Cell Phones and Silent Discussions

Topics for this week include cell phones in schools, hearing from all students during class discussions, and what to do when your stress level surpasses your window of tolerance.

Cell Phones and Silent Discussions
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Happy Friday!

Our WHY EDIFY community is expanding, and I'm grateful for all of you who have been with us for a while now. A big welcome to our newest members; quite a few are joining us this week! Let's keep the momentum going. Share the TGIF Teacher Newsletter with a colleague, friend, mom, dad, or anyone else who believes in the power of education to improve communities and open doors.

Here are three things I've been thinking about this week.


Teachers need a "tough love" gear. This means it's often necessary to say unpopular things because it's good for students. Eye rolls, complaining, and defiance are daily occurrences. If you are doing what's needed, a student or two should usually be unhappy with you. It's tough to try to convince students to do things they don't want to do. That is all.


Which is worse, the pain of being uncomfortable when trying something new or the pain of regret? The older I get, the more inclined I am to say that the pain of regret is worse. When you're not spending your time going after the things you really want, your mind has time to notice all the things you wish you had done.


Some days can be rough, and that's alright. Those are the days that make you truly appreciate the good ones.

In today’s newsletter…

  • Cell Phones in schools - research and resources.
  • Using silent discussions to hear from all students.
  • Your window of tolerance, achieving big goals, and functional fitness.

The News

Here are some articles that grabbed my attention.

  • The Cell Phone Debate - Cell phones have become integral to our daily lives, providing convenience and connectivity. However, when it comes to the classroom environment, they can also pose significant distractions and challenges for students. I suspect that cell phone use among young people has negatively affected their ability to focus, attend to work, and complete academic tasks. I spent some time researching and reading; here are some of my findings.
  • Are You Okay - A simple question can help you build positive relationships. By asking the question "Are you okay?" before jumping into punishment, you can invite students into a conversation about their choices and show genuine concern for their well-being. This approach allows for a pause to recalibrate emotions and recognize the uniqueness of each situation, ultimately strengthening relationships and creating a safer learning environment.
  • Try This - Silent discussions allow all students to participate and promote thoughtful responses. They provide a way for all students to get involved and offer classroom insights. You can try various methods for conducting silent discussions, such as the notebook pass, butcher paper bonanza, Post-It fun, and Google Slides for online discussions.
  • Photo Opportunity - Inspired by a photographer from The New York Times Magazine, Dan Tricarico used his school campus as a backdrop and asked colleagues to sit for portraits. The project brought the staff closer together and provided a unique perspective on teachers as multifaceted individuals. It was also an exercise in mindfulness and gratitude. I'm not sure I am ready for portraits, but taking the time to capture pictures of things in your school that bring joy would be well spent.
  • Resource - Learn about the power of Google Forms for teachers. You'll find plenty of creativity-sparking ideas. Use your arrow keys to navigate through the slideshow.
  • Social - Mistakes and School.
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Personal Development and Wellness Resources

  • Tolerance - We all have a “window of tolerance” regarding stress. Excessive and prolonged stress can push individuals beyond their capacity to cope. When this happens, you can try “belly” breathing, grounding techniques, and even drinking from a straw.
  • Big Goals - To accomplish big goals, breaking them down into smaller, manageable subgoals is key. Research shows this approach increases motivation and leads to more sustained progress, whether learning a new language or volunteering for a cause.
  • Functional Fitness - One of the best reasons to improve your fitness is that it improves your quality of life. Functional fitness is essential for everyone, even when spending most of our time at home. It helps improve daily activities by strengthening muscles and reducing the risk of injury. By focusing on performance rather than muscle size, functional fitness offers a laidback approach suitable for people of all ages and experience levels.


"The struggles we endure today will be the ‘good old days’ we laugh about tomorrow." — Aaron Lauritsen (100 Days Drive: The Great North American Road Trip)*

Teacher Commuter Playlist - Find a Way by Andy Frasco

Favorite Things

  • Be Someone - "Fast Car" is a great song and story. Tracy Chapman joins a small group of Black women who have written a Number-One country song. Her recent performance with Luke Combs at the Grammy’s reminds everyone of her talent.
  • High School Registration - One of the perks of being an 8th-grade teacher is watching students sign up for their freshman-year classes. They finally have a choice of their electives. They decide how much they want to challenge themselves. They struggle to make decisions based on their true selves, rather than following the crowd. It feels good to be in a room of infinite possibilities.
  • Shower Thought - Gratitude towards people is nice for them but nicer for you. [source]

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