Consequences versus Punishment

Consequences versus Punishment

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

This blog is based on the podcast “Consequences vs Punishment with High School Students” by Dr. Becky Bailey, the creator of Conscious Discipline.

Dr. Bailey begins the podcast by first defining the two words. Did you know that the word consequence has roots in Latin and French meaning “that which follows” or along the lines of growing out of an event or an effect. The legal definition of punishment is to afflict pain or a person losing something. As you can see, these two words are extremely different in definition, and yet are typically used interchangeably in education.

Through Conscious Discipline, students are taught that there are consequences for actions and to take responsibility for those ramifications rather than try to place blame and assign punishment for the behavior. This is a shift in mindset that we must make in education. In our role, we are always educating children. When we approach an issue from the standpoint of consequences so that the child understands this is the effect or the outcome of an event due to their actions rather than taking revenge on a child for disobeying, then child is able to take responsibility.

We should never give a child a punishment in school. The difference between punishment and consequences is the mindset that one views a situation. When a child is always afraid of the impending doom of a punishment then a child will not be able to learn in the classroom or change the problem behavior. Students (all people) go into a fight or flight brain mentality which inhibits the ability for them to learn from the situation.

Now that we know there is a significant difference between consequences and punishments, how do we implement consequences in the classroom? Let’s look at a systematic issue that I have seen in most buildings I have worked in so far.

Johnny decided to skip class one day. When he came to school the next day the principal called him into his office and gave him In School Suspension (ISS) for the day. Johnny goes to ISS and does not attend a single class all day. Let’s exam the consequence for Johnny, he did not want to go to the class he skipped and his consequence is to not got to class a second day… To me, Johnny was rewarded with not having to go to class again. This would be a scenario of a punishment rather than a consequence since it was not a natural event that grew from a situation. The punishment was removing social interaction and isolating the student.

A more appropriate consequence would be for Johnny to have to stay after school or come before school to make up the missed class time. The natural sequence of events would be that Johnny made a decision to skip his class time, and therefore has to make it up at a different time.

In the classroom we should look for naturally occurring consequences that come from a child’s decision. When a child chooses to not study for a test, the consequence is they get a low grade on the assessment. If it is a behavioral issue, such as a child acting out, we need to find out what the root cause for the behavior is and determine a natural consequence that matches the misbehavior. This is the whole purpose of Conscience Discipline, to be mindful of what the behavior is and why it has occurred. Once we understand why behavior has happened, then we need to show students that there are natural consequences for their decisions.

I want to make sure people understand, implementing consequences versus punishment does not mean that we as teachers turn our backs on bad behavior. Looking to use consequences in the classroom is working towards correcting the behavior and teaching the students long lasting changes. If a child is refusing to participate in the classroom activity simply sending them to the office for defiance will not result in any change. You will just get the satisfaction that the child got in trouble. Instead we should work to understand why the child is refusing to participate. Determining the why does not eliminate the need for a consequence, it just makes sure the consequence matches to behavior.

I am continuing my journey of understanding more about Conscious Discipline and look forward to helping my students socially and emotionally as well as academically. Here is the link for Conscious Discipline, give it a look and let me know what you think!


Happy Birthday to Me!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today I turn 31, and all of my students know it. Which is against everything I learned in college; keep your work and personal life completely separate.

Anyone who knows me understands that it is not just a birthday, it’s birthday-month. This was quite a shock for my husband during our first year of marriage. When December 1 rolled around I expected the celebrations to begin! I am –not– so happy report that he has gotten me to just celebrate birthday weekend. Now, for someone who loves birthdays so much it was really hard for me not to share this with my students. So I did exactly what my professors told me not to do and told all 150 students of mine that December 10th was my birthday!

I did not expect anything from my students, I just wanted to them to know how excited I was about my birthday. To my surprise, on my 23rd birthday at Southwest Junior High School I walked into my classroom to find chocolates, Diet Dr. Peppers, and flowers waiting for me on my desk. Throughout the day I had more students bring little treats to celebrate me. I was overcome with how amazing my students are. I never told them about my obsession with Diet Dr. Peppers, they just picked up on it (probably the 5 a day I drink helped them out a bit). The students were so well behaved that day and seemed to genuinely enjoy taking the attention off of themselves and looking to the needs of another.

Reflecting back over the years I think it was good for students to see a working, successful adult enjoy their birthday. It is good for students to see adults having fun in a safe and professional way. Last year I turned 30 and rocked a fun 30th birthday t-shirt to school. The students loved how much joy I had with my birthday, and I hope it serves as a reminder that it is okay to still be a kid from time to time.

From that point on I decided that maybe it was okay to let the students in on a little bit of my life. Maybe I did not have to completely shut them out of what life as Mrs. Haden was like. This new idea was confirmed for me 4 years later when I began having health problems. Instead of explaining to my students a little bit of what was going on I thought I should shelter them from it and keep my poker face on every day at work. That was, until the day I went into AFib during class. I collapsed, got hooked up to a defibrillator, and rushed to the hospital. When I returned to work I explained to the students what was going on and how they could best help me if it ever happens again. Fast forward two years and there I was again, convulsing on the floor and my students stepped up in a big way. They called the nurse, cleared the pathway from the door to where I was, propped my head up on a backpack, and held my hand while we waited for help. They did not leave my side until adults had arrived.

All of this to say, students step up when they are asked to in every way, not just academically. As educators, we do not just teach students the standards of our content, but we also teach students how to be decent humans. My students got to witness me showing up every day with a smile on my face ready for work with a positive attitude. They did not just have a teacher tell them to have perseverance, they got to see it first hand because they knew parts of my story. My students get to take the focus and attention off of themselves to celebrate another person for one day a year (or a month if it were up to me). We talk about this generation of student not being as empathetic, kind, compassionate, or respectful; well lets give them the opportunity to learn those attributes and practice them.

Whether or not you choose to tell your students when your birthday is or that you may be having a hard time is completely up to each person. I have always been an open and real person with my students. That is what works for me. What I am trying to say is it is okay to let students know you are just a normal person who has their ups and downs. But that you show up every day to work because you love them and want them to be as successful as possible.

Building Relationships with the Unlikable Students

Building Relationships with the Unlikable Students

We all have had a student that we would rather be on someone else’s roster. Of course, this child is never absent and shows up 15 minutes before school to come straight to your room. There is something about the connection between you and that child that just does not click. So what can we do as teachers when we are struggling with difficult children in our classroom?


Having structure and routines in place not only help your classroom flow more smoothly, but also allow for you to set boundaries and expectations for more challenging students. When doing this, make sure you incorporate structures that you can follow through with fidelity. If the student sees you waiver with certain students or in certain situations then it will only continue to hurt your efforts in building that positive relationship.

Student Interest

Try finding one thing that each of your students likes or is passionate about. Once you have taken the time to find that passion, use it to build future lessons and strike up conversations that are non academic with students. This will help engage all students and lets them see you took the time to get to know them and then build the learning around their interests. To go the extra mile, if you discover that this particular difficult is involved in extra curricular activities, try to make the time to go watch that student. Not only are you showing the student how important they are, but you are also building that partnership with the parents.


This one has baffled me over the last 8 years in my educational career. Growing up I was always taught to respect adults, period. There was nothing more to it. This is not how this next generation is being raised. From the conversations I have had with students their approach is one of “I will give you respect, if you give me respect” and this applies to all ages. I am not saying one approach is better than another, but each are drastically different and teachers need to be aware of the changing viewpoints.

A teacher should always give students respect, no matter what. That means we never yell, we never put a student down, we never humiliate them, and we cannot have favorites. We are the adult and they are the child. We must always be the bigger person, even if we are having an awful day and just do not have the patience for it. We have to dig deep and find a way to treat all children the same. Every child, no matter how unlikable, deserve to know what it feels like to be valued and to feel respected. The school and classroom may be the only place that child can see respect in any form.


When I say we need to be understanding it does not mean we have to force a conversation with a student to understand why we do not click. It can be hurtful when a student comes to you and says they learn better with another teacher, but we cannot take this personally. When a teacher tries to force an explanation from a student this can actually make the relationship worse. Make it clear to the student that you are there for them if they choose to talk, but let them have their space. We never want the student to grow resentful if we force them to talk before they are ready.


When a child is upset and lashing out, just listen. Do not argue back with them. Understand that their words are coming from a place of hurt and frustration, and not necessarily with you. After all, these are children, we must be the bigger person that offers grace and mercy.

What If…

Even if you follow each one of these pieces of advice, you may still have a student that you just do not like very much and that is okay. As long as you treat that child the same as every other child in your classroom and show them respect. The school year will come to an end and you will most likely get another student the following year that is equally as difficult to like. Just know that those students are probably the ones who need us the most.

Motivating Teachers as a Newbie

Motivating Teachers as a Newbie

I have had a nontraditional career so far as an educator: It all began in college. I started off as an art major, but as the first semester was coming to an end I began thinking about my financial responsibilities after graduation… which led to me to the drawing board for another degree. Next, I settled on becoming a nurse, that was, until I had my first class and passed out from the sight of blood. This time my college advisor made me really think about what I wanted to do with my life. The funny thing about that was that I was a single mother and had no idea what I was going to do when I got home, let alone, what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

After looking through several course catalogs I finally settled on being an elementary teacher. I would love to say I got into teaching because I wanted to change lives and I loved children so much. But if I am being honest, I wanted to have the same schedule as my son and make a livable wage.

Fast forward to my senior year in college. Fall semester I was placed in a 4th grade classroom to observe and teach 3 lessons. This wasn’t too bad, I actually liked them this age of students. The Spring semester of my senior year I was placed in a kindergarten classroom. This was a time when I should be rejoicing about my upcoming graduation, and yet, I found myself in full blown panic mode. I did not like kindergartners and had decided I had a made a huge mistake! I could not teach elementary, but I felt it was too late to change my major now. In tears I went to my advisor and we looked through my transcript. Apparently, I had taken enough math classes as electives that I had a math minor. This meant I could get my teaching license and teach secondary math. The day was saved!

Instead of doing the traditional MAT program that the UofA-Fayetteville offered, I did a distance MAT program through UofA-Monticello. This program allowed me to have a job as a teacher in place of an internship. I needed this option as I was a single mother and needed to start making money immediately. Problem was, my undergraduate was early childhood education and I had only been in the classroom setting as “a teacher” for a total of 6 hours (not even 6 consecutive hours). I had not been in a secondary classroom besides 4 years prior when I was the high school student.

I was fortunate enough to find a school that took a risk with me and I am so thankful they did. I began my career in a junior high that housed 8th and 9th graders. As much as I loved my first job, I decided I should experience more grade levels to find my perfect fit. I am currently in my 8th year of teaching and I have been in 6 different buildings and 3 different districts.

Some people may see that and say that I just move around, but the reality is I was learning from each job. I was finding my purpose and pursuing it. I chose the degree so that I would have the same schedule as my children, but now I am passionate about education on a whole new level. My long term goals are to get my doctoral degree in educational policy writing and to work in DC. Each one of the buildings I have been in have given me a new perspective and an appreciation for the different ways to approach education. But, it also meant I have been “the new kid” 6 times so far in my career.

I have come to realize that my coworkers are not simply going to listen to me or seek my advice because I have taught for 8 years or the title I am given with my new job. They know nothing about me, so why should they? This year is the first time I have been out of the classroom. My first 7 years I was a math teacher and for the last 3 of those 7 years I was an ESL Caseload Manager as well. This year I am an ESL Coordinator for 2 buildings and my role is to collaborate with teachers to help our growing ESL population flourish in the general education classrooms.

So here I am, brand new district, brand new school, and brand new position. I started to think about the ways to gain my coworkers trust as a new person in the building and what I have learned so far this year about that process.


I feel like I hear this word a lot in education; relationships. Relationships with students, relationships with coworkers, relationships with parents, relationships with the community… you get my point. It is all about relationships. But practically, what does that mean?

  1. Present- It is amazing how much being of an impact it makes just being visible at meetings, in between classes, during lunch… It can be so easy with this workload to recluse to your classroom and never get out. Building a relationship takes work, and you have to be present to put that work in.
  2. Reliable- In my specific role I cannot tell you how many times I get stopped in the hallway and asked about some time of paperwork, a student, an email… and if I tell a teacher that I will look into, but forget and never do, I have damaged that relationship. My way of keeping my self organized is to always have my phone with me so that when I am stopped in the hallways or I need to follow up on something I make a Google Calendar notification. I have quickly learned that if it is not in my calendar, it is probably not going to happen. Another person in the district that is in a similar role as me says she carries around a notepad with her at all times. That way if she is stopped she can jot down a quick note. So my advice is to find whatever way that works best of your to be reliable.
  3. Kind- This may seem elementary, but can go the furthest out of anything else. Education is not for the faint of heart. There are days that the students are awful, parents are mean, or administration has to have a tough conversation with you. We all need that one person that keeps you going. Maybe you do not have to say anything, but just by offering a quick smile to remind others that we are all in this together can help a person keep going. Be the person that is always positive and making the most out of life, that positivity will be contagious and people will remember you.


Educators are called to be life long learners. One of the best parts about having a mixed level of tenure in your staff is that everyone can learn from everyone. The teachers fresh out of college may have new strategies or different types of technology to bring to the table. The veteran teachers have years of wisdom of how to handle those situations that are not taught in a college classroom. Both sides of the spectrum are valuable and should be respected.

What you need to be careful with is that no one is expected to be an expert in all areas. No matter where you are in your career. It is okay to admit that you do not know, but that you will look into it. True collaboration and trust among coworkers with allow everyone to learn from one another with the focus always being on what is best for the students.


Lastly, you must be trustworthy. I have already touched on this with the reliability aspect when you say you will do something, then do it. Trustworthy also means that people can rely on you to do what you are supposed to do when know one is watching (aka, integrity). Students and teachers talk. If you are lacking in any area it will not go unnoticed. It may for a while, but know that it will catch up to you.

Being trustworthy means keeping student information confidential. I think back on buildings where I have worked that at any given moment you could walk into the teacher lounge and hear teachers talking about students, gossiping really. This breaks down the trust among teachers. Even if a teacher is not participating in the conversations everyone knows who “talks” in the workroom. As a teacher, I never trusted those teachers with anything. I kept any issues I was having to myself. I wanted to show my students the respect they deserved by not talking about them in a negative way if possible. There are times when it is necessary to have tough conversations about students, but with a limited audience.

Be the teacher that can be trusted with any information and trusted to always do your work to the best of your ability. Couple this with being knowledgeable, humble, and building positive relationships will help you being a motivator in your school even as a newbie.

What is Project Based Learning?

What is Project Based Learning?

Over the years I have heard the phrase “project based learning” and have spoken with several teachers who have boasted about having a being project based learning (PBL) classroom. As I have had the opportunity to visit different learning environments it has become clear that there are some misconceptions about PBL. I do not claim to be an expert by any means, but I have done quite a bit of research on how to structure your classroom into one that lays a foundation for learning through inquiry and project based strategies that lead to authentic learning.

I have created a few infographics to share what I have learned so far about PBL. Feel free to download and share! The first image shares the origin of PBL and why it is an important style of learning that should be used in the 21st century classroom.

The second infographic is seven essential characteristics to have a successful project based classroom.

PhotoVoice: Giving a Voice to All

PhotoVoice: Giving a Voice to All

For the past 3 years I have gotten to work with a range of English Language Learners (ELLs). Not only do these students come in with a variety of different home languages, but they also bring their own unique story to my classroom. As an educator it is my job to give each of these students a voice to share their story. The main way I can do that is by helping them acquire English. The catch is, learning a new language takes years and a ton of hard work. I wanted to find a way to give my students a voice right now.

The Build Up

I had the opportunity to go to Montana for a sustainability conference a few summers ago and it was life changing. Not only for how I approached my work in the classroom, but also in the way I viewed every day life. I decided to live with purpose. Through out the course I was given several strategies to take back to my community to build awareness and help educate people on the sustainability struggles our world is facing today. One of my favorite parts of the conference was the presenters did not say we all need to stop driving cars, we need to only eat organic food and absolutely not meat, and no more toilets because of the water waste. Instead they gave practical solutions in areas that every single person can do. I will share those tips in a later blog.

What About Giving a Voice?

One of the strategies to help students put into words how they feel about the current state of our environment is to not actually make them say or write it down, but rather, to show it through pictures. This got me to thinking, what if I could do this with my ESL students. They can show me through pictures what matters most to them and their families. I did more research on this topic and a school district in Colorado had the same thought. Their approach was to have a select group of parents who were given cameras and asked to take pictures about their lives and cultures to share with the school. This was built into an adult literacy program to help the parents learn English along side their children.

I decided to take it a step further by giving the vision to the children. Let the students talk with their parents and decide what matters most to them. So I did just that and here are the steps. Disclaimer- I am going on year three of doing this and have changed steps drastically each year as I have seen what has and has not worked. I am looking forward to sharing how this years project goes.

Step 1

I wrote out a project summary and rubric. The purpose of this project is for me to understand my students and their families better. Each student is required to take a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 20 photos that show what they value in life. I encouraged students to complete a portion of the photos with their parents and secretly hoped this could spark some meaningful conversations about heritage between the students and their families.

Step 2

I went out and bought five digital cameras. My original plan was to get disposable cameras for the nostalgia of it, but then decided this was impractical. Now, these digital cameras are not fancy by any means. I purchased water proof/shock resistant Polaroid cameras for 45 dollars a piece. Handing these to my students was hilarious since none of them had used a camera before, they had only taken pictures with their phones. After a quick mini lesson on how to take pictures and delete the ones they did not like I sent them on their way. They had one week to take their pictures.

Step 3

Once students turned the cameras back in I uploaded them to my computer and created shared google folders between myself and each student with his/her own photos. Now it was time for the students to write a summary or explanation of what the photo represented and why it was important to them. I provided sentence frames for my each of my students to help them get started. This step took the longest as each of them had around 15 pictures to write about. I would suggest planning a few weeks of allowing students to work on these. My class is a Seminar style class so they had to fit in working on these around other commitments.

Step 4

Presentation- my favorite part! Each student had a choice of what format to use for the presentation. I suggested things such as a video/slideshow, a poster board/desk top presentation, and I provided clothes pins for them to clip the pictures up throughout the classroom. It was so much fun to see their creativity blossom during this part of the process. Each project was unique and truly a representation of their story.

Step 5

This last step is optional as each of these stories is the students own story to tell if they chose to. I took a new job this year as an ESL designee a school district and I work in two specific buildings. Once my new group of students have finished the project this year I plan to have a family night at school to allow the students the opportunity to share what they have down with their families and any school employees who wish to participate. In previous years I have only done a small classroom presentation, but decided it was time to share their beautiful experiences with anyone who wants to be a part of it.

Next Steps

I will be writing another blog after this years projects are finished and share the pros and cons of this latest sequence of steps. For now I am happy to be doing everything I can to give all children a voice.

Teachers vs. Everyone: Media’s Portrayal of Educators

Teachers vs. Everyone: Media’s Portrayal of Educators

30 years ago Robin Williams starred in the movie Dead Poet’s Society, which is still watched in classrooms today. In this film we see a teacher motivating his students to be the very best they can be. It’s a wonderful portrayal of an educator challenging and leading students to always do their best by seizing the day. It’s also an accurate representation of what an educator should be. It might not as romanticized as this Hollywood depiction, but it’s an educators job to connect with student and help them reach their potential.

But that was 30 years ago.

While the role of the educator is still the same thing, connecting with students, helping them grow academically, and preparing them for life, there has been a shift in the cultural identity of teachers.

Today, movies, television shows, and media in general represent teachers in a less glamorous way than they were depicted 30 years ago. Teachers are portrayed as the adversary. They are inept or incompetent. They are morally corrupt, and they are the enemy.

This summer it was recommended to me that I binge watch the show “Big Little Lies”. If you have not seen this show yet it has an all star cast with Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, Shaliene Woolley, Zoe Kravitz, and many more amazing actors and actresses. I was intrigued by the line up alone, so I figured why not.

About 20 minutes into the first episode a first grade teacher calls an impromptu meeting with the students and their parents. She says that the day has been great, but a student has hurt a fellow classmate. She then has the victim stand in front of everyone, and asks for the attacker to step forward. When no one comes forward the teacher then asks the little girl to point to whoever hurt her, which she did.

The mother of the accused child (wrongly so we find out a few episodes later) was outraged as was the mother of the victim. All the parents were talking about how the teacher handled the situation and how awful it was.

Throughout the series there are several situations in which the principal and teachers act inappropriately and speak to parents in ways that I would never speak to another person: especially not in a professional setting. The show is not based around the students in school and quite frankly the principal and teachers have very small roles. This is why it bothered me so much that the educators were displayed as incompetent and unprofessional in so many ways.

While driving around with my husband I brought up my take away from the show and how the educators were portrayed. This lead to a lengthy discussion about teachers and principals being the antagonist in shows, movies, and the media and trying to decide why that is.

Big Little Lies is just one example. The negative portrayal of educators in media has become the new normal. This portrayal shapes the way society views educators. When people see teachers demonized in Hollywood it teaches them to treat educators as the enemy. I plan on writing a more data-driven paper in the near future. I just wanted to get my thoughts out there and get feedback from fellow educators, parents of students, former students, and current students as I move forward.

The Goldilocks Zone

The Goldilocks Zone

In science, the Goldilocks zone refers to an area that is just perfect for human life to inhabit. This means the distance from the closes star is the perfect distance compared to the size of the star so that human life form can be supported. The temperature is not too hot or too cold. In these zones water can exist. There is not a set distance from any star. It depends on the type of the star, how large and strong the star is, and the rotations of planets around the star will shape the Goldilocks zone.

I could not help as my husband was describing this phenomenon to me that it sounded a whole lot like the type of environment we try to create in the classroom. Teachers are trying find the Goldilocks zone for each of their students. The issue that we come across is that teachers are the star in the classroom and are trying to create Goldilocks zones for students that are in varying distances from the star. The teacher (star) is to provide the instructional pedagogy and practices for each student in the room. Teachers have personalities and ways that they teach best. Yet, we ask teachers to be able to change and adapt to the unique needs of every student in the classroom at all times. So the million dollar question is; how do we find the Goldilocks zone for all students?

Learning Targets

Finding the Goldilocks zone requires us to first define exactly what the zone is . For scientist the Goldilocks Zone is a distance from the star that is habitability by humans and a place that water can exist. This is the same with students; developing essential learning targets for each unit that are written in student friendly terms. These learning targets should be developed from the content curriculum and decided on by the collaboration team and vertical alignment. In 7th grade math the team may decide as a whole that every student needs to master scientific notation and make this a learning target. If this collaboration team also meets with 8th and 9th grade math teams they will either determine this is an appropriate learning target or is not necessarily a requirement for 7th graders have mastered to have future success. From there the team can decide if it should be a requirement so that all students are on that zone. Goldilocks zone does not limit extra things, for instance extensions in the classroom to challenge students, but discusses the bare minimum that must be there. That is the role of defining essential standards and learning targets.

Regular Formative Assessments

Scientist have to run several tests on each planet they may feel is in the Goldilocks zone to determine if it meets all of the criteria. In teaching, students should be exposed to regular formative assessments to gauge their understanding and to test where they are at throughout the year.

Specific Research Based Interventions

When a student is failing to meet the grade level standards then we know that we are not in their Goldilocks zone. Therefore, the teacher must adjust and provide appropriate interventions to meet those needs of each student. The regular formative assessments should provide information on exactly what needs are being missed. From that data, the teacher then must look into research and evidence based interventions that work best. Scientist don’t start throwing out random solutions to a problem without having exhausted best practices first.

Ask for Help

The last piece of advise is to not be afraid to ask for help. If you are a new teacher or a teacher who has been doing this for 30 years there is no shame in asking for help if you are struggling to find a student’s Goldilocks zone. There are large teams of scientists working to find inhabitable planets in space, not just one scientist. When asking for help it doesn’t even have to be within your building or your content area. One of the best things about the internet is how it has grown every educators “Personal Learning Network” or PLN. Twitter is a great place to search hashtags or look for educational gurus and search their works. I know I have learned so much through my digital interactions. Whatever can help me reach every child is worth doing.

Good teaching practices are all around us. Resources are available to teachers who want to continue to be a life long learner and to reach all students. Every students’ Goldilocks zone can be and should be found.

10 Activities for Active Recovery

10 Activities for Active Recovery

Earlier this year I wrote a post about Active Recovery for Educators. The blog highlights the need for not only recovery during times of rest, but active recovery. This term is mostly used in athletic settings. The idea is that an athlete should not take entire days off, but instead do lighter activities so their bodies are still recovering without completely taking off. This helps your body transition more easily from active to non-active and vice versa.

I can struggle with finding that perfect balance between active recovery, complete recovery, and completely active. I have been “off work” for a month now. In that month I have taken a graduate class, gone to a work conference for AVID in Dallas, attended my son’s baseball tournaments every weekend, and started remodeling the kitchen. Along with everything else I have also begun looking at ways to allow myself to recover from the previous school year and to actively prepare for the upcoming year. I decided to write down 10 ideas for fellow educators to engage in active recovery this summer with me that do not break the bank.

Read a Book

Throughout the school year I have several books that I am reading and studying to better serve my students. I love these books and can completely get lost in them. The summer is a good time to either get caught up on those educational books that piled up over the school year or to pick up a book that is purely for fun and for yourself. Listening to an audio book is another great way to get to more books than you may have time to actually sit down and read. My current audio book on my play list is Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies and I have quite enjoyed it.

Be a Tourist in Your Own Town/State

Two summers ago was one of my favorite summer vacations we have taken as a family and we did not even leave the state of Arkansas. I was born and raised in Arkansas and yet I had never gone down to Southern Arkansas and dug for diamonds which we are famous for. So after 28 years, my husband and I loaded up the car with camping equipment and both kids and headed out on an Arkansas vacation. It was so neat to see what all my state had to offer and to share that with my children. This summer we have spent our free time checking out local affairs, such as the free summer concerts series featuring The Dip at JBGB, volunteering at the BITE event in Bentonville at the BrightWater culinary school, and hitting up some local breweries. If you live in NWA you may not realize just how much there is to do here, we have stayed busy and yet barely scratched the surface of everything that is offered in this quaint community.

Develop a Workout Routine

This has been one of the harder parts of active recovery, but also one of the most rewarding. Every day I do something active; go on a bike ride, go for a run/walk, climb, circuit workout, hiking… I figure if I develop these habits now it will be easier to keep them throughout the school year. I will touch base again in October and share how my workout routine is going!

Try New Recipes in the Kitchen

Okay, so being honest, getting a home cooked meal on the table 5 nights a week during the school year is nearly impossible with my busy schedule. Add on to that my kids getting older and busier as well. This summer we are actively trying new foods and recipes and it has been such sweet time with my kids and I. We also tried Plated and was very surprised with how good the food is. We will be doing this throughout the school year so that we can keep up trying new foods without having to spend too much time picking out recipes and grocery shopping.

Learn a New Hobby

This summer I have taken on trying to learn how to sew. I had a pile of clothes that have needed to be hemmed or fixed. With technology such as YouTube you can learn just about anything, for instance, how to put a zipper back on its tracks if it has come off on one side.

Go Floating

More than going floating, getting outside is a huge part of active recovery for me. I need to be surrounded by natural beauty and soak up as much as a I can before the school year returns. Floating is my preferred way of getting outside because of the scenic views, little workout from paddling, the adrenaline rush of the rapids, and then the relaxation throughout the float.

Attending Educational Conference/Road Trip

During the summer is a great time to hone in your skills and learn new strategies for the upcoming school year. When choosing which conferences to attend it is always a good idea to start by looking at the cities you want to visit and go from there. Last summer I got to road trip to Chicago for a Pre-AP conference, New Orleans for a Solution Tree RTI conference, and recently returned from Dallas attending an AVID conference.

Do a DIY Project in Your Home

I can tell you from personal experience of what NOT to do, do not pick too many projects the day you get out of school. You will end up with a garage full of old pieces of furniture, old appliances, new appliances, wet saws, back splash pieces, new light fixtures, and all of the things that are typically in the garage minus your vehicles. When doing home improvement projects make sure to do one at a time. Make a list of priorities at the beginning of the summer and then begin ticking them off as you go, only starting a new one when the one before is finished. This will help keep you and your family sane for the summer.

Garage Sale

I never realize just how much stuff we accumulate throughout the year until it is time for Summer Cleaning. **There is no such thing as spring cleaning when you are a teacher, spring time is for testing and survival mode. So once you have gone through the house and pulled out all of the things you do not need go ahead and have a garage sale. This will help bring in a few extra dollars and will make you happy with the newly cleaned and organized house.

Participate in Educational Twitter Chats

This last one is my new favorite and is completely free! There are always educational twitter chats going on that anyone can join. My three favorites are #edchat, #edtechchat, and #LeadUpChat. With twitter you can always search a topic you are interested in and find great resources and meet new people to follow. Summer time is a time to learn new technology if you are not used to it and prepare for the following school year.

The 21st Century Student

The 21st Century Student

“For the times they are a-changin'” applied when Bob Dylan wrote and released them in 1964 and the words still apply today. Some may say they apply more now than even.

Education is at a point where demands have never been higher and stress on both teachers and students are at a breaking point. Strikes across the countries have broken out asking for more pay so teachers no longer have to work three jobs along with being a full time teacher just to pay the bills. College tuition and student loan debts are at an all time high and the scholarship pool is getting more demanding of children. Celebrities are doing what ever it takes to get their child a spot at a premier college while children of immigrants are left not knowing if they can remain in the country once they turn 18.

As a teacher in this world I am always looking for how I can prepare my students the most so they can be successful in the 21st century. Schools are changing to reflect a PLC model that maximizes collaboration and minimizes isolation, standardized assessments rigor are growing each year, proficiency is being redefined regularly, schools are implementing Social Emotional Learning that all teachers need training on, and much more. With all of these changes it can be hard to know what is best to focus on while trying to equip my students for post high school life.

As the 2018-2019 school year is wrapping up I always try and reflect on my highs and lows. While doing some research I came across an article about assessments and the need to bring hope, efficacy, and achievement back to the classroom. In this article I learned about the “COTE of armor” for helping students become their best and must successful selves. C-confidence, O-optimism, T-tenacity, and E-enthusiasm. This article also went on to explain the six tenets of using assessment to build hope, efficacy, and achievement in the classroom which was very intriguing, but I could not stop thinking about this COTE of armor.

While contemplating the state of our country and seeing how heavily divided it is in all areas, I want to find a way to unite people and help my students be the movers and shakers of the next generation. Those four characteristics are not only what is needed in the classroom to be successful, but also in life.

As I move into my summer break I will take the time to prepare myself mentally and physically for another school year. But, I will also spend part of my summer researching ways to instill courage, optimism, tenacity, and enthusiasm into all of my students. I look forward to sharing my successes and setbacks with you all. I may not master teaching the 21st century student in the 2019-2020 school year, but I will put on my COTE of armor every day; helping educate and prepare our future leaders.