www.chickmoorman.com --- www.thomashaller.com March 20, 2006
The Response-Able Educator Newsletter #50

Welcome! This is a free newsletter about becoming a Response-Able educator who develops Response-Able students.

Mission Statement

Our mission is to inspire, encourage, and uplift the spirits of educators so they can in turn inspire, encourage, and uplift the spirits of their students.


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In This Issue

1. Quote
2. Humor
3. Bumper Sticker
4. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation
5. Sign of the Times
6. Article: A Defining Moment
7. Teacher Talk Tip
8. New Products
9. Did You Know?
10. Schedule of Events

1. Quote

"The real preparation for education is a study of one's self. The training of the teacher . . .is something far more than a learning of ideas. It includes the training of character. It is a preparation of the spirit."

Maria Montessori

2. Humor

A teacher recently participated in helping one of her kindergarteners pull on his boots. He had asked for help, and once she began to give it she knew why. Even with her pulling and pushing, the boots still did not want to go on. She continued to struggle mightily, to no avail.

She found herself close to tears when her student informed her, "Teacher, they're on the wrong feet."

She looked down and, sure enough, the boots were on the wrong feet.

Pulling the boots off was no easier than trying to get them on, but the teacher managed to keep her cool, and together she and her young charge were able to get the boots off and onto the correct feet. Feeling a sense of accomplishment, she declared, "Now, they're on the right feet."

It was then that the student told her, "These aren't my boots."

The teacher wanted to scream, "Why didn't you say so?" But she bit her tongue and politely helped him to pull off the ill-fitting boots one more time.

No sooner had the boots come off than the student announced, "These are my brother's boots. My mom made me wear them today."

The teacher didn't know whether to laugh or cry. She mustered up the grace and courage of a Spirit Whisperer and began once again to place his feet in the boots. Finally, with the job complete, she handed him his coat and asked, "Where are your mittens?"

The student said, "I stuffed them in the toes."

3. Bumper Sticker

Spotted on a silver Chevy Cavalier in Granite Bay, CA:

Hoket on foniks.
Werked fur me.

4. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation

What if the way to change this student is not to change the student's thinking but to change your own? Are there new thoughts you can think about him or her that would be more invitational, more nurturing, more loving?

5. Sign of the Times

A.) An intermediate school in Indiana has instituted a reading incentive program for fifth- and sixth-graders called Lunch Limos for Literacy. Students who read a prescribed number of books and pass the Reading Counts quiz on each book are eligible for a lottery drawing to determine which eight students get a limo ride to lunch. A local limo company provides the transportation, and Pizza Hut, McDonald's, Arby's, Subway, and other local restaurants provide the lunch.

How is it that reading has become so unattractive that we have to bribe kids with limo rides to read books? "How can we strengthen our reading program so that students will be internally motivated to read?" seems a more worthwhile question to find an answer to than, "What reward can we give kids so they'll read more?"

B.) Spotted on the wall in the teachers' room in a southwestern Michigan school: "Definition of Negative Numbers: Those integers less than zero which teachers tend to see a lot of while balancing their checkbooks."

C.) Seen in a high-school English classroom: "Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed."

6. Article: A Defining Moment

By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller

In Anchorage, Alaska, a first-year teacher made a spelling error on the board during the first week of school. As often happens in these kinds of situations, a well-intentioned student politely pointed out the mistake. At the moment, the rookie educator probably didn't realize that this event firmly connected her to all teachers everywhere.

No teacher has escaped this defining moment. For some, the public mistake occurred during a demonstration of how to divide fractions. For others, it happened with the mispronunciation of a student's name. For still others, it took place when they diagrammed a sentence, computed a student's grade, or explained the correct answers on a test.

Some teachers were made aware of an error on the first day of school. Others went months before a public mistake was noticed by the students. But regardless of when it occurred or the specific context in which it happened, the first occurrence of a mistake was a defining moment in each educator's career. How a teacher handles this important event can set the tone for the rest of the school year.

When a math teacher in Des Moines, Iowa, made his first noticeable mistake, he told the class, "I did it on purpose to see if you were paying attention." Some students believed him. Most did not. To our way of thinking, this claim should never be used when explaining a mistake unless it is true. And if it is true, why would you want to do that? Wouldn't it be a wiser use of your time to teach students the correct way to do something rather than seeing if you can catch them not paying attention? Seems like a setup to us.

In Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, a music teacher casually dismissed her mistake and acted as if it were no big deal. She corrected her error and went right on with the lesson. At times, this response could be appropriate. Her reaction is certainly a step up from the response of pretending you did it on purpose. Yet, what appears as no big deal to the content expert (teacher) could loom as very important to a student with limited knowledge of the subject.

In Vancouver, British Columbia, a third-grade teacher used the opportunity to share her appreciation for the correction. She thanked the student for being willing to take a risk by speaking up and pointing out the error. Her appreciative reaction to one student let all her students know it is permissible to speak up and question the teacher in this classroom.

In a Vero Beach, Florida, classroom a middle-school science teacher confessed to the class, "What a silly mistake that was!" His intention of making fun of himself to show his humanness could easily backfire and be misinterpreted by students. By ridiculing himself, this teacher inadvertently informed the class that mistakes are silly and if you make them in this classroom ridicule could follow. Many youngsters could come away believing that people who make mistakes in this classroom will be made fun of.

A veteran teacher in Lansing, Michigan, told us that she never makes mistakes. Although we doubt this, it could be true. It is possible that this teacher is so focused on the perfection of what she says and does in the classroom that mistakes rarely occur. Seems to us that being that focused on perfection indicates that what is important to this professional educator is the details and not the passion for the subject. We suggest you focus on the passion. If you are passionate about your subject, the details will take care of themselves.

A Longview, Texas, high-school teacher reacted to the public disclosure of his mistake by thanking the student for pointing it out and leading a discussion of what could be learned from that mistake. Discussion themes included:

1.) If you try to go too fast, errors happen.

2.) Mistakes can be corrected.

3.) Mistakes can lead to learning.

4.) Mistakes are not good or bad. They are simply data that you can use to improve and grow.

5.) Mistakes are valuable.

6.) If you're not making some mistakes, maybe you're not learning anything.

7.) You can't do anything about a mistake if you are not aware of it.

8.) What you do after learning you made a mistake is your choice.

9.) Erasers have a purpose, and they don't work by themselves.

The six scenarios above represent only a small portion of the possible responses that a teacher could make when being confronted with a mistake by a student. Do you remember your first one? Were you happy with your response? Have you changed your reaction now that you are a more experienced educator?

What are your students learning from your reactions to your own mistakes? Whatever reaction you choose in this important situation, you can be assured of one thing. Your students are watching and learning something. Are you offering that lesson with intentionality? Are you purposefully defining that defining moment?

Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose. Chick has also written Spirit Whisperers: Teachers Who Nourish a Child's Spirit. Chick and Thomas are two of the world's foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. To obtain more information about how they can help you or your group meet your staff development needs, visit their websites today: www.chickmoorman.com or www.thomashaller.com.

Spirit Whisperers: Teachers That Nourish a Child's Spirit

CLICK HERE TO VIEW BOOKS. (Then CLICK on Parent or Educator Materials.)

7. Teacher Talk Tip: Leave your opinion out of it.

"I think it would be better if . . ."
"I believe you should . . ."
"My opinion is that you'd get further ahead if . . ."
"If I were you . . ."

What follows the sentence starters above is advice. When you offer instant advice you deprive students of the experience of wrestling with their own problems. You eliminate time for them to think, to struggle, and to make personal decisions. You grab the power and leave them with none.

Yes, adults have a right and an obligation to share their experiences and ideas with students. We have adult wisdom and it is important we share it in helpful ways. Instead of giving advice, ask if the student would like help generating ideas. When you do share an idea, preface your suggestion with a sentence starter that leaves the student with the responsibility of doing the thinking and making the decision.

"How would you feel about . . .?"
"Would you consider . . .?"
"How would you like . . .?"
"Would . . . fit for you?"

These sentence starters acknowledge that your suggestion may not be the student's right answer. They make it clear that it is the student who is responsible for choosing and implementing a solution.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW BOOKS. (Then CLICK on Parent or Educator Materials.)

8. New Products

1.) The Parent Advisor: 60 Articles to Ease Your Parenting Concerns

We have created a CD, The Parent Advisor: 60 Articles to Ease Your Parenting Concerns, that can be of enormous help to you as you work with the parents of your students.

This incredible resource is jam-packed with 60 of the most popular articles written by Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller. It contains "how-to" articles that give specific step-by-step suggestions for dealing with typical parenting concerns, plus stories about real parents putting parenting skills into action in their families. These two- or three-page lessons list steps to take, pitfalls to watch out for, and important "do's" and "don'ts" to consider when addressing a parenting concern or preventing one from happening.

Use this collection of articles to share in your school newsletters. They contain practical advice that your parents can put to use immediately.

Copy an article and give it to a parent who you know would benefit, or send one article home each week with your students.

Permission to reproduce these articles and share them with others comes with the package. To order this helpful and inspirational 167-page parenting resource, CLICK HERE.

2.) Spirit Whisperer Contemplations

Do you have those down moments during the school day when you could use a shot in the arm, a new way of looking at things, a more positive attitude? Now you can get an uplifting message delivered daily to your e-mail inbox . . .180 days a year.

Spirit Whisperer Contemplations, inspiring and transformational messages, will help you create a fresh outlook and an emotionally healthy way of looking at your classroom, your students, and the educational process in general. And you�ll get one every day of the school year. Spirit Whisperer Contemplations just like the ones you get once a month in this newsletter will come to you every day of the school year for 180 days. Once you sign up, your contemplations will begin arriving on April 3 and will be delivered to your e-mail account Monday through Friday until June 1. The Spirit Whisperer Contemplations will not be delivered over the summer or during a two-week holiday break at the end of December. Daily arrival of the Contemplations will resume again the first week of September and continue until your 180 Contemplations are exhausted.



9. Did You Know?

A.) This newsletter represents the 100th newsletter we have distributed to parents and educators since we began in March of 2002. We have published 50 Response-Able Parent newsletters, and this is the 50th Response-Able Educator newsletter. Thank you for your encouragement, ideas, advice, questions, and reactions. Please continue to send bumper stickers, quotes, humor, concerns, and feedback. We appreciate it.

Archives of all 100 newsletters are available at http://www.chickmoorman.com/newsletters/index.html.

10. Schedule of Events

We would be honored to speak at your conference or staff development day on "Achievement Motivation and Behavior Management" or "The 5 Voices of Classroom Discipline." Check us out at www.personalpowerpress.com.

March 22 - Midland, MI
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm, How to Inspire Children to Write, presented by Thomas Haller. Parent evening presentation following Literacy Day with Reese Haller at Chippawassee Elementary School, Midland MI.

March 23 - Madison Heights, MI
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm, Building Responsibility in Children, presented by Chick Moorman. Japhet School, Madison Heights, MI. For information, contact Robin Pospisil at Japhet School, 248-585-9150, or e-mail robinpospisil@japhet.org.

March 27 - Jackson, MI
Literacy Day with Reese Haller for the students and teachers of Dibble Elementary, Jackson, MI.

March 27 - Dearborn, MI
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm, Parent Talk: Words That Empower, Words That Wound, presented by Chick Moorman. Dearborn Public Schools, Geer Park School, Dearborn, MI. For information, contact Amy Gwizdz at 313-827-2300 or e-mail gwizdza@dearborn.k12.mi.us.

March 29 - Bloomfield Hills, MI
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm, Parent Talk: Words That Empower, Words That Wound, presented by Chick Moorman. Bloomfield Hills, Doyle Center, Bloomfield Hills, MI. For information, contact Renee Herbert at 248-341-6300 or e-mail rherbert@bloomfield.org.

March 30 - Marlette, MI
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm, How to Inspire Children to Write, presented by Thomas Haller. Parent evening presentation following Literacy Day with Reese Haller at Marlette Middle School, Marlette, MI.


Chick Moorman

Contact Chick at 1-877-360-1477 (toll-free) or e-mail him at ipp57@aol.com.


Thomas Haller

Contact Thomas at 989-686-5356 or e-mail him at thomas@thomashaller.com.


Copyright 2006 Chick Moorman Seminars and Thomas Haller Seminars, all rights reserved. Share this with your circle.

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