Friday, July 14, 2017

Highest Good Education

One Community is developing an open source and free-shared all-ages Highest Good education® program we call The Education for Life Program. This page is the overview of this program and includes links to all the major open source components. This page is organized like all our other open source portals and includes the following sections:

“Beliefs” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of diversity of beliefs (cultural, spiritual/religious, etc.)
“Caring and Kindness” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of caring and kindness
“Civilization” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of culture and civilization
“Cognition” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of cognition and learning
“Communication” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of communication
“Community” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of community
“Consciousness” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of thought/no-thought awareness
“Consensus and Decision Making” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of consensus and decision making
“Contribution” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of contribution
“Cooperation and Collaboration” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of cooperation and collaboration
“Cosmos” Lesson Plan: Structure, order, systems, organization, management, government
“Courage” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of courage
“Creativity” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of ideas, images, stereotypes, etc.
“Diversity” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subject in the context of diversity
“Dreams” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of both night-dreams and ambition
“Energy” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of the different types of energy
“Emotional States” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of emotional states
“Fall” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of the season of Fall
“Form” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of outside/our outer world
“Freedom” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of freedom
“Fulfilled Living” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of fulfilled living
“Happiness” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of happiness
“Harmony” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of harmony
“Highest Good” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of highest good
“Honesty and Integrity” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of honesty and integrity
“Human Body” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of our bodies
“Humility” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of humility
“Individuality” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of singleness and autonomy
“Information” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of information
“Love” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of love
“Matter and Materials” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of matter and materials
“Movement and Development” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of movement (physical activities (traveling, sports), mental activities (thinking), progress, direction, leadership, perspectives, experience)
“Nature” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of nature
“Open Source” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of open source sharing and collaboration
“Opposites” Lesson Plan: Day/night, light/dark, sensual (intuitive)/rational (logical), empirical/theoretical, male/female, life/death, good/evil
“Outer Space” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of everything outside of earth
“Personal Growth” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of personal growth
“Planet Earth” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of our shared planet
“Play” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of play
“Quality and Quantity” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of quality and quantity
“Reality” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of reality (idealism, subjectivity, and imagination)
“Recreation and Relaxation” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of recreation and relaxation
“Relative and Dimensional Space” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of relative and dimensional space
“Sharing” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of sharing
“Signs and Symbols” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of semiotics, symbolism, languages, etc.
“Social Relationships” Lesson Plan: Teaching within the relationship contexts of family, friends, business, etc.
“Spring” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of the season of Spring
“Summer” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of the season of Summer
“Sustainability” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of Sustainability
“Time” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of time
“Winter” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of the season of Winter
“Work” Lesson Plan: Teaching all subjects in the context of work and working

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Teaching as Leadership

Set big goals

Know exactly what success looks like

Set big goals

Students make dramatic academic progress when, from the very beginning, teachers develop a clear, ambitious vision of success. Highly effective teachers know exactly where they want their students to be by the end of the year and realize that a bold (and some might say crazy) vision of student success can actually drive student achievement.

Related reading

Develop a desire for academic success

Invest students & their families

Many highly successful teachers (and experts) boil the idea of student investment down to two factors: the students belief that they are able to achieve at high levels alongside their desire to do so. Or, stated more simply:
Student investment= "I can" x "I want"
For any endeavor, consciously or not, students are asking themselves "Can I do this?" and "Do I want to do this?". Your responsibility is to be sure that every student answers yes to both  questions. Here are three key elements of doing so:

Create a welcoming

Create a safe, welcoming environment (I-5) that fosters self-worth, compassion, shared responsibility and academic achievement.

How to get from there to here

Plan purposefully

Before taking any action, strong leaders ‐ be they in a board room, an operating room, or a classroom ‐ define the ultimate result they want, make clear how they will know they have succeeded and only then choose and design strategies to that end.
Think of purposeful planning ‐ for any type of plan, large or small ‐ as comprised of these three sequential principles:


First, develop a clear vision of success from which you can "plan backwards"
Develop a clear vision by setting big goals (B-1)


Now ask yourself, "How will I know that my students have reached that vision"?


With the vision and assessment in place, you are now ready to design your plan.
How to differentiate your plans (P-4) to fit your students

Every action matters - the large and the small

Execute effectively

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Effective execution happens in the details of our everyday work. It means we follow through on our actions, big and small, so that we are not just doing what we intend to do but are actually having the effect we intend to have. For strong teachers, effective execution means ensuring that everything we do contributes to the goal of student learning.
We see three general characteristics exhibited by strong teachers as they implement plans:

Do well what must
be done

Teachers must develop knowledge and skills that enable them to be effective executors: communication skills. management skills, pedagogical content knowledge, understanding of the community's cultural norms, etc.

    Insist on seeing reality

    Do students get it?
    Are they engaged?
    Are they meeting behavioral expectations?

    Adjust course as
    circumstances change

    What adjustments, if any, do
    you need to make to ensure that students achieve your vision of success?
    w this process for all types of plans, including:

    Saturday, June 24, 2017

    25 Simple Ways To Develop A Growth Mindset

    by Saga Briggs, InformED

    What if your true learning potential was unknown, even unknowable, at best?

    What if it were impossible to foresee what you could accomplish with a few years of passion, toil, and training? According to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, this isn’t some hypothetical situation, dependent on any manner of factors from genes to environment. It’s a mindset. And it’s one you can cultivate at any point in life.

    A “growth mindset,” as Dweck calls it, is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a tendency to believe that you can grow. In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (affiliate), she explains that while a “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, a growth mindset thrives on challenge and sees failure “not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.”

    The consequences of believing that intelligence and personality can be developed rather than being immutably engrained traits, Dweck found in her two decades of research with both children and adults, are remarkable. She writes:

    “Believing that your qualities are carved in stone creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character, well then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.”

    The fixed mindset can negatively impact all aspects of your life, Dweck says.

    “I’ve seen so many people with this one consuming goal of proving themselves in [a learning setting], in their careers, and in their relationships. Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?”

    But when you start viewing things as mutable, the situation gives way to the bigger picture.
    “This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments, everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”

    This is important because it can actually change what you strive for and what you see as success. By changing the definition, significance, and impact of failure, you change the deepest meaning of effort. In this mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development.

    So how does this apply to learning and what can we do to help instill this attitude in our students?

    How Can A Growth Mindset Help You Learn?

    In a study of hundreds of students, mostly adolescents, Dweck and her colleagues found something startling: students with a fixed mindset will reject learning if it means not failing.

    Students were given fairly challenging problems from a nonverbal IQ test, then praised for their performance. Some students were told, “Wow, you got [X many] right. That’s a really good score. You must be smart at this,” while others were told, “Wow, you got [X many] right. That’s a really good score. You must have worked really hard.” In other words, some were praised for ability and others for effort.

    Dweck writes: “The ability praise pushed students right into the fixed mindset, and they showed all the signs of it, too: When we gave them a choice, they rejected a challenging new task that they could learn from. They didn’t want to do anything that could expose their flaws and call into question their talent.”

    On the other hand, when students were praised for effort, 90 percent of them wanted the challenging new task that they could learn from.

    Even more alarming, when Dweck and her colleagues gave the students a subsequent set of harder problems, on which the students didn’t do so well, the ability-praised kids thought they weren’t so smart or gifted after all.

    “If success had meant they were intelligent, then less-than-success meant they were deficient.”
    For the effort-praised kids, the difficulty was simply an indication that they had to put in more effort, not a sign of failure or a reflection of their poor intellect.

    The most unsettling finding came after the IQ questions were completed, when the researchers asked the kids to write private letters to their peers relaying the experience. Students were asked to disclose their scores as well. One byproduct of the fixed mindset turned out to be dishonesty: Forty percent of the ability-praised kids lied about their scores, inflating them to look more successful.

    “In the fixed mindset, imperfections are shameful, especially if you’re talented, so they lied them away. What’s so alarming is that we took ordinary children and made them into liars, simply by telling them they were smart.”

    Perhaps Dweck’s most telling research explores how these mindsets are formed, and how early on in life. In one seminal study, Dweck and her colleagues offered four-year-olds a choice: They could either redo an easy jigsaw puzzle or try a harder one. Children who exhibited a fixed mentality stayed on the safe side, choosing the easier puzzles that would affirm their existing ability. Children with a growth mentality thought it an odd choice to begin with, perplexed why anyone would want to do the same puzzle over and over if they weren’t learning anything new. In other words, the fixed-mindset kids wanted to make sure they succeeded in order to seem smart, whereas the growth-mindset ones wanted to stretch themselves, for their definition of success was about becoming smarter.

    Things got even more interesting when Dweck brought people into the Columbia University’s brain-wave lab to study how their brains behaved as they answered difficult questions and received feedback. What she found was that those with a fixed mindset were only interested in hearing feedback that reflected directly on their present ability, but tuned out information that could help them learn and improve.

    They even showed no interest in hearing the right answer when they had gotten a question wrong, because they had already filed it away in the failure category. Those with a growth mindset, on the other hand, were keenly attentive to information that could help them expand their existing knowledge and skill, regardless of whether they’d gotten the question right or wrong. In other words, their priority was learning, not the binary trap of success and failure.

    These findings are especially important to formal education and instruction, as they shed light on how we, as a culture, understand learning ability.

    “When you enter a mindset, you enter a new world. In one world, effort is a bad thing. It, like failure, means you’re not smart or talented. If you were, you wouldn’t need effort. In the other world, effort is what makes you smart or talented.”
    What’s so valuable about the latter world is that it’s marked by a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval. People with a growth mindset have a voracious appetite for learning, constantly seeking out the kind of input that they can metabolize into learning and constructive action. And this is extremely significant news for students and teachers.

    “Not only are people with this mindset not discouraged by failure, but they don’t actually see themselves as failing in those situations–they see themselves as learning.”

    Could that concept be any more powerful and inspiring?

    25 Simple Ways To Develop A Growth Mindset

    1. Acknowledge and embrace imperfections.

    Hiding from your weaknesses means you’ll never overcome them.

    2. View challenges as opportunities.

    Having a growth mindset means relishing opportunities for self-improvement.

    3. Try different learning tactics.
    There’s no one-size-fits-all model for learning. What works for one person may not work for you.

    4. Follow the research on brain plasticity.

    The brain isn’t fixed; the mind shouldn’t be either.

    5. Replace the word “failing” with the word “learning.”

    When you make a mistake or fall short of a goal, you haven’t failed; you’ve learned.

    6. Stop seeking approval.

    When you prioritize approval over learning, you sacrifice your own potential for growth.

    7. Value the process over the end result.

    Intelligent people enjoy the learning process, and don’t mind when it continues beyond an expected time frame.

    8. Cultivate a sense of purpose.

    Dweck’s research also showed that students with a growth mindset had a greater sense of purpose. Keep the big picture in mind.

    9. Celebrate growth with others.

    If you truly appreciate growth, you’ll want to share your progress with others.

    10. Emphasize growth over speed.

    Learning fast isn’t the same as learning well, and learning well sometimes requires allowing time for mistakes.

    11. Reward actions, not traits.

    Tell students when they’re doing something smart, not just being smart.

    12. Redefine “genius.”

    The myth’s been busted: genius requires hard work, not talent alone.

    13. Portray criticism as positive.

    You don’t have to used that hackneyed term, “constructive criticism,” but you do have to believe in the concept.

    14. Disassociate improvement from failure.

    Stop assuming that “room for improvement” translates into failure.

    15. Provide regular opportunities for reflection.

    Let students reflect on their learning at least once a day.

    16. Place effort before talent.

    Hard work should always be rewarded before inherent skill.

    17. Highlight the relationship between learning and “brain training.”

    The brain is like a muscle that needs to be worked out, just like the body.

    18. Cultivate grit.

    Students with that extra bit of determination will be more likely to seek approval from themselves rather than others.

    19. Abandon the image.

    “Naturally smart” sounds just about as believable as “spontaneous generation.” You won’t achieve the image if you’re not ready for the work.

    20. Use the word “yet.”

    Dweck says “not yet” has become one of her favorite phrases. Whenever you see students struggling with a task, just tell them they haven’t mastered it yet.

    21. Learn from other people’s mistakes.

    It’s not always wise to compare yourself to others, but it is important to realize that humans share the same weaknesses.

    22. Make a new goal for every goal accomplished.

    You’ll never be done learning. Just because your midterm exam is over doesn’t mean you should stop being interested in a subject. Growth-minded people know how to constantly create new goals to keep themselves stimulated.

    23. Take risks in the company of others.

    Stop trying to save face all the time and just let yourself goof up now and then. It will make it easier to take risks in the future.

    24. Think realistically about time and effort.

    It takes time to learn. Don’t expect to master every topic under the sun in one sitting.

    25. Take ownership over your attitude.

    Once you develop a growth mindset, own it. Acknowledge yourself as someone who possesses a growth mentality and be proud to let it guide you throughout your educational career.


    Tuesday, May 23, 2017

    Five Competencies Needed for Tri-Sector Athletes in Education

    by Noel Scott Anderson

    Since coining the term “Tri-Sector Athletes in Education”, I have received requests to “make plain” the skills and competencies needed to make the transformation in education. Tri-sector Athletes in Education are leaders who are able to leverage multiple sector partnerships to make significant change in educational institutions, communities and the lives of young people. So I tend to switch between the term “athlete” and “leader” since I see them as the same.

    Now, in the past I tended to avoid reducing leadership qualities to a “Top #” list, fearing that it will come across as too glib or anti-intellectual. But that was my own insecurity, my own concern that I would not be taken seriously in the academy I ultimately wanted to transform. As I learned over these years, if you can’t reduce complex ideas into simple language, you run the risk of losing the very audience you hope to influence.

    I argue that in education, context and mission are everything to leadership, that environments bring out leadership qualities in students, teachers, professors, community activists, executive directors of social enterprise organizations and college presidents, to name a few. It is only in the opportunity to lead do we really know what we are made of as leaders. The challenges we face pull on both latent as well as recognized skills.

    Over the years, in the work of tri-sector leadership in education, five (5) competencies stand out: 1) Leading by Influence, 2) Patience, 3) Cultural Competency, 4) Vision and Strategy and 5) Working With and Through Others
    1. Leading by Influence: Leading by influence is the ability to compel others to act by modeling leadership that is aspirational, inspirational and appeals to an individual’s desire to see and effect change. It’s leading by example with a catalytic function. For example, I have witnessed an executive director at a large, national non-profit organization engaged in multi-sector partnerships dedicate time and resources to develop clear career pathways for her frontline staff (front line or entry level positions in youth serving organizations tend to be rife with burnout and turnover because of under-investment and are disproportionately held by young professionals of color) and inspire other executive directors in other organizations in the network to do the same. There was no mandate or grant to do this, simply the desire and ethical action of one passionate executive director who became a catalyst for others. The result had a cascading effect where partner organizations began to mutually see the importance of developing front-line staff and eventually saw less turnover and greater outcomes for young people.
    2. Patience: Tri-sector leadership in education requires the discipline of patience. I stress patience as a discipline and not a virtue. Most partnerships with multiple sectors require a longer time horizons and experience cycles of challenges and triumph. Leaders must not only develop patience, but also educate others to what are realistic priorities and goals with long-term collaborations. Funders want results, of course, given the terms of investment. However, leaders have the power to set the pace and benchmarks for their organization. Setting realistic goals of what is achievable is about having a clear time frame for what is possible, and leaders can set the tone.
    3. Cultural Competency: Understanding the culture and historical context of the communities and people you are serving is vitally important to tri-sector leadership. I have witnessed time and again leaders engage mostly poor and working class communities of color with assumptions about what is “good” for the community or with tremendous hubris about what money can do. These relationships tend to not end well. A tri-sector leader in education needs to understand the cultural context, language, racial/ethnic history and value proposition of the communities s/he wishes to engage, and dedicate time to relationship building to sustain that engagement. As whites shift into the minority and communities of color become the majority across the United States in the next decade, leading with cultural competency is an imperative.
    4. Vision and Strategy: Developing a vision and strategy for tri-sector work is essential. Leaders from multiple sectors engaged in a collective impact initiative, for instance, tend to develop a shared vision. However, it is equally important for a leader to create and articulate a vision and strategy that will educate and serve as a guide for the work of others. I always require leaders on my teams to develop a vision and strategy document (usually in the form of a PowerPoint deck) for their respective department or role. This becomes a compass for our collective work and a reference point if we encounter competing priorities, which often occurs in tri-sector partnerships.
    5. Working With and Through Others: Tri-sector leaders in education must work with and through others. This notion moves beyond just simple management into deep collaboration with teams and organizations, and is premised on the idea that expertise is not concentrated in one person or one organization. Many of the tri-sector leaders in education who are engaged in collective impact work share that they spend most of their time identifying and leveraging the network and skills within the organizations with which they collaborate.
    The work of Tri-Sector Athletes (Leaders) in Education requires that we pull on the 5 competencies above. Each is attainable and each can make a difference in the lives of others.


    Sunday, May 7, 2017

    Create a Tidal Wave of Kindness in Schools

    By  Elizabeth Mulvahil

    “Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” —Scott Adams
    October is National Bullying Prevention Month. But what if, instead of focusing on anti-bullying, we focused on kindness? We all know the profound influence our everyday actions and attitudes can have on our students. When you toss a pebble into a pond, the ripples spread from the point of impact to the very edges of the whole. With that in mind, what if we made a vow to create as many “ripples” of kindness as we can to create a tidal wave in our schools and in our lives by simply focusing on acts of kindness?
    Here are 49 ideas to help you get started:
    1. Acknowledge each student with a greeting as they enter your room. Let them see how happy you are to see them.
    2. Stop at the coffee shop on your way to school and surprise your teammates with their favorite beverage.
    3. If you jack up the copier, don’t leave it that way!
    4. Give your students five minutes to just visit with one another.
    5. Resist temptation to “borrow” the unlabeled Diet Coke in the staff refrigerator.
    6. Compliment another teacher’s class as they walk through the hall quietly.
    7. Slow down!
    8. Thank your administrators for setting a positive tone in the building.
    9. Keep eye rolling to a minimum during your professional development meeting.
    10. Leave anonymous chocolate kisses in the staff mailboxes.
    11. Eat lunch with your team and take a break from “work talk.”
    12. Make eye contact.
    13. Pick up your kids from Art a few minutes early and admire their work.
    14. Pick up your kids from PE a few minutes early and join in the game.
    15. Pick up your kids from Music a few minutes early and enjoy their performance.
    16. Share an awesome read-aloud with another teacher, better yet- lend them the book.
    17. Forward funny teacher cartoons to the staff.
    18. Laugh at your students’ jokes.
    19. Put up inspirational or humorous posters in the staff bathrooms.
    20. Compliment your students like crazy for their awesome ideas, incredible word choice, stupendous mathematical skills, etc, etc.
    21. Offer to take a stressed-out teacher’s after school duty.
    22. Email a “happy note” home to one of your more difficult student’s families.
    23. Have your students decorate and sign a thank you poster for the front office staff/cafeteria staff/custodial staff.
    24. Put up a mailbox for students to deposit “kindness reports” about their classmates.
    25. Replace the paper in the copier before it runs out.
    26. Tell your parent volunteers what lifesavers they are.
    27. Acknowledge publicly every kindness you witness in your classroom.
    28. Smile!
    29. Invite the guest teacher to join you for lunch.
    30. Post students’ work everywhere!
    31. Ask a veteran teacher to share their wisdom with you about something that’s been baffling you.
    32. Stay with your class during library time and help them pick out great books.
    33. Straighten up the mess someone else left in the teacher workroom.
    34. Compliment another teacher in front of his class.
    35. Repeat it one more time (yes, even if it’s the fifth time!).
    36. Listen to the librarian’s read-aloud and tell her what a great storyteller she is.
    37. Eat hot lunch every once in awhile and tell the cafeteria workers how delicious the food is.
    38. Take time to listen to your students’ stories.
    39. Help another teacher change his bulletin board.
    40. If a positive thought about someone crosses your mind, take the time to share it with them!
    41. Raffle off a free homework pass.
    42. Call a few parents after school just to tell them something wonderful their child did that day.
    43. Share a sweet moment from your day with a colleague.
    44. Give your grouchy voice the day off.
    45. Ask a newbie teacher for advice.
    46. Sit with someone different at the staff meeting.
    47. Make a big deal about extraordinary effort in class.
    48. Help another teacher carry a heavy load to their car.
    49. Ask your students questions about their time away from school.
    What acts of kindness would you add to the list?
    49 Ways to Spread Kindness in Your School


    By Stacy Tornio

    This is the fourth in the “Community Service Ideas” articles sponsored by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

    It doesn’t matter what grade you teach, students are never too young (or too old) to volunteer or help out. As we head into the holiday season, here are some ideas to try with your students to teach them compassion and kindness.

    1. Do a 10-day “thankful” challenge.
    This is how it works: Every day for 10 days, you write down something that you’re thankful for. Every student in your class can have his or her own poster. Then they can glue on a new item each day. Their families will love it when they take it home for Thanksgiving.

    2. Solve problems with the St. Jude Math-A-Thon.
    This program helps improve students’ math skills in grades K–8 while providing the opportunity to help kids just like them.

    3. Write anonymous notes.
    Give everyone in your class an envelope or mailbox, then encourage students to write positive notes to one another without signing them. They will love the undercover aspect of it, trying to find times to deliver the notes when no one is looking.

    4. Team Up for St. Jude through Game Day.
    The St. Jude Game Day Program is a way for your school to raise funds during an athletic event (football, basketball, baseball and more) that is already taking place on your campus. All you do is add the “Team Up for St. Jude Spirited Game Day” program to your game. Score!

    5. Send “just because” letters.
    Everyone likes receiving mail. Have your students bring in a pre-addressed stamped envelope for someone special in their lives. They can create a card or letter, then drop it in the mail. This is guaranteed to make someone’s day.

    6. Mix it up at recess.
    Kids often play with the same schoolmates day after day. Encourage your students to play with at least two new kids (or they can sit with someone new at lunch). Chances are, they’ll make new friends and connections.

    7. Teach the art of the thank-you note.
    Thank-you notes are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Help your kids learn how to write a proper thank-you. It’s a skill they’ll use for years to come.

    8. Wear pajamas to school.

    This is one of the easiest items on the list. Designate a special “Pajama Day” in your school where everyone pays 50 cents or $1 to wear pajamas. Collect this money to donate to St. Jude.

    9. Hold a raffle at your special event.
    Chances are, you already have plenty of school events on the calendar. For instance, a school dance, party or concert. During one of these events, raffle off something special, like lunch with the principal. Have the money go to a worthwhile organization.

    10. Hold a PB&J drive.
    Food pantries are always asking for more peanut butter and jelly because it’s a good and easy source of protein for kids. Hold a Peanut Butter & Jelly Drive at your school, and offer incentives. For instance, if you bring in more peanut butter, the principal has to wear a silly costume. But if you bring in more jelly, the gym teacher has to instead.


    11. Organize a Trike-A-Thon event.

    Even the youngest St. Jude supporters can get involved when you hold a St. Jude Trike-A-Thon. This bike- and riding-toy-safety program teaches kids valuable safety lessons while they also learn how they can help others. The event will be one of your most popular events of the year and a great reason to invite parents to the school to watch their children show off their new riding skills.

    12. Put together a care package for a senior center.

    Connect with a local senior center and ask them if they have any current needs. Then send a note home with students asking them to bring in an item to help out. Once you have everything together, put it in a big box and fill it with cheerful notes from the kids. The seniors will love it.

    13. Clean up around your school or neighborhood. Encourage students to take pride in their surroundings. Put on some plastic gloves (kids will love this part) and go around picking up garbage to beautify the area.

    14. Donate books to your library.
    Hold a book drive with your students, then take them to either your school or local library. You could also donate to a local community center or shelter.

    15. Hold a “coat, hat and mitten” drive.

    You can’t underestimate the importance of kids having warm winter gear. While it’s standard for a lot of students, this is something that many kids can’t count on.

    Building Resilience in the Classroom

    by Samantha Cleaver

    This is the third blog in the three-blog series “Building Resilience in the Classroom.”

    We’ve all been there: After passing back the math quiz, a frustrated sigh and “I’ll never be able to do this!” comes from the corner of the room. And we’ve all met the student who’s so afraid of failure that he refuses to try anything new, whether that’s reading a more challenging book or doing a long-division problem that looks more difficult than the one he did yesterday. Then there are the kids who are rarely discouraged. They understand that even if today was tough, tomorrow is a new day.
    The difference between the kids who bounce back easily and those who can’t seem to recover from the frustration is resiliency.

    Resiliency comes from kids’ beliefs and attitudes about themselves and what happens to them. Fortunately, these internal factors—humor, inner direction, optimism and flexibility—are traits that we can build or strengthen.

    One thing we shouldn’t do is shield kids from everyday frustrations. They need to experience everyday failures and challenges. It’s the kids who never feel frustrated (or who experience excessive stress) who are vulnerable later.

    Here are three ways to develop student resiliency in a moment of frustration, and five ways to build resiliency in your classroom for the long run.

    In the Moment
    1. Keep perspective.
      To you, it’s a small thing (one quiz grade, missing a turn at the block center, presenting in front of the class), but to the student it’s a disaster. Keeping perspective isn’t about minimizing the problem or insisting that it could be worse: It’s about problem solving.What You Can Do:
      • Triage the situation: Help the child think about other quizzes that are coming up, the time he spent at the block center yesterday, or the way she prepared for the presentation, to show them that this is one event among many. Then, plan ways to tackle these stresses in the future.
    2. Capture the opportunity.
      We do kids a disservice when we step in too soon so they never experience making mistakes. (For example, when a parent corrects a child’s homework errors before he turns it in.) In fact, children learn more when we allow them to make mistakes. It’s all in how we teach them to handle it.What You Can Do:
      • Praise effort: What you praise shows what you value. So focus praise on kids’ effort or creativity. A huge mistake could show a lot of creativity and ingenuity, even if the outcome is a disaster.
    3. Cool down.
      Of course, the best time to teach cool-down strategies is before kids get upset, but in-the-moment is the time to get them to practice those strategies.What You Can Do:
      • Cool-down corner: Create a cool-down corner with heavy pillows and calming music with headphones, or books. Teach older kids to count to 10 while taking deep breaths or to distract themselves by reading or writing until they’ve calmed down.
    For the Long Term
    1. Create connection.
      Relationships are key to resiliency, and it’s not the number but the quality that counts. In addition to the emotional benefits, the best way to learn how to deal with minor stresses is to have it modeled by peers.What You Can Do:
      • Spin a web: Create a web that shows how the kids are all connected to one another. Then, use that web to figure out where and how you can build new connections.
      • Peer mentoring: Instead of doing show-and-tell or another presentation, pair kids up and have them teach one another something they know, share a book they read or explain a favorite hobby.
    2. Build competence.
      Every student is good at something. In particular, students may struggle when they don’t see the connection between their strengths transfer across situations—think of the student whose multiplication skills are strong, but he struggles to apply them to word problems.What You Can Do:
      • Compliment cards: Make it a habit to leave sticky notes with compliments on your students’ desks. Plan out a delivery schedule that will make it feel random to keep them pleasantly surprised. Even better, use those compliments to call out students for their strengths—during a social studies project, ask a curious child to create a list of questions about the Revolutionary War, for example.
    3. Give them options.
      Choices give kids power and self-determination, plus it lets them make choices and live with the consequences, however minor. Giving kids authentic (not false) choices doesn’t have to be complex—choices around how to complete an assignment are enough.What You Can Do:
      • Choice boards: Provide a list of choices that students can make with each assignment. For younger students, this could be a limited list of options (answering questions out of order, choosing to skim a passage before reading it). For older kids, this could be a discussion about different ways to approach a project.
      • Would You Rather? Playing “Would You Rather?” shows students how different people approach the same situation and takes them through the decision-making process. (Here is one list of WYR questions. This site has lots of WYR questions for older students.)
    4. Connect with characters.
      Books are a great jumping-off point for talking about resiliency. For example, Chester’s Way and Sheila Rae, the Brave by Kevin Henkes, novels like Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, and biographies provide a lot to talk about when it comes to resiliency.What You Can Do:
      • Focus on control: During discussion, focus on the choices the character made. This helps students understand that how we handle situations is within our control. And ask: What other choices could the character have made? And how would it have changed the outcome?
    5. Encourage constant progress.
      Setting and achieving goals builds the practice of self-monitoring and helps students see the results of their hard work. The trick isn’t in setting goals but in sticking with them.What You Can Do:
      • Stair steps: Have students set big goals, and identify a few steps along the way. Then, have students reflect after each step about what helped them get there and what they want to keep, or stop, doing.