A Lesson We Can All Learn From Mr. Meyers

I had a teacher in 6th grade named Mr. Meyers. He taught at the school across town for years, then transferred to our elementary school the year I was in his class. As sixth-grade students and especially sixth graders in an elementary school, we were determined to run the classroom that year, since we had a new teacher in a new environment. I’m sure all of you teachers out there know exactly what I am talking about. 

We were constantly testing his patience by requesting irrational things like, let’s only do math once a week! And, let’s have extended recess during our lunch recess since we are the last kids to go inside anyway! He was always working out deals with us so that we were both satisfied, such as, if we worked really hard all week on our math lessons, we would have Fridays off during math for free time instead. 

We all felt so in control. Little did we know, he had complete control and was also teaching us life lessons that I still carry with me today. 

One situation that sticks out so vivid in my mind was our seating chart. He created groups of 4-5 throughout the classroom and somehow planned it so perfectly that not a single person had a friend in their group. After making my fair share of seating charts years later, I am still baffled at how he managed to plan this one so strategically. Every single student was angry about the arrangement of the seats. 

I can still name every student that was in my group. David, Kelsey, Houston, Mitchell, and me. All of us had gone to school together for over six years now, some of us even back to preschool. And growing up in a small town, our parents even knew each other on a personal basis as well. 

Yet, until that day, none of us had spoked a word to each other. The same was true for the four other groups scattered throughout the room. The second each of us realized what had happened, we retaliated. We boycotted the seating arrangement, moved our desks on our own to create the new groups that we liked. We refused to learn or listen to what Mr. Meyers was teaching. 

I’m certain at this point, our teacher had felt like he lost control and probably panicked a little as well. But in time, he pulled himself together and called a class meeting. We discussed concerns and issues in a mature (sixth grade) way, then finally came to a resolution that we didn’t love, but we were pretty sure we could cheat the system on. 

Mr. Meyers told us that if we learned how to work together and be friends, he would move our seats. We whispered to one another that all we had to do was act like friends and he would move us. Simple. 

The next day the class put on our fake smiles and acted like best friends. 

“Hey, Kels! Cuuuuute shoes! Wow, you are SO LUCKY to have them, I wish my mom would have bought me the exact same ones! You’re so cool!” This was a very similar sentence I really did say to the other girl in my group. Kelsey and I were not friends. We were different in every way and I truly did not like her shoes. But we had to convince our teacher that we were friends! 

Our overdramatic talking and fake bright eyes were definitely noticed by our teacher. But not in the way we hoped. He knew better. He knew we didn’t just become friends overnight, but that smart man did not say a word. He continued on to let us speak to one another in chipper voices, pretending like we have been besties from day one. 

Slowly, over time, our attitudes changed. Our group would always ask Mitchell for help with math because we realized he was really good at it. And of course, Mr. Meyer had to be noticing that we were using one another as a resource! Look! We’re friends! 

Eventually, we found out that David was excellent at storytelling, although sometimes we questioned how much of it was true. Houston had a unique sense of humor that constantly had us laughing out loud, sometimes even when we shouldn’t have been. And although Kelsey was so opposite from me, we ended up finding out that we both loved to dance. 

The day came when Mr. Meyers announced that we would be moving seats. For a few seconds, the room was still. Silence hung heavy in the air as the class processed what was happening. We were supposed to cheer and be happy! This is exactly what we wanted! But what followed was everyone exclaiming, NOOOO! Please don’t! This isn’t fair! We love our groups! And the kicker is, this was all genuine. We really did come to love the people we were around and the friends we truly had made. 

Mr. Meyers pulled a fast one on us. 

He told us to become friends, so we pretended to be. In the process, we did find great friendship and positive aspects of each and every person. 

The rest of the school year our seat assignments continued to change over time, but our new friends were still there. Even continuing into middle and high school, they remained. 

David, Houston, and Kelsey eventually moved away before high school graduation. But Mitchell and I were still there. After the ceremony when the hugs and pictures commenced, Mitchell and I gave each other a look from across the way, because while we didn’t stay close through the years, there was always a little light of a friendship that never quite burnt out. And we owe that to Mr. Meyers. 

So why am I telling you this? Because my teacher my sixth grade year taught me crucial lessons that I have carried on to this day. 

First, I am capable of working with anyone. I have worked with my fair share of co-workers in a school setting and unfortunately, we didn’t always see eye to eye. But because of one situation in my elementary school days, I remember to look for the positive in others and can make a friend. 

I also learned how to be a better friend, because friendship goes both ways. 

The most important lesson, however, was that he was aware of us. He saw our strengths and weaknesses, then placed us in groups that strengthened each other. He wasn’t just there to make it through the math textbook with us, or make us write over and over. He looked beyond the standardized testing and taught us how to become better humans. Mr. Meyers sent us into 7th grade not only smarter, but more compassionate, more empathetic, and with more friends. 

He taught me what a difference one teacher in my life can make, and how influential they can be to students. Each student I now come in contact with I think to myself, will I make a positive impact in their lives? Or will I just be another adult that gives them a test at the end of the year? How I treat them is ultimately the deciding factor.

Let’s all keep a little Mr. Meyers in us. Let’s send our students on with not only the tools they need to solve problems and take tests but to make and keep friendships, even the unlikely ones.  Let’s make a difference in our student’s lives.

Cover Photo: Pexels.com

A Quick List of Fall Books For The Classroom

We are now well into fall and a fall book list is a must. I always say if I could live in one season forever, it would definitely be fall, hands down. I’ve often wondered if there is a place that exists where autumn lasts all year, and then I recall the life cycle of trees and how it is not possible for them to forever be in this state. But of course, Anne says it best.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

-L.M. Montgomery
Anne of Green Gables

A few picture books that are perfect for any fall day in the classroom:

Fall Mixed Up! 

I will warn you. Only read this book to your students if you’re prepared for continual laughing. This book is wacky and silly and so perfect for when you just need a change of attitude in your classroom!

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves 

This cute story tells of a fox showing empathy for a tree losing its leaves. He is deeply concerned for the tree, up until he sees how beautiful it is on the first day of winter. 

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves 

We all love the old lady who swallowed a fly, but now she’s swallowing leaves! What is there not to love about that!? If you’re into felt storyboards, this book is perfect for one. 

Room on the Broom 

A fun Halloween based book about a witch that adds more and more friends to her broom. Again, another great felt storyboard book! 

Charlotte’s Web

This literary classic is a must-read in every classroom. The setting starts in the early fall, then reaches into early winter, making it a great read-aloud book for this time of the year. 

What autumn books have you read to your class this year?

Teaching Students Who Are Naturally Organized, Responsible, and Leaders? You May Be Teaching An ENFJ

This is part of a series of using Myers Briggs personality types in the classroom. For more information, click here. For information on how to figure out your student’s MBTI type, click here. 

Extroverted
I(N)tuition
Feelings
Judgment 

ENFJ. Do you have a task-oriented student, who strives to be a leader, and shows empathy to peers? You may be teaching an ENFJ. Let’s break down each of the categories. 

Extroverted- These students love the interaction with other students. Group work is great for them, but they can also strive in personal work as well. 

Intuition- This means they are very future-thinkers. These students will plan future projects and ask what the next step is. They are also big-picture thinkers, meaning they may have a hard time analyzing small bits of information. 

Feelings- (Omit for students younger than 12) They can be very empathetic towards others because they make decisions mainly based on feelings. This can also cause them to take criticism harshly. 

Judgment-  These students are very organized and need structure. It’s not very common to find an ENFJ student with a messy desk or backpack, because they have a hard time functioning without order. 

So how do you teach these students? First, you need to understand that they need human interaction for energy. Allowing them time to work and talk with other students can do wonders for their attitudes. Too much independent study time can cause stress for them. 

Another thing to remember is that they are very into future thinking and planning. This can lead to daydreaming and idealistic thoughts, that can possibly be discouraging to them when realized that it cannot be carried through. It’s also typical for them to be put into positions where projects can become overwhelming or impossible for them because an ENFJ will go above and beyond what is asked to create something greater. 

(For kids over 12) being a feeler, ENFJs are incredibly empathetic, which is a great tool in making and keeping great friendships. Being extroverted and a feeler gives them the idea that everyone they come in contact with is a potential friend. However, they can be overly selfless and end up taking on more than they can handle in both their schoolwork and socially. 

You should also be aware that they are often asking “Who will this benefit?” They love to see the why behind their work. Once they have understood the whole concept, studied it, and internalized the information, they find excitement in their new-found knowledge. Sometimes to the point where they strive to assist others in learning it as well.

ENFJs need opportunities to lead, as well as possibilities to assist other peers. They are helpers with common future careers that involve teaching and helping others. Foster this need in them, let them lead and help where you can. Be wary with criticism, they may not take it well because of their emotional thinking since they never want to let anyone down. 

Do you teach any ENFJ students? What other tips do you have for teaching them? 

Do You Teach Early Childhood Ages? This List Is For You

Around the time my daughter was 18 months old, I had an epiphany moment. I was a full-time stay at home mom. The majority of my focus was on raising and teaching her, so I needed to treat it more like it was at least my part-time job. I spent my day running my own errands, dragging her around with me, and when I needed to accomplish tasks around the house I would try to pawn her off to her room to play with her toys. 

Well, her toys eventually were boring to her and she spent more time clinging to me than ever before. That’s when I realized something needed to change. If my job was to raise and teach her, then that’s where I needed to shift my focus. 

I researched age-appropriate, educational activities for her, built up a good stash of supplies, and got to work. In the year I have been doing these with her, I have also come up with a decent list of tips that I believe can benefit everyone, whether you’re also a stay at home mom like me, a working mom, or a teacher of littles. 

Without further ado, here are the crucial tips I’ve learned. 

1. Everything can and will be cleaned up- Sensory bins are messy. Painting for the first ten times is messy. Even playing with stickers can be messy. This was so hard for me and I would have to just take a deep breath and remind myself that it will be cleaned up, but for now, she’s learning. 

2. Cleaning is fun for toddlers, take advantage of that- My daughter LOVED wiping up the table after a small sensory activity. She’s two years old now and still loves it. I’m taking full advantage of her help for as long as possible. It’s also teaching her some cleaning skills. Double win!  

3. Don’t overfill the sensory bin with too many tools- The first sensory bin I did with my daughter was a giant bust. I filled it full of fun tools she could use to play in the water. Right away she became overwhelmed with the number of things in front of her and refused to play with it. Too many options and information can overwhelm any child, even into kinder and first grade.

4. Just because they weren’t very good at a certain activity or bin the first time, doesn’t mean it’s a bust. They’ll get better and have more fun every time you pull it out.  

5. “Taste Safe” does not mean it’s an afternoon snack. It means you don’t need to try poison control when it’s put in their mouths- Especially small kids are notorious for eating EVERYTHING. So taste safe can be best, sometimes even into Kindergarten, because five-year-olds are just as guilty at placing anything in mouths, noses, and ears! This doesn’t mean they have free reign to eat cornmeal. It just means you don’t need to worry when it’s in their mouth, you just need to respond with, “yuck!” so it doesn’t continue happening.  

6. Don’t underestimate their abilities. 

7. Messes mean their learning. It’s hard, but it’s true.  

8. They don’t have to do an activity exactly how you envisioned for it still to be fun for them.

9. Some activities are a bust, and that’s okay. Try again later. 

11. Tape. Construction paper. Markers. You don’t need a lot of supplies, or even expensive supplies to make it fun and educational. In fact, the activity on repeat in our house is painting with water on construction paper. This takes construction paper, some sort of paintbrush, and a cup to hold water. So. Easy.

12. 1-2 drops of food coloring is all you need. 

13. Water play is the cleanest play. Nervous about sensory bins in your house or classroom because they are notorious for being messy? You’re not alone. If you have access to a non-carpeted area, water sensory bins are great because they can only do the floors a favor when all it needs is a good mopping when it’s over. 

14. They’ll never learn the responsibility of playing in a sensory bin or with messy activities if you never give them the opportunity to. 

15. You don’t have to understand what concepts they are learning, you just have to understand that it’s important that they really play. I used to be nervous about making hands-on activities for my daughter because I wasn’t exactly sure what she was learning or how to explain it to her. The good news is- you don’t need to either. In this photo, my daughter is experimenting with baking soda and vinegar. She doesn’t need to know that what’s happening are the hydrogen ions within the vinegar react with the bicarbonate in the baking soda, causing a reaction, creating new chemicals, which lead to a second reaction. All she needs to know is that when the vinegar hits the baking soda, it makes bubbles. Don’t feel daunted by the minute details. Just let them play. 


What Are the Seven Habits? An Inside Look on How They Can Help Your Students

Many schools across the nation are using Steven Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in their framework for better classrooms. Or more popular, his son Sean’s book centered around the same idea, but for kids. There is also a version for teens as well. Whichever you choose, these books hold the same idea that there are 7 habits we as humans can adopt to foster a more successful life. 

If you are not already using this book as a tool in your classrooms, I suggest you start. Not only creating these habits in yourself but also encouraging your students to use these habits as well. 

The habits outlined in the books are: 

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin With The End In Mind
  3. Put First Things First 
  4. Think Win/Win
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw 

The children’s version of this book is fun and playful, watching different animal friends carry out the seven habits, seeing how each can benefit their community. Not only is it an informational book that is a vehicle for great discussions with your students, but also fun and engaging with kids. 

They have a whole website of resources, plus a series of books to dive deeper into each habit. They are striving to create leaders at a young age- This is something all of us need to get behind. 

The teen version of the book is geared towards trials and situations those in middle and high school may face and how the seven habits can be applied to them, aiding in better outcomes. They have also created a workbook to go along with the original book. 

The key to these books is that they are habits, which defined by Oxford is, “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.”
A regular tendency that is hard to give up. How powerful. These authors are implying that being proactive and thinking win/win can and should be a tendency, not something that needs to be thought about. Their books can help you, your students, your classrooms, and your schools accomplish this. 

Are you a 7 Habits or Leader in Me school? How have you witnessed it working well? Have the 7 habits become habits for you or something you still need to consciously make an effort to do? 

Cover Photo Credit: Goodreads 

A Guide To MBTI: How To Use It As An Educator

I wrote a post about using Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in the classroom with your students and how it can benefit them and you in learning and teaching. This can be a useful tool in really understanding each child on a personal level, why they act and react the way they do, and teaching to their needs. 

Before I break down how to teach individual types, you first need the tools in how to analyze your kiddos and find out what their MBTI is. The quickest, the surest way to accomplish this is to give them this test and have them share their results with you. This can also be a great conversation starter with them about the personality test, what it means, and how they can use it as a tool to work more efficiently with peers and teachers. 

An important note, however, is that the previous test is ideal for people ages 12 and older. It is believed that kids under the age of 12 have not completely developed the Thinking/Feeling aspect yet, and it is best to omit this. If that is the case, use this test instead, which is more specified for young kids. 

It indicates that this latter test is best filled out by the child and adult together, but in my experience, it is also efficient to only have one person fill it out if needed. If you feel you know the child well enough to fill it out for them, that can be a possibility. If you have the means for each child to fill it out themselves, based on ability level, it is also a viable option. 

Let’s say administering the test is not a feasible option for you. Another way to figure out personality types in your students is to analyze them yourself, but to do this, you must have a decent understanding of each category and how to organize the data you find. Let’s break it down. 


 Extroversion vs. Introversion- How you receive your energy. Introversion is commonly confused with being shy, but this is incorrect. Think of it this way, if you spent your night at a networking event, then proceeded to have dinner with friends, would you then feel the need to go home to be away from others and recharge? Or does it seem appealing to find a party down the block afterward? Introversion is not being shy around others, it’s needing to recharge by themselves because it’s energy-sucking in large crowds. Extroverts are fed energy-wise by crowds. 

Sensing vs. I(n)tuition- How someone takes in information. In a social setting, this may be one of the more difficult ones to identify, however, in a school setting it may be one of the easier.  Those who prefer sensing are very “in the now” type of people. They are very attentive to detail, use their five senses, and very practical in their work. Intuitive people are more about the big picture. They have a hard time solving small details without seeing more of the story. They are forward thinkers, always looking toward the future, and asking “why”. 

Thinking vs. Feeling- How you make decisions. This one is fairly self-explanatory. Thinkers are logical and use facts to make decisions. Feelers use their emotions as their drive, often considering other’s feelings when making decisions as well. This is not yet developed in kids until about age 12, and should not be considered until this age. 

Judging vs. Perceiving- How you structure your life. To make it simple, judgers need lists, organization, and clear expectations/ schedules. Perceivers work better in a looser environment with open-ended possibilities and last-minute decisions.

Once you have decided what category they fall into for the four different types, you then have their MBTI. For example, mine is ENFJ. I am extroverted, use intuition, make decisions based on feelings, and fall into the judging side. Once you determine your students’ MBTI, a great resource to read more about each type in vivid detail is best on this website, it will tell you strengths and weaknesses, as well as give insight into their friendships and relationships. 

Some other tips I find useful: 

  1. Research it beyond just this article. 16 Personalities website has great resources, as well as The Myers & Briggs Foundation. You can also find countless other articles and videos on understanding MBTI with a simple google search.
  2. Take the test yourself, and read all of the information on your MBTI. 
  3. Have others you are especially close to take the test, find out their personality type, then use their information to analyze why they received that specific type. I believe that seeing these traits first hand in your close relationships will help you come to a deeper understanding of how to find it in others.
  4. Once you’ve come to a decent understanding of the types, start trying to figure out people’s types before they tell them to you and see how accurate you can be in analyzing them.   
  5. Understand that each letter is a spectrum, meaning everyone freely moves along the spectrum, sometimes leaning more towards one side, then going toward the middle at some point in their lives too. On the 16 Personalities website, you have the ability to create a profile where it will show you what percentage you scored for each category. 
  6. Remember this quote in all your research “If you were to clasp your hands together with fingers intertwined, you will find that you will naturally place the thumb of one hand over the other – that is your preference.  If you were to clasp your hands with the opposite thumb on top, you would find the sensation a little odd but you would still be able to do it. That’s exactly what happens when we choose to do things that differ from our preferred behaviour.” -Shen-Li Lee 

I am very interested to see how well this works for you in your classrooms. Did this information help you understand some students on a more personal level? Did analyzing your students or having them take the test surprise you what their results were? 

Cover Photo Credit: Found on https://aneclecticmuse.blogspot.com/2015/05/mbti-understanding-our-actions.html 

My Thoughts on an Ever-Changing World

Recently I had an interesting conversation with my grandma. She told me how in her day, back in the ’70s and ’80s when she was raising her kids, she used to keep her baby lying in the front seat of her car while she drove for convenience of nursing and pacifying them. She uses this in an argument when car seats are not present and justifies letting older kids go without seat belts. “My kids survived it, so yours will be fine.” 

But will they? 

The world she raised her kids in is a different world than the world I am raising my kids in. Cars were not even capable of going the speeds they are today. Freeway speeds limits were not 80 mph. Cellphones did not exist to distract drivers. 

Will my kids be okay if she just sits them in the backseat without the proper safety restraints while only going down the block? Probably. But at the same time, I think we need to ask ourselves the morbid question – How many kids had to die in order for the laws in a car to become what they are today? Just because my grandmother’s kids survived and were fortunate enough to never be in a car accident, doesn’t mean everyone was. 

We truly cannot compare the world our parents and grandparents grew up in, to our world today. There are worlds of differences, even in just 50 years. However, just because driving conditions have changed, does not mean cars are less safe. We know our cars can handle higher speeds and diverse conditions because they are safer and well made now. Seat belt and car seat laws exist to compensate for this change. How incredible is it to live in such an adaptable world. 

I also want to point out that our world has changed in incredibly positive ways as well. This article actually tells us what a safer world we are in today. Maybe we feel it is so unsafe and scary because of our ready access to news and media that was non-existent not too long ago. In my grandma’s younger years, ignorance was bliss. 

War rates have plummeted. Malaria cases have gone down. Homicide rates almost look non-existent compared to what they used to be.   

Our world is ever-changing, ever-growing, and ever-adapting. I’m interested to see what I will say to my grandkids someday that “my kids survived it, so yours will be fine.”

Photo Credit: deathtothestockphoto.com