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15 Clever Little Hacks That Teachers Can Use

15 Clever Little Hacks That Teachers Can Use

Teaching is a hard job. After four weeks of it, I now believe that teachers do have special talents. In these four weeks, I delivered interactive workshops to young people across the southwest of the U.K. as a mission for a startup I work for. I came across a lot of what teachers come across every day and have gathered together a list of little hacks to make their jobs a little easier.

1. It’s all in the palms.

One thing that we teach students is body language, and you will be surprised how little tweaks in the way you hold yourself impact you. Your palms can be useful if you direct them towards the people you are talking to. If you keep your hands open with palms down this helps to communicate that you are certain about what you are talking about. You can let your hands speak for you.

2. Get students engaged with technology.

Smartphones and tablets can be useful if used in moderation. We got students engaged with using Google to search for certain things on their smartphones. This went well for the students, as utilizing their web-enabled phones is something that they do in the real world. They need resources at hand, literally. Try starting off with something as simple as suggesting each student research what happened on a particular date. There are many ways to use technology in the classroom, and taking advantage of the technology they have every day (i.e. smartphones) will make a huge impact.

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    3. Keep your tables relevant to your subject.

    You need to keep constant relevance with your work. If you teach science, you need to immerse yourself in science.

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    You need to create table labels with inspirations of that subject. For example, when teacing science you would have famous scientists (Einstein, Newton, Galileo) tables. For business, you would have famous entrepreneurs (Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Jack Dorsey, James Dyson).

    This will help motivate the table to work together and be inspired along the way.

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      4. Always keep time focused, make sure they always see a timer

      With tasks you need to replicate the real world. For tasks greater than 10 minutes, add a timer on the board. This will push them to work towards deadlines. Start this from an early age and it will be very effective for their future. When they are in jobs, they will need to be very time focused. Simply type “Timer” into Google and one will pop-up.

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      Screenshot 2014-09-20 at 13.21.28

        5. Rules (hand in the air)

        Hands in the air is a fantastic tool for control. This may sound extremely simple, but being able to plaster your room with the rules can be a small gauge that can have massive impact.

        6. Use PicMonkey.com to create positive posters

        When you assign your students to create a poster or flyer, I would recommend using something a little different that doesn’t limit them. Free tools like PicMonkey can be very effective in coming up with beautiful designs.

        7.  Engage with your parents through email

        Use MailChimp to engage with the parents. MailChimp is a email tool that will allow you to set up a class newsletter. This is a great way to keep updating parents about important dates, homework and details. Many teachers send home notes in folders that can get lost in backpacks, or stuffed in pockets and run through the washer. Ensure the parents get their notes by putting them right in their email inbox.

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          8. Make a student opportunity board

          Organize one side of your wall to be a space for students to collaborate and promote opportunities to each other, like a community board. This will give students the chance to see key opportunities and dates to change their lives. This can also be a great way to engage with motivation posters (if you are so bold).

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          9. Inspire the entrepreneurs–the sweet sellers

          If you find sweets and price tags in a student’s bag, don’t get mad straight away. Instead, call them aside after the lesson and chat with them about how they won’t be able to sell sweets anymore, but they could run a new project/small business of their choice that is within the school boundaries. This will excite them and kick off their entrepreneurial side in a more valuable way.

          10.  Visualize the mission–use cool software

          Screenshot 2014-09-22 at 22.33.25

            There are so many great tools out there where you can visualize and map a class’s progress or the tasks over the week. One that I’ve found success with is Casual. It’s a nifty website that will allow you to organize events, dates and more. Try it out; it will impress you and get you organized.

            11. Use Evernote + their email feature

            Evernote is another one of those cool tools on the web and accessible on smartphones and tablets. Spread the word to your students. This will be a useful center for sending them information to work on and edit right away, like an on-the-go portfolio. See the Emailing guide from Evernote for more information.

            12. Use Noisedown app

            There is an app called Noisedown that helps monitor the decibels (sound) within the room. If the sound goes over its limit, it will alert the class that the noise is getting too loud and that they should lower the volume. It is very interactive for the students, as it becomes a “mini-mission” for them to work together to keep it below the alert tone. The app is free and easy to download.

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            13. Velcro on the carpet

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              I found this tip on BuzzFeed. Velcro on carpets will help to distinguish seating positions, a great and cheap way to keep order. You can also place Velcro on the carpet, have the children stand in a circle, and use different colors to divide the children into groups (all blues together, all greens together, etc.).

              14. Start with a joke

              To help keep your students engaged, get a book of jokes. Read one aloud to your class every morning, or ask for your students to share their (clean and appropriate) jokes. Start the day with laughter and see the results.

              Check out these jokes if you need suggestions: http://www.prongo.com/jokes/index.asp.

              15. End with a quote

              Have a quote book and do the same. This is an awesome way to inspire the students before they head towards home.

              To get you started, here is a great resource for finding inspirational quotes: http://www.inspirational-quotes.info

              Featured photo credit: the map/Sylwia Bartyzel via unsplash.imgix.net

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              Last Updated on October 16, 2019

              Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

              Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

              Do you like making mistakes?

              I certainly don’t.

              Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

              Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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              Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

              Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

              • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
              • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
              • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
              • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

              We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

              If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

              Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

              Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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              When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

              Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

              We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

              It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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              Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

              Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

              Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

              1. Point us to something we did not know.
              2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
              3. Deepen our knowledge.
              4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
              5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
              6. Inform us more about our values.
              7. Teach us more about others.
              8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
              9. Show us when someone else has changed.
              10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
              11. Remind us of our humanity.
              12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
              13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
              14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
              15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
              16. Invite us to better choices.
              17. Can teach us how to experiment.
              18. Can reveal a new insight.
              19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
              20. Can serve as a warning.
              21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
              22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
              23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
              24. Remind us how we are like others.
              25. Make us more humble.
              26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
              27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
              28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
              29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
              30. Expose our true feelings.
              31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
              32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
              33. Point us in a more creative direction.
              34. Show us when we are not listening.
              35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
              36. Can create distance with someone else.
              37. Slow us down when we need to.
              38. Can hasten change.
              39. Reveal our blind spots.
              40. Are the invisible made visible.

              Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

              The secret to handling mistakes is to:

              • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
              • Have an experimental mindset.
              • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

              When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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              When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

              It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

              When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

              Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

              Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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              Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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