The Hardest Kind of Teacher – #WiseWordsWednesday

The Hardest Kind of Teacher

“Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterward.” – Oscar Wilde

Have you ever heard smoke alarms go off in vacation condos?

If you’ve ever heard a vacation condo smoke alarm, you know it is a very displeasing sound, as alarms should be.

For two years in a row now I have had the displeasure of hearing the exact same vacation condo smoke alarm blaring for all the world to hear. It wouldn’t be so bad except that when the smoke alarm goes off in our condo unit it goes off in all four of the condo units. 

Now I know you’re asking yourself, “What lesson does this experience teach us?”

Well, there are a few simple life lesson reminders ringing in these alarms.

1. If you ring the alarm too many times, people will ignore your cries for help. It goes along with the proverbial, “Don’t cry wolf.” Our alarm went off so many times last summer that all of the men hanging out telling fish stories on the deck totally ignored the blaring beeps because they didn’t think there was a problem, when in fact, there was a pot boiling over inside as I attending to a bike cycle accident booboo outside.

During our most recent vacation, I set the alarm off repeatedly trying to make a breakfast casserole, no one came running to our aid because they believed there was no fire. They were right; there was no fire, but what if there had been?

The experience lesson here is: If you know an alarm is faulty be prepared to not have anyone come to your aid.

2. The alarms in the other condo units are just as touchy as the one in our room. Unfortunately, this does not stop my panic reaction when I hear the smoke alarm sound. I am always ready to jump up and rescue whomever is in danger. This is stressful because I haven’t had to rescue anyone but went through the adrenaline and fear of needing to save someone with each and every siren sound.

This life lesson is very similar to #1: If you know someone else has a faulty alarm, be weary of always rushing to their aid. It may not always be a fire you can put out or even need to attempt to squelch. It may just be another hot mess looking for someone to rescue them from their insecurities or poor choices.

Let the lessons of touchy fire alarms and emotional appeals allow us to make positive choices as we determine how we use our energy. Don’t go pushing that panic button if panic isn’t needed and you don’t have to suit up and charge in every time someone signals for help. Make the most of your intents and use your energy in real emergencies.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Always know where the emergency exits are. Just in case…

 

Quarantine: What Teachers Are Expecting from Parents

COVID Parent Expectations

As our nation faces another week of stay-at-home orders, mandated and self-quarantines, and growing fears for time lost from work or school, I recently had someone ask me, “What do you, as an educator, think about trying to keep school going at home?”

Well, I can’t speak for ALL educators, but here is what I know and believe.

First of all, we miss the kids. We miss the classroom. We miss being able to teach, interact, hug, listen to, and learn from our students.

The greatest hope we have for our students is that they are safe, secure, and still learning on some level.

While most parents don’t have degrees in classroom management or educational psychology, the majority understand what it means to be a kid. Maintaining awareness for their innocence and young minds needs to be in the forefront of our thoughts as we interact with them.

With regards to lesson plans, please just do your best. Try to provide opportunities for kids to make connections between what they normally would be learning in school and what they are getting at home. While there aren’t SmartBoards, extensive libraries, and gymnasiums in our homes, there are still plenty of ways to encourage our kids to keep learning. Some families don’t have computers or internet access. There are still ways to engage children in reading, math, science, and physical activity. Parents, allow yourselves to learn news ways to communicate positively with your children and let them know that change is hard, but we can make it easier together.

To those who say, “It’s not my job to teach. I’m not making my kids do homework,” teachers view all children as their own. When you refuse to put effort into helping your own child learn, you are refusing to help everyone. Please don’t take that from them or us. We all deserve to have knowledge and understanding as this pandemic impacts our lives. You are that child’s parent, and, therefore, you are their first teacher. Join us in the work we do to ensure bright futures open to continued growth and knowledge.

Finally, please remember teachers are people too. We have fears, anxiety, and questions that can’t be answered. We are doing our best to share as much information and as many opportunities as possible with your kids, while caring for/teaching/raising/coping with our own families. Please don’t let our efforts be something that is also lost during this time of crisis.

Again, I can’t speak for all teacher, but this is what I believe most would say. Be safe. Stay healthy. Read, write, experiment, exercise, love, and learn.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Parents, it’s okay to put yourself in detention if you need a time out, but don’t punish your kid if new Math is confusing. Teachers had to learn it too.

P.P.S. Parents, it’s also okay to give yourself an apple or a chocolate bar when you’ve done a good job of helping get through those workbook pages.

P.P.P.S. Teacher friends, thank you for stretching yourselves and adapting to these crazy conditions. You’ve all earned A’s in my book.

Sue Gelven, will you have lunch with me? – Sincerely, Intentergy

Dear Sue,

15 years ago I began teaching at Linn High School, and so frequently was my teaching style compared to yours, that I was scared to tell others what I was doing in the classroom for fear of failing the very high expectations set by your example.

Sue Gelven 1

Sue just hanging out in Egypt.

As time has gone by, I have had the honor of not only getting to meet you but to teach some of your grandchildren and to enjoy the stories of your travels via your fabulous Facebook posts. I have watched you bounce back from the loss of your amazing husband and become a Renaissance woman with your hunting and handy-woman skills. (You use a chain saw!)

 

Sue, I would love to have a lunch with you because I believe you have some seriously powerful messages to share.

What is it that inspires you to choose the destinations of your trips? What do you remember or miss most from teaching? What lesson did you hope ALL of your students would learn from your classes? What do you hope to teach those you encounter today? Where do you get the ammunition for all the rodents you exterminate? What is your next handy-woman project?Have you written a book? Are you going to write a book? Coffee or tea?

These are just a few of the things I would love to speak about with you. My goal with Intentergy is to bring positive purpose to the day, and I know you will be a wonderful resource for me to tap into and charge some ideas for inspiration and ingenuity.

So, it is with extreme trepidation and excitement that I ask, Sue Gelven, will you please have lunch with me?

Sincerely,

Melanie A. Peters

Sue Gelven 3

Lara and Sue

P.S. Sue’s beautiful daughter (and my friend) Lara graciously let me use her photos for this post. Thank you, Lara!

 

 

“Safe” Words – Wise Words Wednesday

Safe Words

“You need a ‘safe’ word for when someone is doing things or saying something that hurts your heart,” – Kim Borgmeyer

As all parents do, some friends of mine and I were discussing school and the upcoming school year. Some were concerned about the amount of “just kidding” that the kids were doing and how uncertain we were that most would consider their jibes or insults as “jokes.” In addition there were some comments made about when teachers “joke” and the words do not come across as “funny” to the students.

My friend Kim suggested that each classroom have a “safe” word. A word that any student could use to the teacher or other students to signify that what was being said or done was hurtful to them. It could be anything from “rotten apples” to “pink giraffe,” but whatever the word was it would always show that the other’s behavior was not okay.

I thought, “Man, that’s brilliant.” Using a “safe” word is a terrific way to signify the impact of the moment and keep everyone aware of the power of their words and actions.

Of course everyone would need to understand that the “safe” word should only be used in real instances of bullying or disrespect. It should not be a word or phrase to be used lightly or in joking situations and everyone would have to abide by the understanding that it really was a “safe” way to say, “Hey, that’s not okay.”

This reminded me of a time when I gave a nickname to a student. All of my yearbook students had nicknames. It was our tradition. The nickname given to this particular young man was awarded completely out of comradery and friendly ribbing but, as things sometimes do, the nickname evolved to become something that was negative in my student’s life. It was not until after the spring awards banquet that I learned he thought the nickname meant I didn’t think he was smart.

Continue reading ““Safe” Words – Wise Words Wednesday”

So What Are You Reading?… (Read this even if you don’t like to read.)

Western reading

Will Schwalbe is one of my writing heroes.

Will Schwalbe 3

Will Schwalbe & me

Will has written: SEND: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do it Better (2010), The End Of Your Life Book Club (2012), Books for Living (2016). He does a terrific job of making connections with his readers because of his writing style and powerful messages.

It is Will’s practice to ask everyone he meets, “What are you reading?”

This question never fails to elicit amazing responses or conversations from those who are asked. Even if the person being asked isn’t a big reader, there are always books or stories from the past that seem to create connections for those in the conversation.

Recently our family took a trip to a state park. During a few of my MANY trips trips to our cabin, I noticed a gentleman reading outside his lodging. After the second day, I stopped and asked him, “What are you reading?”

“Oh,” he said, “nothing that would probably interest you.” 

I said, “Try me.”

He was reading a Western novel by William Johnstone.

As an avid reader, former bookstore employee, and proud possessor of a soft spot for Westerns, I began to list off some of the series and books that I happened to know were written by William Johnstone. He was tickled by my knowledge and appreciation for the genre. Continue reading “So What Are You Reading?… (Read this even if you don’t like to read.)”

Don’t Knock Jokes – Funny Friday

Don't Knock Jokes

Teaching the art of joke-telling is a healthy and happy way to develop communication skills.

Every week I share a joke with the 1st and 2nd graders at our school library.  The students keep a journal of the jokes and their answers. I also always invite the students to share jokes of their own.

The 2nd grade teacher recently thanked me for getting the kids excited about reading, in particular for their excitement about reading joke and riddle books. She said, “They just can’t get enough jokes or joke books. It’s fun to see them laugh and try to tell the jokes.” It is great to see my silly habit of sharing jokes is contagious.

When kids tell jokes, they are able to laugh at themselves and their message. Too often kids are hounded with seriousness. If we can use humor to educate and provide experience, we can inspire happier learners.

I have given speeches and had opportunities to be a public speaker for most of my life. When I started public speaking in 5th or 6th grade, I learned that the best trick for breaking the ice was to tell a joke first.

  • If you can tell a joke, and tell it well, you can speak to anyone.
  • If you can identify where to add inflection or pauses, you can communicate a message.
  • If you can identify where to add inflection or pauses, AND make your audience laugh when you want them to, you can communicate anything.

Continue reading “Don’t Knock Jokes – Funny Friday”

Thoughts on Fear – Thoughtful Thursday

Thoughts on Fear

I am always impressed by the way some individuals are able to encapsulate the emotions that are shared by literally millions. The sadness that has invaded our lives and hearts in recent weeks has largely been caused by fear.

The following are posts or lyrics of others that I have found quite profound. Hopefully their words will eliminate any insecurities that you may have about isolation and separation because of the fear that has invaded your thoughts and emotions.

Kelly Sanders Smith, a friend and fellow teacher, shared this thought on Facebook and opened my eyes to a sad reality about what the generations after mine sadly consider as common place.

Fear Post 1


Cami Walker, my friend and author of 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life, recently shared this post on www.29gifts.org. I love how she is taking tragedy and turning into a positive challenge of love.  Continue reading “Thoughts on Fear – Thoughtful Thursday”