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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 September 10, 2019

7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

Most of your reality is not a given. It is shaped by your expectations, beliefs and thoughts you have formed about it. A big chunk of these beliefs and expectations are encoded into habits you integrate in your daily life.

Yes, some of these habits are formed unconsciously and can be counter-productive or limiting but conversely, you can consciously form positive habits that will transform and empower your life significantly.

This is a powerful point of departure that more and more people are becoming aware of. The most common trait of highly successful people is the recognition of the power they have in co-creating their reality through changing the way they think, believe or expect their reality to be.

One of the most effective ways of changing our belief patterns is through practising and maintaining daily rituals. Ancient traditions had clearly understood the power of rituals in reinforcing habits and changing the way we see and create our reality a long, long time ago.

Once again, if you look into the life history of any highly successful individual, you will find some form of ritual in their daily routine. Some of these rituals may seem banal or eccentric but don’t be deceived by appearances. Rituals are one of the most effective self-empowering tools freely available at the practitioner’s disposal – that is, you!

Below are some the easiest yet life-changing morning rituals you can do every day. Of course, you can have your own afternoon or bed-time rituals but morning rituals are extremely effective in empowering your day since they help you charge yourself before it all starts.

1. Gratitude

Feeling gratitude and appreciation for those little signs and moments of joy happening in your life is probably one of the most overlooked or underestimated rituals. It is a perfect morning ritual to start your day on a very positive key.

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The real power of gratitude is that it makes you pick out and focus on what is working in your life – what is in tune with your being as a whole. It is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those awesome things, small or big, that grace your everyday living.

Quite often, we just pick out the pain points, the problems, the bottle necks, whatever it is that is not working in our life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. This is like constantly rewriting the script of your life with a negative or tragic overtone. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully that script you write whether it is a negative or positive one.

So feeling gratitude is undoubtedly an immensely empowering ritual. Start your day by being thankful for those positive things that happened the previous day or throughout the week. It could be something really petty and small. It doesn’t matter. You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, a new opportunity or whatever it is that shines your way. Do it every morning and see what happens during the day.

Gratitude-Quotes

    2. Writing Down Your Most Important Tasks

    This is a very practical ritual. Start your day by identifying and writing down from one to three of the most important tasks you need to complete during that day. These tasks are ones which support important long term goals that are aligned to your purpose, passion or general direction in life.

    For example, if writing a book or building an online community are important long term goals which are aligned to your personal growth, then an important task for the day might be finishing off a particular page or two of the book or coming up with fresh content ideas for the online community.

    What is important with this ritual is that you identify these tasks and complete them as early in the day as possible. Of course, you will have other tasks apart from the ones you will write down but, these are tasks which can be tackled later or batched up and carried out in one go.

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    Writing down your most important tasks in the morning helps you focus your day and life according to what is essential. It helps you prioritize and manage your time better. As a result, you simplify your life by applying your focus and energy on what really counts for your overall life progress.

    3. Affirm Your Goals in Writing or Drawing

    This is similar to the previous idea but different in its application and purpose. Writing down your most important tasks of the day is a way to have a concrete structure of action to follow. Affirming your goals, on the other hand, is a very powerful way of crystallizing your vision and goals in life into your everyday mental space.

    Writing down or doodling your goals on a piece of paper helps you externalize those goals by giving them form. In return, they are reflected back in your subconscious mind and thus, reinforcing them and integrating them more wholly.

    An example of this would be writing down “I am achieving greater success in my career” or “I am becoming healthier and stronger through my exercise.” Notice the present tense being used as a way to tell yourself you are in the process already. Remember the life script we subconsciously follow? You are basically modifying the script to be applied now in the present.

    Drawing or doodling can be equally, or even more, effective  (if you are more of a visual person) as it summarizes a graphical representation of your goals. For example, if your goal is to build a new house or live in another country, you can draw the house or draw things that symbolise the country you want to live in.

    write down goals

      4. Practice Qi Gong Exercises

      According to Chinese philosophy, Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) means the life force or energy inherent in all things;[1] and Qi Gong is the practice to cultivate and circulate that energy in your body. This may sound esoteric or complicated but actually, Qi Gong is really a set of simple exercises aimed at increasing your health and vitality.

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      There are numerous forms and practices available for free through the online media. As a morning ritual, I recommend following these simple exercises by Qi Gong master Lee Holden:

      5. Drink Hot Water with Lemon

      Simply add a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water and drink one every morning. This is a very simple ritual I follow faithfully every morning.

      Apart from being a good source of vitamin C and a great way of flushing out toxins in the morning, it balances and maintains the PH levels in the body, reduces pain and inflammation in joints and knees and helps nourishing brain and nerve cells. Here are some more benefits of drinking hot water with lemon.

      6. Rise Earlier

      The practical advantages of waking up early are obvious.

      For example, you gain more time for doing exercise such as walking, cycling or Qi Gong as suggested above. You gain more time to be with yourself to reflect, meditate or, more importantly, carry out the other morning rituals.

      So rising early can be seen as a foundation for all the other morning rituals. Many, like myself, find that they are more productive in the early hours of the day.

      Also, various studies have shown that there are many other benefits from waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning. Sleeping early and waking up early helps the body attune with the earth’s circadian rhythms thus, promoting more restorative sleep. Other curious results from such studies show, for instance, that early risers tend to be more optimistic and can anticipate and solve problems more efficiently than the norm.[2]

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      7. Listen to Uplifting Music

      Uplifting music can have a direct impact on our mood, especially in the morning. It charges us emotionally and tunes us into a more positive outlook of the day ahead.

      Most people wake up to music or listen to music as they commute to work. Very often, however, they tune in to a radio or randomly pick a playlist from their device. Being more selective and conscious of the music you listen to in the morning can have a great impact on your day and life in general.

      It’s funny how we try to choose music according to our mood. For example if you are feeling down or disappointed by something, you are more prone to listen to music that reflects that mood – for instance blues, sad songs or downtempo music. This has the effect of reinforcing that mood. What you need to do is the exact opposite and retune your mood by listening to music that beats to a different tune than that mood.

      Try to listen to more uplifting music in the morning even if, or especially if, your mood does not dictate so.

      More About Energetic Habits & Rituals

      Featured photo credit: Carli Jeen via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Live Science: What Is Qi Gong
      [2] Harvard Business Review: Defend Your Research: The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm

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