7 Tips for Better Thanks Living All Year Long

Vicki Davis shares on Episode 196 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

You can have a more thankful, joyful year all of the time. In today’s show, I share seven secrets to live a more joyful, thankful life all year long.

Today’s Sponsor: Bloomz is the tool I chose for parent/teacher communication. To find out why read www.coolcatteacher.com/bloomz or go to bloomz.com to get started setting up your school or classroom now! December and January are great months to roll out Bloomz with your parents, so you can start 2018 strong.

Listen Now




Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.


Enhanced Transcript

7 Secrets for Better Thanks Living All Year Long

Link to show: www.coolcatteacher.com/e199
Date: Monday, November 20, 2017

Happy Motivational Monday!

So today I’m recording a special motivational episode for all of you out there with some tips for better ThanksLiving. Now Thankfulness — I cannot tell you how important it is for me, having my own attitude because of it, because teaching is SO HARD.

There are just a few things that I do that really help me a lot. I thought I would share these tips with you. Some are productivity tips, some are just thoughts, and some are kind of how you organize your life.

The Mud Puddle Principle

Now, the first one is what I call the “Mud Puddle Principle,” and I’ve blogged about this before. If you can think of a young little child on the edge of a mud puddle. You know how, when they get close to the edge of a mud puddle, they’re just going in!

Well, around my house I have yellow notepads, just the letter-sized ones. Then I have my favorite pens. I have them on my desk. I have them by my Prayer and Thinking Chair. I have them by my chair in the den. I have them right by my bed.

So, when I’m inspired, I just fall right in. When I sit down, and I have a thought, my pen’s there. My paper is there. I can jot it down. There are so many ideas for shows and other things that happen. Just writing and getting my thoughts out actually makes me a happier person.

Keeping a Journal

The second thing is keeping a journal. I read some time ago, that a treatment that some people have for depression — in addition to medication and other things that you do need — is that they will have people write down five things that they’re thankful for every morning.

I have done this practice for so many years, and although I don’t have every day, when I find my “thinking turning stinking,” I’ll actually start listing those positive things in my journal. The other amazing thing about journals, is that I’ve been keeping them since I was eight, and I can look back and have such incredible memories.

Not too long ago, I found my journal for the year that I started dating my husband, Kip. I pulled it out, and there was actually something I had written there that said, “Dear Kip, If I am reading this to you then what I think is going to happen is happening. We’ve gotten married.”

And it was like, “It’s been 24 years!” I got to read this beautiful thing to him that I had written. It really just reminded me all over again how this journey started, and how much I love my husband. So, journals just can speak to us in the future in so many different ways.

The Day One Journal

But I also — my third thing — is I use the Day One journal app on my phone and on my computer, and it synchronizes. SO you can have little mini-journals. I have one for poetry because I like to write poetry. I have a journal for answered prayers. I have a journal just for things — photos, memories.

Now that I’ve been going for a while, it’s kind of like Facebook because it will actually re-show me those journal entries later. And I like it because it’s surprising, because you know what? Not everything belongs on Facebook. I use Day One journal also, and I really love it.

Memory Markers

Now, the fourth thing is that I like to make Memory Markers. It kind of comes from I guess you could say the Bible, but other people have done this as well. When something historical or memorable happens, they would sort of make a marker. They would put up a monument.

Well, I have my office full of quotes. I’ll find a quote, or something that reminds me of an event. Then on the back, I will write in marker the date and the time and the circumstances of why that is my marker.

Sometimes these come from my students. I have a lovely sign right up above my desk that I’m looking at now. It says, “Be a voice, not an echo.” One of my students, Zach, gave it to me several years ago at Christmas, and it just reminded me that, you know, I have my own things that are on my heart to share with people.

I need to be brave and share those things, and not just feel like I have to be like anybody else. I can just be me, and you can be you also.

I have a lot more memory markers that are really treasures to me. One day when I’m gone, my children will take these things down. They’ll see on the back, even if they give it away, a very special memory marker for lots of major events in my life.

Sometimes I get those down off the wall to remind me about a decision and why I made that decision, so I can remember, “Oh yeah. That’s why I’m not going back to being friends with that person or working there.” Whatever.

Habit Places

So the next thing is having Habit Places. I have a Prayer and Thinking Chair. I think that Winnie the Pooh had a “Thoughtful Spot,” so I guess you could say it’s my thoughtful spot, but it’s a chair. I actually a Memory Marker over it, one of my very first, which is a cross stitch, my very first one. It says, “Thoughts.” I have always carried that with me through my life and put it wherever I think.

It may sound silly, but there are times when I just have to clear my mind and think about things. I can’t tell you about how many innovative thoughts or breakthroughs happen when I just sit there and think.

But I also have another sign that says, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” It’s right over that chair. So what I do, every morning when I get up, usually around 4:30 am or so, light the candles on the coffee table right in front of my Prayer and Thinking Chair. I have a little stool because I like to prop up my feet. I have all of my books and Bibles and things. I light a candle. I’ll get me a coffee and put it right by my Prayer and Thinking Chair.

Then I will read my Bible. I will pray. I will write in my journal. I’ll pull up my next tip, so I can have my prayers. I just really have a moment. I know that when I sit in that chair, it is a place where I’m not to going to take my cell phone. It’s just for reflection and thinking.

Tools to Organize Your Prayers

Now the next thing is really using tools to organize my prayer life. You could use this for people you want to think about, you could use it for a lot of purposes, but for me, I learned this from a fellow named Ronnie Floyd, who my pastor had mentioned from the pulpit. He had pulled out his iPad during the sermon once and showed my pastor, Michael Catt, that he was praying for him. He had a big long list of people that he prayed for every day.

One thing about life is that if you say it, do it. Don’t just say stuff and not do it. That’s really one of my pet peeves. I always told my students to say either yes or no. Don’t say, “I’ll try.” Say “I’ll do it.” Like Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no try.” People who say they’re going to try are usually saying, “I’m not going to do it. I’m just trying to be nice.” And I just can’t stand that, so now when I agree to pray for people, I have several different lists in my notes on my iPad.

I do use Evernote for other things, but for this I use Notes, and I actually share one of those with my husband, Kip, because he and I are adding people all the time. I’ll put the date that I add people on, and everyday I pray through that list. I write dates at the bottom. I’ll put “Answered Prayers,” and I’ll move it to the bottom.

So I sort of have a little system there of different things that I’m praying for. It really helps me to be focused and remember. Every so often — I try every morning to reach out to two or three different people on my list so that they know that I’m still here, I’m remembering them, I’m remembering their concerns, and I’m praying over those.

Walk Slowly Through the Crowd

That brings me to my next item. Something that my pastor says a lot is, “Walk slowly through the crowd.” Everybody has a problem. Everybody has a worry. Everybody has things.

As I am getting older, I am finding how many things that are burdening the heart — that I cannot and do not share on social media, because it’s just not all appropriate. Some things are private. You just don’t want to share those. Yet, they cause me tears. Some of these things I have tears over almost every single day in my quiet time.

So my walking slowly through the crowd is on Facebook. When I see somebody who posts something, and I see that they are having a hard time, I’ll usually try to Direct Message that person on Facebook. They know that I truly care, and I’ll say, “How are you doing? I care about you. I’m so sorry…” or whatever’s appropriate for that person. If it’s somebody who wants prayer, I’ll say, “How can I pray for you?”

I’ll make a real connection because I just think sometimes that we pile on… We have this mob mentality. Everybody says, “Praying, praying, praying…” Or “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”

But there is a real person on the other end of that status update. We have to walk slowly through the crowd. I do this even at school, but I’m really talking about my habits at the house. We’ll just focus on those for now.

Notecards in a Filebox

Another thing I do is have notecards in a file box. I got this idea from John Maxwell, because he keeps note boxes.

I really like to have quotes and inspiration. I type these up in Word and print them out.

But I have a special place that I put sermons and things that I’ve heard at conferences. I’ll take them out and put the most important things on file cards to file in my note box. Or I scan it into Evernote, and then usually I’ll throw those away but I’ll have a digital copy.

Here’s the thing. You can sit in a great session. You can sit in something wonderful. But if you never return to those things and pondered them, how are you going to act upon them and help your life be better?

So that’s actually something I do in my Prayer and Thinking Chair. I’ll read over sermons. I’ll read over things and pondered them. I’ll post about them. That’s really when I find that I grow.

I also like to keep a list of things that I’ve learned. I try to write this down every day. The end of the day is a great time to write down things that I’ve learned… and I also got that trick from John Maxwell.

Take a Sabbath

Now here is another very important thing — taking a digital and physical Sabbath. So Sundays are my day, pretty much, to be offline. But also, to take that phone and put it in airplane mode.

Because you know, some people work on Sundays, but I don’t.

Their workday will become my workday if I have my phone not in airplane mode.

So when I’m going to church, when I’m just taking a nap or whatever, I’m on Sabbath. I’m taking a break. I just don’t work, and I don’t apologize for it.

You know, there are hotels that are really expensive. They call them Black Hole Hotels, and people check their cell phones at the door so they have no connection to the outside world. People will pay a lot of money for that.

I’m not going to pay a lot of money for that! It’s called, “Take away my phone, or turn off my phone, or get away and just have a break. Don’t do so much. Be a human being and not just a human doing.”

Exercise Your Joy Muscle

Let’s finish up with a thought about our Joy Muscle. Sometimes I get upset at myself for this thought, because I like to see problems and difficulties and challenges as an opportunity to exercise my Joy Muscle.

If you’ve ever worked out, you know that you have to get heavier and heavier weights in order to get stronger and stronger. Well, I don’t know what it is about teaching, but somehow we think that life should get easier and easier as we teach. And it doesn’t.

We getter better and better at it, so we get bigger and bigger problems. The reward for good work is more work. That’s actually in the Bible. So the more you do, the more work you get. And I’m OK with that.

But sometimes it’s just real easy to fall into a rut, complaining or whining.

So today, I’m recording this and getting ready to go to Dubai tomorrow. And last period, I knew I needed that period to do so much. We had poinsettia sales, I had all this poinsettia stuff to deal with for National Honors Society, I had to get my lessons into PowerSchool Learning… I mean, I just had a lot of things to do. Progress reports are going out Monday. I mean, (laughs), I couldn’t imagine how much I had to do. It was just so much!

Well, in pile a bunch of kids. The librarian had locked the library, and so I got all the kids, and I didn’t know they were coming. My room ended up full. I think at one point, I had 21 chairs and 30 kids in there — plus everything else I was doing.

And I thought to myself, “Vicki! Dadgumit! Why did you come up with this Joy Muscle thing, because this is a great opportunity to exercise your Joy Muscle when you get better at having joy and being happy?””

And I kind of failed for a little while before I was able to buck up and get stronger and decide that I was going to have joy, even because it was completely insane and ridiculous and there was no reason for it.

But I was still going to have joy, so I really think it’s important that when we have difficulties in life, that we learn how to have joy.

Now, as a Christian, I’ve got certain things at my disposal that are secrets to joy that I do, certain ways of thinking. I can write more about that. I have a Christian blog. If some of you are interested, email me, and I’ll plan on trying to do that.

But all of us can realize that when we have greater difficulties, that’s our opportunity to become more joyful — to not complain, to not whine, to not fuss. Our lives are not going to get easier, because we’re teachers, and that’s who we are.

I hope some of these thoughts have been encouraging to you. I hope that this week as you have Thanksgiving here in the United States — I know around the world, many of you have Thanksgiving at a different time — but I hope you’ll think about ThanksLiving and what you can do in your life, the small things, to have a more thankful way of living every single day.

Trust me, there are ways to do this. I hope that over time we all get better at it and not worse.

Have such a happy week.

We’ll be feeding — I think this year it’s 80-something people — at our little oak shed out at the farm. That’ll be crazy, but I just love my family so many amazing people in my family that I love. They’re all good cooks, too. We’ll try not to pack on a few pounds, but it might happen.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and just because it’s Turkey Day doesn’t mean you have to act like a turkey. Some of you might have to exercise your Joy Muscles for Thanksgiving because some of you might have people who are turkeys that you have to deal with.

I hope you’ll find a way to laugh and enjoy your Thanksgiving week, and I hope these ideas will help.

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford


Vicki Davis, the host of the 10-Minute Teacher shares this episode.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post 7 Tips for Better Thanks Living All Year Long appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e199/

4 Geeky Gifts for Teachers

Leslie Fisher on episode 198 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Leslie Fisher, a favorite geek of many teachers, has some cool gift ideas for teachers (or your favorite geek.) I hope you get some ideas for your favorite teacher-geek.

Today’s Sponsor: Bloomz is the tool I chose for parent/teacher communication. To find out why read www.coolcatteacher.com/bloomz or go to bloomz.com to get started setting up your school or classroom now! December and January are great months to roll out Bloomz with your parents, so you can start 2018 strong.

Listen Now


Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.


Enhanced Transcript

Four Geeky Gifts for Teachers

Link to show: www.coolcatteacher.com/e198
Date: Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Vicki: What are some geeky cool gifts for teachers?

Today we have one of my favorite presenters, Leslie Fisher @lesliefisher.

Now, I started blogging eleven years ago, maybe it was more. We’re getting close to that twelve year mark because I started on December 3rd. But before I was blogging at all, I was attending sessions with Leslie Fisher.

She has really been one of my “go to” people at conferences — at the GAETC conference and at conferences around the world — for really, my whole ed tech career. I’m not saying that, Leslie, to make you feel older than you look (laughs) but it’s just to say that I appreciate how you keep up with all of this. I don’t know!

So thanks for being on the show. And what kind of geeky gifts should we get for teachers this Christmas?

Leslie: Well, first of all, thank you for your kind words. I wish you could see my smile, beaming from one edge of the room to the others, because I also want to say thank you for what you do. I think we’ve been bitten with a passion to try to help teachers and make their classrooms more fun and engaging, and make their time more fun, so… thank you for what you do as well. I appreciate it.

Idea #1: Osmo

Yeah! Gadgets? I absolutely love gadgets. I’m a gadget head. If they can make my life easier, make it more streamlined, wonderful. And if I can do that for an educator, that is great.

If you told me that I could only buy one gadget for an educator, I would say it would be an Osmo. I absolutely love the product. It uses an iPhone. That’s a new feature. So if people didn’t know that, there’s now an iPhone base. Or it uses an iPad. It’s tactile learning combined with technology.

So I might have an app — for example — one called Tangam, where you run the app. It displays something on the iPad, and then you use building blocks to recreate what you’re looking at on the iPad.

There’s a Words game where you see a picture and you have to try to figure out what that word is. You use little blocks. You sit there and you toss it around. The iPad is getting it’s content from a little device that you put on top of the iPad that has a mirror. That mirror then points straight down, and it recognizes whatever the heck is being placed on the table in front of the iPad.

They have I think eight different games that are out, and they’re learning games. They’re fantastic, and it’s good quality stuff. So if you told me I had to get one thing for a classroom, I would say Osmo. Then the teacher could easily buy eight or nine things within that space.

Even me — with my wine friends when I’m having a wine dinner — we’ll always end up playing some sort of Osmo game because they can be a lot of fun. So… Osmo.

Vicki: Yeah. That can be used for any age. OK, what else?

Idea #2: QBall

Leslie: The other one I’m really excited about is the QBall. This has been out and available for a year. That is a throwable microphone.

What’s so neat about this is, that I first thought about it in an auditorium setting. Imagine in an auditorium where usually you would have to pass a microphone around, or the kids would have to get up in line, you know, in front of a mike to ask a question.

This is a throwable dodgeball, almost like, that has a microphone in it. It can work in anything from classroom speakers all the way up to P.A. systems. You can have more than one in an auditorium.

What’s really neat is that Shane Cox, the creator of the QBall, was just on Shark Tank. He actually got funded by three Sharks, which I thought was great. But the one thing he said — and I always love getting educated. It’s one thing to teach, but it’s another thing to love to learn. He was going into the report of a lot of times students don’t like to speak up, even in a classroom.

What he’s finding with the QBall is that that one kid — who might have that little voice and is scared to speak up — can now use that QBall to speak, and it goes through the teacher’s speakers on their computer. That kid has a loud voice within that class. I just think that’s absolutely awesome.

Vicki: It’s so fantastic. I’ve never even heard of it. I’m actually looking it up as we’re recording this. All of these things will be in the Shownotes because I can’t even imagine all the things that we could do with this. That’s what we need!

Leslie: It’s interesting. You should go and watch this episode of Shark Tank. I don’t usually watch Shark Tank — sorry, Sharks — but someone said that a lot of times they don’t fund educational items because their knowledge is not in education. I get that.

In the beginning, they were kind of poo-pooing until one of the Sharks said, “Hold on. Could I use this with my intercom system?”

And Shane’s like, “Of course you can.”

“Hold on. So instead of me shuffling around in the meeting room, I can just toss this ball, and someone can talk.?”

And he’s like, “Yeah.”

And then all of them started jumping in on this. So you’re right. The uses that this thing has is great.

The other thing is that Shane used to be a classroom teacher. So he is coming at it from the idea of knowing what it’s like to be in a classroom, and kind of like what we were talking about in the beginning, he’s dedicated to educators. He just wants to see educators thrive, and then hence the students that they teach thrive.

How can you not be smitten with that?

Vicki: How fun! Two great ideas! You got any more?

Leslie: Oh! Of course I do!

Vicki: (laughs)

Idea #3: LiveScribe Pen

Leslie: The other thing that I would say — and this is one that would be more for a teacher, or maybe for high school students.

I’ve been showing this a lot in the past few weeks, and I think one of the things that we tend to do is we tend to look at a technology that we’ve been using for a few years and assume that everyone knows about it. I’m trying to do a better job of going back and revisiting certain technologies that I use all the time, and maybe a teacher or student doesn’t know.

I use a pen called the Livescribe Pen. There are two versions. On is Bluetooth-based and app-based, and the other one is not. But it is a pen — if you use the Bluetooth version — that will automatically hook into your iOS or Android device.

You use their paper. Their paper is almost on par price with regular paper. When you start writing with the pen, it automatically then downloads that note to your iOS or Android device.

Even cooler — and the big reason I use it — is that you can synchronize recording audio to the notes you write.

So for someone like me who’s a fast talker, you could record me. Then all of a sudden, if I started getting ahead of your note-taking, you could put maybe a little asterisk or something? And it saves as a pencast. And it changes the color of the note on the iPad.

Then all you have to do is type on those words, and you will hear exactly what was being said when that person was saying something. So you never miss a word.

Vicki: That is so important for kids. I recommend this for a lot of kids who have special needs, who struggle with taking notes, but they need to have something.

And to put that symbol, like you said, or that item of “The teacher says this is important.” Write a little star, or write the letter “I” and then record. And then you can play those back when you’re studying.

Leslie: Right. And then I don’t know if you know about this feature. This thing’s pretty cool. This isn’t a gadget in terms of buying anything, but it’s a free gadget, and when I discovered it, my jaw dropped.

Google Keep got a big old update this summer, and one of the things the update got in the mobile version, is if you click on the microphone and start talking, Google Keep will do Voice Dictation.

Not only will it do Voice Dictation, it will then save the audio file. So even if it heard something incorrectly, you still have the exact words as they were being said in that meeting or that classroom.

And of course you have a camera feature so you could always take a picture of the whiteboard or the SMARTboard. This thing is awesome. I keep using it when I need to capture something or whatnot.

I wouldn’t say it should replace notes, because I’m sure you’ve talked many times about how writing notes will add to the retention of what you learn. But man, what a great thing that if you’re caught, having those notes be transcribed.

I was doing professional development yesterday, and a teacher mentioned how great this would be for their English as a Second Language, where that student could record, and then even stick that in Google Translate, see the recording, and then hear the audio file, so they could hear how those words were pronounced versus not. I just think it’s awesome.

Vicki: This is part of a term called “transliteracy,” which is to be literate in multiple media and to be able to move from a variety of media.

OK. We have time for one more, Leslie.

Leslie: (laughs)

Idea #4: A Home Assistant like Google Home or Amazon Alexa

Well, if I can put kind of a … well, it’s part education, part non-education. I would say some sort of home assistant. They could even be used in the classroom. For example, looking at getting a Google Home, or an Amazon Alexa.

You know, Adam Bellow, who’s a friend of both of ours, tells a really great story about his son, who will go up to the Alexa and just ask the most random questions of it, and get answers. One of the things the Alexa does is let you review what has been asked of it. He says he gets great joy and curiosity in going into his Alexa app and seeing what the heck his son asked it.

I keep thinking for a classroom, how fun would that be to have a virtual assistant to see how that assistant does? You know, when we get down to it, education is education. When we get down to it, we know those things aren’t always right. That’s just a perfect place for that educator to shine.

Vicki: I will link to some shows we’ve done. First and second and third grade teachers are going crazy over having the Echo Dot in the classroom, because if you can imagine instead of the kids saying, “Ms. Fisher, what’s 1 + 3?” or “How do you spell ‘citizen’?” You ask Alexa.

Leslie: Yep.

Vicki: You can even change Alexa’s name. There is a setting that lets you do that in case you have an Alexa. So she can keep her name, and the Echo Dot can get a new one.


Leslie: That’s awesome. You see? Here’s what I love. You just taught me something new, because I’ve only had that in my life. I’ve only had my Amazon Alexa for maybe a month or so, so I’m learning as well. I love that feature, and I love hearing that.

One of the sessions I’m thinking about adding to my offerings is, you know, the difference between the Echo, the Google Home, what’s going to be the Home Pod in Siri. How do they differ? How can they work in the classroom?

I really think, once again, this is where we’re heading. We’re heading to these assistants, these digital assistants. If we can get our students more used to it, it gets to what I would say my goal is — to make all of this a glorified pencil. When we don’t call it technology, when it’s just simply the process. I think we’ve all made people’s lives a little bit easier and better.

Vicki: We all have a way to add Artificial Intelligence to be our assistant. I have a way to automate things and let them be my teacher’s assistant.

Leslie: Yep.

Vicki: And students have a way to automate things and make them learning assistants for them. I think our intelligence is in finding these devices and using them.

We’ve got a lot of great devices here, so thank you, Leslie, and we’ll link to all these in the Shownotes. Such great ideas!

Leslie: My pleasure.

Awesome! And then before we end, remember, it’s IFTTT.com is a great way to take all of these intelligent assistants and make them even smarter.

Vicki: Love it!

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford


Leslie Fisher: Bio as submitted

Leslie Fisher has been keynoting, feature speaking and providing professional development solutions for educators all over the world for 20+ years. Leslie specializes in easy to use, effective and affordable technology that can be utilized in your classroom right away.

Blog: Leslie Fisher

Twitter: @lesliefisher

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post 4 Geeky Gifts for Teachers appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/4-geeky-gifts-teachers/