Your Best Self and Active Learning

Topics for this week include active learning, the power of Physical education, and becoming the best version of yourself.

Your Best Self and Active Learning
Photo by Dayne Topkin / Unsplash

TGIF Teacher Newsletter


TGIF Teacher Gadgets and Gifts
Every day should be Teacher Appreciation Day. Here are some teacher-approved gifts and gadgets that will bring smiles in and out of the classroom.

Happy Friday!

Here are three things I've been pondering this week.


The first day back from break most students walked into the school building half asleep. As I was waiting to greet my homeroom kids in the hallway one of them came bouncing down the hallway with a smile on her face and gave me a high five. Positive energy is contagious. I had no choice but to pay it forward.


"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family, or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever" — Neil Gaiman


What is something you're afraid of doing, but if you did it, the payoff would be well worth it?

In today’s newsletter…

  • Getting students to embrace active learning.
  • One teacher's wish for public education.
  • Practical tips to help you become your best self.

The News

Here are some articles and resources that grabbed my attention.

  • Active Learning - “Essentially, students perceive that they are most successful in traditional, teacher-directed classrooms. There are any number of reasons they might feel this way, from having never experienced anything different to worrying about what might happen if they are asked to do what feels like more. To combat this problem, this study suggests that teachers explicitly share with students why a more active approach is better and then continue to reinforce its benefits. They write: “The success of active learning will be greatly enhanced if students accept that it leads to deeper learning — and acknowledge that it may sometimes feel like exactly the opposite is true.” If you are looking to increase the amount of active learning in the classroom spend time making sure all student voices are heard. In addition, increase the number of choice-driven activities offered and develop efficient systems to give students focused feedback.
  • Teacher’s Wish - What’s your wish for teachers and public education? L.E. Lehman's wish is to have consistent support from parents and to have them believe in their children's abilities. She also asks, “How can we convince kids that their own words matter when it’s easier to get a machine to do it? When do we teach ourselves AI, so we can teach them how to use the tools purposefully and with integrity?” I wish that the relationships between parents and teachers would be strengthened because when this happens, it becomes a catalyst for student growth.
  • Power of P.E. - The pressures of testing often push Physical education classes to the back burner. Truth is, Physical education (PE) classes play a crucial role in developing children and adolescents, offering benefits beyond physical health. PE promotes mental well-being, cognitive abilities, and social skills. It improves academic performance, develops motor skills and coordination, and instills healthy lifestyle habits. Incorporating activities like bike riding in PE programs makes exercise enjoyable and helps children build confidence and independence. Supporting initiatives like All Kids Bike can ensure the overall development of children.
  • Resource - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is the third Monday in January. It’s a day that honors Martin Luther King, Jr's., accomplishments. It’s also a National Day of Service. MLK Day is the only day that has this designation. Here are a few Martin Luther King Jr. Day teaching and learning resources.
STRONG Teacher Toolkit
Here are some of my favorite resources, ideas, tools, services, and miscellaneous gadgets and goodies that keep me STRONG in both my personal and professional life.

Ideas, resources, tools, and free downloads to make your teaching life easier and more enjoyable.


Personal Development and Wellness Resources

  • Your Best Self - At the start of the new year, you have the energy to become the next best version of yourself. “As the New Year unfolds, many people embark on ambitious resolutions, only to see them unravel within the first month. The lack of depth, infrastructure, and support systems often hinder sustained progress when life becomes hectic. Imagine trying to slim down but checking progress only once a year – this sporadic approach is a recipe for disappointment. To ensure 2024 becomes your most successful year yet, consider these practical steps.” Try building a reflection habit, curating your environment to promote growth, and finding ways to measure what matters.
  • Stoic Life Lessons - “Seneca was a Stoic philosopher who lived in Ancient Rome from 4 B.C.E. to 65 C.E. While his ideas are 2000 years old, they are now more relevant than ever.” He encourages us to detach self-worth from material success, strive for financial independence, and consistently look for ways to impact others.
  • Sneak It In - “Finding the time to hit the gym can be a challenge, especially when you’re a busy educator. Your days, evenings, and weekends are already crammed full. And even if you can find the time, sometimes finding the energy to exercise can feel nearly impossible. That’s why many educators are taking a different approach. Instead of adding exercise to their agendas, they’re finding ways to fit fitness into their school day.” Finding small ways to build fitness into your school day systems can pay off over time. Find a fitness partner and squeeze in as many walks as you can.


"Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education." — Martin Luther King Jr.

Teacher Commuter Playlist - Glory by Common and John Legend

Favorite Things

  • 30-Day Challenges - This year I’ve set a goal to complete at least three Thirty-Day Challenges. My first challenge is to publish an article each day for 30 days. Here’s the first post. Completing these types of challenges has numerous benefits. Pick your challenge and join me. I’d love to hear about it - let’s connect.
  • Good News - After receiving guidance from their teacher, a group of students started a Secret Santa club and fundraised $8,000 to turn around and give it all away. The video is worth a watch.
  • Caffeine - Here is some gear for teachers that run on caffeine power. I sure used a fair amount to help me get through this first week back at school.
Highly Caffeinated Teacher