have to remind myself that no one is perfect and we all have our moments. I have had doubts about my professional aspirations a lot the past 2 years, but I keep telling myself that it will get better and to do they best I can for myself and my students. If you make it a mantra, then maybe you can squash those doubtful thoughts!

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  11. I talk to my students about things that have nothing to do with school to connect to them emotionally. I am also a high school football coach, so I tell them to come say hi to me while I am coaching. It is important to connect to students outside the school setting to show that that I am, too, a real person. I use their "lingo" so they know I am invested in what matters to them. Just today I threw the football around after practice with some of my sixth graders.

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    1. I love to hear "MRS. RUSHER!!!!!" while in the mall, or outside the school events. My friends and family just laugh when they hear my name sometimes screamed/with excitement. (like teachers do not exist outside of school) Everywhere I go, someone from the past will reconnect with me. It is great to "remember" the good times. Those times when you throw the football after school will be the times they remember! Way to connect for a lifetime!

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    2. I too love to hear my name when I am outside of school. It puts a smile on my face and the student's love that you recognize them outside of school. One of my most favorite teachers passed away at 105, and every time she saw me, she knew who I was and made me feel special. YOU are making great memories for your kids. You are showing them they are important, even if it is just throwing a football together.

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  12. I talk to my students about things that have nothing to do with school to connect to them emotionally. I am also a high school football coach, so I tell them to come say hi to me while I am coaching. It is important to connect to students outside the school setting to show that that I am, too, a real person. I use their "lingo" so they know I am invested in what matters to them. Just today I threw the football around after practice with some of my sixth graders.

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    1. I absolutely love this! We have a coach in our high school that spends time with my 2 sons that are in 5th and 6th grade...this means the world to them! Keep it up! You are making a difference!

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  13. This section resonates as innovation and success is difficult to occur if the climate and culture doesn't have a solid, positive foundation. Being in a school in which you enjoy to enter rather than dread to enter is important; for kids and adults.

    Affirmation, Recognition, Trust, Empowerment, Feedback, Care, Choice, Voice. These are just a few acts that we can do toward students, colleagues, and parents to show we care. The golden rule: Do unto others as you would want done onto you. Spread this out beyond your classroom doors. I do not do these things.... yet... but I follow a principal on Twitter who seems to do some amazing things @BethHouf. First of all, she shares these positive things to others. She has positive office referrals. She plays music as students enter the building. She "showcases" teachers and students daily on Twitter with great things happening. She "Celebrates Monday" with positive shout outs to colleagues. Teachers greet students with high fives every morning. And, yes, they do hallway karaoke. Imagine being in a school with all this positivity and what experiences and learning can occur.

    We must choose to "leave our problems in our car. Take a deep breath and focus on the positive." (doc 811) Naturally we can stay hidden in our room from bell to bell in hopes the day ends soon. OR. We can decide to do something about it. We can be the game changer that is needed to turn things around. Instead of waiting for someone to come to us for a compliment or affirmation that we are doing great things; be the one who does this. Rather than wait for an invite to feel included and part of a family; be the inviter. Rather than join in on the negative discussions; be the one to turn it around to a new subject or to inquire about the rest of the story.

    Your input for game changing acts of making a difference in the climate of a building will be read and appreciated. Thank you for sharing:)

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    1. "Being in a school in which you enjoy to enter rather than dread to enter is important; for kids and adults." I know I am a rare one, but I love going to work everyday and being at school. I dread summer breaks... not because I don't like having time off, but I enjoy being around my students, helping them become better people and learners.

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    2. Sandra, I appreciated your post- I must love my work also, because it is my favorite topic of conversation, and last summer, after about 2 weeks of break, I realized that I was spending much time in my office, developing plans and looking for online activities for students- "relaxing" gets a little boring for me:)

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  14. FYI: I gave Twitter another try. Haven't figured it all out yet, but I tweeted something about Ch. 8 this week. I was so excited that the author of the book "Liked" and "Retweeted" my post. Wow! That boosted my confidence a little! :)

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  15. I stand outside my room each morning to greet not only my students but past students as well. It always makes me feel warm and fuzzy when past students want to give me hugs and say good morning...especially when they are big bad 5th graders. I say good morning to many students even if I haven't had them in class. I think it's also important to acknowledge adults.

    We also have a Back to School night before school begins. Parents and students are welcome to come into classrooms, unpack their supplies, and meet the teacher. We also provide a small snack. It's a great way to calm some nerves before the first day.

    There are times I feel doubt or stuck in a routine. During those times, I plan a fun day with the students for us to reconnect and enjoy being at school. This not only helps me, but it also helps my students.

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    1. I love to stand in the hall and greet the kiddos!

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    2. It's great to greet to past students. I get so excited to see students that are in middle school, come back for school events with their younger siblings!

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  16. I love to leave little notes on my fellow teachers' desks. I don't even say who they're from! I just want to give a smile!
    I have a great support group to talk to when I doubt! It happens when you are dealing with some of the details of our students' lives. It's hard to not let that in. You put a smile on, love them but later you can't help but really think about some of the details. Some of our students have seen more in their littles lives then what we have.
    My besties wipe the tears and build me back up!

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    1. I completely agree! The kids I teach have so much baggage that it undoubtedly affects them. I makes me sad and so angry sometimes when I learn things about their past or current situation. But the only thing I can do is support them by showing them I truly care about not only their education, but their well being. We all need that support group of fellow teachers to help us when we are dealing with student issues!

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    2. I like the idea of leaving an anonymous note. I'm going to have to steal this idea when I return to work!

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  17. I love to do bus duty or crossing duty. I get to greet the students each morning, and usually wish them a good day. Lots of students comment back and thank me for wishing them a good day or tell me to have a good day too. I think it is necessary to greet students you don't know as well, so that they know someone notices them. I'll even say hi to students as I'm walking down the hallway.
    I also like to greet my students when they enter my classroom. I'll ask them how their day is going, or how was the weekend.
    At the beginning of the school year, we'll do a getting to know you activity. Many students don't know that much about each other so not only do I learn about every student, but their classmate may learn something new. This gives them something else to identify with that person, maybe even help them make a new friend.

    I have my doubts sometimes about teaching... mostly in the ASL area. I am having to create my own curriculum and I struggle with feelings that I may not be doing a good job. I love hearing from students who have graduated and may have continued on in college with ASL, and hear they have tested out of classes. This makes me feel good and I know I am on the right track.

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    1. What a great idea to do morning duty! Most teachers seem to despise duty, but it is a great way to interact with all students. We have a morning walk time at our school, so we take turns each week and supervise the gym.

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    2. We have parking lot duty at our high school. I love morning duty the best. Greeting the sleepy heads and living it up with the morning people.I even prefer the winter time. How pretty the sunrise can be. I great way to share God's love through nature too. Almost forgot how connected I can be at 7:30 am!

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  18. I've been guilty in the past of letting my doubts in my ability as a teacher get in the way of my potential. As a newer teacher, everyday is filled with doubts. Am I teaching this in the best way possible? Am I grading this too hard/too easily? Am I getting enough accomplished? Am I spending enough time with my family or am I taking too much home with me? Unfortunately until I read the chapter about how to improve those feelings of doubt, I didn't truly realize the importance of surrounding yourself with other educators who can give me a sense of the fact that I'm doing just fine. I need to make it my goal to "find my people" who will be willing to talk me through these doubts. Being a teacher is such important and meaningful work, so it's probably a good thing to question what we are doing from time to time, but to feel unsupported is another story. It's one of the reasons why so many teachers leave the profession, and I don't want lack of support from other educators to affect me in a similar way.

    Like others have written, I also stand in the hallway outside of my room welcoming my students as well as those I have had in the past and chatting with them. This helps to build rapport with my current students and with the students who just need a friendly face to tell them hello. Beyond that basic part of my everyday interaction with students, I also attempt to recognize those who have improved their performance and/or participation in my English 9 class. I do this by giving them special treats in front of the class. Sometimes it might be a coupon for a free meal at a restaurant and sometimes it is a small piece of candy. I like to think that most of the "reward" is being acknowledged in front of their peers as being an exceptional student.

    I have a long way to go to be more cognizant of recognizing my peers and students to make them feel like they matter. Reading these chapters opened my eyes to that as well as my need to better surround myself with other educators who will support me in the extracurriculars I sponsor and just in general with the everyday doubts that inevitably ensue while teaching.

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    1. Hi Mary! It's so important to surround yourself with other educators, even outside of your department, when you are first starting out. I have learned so much from the people I teach with, even just at lunch while discussing issues. Sometimes it takes a teacher outside of the situation to see something you don't see and help you with the issue. I teach English 9 as well, by the way! :)

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  19. The little things...ultimately I think it about each person you meet feeling "seen" and "known" by you...in all walks of life. Lots of great ideas in the previous posts, I will focus on how our school built each other up (staff/parents)
    -sunshine baskets, personalized notes, celebration boards in the hallways, public recognition, M&M deliveries on tough days, secret encouragers, "fun" committee, breakfast fellowship monthly, sharing produce from our garden or homemade goodies, stop to talk or pray with a coworker even when you have a million things to do.

    As far as doubts, we all have them. I just read a book about parenting called LOVING THE LITTLE YEARS and the author's intro made me think of teaching. "Sometimes all we really need is a fresh perspective on our circumstances. We need someone to open a window and let a fresh breeze blow into the room that we didn't realize had gotten so stuffy."

    Let's be that fresh breeze for someone else today.

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    1. Yes, agree with you about doubts. We just need reminded/encouraged to be that "fresh breeze" for our students. It is so important!

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    2. oh how I love your last paragraph! A little stuffy indeed! I love fresh air!

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  20. My favorite three chapters so far. I think it is common to struggle with doubt, I know I sure do. I have a great team of teachers that help keep it in perspective. That helps a bunch!! I have the opportunity to give positive feedback to the students every day. I am able to converse with each for just a few moments to let them know how they performed each day and often we talk about things other than school. This is such a great way to connect with the students and to let them know that I am interested in them and they are important to me. One way I recognize the students is by putting their names on the wall in our LIFE room (exercise room). When students reach a specific distance on the cardio equipment their names are posted on the wall and remain there for the quarter. We need to lead by example and we need to teach our kiddo's to offer help, encourage others, think about others, and teach them to be kind. By doing this, students and teachers, is how we can change our schools and our world. Positive words and good deeds are powerful and infectious.

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  22. I always try to praise my students as much as possible. Maybe saying something to them in a little conversation or writing them a note on their homework/project. Also, with going to 1:1 I like to send them messages on Schoology giving them praise or if someone is out sick checking in on them. Honestly, this book has pointed out to me that I shouldn't just be doing things for the students but for my coworkers around me. I'll have to scroll through the comments and see what ideas I can find!
    When I have feelings of doubt at work I, like the book, find my people. The ones who not only get it, but who will lift me up. It's hard sometimes teaching middle school and dealing with those kids! Surrounding myself with people who are doing great things and serving as great role models and people to bounce things off of or vent to really helps!

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    1. I like the idea of sending things on a LMS, in order to bond with the students!

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  23. Im thinking I just deleted my comment...oops!! I will try again! Connecting with people is fun for me! I love to talk and get to know people. I think with my circumstances and what I have been through I find myself holding back from fully connecting as well as I could be in the school. I need to definitely work on this. I let doubts creep in and put up walls as Im sure others do as well. I have been able to connect with some adults in the school and connecting with them definitely does give me a boost. I have a meeting all day Friday at our Career Center and was approached by a fellow teacher this morning telling me she was going as well...we found strength in knowing we can go in confidently together and support each other... It feels good to not do things alone.

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    1. It does take time to get to know people. It is easy to put up our walls and just do our jobs, but that gets lonely and makes work not very enjoyable. Sounds like if you enjoy getting to know people, it won't take you long to have a connections with many others.

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  24. It really is the little things that help to build a relationship. As the only Latin teacher in my building, I keep many of my students from year to year, having some of them for their entire high school career. Even with kids I know well, it still takes some deliberate attention on my part to foster the relationship and promote a safe learning environment. One thing I do at the beginning of their junior year is to write in Latin a short description of each student...leads our JROTC battalion, plays an instrument, runs quickly in track contests, traveled to Costa Rica over the summer, loves to read, etc. Kids work together to find the descriptions of themselves. They love the personalized aspect of that and it's also a good conversation starter.

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    1. This is such a great idea! Love it. Unfortunately I get them for a semester or two as a Freshman or Sophomore, and then they move on. Sometimes when I see them as a Senior,I have lost any connection. A few stick with me but usually only after I have found a deeper connection between us. That out going student is a given memory, but the quieter ones not as much. Need to work on that. Thanks for the reminder!

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  25. One of the most powerful things I did as a teacher was to send home positive, hand written notes to students. Out of everything I ever did, this was the act that parents seemed to be most appreciative of.

    I try to carry this over into my current role. I believe that if you notice something good, say it out loud. So, every once in awhile, I take the time to leave a hand written note in a teacher or admin's mailbox.

    I feel doubt in my role often, and I think we all do. We are all in a constant time crunch, and that can make you feel as though you aren't doing enough. Luckily, I have built positive relationships with so many educators both in my district and outside of it. When I have moments of doubt, I find my people and ask for advice. I know these people will give me an honest answer to my question and will help to provide me with some perspective. I also reach out to coaches I've met via Twitter or other coaches in my area to work through some of the doubt that comes with a coach specific role.

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    1. I have really enjoyed Twitter to assist me as well. I really enjoy seeing another's unbiased point of view.

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  26. I have found that the little things do matter most. I have given students inspirational cards with my message written inside. We also sometimes will celebrate a time period and I have students teach other students what it is we are studying like a dance move from the 1920's. I also will bring classes donuts when they accomplish something. I do believe rpthe little things are what matters. If I am feeling doubt I will talk to a fellow teacher about what they would do.

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  27. Every summer I send each student a postcard. I've talked a little already about how I have a different student each day be a "special helper". I also make sure that each student gets a positive note sent home each week. When I catch someone displaying one of the 7 pillars of character, their name moved under that trait and they get to wear a superhero cape for the day. We then talk to the class about the superhero choice he/she made. I try my best to praise students when I notice good character and/or hard work. Sometimes I will give them a sticker or maybe even a small piece of candy like a gummy bear. I don't want my students to rely on material awards though so praise is often used. I also try to give students time and since I have 24 preschool students in my class that's not always easy. I will get down on the floor and play with them and have conversations with them during their lunch/snack time.
    I think listening to my coworkers,letting them vent, and sharing stories, is the best way I can let adults know that they matter. I work with several wonderful ladies that help make my day very enjoyable. We know we can depend on each other and if I'm having a rough day, I know they will be their to listen and most likely help me turn my mood around by making me laugh. We share ideas, stories about the students, and things that may be going on in our lives.

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  28. I'm really struggling with this topic. I don't feel like I do enough, but yet I also doubt how I could possibly do anymore! Each month I have students sign a white board with their birthday on it and then I give them a 'gift' of a free homework pass. They seem to appreciate it. Although I admit, it may be given a few days after their birthday. I attend games and other extra curricular activities. I really do enjoy seeing the students outside the classroom doing something they are passionate about. I can usually talk to them about inside the classroom then.
    I'd like to see our staff more supportive of each other, I don't think it's that we don't want to. We each just have our own methods and comfortability.
    I honestly admit that I have lots of doubts for this year. I've had a lot of personal life changes and was very nervous approaching this year. It has been much better than I expected. I think doubt sometimes holds us back from being better because we don't believe in ourselves enough to overcome it. I know the chapter was SHORT about 'leaving it in your car' was powerful. "Kids deserve our best. Everyday". What a great reminder. I'd really like to be less doubting of myself and have more confidence in what I'm doing. I was told by someone that, "you'll never be a good teacher until you've been doing it for 5 years" its stuck on me. I need to stop that thinking-I've been teaching for 4 years now and need to convince myself that just because I'm *new* I still have a lot to contribute to my content, students, and staff.

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    1. Amanda...I have been teaching over 30 years and as I look back my first years were some of my best years! Whoever told you that you have to be teaching for 5 years to be a good teacher is crazy!!! Anyone who loves what they do and that gives 110% to their job can be a great their first year! Yes, there are a lot of things that young teachers can contribute to others in the school. Hope your 4th year of teaching is awesome.

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  29. When I have feelings of doubt, I just go talk to other teachers/counselors in the building to build my self-confidence back up. It helps me realize it is okay to try something new and it not work for all of my classes.
    During the year I like to bake and bring in treats for the students to have after school or for a reward in my class. The students get so excited when they find out I brought in treats/food. Students that I do not have in class find out and will come find me because they have heard how awesome my food tastes. They will remind when it is has been awhile since I made a certain cookie and I should probably make more. I have started making healthy snacks and have started sharing recipes with wrestlers on how they can lose weight. It is a joy to talk about baking with the students and share recipes with them. Even my coworkers love my food and it puts a smile on everyone's face when they see me walking with a food container.

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    1. Ahmmmmm... maybe it hasn't made its way down to my end of the hallway. I'll be waiting. *L*

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  30. Meeting with colleagues before and after school to chat can be a great way to deal with doubt. Sometimes you just need someone to listen to your idea. If you are open to suggestions, a colleague might be able to give you feedback and guidance. You might be surprised how far you can take your ideas. I liked the suggestion in the book about having the principal ride the school bus. I believe that my students would love to see their principal in the mornings. The bus drivers would feel valued and the kids would enjoy seeing an administrator outside of their office. The principal could have normal conversations with kids who would be more likely to share personal information.

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  31. I really enjoyed reading these chapters and felt many of the quotes and topics could be applied to your everyday life outside of school as well. It's about being the best version of yourself every day and all day. I try very hard to do this, so much that I feel really bad about things I say or some of my actions when I am not my very best self. To promote positivity in my classroom I will write hand written notes at least once a week to one or more of my students. These notes will be based upon something awesome they did in the classroom or around the school. I try to uplift my colleagues with a positive attitude, but as we know somedays that is hard to find. I feel the doubt just as everyone else does, but I always try to remember that a new day will soon be around and it has to get better. I feel time also helps heal the doubt I sometimes feel as well.

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  32. These three chapters have been my favorite of the book so far! There are so many wonderful ideas to use and all of them were so positive. I love rewarding and praising positive behavior at all age levels. I think is very meaningful to the student, and it shows the other kids what to strive for. In my class, I have "caught being good" plastic tokens that I give out at random times. At the end of each month, the kids can "buy" something special - lunch in the classroom, extra recess, etc. I also have a whole class positive reward system, in which the kids can earn things such as class parties. I'm going to definitely focus more on communicating with parents regarding their child's good behavior - notes sent home and phone calls. As a parent, I would LOVE this!

    The chapter regarding "little things" really resonated with me. It's the little things that my son's teacher does that he gets so excited about. In kindergarten, he was always getting prizes from the prize box for good behavior. One day, the teacher singled him out and said that he always did such a great job that he deserved something special. She looked around the room and found a small (about 4 inches tall) plastic bust of Abraham Lincoln and she presented it to him like a trophy. He is now in 2nd grade, and Abe still sits on his bookshelf. It was a huge deal to him and made him feel so special.

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  33. As early in the school year as possible, I learn all of my students' names. I feel like this shows them that they are important to me. I also try to use examples based on activities the students are involved in. I learn the sports teams they like and then try to talk about big games that have happened. Right now there are a few of us who are huge Cubs fans so we celebrate . . . or commiserate . . . after the game the night before. I go to the high school football and basketball games and see my students. I try to go to the events after school like sporting events, musicals and band/choir programs. For adults I try to give out cards every now and then. Sometimes I back banana bread and bring it in. Other times I'll bring in bagels. I try to email parents when their children do good things too.

    As for doubt, I talk through my insecurities with people I trust. If a parent is harsh and makes me question myself, I step back and evaluate what really happened. Was it justified? Are the rest of the students doing well? Many times I get a cue from my students. I can sense when they are drowning and I need to revamp. I can also see when ideas are sinking in. This gives me hope and helps me keep moving on. I believe in public education and I believe in teachers. I pick a student who needs help and encouragement and then concentrate on that person. By doing this, I know I am making a difference.

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  34. One of the ways I show my students that they matter is through their music performances. I try to add extra little things (props, movements, a little silliness) to make it more fun for them. I think even the most reluctant musicians in my class feel my love for them and know that I want to make them look great. For my older students, I try to always let them know the ultimate goal for the lesson & that I hope they take it with them onto junior high (band or choir). For my younger students, I always include a little silliness & fun in their lessons. I know how much they enjoy it. They also earn free time (game or fun song) at the end of class for a job well done.

    As for the staff, I think that simply complimenting a colleague for a job well done speaks volumes as to how much they matter. I think there are many teachers that feel very unappreciated for all the hard work and long hours put in. A simple think I like to do is to put a sweet something or short note in a mailbox just to say thank you for being awesome!

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    1. I like your idea of a short note in the mailbox. I agree, we too often do not tell each other "good job." A kind word or note could make someone's day.

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  35. Since I teach middle school, I often reflect back on my behaviors and actions at that age....they weren't stellar. I have always been very social, quick to make friends, and loved sports and people. Page 62, "Notice the Loners" has been a personal mission of mine since teaching middle school. As a middle school student, I hate to think how many opportunities I missed of getting to know amazing individuals just because they didn't have my interests or seemed "different" than me. Fortunately, this has motivated me as an adult to be more aware of those individuals..."walking down the hall with their head held low so they don't have to look anyone in the eyes". These are such great kids who just need to be given an opportunity to be noticed. These are my favorite kids to build relationships with!
    As for doubts, it usually comes when I'm driving home (25 minute drive to decompress:). I replay the day, and usually remember a student that I seemed to dismiss or not give enough attention to. Usually, it's because I was trying to get something done or talking with another student. Many times, I make sure to notice that student the next day. Doubt....too many students, so little time:)

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    1. I have a 45 minute drive to decompress...and I do the same as you, always thinking of the student that I know I didn't "get to". It is hard to get to know some of the students that "walk down the hall with their head held low"...but once you find something that that student is passionate about and engage them...then their heads (maybe just for an instance) will give you an eye to eye look. I have several students that are so quiet in class, but if I talk to them when others aren't around, they shine like bright stars. I have even noticed when certain students are absent, they will volunteer more in class.

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  36. I have a student who struggles with having a good week, and this difficulty is an "every week" battle. She wants to argue with her teachers and fight with her peers. She is improving a great deal, especially in comparison to last year- but I still spend a couple periods daily, taking her to a class to minimize opportunity for occurrences. When she has a great week, with no call-outs for behavior- she gets to come to my room, eat lunch, listen to music or watch a video, and last week, she invited a friend. Because of previous negative encounters with her peers, this student does not have many friends, and she is now trying to develop friendships, one by one. She had extended an invitation to a couple of students for lunch in my room, but no one wanted to accept her invitation, so it is great to see that she has a starting point-

    I try to be available to teachers who might need assistance with a program, or may need help with some area of the job- I recently assisted another teacher who felt confused by some of the paperwork that she had to fill out-
    However, I am also a teacher who often needs assistance in procedures and paperwork, and this is when I go to other teachers, especially one in particular- he is a good support person when I am in doubt of my decisions, and I appreciate his help a great deal.....you know, it just occurred to me that I should probably tell him!

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  37. Sometimes I forget that the little things we do for students make an impact on their daily lives. A few years ago, I had a student that never had a pencil, so I bought him a pack of pencils. He questioned why I would do that…I just asked him: “Why not? You will have pencils for classes now.” Just last week, I overheard a student tell another student that she needed to get a new pencil because her eraser was used up…so I gave her a pencil and told her just to keep it…she was very appreciative but couldn’t believe that I would give her a pencil to keep! I had a male student that was always hungry, so I had bought some granola bars that I really didn’t like, so I slipped them into his locker. To this day, he thinks it was a girl that he liked had given them to him. I love doing little surprises for my students and the teachers I work with. I put surprises on/in lockers, send notes in the mail, and put things in/on teachers’ mailboxes/desks. I don’t want any special recognition, I just like to see people smile and wonder who gave them a surprise and why. One year, I wrote a month long poem for one of our teachers. She was having a rough time, so every week, I would give her a line of the poem. I don’t think she ever knew who had written it but I know she looked forward to receiving the lines every week.
    My high school students love to get stickers when they do well. They display these on their folders or workbooks. It is amazing how a small sticker can make somebody’s day. I recently had a student that got a B on a quiz…which was good for him and he asked if he could get a sticker for doing better…so I found him a special sticker…he is a Junior and that sticker made his day! It’s the small things that I can easily do to make my students feel like they are special people.

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    1. Something as small as a pencil can make a big difference to the child who has lost or ran through their supply for the year and the parent can not or will not buy more. Keep doing what you do Sandy! My high school students LOVE stickers too!

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  38. I try to do little things for my Book Club members to let them know they are important and matter to our group. When we have book discussions or spend time talking about what we are reading, it seems it was always the same kids doing all the talking. I specifically will ask a student what they are reading and ask them if they want to share it with the group. If they say no, that’s okay, but usually I find if they are directly invited to share, they are happy to take part in the discussion. I think some kids just have trouble coming out of their shell without a little suggestion.

    I am also part of a team at my school called PRIDE. Our goals are to make everyone, students, staff and faculty feel special and to recognize them for the small things they do. In a couple of weeks, it will be American Education Week and that is a big one for us. We all get together and make a daily treat to put in every teacher/staff mailbox and we have daily theme dress up days. The treats seem to let everyone know we appreciate everything they do and everyone loves the dress up days because they get to wear jeans if they participate!

    The students PRIDE program consists of coupons that every adult in the school has. They can give a student a card for doing something nice, helping out in class, volunteering with a fundraiser, etc. The student places their card in a drawing box and each week we select students to either go to lunch five minutes early with a friend or park in the front parking space in the student lot for the whole week. The students like to be recognized for the small stuff too and it gives the kids who aren’t usually in the spotlight a chance to shine.

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  39. I try to several things to make my students feel important. I have a star student bulletin board. Every student that gets at least 90% on a test gets their name on a star and it goes up on the board for the entire length of the class. I also use a rising star program. When I observe a student going above and beyond in class either in their answers on paper, or in class during the discussion time, I give them a red star. At the end of the grading period, the top two students with the most stars gets a special prize. This last grading period it was $5 Target gift cards. I also make it a point to seek out students who may be struggling socially, and make sure that they know that I care about them, and that they have a safe place in my room if they need it. As for dealing with doubt as a teacher, it is really hard. I feel more and more that parents hold teachers responsible for the poor grades or behavior of students. It gets to be discouraging, having to respond to parents complaints while knowing that their students put very little effort into the class and that is why their grade is so low. I have tried to make several teacher friends both in my school and in other school districts. Comparing notes with them on how I am handling students helps me get a grasp on what is working and what is not. Also, it is nice to run across parents who are clearly on your side. Still, it is hard to stay encouraged in the current climate of education.

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  40. When I taught 7/8 grade EH, my principal said to me, "show them that you care before you try to teach them." This is something that I try to continue to do today as an Administrator of an Preschool. I learn all the names of the preschoolers in my program so that I can address them by name as we walk into the building from the bus. I try to get into classrooms on a weekly basis just to play (on the floor) with students. Another thing that I feel is important is to talk to parents about their child. I do this by attending case conference and just talking about something their child and I may have done while I am playing with them in the classroom or on the playground.

    As for me, when I have doubt, I have a good friend that I call on just for a word of encouragement.

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  41. Before moving to the U.S. I lived in a big city where everyone lives fast, and the common thing is to be unnoticed by others. Now I live in a town smaller than my neighborhood in Spain, people know who I am, and that “feels good”. I try to make those around me feel that way, that is why, even if I don’t know the student, I try to make eye contact with them in the hallway and smile. It is amazing how a simple smile from a random teacher makes some of these kids lighten up.

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  42. I will flat out tell my students I care. I feel a lot of my students do not hear “I care” from very many adults in their lives. This statement is short, but can be powerful and impactful.
    When reading the section on wiping down the tables, I thought of a recent conversation I had with a student. My students were working on typing journals and were sitting away from the tables in the reading areas and on the floor about the room. After making my rounds a couple times, I realized I needed to just let them be for a few. While they were working, I took out some wipes and starting wiping down the tables. I got a few weird looks, but one student asked me what happened – why was I wiping down tables – don’t we have custodians that do that? I told the student that it needed to be done. I wish I would have read this section and came back with something about everyone working as a team in building.
    When I am doubting myself, I seek out the positive colleagues in my building. I am lucky enough to have two great influences on my team and several more in my hallway. I have also started connecting with other educators through Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I really enjoy the articles and webinars recommended by others. I love this site: http://www.thecompellededucator.com/search?updated-min=2016-01-01T00:00:00-06:00&updated-max=2017-01-01T00:00:00-06:00&max-results=50

    She has a lot of inspiration articles and ideas especially for the end of the year. Last year, Jennifer participated in a twitter campaign, #lastbell, to encourage teachers to remain strong through May all the way to the last bell. Below is the link for that page:
    http://www.thecompellededucator.com/2016_05_01_archive.html

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  43. One of the little things I do for staff is I am in charge of the extra soda fund money. And occasionally make sure to bring in donuts or another special snack or treat for the staff just to remind them that there are important. With students I've done little things like I'll make sure we have microwaves in the lunch room for them to microwave Lunches. I also put up inspirational signs in the girls bathroom

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  44. There are lots of little things that add up to a lot to let students know that they matter. For example, when I tell little stories about my favorite things or how my day is going, students feel free to do the same. Foreign language learning lends itself to talking about oneself, and whatever I can do to personalize what we’re working on, I try to do. Students have told me that I am a good listener. I try to have a short chat with different individuals every day, looking maybe for things in common or noticing something about them. They notice I am interested in their lives. At the beginning of the year students fill out cards that tell me about their likes and dislikes. I have the same students coming back year after year in my small school, so we get to know each other fairly well.
    I also have participated in programs such as Natural Helpers, which helps build up that support network. There are times I have bought little presents for every student in my upper level classes for Christmas when I was travelling in Mexico, and times when I have picked out a special poem for each individual for when we do our poetry unit. (Took forever, but very worth it!) Any time I can make what we’re doing in class connect with students personally, I try to do so. I am very human and honest with my students, and that helps them to do the same towards me. I often tell students how I love my job. I am glad to see them. I am excited about the day. Even if they’re not so excited about the topic, it spreads a little sunshine.


    It is hard for me to connect with other staff, since I am often in my cave all day, but I make the effort when I can to notice things about others in the copy room, and ask how their day is going. I greet people in the hall in a friendly way every day. I try to sit with different people at faculty meetings. I have been making a special effort to our custodial staff to greet them when I see them and chat and make jokes with them. We have so many great people on our team!


    When I have feelings of doubt, I think of the individuals that make it all worthwhile.

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  45. When I was in middle school I remember being very shy and awkward. I often try to reach out to those students who may get lost in the crowd. Learning their names, getting to know something about them to get them involved in conversation seem to go a long way for those type of students. Many times just simply asking them how they are doing you can sense their appreciation. I am also the advisor for our school newspaper. Our paper will not win any awards, but I often take a lot of those students who are quiet and looking for a place to fit in. I try to help install confidence in these students so they feel successful and that they have a place to "belong."

    As for doubts, I have plenty of those. However, I have many teachers that I can go to for help or just get perspective on things. I have a couple of teachers who teach next door to me who are young and newer to teaching. They may help me with technology but I try to be a good support system for them for whatever they may be struggling with. Being a good listener not only helps them but often provides perspective for me as well.

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  46. To make students feel like they matter often times I will ask them what sport they would like to learn/work on next. By getting their input I am letting them know that I respect them and also value their opinions. I enjoy actively engaging my class in conversation about sports on a professional level and especially reach out to the kids that are not your typical “PE loving kids”. Many times the kids have really great off the wall suggestions like a game that they have made up and play with family or friends. I feel like that I they leave class having expended energy the whole time and sweating and out of breath then I have done my job as PE teacher for that day! In health class, after working on a unit I ask them what type of project they would like to do to show what they have learned. Involving them in the decision making gets kids more fired up about what they are learning. As far as colleagues feeling like they matter I really enjoy telling them when I think they have done a good job in the classroom or as a coach. Or when I see a teacher come out with a new idea I always compliment if I am aware of it. When I have feelings of doubt I always sleep on my ideas and reevaluate what my main goal is. If I do not feel like the idea will produce the desired outcome, I move on to something that will.

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  48. Since I’m in the library, I strive to show everyone in my schools that they important to me and I am there for them. I talked in last week’s post about connecting with the students so this week I will address my teachers. Every year, on the first day of school, I speak at our teacher’s meetings. I tell the teachers that my job is to make their job easier and then I spend the rest of the year doing just that. I offer small comforts, such as a morning coffee club in the library and a “chocolate drawer” - candy available only for teachers, and large comforts, such as a place to come discuss new teaching ideas or to vent about students, fellow teachers, administrators.... My teachers know that I am here to listen and offer suggestions and I provide a SAFE place for them to open up and talk.

    I also do LOTS of little things for my teachers. For example, last year, I found http://www.beenbooed.com/ and modified the flyer for my use. I collected 5 sets of “goodies” and copied flyers to include, then waited until after hours to put them on 5 random teacher’s desks - all without my name connected - for the next week, it was great fun to see how the “I’ve Been BOOED” signs started showing up all over the building. The teachers talked about it in the lounge and I never let on that I started the whole thing:)

    I try to offer fun, unintrusive activities for my teachers. Things that will allow them a little brightness in the day without interfering with their teaching time. In the week before Christmas break, I send out daily trivia questions via a Google Form. These take just a few minutes to answer and teachers with correct answers get their names placed in a drawing for prizes awarded the day we leave for Christmas break. None of the prizes are big, but the daily trivia emails are the highlight of the very chaotic week before break.

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  49. I try to do little things for my students, because I know that they matter most. I bring in treats on random days (crunch bars for "crunch time" before finals), I try to always keep track of my students' birthdays and have the class sing to them on their special day. Like I said last week, I try to get to know my students outside of school and do little things for them that way. For example, eat in restaurants they work at, shop where they work, go to their plays/games/concerts, ask them to babysit for my boys, etc. I think that sometimes can mean the most to them...just showing them that you're willing to give up some of your time for them. Above all, I think a smile and a hello can make the biggest difference. Kids just want to know that you care! Adults are the same way! I try to say hello to anyone I see in the halls, bring in treats every once in a while, and send quick emails to just say hi and "good job"! Sometimes I think we get too caught up in doing something "big" when all we really need to do is smile, say hello, and just show students/adults that we care. I know that matters most to me!

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  50. I feel the biggest thing we can do to let students and staff know they matter is to take time with them. As an administrator I need for my staff and students to know I am here for them. I had an administrator tell me, while I was taking my classes,to never let a student or staff member see you look at the clock. For that reason, I have no clock in my office. I never want a student, parent, teacher, fellow administrator, or anyone else to feel like I am more concerned about the time than I am about the concerns, or joys, they may have. While it does drive some teachers nuts when they are in my office, I do believe they appreciate it.

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  51. I bring in snacks for the staff on certain days. I also am out in the hallway to wish the students a happy day. I make sure the students know I care about them. I send out positive notes and make positive calls home to make each student feel important.

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  52. I think the little things can make a student feel like they matter. I always try to stand in the hallway and greet my students as they walk in the room, and I always tell them to have a great day as the leave. I think even those small gestures can make a student feel like they matter and are important to you. I also send out announcement and e-mail updates about the class to students and parents. I think an open line of communication makes students feel important and in charge of their education. Many students will message me with homework or class questions, and I always respond quickly to let them know I value their questions. They are important and deserve to feel that way!

    For my fellow co-workers, I enjoy making them feel important too. I am involved in the social committee and help plan activities to keep the staff morale positive. I always organize a Secret Santa gift exchange for the staff which makes everyone feel special and loved around the holidays. I also help my fellow department members by always being a supportive listener and advocate for them and their classrooms. I believe all teachers should have opportunities to feel proud about their job and understood for the hard word they put in!

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  53. I think the little things can make a student feel like they matter. I always try to stand in the hallway and greet my students as they walk in the room, and I always tell them to have a great day as the leave. I think even those small gestures can make a student feel like they matter and are important to you. I also send out announcement and e-mail updates about the class to students and parents. I think an open line of communication makes students feel important and in charge of their education. Many students will message me with homework or class questions, and I always respond quickly to let them know I value their questions. They are important and deserve to feel that way!

    For my fellow co-workers, I enjoy making them feel important too. I am involved in the social committee and help plan activities to keep the staff morale positive. I always organize a Secret Santa gift exchange for the staff which makes everyone feel special and loved around the holidays. I also help my fellow department members by always being a supportive listener and advocate for them and their classrooms. I believe all teachers should have opportunities to feel proud about their job and understood for the hard word they put in!

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  54. I think that paying attention to kids and their feelings is the first step in making them feel that they matter. If I notice that one of my kids looks sad or upset, I acknowledge that I notice and let them know I am willing to listen if they want to talk. I also try to learn all of their names as quickly as possible and make sure that I pronounce them correctly. Those are just a few things that I do to help my students feel like they matter.
    When I have feelings of doubt, I like to talk them out with fellow educators that I trust. Having a close colleague to talk to makes dealing with disappointment and doubt much easier!

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  55. I always make it a point to attend my students' extra-curricular activities which can vary from athletics to concerts to theatre performances. Showing them that I will take time out of my schedule to see them perform hopefully shows them that I think they matter. As far as the adults in the building go, my focus is more on the needs of my students.

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  56. I like to think that I do a lot of things for my students to make them feel like they matter. They may not think of them as much, but I know that I did as a student: attending extra-curricular activities, sending positive notes home (either through the mail or via Class Dojo), posting pictures on Class Dojo of them presenting projects in class, listening to their stories, giving them a high-five for a job well done, being honest with them (which they don't always like), standing in the hallway and saying hello to them (even if I don't have them in class), eating lunch with them, or liking their Instagram pictures.

    For the adults in our building, I may send them an e-mail for a successful choir or band performance (for example), write them a "Drop in the Bucket" (A note system our principal developed. We write a positive note and put it in a bucket in our team room. At a staff meeting, our principal will read some of them in front of everyone and draw some at random for a gift card. They all get posted in our mail room for all to read.), or I may get them a special little treat (depending on the occasion).

    When I am feeling down or have feelings of doubt, I usually turn to my other staff members. If they are feeling the same way, then we know that there is something in our school culture that we need to work together to change. If it's just a funk that I'm in personally, they will try to help me figure out what it is that they can do to help me break out of it. We are all quite supportive of one another and look out for one another quite well in that way.

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