5 Signs You’re Burning Out

Photo Credit: Florian Simeth, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Florian Simeth, Creative Commons

This is an updated re-post of an original article from October 2012. 

It’s mid-November, and you can already feel it: The fist of anxiety squeezing your mid-section into jelly.

Just three months ago you had plans to make this year different. You would be more organized. Plan ahead. Not let the little things get to you.

How’s that looking for you now?

Of course, I’m actually describing myself. And since we share a common experience, perhaps these indicators of my own burn out are similar to yours.

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How to Teach Your “Prodigal” Students

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

A man had two sons.

The younger demanded his share of the estate, took it with a sneer, and departed to a distant country where he squandered it in reckless living. When he had spent it all and feared he would starve, he fled back home and fell at his father’s feet, weeping and repenting. Tears in his own eyes, the father forgave him and threw the grandest party his village had seen in years. Yet the older son refused to join the party. The father went to him and begged him to celebrate the lost son’s return. The older brother did not budge.

As teachers, we will have sons and daughters that act like the younger and the older of the story. In the same class a pregnant girl may sit beside an arrogant valedictorian. Behind them, a shameless stoner will annoy the accomplished athlete with rank and putrid fumes.

It is our role to approach each student, each a sinner like us, as the Father approaches the sons in the story – the allegorical equivalent of our merciful and just God. Here are three ways to teach like Him: Continue reading

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New Blog: The Story Doctor!

Healthy-Story-Ebook-Image-FINAL-204x300Do you ever get stuck? 

Does your creativity just slam into a wall sometimes?

Maybe I can help.

I’ve started a new blog just for story-tellers like you. Whether you’re a writer, blogger, painter, poet, musician, board game connoisseur… The Story Doctor can help you get your work on track.

I’m even giving away a FREE gift for new subscribers! Healthy Story: How to Create a Story That Practically Writes Itself. This Ebook will help you take a story from its most primitive, basic inklings to well-developed story treatment that will make your creative life so much EASIER in the later stages!

I hope you’ll join me in building a community of remarkable story-tellers that make a compassionate impact on the world at-large. It’s going to be great, so come on over!

TSDHeaderLogo4-300x73

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Guest Post @ Jon Acuff!

Jon-Acuff

I’m blogging for Jon Acuff today. If you haven’t heard, Jon’s launching a new book, Start, which you can order here on Amazon. My post is about his earlier book, Quitter, which motivated me to launch YoMister! 

Check him out and check out my guest post, “4 Things I Quit Other Than My Job” by clicking the button below:

4 Things Button

As always, thanks for reading!

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The Private School Gospel?

Photo Credit: Tobias Helfrich, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Tobias Helfrich, Creative Commons

Private school teachers have it easy, don’t they?

After all, their students are generally wealthy, motivated, from an educated background? Right?

I’m about to find out.

This wasn’t my plan. My plan – a glorious and perfect one in my own eyes – was to move north, away from the sweltering sauna of Florida to Ohio where teachers with my experience make about $10,000 more a year.

I spent over $600 to get background checks, pass Praxis tests, and apply for an Ohio license. I sent it all north in a huge manila envelope.

And in Google Chrome (the best browser you can get for free, might I add) I created folders of bookmarks, each transporting me to the H.R. page of the many districts in Central Ohio, where my wife and I wanted to move. I dedicated hours to the applications, the essay questions, the follow-up emails – a sorry excuse for the lack of updates to this blog.

And I waited. Continue reading

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The Real Hunger Games

Image: Lions Gate

Image: Lions Gate

I read an incredible book yesterday.

A young hero lives in an enclosed compound, killing vermin to survive. Armed guards dispense beatings and murder without any check against their abusive authority. Far away, an elitist and scheming Capitol issues propaganda filled with fear and hate, brain-washing its oppressed people.

The hero, trapped inside a lethal arena, must fight other children to the death. The hero is taught to snitch, to hurt others, and to have no mercy. And like the protagonist of The Hunger Games, the hero begins to lose his humanity – even towards his own mother.

But I wasn’t reading The Hunger Games. That book belongs in the fiction section.

The book I read feels like it should be history – perhaps the history of men like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, the kind of history we swear to never repeat. It is the story of the real Panem, a country that exists today and succeeds in starving, torturing, and brain-washing its people without any check against its power.

Shin Dong-hyuk was born in Camp 14. Camp 14 is located on the banks of the Taedong River, about two hours drive north of the Capitol. Shin was born as a result of a “Reward Marriage”, the product of hard work and approval from the guards. For five days, his mother and father were allowed to sleep together, a rare privilege in Camp 14. Shin was the result.

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The Meaning of Adversity

Photo credit: Oula Lehtinen

Photo credit: Oula Lehtinen

What does it mean?

All year long you’ve taught them, coached them, and discplined them. You’ve given patient reminders and made phone calls home. You’ve forgiven and trusted.

And they still misbehave just like before. It’s as if nothing has changed. Did you even make a dent?

What does it mean?

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What Are We Really Teaching Them?

Photo: Casey Konstantin

Photo: Casey Konstantin

Do your students cheat?

Do they copy one another’s work and pass it off as their own?

Naw….naw…. Never!

If your students are anything like mine (sinners), then you probably struggle with cheating. And while this behavior is entirely theirs, perhaps there are ways we can teach them to make the right decision more often — and for the right reasons.

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Meetings: 5 Survival Tips

Credit: TheEffectiveEdge

Credit: TheEffectiveEdge

There is no greater evil in the world than meetings. These 1-hour gifts from Satan seem to last forever, sucking our souls dry of all that sustains and blesses.

There’s always the monologue, brought to you courtesy of the person desperate for an audience (Hey, start a blog, I say….). And then there’s the mandate, some new devilry handed down by the Powers That Be, adding to your already stressed load. And when enough just can’t be enough, there’s sure to be the haters, the band of clucking hens and roosters that perpetuate the great hypocrisy of all teachers – they hate students who talk out of turn, but have no problem doing it themselves (gotta admit, I’m really guilty here).

Thankfully, both Common Sense and the Common Word have some strategies we can employ to make it through. Here are 5 of them.

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Perfect Teaching in the Imperfect Classroom

Photo Credit: Hamed Saber

Photo Credit: Hamed Saber

 

Have you ever lost someone?

Two days ago, Ronnie withdrew from school. A charismatic young man who calls me “dawg”, Ronnie had the marks of a man hiding in the skin of a nervous, approval-seeking little boy. So I invested in him, patiently pursuing him with questions and challenges that might bring that man out for awhile.

But Ronnie got caught with weed on campus. Arrested. Jailed. He came back, but only for a few days.

Now he’s gone.

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