30 September, 2010


By Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.

I was once asked by a journalist for a woman's magazine what were some of my favorite tips for building confidence in children. I explained that the list was very long, but I gave her three of my favorites...which I would enjoy sharing with you...

1) Give children responsibility. Don't do everything for them. Too much overprotection can create a sense of helplessness and worthlessness in our children. They are coddled to the point of incompetence! Think about it: when we do everything for our children, we are shielding them from the power and creativity that they all embody. Yes, shockingly, that is what we do when we do everything for them and expect nothing in return. I might add that to my knowledge there never was a time in history when children were given so little responsibility within the context of the family and community. No wonder they are insecure! When, instead, they are taught to act in a way that helps the world around them, their self-esteem grows and grows.

Parents can begin by giving children responsibility within the household and expecting them to become competent contributing individuals. Even a little child can help the family in so many ways. To wait on children constantly is to create a very insecure...(and bratty!)...child. As they become a meaningful part of the family, they can't help but feel better and better and better about themselves.

2) Make children aware that their lives make a difference, not only to your household, but also to the world around them. Telling children repeatedly how wonderful they are rarely makes them feel wonderful about themselves. Showing children how to act in a way that helps the world around them does make them feel wonderful about themselves. You can start that training very early. For example, a friend of mine volunteered for Meals on Wheels, which is an organization that provides meals for the elderly who are home-bound. Her three year-old daughters always accompanied her as she brought food to those in need. And, as little as she was, this three year-old child learned first hand how happy she can make people by doing something good. The elderly couldn't wait for her to arrive! My friend also was a perfect model for her child. There are many ways to help children understand they truly do make a difference. And when they do something that helps the world in their own way, they gain a sense of self-esteem and confidence that they may not have had before.

My own children learned about the self-esteem that comes from volunteering at an early age. I was the executive director of The Floating Hospital, a ship in the New York harbor that helped the poor. My daughter, Leslie, at the age of 10 and onward, could often be seen greeting the people as they came aboard, distributing food at lunch time, helping in the various programs, licking envelopes to send our requests for money to potential contributors, and so on. It is here that both my children learned that a lot of people in this world needed help. And they continue to help the world today, many years later, each in their own special way. Initially, I know they were fearful of reaching out, but as they kept learning the joy of helping others, it was easier for them to "do it anyway."

You can see why I believe that a valuable way to increase a child's self-confidence is to introduce them to a world of volunteering. It's an important way for everyone...young and old...to increase their sense of meaning and purpose in the world.

3) Teach your children the "I can handle it!" lesson. The repetition of the phrase, "No matter what happens, I can handle it!" stops the negative chatter in the mind and builds a sense of self. I believe so strongly in this affirmation and its value for children that I co-wrote a book for children entitled "I Can Handle It!" which is about building self-confidence in children. Here you will find 50 wonderful stories describing how children can handle different situations in their lives. It deals with emotions such as fear, embarrassment, sadness, and loss that often plague children's minds. A great confidence builder, indeed. Repetition of the positive affirmation, "Whatever happens, I can handle it!" has magical results indeed...for both young and old.
And here's a very special, very important "Don't" for the confidence and well-being of all parents...Don't blame yourself if your children are going through rough patches. We need to do our best, of course, but then let go of the outcome. We are not the only influence on our child's lives. Understand that there are so many things that enter in the child's "Circle of Being" that it is hard to know what factors affect the child's sense of self-genes, society, television, friends, siblings, and on and on and on.

The guilt-peddlers out there will tell you that everything that goes wrong is the parents' fault, but I don't believe that. I have seen children given the worst life have to offer and they grow up great! And I have seen children given the best, and they grow up horrible! There are so many factors that affect a child's self-confidence that to expect a parent to have such control over a child is totally unfair and unrealistic. You can tell, I have compassion for parents! Again, our task is to just do our best, according to what we think is best, and then let go of the outcome.

Our children have their own lessons to learn, each in their own way. We can support them, but we can't control them. We can only control our reactions to all that happens in their lives...and in our own lives as well. In that, lies our strength.
Read, Learn and Flourish!
For Your Success and Glory!

26 September, 2010

SWIM WITH THE SHARKS WITHOUT BEING EATEN ALIVE – Outsell, Outmanage, Outmotivate, and Outnegotiate Your Competition by Harvey Mackay

I am back again with a book review. This time I am going to tell you about Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive written by Harvey Mackay. The current world in which we live is an ‘ocean filled with Sharks – ‘Competitors’. If you want to survive among them, you must know the technique. That’s what Mr. Mackay teaches through this book.

Now, how it’s related with our chosen field of teaching and school management? Whether you are an Educator or an Administrator or an Edupreneur, we are all in the middle of cut throat Competition. How to survive without being eaten alive is a big question posing us. Here is the relation and the need to read this master piece.

For those who may not be familiar with the author, one only needs to know this: Harvey Mackay is a millionaire and did not waste time waiting for opportunities to seek him out. He is the CEO of Mackay Envelope Corporation, a company he bought for a mere $250,000 that is now valued at over $35 million. Running an envelope company is only a small portion of what this successful man has accomplished in his business and personal life.

Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive is a straightforward, no nonsense approach to how to succeed in business. The book abounds with advice and case studies, motivating the reader to excel in the business world.

The book targets the entrepreneur and primarily focuses on how to get ahead in business and stay one step ahead of the competition. While the advice and “rules” for success cited in the book were not rocket science, they were presented in case study form and included stories of success and defeat in the real business world. While the book did offer some insights in the “do’s and don’ts” of the business world, it failed to actually tell the reader just exactly “how” to achieve success in closing business deals. However, three areas of the book were worth the reading: customer relations, selling tips, and creativity.

Mackay’s section on customer relations really hit home with his philosophy that clients are people, too. While this conclusion may seem strangely obvious, it can be easy to forget when business relationships are strained. One of my favorite quotes from the author is “Most business problems can be solved if you can teach yourself to look beyond the dollar sign. Business revolves around human beings.”

The section on salesmanship and selling tips focused primarily on the basic rules of supply and demand. Several points resonated with me on this topic, including the illusion of demand. Mackay states, “Maintain the illusion of demand regardless of supply.”

Our sense of the worth of an object is not derived from its intrinsic value but from the demand that has been created for that object.” Mackay also strongly encourages the philosophy that it is best to make the customer think that they came up with the idea to buy or sell your product. Mackay points out that “Marketing is not the art of selling. It is the art of creating conditions by which the buyer convinces himself.”

Creativity was actually a constant theme throughout this book. Mackay feels strongly that to be successful in any business, you must be able to think creatively, whether in a sales presentation, marketing campaign, or with customer relationship issues. Mackay is quick to point out that “Efficiency achieved at the expense of creativity is counterproductive” and offers this warning—“Don’t equate activity with efficiency.” He also suggests an open work environment, where ideas can come from any department.

At the end Harvey Mackay tells that, “You don’t learn to swim in a single outing. High-stakes challenges demands practice and perseverance.” If we have the will and spirit, why shouldn’t we be among the most successful people?

Go ahead, get the book, read and apply ‘Mackay ideas’ to succeed in your chosen field!

To buy on line: Swim with the Sharks

Read, Learn and Flourish!

For your success and Glory!

Using Mid-Term Feedback

General Strategies

· Decide what you want to assess. For example, do you want to find out how well the students are learning the material, the effectiveness of your teaching, or something else of interest to you? The type of feedback you wish to receive will determine the questions you ask.

· Schedule fast feedback at times appropriate to the course. If you have just begun teaching, have drastically revised a course, or observed that students are having difficulties, you may want to hold a feedback session as early as the third week of classes. Otherwise, you may want to wait until mid-semester. Remember, though, if you ask for feedback after the mid-term test, most of the comments will relate to the exam.

· Use different feedback techniques throughout the semester. Experiment with techniques that appeal to you and see which produce the most helpful information. Consider developing your own methods for obtaining feedback.

Collecting Feedback

· Review student work to collect informal feedback. Use students’ in-class questions and work on assignments as gauges of their understanding of the course material. You might also periodically check their notes to see how well they are taking in the information.

· Ask the students to reply anonymously to a few questions. You can ask what is going well in the course and what needs improvement. Or you could ask what to start, stop, and continue in the course. Ask for specific comments so you can interpret the ideas accurately. Leave the room while the students write their comments and have a student collect the responses and return them to you. You could also devise a questionnaire for them to complete.

· Use a suggestion box. Place a large envelope on your office door and encourage students to drop off questions, comments, or problems. You can bring a box to each class, too, if you wish.

· Have your class observed. You could arrange to have either a CTE representative or a colleague observe one or more classes to give you feedback before the term is over. You may also opt to have a class videotaped by staff in Instructional Technologies and Multimedia Services.

· Do your own analysis. You can be collecting your own mid-term feedback by writing your own reflections on your lecture notes after each class, keeping a teaching journal, or completing checklists. One tip here is to make sure you record concepts that caused students difficulty or really insightful student questions so that you can alter your future lecture to deal with those areas.

· Ask CTE to run a formal feedback session with your students. After you leave, the facilitator will ask questions, agreed upon by you, which students first answer individually, then in small groups, and finally, together as a whole class. With the class, the facilitator summarizes the points on which there is consensus, asks for clarification on points of disagreement, and probes for more detail where needed. The written comments are collected and a confidential report is created for you. Collecting student feedback on your own, however, typically helps to strengthen your rapport with your students.

Responding to Students’ Feedback

· Respond to feedback as soon as possible. Collect feedback when you are in a position to immediately review the comments. Respond to feedback received by other means, such as e-mail, as appropriate. Clarify any misunderstandings about your goals and their expectations. Tell them what suggestions you will act on this term, those that must wait until next term, and those that you will not act on and why. Ask them to continue to help you improve the course.

· Consider carefully what students say. Review the positive comments about the course first, since it may be easy to be discouraged by negative comments. Then consider the suggestions for improvement and group them into three categories:

o Those you can change this semester (e.g., turnaround time on homework)

o Those that must wait until the next time the course is offered (e.g., the textbook)

o Those that you cannot or, for instructional reasons, will not change (e.g., the number of quizzes or tests)

· Thank them for their comments. Students appreciate knowing that you care about what they say.

Source: Centre for Teaching Excellence

Read, Learn and Flourish!

For your glory and Success!

Classroom Management: Creating an Inclusive Environment

Here are some tips on how to create a positive classroom atmosphere early in the session:

  • Introduce yourself to your class. In addition to telling students how you wish to be addressed, say something about your background: how you first became interested in the subject, how it has been important to you, and why you are teaching this subject and class. Genuinely convey your enthusiasm for teaching the subject.
  • Give students an opportunity to meet each other. Ask students to divide themselves into groups of three to five and introduce themselves. Or go around the room and ask all students to respond to one question, such as “What’s the one thing you really want to learn from this class/grade?” or “What aspect of the curriculum seems most appealing to you?”
  • Ask students to fill out an introduction card. Have students indicate their name, home address, telephone number, and electronic mail address, year in school, and major interests and hobbies.
  • Learn students’ names. By learning your students’ names, you can create a comfortable classroom environment that will encourage student interaction. Knowing your students’ names also tells them that you are interested in them as individuals.
  • Ask students to interview each other outside of class. If your course has a writing component, you might ask students to write a brief description of their partner. The class could agree on the interview questions beforehand or each student could devise his or her own items.
  • Divide students into small groups. Give groups a small task, such as a brainstorming exercise, and then place responses on the board for discussion and interpretation.
  • Encourage students to exchange phone numbers. If all students agree, ask them to write their name, telephone number, and electronic mail address on a plain sheet of paper and make copies of the roster for them. Encourage students to call their classmates about missed classes, homework assignments, and study groups. Or have students complete index cards and exchange them with two or three classmates.

Here are some tips on how to personalise the large lecture class:

  • Let students know that they are not faces in an anonymous audience. In large campuses, students often think that their classroom behaviour (eating, talking, sleeping arriving late, etc.) goes unnoticed. Tell students that you are aware of what is happening in class and act accordingly.
  • If your class has extra seating space, ask students to refrain from sitting in certain rows of the classroom. For example, if you teach in a room that has rowed seating, ask students to sit in rows 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 and so on so that you can walk through the audience where there is an empty row.
  • Recognise students’ co-scholastic and co-curricular accomplishments. Read school news letters, scan the results put up on bulletin boards, pay attention to all competitions, and let students know that you are aware of their achievements.
  • Capitalise on outside events or situations, as appropriate. Relate major world events or events on campus both to your class and to the fabric of your students’ lives outside the classroom.
  • Arrive early and chat with students. Ask how the class and studies are going. Are they enjoying the readings? Is there anything they want you to include in lectures?
  • Seek out students who are doing poorly in the course. Write “See me during my office hours” on all exams graded C- or below to provide individualised feedback.
  • Acknowledge students who are doing well in the class. Write “Good job! See me after class” on all exams graded A1 or above. Take a moment after class to compliment students who are excelling.
  • Schedule topics for office hours. If students are reluctant to come, periodically schedule a “help session” on a particular topic rather than a free-form office hour.
  • Talk about questions students have asked in previous terms. Mention specific questions former students have asked and explain why they were excellent questions. This lets students know that you take their questions seriously and that their questions will contribute to the course in the future.
  • Listen attentively to all questions and answer them directly. If you will cover the answer during the remainder of the lecture, acknowledge the aptness of the question, asks the student to remember it, and answer the question directly when you arrive at that subject.
  • Try to empathise with beginners. Remember that not all of your students are as highly motivated and interested in the discipline as you were when you were a student. Slow down when explaining complex ideas, and acknowledge the difficulty and importance of certain concepts or operations. Try to recall your first encounter with a concept – what examples, strategies, or techniques clarified it for you? By describing that encounter and its resolution to your students, you not only explain the concept but also convey the struggle and rewards of learning.

Adapted from Tools for Teaching by Barbara Gross Davis.

Read, Learn and Flourish!

For your Glory and Success!