Showing Appreciation and Gratitude for Our Best Teachers

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Which teachers, coaches, or instructors have inspired you?

Dr. Robyn Silverman

As you all know, the Powerful Word of the Month is Appreciation! All Powerful Words schools are currently gearing up for Teacher Appreciation Week. Of course! We’ve talked about gratitude and 10 great ways to say thank-you to teachers in the past and it’s that time again–Our teachers, coaches, and instructors deserve our gratitude.

Looking back, I still remember my favorite teachers who really made a difference in my life. I remember Mr. Orsini, my 9th grade English teacher, who helped me to believe in myself. When I raised my hand in English class (we were studying Shakespeare), he said “I know you know the answer to this one, Robyn, so I’m saving you for a hard question!” As you can see, I still remember when that happened because having a teacher believe that I was smart meant something to me. During adolescence it’s easy to doubt yourself—and I certainly did.

I also remember Mr. Hendrickson who gave me my very first 100% on a math test. I stunk in math—or at least I believe I did. But Mr. Hendrickson (who we all called “Hendi”) was around during free periods and after school to help the students who needed it. Yes, I needed it!!! He stopped me in the hallway and said, “You did it! You got a 100%!” In all my doubtful adolescence I asked, “are you sure?” And he said, “I’m sure. And I DON’T need to check it again!” It made a difference to me that he was excited for me and that he shared in the achievement because he was there to help.

Finally, I remember Dr. Carlin from Washington University. She was more than a professor—she was like a Mom away from home for me. She taught me how to do research but she also taught me to be bold and ask for what I want. On days when I just needed a home environment, I would stay over at her house with her and her husband and 2 dogs. We would sit on the back deck eating French toast and drinking coffee in our pajamas and terry cloth robes and talk about what was going on in our lives. We were like family. She taught me that a teacher can be more than just a person in a classroom—a teacher can inspire, nurture, and motivate.

There are countless others. Do you have any teachers who made a difference in your life? Tell us about them! We know there are MANY at your Powerful Words Member Schools!

My hope is that I have a bit of each of these teachers lessons inside of me now and use them with my own coaching clients and Powerful Words family members—and of course, with all of our Powerful Families. We thank you all for being a part of our lives.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

7 Ways to NOT be a Helicopter Parent When Approaching Teachers

Bringing a concern to a teacher or coach respectfully and responsibly

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Dear Dr. Robyn,

I’ve been told by my daughter that I used to be a “helicopter parent” but that now I’m much better. I’m happy about that! I was wondering though, if I do have a question of concern for my child’s instructor and my daughter wants me to talk to him, what’s the “right way” to do it so that I’m not coming off like one of those crazed “Mama Bears” who’s just trying to cause trouble?                                                                          –Karin T, Austin, TX

Hi Karin,

Thanks for writing in. This is a great question and I imagine we can all benefit from starting this conversation. I’d like to offer some possible solutions, but I’d also like for other parents and educators to chime in and offer how they like these situations to be handled as well. So please comment below if you have an idea or question about approaching teachers, coaches, or instructors with problems or concerns.

(1) Ask yourself; can my child cope with this on his or her own? We all want our children to become more self reliant and feel confident dealing with a wide array of problems and questions as they develop. Talking with teachers and expressing concerns is something that builds courage and character. Often, the best way that you can help your child is by role-playing with them and helping them come up with how to best approach the teacher or coach about something which upsets them, scares them or confuses them. There are countless rewards for children who learn that they can do it by themselves! Let them use those Powerful Words!

(2) Talk to a trusted adult who has perspective: If you’re unsure if your concern warrants a meeting with the teacher or coach, run it past someone you trust who is uninvolved emotionally, can think clearly, and can offer you some perspective. A success coach or more experienced friend, who does not know the teacher, would be a good choice. Whomever you speak to, ask for an honest, non-emotionally charged opinion and be sure to ask for complete confidentiality. You want to be able to approach a teacher or coach if and when you’re ready not when s/he hears it from someone else.

(3) Discuss conflict out of earshot of children and other families: If you are certain that this concern should be brought to the teacher’s attention, and that it should be done by you rather than your child, it’s vital that you discuss the concern with the teacher in private. While it might be quicker to discuss your child whenever and wherever you can find the time, it’s inappropriate to talk to teachers about your concerns when in public. You must agree on confidentiality for the good of the child and the fairness of everyone. Just as parents need to know that teachers won’t embarrass them or their children in front of other people, you, in turn, need to be respectful by refraining from broaching concerns in public places as well.

(4) Know the facts: Step back. Take a breath. Don’t accuse a teacher or coach of lack of judgment or poor choices when you don’t know all the facts. While it might seem apparent that something questionable has happened, there are always several sides to one story. Especially when events are emotionally charged and your child isn’t happy with a teacher’s choice, you might be only getting half the facts.

(5) Speak directly to the teacher: While it might seem easier to simply “send someone” to talk to the teacher—whether it’s the Nanny, the grandparents, or other guardians, it’s important to speak directly with the teacher. Otherwise, you might be unaware of any difficulties that are occurring with your children—and you may just get the “cliff notes.” Sometimes there is a misunderstanding that must be cleared—and sometimes, frankly, it’s nobody’s business but that of the parent and teacher. It’s important to request direct contact with the teacher so that you can define the problem and solution together as a team.

(6) Avoid criticizing teachers in front of their children: Criticizing the teachers in front of the children is not helpful and is often confusing to the child. Children are very perceptive and pick up on anger and frustration. Since the teacher and the parent are very important people in the lives of the child, they do not know where to assign their loyalties and may even cause them to question authority. Therefore, it’s vital that you refrain from talking negatively about a teacher to another person in public (even if you think nobody’s listening) or showing anger towards a teacher in front of your children. Adult matters should stay adult matters.

(7) Choose a mutually agreed-upon time and place to discuss the conflict: Speaking when tempers are hot or time is limited is not likely the best time to discuss a disagreement. Is the best time in the morning? Afternoon? After a certain class? Remember—you’re thinking about the welfare of your specific child—the teachers, instructors, and coaches must think of the whole class (or multiple classes) and what is fair and safe for all of them. That means that what’s convenient for you might not be the best time for the teacher and the rest of the class. Just as important, if you know the time, you can ensure that you can secure child care for your child so that you can speak freely with the teacher or coach without distraction.

Always remember that you are guiding and modeling the ways to resolve conflict respectfully and responsibly when dealing with concerns or problems. Ask non-accusatory questions. Be gracious.  Listen.  Offer some possible solutions. Aim to work together. Children will look to you and their instructors to understand how to express frustration and work through disagreements. Even when you’re angry or concerned, you can still be an excellent role model. It’s largely your responsibility to lay the groundwork for constructive communication and conflict resolution.

All you teachers, coaches, instructors and parents out there– let’s hear your tips and comments about ways to approach a teacher with a concern! Comment below!

6 Fun Ways to Use Pictures to Say Thank You to Teachers

The articles on how to write thank you cards to teachers , saying thank you in different languages , and 10 great ways to appreciate teachers beat out my Miley Cyrus article series (finally!) so I figured parents are really looking for more information on this topic. I’m so glad. Showing gratitude to teachers and thanking them for their hard work is so important. And, as you all know, gratitude is one of recent Powerful Words, and one that is typically a favorite among teachers and families.

Everyone loves pictures these days. They’re so easy to take, so inexpensive, and yet, so precious. Using pictures are a great way to thank teachers for all that they do.

Here are some ideas that you can do as a group:

  1. Pictures, admiration, and the spa: Take a picture that you have of the teacher and get ready to do a little photo shopping. Fold 2 pieces of card stock together so that it makes a “book.” Put the full picture on the front cover and write “why I love my teacher” on the front. Crop out her face/head and paste it on the first page. Say something like; “I love that you’re always smiling and make me feel special.” On the next page, cut out her hands and say something like; “I love that your hands help shape the future.” On the next page, crop out her feet and write something like; “I love that you choose to stand in front of the class and teach us everyday.” And on the last page say something like; “For your happy face, your important hands, and your tired feet, please have fun getting a facial, manicure and pedicure! (Insert gift certificate.
  2. Photos, the class, and a Scrapbook: This takes some planning but certainly is worth it. Write a letter and send it out to each class mate that says; “we would like to make a special scrapbook for the teacher.” Please write something special and either give it to _______, send it to _________, or email it to _________. You can provide some questions like “what do you like so much about the teacher?” “What is your favorite memory about the teacher?” Take all of the letters and put them in the book. When I’ve done something like this before (the best present ever!), I had everyone email the letters to me and then I was able to print them out on nice, fun scrapbook paper with beautiful fonts, and place them in the book. I added pictures of everyone and a beautiful picture of the honoree on the front.
  3. Spell it out: We talked about this one the other day. According to Scholastic, have your students work in teams of two or three to make letters with their bodies that spell “THANK YOU SO MUCH.” If you have fewer students, you can just make the words “THANK YOU” instead. To put the card together, I took pictures of the students forming each letter with a digital camera. I then inserted the pictures into a blank poster in Print Shop and used the freehand crop tool to cut around their bodies. (This makes them look more like the letters they are trying to form.) Once I have all of the letters cropped, I arrange them on the Print Shop poster and print copies for each parent volunteer. I paste the printed copies on a construction paper card and have the students sign their names inside the card.”
  4. Blow it up: Take a picture of the teacher and blow it up. Mount it on a big piece of card stock. Have each child write a message around the picture that talks about what they appreciate most about their teacher. It could be as simple as, “she reads good books to us,” or it could be a more detailed message.
  5. A Photo, a t-shirt, and class posterity: This idea comes from Family Fun. On the front of the t-shirt, put your child’s class picture and the school year, and on the back, write all of the student names. On the last day, have the students put their handprint above their names with the colored dye for clothes. Variation: Purchase a dark t-shirt and get the children to put their handprint on it in neon paint. (Parents can do this project on a day that we knew the teacher would not be there—after the handprints dry, add the children’s names).
  6. Moving pictures: Put together a video collage of pictures from the school year with a beautiful song in the background or even a song that the children can sing. Variation: Have each child say what they like best about the teacher, why that teacher is a favorite, what they’ll always remember, and “thank-you!” Put the video together showcases all the best answers to the questions, making sure each child is represented. At the end, flash one child after other saying “thank you.” Again, you can use music or the children singing thank you or good-bye songs in the background.

Send in your ideas about how you are thanking teachers, coaches, and instructors this year!

Teachers, Coaches, Instructors…we appreciate you! Have a Powerful Day!

10 Great Ways to Appreciate Teachers: Gratitude All Month Long!

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Since Powerful Words will be celebrating teachers, coaches, instructors, and mentors this month with our annual Teacher Appreciation Week, you might be wondering how to show gratitude for the greats. Whether you’re a student, parent, grandparent, or community member, you likely come into contact with some wonderful teachers who you would like to thank.

Everyone likes to be told that they’re doing a great job. Our teachers are some of our most valuable resources whether they teach your children during the school day or in the after school hours.

Here are some ideas to get the most powerful parents started:

(1) Send out a press release: Press releases are simple and free. Write up a letter from the class or school and send it to the press for all the community to see. Send a picture of the teacher or of the teacher with his or her students with the press release.

(2) Prepare a meal: Take turns with some other parents bringing in breakfast or lunch for the teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week.

(3) Send a note of gratitude: Take time to write something really special. Teachers appreciate your words of support. Site specific ways that they have helped your children or family. You might think that “everyone” will send a note of appreciation—but many won’t. Be the person who provides a heartfelt thanks to a favorite teacher. You can even send a free e-card!

(4) Give a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant: Sometime during the month ask your teacher’s friend about which restaurant is a top-pick or ask the teacher where s/he might suggest you take your spouse to lunch or dinner over the weekend. Then get the gift certificate and surprise the teacher!

(5) Give a gift certificate for a massage, manicure/pedicure, or facial: Many teachers don’t take the time to pamper themselves. Give them the gift of relaxation as a real treat!

(6) Personalize t-shirts or coffee mugs: Take a picture of the class or have the children make a special collage and get it transferred onto a shirt or mug for posterity!

(7) Picture it: Take a picture of the class and put it into a special picture frame for the teacher to hang up in the classroom or keep in her home office. You can even personalize the picture frame with the teacher’s name, the grade, and the year with a little engraved brass tag or ask an artistic friend to paint it right onto frame.

(8) Before of after-class surprise: Bring in muffins, a cake, or pizza before or after class so that teachers can enjoy a special well-deserved treat.

(9) Walk of fame: Borrow or purchase a red carpet, roll of felt, or paint butcher paper red and tape it down in the center hallway. Make gold stars with each teacher’s name on one. Have the school greet the teachers as they enter the school, take pictures (paparazzi) and celebrate!

(10) Have a give-back day: The best way to show gratitude is to give back! Help clean the school, paint, and wash the windows! Raise money for the teachers’ favorite charity. Plant a tree or some flowers! Donate some books to the library in their honor! Refill their supply closet! There are many things you can do to give back to the people who’ve helped your family all year long!

We love our teachers, coaches, instructors, and mentors!

Thank you!

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Powerful Role Models: Seven Ways to Make a Positive Impact on Children

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They want to be just like you. Are you being a positive role model?

A role model is someone whose behavior is imitated by others. Of course, there are good role models and bad role models. There is even the counterintuitive anti-role model who behaves so badly that s/he serves as a good example of what NOT to do.

We all hope that children have good, strong role models who possess the kind of qualities that make our sons and daughters want to be (and become) better people. While there is some variation in every parent’s definition of what it means to be a good person, the following 7 characteristics of a positive role model remain constant.

Positive role models;

(1) Model positive choice-making: Little eyes are watching and little ears are listening. When it comes to being a role model, you must be aware that the choices you make don’t only impact you but also the children who regard you as their superhero. Someday, they will be in the same predicament and think to themselves, “What did s/he do when s/he was in the same situation?” When you are a role model it’s not enough to tell your charges the best choices to make. You must put them into action yourself.

(2) Think out loud: When you have a tough choice to make, allow the children to see how you work through the problem, weight the pros and cons, and come to a decision. The process of making a good decision is a skill. A good role model will not only show a child which decision is best, but also how they to come to that conclusion. That way, the child will be able to follow that reasoning when they are in a similar situation.

(3) Apologize and admit mistakes: Nobody’s perfect. When you make a bad choice, let those who are watching and learning from you know that you made a mistake and how you plan to correct it. This will help them to understand that (a) everyone makes mistakes; (b) it’s not the end of the world; (c) you can make it right; and (d) you should take responsibility for it as soon as possible. By apologizing, admitting your mistake, and repairing the damage, you will be demonstrating an important yet often overlooked part of being a role model. (This point began some great conversation on parents and role models in the comments below and here.)

(4) Follow through: We all want children to stick with their commitments and follow through with their promises. However, as adults, we get busy, distracted, and sometimes, a bit lazy. To be a good role model, we must demonstrate stick-to-itiveness and self discipline. That means; (a) be on time; (b) finish what you started; (c) don’t quit; (d) keep your word; and (e) don’t back off when things get challenging. When role models follow through with their goals, it teaches children that it can be done and helps them adopt an “if s/he can do it, so can I” attitude.

(5) Show respect: You may be driven, successful, and smart but whether you choose to show respect or not speaks volumes about the type of attitude it takes to make it in life. We always tell children to “treat others the way we want to be treated” and yet, may not subscribe to that axiom ourselves. Do you step on others to get ahead? Do you take your spouse, friends, or colleagues for granted? Do you show gratitude or attitude when others help you? In this case, it’s often the little things you do that make the biggest difference in how children perceive how to succeed in business and relationships.

(6) Be well rounded: While we don’t want to spread ourselves too thin, it’s important to show children that we can be more than just one thing. Great role models aren’t just “parents” or “teachers.” They’re people who show curiosities and have varied interests. They’re great learners and challenge themselves to get out of their comfort zones. You may be a father who’s also a student of the martial arts, a great chef, a good sportsman, and a treasured friend. You may be a mother who’s a gifted dancer, a solid rock climber, a celebrated singer, and a curious photographer. When children see that their role models can be many things, they will learn that they don’t need to pigeon-hole themselves in order to be successful.

(7) Demonstrate confidence in who you are: Whatever you choose to do with your life, be proud of the person you’ve become and continue to become. It may have been a long road and you may have experienced bumps along the way, but it’s the responsibility of a role model to commemorate the lessons learned, the strength we’ve amassed, and the character they’ve developed. We can always get better, however, in order for children to celebrate who they are, their role models need to show that confidence doesn’t start “5 pounds from now,” “2 more wins on top of this one,” or “1 more possession than I have today.” We must continue to strive while being happy with how far we’ve come at the same time.

While it may seem like a great deal of pressure to be a positive role model; nobody is expecting you to be superhuman. We certainly wouldn’t expect that behavior from the children who are looking to us for answers and guidance—nor would we want them to expect that kind of flawless behavior from themselves or others. You can only do your best. And, if you mess up today, you can always refer back to tip #3 and try again tomorrow. Good role models earn multiple chances from the children who believe in them and know they can do anything if they simply put their mind to it.

Here’s to a Powerful Week!

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Teaching Children about “The Ides of March”

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On March 15th many people say, “Beware the Ides of March!”
–Drawing from Jupiter Images

After the highly trafficked Leap Year post (especially from many of you educators and home-schooling parents), I figured I’d post a little something on The Ides of March. We know your children are asking “what is the Ides of March?” You’ll have all the answers ready to the following questions:

(1) What is the Ides of March?

(2) What does Beware the Ides of March mean?

(3) Where does the saying “Beware the Ides of March” come from?

(4) How do people use the expression “Beware the Ides of March” today?

(5) What is a proverb?

(6) What is a superstition?

What is “The Ideas of March?” The Romans called March 15th “The Ides of March.” Originally, the “ideas” referred to the full moon.

What does “Beware the Ides of March” mean? It means, be aware of impending danger.

Where did the saying come from? The saying, “Beware the Ides of March” came from William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar. In the play, a soothsayer says “Beware the Ideas of March” to Julius Caesar to warn him that this was to be his assassination day.

Julius Caesar was assassinated on March 15, 44BC by Roman Senators who were concerned that he had too much power. Rome was a Republic and these Roman Senators did not want anyone to disrupt what they had built. However, after Julius Caesar’s assassination, Rome was saddened by his death. The senators were banished and the republic was never restored to its previous glory.

How do people use the expression now? “Beware the Ides of March” is now a proverb, superstition and a phrase that warns of impending danger and unfortunate events.

What’s a proverb? A proverb is a saying that contains advice or accepted truth. They are passed down through generations. Common proverbs are; “Look before you leap,” “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” and “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

What’s a superstition? A superstition is a belief that a particular thing, event or circumstance holds some kind of significance that something going to happen (bad or good) even though it’s not based on knowledge or reason. This belief can be based on fear, ignorance, trust in magic, coincidence, or a prior experience with a similar situation. Some common superstitions are; breaking a mirror can cause bad luck, finding a 4-leaf clover can bring good luck, stepping on a crack in the sidewalk can “break your mother’s back” or cause bad luck, the number 13 can bring you bad luck, and finding a string on your person means your going to get a letter.

Activities related to the Ides of March:

(1) Dust off the play, Julius Caesar, and act them out!

(2) Find out if any local theaters are performing Julius Caesar and take your older school-age children.

(3) Make an art project out of a proverb or superstition. For example, cut our of draw pictures from a magazine and make a collage (i.e. black cats, the number 13, salt shaker). You can draw a line down the center of the collage and put good luck superstitions on one side (i.e. find a penny, salt over your shoulder) and bad luck superstitions (break a mirror, steeping on sidewalk cracks) on the other.

(4) Make a list of superstitions and proverbs with your students or children. Then have them categorize these superstitions and proverbs into categories as suggested by the following website. What are the similarities and the differences? Where did these superstitions come from anyway?

(5) Talk about when you have all had “good-luck” or “bad luck.” What puts the odds in one’s favor for good luck or bad luck? Does attitude, gratitude, and goal-setting make a difference?

As a Powerful Parent or Educator who works with the Powerful Words Character System, we know that strong character and a positive attitude does indeed make a difference! We need to remind our children that it’s all how you look at a situation– superstitions make us feel “out of control” while positive thinking, strong character and goal-setting makes us feel “in-control.” Perhaps this is the best lesson you can teach a child on the Ides of March.

Have a fun day!

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Teaching Children about Leap Year 2008

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We love Leap Year because it gives us just one more day to go to our favorite activities and one more day to use our POWerful Words! No matter what kind of POWerful Words school your child attends– have your child impress his/her instructors or teachers by saying; “I’m so glad it’s a Leap Year because it gives me another day to learn from you!”

Teaching Children about Leap Year 2008

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Parents have been asking about how to teach their children about leap year– so here are the answers to some of your child’s most frequently asked questions:

What is a leap year?

A leap year is a year that has a longer February than normal. In a leap year, February has 29 days in it instead of 28.

Why do we need a leap year?

Leap year began in order to align the earth’s rotation around the sun with our seasons. It takes approximately 365.2422 days for the earth to travel around the sun in one year. We know that a typical year has 365 days in it—but as you can see from the number 365.2422, a year is not exactly 365 days! So, in order to get “lined up”, almost every four years, we give one extra day to account for the additional time the earth takes to travel around the sun.

Trivia question: How long is 365.2444 days?

Answer: 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes 46 seconds

When is Leap Year?

This year, 2008, is a Leap Year. It occurs every 4 years (with some exceptions every few hundred years). It’s celebrated on February 29th– a day that only occurs in a Leap Year.

How do you calculate a Leap Year?

How do you calculate a leap year? According to the Gregorian calendar, there are 3 rules to calculate if it is leap year or not a leap year.

Rule 1: Leap year is divisible by 4

Rule 2: Exception to Rule 1, any year divisible by 100 such as 1900 or 1800

Rule 3: Exception to Rule 2, any year divisible by 400 is a leap year such as 2000

Fun for the Kids:

How many leap years old am I?

How many leap years old is Grandma/Grandpa/Mom/Dad?

How many leap years old is my school?

Did you know? Leap Year Traditions

In Ireland, every February 29th, women were allowed to ask for a man in marriage. A man was fined if he refused the proposal.

Leap Year has been the traditional time that women can propose marriage. In many of today’s cultures, it is okay for a woman to propose marriage to a man. Society doesn’t look down on such women. However, that hasn’t always been the case. When the rules of courtship were stricter, women were only allowed to pop the question on one day every four years. That day was February 29th.” Read more about it.

Leap Year Activities for Kids

Making a leap year frog out of a paper plate:

Pin the Crown on the Frog Prince :

Musical Lilly Pads:

Frog Hunt and other Frog Games:

Make a Frog Bean Bag

Paper Frog Puppet alternative:

Frog CupCakes

Cullin’s Video on leap year for young children:

Have a POWerful Extra Leap Year Day!

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