Color Your Choices

Color Your Choices

In chapter one of “Attack Your Day Before it Attacks You,” the authors encourages us to consider everything we do an activity. Everything we do carries a certain amount of value, be it working, grading, sleeping, or time with family. When you choose to forfeit sleep to grade papers, clearly grading is more important than sleeping. The realization that these choices are ongoing can be very powerful.

Chapter two discusses how to prioritize your activities using colors:

Red: STOP-DO IT NOW!  These activities require immediate attention.

Green: Those activities that require your attention daily. If these activities aren’t attended to, they can morph into a serious “RED” problem. Green is usually for grading, spending time with family, learning, growing, etc…

Yellow: Activities that do not require immediate action.  We often see these actives as a waste of time, they get you off track for longer than you intended. It’s easier to recognize yellow activities when you’re thinking back about how productive you could have been. We see these as activities that got in the way of an actual goal. Yellow activities can be things like Facebook, Twitter, gaming, or watching your favorite television show; they have their value but must keep their place.

A lot of educators consider themselves list makers.  I have found that in my efforts to prioritize, I had a tendency to do easy and the seemingly high reward tasks first and leaving the less desirable and the seemingly less rewarding activities to be done later; thus creating a huge list of red items.  I’m sure many of us have had the same experience. I recommend giving this system of color coding a try.

This series of blogs is about making more of your day by making better choices, so that we can be better prepared educators. Please join in reading “Attack Your Day Before it Attacks You” with me. If you’re looking for a way to truly attack your day, the ideas presented is an awesome place to start.

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Attack Your Day Before it Attacks You (Chapter 1)

Would you consider a new approach to “git r done”? What if focusing on one responsibility at a time wasn’t the most effective way to work? For many of us, especially teachers, our job brings us a sense of fulfillment–so why separate life from job when you can focus on quality of life?

Here a few things from chapter one of Attack Your Day!: Before It Attacks You I’m going to implement into my daily life:

  • Instead of trying to spend equal time on everything according to importance, I am going to try to “maintain a balance of equilibrium in a sea of change”.
  • Instead of trying to be caught up and finished with my work, view it as working continuously.
  • When reflecting on how productive I’ve been, instead thinking about how much time I spent on an item, I’ll measure productivity by… well, productivity.
  • Most of us are encouraged to work hard during the week and play on the weekends. There are tons of studies proving that when we work in short bursts we get more done and the quality of that work is better. Why not apply that knowledge to our lifestyle? I’m going to put a little enjoyment and productivity into everyday. If I work especially hard on Monday, I’ll try to do something fun (even if it’s only for short moment) that evening or the next day.

There are a lot of awesome ideas and fresh perspectives in the first chapter of this book. I hope some of you will get your hands on a copy.


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Confused, Frustrated, or Happy?

In spite of my first post this year about goal setting, I lost some of my mojo before the months end. Well… I’m determined to step it up and to continue moving forward in a definite direction for 2013. One of my main goals this year is to move Teacher Parlor in a specific direction. I find that many of us (such as me with this project) oscillate between three states of being: Confused Frustrated, and Happy

football confusedConfused is when you don’t know what to do and as a result you can’t get anything done (like the replacement referees in the picture above). You can get this feeling in any area of your life, such as your classroom. All of us know co-workers, students, and friends that live confused lives. As professionals, we must develop the skill of recognizing when we are confused and find a way to remedy the issue. We must also recognize when those around us are confused and not be influenced by them and possibly help them move from being confused to at least being frustrated and possibly happy.

football fustrated

Frustrated is when you are sure you know what to do but it just won’t work. Either you know what to do and you’ve lost your mojo, finding yourself frustrated with the lack of productivity or you feel like you know what you’re doing, but you aren’t getting the results you should. The good thing about being frustrated is that you have a desire for something. You know what you are looking for or at least when you see it you’ll know that it is what you’ve been looking for.

Football happy

Happy is when things are running on all cylinders, you know what to do and it’s working. It seems as if the happiest people in the happy stage. Take the Superbowl, everything in the entire season is about having the opportunity to play in the BIG GAME. Then everything leading up to big game is about winning the BIG GAME. Provided the game is won, the celebration is short lived and focus is immediately on doing it again. If you have a desire to grow, reaching one goal isn’t enough, your desire is to do it again and again.

Having self-awareness is important to maintain as we strive to be successful and remain successful. Knowing were your current state of mind is and where it’s going next can be very valuable.


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What Teachers Can Learn from Labrador Retrievers

A few weeks ago a ran across this article and couldn’t help but correlate how teachers can adopt certain behaviors from Labrador retrievers in order to keep their Mojo working.

1.Start the day with gusto. Arise with a mission. Always be eager to face the outside world, better yet, just charge into it!

2.Focus on a single task without your mind wandering to something else. Give each project your whole heart and your ability. Be absorbed with every ounce of energy and nerve in your body. Be vibrant and alive.

3.Stay Present. Be wholly present in the moment with all your being. Do it until it comes natural to you. Have clear attentiveness to what you’re engaged in. Don’t be clouded by future ambitions, the need to return emails, or any other task that is not at hand.

4.Value yourself and charge accordingly. Find value in everything you do. Do what you do to add to who you are. Your bosses will adore you.

5.Look at what goes right. Concentrate on the positive aspects of your job. Don’t dwell on the negative. Never complain or whine about long hours.

6.Push in fresh directions. All always be on the look out for new opportunities, new ways to present the information. Don’t be afraid to make big changes and don’t be hesitant to make even the smallest changes.

7.Never hesitate to network more. Just because you are comfortable where you are. Be proactive about saying hi to new people and getting to know them.

8.Go Places. Know the importance of travel. Never second guess whether you should go new places, experience new cultures, new sights, and new sounds. And when you’re on your way there, put your head out the window and enjoy the wind on your face, soak up the smells, use all of your senses enjoy the ride.

Teaching is one of the most fulfilling professions one can have. It’s quite easy to get bogged down and forget to enjoy life. So be like the Labrador retriever, above all, enjoy your job!

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Yogi Berra Said It First

“ You’ve got to be careful about where you’re going, because you might not get there.”- Yogi Berra

Many of us have fallen victim, at some point, to not setting goals. Did you know that most people don’t set goals? Of course you did (because you’re probably one of them). The following statistics were found in a study conducted by David Kohl (professor at Virginia Tech):

80% of Americans say that they don’t have goals.
16% of Americans have goals but they don’t write them down.
4% of the 16% that have goals write them down.
Less than 1% of the 4% review their goals regularly.

It’s really easy to get into a slump focusing on what we are doing and not on where we are going. Every year we make it our business to do our part in making sure our students meet certain benchmarks to move forward in their lives. We take small steps every day, which turn into leaps every week, and eventually results in a kindergartner becoming a graduating senior and possibly the CEO of a company. Without teachers, it’d be awfully difficult for students to become something great.

Year-to-year, educators have the honor of watching students work their way through an organized system that produces well-educated and useful individuals. As a profession, our job is to give every student a chance to become something, as we encourage them to be “lifelong learners.” While many of us have succeeded in being a “lifelong learner,” is it that enough?

As an educator, are you growing in a specific way? What are your goals professionally, relationally, religiously, physically, etc…? As for me, I’ve been so devoted to my classroom I’ve failed to give myself a fair opportunity to continue to grow on a personal level. It’s been challenging to find a way to further my education, spend enough time with family, to take the time to develop teaching techniques or to make time to follow on up on worthwhile goals. There have been more years I’ve looked back and thought, “What did I do with my time?” Surely young people will one day be old, surely as seasons come they will go, and surely as the sun rises it will set without our help. The question is, what do we do?

My wife and I actually had a “meeting” over this past weekend to set goals for 2013. We set yearly goals, then quarterly goals, and finally monthly goals for this first quarter.
Here are a few obvious things we plan to do to make this goal-setting thing work for us:

1. Consider every part of our life. (career, financial, education, family, artistic attitude, physical, having fun, public service, etc…)
2. Write them down, not being afraid to be specific. We start with a larger goal, and then break it down into smaller intervals. My wife and I did one year, but why not do five year goals?
3. Have some form of accountability—each other. You can make goals with a friend or a spouse. You can even start a blog, or register at and post your goals in our forum and as a community, we’ll help you stay on track.
4. Decide when we will take the time to review our goals. We may want to make adjustments because we did more than expected or because we didn’t quite reach our benchmarks.

My fulfillment comes from being able to look back in my life and seeing that I’ve done something worthwhile. We’ve all been happy because of something we accomplished in one day, one week, or one month. Wouldn’t it be awesome to look back over a year and be able to say “I truly used my time to make a difference”? You know, even if we don’t reach our goals, moving forward in a definite direction is the most important part.

Don’t hesitate to leave a comment on this post or in the forum. As a community we can play our part in keeping you accountable. I will start by posting some of my personal goals and goals for Teacher Parlor in the forum. You’d be surprise at how your words of encouragement, your experiences, and your wisdom can have a lasting effect in someone’s life.

“ You’ve got to be sure about where you’re going, because you just might get there.” – Charles Bridges

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