Musings and Strategies From the Teachers Next Door





A word that is powerful,yet almost non-existent in everyday conversations. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I heard it used. Think about it, when was the last time you used it in your conversations? Your students used it? When was the last time you demonstrated it?

Thanks to Mike Roberts, I had a powerful “a-ha” moment. To be honest, I have not been finishing off the year strong…oh, maybe in the classroom, but what about those teacher workrooms? It is this time of year when teachers are stressed out, the kids have checked out, and we forget about our words and the impact they have on one another. The words we use have a powerful effect on everyone. Sometimes it is so easy to get sucked into the negativity that occurs in the teacher workroom. Why is it that instead of building one another up and encouraging one another to “finish strong”, we get bogged down by the craziness of schedules, end of the year tasks, and let’s not forget the “all defining” state mandated tests! ENOUGH! So…

After reading Mike’s article yesterday morning, I went into school and I spoke with my class about integrity. We talked about what it is and how we demonstrate it. In the end, we agreed that integrity means to leave a legacy of which you can be proud. The students sat a little straighter, they worked a little harder, they were determined. As the fifth grade was leaving for their rotation or specials classes, one of my colleagues was barking out instructions about which forms they needed to return and “if you don’t behave, I’m taking your field day”, etc. As my class walked through the doors, I said one word. “Integrity”. They responded with, “Finish strong!” It was all that needed to be said. They knew what I meant and it wasn’t a threat. It was encouragement.

How often encouragement is overlooked, though it is the one thing that can change a person. It can take the mediocre to great, the failing to excelling, the downtrodden to determined. Constructive criticism when served with a side order of encouragement is actually heard, received, and acted upon. What a different world the classroom, workplace, school, home would be if we focused on having integrity in all we do, all the time.

Stay calm, and finish strong! Thanks, Mike Roberts, for the reminder!

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