Gratitude and Infinity

Disclosure: I speak at length about my faith and how it relates to my teaching in this post.

Summer invariably prompts reflection on the past school year both as a teacher and as a person.  Even with school being done for about a week and a half now, I’m still at that point in the summer where I unwittingly slip into thought about what I do and (more importantly) why I do it.

There’s a phrase that I have heard from teachers and administrators over the past few months that keeps popping into my mind when I think about the school year and why I bother to teach at all.  The phrase goes something along the lines of, “Teaching is hard because you rarely see the fruits of your labor.  Unless students come back to visit or contact you long after the fact, you might never know the impact you had on their lives.”

There’s some truth to this eduism like all the others that I’ve heard from people, read in books, or seen on my Twitter feed.  There are a lot of kids I’ll never see after a school year ends, let alone kids who will express appreciation in some way later in their lives; however, I think there’s a lot of veiled cynicism, hurt, self-aggrandizing, and self-pity woven into that phrase.  It’s a phrase that can get in the way of celebrating the small moments where I see the impact of my efforts.  By focusing on the product or big expressions of gratitude, it can be easy for me to discredit the moments of love, joy, sadness, excitement, success, failure, discovery, forgiveness, and gratitude that are woven into the teaching experience.  It’s one of the reasons why I resumed keeping a journal last school year.  I documented the small moments so I would remember to express my gratitude and revisit the moments where even if I didn’t see the fruit of my efforts, I at least saw the blooming of proverbial flowers that will lead to fruit.

Besides the distraction this phrase can cause to the current impact I am making in the lives of my students, another problem I have with this phrase is the temporal nature it places on gratitude.  The very wording of the sentences make saying, “Thank you,” only something that can be done during this life.  It’s a now or never mentality.  As a person of faith, I cannot help but think of how shortsighted this understanding of gratitude is in comparison to the perspective of infinity.

I recently read a sermon from the book No Little People by Francis Schaeffer that prompted this comparison.  In speaking about the fruit of our labor, Schaeffer writes, “If you are a Christian, you are really going to be in Heaven, and some of the people you know now will be there, and they will speak with you about what you did in this life.  Somebody will say to you, ‘Thank you so much for the money you gave me when my children were starving.  I didn’t have a chance to thank you then, but I do now.’  ‘I remember the night you opened your home to me, when you moved over and shared your table with me.’  This is what Jesus was saying… There is a horizontal continuity from this life to the life to come.”

While I know the quote was about all actions in my life, I cannot help but think about how it applies to my teaching.  It’s true I might not see or hear about the impact I had on some students as long as I walk this earth.  It’s true that some of my students might never even think about the role one of their 8th grade teachers had in helping them grow intellectually, emotionally, and in character.  It’s true that teaching can be hard because of this reality; however, I am convinced that just because gratitude might not be voiced in this life does not mean it will never be voiced.  I am convinced that besides communion with Christ and reunion with the ones I love, Heaven is a place where gratitude is continually voiced.  I will have the opportunity to say, “Thank you,” to people who already heard it in this life and to people whom I failed to express it to on earth.  I know this expression will undoubtedly be true of my students as well, which lets me know that I will eventually see the fruit of my labor.

Some students might never visit me in this life to express gratitude, but I know they’ll visit eventually in the life to come.  In the meantime, I’m thankful for the students who have visited, expressed appreciation, and my growing awareness of the many ways that gratitude is woven into people’s actions and words.  Thank you for reading.

 

 

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Fourth Year, Freaking Out, and Fred Rogers

I was intending to write a lot last summer and even planned a part two post for my reflection on my third year.  That never happened.

The more I thought about last school year over the summer, the more I began to doubt my abilities as a teacher.  Combined with the freedom of summer from the daily stress of planning, grading, email, classroom management, and everything else that a typical school day can stir up in my mind, I seriously began wondering if teaching was something I should be doing as a career.  It was a negative cycle.

I avoiding thinking about school and the end of summer because thinking about it only made me frustrated or feeling inadequate.  I avoided talking about school because I didn’t want to dredge up the internal struggle I was having about teaching.  Coworkers, family, and friends mentioned here and there things about how I was a decent teacher, but I always thought when I heard those compliments, “If I’m good at teaching, why does it seem like each year gets harder? Will the next year only be more of a struggle?”  Instead of asking these questions to the people who cared about me, I just dismissed the compliments and changed the subject.

As you can imagine, my silence and thoughts caused last August to be pretty rough.  I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest from the moment I realized that a new school was only two weeks from starting.  I had trouble sleeping.  When I went in to set up my classroom, I did my best to hide the fear from my coworkers and keep a calm, almost unemotional state about the whole thing.  Meanwhile, my stomach felt like it was in knots.  For the first time in my career, the thought of a new school year was terrifying.  I as freaking out.

When I was setting up my classroom, I found a book in my desk that I bought on a whim the other year – The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember.  The book is a collection of quotes from Fred Rogers about anything and everything in life.  I left school with the book, thinking I would read it before the school year started to calm my nerves.

That night I was reading the book and balled my eyes out at the important truths I had forgotten over a year of external struggles in the classroom and a summer of internal conflict.

Consider all of these quotes from Mister Rogers:

“The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self.”

“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle.  To love is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”

“Listening is where love begins: listening to ourselves and then listening to others.”

“Who we are in the present includes who we were in the past.”

“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feeling, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.  The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”

The last quote was prompted the tears.  Instead of talking about my fears, I was attempting to avoid them.  Instead of remembering that I’m enough as long as I’m doing my best, I was focusing on all the negatives.  Instead of considering the good with the bad, I was allowing only my failures of the past to shape my present.  Rather than considering that the people who love me will listen and want to listen to my struggles in order to help me, I was trying to deny anything was wrong.  Rather than recognizing that the reason teaching felt hard was because I was trying over and over to love my students, I was looking for an easy way out.  In short, I had been throwing a royal pity party for myself without realizing it.

With this newfound clarity in mind, I took Mister Rogers’ advice to heart and began talking about my conflict.  I talked to my family, my friends, my coworkers.  It was hard, but definitely helpful.

When I talked with these loving people, many mentioned they had experienced a similar season at some point in their lives.  Some people provided advice about learning to relax, disconnect my situation with my identity, and focusing on what was going right.  Other people admitted they felt just as lost in some area of their lives, but how they are trusting God with it.  Most importantly, some people just listened and let me know it was okay that I was not okay.  As long as I was doing my best, it was enough for me and my students.

The first day of school came and the world didn’t end.  I was still doubting myself, but I got through the day without feeling like a complete failure.  The second day came and went with similar results.  So on and so forth this pattern continued throughout the semester.  On the days that things felt terrible, I thought back to the conversations I had with people earlier or I sought out trusted friends to discuss the matter.  On the days when things were great, I made sure to thank God for them and write it down somewhere to remember it in the future.  Most importantly, I remembered the importance of listening.  I took time to listen to myself and ask why I was feeling a certain way.  I trusted that people who I was comfortable sharing with would truly listen and allow me to be unreserved in my emotions without passing judgment.  I took time to listen to others to hear the emotions behind their words, so I could respond in a way that communicated that I cared about them.

I’m still not 100% confident in my teaching, but I’m fine with that and learning to remember that my job does not determine who I am as a person.  I’m doing my best to remember what Fred Rogers told his viewers at the end of each episode:

“There’s no person in the world like you, and I like you just the way you are.”

 

Third Year Thoughts Part I: My Reflections

My last day is Tuesday, but my students promoted last Thursday.  Naturally, the last couple of days have led to a lot of introspection about the past school year as I’ve packed up my room and taken care of a lot of odds and ends with data reports.

When I look at the content of my blog posts this year, I notice that I didn’t talk about content as nearly as much as I wrote about the human element of my teaching.  I also notice that I didn’t write often and I fell out of the routine of keeping my personal journal.  More often than not, I discussed lessons with colleagues or just prayed about students on drive home.  The following may seem like a stream of consciousness without unity, but I need to write these thoughts down as reminders for the future.

This year was my first teaching 8th graders, planning for subjects besides math, and teaching without a block schedule.  I walked into the year apprehensive at the thought of teaching some students for the second time, not knowing how to make a science class work, unaware of how unique teaching PE would be, and uncertain about how much more responsibility I could expect out of my students.  I was also kind of bitter with all of the changes I was experiencing.

In retrospect, I think my attitude at the beginning of the year characterized some of the struggles I had later in the year.  Objectively, I was probably just dealing with typical growing pains.  Subjectively, I was frustrated that I was spending so much time adapting instead of deepening the quality of my questioning, scaffolding, and other academic elements of my teaching.  My attitude got in the way of seeing the truth of the situation.  Ironic, when you consider that I teach 8th graders.

In terms of my management, this year revealed my weaknesses and strengths.  Routines were fine once we established them, but I found myself altering what a “typical day” looked liked as the year unfolded.  I realized the value of asking students continually about what works, what motivates them to work, and offering options.  I held class meetings, which always sounded dumb in theory, but proved to be valuable in practice.  Sometimes the meetings were collaborative (“I don’t know what to do. You tell me what to do about it.  I can be the teacher you want me to be.  Let’s use this time.”), while other times meetings felt polemical (“You know what to do. I’m reminding you to do it.  I’m being the teacher you need me to be.  Don’t waste this time.”)

I realized how much I want my classes to be relaxed, but productive.  I know learning can occur in silent classrooms or loud classrooms, but for my sanity I need something in between those extremes.  I learned that I need organized group work as much as my students need it.  I need the days where students are working through practice or projects just as much as they probably need that time.  I learned that I need the balance between me doing stuff and my students doing stuff.  I have to stop rushing and be more flexible with my plans.  At the same time, I need to help my students find the happy medium between rushing to get things done and somehow only getting 6 problems done in 20 minutes of partner work.

I discovered how much I need to create time to talk with students individually.  I was inconsistent with this practice this year, but I know my students need these conversations (both good and bad) as much as I need them.  In some cases, I regret that I didn’t really recognize how much a student changed or worked this year until the last week of school.  I also discovered that I honestly knew very little about some of my students as the year drew to a close, which I cannot change but I still regret.  I know talking to students more will help me be more aware of how much they are growing and who they are outside of the four walls of my classroom.

I need to say, “Thank you,” more often and for more reasons besides a student or class working hard.  I need to say, “I’m proud of you,” more often.  I need to say, “I’m here for you,” more often.  I need to say, “I’m sorry,” more often.  When I consider the students who worked hardest for me this year or filled me with joy to the point where I was holding back tears, I realize those phrases popped up multiple times in conversations with them or with their classes.

I need apologies and forgiveness to become part of the culture of my classroom and my teaching.  I apologized on many occasions this year when a lesson flopped because of me.  I admitted when I was too harsh on a class.  I told students to apologize to each other for rude comments.  I asked classes to show me they were sorry, which in a way was asking for an apology.  For as much as I promote responsibility through my teaching, I know that I need to include apologies as part of that expectation in the future.

I regret how often I put off calling parents or sending a quick email home.  In the past week, I called some parents to let them know how much I enjoyed having their children in my class.  While it was a great way to wrap up the year, I realize that I should’ve made more of these calls throughout the year.  These calls might have been the third or fourth parent contact for me during a normal week, but it might be the first teacher contact for the person on the other end of the line.  I also look back at the year and realize how many behaviors or attitudes could have been improved simply by sending a strongly worded message home about consequences.  I know I teach students who are reaching the age where I don’t have to call home about everything, but I need to improve the frequency I communicate with parents.

This post was really heavy on the first person metacognitive language, but I need to have something to look back to in the future.  It was the product of processing the events of the year.  In my next post, I’ll include some of the things my students and coworkers taught me throughout the year.

 

 

“You tried so hard…”

Last week I was chatting during lunch with another teacher in his classroom.  After a couple minutes, a student walked in and joined us.  The student had me for 6th grade math two years ago and has the other teacher for 8th grade math this year.  Somehow or another, the conversation meandered from discussing random things like the taste of La Croix and tattoos to a critique of how different things are now compared to two years ago.  Along the way, the student mentioned the teaching style and attitude of the other teacher, my current demeanor, and what I was like as a teacher two years ago.

Before I write further, I must state for the record that I was a first year teacher when I had this student in class.  I was adapting to teaching 6th grade from student teaching in a high school.  There were many days where it wasn’t a question of if a lesson was mediocre.  I’ve also seen how this student has grown to be incredibly honest with teachers from being very reserved.

A few comments this student made stuck out to me as proof that I have grown as a teacher.  The same comments made me wonder if the challenges I’ve had this year would elicit similar comments from students a few years from now.  Rather than attempt to write a bunch of paragraphs, the student’s comments are in quotations below and my related thoughts are in bullet points.

“You tried so hard that year to find something that worked for us.”

  • It’s true.  I tried a bunch of different homework arrangements, class activities, exit tickets, quiz formats, management strategies, and notetaking arrangements.  By the time I finally hit upon the “typical” class that worked for that group of students (checking homework, a guided note page that would be secured into spirals, a short break, a practice activity, and five minutes to start a brief homework assignment), the year was practically done.  When I used this format with my next group of 6th graders, it worked fairly well from the start and I tweaked it along the way.

“Every week was you trying something different.  Some things worked, but a lot of things didn’t.  A lot of times it wasn’t you…  It’s just that a lot of us didn’t know what to expect.”

  • Consistency was a struggle for me that year.  Everyone likes to have some predictably about class.  Even though teaching necessitates breaking from routine from time to time, there needs to be routines to break from if I want changes to have an impact.  I recognized I needed to change things up over the course of this year, but I at least tried to stick with things for a while because I knew it would help students feel comfortable.  It also helped that I had class meetings with my students this year to figure out what was working and what needed to be changed.  During my first year, I think I underestimated the value of asking students about the structure of a class.

“You put up with a lot that year… I was disrespectful a lot, but you kept trying with me.”

  • Hopefully, I won’t lose that determination.

“I finally figured out that if I just worked, everything went a lot better for me.”

  • I talk about work a lot when I teach.  I stress its value.  I remind students that learning takes work, but work also says a lot about a person’s character.  The quality of a person’s work can communicate respect, attitude, and motivation.  I cite work ethic when I have individual conversations with students, call parents, or write positive referrals.  I sometimes doubt if I make any difference when I talk about work on an almost daily basis.  I guess I shouldn’t be so pessimistic.

This post is future reminder for myself.  I know I’ll need at some point when a lesson completely flops or I’m wondering if my persistence is in vain.

 

Genuine Enthusiasm

Last week, my science classes learned about fossils and fossilization.  The lessons were meant to be a brief introduction and support our study of superposition and relative dating of rock layers.  Out of all of the geology topics my science classes have explored since November, fossils was the topic I looked forward to teaching about most.

I was the kid with the dinosaur book in elementary school.  Although my love of math led me to specializing in that subject in college, I took paleontology and a mix of other science courses, too.  I’ve always loved Earth history and I wanted to have another endorsement on my teaching license.  Along the way, I got to examine a bunch of fossils in labs, went on a trip to the Field Museum to visit the off-exhibit areas where scientists conduct research, and I dug up fossils at a quarry.  Besides these experiences, I traveled around Arizona over the course of a few summers and paid close attention to how many of the impressive natural sites formed.

Unsurprisingly, I brought genuine enthusiasm to my lessons about fossils.  My questions started off simply asking students about prior knowledge, getting them to reason that most fossils record the densest body parts of an organism, and relating the ages of fossils to the rock layers within which they are found.  I showed a video from the Field Museum, then I followed up with questions about what students watched and I shared my personal stories.  In all of this dialogue, I reflected later that my voice was stronger, my eyes opened wider, and I moved slowly about the room with a swagger that I haven’t felt in a while when teaching.

After sharing about the effort required to find and collect fossils, I directed students to work on a summary page as I showed smaller groups my fossils.  Even though it meant a lot of repetition on my part, I talked to group after group of 4 students about my Silurian and Ordovician fossils.  I reminded students of the effort it took me to get the fossils as they carefully held the fossils and examined the specimens.  I used the opportunity to reiterate the concepts we discussed earlier.  I questioned students about what they noticed in the rocks, explained what organisms living today are similar to the fossils, and answered student questions.  I had students asking me questions about the fossils that I haven’t seen raise a hand for weeks of class instruction.  I was brimming with delight as students asked me why everything looked like it came from the ocean, where I got the fossils, why I studied paleontology, and how come some fossils looked broken.

I owned that lesson.  I knew it, but students knew it, too.  Looking back at that day, I definitely point to enthusiasm as the determining factor of the lesson’s success.  The same activities (short Q&A, lecture, video, worksheet, and small group hands-on activity) would have flopped if they were devoid of the personal stories, confident delivery, insistent questioning, and opportunity for students to wonder.

I share this reflection as a reminder for myself.  Regardless of the subject matter, I need to find more of the content I teach that provokes genuine enthusiasm on my part.  Even if it’s just a short personal story about how I’ve used a concept, why I value something without applications to everyday life, or my experience learning something for the first time, I need to bring that human element into my teaching.  Enthusiasm will make my delivery stronger, my questioning more inviting, push me to make lessons more interactive, and invite students to question more.  While adolescents can mask their enthusiasm and attempt to derail even the strongest of lessons, it’s hard to ignore (or disrespect) a person who is obviously passionate at the moment.  Even if a student doesn’t love math or science as much as I do, hopefully my enthusiasm will at least get students to respect the subject matter, respect people who are passionate, and feel a little better about being passionate about their interests.

I can’t be the person asking all the questions.

From the start of the semester until last Thursday, my students were working with systems in some form.

Graphing.

Substitution.

Elimination.

Word Problems.

A month and a half of teaching, practicing, assessing, reteaching, practicing, assessing, teaching, practicing, assessing, reteaching… you get the idea.

Linear systems was probably one of the most difficult concepts I’ve taught this year.  The ideas and methods involved literally pull together all of the algebra and rational number skills students learned in 6th and 7th grade.  There’s so many ways a minor mistake can derail a train of thought.  There’s also the concepts of variable, maintaining equality, substitution, and representing situations with algebra.  Even after so much time working with systems, I’m still not certain some students truly understand that substitution is just swapping out a variable for something of equal value or that we need to create an equivalent equation with one type of variable to be able to solve the system.

Without surprise, I found myself using a variety of questions throughout my lessons to help students make sense of a system.  As we got deeper and deeper into the content, I found practice activities devolved from productive group work to people attempting to do the same thing without regard for the problem or throwing up hands and declaring, “I need help.”

While recognizing that help is needed is a good starting point, later in the unit the process became exhausting.  A hand goes up from a student looking for help.  I ask the questions. Students answer correctly or incorrectly.  I tweak my approach if students were incorrect or move onto another question if the student was correct.  Rinse and repeat.  Later in the unit, my questions were pretty much the same and were able to guide students:

  • Can you read the system/problem aloud for me?
  • What are the variables in the situation?
  • How could we represent the word problem with equations? Why do we need two equations?
  • Does either equation have a variable that’s isolated?
  • Do you see any opposite coefficients between the equations?
  • Looking at the system, which method (substitution or elimination) would require less work/algebra?  How do you know?
  • Have we created an equation with only one type of variable?
  • We ended up with a nonsense equation? What does that mean?
  • We ended up with an equation that’s always true? What does that mean?
  • Do we have the whole solution to the system?
  • How can we find the value of x/y that we know the value of y/x?
  • Have we answered the question?

The interesting part about my questions is that most students were able to correctly answer them and got used to the routine. Nevertheless, students did not adopt these questions for themselves even with repeated reminders from me.

In some respects, I felt like I was getting trapped in a cycle I experienced during my first year of teaching.  I was somehow becoming the sole questioner in the class.  Naturally, I started to get down on myself about this development.  What was I doing or not doing that was causing students to avoid questioning themselves?  Was it the difficulty of the content that was driving students to only seek help from me?  Was it my explanation of concepts and examples?  Was it my progression of concepts?  Was it my pace?  Did the behaviors I was seeing reflecting a deeper problem that never got resolved earlier in the year?  Was I not explicit enough in directing students to self-question?  In a year that continues to make me doubt my abilities as a teacher, you can imagine that I was rapidly falling down the rabbit hole as I asked myself these questions about students not asking themselves questions.

After a week of what felt like nonstop questioning on my part and very little productive practice, I finally reached my breaking point.  I declared to my classes, “I can’t be the person asking all of the questions.  Time after time, people stare at a problem and call me over claiming they need help.  Every time I do help, I always ask the same handful of questions every single time. Every single time. Every single time.  Curiously, people are usually able to answer these questions every single time. Every single time. Every single time. At what point do people stop asking me for help and start asking themselves the questions they already know I’m going to ask?  Since day one, I’ve told you to ask yourself questions.  What’s been happening here is exactly why I’ve told you to engage in this process. You do know. You can make sense of the problem. Even if you’re uncertain, you know something you can always do to help you reason with a problem.”

At this point, the class was dead silent and I continued on for another couple minutes acknowledging that the content might not directly to the lives of my students, but the thinking they engage in as they work with systems builds the reasoning skills they will use later in life.  I ended my speech by reiterating the need for students to ask themselves questions.  In my later class, I wrote my questions on the board and stated I expected to hear and see students using these questions during the next practice activity.

Whether it was my delivery of my message or its content, students worked incredibly hard during the remainder of class.  When hands went up and I assisted students, the nature of the exchanges were different.  Everyone had something on their paper that they referred to as they spoke to me. In some cases, students just wanted to check if they were on the right track.  In other cases, students were uncertain, but they at least used phrases like, “I tried…  I noticed… Here’s the part that continues to confuse me…”  Students were purposeful in the help they were seeking.  I could tell people were questioning themselves and my help was to confirm their questioning.  Basically, it was the type of interactions I had been missing out on for a long time.

I’m sharing this post because I’m wondering how I can make students continue to self-question.  Does anyone have any activities, strategies, or routines besides constant verbal reminders that they use to promote self-questioning?  How do I teach and structure my classroom so that students are intentional with how they seek help?  How do I get students to move away from saying, “I need help. I don’t get this,” and start having specific questions planned when they seek help?  Once again, what can I do besides verbal reminders and modeling?

 

#MTBoSBlogsplosion: Positive Praise

This week’s #MTBoSBlogsplosion is about the soft skills of teaching.  When I look at the content of my blog, I feel like my posts swing back and forth between talking about content or questioning and the more personal side of teaching.  Part of me wonders if this oscillation is a product of being an early career teacher, but I think it’s more related to my experiences teaching at the middle school level.  It took me a while to realize that I do not teach mathematics; I teach students who are learning mathematics.  I teach human beings who are in the midst of significant mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual development.  This reality makes teaching a personal endeavor as much as it is academic.

A soft skill I’m working on this year is positive praise.

When I think about the words I use and how I interact with students on a daily basis, I’ve noticed that all too often I use reactive positive praise.  If a class goes well and students worked hard, I end class by saying how well it went.  If a student does an excellent job articulating his/her thoughts, I commend that student with brief praise during or after class (depending on the student).  If a student demonstrates leadership, I’ll say something to the student individually or call a parent to let them know.  In each of these situations, the positive praise is in reaction to behavior that was obvious to everyone in the room.  I’m trying to improve the frequency I use this type of praise.  Reflecting on this school year, I recognize that I could have praised students and classes more early in the year.  In some cases, I think being more liberal with my praise could have prevent some of the less productive days I experienced and encouraged more participation.

In conjunction with reactive positive praise, I’ve been working to include more proactive positive praise into my teaching.  For instance, I’ve dropped phrases like, “I’m looking forward to seeing how well you guys work today,” “I know you’ll be able to approach this topic with maturity,” or, “I know everyone in here is going to learn from each other and ask questions during this activity,” into my directions to premptively praise students.  On days when I’ve started classes in this way, I’ve noticed more productivity and a more relaxed environment.  One of my goals is start more classes with these statements.  I’ve also found myself proactiving praising students even when addressing misbehavior.  When I was talking with a student about her group’s off-task behavior earlier this week, I said, “I’ve seen you help other students and focus your group in the past.  I know I’ll see you do it in the future.”  The next day, I saw that student redirect a group member, help out a student who was absent the previous day, and offer to post work on the front board.  While I cannot be certain about the causes of this student’s positive choices, I think some of her motivation may have been the expectation I set with my proactive praise.  I was communicating confidence in that student’s ability to make good choice.  The student was validating my positive praise with her actions.  I want to include more proactive praise into my conversations with students this semester.

Overall, I think my ultimate goal is the have a cycle of compliments and praise in my teaching.  I want to start classes with proactive praise, drop more compliments and praise throughout a lesson, then end with reactive praise and a proactive comment to encourage future growth.  I’m getting better, but I’m far from perfect when it comes to implementing praise in my classroom.  Tweeting #onegoodthing has helped me be on the look out for positive elements of my day.  Reminding myself about what has been getting better has been helpful, too.  If you have any suggestions of ways to incorporate more praise into teaching, please let me know in the comments.  I know you have something to offer!