My parents owned a bar and from the time I can remember which was about four years old I spent my time sitting on a bar stool. Most kids were playing with their friends or some toys that they had I was always talking to strangers and playing with beer boxes. It did have its advantages, like as I got older I had a built in job and I really learned how to talk to adults. You always had to agree with them because you didn’t want to lose them as a customer. Always polite always considerate and never giving anyone a hard time, of course I learned how to curse like a sailor at a very young age and got a taste of beer when I was about ten years old. The place had its characters that were both humorous and sad at the same time. I always thought it was normal for a guy to spend 4 or 5 hours drinking at the end of a work day before they went home. Many times as I got older I would drive some guy home who was to drunk to drive. When I got him home I found out why he spent that amount of time in the bar after work, his wife was less than happy to see him when he got there not because he was drunk she just didn’t like the guy.
One of the things I loved as a kid was the fact that there was always cash around. I would ask my dad for a dime or a quarter and he would reach into the till and hand it over. One warm summer evening around 5 o’clock I asked my dad for a quarter and he said “no.” I asked again and he said “no.” I finally said “c’mon dad please.” He did not give in. I got as mad as an 11 year old could get and walked out passing four customers sitting at the bend in the bar right by the door and on my way out I said “CHEAP.” As soon as I said this I knew I was in trouble and I tried to think of words that sounded like cheap that I could use to try and convince him that he just heard wrong. Then I had to find a way to get back in without him seeing me. There was only one way in and that was through the bar. Well I rode my bike for a while and then decided to try and get passed the blockade. When I got back to the bar the bar was closed. The bar that was open 364 days a year was closed. He locked the door and made me knock to get in. I knocked on the door and he opened it. I asked him to hold the door open so I could bring in my bike. He stood there grabbed me by the arm and said to me “What did you say on the way out of here.” I told him I said “cheap.” The grip on my arm got tighter and he said to me “After all the nickels, dimes, and quarters I have given you, you call me cheap.” I said “sorry dad.” He then loosened his grip and told me to go upstairs. My dad took a break around 7o’clock for dinner and took a nap until 9 when he went back downstairs to work. Around 8:30 I learned the biggest lesson of my life. He called me into his bedroom and sat me down. My dad said to me “Do you know why I locked the door to the bar after you left.” I said “no.” He said to me “After you left the bar the four guys who heard what you said started talking about you and what an ungrateful and selfish kid you were, and I couldn’t take it. I had to put them out, I just got sick hearing them talk like this about my son.” My dad put those guys out in my defense and because of the ache he felt in his heart. My dad used my own stupidity as a time to teach me that I can’t say anything I want and he wanted me to understand that whether or not I think anybody else hears my comments doesn’t matter, somebody hears and starts to develop a perception of you as a person. I never forgot this lesson. You see all along I thought those guys would ride my dad on what a cheapskate they thought he was because he wouldn’t give me a quarter. I was so wrong. As I look at this story all I can think of is the way kids speak to their parents today at a younger age than I was when I called my dad cheap. Kids don’t just wake up one day and decide that they were going to be rude to their parents. This has happened so slowly it was almost unrecognizable at first but now we ask “What are we going to do with these kids.” I named this essay “Cheap” because of how ironic it is that I called my father cheap in front of his customers when he truly was not cheap, and I ended up feeling cheap, and deservingly so, when my father was done with me. Even though it is cheap to sit a kid down and talk to him today the way my dad did, does anyone take the time to do it anymore?
My dad and mom owned a bar so at a very early age it became very easy for me to be around people who drank all the time. From the time I was a kid I thought that the whole world drank and got drunk. My dad was a binge drinker and he would go of on a bender every six months or so. He would be gone from one to three days. I always asked my mom where dad slept when he was gone and she would say in the car. I wasn’t sure who drove who crazier, mom or dad. Dad would drink and drive mom nuts, but when dad was sober mom would say things to dad to get under his skin. So I wasn’t sure if mom drove dad to drink or dad’s drinking drove my mom to make those comments. I didn’t really drink as a teenager but started to drink when I go married the first time. I drank a lot during the summer, and when I bar tended at a restaurant in Belmar NJ. As I became unhappy in my marriage I drank more and more until my drinking got a little out of control and I became frightened of my own behavior and my thoughts. If you want to discover a whole lot about an illness or a condition all you have to do is get it or think that you have it and you will start to read all there is to read about it in books, magazines, online or any place you can find the info. I came across this acronym in a book, ACOA. What the hell does this mean? Well it means Adult Child of an Alcoholic. I read more and discovered that somebody hooked a bunch of symptoms to the conditions, 13 to be exact. What an unlucky number. Let me enumerate them here:
1. Guess at what normal is.
2. Have difficulty in following a project through from beginning to end.
3. Lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
4. Judge themselves without mercy.
5. Have difficulty having fun.
6. Take themselves very seriously.
7. Have difficulty with intimate relationships.
8. Overreact to changes over which they have no control.
9. Constantly seek approval and affirmation.
10. Feel that they are different from other people.
11. Are either super responsible or super irresponsible.
12. Are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that loyalty is undeserved.
13. Have money dysfunction, such as hiding it or being disorganized with it.
After reading this list and the article associated with the list I concluded that I was an ACOA, dysfunctional, needed therapy, was warped, hated my parents, and had no business being married to a girl that I had known for ten years. Great, so now what? Well now I come up with a lot of excuses for my behavior, acted more like an idiot than ever before, get into therapy, and divorced my wife. I began to walk around and wonder if every move I made was related to me being an ACOA. I began to argue for my own weaknesses and became more and more irresponsible. This went on for about five years until I started to learn the benefits of my time in history and my up bringing. There are benefits to our up bringing. Too often we look at the downside of how we were raised. I was a baby-boomer as was everyone else in my age bracket and I would bet that many of us have looked back at their life and began to wonder how did I ever get this way. I figured that I could go on hating my life or I could look at what benefit this up bringing did for me and I could use my past to help improve the future. Now I started to take a better look at things when I was about 36 years old (in case you’re wondering I am 60 now) and when my youngest daughter Grace was about 8 years old and I was about 49 I started to realize that this ACOA thing is not an emotional death sentence but rather an opportunity that everybody has to really put things in perspective for themselves and for their own children.
One day about three years ago I was riding around in the car with my daughter Grace and I told her a story about my dad that we both found very amusing and we laughed to tears. I had always told Grace stories about my dad as a matter of fact she started to ask me to tell her a story so we could both laugh really hard. One day she came to me with a list of stories, there were 12 of them about my dad that she kept track of on paper. All of the stories that I told her were stories that came out of that dreaded ACOA environment that I lived in. You know the place that screwed me up. They were so funny now that it didn’t matter that my dad had the personality of an alcoholic, all Grace knows is that I don’t, and she and I can laugh together about all of the insanity that I went through as a kid. How great is that.
1. Listen without Interrupting
2. Speak without Accusing
3. Give without Sparing
4. Confront without Condemning
5. Answer without Arguing
6. Share without Pretending
7. Enjoy without Complaining
8. Trust without Wavering
9. Forgive without Punishing
10. Promising without Forgetting
Well there they are 10 great ways to build any relationship. That is to build; I mean this stuff doesn’t happen over night. We may like things to happen fast but when it comes down to people expectations are always a problem, and what we expect we never get in whole and the parts that we get are never really enough. We have to learn to be patient with those that are family members, loved ones, and co-workers. We can’t keep pulling up the flowers to see how the roots are doing, and we can’t count on others to do these things for us. So, we have to take the time to work on these things and model them ourselves. They require self awareness, empathy, respect, kindness, and at times the ability to be truthful with our own shortcomings. So, let’s take a look at these and work through the process one at a time. For me writing this article is almost like therapy because what I have discovered is that more often then not I have failed at many of them.
Listen Without Interrupting
There are five types of listening: Ignoring, pretend listening, selective listening, attentive listening, and empathic listening. Most people listen to respond and don’t truly try to understand what another is saying. Their minds can be on another planet that is buried under their own problems and headaches. They are always looking to get a word in and are always there with some type of advice or backyard psychology. They pretend and select and only connect to what is familiar to them. Good listeners have empathy, and can put themselves in the shoes of the speaker. They truly work to understand and can make every word that comes out of the mouth of the speaker the most important words they will ever hear. The ability to listen and understand in empathic way is so important to our children, our spouses, and our loved ones and for some reason they seem to always get the short end of the stick. We fight, we argue, and we ignore those that are closest to us and we want to appear to be good listeners to those that are casual acquaintances, or co-workers. Try and just listen to the people that are closest to you and build a relationship with them first, then listening to others without interrupting will become part of who you are and it will become second nature.
Speak Without Accusing
“What have you done NOW!” or “NOT AGAIN.” These are two phrases that we want to eliminate from our conversations. Now and Again; it almost sounds like a candy bar. But, in reality what they communicate is not very sweet at all. The word NOW communicates that you are fed up with persistent behavior that just aggravates and insights you to anger and the word AGAIN communicates that I told you I didn’t like what you said or did in the past and you just are not listening to me. Our words need to be seasoned with salt and spoken in a manner that shows the same patience that we would like to have shown to us. Often the lack of patience that we have with ourselves is mirrored to others and we accuse them of a poor attitude, when in reality it us with the problem. People never do things to us without our permission. When we accuse someone of making us angry or upset, we have allowed it. This just gives us an excuse for our own poor attitude.
Give Without Sparing
Can we ever give enough? I don’t just mean money; I mean time, love, and effort. At times these things can mean more to a relationship than money. They also can be harder to give. You can give your son or your daughter a $10 bill, but how about 10 minutes. You can say I love you but how about doing the dinner dishes. You can say I am proud of your performance but how about being there to watch a game or an award ceremony. At home, on the job, or in life in general talk is cheap and money is easier to give than our time, love, or effort. Going the extra mile on our job and not looking for something in return can be a tall order but it communicates to our employer and to others that we care, we are consistent, and we don’t cut corners.
Confront Without Condemning
Everyone seems to fear confrontations, when in reality a confrontation when done correctly can reveal the truth and strengthen any relationship. The problem is we tend to set our boundaries in anger. So, when a confrontation occurs it usually turns into a verbal free for all with words being spoken that do nothing but damage a relationship. Confrontations shouldn’t divide people they should bring them closer together. Families that have confrontations and fights at times could go years without speaking to each other. This creates such a gap that cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, and children become like the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s feuding their entire lives. The blame game gets played and everyone fears the next wedding or maybe a funeral for fear of running into Uncle Charlie who they haven’t spoken to since that argument that they had ions ago. So let’s speak the truth for sure but always leave enough space in a conversation for a disagreement. And when we disagree do it right away without holding it in and ultimately holding a grudge. Remember the worst conversation that we can have is the one that we think we had. Revisit old conversation from time to time to clarify expectations and don’t spread rumors and gossip amongst family members or co-workers. Always confront but never condemn.
Answer Without Arguing
My dad owned a bar of which I spent a fair amount of time in talking to his customers. At 18 I started bartending there. I was taught never argue with a customer for all of the obvious reasons. On any given day one customer would make a statement another would disagree and an argument would break out. No one just answered a question. Oh, they did but they always seemed to follow their answer with their point of view and let the other guy know just how dumb he was. Needlessly to say some relationships were rather strained. In your home or on the job if a question gets asked just answer it. There really is no reason to start an argument. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, even your children. Often when a question is asked our response might be “why are you asking” or “why do you feel that way” which does nothing more than open a can of worms and starts an argument. Just answer the question, and enjoy the conversation.
Share Without Pretending
Strings, oh those dreaded strings that always seem to be attached to the things we do for other people. We all try to share from the heart, but always feel slighted when the person we shared with doesn’t reciprocate in some way, shape, or form. After all I have done for you becomes the cry when we get fed up with getting nothing in return. The good feelings that we get from sharing should end there with no expectations attached. This is hard, very hard; especially with our children. We share unceasingly only to find out in the latter stages of our life our kids can’t stand seeing our name light up in the caller ID of their phone. We pretended that there were no strings, but in reality there were and when we feel unappreciated those strings are pulling on the wreckage of a broken heart. We can share our life on a job and then discover that the place that we worked can live with us or without us as we stand on the unemployment line. We can’t fake it or pretend but sharing with an open heart can make us very vulnerable and we have to be ready to be real in the things that we share.
Enjoy Without Complaining
Have you ever been asked to go somewhere that you didn’t really want to go? Or maybe you were asked to do something that you really didn’t want to do. Did you go, or did you do it anyway? Well, if you did what was your attitude like while you were going or doing? Often a wife will ask a husband to go or do things that he really doesn’t want to do, but he does it. But, it is done with such a rotten attitude that his wife wishes that he didn’t go or do. When we do things especially things for another person we should do our best to enjoy what we are doing and not complain about where we are our where we are going. Of course if you don’t want to do or go you should make it as clear as day with a loving attitude and the reasons why we may not want to participate. While we are doing and going we shouldn’t complain but enjoy the time spent with our loved ones, friends, or colleagues.
Trust Without Wavering
We can’t trust someone that is not trustworthy. That person has previously provided us with all of the evidence to support our belief and he/she should not be trusted. If we have been lied to in the past it is extremely tough to trust others, especially those that we are in a relationship with. A good rule of thumb though is to trust until you have the evidence not to trust. Oh, don’t get me wrong, don’t look for it, but try and not be suspicious. That suspicion can only lead to jealousy which can have a damaging influence on any relationship. In the final analysis the only person that we have control over is ourselves. So, always be a trustworthy person and you will set the example for those around you.
Forgive Without Punishing
We should all practice forgiveness, but how difficult is it to forget. Let’s face it unless we get amnesia we are not going to forget when we have been wronged or slighted in a relationship. So to say that we should forgive and forget is something that is very unrealistic to ask. What is true forgiveness though? True forgiveness is defined as: “Completely releasing an offender from the ongoing consequences of their actions.” When we say I accept your apology we do so full well knowing that the thoughts of the person’s actions will never leave our mind. We are the only one that is in charge of our own thoughts. Even after we forgive we should always be aware that the temptation to keep revisiting the hurt only keeps punishing and re-punishing our offender. If we have been offended by a family member, such as a spouse or our children their presence will be a constant reminder of their actions. If we have been offended by our boss or a co-worker our time at work will be all that more difficult. Gaining control of our own thoughts is the only way to practice forgiveness without punishing.
Promise Without Forgetting
Promises need to made very sparingly should never be made without understanding all of the variables that are related to the promise. Our children and even our loved ones may hang on our words and count on the promises that we make. If we say we are going to do something, and follow through with our actions we will build greater respect and trust in the relationships that we have with our significant others. If we say it we should do it, we should finish what we start, and we should be consistent. Talk is very cheap and we should remember what we say, because if we don’t others will.
The spring thaw, don’t you just love it; waiting for the crocuses to come up and the grass to turn green. For over fifty years this was the time of year that I lived for. The boys of summer, 162 games in 180 days, what fun? I am not a participant any longer just a spectator. Every summer though from the time I was eight years old until I was thirty five that’s what I did, I played baseball. As a kid the dream was to become a professional baseball player and do it for a living. I am sure that kids today have those same dreams and can see themselves hitting the homerun that wins the World Series or pitching a no-hitter. It was such a fantasy fest and we all did fantasize, but alas none of us made it. We played in and out of uniform, organized and pick up, honed our skills, took batting practice and we all thought we were so darn good, but not good enough. There were some guys in the town that I lived in that were so good that we figured we would be watching them someday playing for the Yankees. Not so.
I started doing the math many years ago and finally worked out the numbers. There are about three thousand professional baseball players in the United States and that includes minor league teams. I am not including Japan or other countries that play in the World Baseball Classic every four years. There are eight billion people living on the planet. The chances are greater that a kid will be hit by lightning than becoming a professional baseball player. Professional baseball players are the cream, cream, cream of the crop and have certain physical abilities that are innate to them and only them. When scouts talk about a five tool player they refer to a player’s ability to run with speed, has a strong throwing arm, can hit for average and hit with power, and can field their position well. These are all God given abilities that improve with practice but really it’s all about natural talent.
I am not too concerned about teenagers understanding those numbers, I think they do, but I don’t think that parents have a clear understanding of those statistics and further more believe that their kid is going to be the next Mickey Mantle. It’s not the belief that’s troubling it’s what parent’s do with those beliefs that can make life miserable for a lot of people.
Let’s be clear, coach’s coach, parent’s parent, and player’s play, anytime these three things get co-mingled and they start stepping on each others toes it is a recipe for disaster with the player losing and I don’t mean the game. Let’s take a look at what happens when each person in the group above doesn’t know how to do their job, creates unrealistic expectations, and starts telling others how to do their job.
Coaching at times can be tougher than teaching. When a teacher teaches they are in a classroom with their students and unless they are being observed by an administrator no one is watching. A coach during a game and at times during practice could be being watched by large portion of the community in which they work. They do this job at times for little or no money, they invest hours of their time into trying to help improve the athletic ability of someone else’ kids, and can be under appreciated and criticized unmercifully by parents and at times by their own players. Parents I might add who have unrealistic expectations of their own child’s ability and talent. I realize that parents are required to read and sign the handbook that lays out the rules for participation and they should realize their place during games but all too often in communities where sports is the center piece parents continually discuss the coach and sadly hold these conversations within earshot of their children. The coach becomes the object of rumors and gossip and is placed under the community microscope with parents chomping at the bit for the coach to provide them the evidence to support their belief. This is all started because of the agendas of a few disgruntled parents who believe that their kid should play every game even if their kid is not the best pitching choice for the game that day. Teachers are hired for their expertise in a subject area and are left alone to deliver content to their students. When they are allowed to call upon their own creativity and don’t feel intimidated by parents, and potentially administration they feel more confident and relaxed while doing their job. Coaches are hired to coach and they need to be left alone to deliver their expertise to their players. Parents who interfere with the coach while he is doing his job place undue pressure on him/her and rob the players of the joy of competition, and camaraderie. So if you are a parent do your kid a favor and leave the coach alone. He was given the job by a school district or a community that believed in him and his abilities to teach kids a sport and to get the best out of his players. Let the coach; coach and let him/her do what they love doing.
Your kid may be good at his sport but unless he/she is the next Bryce Harper their not making the pros. So why put all kinds of performance related pressure on this kid. By the way if you ask any professional baseball player what their parents were like when they were in little league they will tell you that their parents said to just go out and have fun; for the love of the game and nothing else. As a matter of fact that’s why they made it to the pros because of the no pressure or expectations attitude. Parents need to parent and that means to encourage, nurture natural talents, and to balance rules and regulations with compassion and understanding. Parents are their kid’s life coach and need to point their kids in the right direction by instilling in them lifelong values and character training that breads success in the future. The minute that baseball or any other sport becomes the benchmark for success any game related failures will result in the kid feeling like a failure in other areas of his life and lose the confidence necessary to move forward. So, be a parent not a coach, leave the coaching to the coaches and work with your kid to be the best he can be as a person not as a player. If they are good people they will be good players. Use sports as a vehicle to help your son/daughter show off who they really are; someone with character and values, who respects his teammates and opponents, and understands that there is only one person in charge during games and practices and that’s the coach.
Players play; think about that we call those who participate on sports teams players. Not workers, players. What does it mean to play? It means you have fun, you do it willingly, and you can’t wait to start doing it. You enjoy it. Is that what our kids experience today when they are involved as a player on a sports team? I don’t know, what I do know is I have seen enough kids being forced to go to Tuesday night soccer practice and Saturday morning games. Many kids today only play on organized teams and to them once the game becomes something that is organized by adults the word play doesn’t enter into the equation. Furthermore kids don’t know how to play today. They don’t know how to organize themselves and play pick-up games. Often, some leagues are in townships and the kids live miles apart and they don’t have anyone to play with and sharpen the skills that they learned at practice. Kids need to run around together alone and learn how to solve problems alone with adult coaching and not with adults hovering over them offering correction because their swing was off or they don’t know how to catch a fly ball. So let the kids play, if we don’t playing won’t be playing anymore it will be work.
So What Do We Do?
The solution is rather simple, let the kids play and stay out of each others way; easier said than done. I have been asked for solutions to problems by teachers and parents alike. My response at times has been “I am going to tell you what to do but, you’re probably not going to do it.” They either can’t or won’t do it. Ego’s are too big and when there are folks who have some power they use it to get what they want even when it is not in the best interest of the team or a group. School districts and communities are controlled by the minority who don’t always want what’s best for a group. Sometimes parents don’t always want what’s best for their own kid and they live vicariously through them hoping that they will somehow bring completion to their own unfinished life. As a society we have lost some real professional and personal wisdom and we want to dismantle the playground because one kid fell off the monkey bars. Our kids are looking to us for answers but we are too busy arguing with each other. They then look to each other and have their friends parent them by proxy creating what Robert Bly called “The Sibling Society” where the ground is level and no one is in charge.
As adults we have created this culture in a very innocent and unwitting way, and now we have to dismantle the Frankenstein Monster. We have to stop telling parents and kids what they want to hear and be truthful about their academic and sports related ability regardless of any unrealistic parental expectations. Billy Beane of Moneyball fame was drafted in the first round by the New York Mets right out of high school. He was identified by scouts as that five tool player we spoke about earlier. He played for a short time in the major leagues and then went into scouting. He never made it as a player but became a successful general manager of the Oakland Athletics. He was successful but not as the player that everyone though he would be.
When Bryce Harper made it to the pros as an outfielder for the Washington Nationals Davey Johnson the then manager of the team asked him how he felt, Harper responded; “This is the most relaxed I have ever been in my entire life.” Harper knew that he was hit by lightening and that he was the one in eight billion who became a professional baseball player. He truly did make it. Everyone else will have to just keep on trying but in reality all kids have the potential to be great people but not professional athletes. Even if a kid gets a scholarship and is all state in his sport he will always be a big fish in a small pond so let the kid have fun, let the coaches coach, and help parents understand how unrealistic expectations can do more harm than good.
Since the dawn of public education teachers and schools have focused on the academic achievement of students. All students were expected to leave school with basic reading writing and math skills. Some kids excelled and went on to institutions of higher learning, some were trained at a trade such as carpentry, or auto mechanics, and still others left school with those basics and worked at more labor related jobs such as factory or office work. Everyone who left secondary school did have the basics just at different levels. Every student may not have had the capacity to go to college but just about everyone finished school and had the ability to function in the real world. With the onslaught of state mandated testing in so many school districts throughout the country teachers are still pressured to ensure that students achieve but the landscape has changed and hitting the bull’s eye is far more difficult than it was say forty years ago. The bull’s eye is tough to hit because teachers are now being asked to hit a moving target. The target keeps moving because the levels of disrespect, and irresponsibility pervades our schools and basically you can’t hit something that won’t sit still, keep quiet, come prepared, stay motivated, and who really has taken no ownership for their own education.
Local and state boards persist though in their belief that success is based upon achievement not on effort and character. The faulty philosophies that have come out of some of our colleges that focuses more on methods of instruction rather than behavior management has both young and veteran teachers alike trying to figure out how to hit that moving target. In schools right now we don’t need one more test, or in-service that helps teacher’s understand how to teach to the test we need a comprehensive program that focuses squarely on student behavior management, teaching respect, and encouraging responsibility. Our young teachers who have been in the field for between three to five years may not know any different and are hounded daily regarding the academic achievement of students whose behavior is out of control, and veteran teachers who have done a good job of reading the tea leaves are planning for retirement because the work load is increasing to the point that it is becoming unmanageable.
Our focus in education needs to be on steadying the target and improving student behavior, not on improving test scores. If we begin to focus on behavior, character, and effort rather than achievement test scores will naturally go up because we will begin to develop willing learners.
Colleges need to provide stronger training in the area of behavior management for future teachers and we need to provide more comprehensive training in the area of behavior management for teachers who are now in the field. Here are ten good reasons why:
1. Take a look at the schools
The behavior in our schools has deteriorated to the point that we don’t worry about school violence we worry more about school shootings. We are forced to get everyone to the finish line without mastery of basic content. So many kids come into schools with negative learned behaviors that we are forced to develop conditions to support the behavior. It would either be invent the condition or throw the kids out, but you can’t throw out the entire twenty to thirty percent of the chronic behavior problems. These kids aren’t going anywhere and they are going to make it tough for kids who want to learn to learn. So, if we want to teach the other seventy five to eighty percent we better figure out how to manage behavior problems.
2. This isn’t forty years ago
Let’s face it years ago parents supported the school and dealt with their child’s misbehavior. Today we have to fight the kid, the parent, and at times city hall. In addition the behaviors that we dealt with forty years ago were of the garden variety like having a playground fight, or goofing off in class. Today the levels of disrespect, and irresponsibility, are at such high levels that younger teachers have begun to view some of the behaviors as the “new norm” and anytime there is the slightest improvement they fall all over the kid with praise causing the kid to feel good about himself for no apparent reason.
3. Standardized testing is not a measure of achievement
Teachers are trained to teach to the test. Even for content related testing during the year there is this unspoken fear of failing a kid. Most kids have an inflated view of their academic ability and don’t realize their shortcomings until later in life when grades are more meaningful. Good grades are nice, but mastery is better. Students move through grade after grade with un-mastered skills and a lack of the necessary prerequisites to learn new information. This produces frustration, anxiety, and tension resulting in behavior problems.
4. Life is about Relationships
Ask any employer. They are more concerned about the attitude of their employee than whether or not they can do the job. They believe that they can always teach a person the skills on their job description, but they can’t teach the person how to get along. School is supposed to be a microcosm of society. Employers want their employee’s to be respectful, responsible, have a good attitude, can get along, show up, and are on time. Sound like school? If this is what employers want we should be teaching it; that is if we can find the time in the overly ambitious curriculum that is being used to help prime a kid to pass a test.
5. We don’t know how to have productive conflict
There are so many intergenerational dysfunctional problems in our families, schools, and in society in general that faculty rooms have become discussion forums. No answers, just discussions. The topic of the day here is the inability to confront each other, a student, parent, or an issue, or maybe our own demons. Productive conflict is something that is taught it is not an innate skill. Teachers may have difficulty with conflict strictly based upon their own life imprint. It is a skill that needs to be taught to our student’s so they can have disagreement and do it with the right attitude, and they can cooperate even though they may disagree. When this skill is not taught, power struggles are inevitable and relationships get strained. Some families don’t even talk to each other because of an unsettled youth conflict that became an adult conflict. Don’t worry once kids know this they’ll pass the test.
6. There are too many adults with poor attitudes
Kids are kids for a short period of time. Then they become adults; with the same crummy attitudes. Even the most intelligent of adults can have such arrogance that they are painful to be around. This is the other eighty percent of our school population. Knowledge without character produces this type know it all mentality. They were once kids who did well in school but never developed the character in order to know how to make the best use of their intelligence.
7. Our students lack empathy
As a society we just don’t have the same concern for each other as we once did. By this I am referring to the overall concern that a family has for the elderly couple up the street when there is a heavy snow fall, or helping someone with a dead battery, or bringing meals to a shut in. Adults don’t care as they once did and our kids care even less. There are too many students who stand around in school when someone is being bullied. Let’s make sure that they pass the test.
8. Bullying behavior is on the rise
Hurt people hurt people. Bullies come from dysfunctional families, are angry, and take out their anger on others. They made that decision around the age of five. Everyone knew there was something wrong but not enough was done to quell his/her misery. Early intervention didn’t happen and we ended up with a bully on our hands who interferes with the learning of others and creates an emotionally unsafe learning environment for everyone. Let’s take a test.
9. Kids seek revenge
It’s not enough to get even anymore and have a fair fight and get it over with. Revenge is the way today and kids don’t want a pound of flesh, they want a pound of your flesh and the flesh of five others. Victims who have been bullied don’t know how to fight back or have a productive conflict they digest the abuse and then act out when the time is right. Stop testing and start strengthening the victim. You will help them pass the test.
10. Some kids may be smart but they lack wisdom, and common sense
The smartest kids in the class could be the most deviant, and make the poorest choices. There are more kids today that can’t even make the smallest decision and can be led around by the nose by the wrong crowd. Smart doesn’t mean wise and at times even the smartest kids can lie, cheat, steal, and abuse others. Maybe even better than the average kid. There are all kinds smart and this kid is one dimensional, but he will pass the test.
Motivating Disaffected and Hard To Handle Students
Designed For Teachers, Administrators, Guidance Counselors, Child Study Team Members, or Any Youth Care Provider
• Learn the symptoms of difficult students and treatment plans that work
• Build respect and rapport with your most difficult students
• Understand why students don’t care
• Develop language that confronts without condemning
• Break through the emotional wall of your students and increase motivation and responsibility
• Strengthen relationships with your students
There is a direct relationship between motivation and discipline. The hard to motivate are often hard to discipline. Teachers are becoming increasingly more frustrated and are asking what we do with students who are not prepared, don’t care, will not work, and are on track for failure as adults. Finding tools and strategies to increase motivation can solve many behavior problems. There are many things educators can do to reawaken motivation in students who have lost interest and perhaps hope. This seminar helps teachers develop techniques that build respect, increase responsibility, and develop greater compliance in students who are hard to handle. It helps teachers overcome the strong emotional frustration that saps their energy and ultimately leads to burnout.
Six Principles That Help Educators Help Students
1. Design – All students are designed in a unique way. This program helps teachers understand the problems that difficult students face and how we can improve their self-esteem and permanently change their behavior.
2. Authority – Help students understand the definition of maturity. Teach them respond to authority correctly to create more emotional freedom.
3. Responsibility – Learn the five key areas students are responsible for and stop their reactive and escalating behavior.
4. Ownership – Help students manage anger. Students will understand that they are not victims but people who can control their own responses.
5. Success – Help your students find answers to problems that occur and give them hope for the future. Get students to respond correctly in key relationships.
6. Problem Solving – Give your students the skills to self generate behaviors that build independence and maturity.
You Will Learn How To:
• Emphasize effort, create hope, build relationships, respect power, and express enthusiasm
• Teach respect, responsibility, and compliance
• Build relationships with even the most difficult students
• Establish guidelines for correcting inappropriate behavior
• Use the three-step process for correcting behaviors that works without fail
• Give a warning that communicates you say what you mean and mean what you say
• Build a student’s self esteem
• Help a student control his anger
• Teach relationship skills that work for a lifetime
• Keep students on task and focused
• Use visual cues that prevent confrontations and stop power struggles
The Bully Proof Classroom
Bullying has become an epidemic in our schools. However it is defined, bullying is not just child’s play, but a terrifying experience many American school children face every day. It can be as direct as teasing, hitting, or threatening, or indirect as exclusion, rumors, or manipulation. During the past decade, bullying has become more lethal and has occurred more frequently than it had in the previous two decades. Bullying can no longer be explained away, as some adults are inclined to do, as a normal part of growing up. Bullying has only harmful, not beneficial, effects for the target and the perpetrator- even the bystander. Many children in our nation filled with fear and intimidation because they are bullied and victimized daily. Bullying exacts a terrible toll on children, and the scars can last a lifetime” (nea.org). This workshop is designed to give teachers, parents, and students the necessary information to stop this epidemic from spreading any further.
This seminar will help your staff answer the following questions:
• What is bullying?
• What are the characteristics of bullies and victims?
• How prevalent is bullying?
• What actions and behaviors constitute bullying?
• What are the early warning signs of troubled children and those at risk for bullying behavior?
• How can we help the victims cope and deal with a bully?
This seminar will provide for staff, administration, students, and parents:
• Ideology: Bullying terminology and definitions
• Warning signs and characteristics of bullies and targets
• How to develop respect, responsibility and compliance in children
• Foundations of good character; teach students character qualities they will need for life-long success
• Strategies that help bullies and targets improve their coping skills
The New 3R’s in Education
Respect, Responsibility, and Relationships
The True Basics For All Success In life
Everybody knows what the 3 R’s of teaching are – reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. But educators don’t totally understand that in order to teach these basic subjects successfully, they must constantly be working to develop respect and responsibility in their students. No longer can it be assumed that children develop these attitudes at home. Plus, teachers must learn how to build positive relationships with their students. Strong teacher-student relationships naturally foster a positive and safe learning environment where much learning will take place and where all students will become capable, connected, and contributing members of their classrooms.
Learn Practical Strategies That Will Teach The New 3r’s
1. Teach respect, responsibility, and compliance
2. Learn how to build strong positive relationships with students and parents
3. Understand how principles, rules, and procedures create a secure safe environment
4. Create a fair, and consistent learning environment that will be calming to even your most difficult students
5. Understand how to give instruction, warnings, and correction
6. Receive a set of effective consequences for grades K-12 that will impact future behavior
7. Practice proven verbal responses you can use in a crisis situation
8. Build respect and rapport with your most difficult students
9. Develop language that confronts without condemning
10. Break through the emotional wall of your students and increase motivation and responsibility
Defusing Power Struggles With Your Most
Difficult Students And Parents
Designed For Teachers, Administrators, Guidance Counselors, Child Study Team Members, Or Any Youth Care Provider
• Learn the symptoms of power struggles and how to deal with them
• Build respect and rapport with your most difficult students
• Develop language that confronts without condemning
• Break through the emotional wall of your students and increase motivation, compliance and responsibility
• Strengthen relationships with your students and parents
A Proactive Approach For Dealing With Power Struggles
Effective discipline can no longer be achieved solely through using authority. A typical school today has some students who have short fuses, and some who anger easily. Students today may make offensive statements and act in a hostile manner that can trigger a power struggle. Often, too much instructional time is lost because of minor disruptions that all too quickly escalate into classroom battles that destroy relationships and any positive climate that exists. To keep the focus on educational achievement educators must master how to avoid and diffuse power struggles. This practical workshop will present easy-to-learn methods of effective intervention that preserve students’ and teachers’ personal dignity.
Learn Practical Strategies That Prevent Power Struggles
1. Teach respect, responsibility, and compliance
2. Learn the warning signs for the onset of a power struggle
3. Learn how to build strong positive relationships with students and parents
4. Understand how principles, rules, and procedures create a secure safe environment
5. Create a fair, and consistent learning environment that will be calming to even your most difficult students
6. Learn proactive language that will diffuse potential power struggles, and allow you to gracefully exit from power struggles that do erupt.
7. Learn Techniques You Can Use When A Student Has Too Much Power In Your Classroom
8. Learn fogging techniques that distract and disarm the verbally aggressive student
9. Understand how to give instruction, warnings, and correction
10. Receive a set of effective consequences for grades K-12 that will impact future behavior
11. Practice proven verbal responses you can use in a crisis situation
Climate Control For
Your School and Classroom
This Conference Will Provide Teachers, Administrators, Anti Bullying Specialists and Coordinators with the Necessary Skills and Strategies to Help Teach Respect, Encourage Responsibility, Reduce Bullying Events, and Improve The Overall Behavioral Climate in Their Classroom and School.
This conference will help answer the following questions:
1. What are the characteristics of positive classroom/school climate?
2. Why is classroom/school climate so important?
3. How do I encourage respect?
4. What do I do with disrespectful behavior now?
5. How do I increase student accountability and build greater student responsibility?
6. How does an improved school and classroom climate increase student achievement?
7. Why is it so important for kids to feel emotionally safe?
8. What do I do with disrespectful and unsupportive parents?
9. How can we help the victims cope and deal with a bully?
This conference will provide for staff, administration, and
child care professionals:
1. 12 Strategies to help improve classroom/school climate
2. How to develop respect, responsibility and compliance in all students
3. How teach students character qualities they will need for life-long success
4. Strategies that help bullies and targets improve their coping skills
5. How to develop a code of conduct that can be effectively communicated to all students
6. How to be more effective in changing student behavior
7. The importance of getting and keeping everyone working on the same school goals
Become Your Personal Best
A in-service for teachers, administrators, CST members, guidance personnel, support staff or anyone who wants to learn powerful principles in personal change
What This In-Service Will Do For Educators:
1. Learn the principles of personal growth and change
2. Begin to understand who you really are and what your purpose is
3. Build powerful relationships with co-workers and superiors
4. Develop effective communication skills to use with parents, students, superiors, co-workers
5. Learn how to become part of the solution rather than complaining about problems
6. Build rapport with the most difficult co-workers and parents
7. Learn how to be proactive rather than reactive
8. Learn how to build security and confidence through your own success
9. Learn wise time management
10. Build team building skills
11. Learn how to identify problems in your own value system and how to improve it
12. Restore the character ethic to your own life
13. Develop a balance in your physical, mental, and social and emotional life
A Proactive Approach For Dealing With Life
In education, we constantly have sought to improve the behavior and the academic achievement of our students. Almost every continuing education workshop or class is designed to help educators accomplish this. Even though this is valuable, these workshops fail to address the idea that it is the character of the teacher that will affect students’ success in the classroom and ultimately in life. Educators can fall into the trap of becoming so focused on the deficits of others, i.e. the students, the parents, supervisors, child study members, and co-workers that they become less concerned about their own areas of weakness. This workshop is designed to teach your educators how to become more self-aware and give them strategies to personally strengthen their value system and their character. The effect of your educators moving closer to becoming self-actualized will be that they will become more effective in their respective roles, and they will be much better equipped to meet the needs of all of their students.
You Will Learn How To:
Realize Your Ultimate Personal Potential And
Become The Best Educator You Can Be
Character Is Everything
Changing Student Behavior from the Inside Out
Designed For Teachers, Administrators, Guidance Counselors, Child Study Team Members, Or Any Youth Care Provider
1. Create an awareness in students, teachers, and administrators of the importance of character and its relationship to achievement
2. Build relationships with your most difficult students
3. Understand the root problems behind lack of student achievement
4. Develop language that confronts without condemning
5. Understand the Emotional Bank Account and make deposits of praise and acceptance
Proactive Approach For Dealing With Behavior Problems
Much has been said over the years about the student who is difficult to manage, and who exhibits behaviors that lack a moral compass. Educators and child-care providers need strategies that address the pervasive problems of disrespect, irresponsibility and a lack of compassion for their fellow students. In this seminar Jim Burns addresses the problems that are at the root of these behaviors. Character training truly makes a difference in the outcome of a student’s life. As a student builds character he/she will become more successful. Students who are taught character qualities such as honesty, reliability, diligence, and respect learn to change their behaviors from the inside out and truly understand how to self generate positive behaviors, and have a change of heart, not just a change of mind.
Qualities Developed Through Improved Character
1. Self-Acceptance – As students are recognized for showing specific character qualities, they will improve in other areas as well, such as achievement, respect, and responsibility.
2. Responses to Authority – As the key people in the school recognize these positive qualities in each student, students will have a more positive response to them. Teachers, administrators, and support staff will then be able to discipline students in a much more positive manner and teach the necessary skills for lifelong success.
3. Relationships – Because there is so much positive reinforcement for students in the praising of character, students will begin to see each other in a more positive light. Students will then encourage positive character in each other.
4. Priorities – Because students will begin to feel better about their own character, they will be able to focus on achievement. This will help to reduce anxiety and eliminate bad habits.
You Will Learn How To:
• Teach character through instruction, example, and activities
• Recognize positive character in students and praise them for their efforts
• Change the way you look at student behavior
• Model positive character for your students
• Give a warning that communicates that you are concerned about the student’s reputation
• Build a student’s self esteem
• Help a student control his/her anger
• Teach relationship skills that work for a lifetime
• Use character to improve student attendance, grades, and test scores
• Use behavioral referrals as an instructional tool to teach character
About Jim Burns
Since 1977 Jim Burns has been working with students who have learning disabilities and behavioral problems. He has almost 40 years of experience working as an administrator, teacher, college instructor, and seminar leaders. He is committed to helping administrators, parents, and teachers establish standards of excellence and help them build successful relationships with their staff, students, and children. He has written and designed The Bully Proof Classroom, a graduate course that is now offered at The College of New Jersey in partnership with The Regional Training Center. This course is endorsed by the NJEA. He has also written “Anti Bullying 101.” A book that provides teachers, administrators, support staff and parent’s 101 tips on how to achieve permanent help in dealing with unruly behavior and can be used as part of any anti-bullying program. He is available for on sight in-services and keynotes and can be reached at 1-732-773-9855 or at firstname.lastname@example.org