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How To Make This School Year Unforgettable

December 17, 2018

What does it mean to be unforgettable? As educators, many of us can look back and point to a teacher who is truly unforgettable. We can use adjectives to describe their passion and demeanor. We smile when we think to a memorable moment with that special person.

For teachers who don’t have someone unforgettable that comes to mind – this might just be the reason you chose this field. You want to make a difference and inspire the next generation of learners. You want to be that person for a student. Do you model your actions on an unforgettable teacher of yours? Or do you think back to the teacher you wish you had?

Ready for an unforgettable school year?

There are plenty of moments from your school year so far that I’m sure are memorable for your students. Any time of year, whether beginning, middle or end, is a great time to take stock. So now we approach the halfway point for many educators’ school year. And I’m excited to share a new professional resource with you!

uNforgettable: Your Roadmap to Being the Teacher They Never Forget

How To Make This School Year Unforgettable 6This fall, educator, and author Chuck Poole shared his new book with me. It’s called uNforgettable: Your Roadmap to Being the Teacher They Never Forget. Chuck is a teacher, author, podcaster, and blogger. You might be familiar with his blog Teachonomy or already follow along with him on Instagram or Twitter. His book features strategies to energize teaching and learning. Chuck was kind enough to take some time to answer questions for readers of the blog.

What motivated you to write a book on this topic?

I’ve been teaching now for almost 20 years, and one thing has always remained constant – relationships. Over the years, I have found that teaching strategies change, the way students learn evolves, and the tools we use are constantly updated. The one thing that has always remained the same, however, is the foundational relationships that allow us to leave a lasting impact of those we teach and work with each day.

I believe there are four key relationships that all teachers share, and I am passionate about helping my colleagues in classrooms around the world tap into the power that each one will bring. Encouraging and inspiring my fellow teachers to embrace these four relationships, and providing simple strategies to help nourish them, was one of my biggest motivations for writing this book. My goal was to focus on the teacher as a whole and touch on how each aspect, when meshed together, makes us truly uNforgettable.

The four relationships that motivated me to write this book are below:

The relationships we have with our students

When students come back to visit teachers, they come back because of the relationships that were formed while they were in their class. It is through these relationships that we build a lasting foundation and an impression on a student’s heart that they will never forget. In teaching circles, this is something that is often talked about, but I wanted to create something that provided specific strategies to make it happen that people can use right away. The relationships with our students are a crucial building block to becoming uNforgettable.

The relationships we have with our colleagues

Without a strong support system, even the strongest of us will eventually crumble. Although our relationships with our students are crucial, we must also develop strong bonds with our colleagues in order to grow. This can sometimes be tough to do, and for many of us, it is difficult to know where to begin. I have found that some of my best ideas and lessons have come from collaboration with trusted peers. Without a strong inner circle, we may just find ourselves frustrated with no one to reach out to for help.

The relationships we have with our content

Although the life lessons we teach them are important and the relationships we form with them are foundational, the pedagogy we practice is essential if we want to be truly uNforgettable. When we use sound strategies and plans when we teach our content, we can take things to another level. Our students deserve a teacher who loves what they teach so much that it becomes contagious. This is an aspect I knew I had to include in a book about becoming memorable. The best teachers in the world are able to have a healthy relationship with the content they teach and provide sound instruction to the students they see each day.

The relationships we have with ourselves

One thing I have noticed about myself in the past is that I can become overwhelmed. I have found myself burdened with the workload and expectations put on me as a teacher. However, when we can find ways to balance our lives and have a strong relationship with ourselves, we can become even better teachers. This is the fourth piece of the relationship puzzle that I have included in my book, and I feel when all four are blended together, amazing things can happen.

Why is this topic important to you?

How to Make This School Year UnforgettableThis topic is so important to me because I believe that teachers are transformational. I believe that every teacher, whether they are brand new or a seasoned veteran, can be uNforgettable. My goal in this book was to write about the relational side of teaching in a way that does not focus on me, but rather on the reader. This is why everything in my book is about what teachers can do to strengthen the four key areas of their teaching life, rather than read about my own personal experiences.

It is my desire and goal to uplift and inspire them to be the best they can be for their students and for themselves. I believe that every teacher is uNforgettable in their own unique way and that is why covering this topic has been so important to me. I love what I do each day because I know that I am part of something much larger than myself. “uNforgettable” was born from the desire to help teachers everywhere and when we can nourish the key relationships we have as teachers, we can change the world one student at a time.

In your book uNforgettable, you discuss different destinations. Is there a particular area you think is best to focus on at the beginning of the school year?

I think creating a home-like atmosphere is a great focus point to begin with at the start of the year. My first chapter is called ‘Create a Home’ and walks through specific ways in how to do this, and I intentionally wanted to begin the book in the same way I believe we can begin our school year. When we welcome our students into our classroom, it becomes a second home to so many of them, and for some, the only place that truly feels safe. By starting the year at this destination, we set up the first building block needed to help students feel welcome.

Creating a home, though, goes far beyond the setup of the classroom. It is about building relationships with students where they feel like family. It is about showing them that they matter and making them feel important. And it is about helping them see the potential within themselves that they so often believe does not exist. When we begin the year by focusing on creating a positive home-like experience for them, they will look forward to learning and, in many cases, exceed our expectations.

Do you have advice for an educator who wants to host a book club for your book?

Being a teacher in the classroom myself, I designed my book with my fellow teachers in mind. “uNforgettable” is more than a book. It has a built-in study guide that makes running a book club simple. I have created an online reflection guide that goes with every chapter. Each chapter includes a video introduction as well as questions to help guide discussion and reflection. All questions can be accessed directly from any device (or printed) and can be emailed as well. The guides are free and you can access them by the QR codes found at the start of each chapter OR at unseries.com/reflectionguide.

The end of each chapter also includes action steps to take right away and reflection questions to think about based on the topic. In a book club, these can serve as a perfect bridge from chapter to chapter and insight tangible interaction from members. Hosting a book club with uNforgettable is simple by design. A group can use the activities found at the end of the chapters, the online reflection guides, or both, to host a successful experience for any group of teachers. My ultimate goal was to create something for teachers that could bring them together, impact their lives in a positive way, and provide for them a “ready to go” study that will bring value to everyone involved.

Ready to learn more? Head over to Amazon to see Chuck’s new book uNforgettable: Your Roadmap to Being the Teacher They Never Forget – it’s available in paperback and Kindle versions!

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Dr. Monica Burns is a former classroom teacher, Author, Speaker, and Curriculum & EdTech Consultant. Visit her site ClassTechTips.com for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.

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