On May 14, 2021, this book, compiled by Dr. Rick Jetter, became available to the world which took me over the moon! I had the greatest honour to write chapter 11: Stop Boring Students at All Costs.
In my chapter, I share small, simple ways a teacher can make lessons less unvaried, unstimulating, unoriginal, unimaginative, uneventful, and unexciting…ultimately, less boring. There’s an antidote offered for each!
Why was this chapter important for me to write? As teachers, we have ultimate control over how our lessons, day, and year are planned. It’s an opportunity to make it more fun. We have experienced how much more students are engaged and motivated to learn when we are passionate about our lessons or units. Our passion is truly contagious! So when we plan our time with them to be meaningful and interesting, it’s more fun for them and for me too. Plus, there’s no need for classroom management when you have a room full of engaged learners! At the end of the day, we want to turn kids ON to learning, not OFF, especially if we wish to teach them how to learn and how to love learning! I want school to feel like an experience and not just a place they have to be. I want them to want to come back the next day not because they have to. We have the power to make our classroom a vibrant community of learners!
I would absolutely love to connect with you! I am very interested to learn about what resonated with you most. Please feel free to leave a comment here or DM me on Twitter @LiviaChanL. I use the same handle across all platforms too. Thank you!
To get your own copy of 100 No-Nonsense Things that All Teachers Should Stop Doing, click USA or Canada.
Stop to notice priceless gifts all around us. It leads to greater positivity, joy, and respect for our place in this world.
Each day is a gift. Embrace it. Even though you may be struggling, life is still worth living.
Reach out for help when you are struggling. We are stronger together. Reach in to others to offer support and make a difference through every opportunity for interaction.
Chase your dreams. Take one small step every day.
See the challenges for the month below!
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a GIFT. That is why it’s called the PRESENT.
– Master Oogway, Kungfu Panda
Gifts are all around us. They are waiting for us to discover like a diamond in the rough. The more I expand my horizons to not just see but truly embrace these intangible yet priceless things as gifts, the more I appreciate what is right in front of me. Thank you for joining me on this journey as we extend our view of the gifts that were always there…waiting.
Stop and notice…with intention.
What are things you can see as GIFTS that offer an opportunity for deep
Gratitude, Inspiration to live your life with greater meaning, Foundational to our inner being, and something you can Treasure once you find it, for the rest of your life?
In my first post for this Gift Better blog series last month, I wrote about the gift of words. (If you want to dive into a deeper conversation about this, join Martin Silverman and me on his podcast episode where we talk further about the gift of words.) Such priceless value in the words we intentionally choose for others and the ones we receive as gifts. In future months, I will dive into topics such as the gift of opportunity, the gift of connection, and the gift of believing in others.
The practice of seeing such things as gifts shifts my mindset so I am able to be more present, mindful, and aware of my daily surroundings. The result? Greater positivity, joy, and respect for my humble place in this world. My hope in sharing is that you will discover and embrace the same.
Do you ever go through times in your life when you are not feeling quite like yourself? A couple of weeks ago, I felt this way. Gratefully, this is not common but it definitely made me hyperaware of how I was feeling. I couldn’t pinpoint any one event but a number of accumulated things weighed on my heart and mind.
All throughout the year, my class has been very cohesive, kind and empathetic, and inclusive. But last week, there were a number of incidents that really challenged our caring community which sat heavily on my heart. You see, I am a person that values harmony. I feel much happier when people in my life get along. And it affects me deeply when people don’t.
Life Can Be a Struggle
Last Tuesday, I woke up with feelings of unease and a bit of anxiety. On my drive to work, I listened to a voice message, thinking it was my sweet mom because I thought I saw her name. It wasn’t her. To my shock and utter disbelief, it was a man from Arizona who accidentally left a message. He expressed his love for his brother and informed him that he was really struggling. He wasn’t sure how much more he can handle life and intimated he will harm himself so he was reaching out to say I love and appreciate you.
I cried all the way to work. Good thing my commute is only a four minute drive. As I entered the school, barely holding it together coupled with how I was already feeling from the past couple of weeks, I went straight into my principal’s office thankful to have someone to lean on. As I am writing this, I feel emotional all over again even though it turned out to be a favorable outcome.
Every interaction is an OPPORTUNITY. I know not everyone believes this, but I believe things happen for a reason. I spoke from my heart and left a message for the caller. The Phoenix Police Department informed me that they got a hold of him a day later and he was still alive. A great sense of relief instantly came over me. This was the spark that I needed to return to feeling my usual self. I have no idea if he listened to my message or whether it made any difference but I did what I could to support a stranger in need.
A Reminder That Each Day Is a Gift
I shared these stories because they reminded me that each day is a gift. Even though we may be going through struggles, life is so worth living especially when we choose to see the day as a precious gift that is valued deeply.
Embrace all of the joys a day has to bring. It’s right there…waiting for you to notice, see, accept, and receive with gratitude. We can control how our day unfolds starting with how we choose to think and live as our authentic selves and how we interact with those around us.
Each day is a new day—a gift for you to notice and receive with graciousness. It starts from within.
So when we are struggling, it is so important to reach out to other people to seek help. It is through our connections that we are stronger together. I cannot imagine how I could have dealt with these situations without sharing with others. We do not have to go through life or any part of life alone. The sooner you reach out for help, the sooner you can get support. If you find yourself in a place where you don’t feel comfortable speaking to someone you know, then there are helplines that offer anonymity.
Each day is a gift for us to make a difference in the lives of those we touch. In every interaction, it is truly an opportunity. Choose to see it as an opportunity. When somebody says how are you and they respond, “I’m fine,” ask for more. That was an opportunity to find out how they are really doing and uplift them. Please allow me to encourage you to make the most of every day. It is a gift for you to spread your love, passion, purpose, and sunshine in others’ worlds.
Start embracing. The day has been given to you as a gift. Take it. Treasure it. The day is yours to make an impact.
We’ve been encouraged by people like Eckhart Tolle to be fully present and to embrace the power of now. We have 24 hours in a day. What we do between the 12 o’clocks counts. I found that becoming more aware and practicing mindfulness helped me to see each day as a gift.
Mindful practice: Last month, I guided you through mindful practice to fully absorb intentionally chosen words as a gift of words from others. Today and every day, find at least one moment where you stop, perhaps close your eyes, and be still. As you breathe deeply, take in how your day was a gift given to you. Feel gratitude. Then breathe and deepen that gratitude even more. Reflect on the positive things that a new day offers—love, connection, opportunities, and so much more.
Each Day Is a Gift: Chase Your Dreams
What is your purpose or passion? What is your WHY? Align your day to it.
What are your dreams, hopes, and wishes? Take small steps every day to make it happen. One step every day leads to 365 steps in a year!
Is what you’re doing serving you and those in your care or loved ones? If not, change it. Reflect and make it better.
Gift Better Challenge
Each day is a gift—a present. When I began to view more things as gifts, it changed me for the better. There are days I struggle too. The “each day is a gift” is not a mindset I can uphold every second of every day but I am able to be more aware every day. This led me to greater overall happiness, positivity, and gratefulness in my heart.
Next month, I am excited to share the gift of gratitude. Until then, here are some ideas for this month’s challenge. Begin to see each day as a gift. Pick one or pick all:
Build this daily habit: Wake up and before you think of all the things you need to accomplish today in the first minute of being awake, think, “Wow, I have been given the gift of a new day! I have been blessed to go and make a difference in people’s lives today! I feel grateful.” Create your own challenge to try it for ___ days or weeks. Then make a commitment to reach out to the first three people you thought of. They were placed on your mind for a reason.
Make a difference in one person’s life every day.
Make one small step toward your dreams to embrace each day.
Seize the day! Life is too short. Make the most of it! We’ve all heard these sayings from time to time. They’re great reminders but the reality is that it’s hard to live by every single day, especially with how very busy we are. But, we can aim to remember these messages more often by seeing each day as a gift.
I’d love to learn what resonated with you. I would love to connect. Please feel free to fill out this form so we can!
When we open our eyes to see atypical things as gifts, we find more to treasure as we grow our capacity to feel joy.
Learn to practice mindful moments of deeper gratitude when we begin to discover and see more things as gifts.
We can see words as gifts to us. We can give the gift of words by intentionally uplifting others with our words.
The purpose of this new blog series is to share how I see things as gifts. It can lead to greater joy, positivity, and gratitude. See the challenge for the month below!
The best things in life aren’t things. The best gifts in life aren’t things either.
What is the Value of a Gift?
A gift is something given to you. You receive it with no expectation of any return. Gifts have a way of evoking positive emotions, which can lead to happiness, joy, and potentially have a place in your long-term memories. As a child, I remember the feeling of elation when receiving certain gifts. We didn’t grow up with many gifts except for birthdays and Christmas. My parents as immigrants didn’t have a lot of extra money to buy “just because” gifts.
The simple things brought my brother and me great joy. When I was four, I remember our next door neighbor surprising us with Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum sticks from time to time. One time, for no reason, these neighbors gave me the most beautiful pink bejeweled purse. I have a number of these childhood memories of gifts that became keepsakes that I still have today, including that purse. These gifts made me feel special. I treasured them for decades and still do. Why? They were thoughtfully picked out for me and I felt grateful for that, probably more than the item itself. I don’t use any of these items today but they hold a special place in my heart as a feeling of being loved. What are your favorite childhood gifts that evoke joy?
Open Your Eyes to See Gifts
As an adult, I still like to receive gifts but I feel more joy to give them. While I am grateful for the tangible things I can hold in my hands, I admit I am often more touched by intangible things like kind gestures and thoughtful actions. For example, what I love to give and receive is the gift of thoughtful words in the form of a simple note, text, or message.
I now see that intangible gifts are all around us. We just need to open our eyes to seethem as gifts. And once we do, it is there for us to receive as we wish. It’s boundless. We do not have to wait for others to give it to us. These gifts can be shared with others too.
We have our own set of lenses for which we see the world. What happens and how we feel about our world are interpreted based on a number of factors like past experiences, relationships, attached feelings, and our current state of mind and emotions, for example. I see our interpretations as a choice. We choose how and what we see as a result of our mindset and the lens we wear.
Gifts Lead to Gratitude
Why do I choose to see through a lens of gifts? It is through this lens that gratitude can more easily ooze out of my heart.
Let’s think about how most people feel when they receive a gift. For many, after an element of surprise, there is an instant feeling of happiness (hopefully not disappointment!), and then usually appreciation follows.
Especially with intangible gifts I receive, I like to enter into a mindful moment, a deeper sense of gratitude, and dive into feelings that bring joy. I want to see things as blessings, for when I do, I am less likely to take them for granted. I love to allow these feelings of gratitude to reach my heart and breathe it in to enjoy or be “in” joy.
The Gift of Words
As mentioned above, I love to give and receive words. When I read heart-filled personal messages written to me, I see and receive these words as a gift. As a mindful practice, I take a moment to absorb the words that were carefully and meaningfully chosen just for me. I breathe in the kindness, thoughtfulness, and gratitude in their words. Sometimes I close my eyes too so I can really feel the love. I allow it to sit and rest on my heart like how a blanket warms me on a cold winter’s day. (I know cold because I live in Canada!)
In our busy lives, we read so many words in emails and on our various social media accounts. We speak and listen to many more words throughout our day. How many of these conversations uplift others or make you feel uplifted? Every interaction we have is an opportunity to intentionally uplift others through our kindness and gratitude. We have it in us to give our gift of words. YOU can give your gift of empathetic and uplifting words. It costs nothing but a desire and a bit of your heart, time, and effort. We can shift someone’s day just by the way we say hello to them!
So Many Gifts
I didn’t always see gifts all around me. It’s a more recent discovery and one I have absolutely grown to love. The more I see things as gifts, the more I have to treasure and value. It’s a mindset shift that led me to greater positivity and joy. I am excited to take you on a journey with me. In a monthly blog series called Gift Better, we will explore and dive deeper into various priceless gifts all around us, waiting for us to cherish. I encourage you to put on your Gift Better lenses to begin to see possibilities as you join me. Through possibilities, you will begin to see opportunities. It is my hope that you will begin to shift your viewpoint by expanding your mindset.
Gift Better Challenge
Oh, the opportunities abound! By viewing many more things as gifts, it has changed me for the better. I have always been a positive person but now I am even happier, more positive, and grateful as a result. I feel joyfully alive every day!
Next month, I will share how I see each day as a gift. Until then, here are some ideas for this month’s challenge. Begin to see your authenticity as a gift and words as gifts (both given and received). Pick one or pick all:
Pay attention to the words you receive. These words were chosen just for you. Feel the gratitude in your mind, heart, and soul when you receive a gift of words. Breathe it all in as you take a mindful moment to absorb the feelings of kindness and gratitude.
Be intentional with the words you say to others. Put on a set of lenses that sees your words to others as a gift, an opportunity to intentionally uplift and make their day a brighter one. Make a positive impact on their day.
Give the gift of your true authentic self to others. Find what brings you joy and share it with others.
The Gift of Self
I pledge to give the gift of myself and my authenticity in this Gift Better series. In all of my beloved roles as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, colleague, coach, and educator, I lead with my heart. It is through my heart and my words, you will learn more about me and my experiences. If we have connected on social media, I’m so glad we are friends. I hope you have learned already that I love to give the gift of words through my deep care and gratitude for our connection. I model what I wish to see in the world. If we have not connected yet, I am looking forward to meeting you. Feel free to DM me on Twitter. Let’s chat!
Change the Way You See the World
My hope is to make an imprint on your heart so that you will begin to see gifts all around you too. It is through this new lens that I hope will lead to more gratitude and ultimately, more joy in your life like I have found in mine.
“All it takes is one idea on how to change the way you see the world to change your world.” – Robin Sharma
I would absolutely love to connect with you to have a conversation. Please feel free to share what resonated with you most or how you met one of these challenges. I am grateful you chose to give me the gift of your time to read my post. Please click here to let me know your thoughts, thank you!
A few years ago, a friend introduced me to choosing ONE WORD instead of making new year resolutions. I wasn’t one for making resolutions anyway because I didn’t believe in waiting until the new year to start working on goals so choosing one word appealed to me much more. Some of my previous words were gratitude, inspire, and breathe. In hindsight, I wish I wrote blog posts to capture my reflections but I am excited to begin a new tradition this year.
As I reflect on 2020, I grew into my word UPLIFT and became more of an uplifter as the year progressed. Little did I know a full year ago, how important one word could mean to me and others in my circle. Like many, little did we know that weeks after January 1, 2020, there would be a pandemic that would change our lives forever.
UPLIFT has been a word I’ve held near and dear for many years but 2020 really challenged me to be more intentional about it. There were many who struggled in different ways and each time, I tried to uplift them to at least help make their day a brighter one. Whether this was done in person or digitally, it felt like a responsibility to reach out to others when they were down or not feeling well. Even when they were not ill, I made opportunities to reach out to uplift by showing gratitude or kindness. Sometimes this came in the form of a simple emphatic hello with a warm smile and “Great to see you”. Other times, it was a reaching out with a simple “I’m thinking about you.”
I truly believe that people are placed on our mind or heart for a reason. When they come into our mind, take action, and reach out. How long does it take to send a simple text? Every time I reached out, I was reciprocally blessed with a warm hello back that lifted me up as well. It always made my day a brighter one and I know it brightened theirs too. Can you imagine the impact if five people reached out to five others in one day and those five people reached out to another five people? The impact is exponential! I challenge you to pull out your calculator to do some math. Take 5 x 5 x 5 … How many people would be uplifted in just one week?
This is a kindness mindset with the intention to uplift through every interaction. It is with intention that we choose to make someone’s day a brighter one with not only the words we use but how we share it. There is no neutral interaction. Every interaction either uplifts or tears down. Choose your words and actions carefully with intention. Choose to UPLIFT.
Despite the negativity that many people feel when they think of 2020, for me, it has been a phenomenal year of growth and change. Becoming a part of the Teach Better Team as an Ambassador and later as the Digital Content Editor has changed my life. The connections and friendships I made in the past eight months have filled my soul. I wasn’t sure what a PLN was and now I know I do not want to live without one. I feel so blessed and full of gratitude to be a part of a family network that so believes in me, supports me, and fills me with joy. Every day, I feel joyfully alive. Every day, I feel uplifted by them.
This brings me to my one word for 2021. I was blessed to attend the Word Party hosted by Lindsay Titus last week. She guided us through a number of valuable exercises. It was here that I wrote down over 100 words to choose from. My word was on that list. Like many of you, it took time to narrow it down to just one. I considered other words but they focussed more on myself rather than extending beyond me. It was important to find a word that included others, my family, friends, students, colleagues, and communities like my PLN.
When I first told my daughter, she looked at me funny because she thought “Why?” and then I explained my acronym:
When I read Teachers Deserve It by Rae Hughart and Adam Welcome, it became clear to me that I needed to write my own WHY. Why am I so passionate about my role as a teacher? I needed to reflect and reconnect to truly KNOW and redefine my why. Click here to read about my WHY.
When choosing my word WHY, I considered these questions:
What do I value?
Why do I do what I do?
How can I improve?
How can I make an impact on people’s lives?
How can I make an imprint on people’s hearts?
Beyond these questions, I want to frequently ask myself WHY, to dig deeper and deeper into why, until it goes down to my core values and beliefs. It makes me feel invigorated to see how this word will make a difference this year. I have been given permission to dream so for the past few days, I am considering some audacious goals but I want them to be in line with my WHY. It has to be! It must be in order for me to be true to my authentic self. I feel joyfully alive when I think about possibilities.
Whom will I serve?
I have grown so much personally and professionally in 2020. I learned that before I can serve others well, I need to take care of myself first by practicing self-care. What fuels me and brings me joy? My passions. I am passionate about people, relationships, and uplifting others. I recently learned that showing kindness to others is the best form of self care. Click here to read more about it.
If I wrote down the names of everyone I know on strips of paper and was asked to prioritize, I will always put my family on the top. I have a deep and intense love for my family.
My friends are a huge component to what also makes me feel joyfully alive every day. Our connection warms my heart. I thoroughly enjoy being a part of every community – school, district, PLN, my Teach Better family network, and my ringette family. Any community I am a part of, I want to invest myself, add value, and serve.
How does my WHY align with my purpose?
With 2020 being a big year of growth, I want to continue to discover and uncover my purpose in the varied roles I play in all of my communities. It’s important I figure out my meaningful purpose so that my mindset and actions are aligned with it. I want to be intentional and make a positive impact on who I reach and what I do in the time I am given. So with every thought, action, and interaction, my desire is that it’s in line with my passions, vision, and purpose..
Yearn for better.
Working together to better ourselves, each other, and the world around us.
This has been my motto for about ten years now. I am in constant pursuit of betterment. It starts with me as an individual. I strive to seek, find, and create opportunities for growth that challenge me and place me outside of my comfort zone. For it is really in the next zone, our stretch zone, that we truly grow. I made a commitment to exhale fear and inhale courage… to step through any open doors. When there aren’t any doors open, I will continue to create them for myself if it aligns with my purpose and passions. I learned from Atomic Habits by James Clear to get 1% better each day to gain continuous improvement. As a team member of the Teach Better Team, I fully endorse their motto: Better today than yesterday. Better tomorrow than today.
I did consider keeping my #OneWord2020: UPLIFT for a second year but I realized that no matter what, words previously chosen with such significant meaning don’t ever leave you – especially if you lived and breathed that word every single day. They stay forever. So I excitedly add WHY to my list. I am looking forward to discovering how this chosen word will help guide and shape me. I know I will continue to build on my personal and professional growth from 2020. I am grateful for my longtime relationships as well as my new friendships and look forward to creating new connections while growing existing ones. I know I can count on their support to push me to be better and to hold me accountable to my #OneWord2021: WHY.
As always, I enjoy connecting so please feel free to leave a comment to share your #OneWord2021, a link to your post, or a short story about it. I appreciate you for reading my thoughts and would love to have a conversation about your word!
With a heart full of gratitude,
Teachers on Fire
Teachers on Fire – January 3, 2021 I had the great privilege to be on live with eight other amazing educators to share our #OneWord2021. Click here to watch.
How many times have you read this quote? How many times have you read or heard a quote and thought, “Yes! This resonates with me!” Now, how many times have you absorbed a quote into your daily being and it no longer is a quote that just resonates with you but is you?
I am someone who does a lot of reflection throughout my day. I have no idea if it’s more or less than the average. That’s irrelevant. What is relevant is the action I take as a result of my reflections which brings me back to this particular quote. Read it again. Think about it for a moment. Dive into the words for a longer moment. What does it mean to you?
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Here’s my story about what it means to me.
I have read this quote a number of times in my life. Each time, it reminded me to ask myself if I am the change I want to see in the world. If you think about it deeply, that can feel like a big and overwhelming task! But of course, it doesn’t have to be.
I imagine we have different ideas and missions when we think about this quote. What is your change you want to see in the world? Mine? It is to live each day spreading love, kindness, gratitude, and positivity by reaching out to connect, uplift, and serve others.
I am deeply passionate about three things: friends and family, ringette, and being an educator. These are centered around people, making connections, building relationships, and being an active part of a community. I love ALL of it – plus the feelings of welcomeness, friendship, and belonging that go with it.
I view many things as gifts. Every day is a gift. Every relationship is a gift. Every connection is a gift. Time is a gift. What pulls this idea plus my passions all together is this: PEOPLE are gifts to me – how they influence and inspire me, affect me, and love me, all give me the strength to live my calm days and my busiest of days. I am so very grateful to all and how we are connected.
Every interaction is a gift. It is an opportunity to touch someone’s life and to make it better. Uplift their hearts or their souls… or both!
Recently, there were a few things that made me realize that it is time to share something that has been on my mind and my heart. It has been a slow realization and that’s okay but now it has grown to be something I want more than just to hope for and wish to see in the world. I feel a stronger need to move from passive to active.
A few weeks ago during our Teach Better Administrator Mastermind, I was called an “ULTIMATE #reacherouter” by my good friend, Brad Hughes (@brad_hughes). It truly warmed my heart to see those words shared in the chat and have it affirmed by others. Soon after, that’s when it hit me. I was living the “change I wish to see in the world”. What dawned on me shortly after was this: It is now time to do more. I need to go beyond just hoping and wishing that others do the same so if I want to make more of a difference in this world, I need to shout it out. Louder!
As I listen to messages I receive from others and learn more about myself in the process, I am discovering more common themes in what I share regularly. Things like encouraging others to reach out to connect, seeing through a lens of positivity, acknowledging our daily gifts, and practicing gratitude are all important! I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to speak about these in a podcast episode with my good friend, Lindsay Titus, on Define YOUniversity in Episode 36: Share Your Story series.
Seeing connections as gifts have given me the courage to reach out to initiate conversations, take opportunities to start relationships, build rapport, and deepen connections that have turned into new and amazingly fulfilling friendships! Most of these were all relationships fostered virtually. The list of people I can now name as friends because I took the initiative to reach out is plenty! And each day, I feel truly blessed and so grateful for my new friends… many of which are affiliated with the Teach Better Team, which I am a passionate Ambassador and as of yesterday, the new Digital Content Editor! Love everyone on the team so much!
Now think back to a time when someone unexpectedly reached out to you. It might have been at a time you were tired, sad, or struggling with something. Perhaps you received an appreciation for something you did. Regardless, how wonderful did that feel to know someone was thinking about you and took that extra step to contact you? Did it touch or warm your heart? I bet it did! In fact, this happened to me just over a week ago! I was feeling exhausted at the end of the night but still had to plan our PD session. Just minutes after I was on Dave Burgess’ website looking up his 5-word GPS idea, he happened to reached out! Through our conversation, he offered something that far surpassed my wildest dreams, and instantly, my sense of overwhelm turned into excitement and my heart was full of gratitude. What a gift I was given. What a gift we were given. It was the gift of time and connection that inspired us all when he spoke live. His message will continue to inspire us for the remainder of the year! So grateful!
We are busy people. We always find more on our plate than we have time for. It’s a fine balancing act that constantly changes as our day rolls on. I recently learned about committing to spend 30 minutes on what we are passionate about on Brendon Burchard’s podcast – How to Achieve an Action Mindset and Stay Disciplined. 30 minutes is like 2% of our day. How long does it take to reach out to connect with someone? Far less than 30 minutes most of the time!
CHALLENGE: TAKE ACTION! When someone pops into your mind, there’s a reason. Some may call it a sign. So spend two minutes to act on it! Send them a short message to let them know you are thinking about them or why you are grateful for them. It may be just what they needed at that time on that day. Two minutes in a day equates to 0.14% of your whole day. I daresay that if we were pressed to prioritize what is most important to us, most would say our friends and family. So aren’t they worth our valued time? Relationships take an investment of time. The challenge is to do this every day for a week. See what happens! Can you turn it into a daily habit?
I have been told many times when I reached out that my timing was impeccable and that it was something they so needed to hear, be it my appreciation, positivity, encouragement, love, or kind words. Let me tell you… each time I have reached out, I have received a deeper connection in return. In my experience, the time I spent pouring into someone else has come back to me in ways that filled my heart manyfold. That is the power of connection! Simply priceless! Go reach out and make someone else’s day brighter! YOU can give the gift of connection, the gift of love, and the gift of your words.
Let’s bring us back to the quote again and review what is in a typical day. This quote is all about relationships. Remember, every day is a gift. Our connections can be broken down into our daily interactions. From the moment you wake up, typically your loved ones you see first, then colleagues at school, next parents and students. Afterward, it might be employees at the businesses you frequent before you retreat back to your loved ones at home be it in person or virtually. Think about the numerous interactions you had over the course of the day. How many opportunities were there to spread your love, kindness, and positivity? How many opportunities can you take to make someone’s day brighter by reaching out to check-in, uplift, or show appreciation? We don’t have to wait for people to pop into our minds like in our challenge above. Here’s a second challenge: EVERY interaction is an opportunity, take it in the moment!
Reflect to discover what is that change you wish to see in the world. Once you figure it out, live it in whatever way you have the capacity for – minimally or passionately. Small steps are better than no steps taken. And when you are ready, take the next step and shout it out loud and proud!
To connect is a gift you can give to others. Your words are a gift to others too.
YOU are the change you wish to see in the world through every intentional interaction. Share out what it is you wish to see. Announce it! Live by it! And ask your friends to help hold you accountable.
If something you read resonated, I would greatly appreciate it if you please reach out and leave a comment or tweet it out and tag me @LiviaChanL. Looking forward to seeing and hearing about how you created an opportunity to connect too! Be a #reacherouter!!
So grateful to you for reading,
If you are looking for a discussion on random acts of kindness versus acts of kindness, I encourage you to list to Hans and Jennifer Appel on their podcast Award Winning Culture. Listen to Episode 25: EPIC Kindness. Their podcast is on my must-listen to list every week! Click here to see how I keep track of podcast takeaways!
Are you a podcast listener? Enthusiastically, I am! I started listening to education podcasts late in April 2020 so I am relatively new to this type of professional learning but I have listened to over 50 since that date. There were so many great takeaways. The more I listened, the more I learned, and the more knowledge I craved. The hosts and guests were quite varied with inspirational messages on interesting topics. As a result, it hit me that there was no possibility I could remember all of the great quotes or valuable insights shared. Any aha moments or subsequent reflections would all be lost eventually too unless I did something with that information – save it!
Below, you will learn 3 small changes that will help you be a better educator as you continue to grow and learn from others.
How many times have we attended professional development (PD) sessions in person or webinars, consumed the information, and with no follow-up, ended up only using a very small portion of what we learned? While it is not expected we would use all of the newly learned ideas anyway because it has to fit in with what and how we teach, I would love the ability to easily locate and access my notes weeks or months later if I wanted. The problem is with notes jotted down in a notebook, piece of paper, or package, it often ended up being stored in a “safe” place and eventually rarely came out to play unless it was impactful. If we are to truly honour our own time and PD, then saving notes to retrieve with ease later just makes sense.
Were there many great ideas shared during these PD sessions? Sure! But anything paper-based would end up in a pile or a file folder somewhere. SMALL CHANGE #1: A few years ago, I started keeping my PD notes digitally. Notetaking was done right on my laptop or iPad. I would create a new document in a Google Doc or O365 Word document and insert pictures of slides or images found in the handouts. Later, I might scan a copy of related documents so that I have it digitally. I absolutely love anything digital because I can use the search function to easily find what I am looking for. Admittedly, I have a much better filing system in the cloud than in real life! Can anyone relate?
So let’s go back to the idea of keeping messages that resonated while listening to podcasts. In April, after listening to my first 20 or so, it became clear that I needed something better than my memory alone! I immediately thought, “I need something digital!” So, I created a Google Form to keep track. Since then, the experience of recording information has been phenomenal. Not only do I process my new learning, I carefully consider how to concisely summarize my notes and reflections. When we analyze and think more deeply about the content we just consumed, we remember it better too! I now have it all in one spot to refer to and can access the best parts of amazing educator’s valuable messages to the world! I have referred to it many times already!
Click here to make a copy of the Podcast Takeaways Google Form. If you use it, I would love to hear how you modified it and any recommendations on how I can improve mine. If there is a fantastic podcast you highly recommend, please shout it out so I can learn more too. Thank you for your time! Click here to read my original tweet when I first shared this idea.
SMALL CHANGE #3: After being a guest on Teach Better Talk – episode 183, I was really interested to hear from everyone what messages resonated most. We often hear at the end of podcasts, a plea to reach out on social media to connect but how many do? For these two reasons, I came to the realization that podcasters and guests probably appreciate what I was looking for too so I started to tweet out two things after listening to podcasts: (1) my appreciation for sharing the new knowledge I gained and (2) something that resonated with me most. Each time I reached out to the hosts and guests, I received a reply that indicated to me I made a difference by taking the time to be an active participant rather than a passive consumer. Then on my spreadsheet, I actually record that I tweeted my gratitude. Helps me keep track!
How many times have you listened to a podcast, taken away some aha moments or had something really resonate with you, maybe shared with friends what a great episode it was, but then didn’t let the host or guest know? With the number of podcasts I listened to, it hasn’t been easy to tweet out every time, but if you do it even once in a while, you are providing your fellow educators with positive feedback, the gift of your words, as well as the gift of connection. May I encourage you to move beyond just being consumers of information but to step into the next level to reach out? It may be the beginning of a great relationship with an educator you admire. You may be surprised at how your gift of time to share your response can lead to happiness on your own plate too.
Case in point for the value of recording moments! A couple of years ago, I listened to all 22 of Bruce Brown’s Proactive Coaching podcast episodes because I was coaching ringette at the AA level and wanted to learn more. Bruce believes in building an intentional character-based team culture with standards and not rules. I so wish I created this Podcast Takeaways form back then. I am a better coach because I listened to all episodes but I can’t exactly pinpoint any of the particular golden nuggets or quotable quotes from each episode. I took some notes but where are they now? If you are looking to branch out of your education based podcasts, this series is somewhat related and a great one to check out!
I am always appreciative that you spent the time to read my thoughts. I would be so grateful to hear how this post may have resonated with you. Please leave a comment or send me a tweet @LiviaChanL. Thank you for connecting!
“It’s about the quality of connections rather than the quantity of connections. People look at views but it’s that one person that connects that means a lot.” My (non-urgent) plea: Be that one person! – Jon Harper (@Jonharper70bd), as a guest on Dave Schmittou‘s (@daveschmittou) podcast Lasting Learning – episode 119.
Here’s a gift. Do you want it? What is it exactly? It is an opportunity. What do I do with it? You take it!
That’s how the conversation went in my head when Jeff Gargas, the COO of the Teach Better Team first reached out to ask me if I would be interested to join him and his co-host Rae Hughart for a podcast episode on Teach Better Talk. Actually, my first questions were, “Who me? Why me?” But I didn’t let that stop me. I told him I was interested right away. With the gift of time during this pandemic, I dove into what the Teach Better Team was all about and was blown away. Since then, I started participating in their webinars, #MasteryChat on Twitter (Thursdays at 5PM PST), live shows, blog posts, and listening to their podcasts and I’ve been hooked ever since. Everyone on the team has been so positive and welcoming, which completely fits in with what I believe too! (If you read my first blog post, you’ll learn that “welcome” is one of the words I live by.) And as Jennifer and Hans Appel shared recently on their Award Winning Culture Podcast about the Teach Better team, “it is infectious to be around the team” and I so agree! Fast forward to today, I was recently asked to be a Teach Better Ambassador and now have the opportunity to share my story on Episode 183 – Teach Better Talk! I have been so blessed with many people believing in me and supporting me. It has truly been humbling and I want to thank you all for your part in helping me find my joy and being a source of joy. I am on my own journey but I didn’t get here alone – I learned from you and with you along the way, and for that, I am deeply grateful.
Opportunities are circling all around us, all the time, everywhere we go, and in every interaction we have. So what do you do with an opportunity?
First step: Open your eyes and your heart. Look around to see possibilities you can turn into opportunities. If you don’t see one YET, you may need to take some initiative to find one or create one for yourself. Sometimes opportunities find you but you also can work towards placing yourself in situations where there will be more opportunities available.
Next step: Assess whether these are opportunities you want to take. Can you grow from this? Does it help others in any way or make the world a better place? If so, then…
Final step: Jump in or dive into the deep end! Take the opportunity! And if you are not quite ready, a toe dip is still a motion forward.
I could talk about opportunities all day! They are possibilities you have chosen to turn into opportunities with action. In the podcast episode, I talk about various opportunities we can take to grow, be better, and improve our relationships, our teaching, and ourselves by the simplest act of making small changes. We don’t need to make big changes, but instead, make and take the opportunity for small changes. Making small changes will lead to bigger changes over time. In the podcast, I discuss some of the following:
We have the flexibility for professional development (PD) every day with who we want to follow, what we find interest in, when we do it, where (platform choice) so consider why and how you learn best. The door of opportunity is always open for you to step through. There are always takeaways when you open yourself up to receive them. I am newer to podcasts as a form of PD so I found it hard to keep track of all those golden nuggets I was hearing so I created a Google Form to keep track. Read my tweet and click here to make a copy to use. I am so loving this small change!
Reflect and consider how we can better connect with others, how we nurture the positive actions we notice, how we show gratitude, and how we build community with every interaction.
In the classroom, take the opportunity to add the elements of surprise, choice, creativity, and fun.
On a personal level, tweak your mindset to see challenges as opportunities. Please read my last post to learn more.
I give my students daily opportunities. I call them “areas of opportunity” and it is presented as an imaginary gift but it’s very real. They can choose to take it or not. When they do, they grow from it each time. My challenge to you is to explore possibilities, assess their value, and then take the plunge – go take those opportunities and run with it. Whenever I have, it has always brought great joy and when it hasn’t worked out as planned, I am better because I learned from the experience. Go find your oyster and discover your source of joy.
Please feel free to reach out to share what resonated with you here or in the podcast episode. I deeply appreciate you for your time and effort to listen and connect by commenting here or on Twitter @LiviaChanL. I am looking forward to connecting with you!
With a heart full of gratitude,
Thank you, Jeff and Rae, and the Teach Better Team for this exciting opportunity to share my story. Love you all!
We just enjoyed nine weeks of remote learning. It was exhausting but rewarding. Next week, we will begin a hybrid of in-class instruction for students who choose to return and a continuation of learning at home for others. So many firsts during this pandemic – first time teaching remotely, first time staying at home in isolation, and first time staying away from friends and loved ones to keep us all safe. I recognize there are many more firsts we have experienced. The next first time is teaching seven students in person while also supporting 17 others at home. It’s another change, another new adventure and that’s where mindset matters. How I approach this will affect my thoughts and feelings about it. Is it a problem, challenge or opportunity?
In a very short period of time, everyone around the world has had to adapt to something new, something different. How well we adapt to that change can be determined by our outlook about it. What is it we tell ourselves about this new situation? Is it a problem? Is it a challenge? Or is it an opportunity – a possibility of making the situation the best situation possible?
I have often drawn this out for not only my students for many years but also my own children at home during our discussions or family meetings. I often think about the things I share repeatedly over the years in different circles and this is one of them. Every day, things happen; it’s a situation. When we interpret the situation, we put our own lens on it – either positive or negative. There is no real in between or neutral and I would be open to discussing this aspect further with you should you like to engage. Depending on the outlook we choose (and I truly believe it is a choice we CAN control and a choice we make), it will affect what we think, how we feel, and how we respond to the situation. So, I am always preaching that we can choose the happy route. Why would you decide to choose to be unhappy? I choose happy.
So this brings me back to when we first found out schools will be closed indefinitely after spring break. It was a situation we all interpreted in our own way. My natural instinct was to see things in a positive light. I almost always try to find a piece of gratitude first. What am I thankful for? How can I use this as an opportunity and make the most out of this situation? Staying at home meant everyone we care about would be safe so that’s a definite positive. Having more time at home meant that I was given the gift of time to dive into my passions of people, relationships, teaching, learning, writing, and leading as I mentioned in my About page. During this time, I have:
connected with many people I didn’t have the same time for before to rekindle and build on relationships. I keep a list of people I would like to connect with and mark the dates we last connected. If it’s been about a month, I check in with them again and update my document. It has been such an incredible pleasure to reconnect with some of the students in my very first teaching assignment 21 years ago when they were in grade 2. They are now 28 years old!
developed a remote teaching program that I feel proud of and know my students are continuing to grow from the activities and feedback I provide.
spent many hours each day supporting colleagues with their questions about different digital platforms and provided training. With my previous experience on the Staff Development Team in Learning Technologies, I have expertise I can share. I loved this extra teaching opportunity to support colleagues because I saw it as a gift of connection and a way to lead. Had I not have spent the time supporting them, we probably would not have had the same opportunity to further develop our relationship. I have said this often, “It makes me happy to help!” and it truly does!
continued my professional learning. It has hit an all-time high with the hours of professional development I enjoy each day! I recently discovered the Teach Better Team (They are amazing people with the same passion about betterment. I am impressed with what they offer – podcasts, blog, video chats, Twitter chat, Facebook group, and the list goes on!). I have participated in their free Better at a Distance 12-part webinar series. I learned about the Grid Method and have been using it for our Multiplication unit and absolutely love it! This will continue to be a life changer especially in our new hybrid of learning at home and school because students are empowered with ownership over their learning. The bigger life changer though is the new community for which I now feel like I belong – literally everyone I have met on the Teach Better Team is so passionate. They help educators TEACH BETTER and I am better because of them. Their passion is truly inspirational and contagious! Also, I have participated in more Educhats on Twitter than ever before and am learning so much from others who push my thinking: #MasteryChat #ATAssessment #EdAdventures #EducationNeverDies and loving it! When I tell others about how I have been spending my time, I share how my brain is on fire and my heart is ablaze from all the Pro-D because learning is one of my passions.
excitedly purchased my own domain name and started writing here on this blog. I am so thrilled and blessed to have this extra time to dive in to all my passions! Well, all except ringette since rinks are closed and the season is over.
Another thing I always say is, “Don’t focus on the problem. Instead, focus on the solution.” We can expend our energy only ONE way so whether we spend it focussing on the problem or instead, focusing on possible solutions, only one path will bring us closer to a more positive feeling at the end. I also feel the same way about “worrying”. Stop focussing on worry and instead, focus on what you are going to DO about the situation to make it a better one. There is only so much time and energy. I often say, “You can’t change what already happened. What are you going to do about?” Begin taking action.
Does this mean that we should never focus on the problem then? No. Simply put, it is important to dive into the problem to understand it before we can move on to possibilities for solutions. We need to invest time to think about the problem so we can come up with ideas that make sense but while we are in this process, we need to be mindful to live here for the reason of finding possible solutions and not to dwell in the negative too long. I have witnessed people dwell and dwell for a long time and perpetuate feeling miserable. Perhaps this is their process of getting to the solution-making stage so that’s okay but just be cautious and mindful of how long you stay there. Honour the purpose of being there to look for possibilities and to find or make opportunities but then move on.
So what if it’s not in my nature to be positive? How can I become more positive? Is this natural tendency something I can change over time? Yes! Our will and our minds are powerful and plastic; we can change. We have heard many stories where people have faced harsh adversity and have had to relearn how to walk or talk after trauma, for example, but yet they are able to overcome it and rise above it. Why? Is it because they chose to have a positive outlook? Is it because they chose to see the situation not only as a problem but as an opportunity as they adapted to change? Of course it took grit and perseverance too but if they can retrain their brain to accomplish feats once unimaginable, we surely can alter the way we naturally see things in a more positive light. It will take effort. It will take time but you can do it. I believe you can. You just need to believe you can too.
So now that we are reopening schools next week, I choose not to see it as a problem. I have read Facebook threads that go on and on with complaints about reopening and questioning why. I understand some of the reasons why and I don’t need to understand all of them. It is a fact that schools are reopening and no matter how much we talk about why, they are still reopening. I only have so much time in a day. Time keeps ticking every single second. I would rather spend that time focussing on finding a solution (or a plan for the return of students in person) than diving in to more negativity that does not solve any issues. I choose to see it as an opportunity to reconnect with some students in person while also continuing to build relationships with my remote learning students. They are all still learning from home except some are attending school 2/5 days rather than 5/5 days of remote learning. So, I begin by asking the following questions:
What do my students need from me and each other in order to feel safe and secure?
What are the most important aspects of their social-emotional learning and mental health now?
How can I elicit students to be leaders in building up our classroom community further as we are together but apart?
How can I best honour the learning for both sets of children?
What can we do to make in-class instruction meaningful and memorable?
At this point, I have more questions than solid answers still but regardless, I have seen the whole education community rise to the challenge to flip our classroom from inside four walls to outside in the virtual world within a week. I have seen a lot of sharing of ideas and the drive for collaboration to support each other. I have seen resilient educators who come up with inspiring ideas. So with the new change of reopening of schools, I know I am not alone. My fabulous colleagues share ideas and support me as I do them. We can do this together as we have proven to the world when we moved to emergency remote learning in such a short period of time. Working together makes us better.
We have been given the gift of in-person teaching time in June as schools reopen. I have taken for granted the time we had with our students before spring break. I have learned from it so I will not take June for granted. My time with them is limited also because I will be leaving the school this year only after being there one year. I only have one month left to teach them, reach them, spend time with them, laugh with them, enjoy them, and love them. So unfortunate that I cannot hug them. I will make the most of this opportunity so I challenge you to do the same and not just fill the time – make it fun, meaningful and memorable. Kids deserve it and I bet you’ll get something out of it too! Your mindset matters. It was always my personal commitment every day to do something fun or to teach something new. I made this pledge to them at the beginning of the year. They counted on it. Every day, they knew we would be doing or learning something new and some expressed this was one of the reasons why they loved school; they looked forward to seeing what the “new thing” was each day. June should not be different. I will choose to see this situation as a new opportunity with many possibilities to not only fill time but to do something memorable with the special time we have left.
Embrace the change. Rise to the occasion. We need to be better and do better for our students. It’s our NEW September together. Choose to do the little things you would do in September – read my tweet about distancing signs. Let’s make the most of this change and new adventure by choosing our positive set of lenses. You can control the outcome of this – choose happiness.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Please share by commenting on this post or send me an email at email@example.com. I appreciate you for reading my thoughts today! So grateful!
“A positive attitude gives you power over your circumstances instead of your circumstances having power over you.” – Joyce Meyer