What’s in the Awesome (Teacher) Box?

TeacherPeach_SubscriptionBox

It’s been a week-plus since we’ve written a content-rich blog post from Teacher Peach, a fairly long lag for us. There’s a great reason, though. We’ve been delightfully busy at the “peach orchard” lately. We’ve been immersed in designing and creating not one, but three, new Teacher Peach product lines!

Have you heard of subscription boxes? We’ve learned in our research that some teachers are very familiar with such boxes while to other teachers the subscription box concept is totally new. So, here’s a quick overview. Subscription boxes are regularly delivered boxes that focus on a topic or theme. There are boxes for cosmetics, fishing, shaving, knitting, crafts, and even boxes just for dogs, and this only scratches the surface.

People like to receive surprise boxes on a topic that interests them. Regardless of topic, these boxes arrive at regularly scheduled times and are filled with full-sized products, miniature samples, and oftentimes coupons. Some subscriptions arrive monthly, others several times a year, and still others are one-time-only special edition boxes designed for special occasions.

As we did our research, we discovered that there are very few boxes that focus on teachers and even fewer that really address the needs of teachers in the classroom and in their lives. Teacher Peach quickly discovered that we could definitely fill this void! So, we’ve created THREE different kinds of subscription box products—all expressly for teachers. It’s been such an incredible experience to shape these products—all with teachers in mind!

In this blog post, we’re revealing the first glimpse, our “Sneak Peach,” of one of our boxes. In the coming weeks, we’ll share even more about these boxes, so stay tuned.

Teacher Peach has been working on these boxes for many months now. We’ve analyzed competition, learned the market, and figured out how to include as much as possible in each box and offer them at affordable prices for both teachers to buy and families to select as amazing teacher gifts. Recently, the real creative work began: building the actual box prototypes so we can share them with teachers before we go into actual production.

During this process, it’s felt as if the myriad of teachers with whom we’ve worked, interacted, and connected have all been poised on our shoulders as these products have been taking shape. This invisible team of teachers guided us every step along the way. We filtered every possible decision through the eyes and priorities of the teachers we work to serve each day.

Later this week, on Thursday and Friday, Teacher Peach has the chance to connect with approximately 3000 teachers at the Wisconsin State Reading Association Convention. We’ll have a big booth with a whole section devoted to sharing prototype samples of these boxes with teachers. Any teacher who explores the boxes and tells us what they like and don’t, will receive a really nice free gift of Teacher Peach’s exclusive teacher travel kit product that says, “From classroom to classroom, hallway to hallway, or school to school. . . Travel.” Check it out; it’s pretty awesome.

Teacher Travel Kit

We hope all of the teachers who attend the conference will think the boxes are amazingly awesome, too.

Once Upon a Box! Teacher Appreciation Gift Boxes
“Once Upon a Box” is a one-time special occasion gift box, available in two styles, both for teachers. It’s coming out just in time for Teacher Appreciation Week, the first week of May. Pre-order your gift boxes today!

  • “Once Upon a Box” Gift Sets come in two styles.
  • “Once Upon a Box” SCHOOL Gift Set is for teachers to enjoy at school and is ideal for teachers from kindergarten through fifth grade.
  • The SCHOOL box has a piece of teacher jewelry, desk and center accessories, and 55 individual items to give out to students!
  • “Once Upon a Box” HOME Gift Set is for ANY teacher, from preschool through graduate school, to enjoy at home after the school day is over.
  • The HOME box is like a spa visit in a box, filled with relaxing spa gear from fuzzy socks and bath fizzies to butter balm and candles.
  • These gift boxes make spectacular teacher appreciation gifts!
  • Each box has a retail value of over $75!
  • Both SCHOOL and HOME boxes are brimming with over 10 individual items.
  • Boxes will ship in time for Teacher Appreciation Week, the first week of May!

Teacher Peach Once Upon A Box

Are you intrigued with this subscription box concept? In addition to these two special edition Teacher Appreciation Week boxes, we are also creating a four-box subscription set as well as a ten-month monthly box for the school year. More info to come about these boxes in the coming weeks. Until then, if you’d like to preorder your “Once Upon a Box” SCHOOL Gift Set, click here. If you’d like to preorder your Once Upon a Box” HOME Gift Set, click here. Or, fill out the form below.

What do you think of subscription boxes? What boxes do you love? What might you like to see in boxes designed just for teachers?


Once Upon a Box and Travel kit descriptions are ©Teacher Peach, LLC with all rights reserved. No part of these boxes or terminology may be used without the permission of Teacher Peach.

 

 

Meet Kim M. The Winner of the All About Writing! Gift Set

It was a privilege to invite Kim M., the winner of the Teacher Peach All About Writing Gift Set in our recent holiday contest, to answer a few questions about what makes her tick and thrive as a teacher. One of our two contest winners, Kim’s name was chosen at random to receive this gift set. Congratulations, Kim! Here are some of Kim’s thoughts. We hope they spark you to comment and continue a dialog about what you love about teaching.

   KimM_Teacher_Peach_Contest_Winner   All About Writing Gift Set

TP: Kim, tell us a bit about you, how long you’ve been teaching, what grades, etc.
KM: This is my 19th year of teaching. I have taught one year in second grade, six years in kindergarten, and twelve years in first grade. I have also been married for 19 years and we have two sons.

TP: What made you enter the contest?
KM: I follow Teacher Peach on Facebook and I was really interested in the gift sets that Teacher Peach was giving away in the contest. Both gift sets had lots of colorful things in them that I knew I’d use.

TP: Why did you want to win the prize and how do you plan to use it?
KM: I wanted to win the prize because I really liked the bag! 🙂 I also liked the notecards that can be sent home as a way of communication with classroom families; that’s really important to how I work as a teacher. That kind of connection is a big part of how students perform. We’re one team, families and teachers, all working to help the kids. I am also very excited to use the teacher journal and little black book. It’s important for all teachers, new and seasoned, to collect their thoughts, reflect on what is working and what can go better the next time. Even after nineteen years, or especially after nineteen years, I know that even just a few minutes of reflection can inspire a new idea to try the next day, help teachers see a pattern, or remind teachers that “we’ve been here before.” We tell even first graders to journal and express their thoughts. It’s a big part of being a good teacher, too. It’s good to look back because it is easy to forget that kids grow at different times and in different ways. Sometimes, an idea that didn’t work in November is perfect for that same student, come March. Journaling can help teachers see and recall that idea at the right time.

TP: What are the three biggest rewards for you as a teacher?
KM: Seeing the growth that my students make through the year, seeing their faces light up when they accomplish something they were not sure that they could do, and just the joy of being able to teach these students are the biggest rewards. Being a teacher is kind of like being a conductor of an orchestra. Every student plays a different instrument in his or her own way, and in many different keys, often all at once! As teachers, we do not play their instruments for them; we guide, we help them find the beat, and we hope they’ll hit their high notes when they are ready. When I see a face light up with pride, when my students discover they can do something new, that’s what’s music to my ears!

TP: What are the three biggest challenges you face as a teacher?
KM: While assessment is important for so many reasons, it can be tough to manage and prepare the little ones for so much assessment these days. The amount of assessing that is expected for elementary students is significant and it needs to be a part of lesson plans, strategy, and every teacher’s priorities. But if we use the results right and we are good teachers with the kids’ needs at the forefront, we can use this information as another data point in creating the right solutions for the students. It is also very challenging when families are not involved in their child’s education. Many families do the very best they can; others just seem not to be connected and as teachers, we do not always know why. But we always see the difference it makes in the education of that student when a family cannot or is not involved. Whatever the reason, the results are the same—tough for the child. Believe me, they know the difference—we all do. Lastly, as a teacher, you always want to reach every child. Every child is different and as teachers we need to focus on meeting all the needs of many diverse learners—all at once. That can be a challenge for any teacher.

TP: What advice would you have for other teachers?
KM: This advice is going to sound easy, and be much easier to read than to enact each day. That said, these three pieces of advice have helped me a great deal. The first is always be prepared. The second is always listen to your students. Finally, always have a positive attitude. The first, always be prepared, is actually the easiest because it rests squarely on the teacher’s shoulders. By preparing for the week ahead, teachers are ready to contend with the many surprises we encounter all week long. Without that plan, we’d be constantly reacting. With preparation, it’s much easier to respond on a dime to what the kids need. You can’t REgroup without a group of plans to begin with! Second, listening to your students sounds so simple, but it is actually quite difficult to do sometimes. The classroom is a place of great activity and it is easy to get distracted. Also, some kids just don’t want to be heard—or perhaps they aren’t ready. Kids can also speak in a code that teachers need to crack. A mumbled “I don’t know,” the quiet shrug of a shoulder, or a downward glance often means something more. As teachers, we need to listen to what is said—and what isn’t. Lastly, as for having a positive attitude? That comes from loving what you do, even on a day filled with challenges. As teachers of young elementary students, it’s important to remember that kids will definitely sense your moods, your reactions, and will generally take their cues from you. If you’re positive, then I’m positive that you’ll stand the best chance of getting positive responses from your students.

Kim’s thoughts on teaching and her suggestions come from the heart—and from nineteen years in the classroom. Kim’s All About Writing Gift Set is en route to her. When she opens her package, she’s promised to reconnect with Teacher Peach so stay tuned for Kim’s next installment. What would you add to Kim’s thoughts? When do you feel most rewarded as a teacher? What advice would you like to share? We’d all love to hear about a few of your favorite moments as a teacher.

Meet Sharon B. the Winner of the Words to Grow By! Gift Set

It was a privilege to interview Sharon B., the winner of the Words to Grow By Gift Set in our recent holiday contest. Sharon’s name was chosen at random. Congratulations, Sharon. Here are some excerpts from our interview.

SharonB_Teacher_Peach_Contest_Winner  Words to Grow By Gift Set

TP: Sharon, tell us a bit about you, how long you’ve been teaching, what grades, etc.
SB: I’ve been teaching for 24 years. Now I’m teaching fifth grade, ELA and Social Studies. I’ve taught students from second through eighth grade over the years.

TP: What sparked you to enter this Teacher Peach contest?
SB: I like your page on FB. I love the products, especially the tote bag. I also enjoy the different quotes and share them with my kids, too.

TP: What makes you come back to Teacher Peach?
SB: You get teachers. Teaching is my passion; it is not a career. It is my passion to help my students. When I help students with reading and literacy, I’m doing work that’s right for me—and for them. Many times, students are reading two grades below level. My passion helps me put myself in their shoes. I keep in perspective exactly where each child is and I tell my students I know they can succeed. I encourage every different student to brush off the struggles and frustrations and keep moving forward. Teacher Peach shares my passion for teaching, teachers, and kids. I like that.

TP: What are the three biggest rewards for you as a teacher?
SB: When I started teaching, thought I’d change the world. I quickly learned that would take longer than I’d thought. Now, I see I’ve made differences—one student at a time. It’s the greatest feeling to discover what former students have achieved. It reminds both of us of the difference we made together. Middle school may have been a long time ago, but they remember and so do I. It can take years to know you were a part of their success, but it is worth the wait. I’ve even had the chance to teach the children of former students. Finally, when I worked as a special needs teaching assistant, I found different rewards than I ever imagined. To see those children, so eager to learn and discover what they can do, was big. They didn’t judge, they were open to doing their best, and when I would spot their determination, when I could spark that smile on a child’s face, it was wonderful. All kids can do so much if we encourage them. When they can trust you as a teacher, it is very rewarding.

TP: What are your three biggest challenges?
SB: Every teacher knows that there are just some days you don’t feel you’re getting through to your kids. I stop myself and wonder what those children deal with before and after they are in my classroom. I remind myself that we have no idea what they struggle with at home. As an English teacher, I see students who don’t like to write. I need to figure out other ways to reach them. Getting enough support is a challenge, too. Teaching assistants work so much harder than many teachers see. I was a TA and that experience opened my eyes. As teachers, we need to appreciate all the support teams around us.

TP: You have such an incredible attitude and approach to teaching. What advice would you have for other teachers?
SB: First, put yourself out there and be confident in yourself. Failures do help to build confidence; don’t be afraid of that. Second, smile and keep a positive attitude. I always tell my kids, “Your day always turns out the way the corners of your mouth turn.” That’s good advice for anyone to follow. Finally, have teaching passion. If you are passionate, then teachers teach and learn. We learn from our students—every day. I take what I learn from my kids and try my very best to share learning right back.

TP: What would you tell new teachers and college students considering teaching?
SB: Again, you need a passion to teach. “It’s all in or go home!” Realize you’re never done learning; graduating is the beginning of your next learning opportunity. Keep learning. Seek out PD; I do. I think new teachers think success is about big things, but it isn’t. Teaching with passion shows you that the little things are really big things when they help a student grow and learn! Use numbers wisely, too. Test scores measure progress, but remember the number one, too—one child at a time. Every single child is an individual. Help each do well in class and they’ll do well on standardized tests. Testing is a great measuring tool because you can see progress from starting scores to new ones. I’ve helped kids make a two-year leap in one school year, to jump 47 points in one year! That gain means we’re doing the right things. Data doesn’t lie. Don’t worry what level a student is when you begin; that’s a starting point. I tell my students that if they’ll work with me, I’ll do everything I can to work with them. Let your students know you’ll help and that you know they’ll do their best.

TP: Any other advice for other teachers?
SB: Remember to get down to the kids’ level—look at the world through their eyes if you can. Peer pressure is huge these days. You’ve got to have empathy. Jump in, put yourself out there, and you’ll learn and become an even better teacher.

TP: As you know, Teacher Peach strives to support and appreciate teachers. What makes you feel appreciated?
SB: My district is so amazing, and I’ve always felt appreciated here. Other teachers have told me they’re not so fortunate. From what I hear about other places, politics can sometimes overshadow being there for the kids. In my district, I’m supported for doing my best with and for my kids. I love it when families acknowledge the work I do. Cards and letters from my own principal mean a lot, too.

TP: Can you suggest products you’d like Teacher Peach to create to help support teachers?
SB: You’ve got lots of products of all sizes, which is good. I love the sticky notes, cards, stickers, pencils, clips, Sharpies®, and supplies we use all the time. I also love little pins and clips for lanyards. Personally, I love anything with a ladybug on it. I use LADYBUGS as acronym for what I do.

Sharon’s Ladybug: Learning Always Demonstrates that You’re Building an Understanding of Goals and Skills!

Sharon has certainly shared her understanding of the goals, skills—and passion—every teacher needs to thrive. Sharon’s Teacher Peach Words to Grow By Gift Set is en route to her. When she opens her package, she’s promised to reconnect with Teacher Peach, so stay tuned for Sharon’s next installment. We so hope Sharon’s words of wisdom and ideas inspire you the next time you go into your classroom. What would you add to Sharon’s messages? Do you have a teaching ACRONYM to share?

Keep Moving, We Shall!

Today is a special day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. There are so many moving and amazing quotations by Dr. King, as our recent PeachQuotes Studio™ Quotation campaign shows.

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TP PQS Worksheet MLK I Have a Dream

Dr. King’s Wisdom Made for Tough Choices
Narrowing down our choices to only several quotations by Dr. King was a tall order. We selected the quotations we did with teachers, students, and teachable moments in mind. We know that weaving in the wisdom of Dr. King is an important part of the January curriculum for many teachers.

Our goal with all PeachQuotes Studio™ Quotation campaigns is to provide quick, easy tools that teachers love and want to share with their students. As we worked with these choices, we explored different sequences, different timing, and different interpretations of each quotation. There were so many strong options, it was often tough to choose just one. However, when it came time to select the quotation for today—our last blog post of the campaign, the choice was easy. We had to end by continuing—to move forward!

Today’s quotation by Dr. King, reads:

“If you can’t fly, then RUN, if you can run, then WALK, if you can’t walk, then CRAWL, but whatever you do, KEEP MOVING!”

TP PQS MLK If You Can't

We Need to Keep Moving
There is so much to do for all of us. Not only in our own lives, in our own classrooms, and for our own families, but also for the larger communities of which we are a part. The challenges we face in the world illustrate that in some way, in some form, and in some manner, we must each keep moving. We each need to find ways to become an active part of the communities around us, in ways that work for us personally. We need to keep moving.

The Power of Small Moves
It may be as simple as making the time to attend a school meeting on a weekday morning when you are supposed to be at your desk at work, taking your child to a neighborhood production of a musical when it is below zero outside, or scrambling to find jars of glue at 7:30 on a Sunday morning to be sure the kids your child coaches can complete their craft project later in the morning. If these examples sound a bit too specific to be hypothetical, it’s because they aren’t. Each of these happened to me this past week. I realized while writing this that each of these examples represents a willingness to engage and keep moving.

I’m sharing these examples because they represent tiny steps. We can always find reasons not to keep moving. Of course, I needed to be at work, we didn’t order tickets so we needed to stand in line in the cold, and I really doubted I had the glue. But, doing it all anyway is important. We can always convince ourselves that our little moves don’t really matter. The truth is, however, they do. And they add up.

Going to that school meeting on Wednesday matters because I’m honoring a commitment and will likely be able to contribute just by being around the table with colleagues. Going to the musical matters because we are supporting the community on a day where attendance is bound to be down due to the cold. On a much more local level, my child will be able to take part in tomorrow’s lunch table discussion about the number of curtain calls. As for my early morning glue hunt? That definitely mattered because 21 little kids got to take home a sticky, delightful craft project to share with their families that underscored a learning concept. Tiny steps forward help us remember that ALL moving matters. Even small moves on the chessboard, for example, can have significant results—both the moves you make and moves you don’t.

Moving Isn’t Always Forward—at First
As teachers know only too well from the many different students that teachers strive to “move forward,” students, teaching, and learning processes are complex and definitely not linear. Moving implies a forward direction, but, sometimes we must take steps back to move forward. Even these backward steps, these reverse action moves, are moves—and they ultimately help us to course correct and move forward. So, moving matters and move we must.

Moving Through January
PQS Worksheet If You Can't MLKAs you move through these next two weeks in January in your classes, consider using this PeachQuotes Studio™ Worksheet that contains Dr. King’s quotation about moving forward. As you work with your students on bigger projects, this quotation can help them to recognize that not all moves need to be flight-worthy. They don’t even need to run all the time. Sometimes just a simple, crawling-forward move, like organizing index cards or reading one extra paragraph, is enough to unlock a student who may be stuck or overwhelmed by what seems like an enormous assignment.

PeachQuotes Studio™ Worksheet Idea
One way to use this worksheet with your students is to ask them to make four lists around this quotation worksheet. Title the lists: FLY, RUN, WALK, and CRAWL. Suggest to kids that they do not need to have something for every category and that their FLY item might be a sport they do well, etc. Tell them you want them to have lots more WALK and CRAWL items. They can then cross off the tasks as they move through them. Moving means progress!

Dream BIG to WIN BIG
As you head into this week, we have one more move for you to consider. Do you have an educational project that could benefit from a $100 contribution and a FREE Teacher Peach product? Want to DREAM one up? Enter Teacher Peach’s “Granting Teacher Goals!” High 5 Initiative below.


Teacher Peach Granting Teacher GoalsCTA BUTTONS

Any educational project—large or small—is eligible if it helps kids learn, teachers teach, or just makes a tricky learning objective more engaging and exciting to learn—and teach! Through January 31st, you may enter 5 different projects from a single email address, by completing a separate application for each project. Winners will be announced starting February 1, 2016.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the PeachQuotes Studio™ Quotations and Worksheets in honor of Dr. King’s birthday and that you’ll let us know how you used them in your classrooms. What are your next moves for January?

 

Making Time Makes a Difference

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On Columbus Day this past October, the weather in Washington, DC, was breathtakingly perfect. I know this because I was there. Several weeks prior, I had committed to going on a same-day marathon trip with a group of 15 others to visit an array of monuments and museums in Washington.

As with many such “extra-curricular” additions to my calendar, it sounded simply wonderful at the time I registered. As days passed and the trip date grew nearer, I began to question my decision to take an entire day away from work and be away from my kids on a day with no school. I had to leave the house before 5 in the morning only to return well after 11 that same night, and get up for work just six hours later the next morning. In this light, it didn’t sound all that appealing.

The items on my to-do list seemed to grow as the time before the trip continued to shrink. And so began my inner monologue: “You’ll take your laptop and work on the plane, on the bus, and in between things. There’s bound to be down time. You’ll get it all done; you always seem to.” And off I went. A big draw for the trip was that four of my very dear friends were also joining for this day—one even leading the trip.

From the moment we pulled out of the dark, starlit driveway to head for the airport, I somehow knew I’d made the right decision. Of course, I didn’t open the laptop at the gate; there wasn’t time. Of course, I fell asleep on the flight. And on the bus ride from Reagan International to our first stop, the Jefferson Memorial, it never entered my mind to even consider working. I was already enchanted by the ride, the view, the stories, the laughter, and the impact of the monuments.

Just before midday, our little bus parked along a curb and we all got out, a routine we’d adjusted to on prior stops. We walked along a pale granite wall that I later learned is the Inscription Wall. We had arrived at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial. While I’d visited other memorials at various times, this was my first exposure to this particular memorial.

The granite stretched on. At perfectly orchestrated increments, exquisitely carved, perfectly proportioned capital letters formed excerpts from Dr. King’s many speeches. Some I knew; others new. All were thought-provoking and powerful in their clarity and simplicity. How often have we been taught that it is harder to express thought with fewer words than many? Every excerpt was a stunning example of Dr. King’s effective distillation of complexity that goes beyond any words.

Then I saw it—the towering memorial edifice itself, the Stone of Hope. There, in front of me, truly larger than life, was a white stone sculpture in the image of Dr. King himself. Armed folded, expression thoughtful, and impact indescribable, this strategically placed work in massive stone, over 28 feet tall, had caught me. Suddenly the enormity of the issues, the struggles and the pain of so many, and the certainty of Dr. King’s convictions were all depicted in the single sculpture of a single man. The crisp fall day with its perfect blue sky and sunlight reflecting off the Tidal Basin cast precision shadows that only strengthened the experience. Justice, democracy, hope, and love, key messages of Dr. King’s, were each underscored for me everywhere I turned. I was riveted.

In that moment, I knew. I was right to have come. I was changed for having made time that day for a trip that mattered—and continues to matter—on so many levels. Now, when I think of that day, I’m immediately transported to that moment at this memorial. Those vibrant feelings of heightened awareness, pride, and strength come flooding right back. All because I made time to go and I made space from my work—to see and be present.

When I discovered the quotation by Dr. King that opens this blog post, I knew this was the right story to share to accompany his message. Yes, we all must use time creatively. As I write this post, I recall that I did have a lot of work to do for Teacher Peach that day, and by applying some creative problem solving, I got it all done. Of course, I cannot remotely describe that work at all. Yet, I recall immediately the awe and amazement I felt and still feel for this incredible contributor to our country’s history and for master sculptor Lei Yixin who brought this memorial to life.

Creatively Choose the Use of Time
As we move through this first month of January, time feels like an easy companion, not yet fighting us with the urgency to choose. It still seems there’ll be plenty of time to do it all, much as it felt weeks before this trip last October.

Urgency and choice are two key filters for how we decide to use time. The third filter, as Dr. King described, requires us to creatively use time. While there may a limit to the time we have, creatively using the time we have expands our ability to choose wisely and can offset the urgency that “urges” us to try to do it all. I’ll always be grateful for the creative choice I made to spend that October day with special people who matter deeply, sharing experiences I’ll never forget, and honoring a man who helped change so much for so many.

More Quotations About Time
As you move through the second half of January, you’ll undoubtedly need to make your own choices about how to wisely, creatively, and efficiently use your teaching time. In honor of Black History Month, we’re including a worksheet of this quotation by Dr. King. We’ve also included two more worksheets with a “timely” quotation from Maya Angelou and Nelson Mandela, respectively, so you can “ch-use” with your students in mind.

PQS Worksheet 1-14-16 Time MLK

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We look forward to hearing how you opt to use these PeachQuotes Studio™ Worksheets in your classroom. We so hope you’ll take just a sliver of time to share your creatively chosen teachable moments. Share an experience that you’ve had like my amazing trip to Washington, too. I understand Maya Angelou’s words so well—the Martin Luther King Memorial definitely took my breath away!

 

Weekend Wonderings: What Are Your BIG Blue-Sky Resolutions?

As the first week back at school for most people winds to a close, it’s time to take a breath and reflect back on the first days of 2016. How are those resolutions coming along? Are you working on one resolution at a time or are you trying to tackle all your goals at once? No matter your approach, this time of year is a great time to check in and consider the things about which you want to be resolute.

Resolutions and Goals—Three Basic Types
There are three basic types of goals and resolutions:

  1. Things you want to START doing. (Do you want to start running, start sleeping more, start eating more healthfully, or start helping others? These are START goals.)
  2. Things you want to STOP doing. (Do you want to stop smoking, stop eating junk food, stop complaining or seeing your cup as half empty? These are STOP goals.)
  3. Things you want to KEEP doing. (Many people overlook this type of goal because it’s easy to forget that some things you are doing, past goals you have mastered, are still goals because you want to continue to do them. These goals take time, energy, and still count! Do you want to keep up your walking routine, keep saving money each month, or keep your closet organized? These are KEEP goals.)

BIG and Beyond the Basics
In addition to my own “get healthier” resolution that means I will STOP eating gluten, KEEP up my walking plan, and START getting more sleep, I also have one really BIG blue-sky resolution for 2016. Most people do. Many people segment this goal from the others because it feels BIG, really big. It may be a goal related to your family, your work, or your interests. For some people, a BIG blue-sky resolution is often connected to all of the BIG and important aspects of your life. These goals don’t stop, start, or keep going—instead, they are ONGOING.

My BIG Blue-Sky Resolution
To help you see what I mean, here’s my BIG blue-sky resolution for 2016: I will focus even more of my own time directly helping teachers help themselves and their students. My BIG blue-sky resolution for 2016 is to capture the Teacher Peach spark on a bigger national level so that teachers all over the country feel terrific about the important work they have chosen to do—and help me to create products that add even more value to them.

In 2016, I want to create even more products that will help teachers exhibit even deeper pride in the teaching profession. Does sporting one of our snazzy tote bags or using the motivating certificates and note cards we create for teachers really make a difference? We hope so. Teachers do tell us that our products do make a difference. I know that the more teachers are excited about our products and are willing to contribute by reviewing product ideas, making new product suggestions, critiquing our work in progress, and helping us shape the types of products we create, another part of my BIG 2016 goal, the more our products will help teachers. That’s why I’m determined to directly and personally ask, listen to, and connect with more teachers than ever before in 2016. (That’s also why I’m going on record here by sharing my goal with you now. Want to talk and connect? Comment below or email me at randi@teacherpeach.com!)

Stories That Matter About Products That Help
Knowing that Teacher Peach products matter to both teachers and their students is something we often discover in small, anecdotal ways. One story illustrates this better than many others—and it is a story that keeps me going.

You Made a Great Choice CardsI’d given a teacher two free samples of our “You made a great choice!” card, just to try it. All I asked of her in return was to tell me how she used them and if she thought they were valuable to her students. I didn’t hear from her for a long time. I thought she’d forgotten or perhaps hadn’t yet used the cards.

One day, months later, I got a note from her. She told me that right after we met, she had given one of the cards to a child in her class who had struggled with reading. He was really beginning to decode more complex words with less help and she was so pleased with his progress. She decided to tell him quietly, by giving him this card, reminding him to take the time to decode, and that she noticed his efforts to do this in small group.

Her note went on to say that the little boy had since left her class. He was sent to live with relatives in another city because his family had been living in a local shelter temporarily. When he came to say goodbye, she told him that he was a good reader and to remember to take each word apart, just as they’d been doing. “Like you said in the card?” At first, she didn’t know what he meant, but he reminded her about the “great choice” card she had given him months before.

As he was walking out of her classroom, he turned. He said he kept the card along with an old watch from his grandmother, in a red box that he kept wrapped up in his sweatshirt for safekeeping. He told her he looked at the card every day before school, that no one had ever given him anything like that before, and he was going to keep it forever.

The teacher apologized for not writing sooner and said she thought I might like to know that card certainly helped one little boy. As for the other copy of the card I had given her? She gave it right back: she used it to write her note to me. Needless to say, I then sent her several sets for her desk drawer. This is the kind of story that helps us figure out how to help teachers reach their students.

More Positives to Come!
Stories like this one and my BIG blue-sky resolution are behind our upcoming launch of more and more teacher products that are designed for teachers to give directly to students. Our new line of amazing Sticker Treats™ motivational stickers help teachers share positives and foster greater confidence in their students—easily, economically, and effectively.

In the coming weeks, I’ll introduce this series in a post or two so you can see how you might use these stickers in your classrooms. From 100 Days, Happy Birthday, Teamwork, Anti-Bullying, and more, you’ll find many Sticker Treats™ to help your students know that their good choices do matter—and they do, too. In the meantime, here’s a preview. (The images below are the proofs of the stickers. The stickers come 15 stickers to a sheet and each sticker is 1-1/2” in diameter.) 

Teacher Peach Sticker Treats Bully Free Zone Teacher Peach Sticker Treats Did My Best Teacher Peach Sticker Treats First 100 Days Teacher Peach Sticker Treats Happy Birthday Teacher Peach Sticker Treats I Care Teacher Peach Sticker Treats Last Day of School Teacher Peach Sticker Treats Wow Bravo Teacher Peach Sticker Treats Wow Great Team

My BIG blue-sky resolution for 2016 is to help teachers reach and positively impact more students as we support one another and continue to do challenging work with and for the most important people in our lives—our kids! Enjoy a great weekend. Let us know about your BIG blue-sky resolutions. If there’s a Teacher Peach product we can dream up to help you achieve your goals, we hope you’ll share that too!

Achieve New Year’s Resolutions with 365 Slices!

New Year’s resolutions are great in theory. Often made with the fresh determination that comes with the start of a new calendar year, we resolve to BE and DO better in specific areas of life that matter to us. We often reflect on our big priorities and set lofty goals about which we plan to be resolute. Yet, after just months or weeks, and for some resolutions, even after only a few days, we abandon many of these meaningful resolutions. The year is just five days old and already some resolutions have already been broken. Why?

RESOLUTIONS ARE BIG DEALS!
It’s not in the timing of the resolutions that often sets us up for resolution failure. Nor does it stem from the resolutions themselves. Most resolutions are quite worthy of achieving. Take a look at this list, culled from various top resolutions lists. As you’ll quickly see, though, each of these top 12 resolutions is REALLY BIG.

  1. Enjoy life to the fullest.
  2. Lose weight and get fit through a healthier lifestyle.
  3. Spend more time with family and friends.
  4. Save more money, spend less money.
  5. Pay down or get out of debt.
  6. Quit smoking, drinking, or other bad habits.
  7. Learn something new and different.
  8. Travel to new and exciting places.
  9. Be less stressed.
  10. Volunteer.
  11. Get organized.
  12. Fall in love, meet soul mate.

Are any of these resolutions on your list? Resolutions by their very nature are big undertakings. As a result, resolutions can be tough to parse into simple actionable items. To be achieved, even big resolutions need to be integrated into whatever you need to get done next Thursday, as it were. Just how does your to-do list for the coming week incorporate a potential desire to enjoy life to the fullest while spending more time with family and friends, learning something new in an exotic new place where you can lose weight, pay down your debt, reduce your stress and volunteer, all while being totally organized? With resolutions of this scale, of course many of us will abandon ship. As these top 12 resolutions show, it’s easy to make grand resolutions. As our track records show, it’s just as easy to consistently fall short of implementing them.

Two Reasons Why Resolutions Erode
Two factors enter into resolution erosion. First, we tend to set ourselves up with too many different big resolutions at once. In recent blog posts, we shared strategies to tackle one resolution at a time, working to master one resolution before moving onto the next. Even if your resolutions are pint-sized compared to these MEGAlutions, trying to accomplish multiple resolutions at once can be too much for lots of us.

The second reason resolutions erode so quickly is not about WHEN we decide to work on them, simultaneously or sequentially. It’s also not about WHAT the resolutions themselves may be about; if it matters to you, it is a worthwhile resolution. The second reason resolutions erode is because of HOW we tackle them.

Would you ever attempt to eat an entire 10-pound salami in one bite? Hardly. Big goals need to be parsed into smaller, doable steps. By slicing big resolutions into smaller pieces, many of us will do a better job of integrating big goals into day-to-day life. Even smaller slices need to be actionable. For example, if you want to live a healthier life in 2016, many smaller actionable steps need to be part of this resolution, from cleaning out your pantry to replacing your running shoes.

365 Slices Mean 365 Fresh Starts
I use an approach that I’ve dubbed 365 Slices. Each of the 365 days of this coming year becomes a clean slate. Even when the day’s actions are a total bust when compared to longer-term goals, to quote Scarlett O’Hara, “Tomorrow is another day.”

It’s helpful when the everyday actions and choices that fill our to-do lists align directly to the big priorities and resolutions that matter most. Connecting the dots between the resolution (WHAT) and its implementation (HOW) helps you to achieve more. When you take even one action each day that brings you closer to the resolution you’re focusing on, you make actionable progress.

Each day, work to include even just one action that aligns to one of your big priorities for the year. For example, getting to the school concert for your children, no matter what is going on at work that day is an example of connecting dots on a resolution of Family First. Think of each day as a sort of Etch-a-Sketch, with the chance to erase the day that’s over and begin with a clean slate the next day. Each day is a new opportunity to get closer to and make progress on your big goals.

The High Five on Which I Strive!
I distill my resolutions into five main categories: Family, Health, Biz 1, Biz 2, and Future. Each day I make my to-do list. Much is tied directly to daily activities, but by being mindful of my bigger resolutions, I often slip in an extra walk, plan ahead to get to the school event, or simply plan a free night to be open to whatever family situation might be happening.

I typically have more to do than is feasible to complete in one day. Comparing the items on my list to my five categories helps me make better choices. When I take the extra few seconds to connect the dots between my to-dos and my big resolutions, I prioritize more effectively.

365 Slices WorksheetThis method also helps me reflect back on a weekly basis. When I notice days slipping by without checking a “connect-the-dots” box that links a daily action to a bigger resolution, it’s a wake-up call.

As you jump back into your first days of school after Winter Break, try using this PDF—created by the Teacher Peach designers at the PeachQuotes Studio—for your to-do list, even for a few days. See what you notice and of course, let us know. Feel free to modify this form, share it, and experiment with other ways to connect-the-dots between your big resolutions and your day-to-day activities and must-do tasks. And remember, each new day is a fresh start!