Stayin' Alive

Topics for this week include the decline of reading for fun, controlling year-end chaos, and finishing the school year strong.

Stayin' Alive
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TGIF Teacher Newsletter


This week’s email was brought to you by Acoustic Sheep. I don’t often make sleep the priority I should. A set of these sleep phones can help.

I’m in a reflective mood as I put the finishing touches on this week's TGIF Newsletter. It’s my birthday—I’m half a century old. It’s true what they say about time moving faster the older you get. If I had to pick one word to describe my state of mind, it would be “appreciation.”

I appreciate my family, friends, colleagues, and career. My wife outdid herself planning parties and cooking my favorite meal, “Hubbie's Casserole.” I don’t know how I hit the jackpot, but I did.

I appreciate you taking time from your busy week to read each newsletter and all you do for kids and your community.


Here’s a short reflection from one of my hikes earlier in the week.

I have a goal to share my weekly newsletter with as many educators as possible. Thank you for being a part of my journey. If you’d like to help me celebrate my birthday, please consider one or more of the following:

  1. Show your support with a coffee. This helps me reach more teachers.
  2. Share this newsletter with your friends and colleagues.
  3. Share a “Shout Out” on your social media of choice and tag me or use the hashtag #whyedify. Here’s how we can connect.
  4. Respond to this email and say hello, give me some feedback, or share a helpful resource.
  5. Consider writing a guest post for my website. One thing I know about teachers is that they all have wisdom to share. Email me, and we can talk more.

Have a great weekend!

The News

Here are some articles and resources that grabbed my attention.

  • Decline by 9 - Reading for fun among children is on the decline. Specifically, those in the middle-grade age group (8-12 years), which threatens the future of the publishing industry and the concept of pleasure reading. The phenomenon, known as the "Decline by 9," suggests that fewer children are reading books for fun by the age of 9, with factors including increased screen time, the way reading is taught in schools, and the lack of peer-to-peer book recommendations during the pandemic. Publishers are now focusing on graphic novels and illustrated novels, which have been successful with this age group. Still, there are concerns about the fate of serious, thoughtful young people's novels.
  • Control the Chaos - Looking to keep your classroom engaged and orderly as the school year concludes? Consider implementing these seven strategies: maintaining regularity, enhancing student involvement, providing rewards, distributing responsibilities, acknowledging accomplishments, and taking time for reflection.
  • Stolen Data - Hackers are increasingly targeting young public school students, leading to devastating cyberattacks that expose sensitive data and could potentially ruin lives. A prominent example is the Minneapolis Public Schools district, where a cyberattack resulted in the release of confidential data, including Social Security numbers and details of sexual assaults. The rise in such attacks underscores the vulnerability of school systems and the long-term consequences for students, whose personal data, once stolen, can follow them well into adulthood.
  • End the Year Strong - As the academic calendar winds down, we have a unique opportunity to end the year on an uplifting note. If you are like most teachers, I know you are heading toward the finish line low on fumes. Finishing the school year positively requires various strategies, each contributing to a strong and seamless transition into the new school year.
  • Resource - Artificial intelligence is going to be transformative. High school teachers Larry Ferlazzo and Katie Hull Sypnieski discuss how to effectively implement AI in teaching. From best practices to managing challenges, it's a must-read for all educators navigating the wave of AI in education.
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

  • Hello, Silence My Old Friend - Learn about the science behind the effects of noise and silence on our brains.
  • Seven Rules - What do you think of these seven rules: No complaining, never worry excessively, validate emotions and control your attention, prioritize action, produce more than you consume, solve the real problem, and be responsible?
  • Bad Things - 'Akrasia,' a term from ancient Greek philosophy, refers to the act of going against one's better judgment. This concept is not only influenced by individual thought processes but also by external circumstances like the environment and socio-economic conditions, and it may be addressed through strategies such as structured planning and environmental modifications to align behavior with personal values.


"Silence makes the real conversations between friends. Not the saying, but the never needing to say that counts." — Margaret Lee Runbeck

Teacher Commuter Playlist - Stayin' Alive by the Bee Gees

Favorite Things

  • Book - Atomic Habits* by James Clear. We read this book as a staff. There are some useful ideas I will try out during the next 50 years.
  • Colleagues - I work in a building with skilled and compassionate educators. They were so kind to wish me a happy birthday in clever ways.
  • Nature - If you like birds, these live cams are very engaging.

How am I doing?

I love hearing from readers, and I’m always looking for feedback. How am I doing with Why Edify? Is there anything you’d like to see more of or less of? Which aspects of the newsletter do you enjoy the most?

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