5 Ways to Involve Your Students in Philanthropy

Philanthropy is very important to creating a better world, so it’s vital that we teach children the importance of helping others. While most schools push this mindset by teaching children not to bully one another and by periodically hosting fundraisers, there usually isn’t a lot of discussion about philanthropy, its importance, and how young people can get involved in meaningful ways. Young people spend so much of their time in the classroom, that it’s a great place to start teaching them to develop a philanthropic mindset. Here are some great ways you can help students pursue philanthropy.

Start a classroom project

While your school may participate in some kind of fundraiser or philanthropic event each year, it can be beneficial to do something within your classroom as well. Even if you’re just raising money to donate to a specific cause, you’re helping students get involved with philanthropy. However, it’s important to teach them that philanthropy isn’t just about donating money. Consider choosing a cause that lets you make something, such as cards for people in the hospital or an activity that raises money. If you can take your students somewhere to volunteer, definitely do it! It could be something like cleaning up a park or visiting the elderly, just make sure you meet any standards set by your school district for trips.

Teach a lesson on philanthropy

If you can’t actually do something with philanthropy, just teaching students about it can make an impact. Teach them the difference between philanthropy and charity, talk about the history of philanthropy and its prevalence in society today, discuss the ways philanthropy can significantly impact someone’s life; any of these topics can lead to rich discussions and learning experiences for students.

Plan a career day…with well-known philanthropists

Typically, career days involve local adults coming in to speak with students or students dressing up as the career they’d like to have. Consider adding a philanthropic twist to this traditional event by having students research well-known philanthropists and then give presentations on these individuals. You could also have local philanthropists visit your classroom and talk about how they’re involved with philanthropy and why they do it.

Get parents involved

Ultimately, the people who can influence your students the most to participate in philanthropy are their parents. Send home handouts with a list of ways children can get involved with philanthropy and also highlight the benefits, for students and those who are helped through philanthropies. If parents understand the importance of philanthropy, they’re more likely to continue encouraging students to pursue philanthropic endeavours.

Offer outside resources

Like sending a handout home to parents, giving students the resources they need to participate in philanthropy is incredibly helpful. Provide them with a list of suggestions on how they can participate in general philanthropy, like picking up trash or helping out other people in their daily lives. Also consider handing out information on local philanthropies, such as their locations and contact information along with a little blurb about what the organization does. Give students information about community volunteer days as well.

How to Get Involved with a New Community

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Moving to a new community is a major step in anyone’s life, especially if you don’t know anyone there outside of your immediate family (or anyone else at all). No matter why you’re moving, whether for a job, for pleasure, or some other reason, it’ll be a huge adjustment. While it may seem difficult to branch out and get to know people in the community, it’s important to do so if you want to be happy in your new home. The best way to get to know other people and learn more about your community is by getting involved with events that take place there.

Volunteer somewhere

Every community is bound to have a group of philanthropies you can get involved with. Find a cause you care about and join the local group. You do not have to donate hours and hours each week; attending a couple of events and helping out or volunteering once a month gives you the opportunity to meet people and make a genuine difference in the community.

Start a new hobby

If there’s something you’ve always wanted to try, such as cooking, writing, or a certain kind of craft, start pursuing that interest now. You’ll be able to find other people in your community who are also interested in that hobby and you can start a club that meets regularly to work on their skills. Maybe there’s already an existing club in your area that you can join. Check the local library or community centers to find advertisements for these meetings. It’s a great opportunity to do something you’re interested in while also getting to know your neighbors.

Attend local events

By attending local events, you’re showing your support for the community and you’ll also get a better feel about the culture of your new community. Local events provide you with something to do and they’re often free or low-cost. You can meet people at these events and easily start a conversation! Whether it’s a fundraiser for a local charity, an event at the school, or a community-wide block party, attending local events is a fantastic way to get involved with your neighborhood.

Explore the neighborhood

If no events are currently happening, just take time to explore your new community. Take a walk one day and head to a local park or street where a lot of businesses are located. Take time to read flyers and check up on local news. The more familiar you are with where buildings and landmarks are situated in your town, the more at home you’ll feel.

Patronize local businesses

If you’re looking for somewhere to get food or need to buy groceries, consider patronizing local businesses. It provides a great opportunity to get to know the local business owners and also gives you a feel for what the neighborhood is like. You’ll see people who live around you and can also help the local businesses continue operating, which always makes for a healthier and happier community.

The Difference Between a Teacher and an Educator

Before getting into the more minute differences between a teacher and an educator, I’d like to start with a simple dictionary definition of the two terms. The definition of a teacher is “one that teaches; especially: one whose occupation is to instruct,” while an educator is defined asa person who gives intellectual, moral, and social instructions.” There is a clear difference between these two words, which indicates that there’s a clear difference to the people we apply them to. Many use the two words interchangeably, but that isn’t completely accurate. As I’ve stated in another blog, you can be a teacher and not be an educator, you can be an educator and not be a teacher, or you can be both.

Educating vs. teaching

There’s a difference between teaching a child a list of facts and helping them sincerely understand a lesson. Educators make it their goal to ensure that students fully understand the lesson, while teachers who are not educators merely get through their lesson and hope the students took enough away to pass the class. Educators seek to instill deep understanding in students, the kind of learning that they’ll carry with them the rest of their lives.

Inspiring vs. telling

When a teacher merely focuses on teaching their students and not educating them, it usually results in telling them facts and a way of looking at topics, instead of inspiring the students to take learning onto themselves. Educators often inspire students to pursue their interests and delve deeper into certain subjects. Throughout the discovery process, educators will encourage this development and continue to cultivate any inspiration and interest.

Encouraging growth vs. meeting goals

For many teachers, it’s difficult enough to get through the daily syllabus and make sure students are sufficiently prepared for tests and are also completing their homework. An educator can take all of these goals a step further and encourage their students to grow as individuals in addition to teaching the required subjects and lessons. When working with students, an educator helps them grow in their lives outside of and beyond school, instead of only teaching them the lessons to get them to graduation. True educators teach students valuable life lessons and help them grow and become better people.

I feel confident in saying that the majority of teachers aspire to also become educators, but it can be incredibly difficult, especially in a school that doesn’t provide teachers with enough resources or training to handle a classroom full of children. Becoming an educator takes lots of studying and practice, but it’s definitely an admirable goal to strive toward.

Top Podcasts for Educators

Podcasts are a great way to work on your professional development, stay in touch with current news and trends, and come up with creative ideas for your classroom. Nearly every profession and hobby have a few podcasts about the industry and education is no exception. If you have spare time, such as during a commute, while grading papers, or when you’re cooking dinner, listening to a podcast about how to be a better educator can greatly benefit you. While there are quite a few education podcasts out there, here are some of the top ones.

Free Teaching PD

This podcast features speakers who are leaders in the education industry and each week has a different speaker. They discuss the latest ideas and innovations in teaching and help you work on your own creativity. After listening to this podcast, you’ll feel inspired to try your own hand at coming up with some great ideas to enhance education.

Talks With Teachers

Brian Sztabnik, a former English teacher and blogger, hosts this podcast. The podcast features educators who feel passionate about their profession and wish to discuss their own classrooms. A theme for 2016 was focusing on educators who also run their own blogs and what it’s like being a teacher who regularly blogs. The speakers are all from different areas and have varied work experience, so it’s always interesting to hear their insights into education.

Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers

This podcast focuses specifically on the issue of burnout with teachers and how it can be avoided. Watson’s podcast provides a way for stressed teachers to feel understood and realize that lots of other people feel the same way they do. The podcast also offers possible solutions to issues that teachers may face in the classroom.

The Cult of Pedagogy

In this podcast, Jennifer Gonzalez features not just educators, but also parents, administrators, and students who discuss teaching and the classroom. The podcast covers a wide range of topics, from technology use in the classroom to the best ways to manage your classroom. If something is related to education, this podcast has or will feature it.

Every Classroom Matters

Vicki Davis, an incredibly influential educator, runs this podcast and focuses on incorporating technology into the classrooms and creating stronger relationships with students. Her podcast also covers how to feature STEM in the classroom more, as well as teaching students the basics of coding. She’s been ranked as a top teacher, so this podcast is definitely worth listening to.

How Teachers Can Create a Work-Life Balance

All too often, teachers experience burnout. Teaching can be an incredibly stressful job, putting in long hours and working with dozens of students each day. Teachers also often struggle with keeping work separate from home, because they need to grade homework and prepare lesson plans, which is difficult to find time for during normal workday hours. The issue is further complicated for teachers who are also coaches or advise extracurricular activities. These teachers frequently stay after regular hours to run practices or meetings and often make themselves available to students at all hours and on the weekends. With so many responsibilities, how can teachers find a stable work-life balance?

Learn to say “no”

First off, you need to learn to prioritize as an educator. If you already have too much to do and are stressed, you don’t need to take on the role as an advisor for another student group. It’s important to connect with your students and support them, but you won’t be any help if you take time off or leave teaching entirely due to burnout. Even if your supervisor asks you to take charge of something, unless it’s a vital responsibility, do not be afraid to turn it down and focus on keeping a healthy balance between your personal life and work.

Keep yourself healthy

One of the biggest issues with burnout is that teachers become exhausted from working too much. Make sure you’re taking the time to de-stress and getting plenty of sleep. Fit some time to exercise into each day and also make sure you’re eating healthy. Cut back on caffeine and pack yourself nutritious lunches. Having a balanced diet, exercise, and enough rest will give you extra energy.

Here’s a website with great blogs about staying healthy and reducing your workload as an educator.

Create a support system

You work with plenty of other teachers who understand exactly what you’re going through. Rely on them as a support system. You can vent to them about difficult students and ask their advice on how to manage a work-life balance and any tips they might have about easing your workload. You also have friends and family outside of work who care about you and can help you de-stress. If you have a roommate or spouse, ask them for their help and support as well, especially with duties around the house. Working as a team will make finding balance much easier.

Don’t bring work home

While this step may be hard, there are ways to do it. Lots of teachers with families and busy lives outside of work have managed to avoid taking their work home. By learning to say no and prioritizing their responsibilities, many teachers do not have work to do outside of the usual workday hours. Improve your organization and time management skills and eventually, you’ll be able to avoid bringing work home, so you can create an even better work-life balance.

How to Keep Students Motivated During Winter

Winter is a particularly difficult time to keep students motivated. After the holidays, the colder months of January and February set in and there’s no break in sight until sometime in spring. It’s hard to get students to focus at this time of year, especially when trying to prepare them for state tests and finals in their classes. Instead of stressing out over your students’ lack of desire to learn, try these tips to keep them motivated in the upcoming months!

Remain Positive

Even though you may not feel like coming into work every day, it’s important that you remain upbeat for the students who you’ll be teaching. Show them a positive attitude and act excited about what you’re talking about, but you can also acknowledge that you know it’s a tough time of year to focus on learning. Give them positive reinforcement when they do something well and try to make them feel good about their work.

Give Rewards

By occasionally rewarding your students, you’ll motivate them to continue working and doing a good job in their studies. Maybe offer candy or a small prize for reaching certain goals. You can also give them a movie day or a specific amount of time where they can talk and hang out instead of focusing on an actual lesson. Rewarding students gives them a much-needed break.

Watch Films

Students find it much easier to spend time looking at a screen and visually absorbing information instead of having to listen to their teacher lecture. Most children can recount endless amounts of information and quotes from their favorite movies or television shows, so you know those skills are developed. Incorporate educational documentaries into your lessons and students will learn more and feel more at ease. Tailoring your lesson plans to the season will help you combat the lack of motivation in students.

Let Them Decide

When students have the opportunity to be hands-on with their own learning, they’ll be more invested in the subject. You can give students a list of topics that need to be covered during the next few weeks and let them choose in which order they want to learn about them. Provide opportunities for them to be involved in their own learning – they’ll be thankful for it and more motivated.

Change it up!

Some variety is always a good thing because students’ brains will immediately recognize the change and register it. Switch around the desk arrangement or redecorate the classroom. Give students something different and they’ll feel as though it’s an entirely new experience, not the same class they’ve been in for the last few months. Providing students with variation will prevent them from feeling bored and helps them give their attention to your teaching.

Technology Resources to Use With Students

Technology has become more prevalent in our world than ever before. Now, nearly every person has a smartphone and understands how to use a computer. This flourishing of technology has been seen in schools as well. Most students have personal cell phones and can navigate a school computer with ease. It’s a common experience for teachers to struggle with trying to get students to pay attention in class instead of to their smartphones. Instead of forbidding the use of technology in the classroom, here are some great resources teachers can use that combine technology and learning.

Figment

This site offers students a chance to publish their own writing of any kind and then receive feedback from other students. They can also comment on and discuss others’ writing that’s posted on the site, though it’s important to note that not all the content is appropriate for school or all ages, so you might want to check it out yourself before using the site. There are all types of writing on this site, so you may want to encourage young writers in your class to check it out.

Glogster

Students can create their own interactive posters on any topic and customize them as they see fit on this site. It can be used online as well as with a mobile app. Your students can easily add text, links, audio, video, and images to their Glogster and play around with the many features the site offers. It gives them a chance to be creative, while also creating an educational tool for a presentation or project.

CNN Student News

CNN offers informative news clips that cover current events and are only ten minutes long. You can start the day with watching the daily clip with your students and then have discussions about the events or ask a few questions about what they learned.

Free Rice

This website is a fantastic way for students to review different topics and also help out a good cause. FreeRice.com donates 10 grains of rice to the hungry for every answer you get correct when using the site. And yes, it’s legit. You can choose from math, humanities, English, chemistry, geography, sciences, and even various languages. It’s a great way to give students some downtime while also having them work on something relevant to class, but also fun. You might want to offer some kind of prize to the student who has the highest amount of rice at the end of the week or month.

DIY

Students can learn more about topics they’re interested in and also discover new passions through this site. It allows them to complete challenges and earn badges and can also be connected to an adult account so a students’ parents and teacher can follow their progress. The environment is completely safe and gives students the chance to learn more about themselves and what they want to do in the future. After students complete a challenge, you can have them create a tutorial or short presentation on what they learned.

Check out this list for even more technology resources for your classroom.

The Top 10 National and State Parks of Texas – Robert Peters

Texas is known for it’s rich history in the development of our nation, but it’s physically characterized by breath-taking scenery. When you think about the landscape of the Lone Star state, images of flat desert come to mind, but Texas is full of high peaks and low caves. Below is a list of top 10 national and state parks to go out and explore:

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1. Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park

Big Bend National Park and it’s neighbor, Big Bend Ranch State Park, both sit on the border of the U.S. and Mexico. The Rio Grande runs through both parks which encompass and protect a large portion of the Chihuahua desert. The two parks offer more than 200 miles of hiking trails, some of which can be completed in a day. Notable sites within the park include Chisos Basin and Rio Grande Village.

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA2. Caddo Lake State Park

A Native American legend claims Caddo Lake was formed when one of the Caddo Chiefs failed to obey the Great Spirit. The Great Spirit retaliated with an earthquake which created and filled the lake. Today, the cypress swamp of Caddo Lake State Park is an excellent location to camp, hike and kayak.

 

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3. Longhorn Caverns State Park

Once a refuge for ice age animals, Native American peoples, pioneer settlers, Confederate soldiers and outlaws, Longhorn Caverns State Park is now attraction for all. The limestone caverns were formed by an underground river that dwindled away thousands of years ago. The naturally cool temperature of the caverns (68F) makes this destination ideal to visit during the summer months. While there is no overnight camping allowed, there are daily tours available.

 

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4. Padre Island National Seashore

Located off the southern coast of Texas, the Padre Island National Seashore is a constantly changing coastline of dunes and tidal flats. One of the island’s greatest attractions, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles nest their eggs along the coast. If you have a chance to visit, don’t miss the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.

 

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5. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

The Enchanted Rock, a massive pink granite dome, is the focal piece of this Texan park, located in the plains west of Austin. Visible for miles in the area, this rock is has been exposed for (as geologists estimate) more than one billion years. A short .6 mile hike will lead you up to spectacular views of the park.

 

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6. Monahans Sandhills State Park

Located near the town of Monahans, Monahans Sandhills State Park has sand dunes that can up to 70 feet tall. This is an ideal location for recreational activities like sand-boarding, sand surfing and sand football.

 

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7. Kickapoo Cavern State Park

With 18 miles of trails available to birders, hikers and mountain bikers, this park has more to offer below the plains of the southwest. This state park has 20 caves, the largest of which is open to the public via guided flashlight tours. The park has something to offer to animal lovers in particular, visitors can watch Mexican free tailed bats emerge from the caves from March through October.

 

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8. Hueco Tanks Park and Historic Site

Once inhabited by the people of Jornada Mogollon, the Hueco Tanks Park and Historic Site are know for the pictographs left behind by previous cultures. There are more than 200 face designs left behind by the Mogollon, as well as pictographs from the Apaches and Kiowas.

 

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9) Pedernales Falls State Park

Whether you want to climb over the limestone rocks along the Pedernales River or wade in the low flow of the river, this park is full of gorgeous scenery. Be careful of the highly variable levels of the river, when it is low it is ideal for swimming.

 

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10) Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Home to the second largest canyon in the U.S., this park has 30 miles of biking, hiking and equestrian trails.  You may also see Longhorn steers grazing along these trails, part of official Texas state longhorn herd is known to wander around the edge of the park.

from All About Dr. Robert Peters of Manor, Texas http://bit.ly/1M1bRDy