These 6 Things

This post is geared to the educators out there, so if you know a teacher pass this along! I have been blessed to teach with some great educators. Not just people good at their job, but individuals who are constantly pushing themselves to be even better. One of these individuals is Mr. Dave Stuart.

Several times a year students will comment about how great Mr. Stuart is and stir up a little bit of teacher envy inside my teacher soul. To a high school student some teachers are “great” because they allow cell phones, or give open note tests, or don’t keep track of tardies. The more I have gotten to know Mr. Stuart, and how his class functions, the more I have realized he probably expects more from his students than the average teacher.

During the second year at my current school I became more interested in finding out what makes Mr. Stuart such a great teacher in the minds of so many students. I asked students, positioned our instructional rounds group so we would see Mr. Stuart in action, asked colleagues, and even asked Dave for bit of advice.

Through these observations and conversations I learned a lot about things Mr. Stuart’s class does but I was missing the real difference that helps students key in to his instruction. It is not some trendy pedagogy that helps students enjoy Mr. Stuart’s class. Sure, students frequently share about a good Pop-Up Debate, or how the Article of the Week is relevant in their life.  What underscores all of these activities is a set of beliefs students share in that class.

The Five Beliefs are:

  1. Credibility: I believe in my teacher.
  2. Belonging: I belong in this classroom.
  3. Effort: I can improve through my effort.
  4. Efficacy: I can succeed at this.
  5. Value: This work has value for me.

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I have the benefit of being in the same building as Dave and can pick his brain if I am looking to try something from his class in my own room. I have even tried resources on his website. If you are anything like me, I like to have a physical copy as a guide when trying something new that has some type of format involved. As a college student I remember having Harry Wong’s First Days of School, and once I started my current assignment a colleague handed me Teach Like a Champion 2.0. Both of these were great resources to help build a skill-set as a teacher.

Lucky for anyone looking to build classroom culture, Long-Term Flourishing in their students, or looking for a guide to using Pop-Up Debates Dave has just published his second book. This one is simply title These 6 Things.

I know my copy will be nearby as I plan throughout the year. I am sure it will be a much loved resource as I continue to build my skill-set and get students more involved with reading, writing, and using meaningful argument.

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So aren’t Reading, Writing, and Speaking things that should be left to ELA and the Social Studies departments? Not at all, especially with the Next Gen Science Standards and the increased emphasis on students modeling their understanding of science concepts.

A key piece of developing science-minded students revolves around what NGSS refers to as the Science and Engineering Practices. There are eight practices, but let’s connect dots between three of these standards and These 6 Things.

  1. Analyzing and Interpreting Data- Reading
  2. Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information- Reading, Writing, Speaking
  3. Engaging in Argument from Evidence- Speaking/Listening

Our biology classes have dabbled with using news articles as source documents. We have also increased the amount of modeling as part of our investigations. Having These 6 Things as a guide for Pop-Up Debate is the piece I am most excited about having this physical copy.

There are so many topics in science that will lend themselves nicely to Pop-Up Debate. Climate Change, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s), safe dieting, stem cell research, and how about the granddaddy of them all, Evolution.

Dave’s writing is conversational, yet informative. He is authentic and it comes through in his teaching and in his book. Whether on a personal, department, building, or district level there is value in getting this book into teacher’s hands. Almost all of us who are teachers chose this career to make a meaningful impact in the lives of others. Not just to help boost standardized test scores or get into a college, but to really help students become successful individuals as they head out into life after school.

This book helps focus on 6 things to streamline meaningful instruction. This helps students flourish in the long-term and will help teachers find balance between school and life. I know this book will be a great resource for Professional Development. I am curious to see how long it will be before this book is on a college syllabus for new teachers. First Days of School was a good preview to essential classroom management. These 6 Things will be a great resource for helping develop meaningful, life-long skills in our students. I hope you have a great year! Peace.

 

 

Learning to Fly

Last week my son was riding his bike on the sidewalk and shouted “Dad! A baby bird!”. The week prior we had come across a dead baby robin on the sidewalk and had to have an impromptu “circle of life” conversation, so I was fearing another little bird had met the same fate. Moving closer to the small brown pile of feathers we could see its little body rising and falling with each quick breathe. A few moments after approaching the little bird, it fluttered through the air a few feet and came crashing down. While it fluttered away I noticed small pockets of red under its wings.

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My attention was also drawn to a nearby rooftop where a male cardinal was keeping watch. Cardinals are one of the most beautiful birds we get here in Michigan, so to see a baby cardinal fresh out of the nest was exciting! At the same time I grew quite worried since this small flightless bird was sure to become a quick meal in its current condition. Continue reading

Self Discovery

This past school year I started posting a weekly Quote of the Week to accompany a Video of the Week. The goal being to start each week with some thought provoking material for students to ponder. Ideas which had very little to do with content and very much to do with self discovery. Most weeks I matched the quote with the content of the video, but sometimes mixed up topics for extra connections/conversation.

If this sounds interesting, I made a “40 Week Deep Thinking” document. Currently, all videos work but they are mostly YouTube links and have broken in the past.

40 Week Deep Thinking Quote and Video Continue reading

Removing the word “Can’t”

Having three young boys has presented many challenges these past few years of fatherhood, but many lessons have been learned along the way. At this point into the parenthood game the life lessons learned from now being a dad have outnumbered the lessons I have been able to teach my sons. One of the most valuable of these lessons has been the power of the word can’t. Not long after learning to speak in short sentences my oldest son would become frustrated doing a task and throw down this demotivating c-word. This behavior then seemed to always  preview another negative action labeled with a four letter word, quit. Continue reading

Delivering Happiness

Tony Hsieh (pronounced shay) is the CEO of Zappos, an incredibly popular online shoe site. In his book Delivering Happiness, Hsieh walks through his entrepreneur career in an informal and biographical way that draws the reader (or listener) in and is very encouraging to anyone hoping to bet on themselves and find success. Hsieh’s journey to a current net worth of $840 million is not purely a tale of “hard work pays off” nor is it the story of “the underdog winning the championship”. Hsieh’s business biography up to the point of this writing is exciting and stems back to his youth.  As a dad of two young boys I wonder if I have the courage, and trust, to let my sons experiment with success the same way Hsieh’s parents allowed him to try several money making ideas before even graduating high school. Continue reading

B.Y.P. Beautiful Young People

After a spring and summer of learning about mindset and positive psychology, I decided to compile a list of positive quotes and videos to share with students this school year. Even though I knew this would take a few minutes out of an already packed class schedule, I hoped somehow intentionally creating the space for self-reflection and some deeper thought would somehow help my students.

Straight away on week one I dove in with a clip on famous failures. After watching the video I asked students to write a short reflection or any thoughts they had on the video. After jotting down ideas, students shared in small groups, and then finally I called on a few students to share out with the class. This first video stirred up more emotion than I anticipated! Continue reading