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10 Ways That Teachers Can Improve The Lives Of Their Students

10 Ways That Teachers Can Improve The Lives Of Their Students

There are approximately 3.5 million teachers currently employed in the U.S., and many of them deal with daily challenges such as overcrowded classrooms and minuscule budgets. Despite these obstacles, there are numerous teachers who have found inspiring ways to improve the lives of their students. In fact, if you put even one of the following tips into action, it will have the potential to bring about life-altering results for each student.

1. Boost Their Self-Esteem With Wide-Reaching Class Projects

Many students struggle with the concept of finding worth in doing repetitious tasks that will never been seen by anyone but themselves and their teachers. Although some of this is unavoidable, there are many ways to develop class projects that have a much wider scope and reach.

A prime example is the book publication project developed by Detroit teacher Shannon Waite. Her English students were given the opportunity to write an essay, poem, and short story based on a central theme, and the best selections will be published and sold in a local bookstore. This type of experience is sure to boost each participating student’s self-esteem, which is especially critical in a disadvantaged urban environment.

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2. Take Advantage Of Free Offers For Supplies, Books, And More

Studies have found that teachers spend at least $500 annually on school supplies, so it is important for them to take advantage of any freebies that will help their students learn. This not only enables teachers to offer new learning tools, but it also prevents them from further stretching their personal budget. There are many online resources that can connect you with free educational supplies, including this USATestprep compilation of 55 Free Goods for Your School.

3. Incorporate Popular Modern Themes To Help Students Understand And Appreciate Difficult Subjects

Today’s students are very enamored with technology and other aspects of the modern world that didn’t even exist a few years ago. This can make it especially difficult to get them interested in classic literature that is 400 years old or historical information that seems completely irrelevant to them.

Fortunately, teachers have the ability to use modern themes in order to bring old concepts to life. It can be very powerful to meet them on their social and technological level, whether this means showing them a modern re-imagining of a Shakespeare story to get them interested in the original piece or using iPads to let them learn through technology they are comfortable with.

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4. Provide Honest Assessments An A Kind And Constructive Manner

It is necessary to offer honest assessments in order for students to truly learn and grow, but this can become negative if the proper approach is not used. A review of the link between teacher interaction and positive or negative student behavior has made it clear that kindness and constructive comments will go much further than simply pulling out the red pen.

In fact, a teacher’s level of friendliness and respect toward their students, along with self-regulation and the ability to fully explain the material, can have a huge impact on each student’s eagerness and acceptance of discipline, organization skills, and self-regulation. Overall, the more positive the teacher-student rapport is, the more accepting students are of constructive criticism, which in turn helps them improve.

5. Enable Students On The Spectrum To Utilize Their Unique Strengths

Children with autism typically have many challenges, but they also have unique strengths, including a thinking style that tends to be very outside-the-box. These students may require a specific type of instruction that is different from the norm. However, if you meet them halfway, it is very likely that they will excel in many subjects.

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For example, if a child with Asperger’s currently has baseball as their special interest, you can engage them in classroom assignments by letting them relate their work to the sport in some way. Other students will also benefit from seeing a different point of view. Providing these accommodations will increase the student’s self-esteem and may reduce bullying.

6. Lead By Example

Another way to diminish bullying in and outside the classroom is by setting a good example. It would be easy to give into frustration and say something to a student that is not positive, but doing this will capture the attention of their peers. If you must say something negative, it is best to speak to the student privately. By showing respect to your students, you will create a classroom culture that empowers them to learn and to treat others around them with respect as well.

7. Allow Your Students To Be Involved In Selecting Some Of The Classwork

There are certain parts of the curriculum that cannot, and should not, be changed. However, most teachers have at least some wiggle room with the daily classwork that they assign. Allowing your students to have some say in these assignments can make a big difference in how well they relate to and learn from them. If you have a less structured day on Fridays or before a holiday, get your students’ input on what they would like to work on. You should probably ask them to select between two or three options so that you get a clear answer, but making the process feel more democratic is still likely to capture their attention.

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8. Use Achievable, Short-Term Goal Setting To Encourage Their Educational Growth

Goal setting needs to be actionable, measurable, and achievable. It is also best to use positive language, even if you are correcting negative behavior or a knowledge deficit. Breaking larger goals into small, short-term chunks is one of the most effective ways to get students interested in achieving new accomplishments. Therefore, even if you need them to ultimately produce four separate works for one large project, it is better to focus on one piece of the puzzle at a time. This will make students feel more encouraged, and it will also give you a better opportunity to intervene quickly if someone is not following instructions or learning the material.

9. Provide Rewards For Extracurricular Volunteer Work

Studies have proven that volunteering is good for way to boost self-esteem and network with others. Additionally, learning early on about the value of volunteering can put someone on the path to being kinder to their peers. Some schools link volunteering to educational credits, and it is sometimes possible to get scholarships for giving back to the local community. You could also offer tangible rewards such as erasing one tardy for every hour of volunteering or allowing students to drop their lowest test score if they volunteered somewhere that semester.

10. Consider Teaming Up With A Local Bakery To Offer Classroom Snacks

An astounding 15.3 million children do not have steady access to food, and many of them may come to school without having eaten breakfast. This will make it much harder for them to learn, and they may also be more disruptive during class. To minimize this problem, consider asking a local bakery or grocery store to donate day-old items to your class. Do not list these items in this way, though. Instead, let every student know that the snacks are available and they are free to take one. This will relieve some of the burden of being in a household that experiences regular food insecurity, and it will help your students learn.

To get the most out of each day, teachers can also take advantage of tools that have been specifically designed to help them save time. Additionally, it is wise to slowly introduce new methods that can make the classroom more student-friendly so that you do not take on too much at once.

Featured photo credit: Lucélia Ribeiro via flic.kr

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Holly Chavez

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Last Updated on January 17, 2019

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

Listen carefully:

We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

1. Pray Daily

You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

3. Smile Often

Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

4. Organize Your Working Desk

A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

How do you do that? This is my formula:

First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

8. Go Exercise

Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

The Bottom Line

It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

More Resources About Mindfulness

Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

Reference

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