How to Teach about Privilege in the American Classroom

How to Teach about Privilege in the American Classroom


Teaching about privilege can be a great challenge for secondary teaching in American classrooms. It is often seen as a divisive topic, and can be considered risky in terms of job security and parental approval. And when you put the adjective "white" in front of privilege, it truly becomes a contested topic with all sides enraged over the idea of when, how, or even why it should or shouldn't be taught.

Teaching about white privilege or any privilege can be challenging for teachers in the middle or high school classroom. Read these suggestions and the step-by-step guide for introducing the important controversial subject to your students. #teaching #iteachmiddleschool #iteachhighschool #iteach678 #socialstudies #history #historyteacher #controversy #teachingcontroversy #writeprivilege #teachingwhiteprivilege #itstimetotalkracism

In the Social Studies classroom, teachers have an added load of responsibility in teaching about current events and modern issues. It is not only part of our curriculum, but it is written in the ideals of our country, making it very much our content to teach. Taking that point a step further, our lessons should go beyond teaching the ugliness of America's past and then dismissing the current implications of those actions. We need to address the HERE. The NOW. The ALWAYS HAS BEEN. We need to address it for what it is and what it always will be if we don't bring attention to bring change.

Teaching about white (or any privilege) does not have to be a screaming, fist pumping debate in your classroom. It can be dissected into tiny lessons that will help students see and further identify their own privileges while working toward understanding the implications privileges have on those who do not have them. Simple, right? Not!

Making it Simple

  1. As with any other lesson, begin with setting up the basic understanding of the vocabulary. Teach the meaning of the word privilege. What does it mean? What is its context? How can that context change?
  2. Make connections that your students will understand. Do not attempt to introduce a global understanding of privilege and its impact before they understand the more immediate implications. 
  3. Build up to the larger concepts and implications. Think back to when Social Studies was taught in elementary schools. First grade was "All about me" followed by "My family and home" and then "My community" and so on. Teach this lesson in the same format.  
  4. Do not allow it to become an "us versus them" scenario in your classroom.  ALL of your students are your students. They are one. And privilege impacts us all. Teach those lessons.

Step by Step

  1. Teach the vocabulary. Define words you plan to include in your lesson. Break them down to the simplest terms and then build them back up in the lesson. Don't assume students have a thorough understanding of any of the vocabulary and start everyone at the same level. Think about this in Disney terms. Disney does not hire ready-trained professionals for many of their professional positions (eg. photographers). They hire candidates with basic skills so they can train them in picture-taking the Disney way.  Make sure everyone is on the same page at the start and go from there. 
  2. Allow students the opportunity to make it about them first. Help them to find ways they have privilege and how they have been impacted by others having privilege. Start small. Examine locations (small towns versus big cities) or transportation methods (walking to school versus access to bussing). Understanding that there is an impact is a major step that must be attained before students can step back to see how others are impacted by their own privilege.
  3. Identify types of privilege. There are many types of privilege. They range from very personal level privileges (tall versus short) to global level privileges (being born in first world versus third world countries). Create a listing of any and all , large or small, privileges students can identify.
  4. Examine the impacts of the privileges. Take each privilege and determine how it may affect each individual and others. Find both positive and negative impacts. Create a T-Chart or Venn Diagram to organize your information.  This step is vital. Take the time to truly examine the privileges your class deem the most impactful.
  5. Determine the impact of privileges on groups. This is where "white privilege" comes into your lesson. Examine how systemic privileges exist and can impact large groups at a time. Discuss how systemic privilege can last (and grow and develop) over long periods of time. And predict the impacts of privilege on various groups over time based on history. 
But your lesson doesn't end there...
The greatest step in this lesson is helping your students brainstorm ways to bring change. Introduce a call to action. Make it a lesson that has greater implications than a grade or a notebook page completion. Make it a lesson that lasts a lifetime for your students and all those they may encounter in their lives. 

Wrapping it Up

First of all, we must acknowledge that this is a lesson that can never be wrapped up. It is a lesson that must be taught on-going. It will come back into our lessons through teachable moments again and again, and should. We should encourage discussion and an open forum in our classrooms where all students feel they can address the privilege they see, in themselves and in others. Discussing the impact of privilege should not be an attack on anyone. It is simply the disclosure of fact that needs to be addressed so the danger of its impact does not spread.

Teaching about white privilege or any privilege can be challenging for teachers in the middle or high school classroom. Read these suggestions and the step-by-step guide for introducing the important controversial subject to your students. #teaching #iteachmiddleschool #iteachhighschool #iteach678 #socialstudies #history #historyteacher #controversy #teachingcontroversy #writeprivilege #teachingwhiteprivilege #itstimetotalkracism
Finally, think of privilege in the most simplistic terms... as a virus. If we see a virus spreading, do we ignore it? Do we allow it to spread? Do we not worry about its harm on the larger population? Even if that virus is in us, do we not want to get attention and help to bring an end to it so we do not infect others and spread the effects of the virus?

Treat privilege as a lesson, not as a platitude to get attention on bring out a rise of emotion. Teach it as an issue in American (and World) history that has continued to plague us into modern times. Teach it as what it is - our content. And our responsibility.

If you would like to teach more about white privileges and how immigrants coming to America are only seeking what we hold so precious (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness), I'd suggest reading Enrique's Journey with your students. I read the Young Adult version with my students and it truly helped them to understand privilege and to take a step toward living with empathy and compassion.

Also take time to link to other great lesson suggestions for teaching about the current issues in our world that should not be controversial, but vital lessons for discussion in the secondary classroom.

THIS POST IS DEDICATED TO JUAN VELAZQUEZ WHO DIED IN THE EL PASO SHOOTING. WE MUST REMEMBER THEM ALL SO THAT WE NEVER FORGET THE DUTY WE HAVE IN TEACHING OUR STUDENTS TO DO BETTER AND BE BETTER.


And while I typically sign off my posts with "Happy Teaching", I wish to change that up for this post. I feel this one has a greater call to action! #itstimetotalkracism

Teach with purpose!
 

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Michele Luck
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The Truth about Teaching Controversial Topics in the Secondary Classroom

The Truth about Teaching Controversial Topics in the Secondary Classroom


Especially in the current climate of political correctness and divisive tactics, teaching controversial topics in the secondary classroom may seem like asking for trouble. Though it may test your patience, teaching controversial topics in the classroom actually encourages empathy, improves a student's ability to make connections and draw comparisons, equips students to address sensitive topics outside the classroom, and validates less popular opinions held by our students, inspiring individuality, creativity, and activism. In both middle school and high school classrooms, our curriculum calls for us to address controversial topics, but often, teachers gloss over less glorious parts of American and World History. Glossing over very accurate depictions of our history does our students a great disservice. Though these issues are sensitive and controversial, it is better to equip our students to face controversial topics head on, and without bias and with grace and confidence, than to sweep them under the rug.

Especially in the current climate of political correctness and divisive tactics, teaching controversial topics in the secondary classroom may seem like asking for trouble. Though it may test your patience, teaching controversial topics in the classroom actually encourages empathy, improves a student's ability to make connections and draw comparisons, equips students to address sensitive topics outside the classroom, and validates less popular opinions held by our students, inspiring individuality, creativity, and activism. In both middle school and high school classrooms, our curriculum calls for us to address controversial topics, but often, teachers gloss over less glorious parts of American and World History. Glossing over very accurate depictions of our history does our students a great disservice. Though these issues are sensitive and controversial, it is better to equip our students to face controversial topics head on, and without bias and with grace and confidence, than to sweep them under the rug. #controversialteaching #inclusiveclassrom #controversy #secondaryteaching #controversyforteachers #teachingcontroversy

Pull any history book off your bookshelf. Choose a World History or US History textbook or a historical memoir. Browse for mention of a controversial topic. Better yet, turn on a local news station, open a newspaper, or click over to social media. You're not likely to come up empty. In fact,  both on a national level and a worldwide level (even on a local level within our communities, towns, and cities), our history is laced with controversy. To gloss over controversial topics, or to skip them all together, not only does our students a huge disservice by not preparing them for dealing with controversy in the "real world" but also hinders our students in developing a strong educational foundation, equipped with facts and the ability to look at history without bias, without reserve, and examine, draw conclusions, and make predictions about our future. These skills are all vital both inside the classroom and out.

You've probably accepted that you have to teach controversial topics. The real question is how to address controversial issues properly. How to introduce sensitive information in the classroom and best equip your students for success. How to examine the dirty parts of history, the scary historical events of our past - and you know what they say about history: those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Controversial Topics in the Secondary Classroom


Global Level Controversy: Examine global level controversy in World History classrooms (and in lessons in which you can tie in world history while examining relationships and similarities).

Many of my students sought me out years after graduation, raving about how our Holocaust unit stuck with them throughout their school days and into their everyday lives. Though teaching about the Holocaust isn't easy because it forces the students to address the atrocities of World War II, it provides ample opportunity for the class to examine their own identities, explore how they would react in a similar situation, and empathize with the victims. This unit thoroughly explores all angles of the Holocaust and even my most disinterested students usually tuned in a little more during the weeks we studied the Holocaust. 

National Level Controversy: Slightly complicated by today's political climate, examining controversy at a national level will incite some emotional responses from your passionate students, but is still high level enough to allow students the space to step outside the controversy itself for examination.

Local Level Controversy: Even more sensitive is discussing controversy that happens close to home. Tensions are high, opinions are often swayed by parental influence and media coverage, and students may feel affected or personally defensive of either position.

Personal Controversy: Lastly, the most personal of controversies are those that directly affect our students. The three higher level controversies may have personal ties which escalate the severity of the issue for each individual student. Students that fall into minority groups may identify with either side of the controversy, making the issue 'real' and relative to them. This may heighten feelings about the controversy.

In general, exploring controversy at a very high level (i.e. globally) will be the easiest place to start. While your students may relate to the topic on some level, they're less likely to be directly offended by and/or defensive of a certain position. Even when controversy does provoke a personal emotional response or investment, we still shouldn't avoid teaching it in the classroom. Instead, it is how we teach controversy that is the most important.

How to Address Controversial Topics in the Secondary Classroom


1. Teach Controversy with Confidence
Though it may seem irrelevant, teaching about controversial topics with confidence and grace helps our students to understand the severity of the topic at hand, the appropriate and/or professional response to discussing controversy, and the importance of addressing issues that are difficult or sensitive. Teachers who are timid when teaching controversial topics may give students the impression that the topic is unimportant, embarrassing, or shouldn't be addressed.

2. Teach from a Historical Perspective
You're teaching a Social Studies class - teaching history should be default, right? Approach sensitive issues with fact, valid information, and credible sources. Don't impose your beliefs (or those of popular media outlets or celebrity figures) on your students, and allow them to analyze the factual information at hand and draw their own conclusions.

3. Encourage Open Forum Discussion and Respectful Expression
Most importantly, foster a safe place for students to discuss and debate without feeling judged. Ensure students are respectful of others and are not marginalizing or vilifying. Help students analyze their own opinions without privilege or bias to ensure they are looking at controversial events and issues factually and with empathy.

4. Learn from the Mistakes of Others
Though teaching controversial historical events can rise tensions in the classroom, presenting these historical events with a lesson, an empathetic appeal, will help students to understand not only the importance of learning this specific historical lesson, but also how to exit an uncomfortable lesson, both inside the classroom and out, with important takeaways, an appropriate call to action, and armed with the knowledge and ability to recognize when history repeats itself.

5. Teach with a Validating Acceptance
Also imperative to teaching controversial issues in the secondary classroom, ensure that you teach with a validating acceptance of your students' personal controversies. Take time to teach appropriate vocabulary, empower students to own their feelings and stand up for themselves, and never dismiss a student if they identify with controversies that you do not understand. Mitigate the opportunity for hate speech, dismissive attitudes, or bullying in the classroom. Set your students up for success by providing them the safe space to be themselves and address all of their identities within your four walls.

Try this First Day of School Lesson Plan to start the school year with success and build an inclusive classroom community or a Find Someone Who activity to help studies identify allies in their class. For even better prep, browse A Lesson Plan for Teachers for more strategies on creating an inclusive classroom.

Above all, don't shy away from teaching controversial topics in the secondary classroom. In fact, teaching controversy appropriately will ensure that students develop a strong, thorough foundation of historical content (without any glaring holes around all things sensitive) while also empowering them to handle controversy in their everyday lives with empathy and understanding. Our job as Social Studies teachers transcends the textbook in all situations, and we are trusted to prepare our students to be effective citizens. Teaching controversy in the classroom may not be easy, but it's a necessity to prepare our students to be respectful human beings and seekers of justice in their communities. #teaching #newteachers #teachingtechniques #teachingstrategies #controversy #teachingcontroversy #teachinglife #teachersteachthefuture
Above all, don't shy away from teaching controversial topics in the secondary classroom. In fact, teaching controversy appropriately will ensure that students develop a strong, thorough foundation of historical content (without any glaring holes around all things sensitive) while also empowering them to handle controversy in their everyday lives with empathy and understanding. Our job as Social Studies teachers transcends the textbook in all situations, and we are trusted to prepare our students to be effective citizens. Teaching controversy in the classroom may not be easy, but it's a necessity to prepare our students to be respectful human beings and seekers of justice in their communities.

Happy (controversial) teaching!


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Michele Luck
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15 Yoga Poses to Shed the Teacher Tension and Stretch Through Chronic Desk-Job Pain

15 Yoga Poses to Shed the Teacher Tension and Stretch Through Chronic Desk-Job Pain


Except for you year-rounders, most of us have been in school a few weeks now. The question is - did you follow the tips found in my last blog post, Put On Your Oxygen Mask First: Self-Care in the First Month of School (and the rest of the year, too!), or are you fueling your fire with the tears of your students, hanging by a thread? (Just kidding. If you are fueling with your students' tears, you should be thriving!)
Whether you're an active teacher who is constantly on her feet, moving around the room and interacting with her students, or a computer-based teacher who finds himself behind a desk for many hours a day, you may eventually discover joints that don't move as smoothly as they used to, muscles that strain after a busy day, and a brain that feels overworked and lethargic. By adding a few, quick, yoga poses to your quick between-bells breaks, you can target these areas of chronic pain and stress, and take a few minutes to replenish your batteries. #teacheryoga #yogaforteachers #teacherselfcare #selfcareforteachers #chairyoga #deskyoga #preventteacherburnout

Though the 5 Quick and Easy Self-Care Methods were designed to break down barriers to self-care, you may think they're so easy that you don't have to give them a second thought. But burnout is real, and retirement is probably pretty far away. Getting through the days, weeks, months, and years, requires constant effort and mindful attention. Preserving your sanity should be your number one focus, because foregoing your oxygen mask will only lessen your ability to help your students succeed.

The first, and perhaps the most vital, of the 5 Self-Care Methods is chair yoga. Dismiss any preconceptions you may have about yoga, chair yoga, or the Instagram models in handstands on the beach. Yoga is an ages-old practice that spans cultures, geographic locations, and religions. Yes, yoga is a type of exercise or workout, but it has the potential to be so much more!

Whether you're an active teacher who is constantly on her feet, moving around the room and interacting with her students, or a computer-based teacher who finds himself behind a desk for many hours a day, you may eventually discover joints that don't move as smoothly as they used to, muscles that strain after a busy day, and a brain that feels overworked and lethargic. By adding a few, quick, yoga poses to your quick between-bells breaks, you can target these areas of chronic pain and stress, and take a few minutes to replenish your batteries.

The yoga poses in this post can be done by beginners with absolutely zero yoga experience. They can also be done in your classroom without any props. Some may be done seated - your desk chair works great! Others may be standing.
Need burnout prevention? Try these 15 yoga poses for teachers to prevent burnout and encourage self-care! #yogaforteachers #teacheryoga #teacherburnout #burnoutisreal #newteachers #experiencedteachers

Yoga Poses for Tech Neck/Stiff Neck/Neck Pain

In this technology age, Tech Neck is a very common complaint. Whether or not you have tech neck, staring at a computer screen can definitely strain your neck!


1. Shoulder to Ear, seated or standing
Inhale to lengthen through the spine, sitting up tall. Exhale to drop your right ear toward your right shoulder. Inhale to bring head back to center. Exhale to the left. Repeat as many times as you'd like, or hold each ear-to-shoulder position for a few breaths longer.

2. Neck Circles, seated or standing
Beginning with small circles, drop chin toward chest and then rotate head in clockwise direction. Continue to breathe. When ready, switch direction to counterclockwise.

Yoga Poses for Low Back Pain
Low Back Pain is one of the most commonly diagnosed issues among adults. Improving your posture can help greatly with low back pain complaints, but even the best-postured individual can still encounter pain, especially if you're standing/sitting all day.


3. Seated Cat/Cow
On inhale, pull your belly button toward your spine and round the shoulders and back, dropping the neck slightly, like an angry cat. On exhale, expand the belly and arch the upper back slightly, raising your gaze to the top of your computer, like a cow. Bonus points if you hiss and moo with the movement!

4. Seated Twist
Inhale to lengthen through the spine, sitting up tall. On the exhale, twist slightly to the right, keeping your hands at heart's center or on your lap and not using them to pull you further. Inhale to come back to center, exhale to the left side.

5. Lateral Side Stretch, seated or standing
Inhale to lengthen through the spine, raising arms overhead. Exhale to bend to the right, lengthening the left side waist and shortening the right. Keep your torso facing the same direction as your knees. Inhale back to upright, and exhale to the left.

Yoga Poses for Wrist Pain/Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
With as many grades as a teacher has to enter into the computer, it's no surprise that wrist pain is a common complaint!


6. Flex/Bend Prayer Hands, seated or standing
Press palms together near heart, shifting weight into wrist and then into fingers to stretch ligaments in wrist. Flip hands down, backs of hands against each other near heart. Again, shift weight between fingers and wrist.

7. Wrist Circles, seated or standing
Make fists or leave hands open, rotating wrists clockwise and then counterclockwise.

Yoga Poses for Ankle Pain/Tired Feet
On your feet all day? Then you definitely need to massage the joints in your ankles and stretch out your feet! No, not with more walking!


8. Flex/Point Foot, seated
While sitting, raise one foot off the ground. Alternate between flexing the foot (like you're standing) and pointing the toes. Repeat with the other foot.

9. Ankle Circles, seated
While sitting, raise one foot off the ground. Rotate the ankle joint clockwise and then counterclockwise. Repeat with the other foot.

10. Tennis Ball Stretch, standing
Keep a tennis ball in your desk drawer for an added foot stretch/mini-massage! Take off your shoe and place the tennis ball on the floor. Roll the tennis ball under one foot while grounding down through the other foot. Repeat on the other side.

11. Rock on Heels, standing
Standing tall, roll up onto your toes, then shift weight back onto your heels. Rock between toes and heels while continuing to breathe.
Barely making it through the school day? Just breathe! I know, easier said than done. But try these 15 yoga poses at your desk next time the stress bubbles up to the surface! #teacherbreaks #justbreathe #yogaforteachers #breathingforteachers

Yoga Poses for All the Other Stuff (the exhaustion, the stress, the anxiety...)
What if your pain isn't physical? What if you're fighting exhaustion or stress? Don't worry, there are yoga poses to help with those, too!


12. Seated Meditation/Breathing Awareness
Sit tall, with your sit bones grounded into the chair below you. Become aware of your breath, without changing the length of your inhales or exhales, but instead just noticing the movement of breath through the body. Rest your hands on your thighs or bring one hand to chest and one hand to stomach to feel the inhale and exhale. Close your eyes if you can steal a moment of quiet, and just be.

13. Standing Arms Flow
To help you gain awareness of your breath and slow your inhales and exhales, stand tall, grounding through your feet. Rest your arms at your sides. Inhale your arms overhead, exhale your arms back to your sides. Repeat with the breath.

14. Standing Hip Circles/Hula Hoops
Widen the feet a bit. Put your hands on your hips or out to a T. Soften the knees and pretend like you're hula hooping! Rotate the hips in a circle. Switch directions. Or, pretend like you're cross-country skiing by rotating the hips back and forth, moving your arms forward and backward with the motion. This one is extra great for mid-day stress relief because it usually incites a case of the giggles!

15. Seated Child's Pose
Child's pose is often deemed the resting pose for any yoga practice. If a practice is too challenging, too demanding, or too stressful, students are encouraged to find child's pose and reconnect with their breath. Unless you keep a mat at school or have unusually clean school floors (yuck!), you probably don't want to lay down. You can do child's pose from your chair. 

Sit back in your chair, slowly bring your upper body to meet the tops your thighs, and bring your arms toward the floor, resting them on your feet or letting them dangle. Breathe deeply, feeling the expansion through the back of your body. Think about letting the arms hang heavy and releasing any holding or tension in the neck or shoulders. 

Child's pose is a jack-of-all-trades for improving digestion, increasing flexibility, releasing head tension (headaches), awakening the nervous system, relieving fatigue or restlessness, and reducing back pain. For most of us, letting go isn't a strong suit, but regularly letting go in child's pose may be exactly what your body needs to get through the day, month, year, and until retirement!


Child's pose is a jack-of-all-trades for improving digestion, increasing flexibility, releasing head tension (headaches), awakening the nervous system, relieving fatigue or restlessness, and reducing back pain. For most of us, letting go isn't a strong suit, but regularly letting go in child's pose may be exactly what your body needs to get through the day, month, year, and until retirement! #childspose #yogaforteachers #chairchildspose #classroomchildspose #childsposeforteachers #teacheryoga

This list does not claim to make any claims to specific conditions or ailments. As always, consult a doctor if you have any specific health issues or question whether you should perform these postures.


You may not find time for all of these poses in each day, but peppering your busy day with one or two postures to target your problem areas may reduce your stress level, fatigue, and burnout! Challenge yourself to throw a pose or two in each between-bells break. Reward yourself for a clean email inbox or timely-entered grades with another posture or two or three. Relax into Child's Pose for 5 minutes on lunch. And at the end of the day, allow yourself a deep Savasana before bed. #shedteachertension #stretchitout #chronicpain #deskjobpain #teacherlife #yogasavestheday #yogaforteachers
You may not find time for all of these poses in each day, but peppering your busy day with one or two postures to target your problem areas may reduce your stress level, fatigue, and burnout! Challenge yourself to throw a pose or two in each between-bells break. Reward yourself for a clean email inbox or timely-entered grades with another posture or two or three. Relax into Child's Pose for 5 minutes on lunch. And at the end of the day, allow yourself a deep Savasana before bed.

Happy Teaching!


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Michele Luck
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Put on Your Oxygen Mask First: Self-Care in the First Month of School (and the rest of the year, too!)

Put on Your Oxygen Mask First: Self-Care in the First Month of School (and the rest of the year, too!)


Are your batteries dead? No, I’m not talking about your laptop that died while you were writing a lesson plan, or your phone that died between refreshes of your work email or classroom app.
Whether you’re already running on empty or anticipating the madness of the first weeks of school, recognizing the importance for self-care in the classroom should be on your radar. Teacher burnout is real and it’s rampant, especially in a day and age where standards are constantly changing, techniques and methods are being renamed, modified, and reinstated, and the bell between first period and seventh seems longer and longer with each passing day.  Self-care may be the buzz word of 2019, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant or important for teachers to consider. #teacherburnout #burnout #selfcare #selfcareforteachers #selfcareinclassroom #teacherpreservation

Many districts went back to school this week, or last. Some may still have a week of summer freedom before the year begins. Whether you’re already running on empty or anticipating the madness of the first weeks of school, recognizing the importance for self-care in the classroom should be on your radar. Teacher burnout is real and it’s rampant, especially in a day and age where standards are constantly changing, techniques and methods are being renamed, modified, and reinstated, and the bell between first period and seventh seems longer and longer with each passing day.

Self-care may be the buzz word of 2019, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant or important for teachers to consider.

SELF-CARE MYTH #1: I can’t afford self-care.

Self-care doesn’t have to mean expensive massages, overpriced mani-pedis, or top-shelf wine in the cute, monogrammed cup you received from a student last Christmas. 

In fact, there are many ways you can bring self-care into your classroom and into your life without breaking the bank. Recharging your batteries doesn’t require a lightening cord or a micro-pin charger, but it does require a commitment to yourself and your wellbeing. How does the adage go? In case of emergency, put on your oxygen mask first before assisting others. If you haven’t taken care of yourself, how can you possibly be available to help your students?

SELF-CARE MYTH #2: I don’t have time for self-care.

Self-care doesn’t require huge blocks of free time, meticulous planning, or a people-free zone (though people-free can be great, too). 

Though that secluded, relaxing cabin-in-the-woods vibe can definitely quell the stresses of everyday life, many of us live lives that demand our presence everyday. We work our full time jobs, take care of our families, clean our houses, binge our favorite TV shows, cook dinner, and sleep. (Wait, when are we supposed to be sleeping?!) We certainly don’t have time to escape reality for an extended weekend of quiet and content. Instead, we can recognize that many less extravagant self-care activities exist that demand much less of our free time.


SELF-CARE MYTH #3: Self-care is silly. I don’t need to take care of me. I do fine without.

Everyone needs self-care, whether they feel the pressure and stress yet or not.

If you’ve never felt the depths of burnout, that’s awesome! Maybe you’re a first year teacher who handles stress well, or maybe you’re even a tenured educator who separates work life from home life better than most. But the reality is that forgoing your oxygen mask will only lead to disaster. You may still be going strong, but what use is a car without an oil change and tire rotation? How does that wine taste, before it’s been fermented and meticulously aged and packaged with care? And the fragile package you send without ‘HANDLE WITH CARE’ scrawled on the side? Does it make it to the destination unscathed?

In reality, teaching is hard work!

Teaching is a demanding job. You are subject to many requirements and often face challenges with administration, students, parents, colleagues, the workload, technology, or changing expectations.

Teaching is a tireless job. You work non-stop throughout the school year, oftentimes well into the night, grading papers and tests, reviewing student work, planning lessons, collaborating with other teachers, participating in continuing education, but at least you get summers off! <eye roll>

And, teaching is often a thankless job. You may feel under-appreciated, overworked, and underpaid.

Being proactive with your self-care may delay that feeling of burnout, and preserve your sanity until retirement (or at least get you to summer break!).

5 Quick & Easy Self-Care Methods for the Classroom

1. Chair Yoga
Practice a few easy, seated yoga poses between bells. Yoga can be especially great for those who have carpal tunnel, wrist problems, or a stiff neck. Stretch out those kinks while tuning out the hallway noise for 60 seconds of peace.

2. Desk Drinks
No, not the alcoholic kind - that’s definitely frowned upon in the classroom! But keep a few of your favorite drinks stashed in your mini fridge or your desk drawer. A perfectly-timed iced frappe, Dr. Pepper 20 oz., or flavored water can really hit the spot.

3. Sneak-able Snacks
Whether salty or sweet, keep your favorite indulgent snack or candy in your desk. Skip the calorie counting and savor the flavor instead. Bonus points if you can sneak bites between bells or munch quietly during a test.

4. Hightail it to Narnia
You may not have a long planning period or student-free break, but even a few minutes of rejuvenation can get you through a stressful day! If you can carve out some space for a bean bag chair or ottoman to prop up your feet, you can take a few minutes at lunch to zone out the stress and get lost in the pages of whatever book tops your TBR. Just read fast so you’re not caught on a cliffhanger when lunch ends!

5. Ease the Environment
Harsh, fluorescent lighting and the drowning noise of paper shuffling and sneakers scuffling are not conducive to a stress-free environment. Turn off the overhead lighting and introduce some softer lights. Consider playing classical music in the background while students work quietly.

Are your batteries dead? No, I’m not talking about your laptop that died while you were writing a lesson plan, or your phone that died between refreshes of your work email or classroom app. You need self-care! #selfcare #classroomselfcare #teacherselfcare #newteachers #experiencedteachers #teacherburnoutisreal #fighttheburnout
Bonus tip! Sometimes the best self-care is a day to yourself. Don’t feel guilty if you need a mental health day. Leave some sub plans and sleep in! 

Happy teaching!


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Michele Luck
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Teaching Inquiry and Primary Source Analysis at Any Grade Level

Teaching Inquiry and Primary Source Analysis at Any Grade Level


Daycare, preschool, and kindergarten teachers may be familiar with the doe-eyed look staring back at them as they present their class with new, intriguing information. Parents have likely experienced the never-ending stream of consciousness that mounts in frustration as their toddler asks a hundred and one questions and continually prods, never satisfied. Unfortunately, teachers and parents of older children may see that spark of curiosity less often. They may experience a child's intrigue as it dwindles. Sometimes, they don't even notice that the intensity of inquiry has slipped away.
Daycare, preschool, and kindergarten teachers may be familiar with the doe-eyed look staring back at them as they present their class with new, intriguing information. Parents have likely experienced the never-ending stream of consciousness that mounts in frustration as their toddler asks a hundred and one questions and continually prods, never satisfied. Unfortunately, teachers and parents of older children may see that spark of curiosity less often. They may experience a child's intrigue as it dwindles. Sometimes, they don't even notice that the intensity of inquiry has slipped away. #teachinginquiry #criticalthinking #teachingmethods #elementaryteachers #lessonplanning
As adults in today's world, we are continuously busy, immersed in work or technology, and we often forget about the sense of intrigue, the amazement of discovery, the engagement that we once felt as we learned a new skill or fact. Unfortunately, our children lose this desire to inquire earlier and earlier with each passing generation. Though our common classroom challenges, like incorporating common core, preparing for standardized testing, squeezing in assemblies and school-wide events and award ceremonies, take up a lot of our class time, finding time to encourage inquiry at an early age, and throughout elementary school (and middle school... oh, and high school, too!) is so critical for student development and growth.

Teaching inquiry and primary source analysis doesn't have to be disingenuous or inconsistent with the rest of your lesson plans. Instead, focusing on content while practicing the skills of inquiry, primary source analysis, and critical thinking, can be a natural way to integrate inquiry into your classroom, no matter the grade level.

Strategies of Inquiry

Spiral questioning: Use an easy-to-hard questioning format to build confidence, encourage the path of inquiry, and learn foundational information that can be strengthened and expanded upon with more complex questions.

Student collaboration: Encourage discussion and inquiry by pairing students together or in groups, presenting them with opportunities to experience different viewpoints and perspectives and expand their innate knowledge with this change in perspectives.

Open-ended questions: Use short answer (or short essay) questions to ensure deeper student processing and critical thinking.

Increased student choice: Create greater engagement and deeper inquiry by providing students multiple choices to decide their method or activity of learning.

Teacher Perk! By encouraging inquiry in the classroom, teachers spend LESS TIME grading for accuracy and instead encourage students to think critically and support their opinions with evidence.

Allowing a "wrong" answer in analysis and inquiry activities provides students the opportunity to answer without the fear or anxiety of getting it wrong. This opens the door for greater discussion and more inquiry, analysis, and critical thinking, and students are more likely to get to the "right" answer because they're searching for and dissecting information to support their answer.
Elementary school teachers, Explore Early America with your students while analyzing primary sources, using task cards to encourage inquiry, and facilitating group collaboration. #elementaryteachers #teachinginquiry #criticalthinking #primarysourceanalysis
Elementary school teachers, Explore Early America with your students while analyzing primary sources, using task cards to encourage inquiry, and facilitating group collaboration.
Middle school teachers, Excavate Ancient Civilizations with your class as students explore images and analyze text to spark inquiry. #middleschoolteachers #teachinginquiry #criticalthinking #primarysourceanalysis
Middle school teachers, Excavate Ancient Civilizations with your class as students explore images and analyze text to spark inquiry.
High school teachers, Dissect WWI Propaganda in your classroom by studying and analyzing propaganda of wartime, using inquiry tools and encouraging deeper analysis. #highschoolteachers #teachinginquiry #criticalthinking #primarysourceanalysis
High school teachers, Dissect WWI Propaganda in your classroom by studying and analyzing propaganda of wartime, using inquiry tools and encouraging deeper analysis.

As adults in today's world, we are continuously busy, immersed in work or technology, and we often forget about the sense of intrigue, the amazement of discovery, the engagement that we once felt as we learned a new skill or fact. Unfortunately, our children lose this desire to inquire earlier and earlier with each passing generation. Though our common classroom challenges, like incorporating common core, preparing for standardized testing, squeezing in assemblies and school-wide events and award ceremonies, take up a lot of our class time, finding time to encourage inquiry at an early age, and throughout elementary school (and middle school... oh, and high school, too!) is so critical for student development and growth. #studentdevelopment #teachinginquiry #inquiryskills #detectiveskills #primaryandsecondaryWelcome your students (of all ages) to introduce their inner Sherlock Holmes and embrace their Elementary-my-dear curiosity, no matter what their age or grade level. While the child-like sense of wonder often dwindles as children grow older and face the 'real world,' teaching them to foster this interest will lead them to seek out these skills later in life, and in future classes, too.

Happy Teaching!

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Michele Luck
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Creating an Interest in History in the Elementary Classroom

Creating an Interest in History in the Elementary Classroom


In today’s technology-centered society, sparking an interest in anything that isn’t the latest app or gadget is difficult. Further, with Social Studies programs being cut around the country and History departments consistently underfunded and understaffed, many of our children are growing up without an interest in History. Cultivating an interest in History at the elementary level can inspire young students to pursue further Social Studies education, delve deeper into the history that influenced their past and present, and encourage them to broaden this pursuit beyond the classroom and into their everyday lives.
In today’s technology-centered society, sparking an interest in anything that isn’t the latest app or gadget is difficult. Further, with Social Studies programs being cut around the country and History departments consistently underfunded and understaffed, many of our children are growing up without an interest in History. Cultivating an interest in History at the elementary level can inspire young students to pursue further Social Studies education, delve deeper into the history that influenced their past and present, and encourage them to broaden this pursuit beyond the classroom and into their everyday lives. #elementaryhistory #elementaryclassroom #historyteacher

Simply implementing a few more History lessons into your elementary curriculum won’t cut it. Instead, using the right strategic lesson that address many necessary skills and standards engages students and creates an interest in History.  By implementing techniques to read informational text, think historically, examine cause and effect, explore change over time, categorize, read for context and main idea, inference, and identify who, what, when, where, and why, students will be engaged in their History lesson and will be inspired to further develop their historical understanding of the world around them.
By implementing techniques to read informational text, think historically, examine cause and effect, explore change over time, categorize, read for context and main idea, inference, and identify who, what, when, where, and why, students will be engaged in their History lesson and will be inspired to further develop their historical understanding of the world around them. #learningstrategies #learningskills #commoncore #teachingskills
Though the art of the early-morning delivery of a meticulously-folded, black and white newsprint may be dead, people still rely on the news media for reporting of current events, upcoming activities, and important information and announcements. Whether utilizing digital news through social media, email, or other avenues, individuals need and want to know what’s happening around them. Use the History Headline News Daily Informational Readings to spark that same interest in your students.
Though the art of the early-morning delivery of a meticulously-folded, black and white newsprint may be dead, people still rely on the news media for reporting of current events, upcoming activities, and important information and announcements. Whether utilizing digital news through social media, email, or other avenues, individuals need and want to know what’s happening around them. Use the History Headline News Daily Informational Readings to spark that same interest in your students. #newspaper #newsmedia #digitalnews #newsforlearning
Why use History Headline News Daily Informational Readings to create an interest in History in your elementary classroom? These daily readings address many skills and standards to mesh with common core.


Reading informational text

Historical thinking

Cause and Effect

Change over time

Categorization

Reading for context

Reading for main idea

Inferencing

Identifying who, what, when, where, and why

Download the FULL YEAR of History Headline News at a special bundled price. Use these quick readings for daily activities, bellringers, or topic reviews. Or, try the FREE Summer Bundle set! Introduce these beneficial skills to your students by using History Headline News to create an interest in History in your elementary classroom this year!


Happy Teaching!

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Michele Luck
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