Gems from the Cool Cat Teacher
This past weekend I ventured out to the lovely town of New Milford, NJ where Eric Sheninger hosted the 2012 Edscape Conference. I was particularly excited for the keynote speaker: Ms. Vicki Davis, a/k/a Cool Cat Teacher who is a full-time teacher, best blog winner, co-founder of Flat Classroom Project and author of Flattening Classroom, Engaging Minds.
I’d like to share with you some gems from her speech because they turned out to be the very best kind – the kind that apply to all areas in your life. These are essential because, ultimately, success in the classroom requires the kind of giving that is possible only when the teacher has it all together to give away.
She began talking about a dirty little secret that happens at every school – the overwhelming negativity of a small group of teachers. Most schools have them, and they can be a source of frustration for all. Her advice? Ignore them! Don’t sit with them. Don’t listen. Focus on what matters instead – you! Focus on your classroom, your work and your attitude. She says, “Believe in yourself, your students and your school.” It’s easy to see how this advice can apply to your personal life. I’ve always loved the quote, “Shadows fall behind when we walk towards light.”
What of you can’t ignore the negativity? That brings me to the next gem: when it comes to negativity energy that you can’t ignore, you can be a transmitter or a transformer! Don’t you love that? You can take the negative energy that someone throws at you and spread it around to others or…you can channel that negativity into something else and spread that instead – empathy, sympathy, productivity, comedy – whatever works, just change the path of that bad energy.
Finally, Ms. Davis taught me a new word, Kaizen. It’s the Japanese word for improvement but the kind that is slow and steady. Don’t expect perfection. Get a little bit better each day. This reminds me of another quote that I love and one that I will leave you with.
“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle