Let Everyday Be a Day of Giving Thanks

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven. – Johannes A. Gaertner

I love Thanksgiving because it is such a wonderful time to spend with family and friends.  We get together to eat lots of yummy food and give thanks for all of the blessings in our lives.  While I strive to incorporate gratitude into my life each and every day (besides Thanksgiving) I wish I took more time to give thanks and express my gratitude to all.  One thing I have learned this year is that your attitude of gratitude can make all the difference in the world.  If you are not happy with what you currently have what makes you think you will be happy with what you receive in the future? 

I would like to take the time to express gratitude for all of my professional opportunities.  I have worked various jobs throughout my lifetime and have learned a tremendous amount in each one.  I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I have had with my current employer and especially my current job and I hope I never take it for granted because I am doing what I love.  One major lesson I learned this year: Whether you are working your dream job, or just working to put food on the table until something better comes along, just know that you are destined for greatness, look at your current situation as an opportunity to learn and grow, be thankful for it, and know that if you are not happy with what you are doing it is a temporary situation that is a stepping stone to your success.  I truly am happy and grateful so thank you!

What can we all do to show gratitude at work?  Here are five tips for showing gratitude at work: 

  1. Say Thank You: Frequently and sincerely say “thank you” to colleagues, clients, employees, boss, and others in the workplace to show that you value their business and effort.  I know this sounds so simple because it’s only two words but try it!  You’ll be surprised how much impact those two words can have.  Be sure to tell them what you are thankful for and why!
  2. Praise Others: Praise others when they do a good job.  Everyone likes to feel appreciated!  Just like Tip #1, this can be done in writing (email, letter or sticky note), verbally (publically or privately) or both! 
  3. Count Blessings: Reflect at the end of each day on what happened at work for which you are grateful and count your blessings.  When I have insomnia, instead of counting sheep, I count blessings!
  4. Help Others:  If you see a colleague is inundated with something offer to help out.  Even something as simple as making coffee as a pick-me-up or typing or staying late to prepare a report will help them feel appreciated.
  5. Return the Favor: If someone at work offers to help you out, be sure to return the favor.

Remember, showing an attitude of gratitude at work not only will help you feel happier and be more productive, you will also help improve morale and teamwork.


A Few of My Favorite Learning Quotes

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. 
Henry Brooks Adams

The mediocre teacher tells.  The good teacher explains.  The superior teacher demonstrates.  The great teacher inspires. 
William Arthur Ward

What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches.
Karl Menninger

Teaching should be full of ideas instead of stuffed with facts. 

The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind. 
Kahlil Gibran

The task of the excellent teacher is to stimulate “apparently ordinary” people to unusual effort.  The tough problem is not in identifying winners:  it is in making winners out of ordinary people. 
K. Patricia Cross

Who dares to teach must never cease to learn. 
John Cotton Dana

A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on a cold iron.
Horace Mann

When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.
John Ruskin

They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.
Alvin Toffler

It is not so much what is poured into the student, but what is planted that really counts.

I touch the future. I teach.
Christa McAuliffe

A teacher’s purpose is not to create students in his own image, but to develop students who can create their own image. 

Good teacher is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater.
Gail Godwin

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
Andy McIntyre

A master can tell you what he expects of you. A teacher, though awakens your own expectations.
Patricia Neal

The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.

Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.
Josef Albers

The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.
Mark van Doren

We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own.
Ben Sweetland

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.
Albert Einstein

What I hear, I forget.
What I see, I remember.
What I do, I understand.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.

Any training that does not include the emotions, mind and body is incomplete; knowledge fades without feeling.

No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

It is only as we develop others that we permanently succeed.
Harvey Samuel Firestone

Students do not learn much just sitting in classes listening to teachers, memorizing prepackaged assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are learning, write reflectively about it, relate it to past experiences, and apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves. 
Arthur W. Chickering and Stephen C. Ehrmann

In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.
Al Rogers

An organization’s ability to learn and translate that learning into action is the ultimate competitive advantage.
Jack Welch

You can’t teach people everything they need to know. The best you can do is position them where they can find what they need to know when they need to know it.
Seymour Papert

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

It is today we must create the world of the future.
Eleanor Roosevelt

The metaphor (coaching) with sports is meant quite seriously… the coach stands back, observes the performance, and provides guidance. The coach applauds strengths, identifies weaknesses, points up principles, offers guiding and often inspiring imagery, and decides what kind of practice to emphasize.
David Perkins

Morpheus: “I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one who must walk through it”  
The Matrix

If there is a way to do it better… find it!
Thomas Edison

Education is knowing where to go to find out what you need to know; and its knowing how to use the information you get.
William Feather

I try to learn from the past, but I exclusively on the present. That’s where the fun is.
Donald Trump

The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.
B.B. King

An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.
Benjamin Franklin

In teaching, the greatest sin is to be boring.
J.F. Herbert

Never discourage anyone…who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.

The only kind of learning which significantly influences behavior is self-discovered or self-appropriated learning – truth that has been assimilated in experience.
Carl Rogers

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.

The biggest enemy to learning is the talking teacher.
John Holt

Past Teaching Practices

I have been reading about the history of instructional design.  It is very interesting to see all the different fads come and go and how many thought TV and radio and other types of “teaching machines” would revolutionize education.  While I love the idea of implementing technology in training, we should ask ourselves if what we are using is the most effective and efficient teaching/training tool.  We should also keep in mind that in the past there were lots of fads that soon faded out.  Let’s be mindful of these “fads” and not get caught up in the hype. 

On the other hand, we shouldn’t get caught up in past practices.  After all, the past does not equal the future.  So instead of looking at the present through a rear-view mirror, let’s embrace a new “medium” and not use it the same as we did or would have used old “medium”.  Let’s not march backwards in the future but rather move ahead with conviction and a new way of thinking.  Let’s not be afraid of change!

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Will Technology Take the Place of Face-to-Face Instruction? Let’s Hope Not!

As we all know, technology is opening a lot of doors by allowing learners to get additional training and an education that in the past was not even remotely possible.  While this is definitely a positive step in the right direction, there have also been some controversial viewpoints regarding technology in training and education.  One of the biggest is that human instructors will become obsolete.  While technology can provide learning experiences in ways that a single instructor within a confined classroom of four walls cannot, there are many things a human instructor can provide that learners will never get from a machine. 

I have always and will always believe that learning institutions, schools, and corporate training centers will still need live, face-to-face instruction. Computers and technology may be a means of instruction but it isn’t the end all, be all. We aren’t robots, we are humans, and we still need humans to help facilitate class. Maybe our roles as instructors will change, how we train may change, but as long as we have human beings who need to learn we will need human instructors.

Computers are lifeless machines. They can’t be there to truly motivate learners when they need to be motivated just like my human teachers did when I was in school. Computers may be able to detect student work if it is correct or incorrect and provide clues as to the correct answer or give the correct answer but it can’t provide a teachable moment like a human instructor can. In my own classroom I have guided students who didn’t quite have the answer and led them to the correct answer or solution by asking them questions and probing for more information, why they were thinking in that manner, etc. and they ended up having an “a-ha moment”. It was my gentle, yet persevering guidance that led them to their own discovery, a discovery that they will never forget. A computer can’t watch the eyes or faces of learners and see them in despair if they don’t understand and make adjustments to the lesson or find better ways to teach so they understand. A computer can’t immediately answer questions and personalize the answers based on the learner’s level of understanding.  A computer can’t praise and motivate learners to success and help them cope when they fail or don’t get their way.  A computer or technology can’t teach certain on-the-job skills. There needs to be an intermediary, an instructor, to help guide and ensure learners’ success and to help guide them to become productive in the workplace.  Technology is an invaluable tool and I support elearning 100% but it is not meant to completely replace the human factor. 

Instructional Technology Recipe for Learning Stew

My own personal definition of instructional technology:

Instructional Technology is a modern approach to teaching and learning that utilizes technology to facilitate learning and improve performance. This is done by analyzing, designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating technological processes and resources for learning.

Instructional Technology Learning Stew

(makes one serving per student)

In order to prepare a large pot of Learning Stew for your learners, follow the recipe I have created.  If you follow it correctly you WILL produce learning results! 

Caution: Before you even think of adding extra tasty ingredients of technology or a teaspoonful of any other spicy learning tool or manipulative, always take into consideration the outcome of your learning recipe: the learning goals and objectives.


Step 1
Toss in five large cups of learning medley to enable learners to take responsibility for their learning, to become actively involved and participating, and to think critically and creatively.  Feel free to add other ingredients to the pot to increase the learning flavor.  Choose questions, activities, and tools wisely.

Step 2
Sprinkle in a dash of reading, writing, creativity, researching, communication and collaboration. 

Step 3
Evaluate all ingredients (tools and techniques) to foster learning in the manner listed above. 

Step 4
Simmer on low for two hours or until Learning Stew is thoroughly cooked.

Step 5
Serve Instructional Technology Recipe to learners.  Yum!

Step 6
End result: a hearty bowl full of learning!

Note: If you have “cooked up” technological tools that will help you achieve your goals and objectives and that will enable learners to become active learners and critical thinkers, then you have successfully prepared your Instructional Technology recipe for Learning Stew.

Put on Your Learning GLOVES!

magic gloveWhen true learning occurs, a change in behavior takes place.  As instructors, we should strive to create a change in learners’ behavior in the real world.  With effective instruction, learners should be able to reproduce the learned behavior without mistakes beyond what was taught.  So how can we make instruction more effective?  Make learning meaningful!  How do we make learning meaningful?  Whip out the pixie dust and put on your magic learning GLOVES

Getting learners actively involved – When you are teaching, employ active learning techniques.  Instruction is most effect when it is learner-centered and interactive.  Remember, the more learners are involved and the more they participate in the learning process, the more effective it will be.  Be a facilitator rather than a lecturer.  Excessive lecturing and Power Point presentations are not only boring which causes learners to tune out but they also are not involved in the learning process therefore making it unproductive.  Wouldn’t you agree that we want learners to be able to perform rather than just talk about the subject matter?  So please, by all means, avoid death by Power Point! 

Learning must have a purpose – Be sure to create a sense of purpose.  Ensure learners understand the purpose of the instruction and why they need to learn and know the material.  If they know why they are learning it, they will be more likely to embrace the learning experience.

Organizing content – Know that content is king.  Incorporate content based on learners’ needs and interests.  Content should be meaningful, transferable to real life, and organized in a logical manner so that it flows.

Viewing content as relevant – Incorporate real world application.  Include information and situations that learners view as relevant and that helps them perform a task or solve a real-world problem.  Encourage learners to relate the material to their own experiences and to real world applications that apply to them and allow them to share their experiences.

Evaluating learners – When you evaluate learners, offer constructive feedback so they will know what they are doing right and what areas need improvement.  Constructive feedback will help learners to continue to learn and grow.

Surviving the learning environment – Create a safe learning environment.  Treat learners with respect, understanding, and concern.  Be understanding of their needs and fears.  If learners are afraid they will be ridiculed or embarrassed their affective filter will be high and they will be less likely to learn.

light bulbOne final tip:  Be a reflective practitioner, strive for excellence, and always make improvements.  If something is not working well, determine why and fix it.

Great Quote on Involving Learners

I recently came across a wonderful quote that is so very true and I always keep this in mind when I teach:

Tell me and I forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand. – Chinese Proverb

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