Take the 21-day Productivity Challenge #makeitstick

DIY Productivity with Post-it® Brand Products

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

The end of the school year is so busy. Now is the time to get organized. In this blog post, I’ll give you my 1-2-3 steps to stress less and 5 productivity hacks. Many of them involve Post-it® Brand Products. I use them all the time, from storyboarding, to drafting articles, to accenting my DIY planner.

This blog post is sponsored by Post-it® Brand

What productivity type are you? Take the quiz

21-Day Productivity Challenge

So, as part of my work with Post-it® Brand, I’ve been asked to design a 21-day challenge to boost productivity. As a teacher, I’ve picked 3 simple things that I know will boost productivity (and my mood) and I’m going to do this for 21 days. I also watched the four videos from the Post-it® Brand productivity experts including chef Russell Jackson, Teacher of the Year Sia Kyriakakos, fitness artist and spiritual wellness expert, Nicole Winhoffer and health business owner, Anna Young to use their productivity ideas and tips.

1 – One thing at a time

post-it productivity challenge

I keep my current “Big 1” task at the bottom left hand side of my monitor. This is my focal task. I do this at school and home. It helps me focus on just one thing at a time.

Multitasking is a myth. Focus is necessary to get anything done. To keep on track, I am committing to focus on ONE thing at a time. Just one.

To find out what kind of planner I am,  I took a quiz using the Post-it® Brand Productivity Tool. In their research, they found that there are four types of planners. As a “Mindful Maverick” I learned that I need visual cues.

So, I write the current task on the bottom left-hand side of my computer monitor on Post-it® Super Sticky Notes. One task, one at a time.
I’ve used Post-it® Notes for years in this way. Seeing the results of the productivity quiz, I now know why I’m always happier when I write down my most important task and keep it front and center. As a teacher, I live in a rushed environment and seeing one task on my computer redirects my attention back to my main task.
According to the a survey conducted by Post-it® Brand, more than 1 in 4 Americans feel completing everything on their weekly to-do list is harder than running a marathon.* 
I think part of the problem is many of us put too much on our list. Another reason might be our lack of focus. Writing my current focal task on a Post-it® Note and keeping it on my computer monitor throughout the day helps me focus. Swapping it out for a new one gives me a sense of progress!

2 – Two kind notes a day

I’m inspired by the wall of kindness that was started with one kind Post-it® Note in the girls’ bathroom at Principal Will Parker’s school.

Part of my purpose as a teacher is to spread kindness and positivity to my students and colleagues.
I was so inspired by what happened at Principal Will Parker’s school this year. One of his students posted a kind Post-it® Note in the girl’s bathroom. As other students joined in, it grew into hundreds of Post-it® Notes with kind messages. Kindness went viral!
“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” -Scott Adams
So, I’ve committed to write two kind Post-it® Notes a day and stick them somewhere in the school to encourage others to make others smile and encourage them to do the same. The teacher’s lounge. My room. The bathroom mirror. Yes, I’m doing this!
There have been times I’ve wanted to encourage a colleague. I’d buy their favorite cola or snack and leave it on their desk with a quick anonymous Post-it® Note. It really does encourage people. 

3 – Three most important things

In my planner, I keep my “big 3” on Post-it® Super Sticky Notes to make sure they get done. I use the same system for home and work – 3 in each place!

Don’t confuse quality with quantity. Yes, my master list has many things on it. (See below for how I brain dump my list to organize it.)
However, this time of year, I just have so much to do that I list my three most important things. No matter what else gets done, these are a must.
I’ll admit. I have three things for home and three things for school.
The research commissioned by Post-it® Brand found that 61% of Americans believe they would be more productive if they used the same organizational system at home that they do at work.* As a busy teacherpreneur, I work hard to have a flexible but VISUAL system that works for me in both places. 

In Summary. The 21-Day Challenge I’m taking is:

1 – I will do one thing at a time
2 – I will leave two kind Post-it® Notes a day to others
3 – I will list three things each day that I have to do at home and at school.
That’s it.

5 Productivity Hacks and Tips to Help Get Organized

So, now on to some tips/ hacks that I’m using for the organizational system that I use. Note that I’m in the DIY-planning family. (I released a book on it last summer.) DIY means that I make my own planners.

1- Do a Brain Dump

Brain Dump with Post it Notes

As I worked on my DIY Planning system for April/May, I got everything out and on Post-it® Notes. Also, I color coded my thoughts, as this helped me figure out the categories for the back of my planner and the unique ways I’m going to use my planner this month.

When I brainstorm, I take each idea and put it on one note and put it on my desk. (see the picture) I like to color code by topic or idea for patterns to emerge. (I do this when outlining the books I write too.)

The productivity quiz from Post-it® Brand I took earlier says that  I need to keep my mind clear by doing a brain dump of all the items on my list. I also need to make sure my to-do items are showing on my calendar. Finally, I need to focus on one thing at a time. This fits with what I already know about myself.

So, as I was working on my planning system for April and May, I put all of the ideas and issues with my planner onto individual notes (pictured to the right.) Then, as I worked on my planner, I used the ideas to make sure my April/ May system will support what I need to make it through the end of the school year.

Declutter your mind by doing a brain dump of all that you have to do. Just use Post-it® Notes to make it easy. 

2 – Customize Your System Based on Your Location

My home "brain dump" of work for the week is on a top door of my desk. I don't share my desk at home, so I can do this. At school, I use a brain dump page in the back of my planner for the notes. That way, I can close it and it is private. I don't want students (who often sit at my desk) playing with or bothering my personal task list.

My home “brain dump” of work for the week is on a top door of my desk. I don’t share my desk at home, so I can do this. At school, I use a brain dump page in the back of my planner for the notes. That way, I can close it and it is private. I don’t want students (who often sit at my desk) playing with or bothering my personal task list.

At home, I brain dump my list on Post-it® Super-Sticky Notes. I have a door on the top of a cabinet that I can use to keep these. That way, I can grab what I’m working on and stick it on my computer monitor.

At school, however, I use a page in my planner designated for “brain dumps.” That is because students sometimes sit at my desk to scan pictures or use my computer and I don’t want them bothering my notes or reading them.

So, as a school teacher, some things need to be adapted to home and school.

Intentionally think about organizing your home and work. You’ll need slightly different systems for both. 

3 – Know Your Style

As a “Mindful Maverick,” I’m a visual person. Out of sight, out of mind.

That is why, although I’ve used the Reminders app on my phone some, I have to get it on paper on ONE list. But before I write it down, if I do my brain dump on Post-it® Notes, then I can organize it.

Knowing your style of organizing will help you select the best tools for you. Each person is unique. Each person remembers in a different way. For this reason, I believe that everyone’s system of planning is truly do it yourself.

Do it yourself. Customize. Use colors. Decide what works for you.

4 – Quickly Access Notes

I organize my frequently used items in the back of my planner using Post-it® Tabs. I can move the tabs around or from page to page and color code them as well.

My goal is to be able to access anything within three seconds. Why? Well, my frustration kicks in if I can’t find it before. I admit – this time of year it is hard.

Use Post-it® Tabs to organize the back of your binder so you can put your hands on important items quickly. 

5 – Make Things That Change Quickly Easy to Move Around

Also, I use a Kanban board approach which literally has me moving my Post-it® Super Sticky Notes around. (I got lots of ideas for this use from Sia Kyriakakos, 2016 Teacher of the Year for Baltimore City Schools, and art teacher from Maryland.)

When I have things that are fluid I will use smaller 3×3 Post-it® Notes. For example, with my podcast, sometimes events or things that happen cause me to move shows around. So, instead of using dry erase markers, I now use Post-it® Notes. They stick and re-stick so I can easily move them.

I write the guest name and then moving around the calendar as I see fit to determine who’s going to be up at different times.

I also use this method at school. This year, I’m teaching Digital Filmmaking. We have to plan our shooting schedule between two film crews. For the movie projects I’m working on, we write each shot on a Post-it® Note.

We list screenshots for our movie on Post-it® Notes. This makes it easy to grab a photo and go shoot.

Then, students can come in and grab a shot and go do it. Then, they put the shot on a board so the editors know the film is ready to edit.

For projects that are dynamic, you need to use Post-it® Super Sticky notes which will stick and re-stick.  

What’s next?

I hope you’ll take the productivity quiz using the Post-it® Brand Productivity Tool on Post-it.com to find what your planner style is.

I also hope that you will get organized for the end of the school year using some of these techniques of brainstorming organizing and just putting everything together.

And I challenge you to either take this 21-day productivity challenge or, create your own challenge.  Share your own planner type and your goal progress on your social channels using #makeitstick.

This is a great time of year to focus on some simple productivity techniques that will give us peace of mind and help us make it to the end of the school year without being so exhausted and stressed. We can do this!

*The 3M Productivity Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) among 1,021 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18+, between March 30th and April 5th, 2017, using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas have been set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. adult population 18 and older. 
Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to edit and post it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) Please also note that all opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of any sponsor or employer.

The post Take the 21-day Productivity Challenge #makeitstick appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/take-the-21-day-productivity-challenge-post-it-note/

iPads in Kindergarten: Creating, Innovating and Learning

A conversation with Caitlin Arakawa on episode 82 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Caitlin Arakawa @caitlin_arakawa shares what she learned in her first year with iPads in kindergarten.  Tools. A DIY Soundbooth. Mistakes. Benefits. She shares it all.

ipads in the kindergarten classroom (1)

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Listen on iTunes

  • Stream by clicking here.
  • The transcript will be uploaded and posted right here at soon as soon as it is available.

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In today’s show, Caitlin Arakawa talks about iPads in kindergarten and shares:

  • Her favorite apps
  • A cool teacher hack to make sound proof booths
  • The best thing about iPads
  • Her biggest mistake
  • Her assessment of the classroom improvements

I hope you enjoy this episode with Caitlin Arakawa!

Selected Links from this Episode


Full Bio As Submitted


Caitlin ArakawaCaitlin Arakawa

Caitlin Arakawa is a 2nd year kindergarten teacher in Redlands, California. She teaches at an IB PYP school that has a focus in STEAM.

Transcript for this episode


To be posted as soon as it is available. Check back soon!

The post iPads in Kindergarten: Creating, Innovating and Learning appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


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Learning First, Technology Second #motivationmonday

A conversation with Liz Kolb on episode 81 of the 10-Minute Teacher

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Liz Kolb @lkolb talks about how we can put learning first and a very important reason technology should be second. We’re also hosting a giveaway of her new book on this show.

learning first, technology second liz kolb

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In today’s show, Liz Kolb talks about the role of learning and technology:

  • What is the role of technology in learning
  • When technology is a distraction
  • The 3 E framework Liz teaches
  • How we can make technology improve learning and not distract from it
  • A fantastic collaborative idea with parents and students

I hope you enjoy this episode with Liz Kolb!

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Learning First, Technology Second Book Giveaway Contest
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Full Bio As Submitted


Liz KolbLiz Kolb

Liz is a clinical assistant professor in education technologies at The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. She authored Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education (published by ISTE in 2008), Cell Phones in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for the K-12 Educator (published by ISTE in 2011), Help Your Child Learn With Their Cell Phone and Web 2.0 (published by ISTE in 2013), Learning First, Technology Second (published by ISTE in 2017).

In addition, Liz has published numerous articles and book chapters on new technologies and education in prominent publications such as Education Leadership, School Administrator Magazine, Scholastic, Edutopia, ISTE’s Edtekhub, and Learning and Leading with Technology. Liz has done consulting work and has been a featured and keynote speaker at conferences all over the United States and Canada.

Liz is currently co-chairing an auxiliary committee for the U.S. Office of Education Technology on sustainable professional development in teacher education. She is a MACUL board member and a member of the COSN advisory board for mobile learning and emerging technologies. She is passionate about engaging students in education and leveraging learning opportunity through digital technologies. Liz is also the creator and coordinator of the Triple E Framework, which is an open-source framework for K-12 teachers and administrators to use to assess the effectiveness of technology in lesson plans. Her blog is at http://cellphonesinlearning.com

Transcript for this episode


Click to download the PDF copy of the transcript

[Recording starts 0:00:00]

Learning first, technology second. This is episode 81.

The Ten-minute Teacher podcast with Vicki Davis. Every week day you’ll learn powerful practical ways to be a more remarkable teacher today.

VICKI:   Happy Motivational Monday. Liz Kolb @lkolb

is with us today talking about how we can put learning first and technology second. So Liz, this is the title of your book http://amzn.to/2q8Y9KY  that has just come out. How do we put leaning first and technology second because there’s so many toys and things we can play with out there? Isn’t it easy to get distracted?

LIZ:              It’s very easy to get distracted. And I absolutely am guilty of being distracted by the technology which is why this book came about. Over the last couple of years many teachers and administrators had come to me saying we now have a one-to-one program, we now have a lot of technology in our school through difference funding sources but now we’re worried about whether or not the technology is actually effective for the learning. We’re using it a lot but we feel as though maybe we’re using it because it is shiny and it looks good and it feels good but we’re not actually impacting learning in a way that is meaningful.

I spent six years looking through the research on what’s effective and ineffective when using technology and learning and I found that there are a lot of things that we know about goof effective instructional strategies with learning that we were leaving out when we were integrating technology. So, things like when we look at engagement, no just looking at whether not the student is using a device individually but making sure that they are having some kind of human-to-human contact co-engaging or what we call joint media engagement and working together with the screens.

[00:02:00]

This framework came about because of much of this research that I looked at and I originally developed this triple E framework http://tripleeframework.com/

which is what the book focuses on for my student teachers. They found it to be incredibly helpful, so then I have kind of decided to put it together into this book. The reason why it’s called Learning First, Technology Second is because the framework focuses on the learning goals and the end in mind and thinking about the ways that we leverage technology in order to meet those learning goals rather than focusing on the technology first and the wow of the technology.

VICKI:          So what is the triple E framework? Are you able to give us a quick summary because we’ll, of course, want to point everybody to the book?

LIZ:              Yes. So the E stands for engagement and learning goals, enhancement of learning goals and extension of learning goals. And all three of those were again, informed by the research that engagement does not necessarily mean looking at the device but it actually means what we call high attention as well as high comprehension. So they are not just focusing on the device but they’re actually focusing on the learning goals through the device in some way. And then enhancement looks at how we leverage the learning through technology, how we’re adding scaffolds in support. So is it differentiating learning? Or are we helping students get to those higher order of thinking skills. What is the value added beyond something we would do with traditional tools? There’s no value added, then we should question why we’re using it.

And then the third level is extension which talks about how technology can reach students in their everyday lives and extend learning to the authentic everyday world and make those connections for students. Kind of situating their learning in what they’re seeing in the outside world.

[00:04:00]

VICKI:          So really we don’t use technology for technology sake, technology has to actually improve learning, right?

LIZ:              That’s our hope. I am somebody who the first time I learned PowerPoint I turned all my lectures into PowerPoint thinking that was the magic snake oil that we needed to have students learn. And what I found was that while they were engaged, they weren’t actually learning more. My few students were still few students. My students who did well still did well. And so, I realized that there’s a lot of ways we use technology because it looks good and it’s kind of shiny, but if we want to look beneath the surface we really want to look at how it’s actually meeting and helping us get to the learning outcomes that we help our students get to.

VICKI:          So, Liz, this is Motivational Monday and I have all of this worry. Like, “oh my goodness.” What does work? Can you point us and motivate us, help us to point towards things that actually do work in the classroom?

LIZ:              Yea, there’s a lot of great things that work with technology. First of all, co-use is very important as I mentioned earlier. Working together on a screen is how students begin to reflect on what they’re doing on a screen. So rather than having students all working individually with headphones on and their own iPads in the classroom, pair them up, have them work together. That can make a large difference in their ability to comprehend what they’re seeing and doing in the classroom.

VICKI:          Also the other thing that we want to think about is how are we able to use technology to connect to everyday experiences. So rather than having them isolated in a piece of technology think about how we can use things like Skype http://www.skype.com  to connect to other classrooms or something like the Google Expeditions https://edu.google.com/expeditions/  to experience what it might be like in the artic if we can’t actually get there. So thinking about how we’re using technology to help students experience things that they couldn’t experience and work together.

[00:06:00]

That co-engagement is so key and it’s just a small change that you can make. Pair students up or choose a software like Google Docs http://docs.google.com that allow students to work with other people through the tool itself in a synchronous way.

VICKI:          So collaboration and working together and co-creation is widely important?

LIZ:              Yes, it is. So skills, those higher order critical thinking skills that we continue to talk about – I know many people talk about the C’s and making sure that that’s actually happening with the technology and it’s not so isolated.

VICKI:          And Liz, you know, you’re speaking my language when you talk co-creation because when we create and we help kids create things that are more than they would have been as individuals that’s when the magic happens, isn’t it?

LIZ:              It is. And it’s so amazing because the other things we do in the classroom, we often have students paired up and working together or we’re working with the students and helping them work through ideas and build knowledge together. Sometimes we put technology in front of them we forget they still need to do that, they still need to have those conversations.

VICKI:          They do. I’m just really excited to hear you talk about co-creation because it’s just not something people talk a lot about. I mean, I think people forget the greatest software every invented is the human brain. And when we truly unleash that collaboration and co-creation is when we see things that we couldn’t do without technology.

LIZ:              Absolutely. And very rarely are the greatest inventions and things we’ve seen in society individually created. There’s always a group of people working together to make that happen. So even if I can give a quick example; in my daughter’s classroom they use Google Docs to write their stories and work on editing. And the teacher actually shares with the parents when they’re going to be working on it so we can log in at the same time that they’re working on it.

And the teacher gives us some scaffolds as supports of what we should ask and how we should ask it and what we should be looking for.

[00:08:00]

So we’re having these conversations to help them build their writing and as a parent I’m also learning how to learn them, so we’re both learning at the same time.

VICKI:          Now, that’s a genius teacher. I hope after the show you’ll introduce me because you have blown my mind. I mean, I know we have helicopter parents and that’s not necessarily a good thing. However, that really is unleashing the power of parenting and partnering with teachers and parents and students, isn’t it?

LIZ:              Absolutely. And parents want to know how to help their children learn. And many times they just don’t know how to do it. So they’ll often just plug their child in front of an app or a computer to do it but in reality if the teachers can get them online at the same time and give them some support and how them how to do it the parents are really excited to do that. And I can’t tell you how excited my 4th grader is to see me logged on at the same time. And all of a sudden she’s really interested in the different forms of grammar and the detail in her writing. And it has exponentially improved her writing and my ability to see those things as well.

VICKI:          My mind is just running and there’s so many ideas with what we’ve discussed. And thinking about co-creating with parents as well as peers is very powerful. So listeners, Remarkable Teachers, we’re going to be hosting a giveaway for Learning First, Technology Second so do check the show notes www.coolcatteacher.com/e81 and enter  to win and take a look at this book. Liz has done so many great things, she’s one of the first people that I read when I really got in to using cell phones in the classroom. She has so many resources for us. But let’s really think about Learning First, Technology second. But also when we’re learning how we can be co-creating ad collaborating. I’m so excited.

Hello Remarkable Teachers, would you please help me do something? I’m trying to help more people find out about the Ten Minute Teacher Show. To do that, if you just could take some time to go to iTunes or to Stitcher or to leave a review. It really does help. Thank you so much.

Thank you for listening to the Ten-minute Teacher Podcast. You can download the show notes and see the archive at coolcatteacher.com/podcast. Never stop learning.

[End of Audio 0:10:23]

[Transcription created by tranzify.com. Some additional editing has been done to add grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Every attempt has been made to correct spelling. For permissions, please email lisa@coolcatteacher.com]

The post Learning First, Technology Second #motivationmonday appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


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46 Things I Wish Parents Knew

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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Parents, I don’t know everything. But as your child’s teacher and as a person who has been teaching children for more than fifteen years now, there are some things I would love to tell you. So, today, I guess I will.

46 things I wish parents knew

Cathy Rubin from the global search for education asked this question. See the other answers here

1 – I’m glad to teach your child.

I love to teach. I’m glad to be here.

2 – I  don’t know everything.

Of course, you already know this. You know that there are lots of things I don’t know about your family or your child. But what you may not know is that even though I work with lots of kids, I may not always know when something is going on at home, or your child is upset. If even lots of people know, don’t assume I do. I don’t gossip but run from it.

Help me out and let me know as much as I need to know to help your child, even if it is just “my child is having a hard time.” Knowing their frame of mind will help me be a better teacher. You don’t owe me more explanation than you want to give. I won’t tell other teachers unless you ask me to so you might want to tell them too.

3- There are more than two sides to every story. Please make sure you get mine too directly from me.

In a class of twenty children, there are at least twenty-one versions of every incident including mine. Nowadays there are more because it seems every child snaps, updates, and tweets their version and all their friends and followers re-share. So, no matter how inundated you are with “facts,” please make sure that you and I talk before you confront me about the “facts.”

Today’s world seems to be obsessed with jumping on teachers and passing judgment. As a teacher, the only person I can talk to about my “side” is you and my principal. I can’t snap, tweet, or update anyone else and can’t by law. The best way to work things out is to talk about it. So before you jump all over me about your opinion about what I’ve “done” make sure of a few things:

a) make me aware of what you think I’ve done,

b) hear me out about your child’s involvement in the issue and

c) give me the benefit of the doubt before you go in angrily.

Our ability to work problems out often depends on the volume of our voices as we start out.

Our ability to work problems out often depends on the volume of our voices as we start out.

4 – Kids can exaggerate.

See #4. Kids (and adults) can also mishear and misunderstand. Sometimes the exaggeration isn’t intentional.

5 – Kids can lie – even yours.

A teacher friend once had a child turn in the entire poem word for word as their original creation. It begins like this,

“I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and sky; and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.”

This poem was written by John Masefield. My fruebd showed the poem in the book to the parent in front of the child. The parent looked at it and said,

“All I know is my child doesn’t lie. If he says he wrote this poem, he wrote it.”

To which my friend replied,

“If your child wrote this poem, go ahead and send him to college.”

That parent was not only letting her child lie but also doing the worst form of lying possible – she lied to herself. Sadly adults lie too, but kids can lie as well. Never underestimate the power of self preservation on a child’s version of the truth.

6 – I make mistakes.

When I know it, I ask for your child’s forgiveness. I think they should do the same thing. Part of what kids learn in my classroom is how people interact and solve problems together.

7 – We all have bad days

Teaching is hard work. I try to be my best every day, but I won’t always be at my best, no matter how hard I try. Try not to judge me by my worst, and I’ll try to give grace to you and your child on their worst day too. When we go through the hardest things in our life, we need the most forgiveness, love, and understanding. (See #1.)

8 – We may be allies, but you’re the parent.

I respect your role as a parent. When we’re discussing things – like your decision to take your child out of school – I will defer to your parenting choices.

9 – Children are made by their habits.

When you let your child miss school for the smallest reason on a frequent basis, you’re setting up patterns for their life. I see kids who can’t come to school flunk out of college because they didn’t feel good enough to get out of bed in the morning and they had no one to wake them up. I’ve seen kids become adults who could never hold down a job because they didn’t know what it was like to show up every day. So, just consider this and remember #7.

10 – When your child misses, help me make sure they make up the work.

While it is your job (see #7) to decide why your child misses school, when a child misses school it is hard work for them and me. When they have been planning a trip for months and don’t tell me and come back to school afterward and say, “did I miss anything?” then I feel like you’ve not done your part in this partnership to educate your child. There’s only one of me, and I’ll do my best to be patient, but communication is our friend. I’ll work with you but cooperate with me too. Understand when I’m worn out, and your child misses a week of direct instruction that I can’t make it up in twenty minutes after school.

Don’t mistake my exhaustion for disapproval of your decision to have your child out of school. Just take it for what it is. I’m a teacher. I stay tired. And when I teach 140 kids, and three of them miss class during a week, I have three children to track down, not just one. I want your child to take ownership for his/her work and so should you. Let’s work together on this.

11 – I’m the scorekeeper. Your child is the earner and learner.

I don’t give free, unmerited credit for work not done. If your child fails, I will feel as if I have failed, but people don’t appreciate things they don’t earn. Some of the hardest things I’ve had to do are give an F to a child who deserved it and cause them to be athletically ineligible.

I cry over every F that a child deserves but make no mistake, while some teachers give lots of zeroes. I work very hard to be fair, give credit for late work and to track down children to do the work. So, by the time they have an F in the grade book, they’ve earned it.

12 – Life is too short to hold grudges.

Help your child work out their issues with other classmates and with me. Remember I can’t read minds. (See #2.)

13 – I know what you think of me through the words of your child

I know if you back me up at home because your child will repeat something you’ve said. I can tell because it is typically something only an adult would say. I appreciate when you back me up. Even more, I know it. The person who benefits most when we work together is your child.

14 – Not every child will like me.

That is OK. I always tell my students that I hope they’ll thank me when they’re twenty-three. By then, they will have grown up and know that the hard truths of life I tried to teach them are true.

But when you tell a child that they should only work hard for teachers they “like” and that they deserve only great, happy perfect teachers is like telling an adult they deserve only awesome bosses. The sentiment is nice, but it isn’t grounded in reality. If you set false expectations for your child about their teachers, you’re setting them up to become disillusioned adults. Some teachers stink. Others just aren’t a good fit for how a child learns.

15 – How you handle problems matters more than how you tell them to handle their problems.

16 – Problems are the canvas upon which we paint a masterpiece of learning to live a good life.

Kids don’t do what you say; they become what you teach them to be by how you expect and teach them to act.

We can make a massive difference in your child’s life when we communicate and respect each other.

17 – If you have a problem with me – tell me before going to the principal to give us a chance to work it out.

How you handle problems matters more than how you tell kids to handle their problems

18 – If you have a compliment, tell the principal first.

He likes to be given a chance to communicate positive things to me. It helps our relationship. Eventually tell me, sometimes the principal forgets. 😉

19 – As much as we love them, sometimes kids try to manipulate us. When we communicate – everyone is better off.

20 – Unnecessary drama hurts learning and everybody’s quality of life.

You can’t take back some things when they are done our said. Our relationships are important so let’s proceed with respect and wisdom.

21 – I’m a learner too.

Sometimes I try things that don’t work. But if I’m learning, I’m growing.

22 – I like to laugh.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying learning. Just because we laugh doesn’t mean we’re not learning. Sometimes hilarious situations happen that seem off the wall but make sense if you see the bigger picture. Try to trust me even when the stuff we do seems kind of different.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying learning. Just because we laugh doesn’t mean we’re not learning.

23 – Some school rules are disliked as much by me as your kids, but I have to enforce them becasue it is my job.

Don’t be mad at me when you let your child knowingly break the rules and they get caught. Remember that when you do that, they’ll do the same thing to the rules in your home. Rules are rules even if we disagree with them.

24 – I respect your right to parent as you see fit, however, I have many kids from many homes in my classroom.

So, don’t expect my classroom management strategies to line up with your philosophy of parenting.

25 – I’m a humble servant of your child’s learning, not their childish whims.

I would rather make your child upset today by having a hard conversation and have them thank me for the rest of their life than avoid the talk and set them up to live a life of regrets.

26 – I teach more than my subject if I’m a good teacher.

27 – Your child’s self-worth and your worth as a parent are not directly connected to the grades on the report card.

Every child is beautiful, unique creation worthy of respect. A child can make a C or F on their report card, but they are all an A+ creation of infinite worth.

We teach more with our lives than with our lips.

28 – We teach with more with our lives than with our lips.

29 – Communicate with me during regular hours unless it is a special case.

Late night impromptu phone calls where you wake me up to scream at me never end well for anyone. You might feel better, but it will be hard for me to forgive you for such inconsiderate behavior.

However, if someone important dies or you have a desperate need because of a difficult, unusual circumstance and I can help – call me anytime. I want to be there because I care.

30 – Let’s work together for your child’s good.

You’re the parent, not their BFF. I’m not their BFF or their parent; I’m a teacher. We’re better off when we each do our job to the best of our ability.

31 – Let’s respect each other because we are both important parts of your child’s life.

I’m not a very good replacement parent. I don’t expect you to be a very good replacement teacher. Let’s both do our part because we want to do right by your kids.

32 – Let’s enjoy the journey and celebrate our wins.

33 – When you are kind, it thrills my heart, and I am grateful.

34 – When you don’t buy your child the school supplies they need – I do.

Kids won’t tell you they need school supplies when you yell at them every time they ask. They’d rather me do it if you always fuss about buying them.

Buying too many supplies for too many kids means that I sometimes don’t have a pen to write with when I need it. That irritates me because it makes me feel like I don’t have anything for myself. Some parents buy school supplies for me, and I appreciate it because I give them to the kids. This seems little but it can make even teachers who can afford to spend the money feel taken advantage, especially when kids just expect it and don’t say thank you.

35 – Life is too short to be a drive-by parent – be as involved as you can be.

You can’t be at everything. But when you are, why not yell for other parent’s children and hope they’ll yell for yours when you’re there? A school community that cheers for everybody’s kids is a special place where kids thrive. So, cheer for other people’s kids too.

A school community that cheers for everybody's kids is a special place where kids thrive.

36 – Thoughtful, loving parents make me a more thoughtful, loving teacher.

37 – If we can train up thoughtful, loving kids – the whole world will thank us.

38 – Social media is a distraction during school hours.

If your child posts on social media during my class it is without my permission, and they are hiding it from me. It doesn’t mean I’m ignoring them, it means they are sneaking around. If they tell you they have my permission, they are lying, and you should address it. I don’t follow my students on social media but you should.

Cell phones make poor alarm clocks because cell phones aren't just alarm clocks

39 – Help kids make wise choices

Charge the cell phone in the kitchen. Kids who go to bed with their cell phones aren’t mature enough to turn it off. Cell phones make poor alarm clocks because they aren’t just alarm clocks.

Help your child get 8-10 hours of sleep a night. Their grades will be better, and they will be happier.

40 – Don’t worship your kids – they’re only human.

Worshipping your children like building a home in a sandcastle – when the tides of teenage years come, some of the facades will wash away, and you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

41 – Your kids don’t tell you everything.

42 – Not every teacher I know agrees with me, nor I agree with them but don’t ever ask me to speak negatively about a colleague.

If you have an issue with another teacher, take it up with the principal, not me.

43 – I won’t judge all parents by a few of them who make it tough to teach their child.

Likewise, please try to give me a chance even if you’ve heard from others about me.

44 – I love teaching and expect great things. Expect great things of your child, too.

I love kids. I respect you as their parent. I rejoice to teach awesome kids with amazing parents but know that I expect awesome and always get it.

Understand that we often get what we expect, so expect great things of your children. Many kids who end up in prison as adults were told by their parents, “you’ll end up in prison.” They try to please you even if it means doing bad things so speak blessings and joy into their life. When you destroy your child’s hope, you make it hard for me as their teacher to give it back. Choose your words wisely – your children are listening and trying to be what you expect – so expect greatness.

45 – Teaching is hard, and I appreciate your respect and prayers

God called me to teach, and I’m grateful. But even though I’m called, it is hard doing this job. I hope we can work together to help your children learn, grow and find their strengths. I hope you’ll be patient with me because we all have to learn. They have to learn about the subject I teach and our classroom, but  I have to learn about them and you. So, while they have one subject, I have as many subjects as I have students! The more we can learn, the better teamwork we can have. Let’s work together in respect and mutual appreciation – raising kids is a hard job best done in partnership between great parents and teaching professionals.

The greatest dream of my life is to be a game changer for your child and to show them the love of the Living God who loves me so much. We both have a difficult job but a job worth doing well. Let’s learn about helping your child become the best version of himself or herself possible.

46 – Writing this scares me to death

I know how many people HATE teachers. I mean hate them. And I know that I’ve likely misstated or misspoken or said something wrong. And one thing I’ve learned from eleven years of blogging is that people are far more forgiving of themselves, their children, and most people than they are for teachers.

Teachers rarely get grace.

I know that as a teacher that I’m held to a higher standard. I can live with that. But living with the hatred of a society that should love the many amazing teachers out there can be hard sometimes. A college student may become a serial killer but society doesn’t hate college students. A businessman may steal from stockholders, but we don’t hate all businessmen.

And I honestly don’t understand why teachers have to die before people realize that we give our lives for students each and every day. If people say great things about teachers, it is usually when we are dead or retiring. Otherwise, we just take lots of heartache including the self-induced heartache we have over the kids we tried to reach and couldn’t and the normal failings of being a human being.

I hope that you’ll know that I don’t profess for this to be a perfect manifesto of wisdom I wish parents knew, but these are certainly some things I do wish parents knew.

Teaching is my life’s work and I know that to do it well, I need to honor, respect and have great relationships with parents. As for me at this point, I have some of the most fantastic parents on the planet and am grateful for their kindness to me all the time.

The post 46 Things I Wish Parents Knew appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/45-things-wish-parents-knew/

5 Ways to Teach How the Brain Learns

A conversation with Ramona Persaud on episode 80 of the 10-Minute Teacher

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Ramona Persaud @ramonap director of the film, Grey Matters, talks about how we can teach kids the way the brain learns.

title teach how the brain learns

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In today’s show, Ramona Persaud gives five tips directly related to how the brain learns:

  • Understanding stress and the brain
  • Relating knowledge to prior knowledge
  • How the brain changes
  • Thoughts on teaching for mastery
  • The proper place of memorization

I hope you enjoy this episode with Ramona Persaud!

Selected Links from this Episode


Full Bio As Submitted


Ramona PersaudRamona persaud Grey Matters documentary

Ramona Persaud is an independent documentary filmmaker and founder of Change the Lens Productions. Change the Lens Productions specializes in social issue documentaries that are both entertaining and thought-provoking, nudging viewers to examine their life, their perspective, and their overall world view in the context of the stories they’ve just viewed.

GREY MATTERS is Persaud’s second film; the first, IT’S A DIFFERENT WORLD, explores the world of autism through the eyes of three autistic children.

The documentary Grey Matters is based on the book “The Brain Targeted Teaching Model for 21st Century Schools” by Dr. Mariale Hardiman. The documentary offers practical, “use right now” information for teachers, that are based on research.

Transcript for this episode


To be posted as soon as it is available. Check back soon!

The post 5 Ways to Teach How the Brain Learns appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/5-ways-teach-how-brain-learns/