The Excellent Ways To Instill Life-Long Lessons In Our Children & Students

ONE of my three books Good Manners Will Make You . . . A Lady/Gentleman & Other Life Lessons – The Excellent Ways To Instill Life-Long Lessons In Our Children & Students – is a culmination of lived experiences, lessons learned and many dozens in-service training and career development courses spanning over twenty years. I have had a very eventful life teaching in diverse classrooms in three cosmopolitan cities in three continents: Africa, Europe and Asia. I have worked in Harare, Zimbabwe (January 1994- January 2001); London and Kent (February 2001-August 2011); and Cairo, Egypt (September 2011 to present) with a term’s stint in Baku, Azerbaijan. I have also worked for Cambridge International Examinations (CIE)and Edexcel (Pearson) as an English Examiner rising to Team Leader position.

MY BOOK calls upon an array of individuals – parents and guardians, teachers, and all administrators – who have contact with children and students, to do more, learn more, and help the young men and ladies to excel. It is a clarion call for help from the society to do more to have responsible citizens!

The Excellent Ways To Instill Life-long Lessons In Our Children & Students

The many topics addressed in Good Manners Will Make You A . . .  Lady/Gentleman & Other Life Lessons reflect on the different issues our children, and students alike, face as they grow up into adulthood. Thus, helping, instilling, and teaching them to master the simple rules of etiquette will get them noticed, for all the right reasons.

Students and children, who demonstrate basic etiquette and social skills as well as show respect and consideration for others, create a more positive impression in the eyes of their peers and the adults in their lives. As a result, they are more likely to be presented with opportunities that allow them to grow and thrive. This has a major impact on their ability to excel both academically and socially, and also plays a role in determining which colleges or universities will accept them as students.

Good Manners Will Make You A . . .  Lady/ A Gentleman & Other Life Lessons can be used for individual work or for building a thoughtful and receptive community that is never shy of work, commitments, being considerate, and, ultimately, becoming law-abiding citizens.

In How To Make Our Students & Children Do Anything We Ask Of Them, I have developed a hands-on piece of work for parents, guardians, and teachers, which will project a new way of thinking by applying the language of persuasion and influence to our students and children. By the end of the book, parents, guardians and teachers – and any custodians of our children – will be on a new trajectory, where interaction with our students and children will never be the same again. It is about how these young ones can do anything we ask of them through:

  • CHANGING the words we use, making it easy to create drastic changes in behavior.
  • EXPLAINING and CREATING the illusion of choice and
  • CREATING leading questions.

This, in short, is a summary of hypnotherapist and neuro-linguistic programming expert Alicia Eaton’s book: Written Words That Work: How to Get Kids to Do Almost Anything. In her book, she reveals the above three simple tricks that every Teacher and Parent should try.

In yet another thought-provoking article: Ways To Develop Critical Thinking Skills Among Our Children & Adults Alike, the issue of our students and children is handled through a differentdimension, which is teaching them to be critical thinkers by addressing FIVE key components: i) What is Critical Thinking? ii) What Do You Want To Achieve? iii) The Benefit of Foresight; iv) Critical Thinking Skills, and v) 10 Common Critical Thinking Skills. Below, I will address…

RESPONSIBILITY to yourself, which means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work ― Adrienne Rich

In a step-by-step approach to acquiring critical thinking skills, another article, Training Reasoning Skills To Our Students & Children, will help them acquire more reasoned arguments and draw out the inferences that they need to use in their assignments, projects and examination questions as well as in their general day to day living. Thus, once the parameters have been set up for developing critical thinking among students, it is equally important to instill the reasoning behind certain assumptions.

Furthermore, in another more interesting article: Amazing Ways To Challenging Our behaviors, the onus is on YOU, the adult. I urge you to be more proactive, considerate, and assertive. Simply put, this article is the road to commitment as . . .

 “We create our fate every day . . . most of the ills we suffer from are directly traceable to our behavior.” ― Henry Miller

No matter how committed one is to a particular course of action or set of values, often our behaviors get in the way. In effect, we might want something but do the very things that stop us from achieving them. A good example from daily life is the commitment we make to go on a diet after the excesses of the festive season, only to have our ambition thwarted as we reach for one of our favorite foods. In essence, our actions can counter our original commitment. Indeed, our actions themselves can be based on a counter-commitment, behind which is a big assumption. Only by first addressing our big assumptions can we start changing our behaviors to align them with one’s original beliefs and commitments.

It is quite clear that we have to ‘attack’ both our assumptions and our competing commitments to stop sabotaging our principles and beliefs.

Similarly, in another closely related topic: Effortless Ways To Resolving Conflict: Be It At Home, School Or Work, will arm our students and children with new ways to handle conflict resolution. The article offers practical suggestions that will help diffuse escalating situations from getting worse.Here, conflict is seen as more than just a disagreement. It is a situation in which one or both parties perceive a threat (whether or not the threat is real). The key fact derived from the article is quite simple:when a conflict is mismanaged, it can cause great harm to a relationship, but when handled in a respectful, positive way, conflict provides an opportunity to strengthen the bond between two people or groups of people.

Ultimately, by learning skills for conflict resolution, you can keep your personal and professional relationships strong and growing.

Still, in line with creating young ladies and young gentlemen in our children and students alike, praise and recognition should be at the core. In the article: How Praise And Recognition Can Change Attitude @ Home, Work And School, a plethora of issues is explored. At its core, the article addresses the many facets of these three quotes:

  1. “A brave man acknowledges the strength of others.” ― Veronica Roth
  2. “Beware of those who criticize you when you deserve some praise for an achievement, for it is they who secretly desire to be worshipped.” ― Suzy Kassem.
  3. “In the arena of human life, the honors and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities in action.”– Aristotle.

The above quotes are illustrative of how we realize the power and influence of praise and recognition in our day to day living. Through motivating others, be it individuals or team members, offering praise and recognition for a job well done can be an extremely powerful tool in changing dynamics at work, school or home.

In our hectic lives, there are moments where certain attitudes need to be taught and others need to be observed and then internalized. In the part, Awesome Habits To Observe On Being A Considerate Colleague, I am looking atRobert Bolt’s masterpiece, A Man For All Seasons, where the Common Man, gives a summation of how we ought to live in this world of ours. He says:

Friends, just don’t – make trouble – or if you must make trouble, make the sort of trouble that’s expected.

Whether you are part of a team or have infrequent contact with others, it is important to ensure that you always behave appropriately or make “the expected trouble” to create harmonious and profitable working relationships.

Vigilantly observe the corporate culture in which you work, and be aware that change will happen. Your eyes and ears are your best resource in this learning process!

Intimately related to being a considerate colleague is the issue of working well with others. As our children and students grow into adulthood, and good citizens, there are certain attitudes we need to instill in them. It is the impetus driven by Essential Ideas On Working Well With Others. Certainly,most workplaces include an element of collaborative working, so it’s important to be aware of how your feelings and behaviors affect others.

We must develop the right habits when it comes to working with others as it will result in leadership opportunities, higher pay, and more rewarding work. These are the essence of why we go to work – right?

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In today’s hurly-burly way of living, it is important to develop certain tenets in our lives. In developing and acquiring positive thinking, beliefs, and values that matter, you drive your behaviors in a certain direction. In Awesome Ways To Creating A Positive Mindset, it is quite clear thatmost successful individuals are those who hold positive beliefs and values about themselves and the people around them. This further brings brightness to the eyes, as well as gives more energy, and happiness. Thus, your whole being broadcasts goodwill, happiness, and success.

Closely related to a positive mindset is the 5 Steps To Mental Wellbeing, which will take you to improve your mental health and wellbeing. The UK’s NHS provides a blueprint that can help you feel more positive and get the most out of life, be it, an adult or a child or a student.

Indeed, there are many achievable things one can get from thinking positively.

From addressing our mental wellbeing, I went on to have two articles on SPEAKING. Yes, I am talking about SPEAKING – how do you communicate with your children, students or colleagues? In Simple Tips To Improving Your Verbal Skills, I provide some useful top tips and suggestions on how to develop your skills in this key area.  By relaxing your voice when you communicate, conversation will always feel less forced, indicating that you must remain calm. If you get nervous when you speak in public, take some deep breaths before you start. Always remember to think carefully about what you are going to say before you say it and try to use clear, positive, straightforward language to avoid any misunderstandings.

In the last of many articles, the A-Z Guide To Getting The Best From Your Voice, you will learn how your voice greatly influences other people’s perceptions of you. However, most of us have no idea what we sound like until we hear a recording of our voice. Here, I provide some practical guidance and techniques to help you speak positively and with impact in any situation.

LASTLY, my last four tasks are Self-Help Assessment Tests for you, our children or students. After having completed all/most of the articles in this book, kindly try one or two of these assessments tests. They are not the alpha and omega of good living, but they offer a semblance of what you are. These topics range from ‘How Confident Am I? Low Self-Esteem Assessment Test’, to ‘Responses To Poor Behavior’, and lastly, ‘Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence Assessment Test’. You will enjoy the fun . . . and the outcomes.

DEAR READER, the articles pursued in this book will open up our students and children to new, inspiring horizons. It will also create among them, a community of enquiry together with philosophical enquiries they have never experienced before.

As old:



Mentoring is a process in which a qualified professional provides advice, support, and guidance to an individual or group in order to aid in their learning and growth. The mentor serves as a guide, advisor, or counsellor, sharing expertise, experiences, and skills with a trainee or junior within agreed-upon parameters so that the words of wisdom can help in the professional career of the trainee or junior.

It might be a short-term or long-term commitment, depending on the cause for the mentorship:

  • A MENTOR has the responsibility of offering support to and feedback on the individual under supervision.”
  • A MENTOR is someone who contributes their knowledge, skills, and/or experience to assist others in developing and growing.

Mentoring is frequently longer-term, with some mentoring relationships lasting 6 months or more, and mentoring can span years or even decades in some circumstances.

One of the most distinguishing features is that mentoring is directed, whereas coaching is non-directive. In practice, what does this mean? In mentoring meetings, the mentor is likely to do the majority of the talking, whereas in coaching, the coach is likely to pose questions and give the person they are coaching space to reflect and do the majority of the talking.

Finally, both coaching and mentoring are about allowing people to go to where they want to go by utilizing the coach’s or mentor’s experience.

The Skills Required for Mentoring

The 3 C’s of successful and effective mentoring programmes are based around the following principles: Clarity, Communication and Commitment. …

For mentoring, whilst qualifications aren’t required, there are lots of skills that are recommended for someone to be an effective mentor. Here are just some of them:

  • A keen interest in helping others is a given but we hope you’ll have that – it’s a key place to start when mentoring people.
  • First-hand experience, knowledge, and insights in the area in which you’re providing mentoring – because mentoring should be built on solid and concrete advice and guidance.
  • Relationship building and interpersonal skills are crucial for mentoring – they’re also important for coaching.
  • Dedicated long-term time commitment whilst not potentially considered a ‘skill’ is important because if you start a mentoring journey with someone, it’s vital to see it through.
  • Motivating, encouraging, and inspiring energy throughout all mentoring meetings.
  • Helping to identify the mentee’s goals is crucial. This can take some self-reflection from the mentor, in order to help the mentee and work out where their goals should be.

The benefits of mentoring are well known: It gives less experienced employees valuable feedback, insight and support, while passing down wisdom and institutional knowledge


When deciding whether to use a coach or a mentor, consider the goal you wish to achieve. The coach and the mentor will help professionals in different ways to accomplish their goals. In fact, some professionals use multiple coaches or multiple mentors throughout their careers, depending on their desired goals. In both coaching and mentoring, trust, respect and confidentiality are at the forefront of the relationship

REMEMBER . . . .

Being involved in a coaching or mentoring relationship can enhance your professional and personal life in ways that you could not achieve on your own. Keep your mind open to the possibilities. When you have been coached and mentored, then you can pay it forward by coaching or mentoring others. Take what you have learned and pass it along to those who can benefit from your knowledge and experience.

Techniques of Mentoring

Mentoring is a voluntary arrangement where both the mentor and the mentee are eager to build a viable relationship. The numerous mentoring techniques used by a mentor are described below

1. Group Mentoring Technique – This type of mentoring procedure involves the participation of one or more than one mentor for a group of mentees. Schools generally encourage group mentoring as there is not enough time and resources for undertaking a one-on-one mentoring program for all the children.

2. Peer Mentoring Technique – In this mentoring technique a peer addresses an individual or a group by sharing his experience so that it can help others to make necessary adjustments

3. One-On-One Mentoring Technique – In this type of mentoring only the mentor and mentee are involved. The young mentee works with an experienced individual and gains from his wisdom and know-how.

4. E-Mentoring Technique – With advancements in technology, the mentorship programs have also undergone a revamp. It is now possible to participate in the e-mentoring method by connecting virtually without even losing the personal touch.

5. Speed Mentoring Technique – The speed mentoring technique is usually followed during events and conference where the mentee has the chance to interact with several mentors in short time

6. Formal Mentoring Technique – The formal mentoring technique includes structured programs that offer accountability based on the formal contract between the mentor and mentee. It helps to boost confidence among the mentees and increase their performance levels.

7. Informal Mentoring Technique – This type of mentoring technique lacks a proper structure. It tends to be voluntary without any pressure of doing something in a set manner. Mentees seem to develop a strong connection with their mentor during the informal mentoring

8. Training-Based Mentoring Technique – In this type of mentoring technique, a mentor is assigned explicitly to a mentee. He assists in developing the required competencies, skills and knowledge in a specific field in which the mentee has enrolled himself.

Qualities Of A Good Mentor

The qualities that make a good mentor are as follows:

Willingness to assist others in succeedingEthical behaviourEmpathetic behaviourTrustworthiness
Willingness to listen with patiencePatienceStrong initiativeOpenness
Willingness to work with othersCommitment to the professional growth of the menteesThe right amount of self-confidence to make a differencePeople management skills
No biasHonestyCommon senseLeadership skills
Desire to motivate othersSelf-awarenessCommunication skillsQuestioning and answering skills
Desire to pass on  skills, know-how and expertiseWillingness to receive and give feedback with enthusiasmWillingness to learn and pass on the knowledgeWillingness to engage with others on an interpersonal level
FlexibilityRealistic expectationsKnowledge of a specific fieldSensitivity towards the mentee’s situation
Maintaining the levels of objectivity

The New Opportunities 

There are new opportunities for the mentees where they can develop their skills and boost their know-how. Being mentored is a privilege that everyone does not have. The support and encouraged broadens horizons and instils self-confidence as ….

  • Mentoring is a two-way street where the beneficiaries are both the involved parties the mentor and the mentee.
  • The mentor achieves personal satisfaction by sharing his skills and know-how with a willing individual.
  • He gains recognition as a viable leader and expert, and this boosts his professional credibility in the organization
  • While mentoring, the mentor comes to know about the ideas and concepts of the new generation. He gains a fresh perspective that helps him in personal growth
  • The mentor gets an opportunity to reflect on his practices and goals and make changes in his life if necessary
  • Every individual is different, and when the mentor comes into contact with the mindset of diverse mentees, he can regroup and develop the most suitable coaching and mentoring style
  • Mentoring for a mentor is an extension of his professional development record

Disadvantages Of Mentoring

The big disadvantages for mentoring include:

Feeling of resentment – If the mentoring is not voluntary, then the mentor might have a feeling of resentment because he has to undertake additional responsibilities. This might prove harmful for the mentee as he might be on the line of fire and will have to bear the brunt of the mentor’s displeasure

Create conflict – The organization takes the help of several mentors, and this can ultimately cause conflict and create loyalty issues.

Issues with dependence – There is a high probability that new employees in the organization will become highly dependent on their mentor’s support and advice and that it will become problematic for them to walk unaided later on. When such a situation occurs, it is the organization that suffers as it hampers its level of efficiency and productivity. Moreover, the workers will continue to struggle and without mentor will not be able to handle the pressure of the workplace

Additional expenses and loss of time – Mentorship may cost money to some, the programme itself costs time, effort too and is often an additional expense that nobody wants to bear.


Mentoring is all about empowering and motivating the mentee so that he can identify the issues and resolve them admirably as per his satisfaction

It is not about holding his hands and taking him to the end post but showing him that different ways can help him to achieve his goals. Mentoring is not therapy or counselling but building a relationship for future growth.

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!!!


CONSIDER these questions first . . .

  • Do you know that your mood and behavior affect performance?
  • How do you work on attaining the consistent, emotionally intelligent leadership behaviors that breed success in yourself and others?
  • How often do you look for good in others?

Many people would agree with me that the way their boss behaves affects the way they do their job.

Whether irritable or unpredictable, upbeat or encouraging, the range of moods to which leaders expose their followers, is generally viewed as having the potential to encourage or inhibit performance.

In a well written research on moods by Goleman et al entitled ‘Primal Leadership: The Hidden Driver of Great Performance’ in the Harvard Business Review of December 2001, the writers demonstrate that this generally accepted truth has empirical support too. In the research spanning over a two-year study, it suggests that a leader’s mood can actually impact directly on organisational performance; to the extent that an organization’s success may actually depend upon its leader having the right kind of moods.

birthday-cake-cake-birthday-cupcakes-40183.jpegResearch On Mood Management

The notion that a leader’s mood affects their staff and, consequently, their organization’s performance, is not new. A number of studies establish a causal link between a leader’s mood and a follower’s performance. Alice Isen of Cornell University, for instance, established that a positive working atmosphere contributes to enhanced mental efficiency, higher information intake and comprehension, and more flexible thinking.

Mood management is defined by our ability to keep powerful emotions in check so that we can make rational decisions that are in our and others’ best interests. The better we are able to stay calm under pressure, the less likely we will overreact and make poor decisions in the workplace.

MOODS are typically described as having either a positive or negative valence. In other words, people usually talk about being in a good mood or a bad mood. People seem to experience a positive mood when they have a clean slate, have had a good night sleep, and feel no sense of stress in their life. Those experiencing negative moods may have important implications for mental and physical well-being. Thus, negative mood has no specific start and stop date. It can last for hours, days, weeks, or longer. Negative moods can also manipulate how individuals interpret and translate the world around them, and can also direct their behavior.

Mood also differs from temperament or personality traits which are even longer-lasting.

The Impact Of A Leader’s Mood

Leaders’ moods are important because of their prominent position within the company or organization. The effect is most apparent in open-plan offices shared by the leader; but the bad mood can also spread throughout the organization by first infecting those with whom the leader deals directly, and then moving downwards as the various subordinates interact.

Goleman et tal’s research demonstrates that when leaders are in a happy mood they galvanize good performance and the rest of the office smiles with them. When a leader is in a happy mood:

  • They think more positively about their own goals.
  • They are more creative.
  • They make better decisions
  • They are instinctively more helpful to those around them.

On the negative side, when a leader is often in a negative mood:

  • They are rarely successful.
  • They have a negative influence on their followers, who seldom reach their potential.
  • They will often end up being blamed for poor results.

However, the research points out that in a negative situation, if the leader can recognise the effect they are having early enough, the impact may not be irreversible.

Understanding The Human Brain

A mood is an emotional state and lies with the human brain. The region of the brain which manages emotions, termed the limbic area, is commonly described as operating on an ‘open-loop’ system. Unlike the self-regulating nature of a ‘closed-loop’ system, the limbic area requires external stimulation to operate. Moods are created based on these external influences. The open-loop system explains why, for instance, a sustained period of severe stress affects isolated individuals far more than socially active ones, or why intensive care patients with a loved one constantly nearby are more likely to recover than those without.

It also accounts for the feelings of warm affection shared between couples. Open-loop also accounts for a measurable harmonisation in physiological characteristics, such as heart-rate, between two friends deep in conversation. Finally, in social environments, such as an office or meeting room, individuals rapidly attune to each other’s physiological and emotional states.

A study by Bartel and Saavedra showed astounding results  that monitored seventy work teams in various industries and discovered that, when working closely together, the teams soon began to share moods, both positive and negative.

Negative Moods

It is quite interesting to note that negative moods are not as significant in their effect as positive ones. Put differently, positive moods improve performance more than negative moods which cause performance to deteriorate. Yet, a good mood in itself does little; it has to be the right kind of good mood. At a time of crisis, for example, a smiling, upbeat mood would simply be insensitive. Successful resonance should enable leaders to blend their mood into situations as they present themselves.

Goleman et tal attributes the problem, through leaders who have little idea or fail to notice what resonance, if any, they have with their subordinates. The study authors call this,CEO disease’; namely, a complete lack of awareness by leaders of how they are regarded within the company or organization they lead. This arises not through a lack of concern about how people perceive them – most leaders are extremely keen to find this out. Rather, they mistakenly presume both that they are themselves capable of discerning people’s perception of them; and that negative impressions of them will be communicated directly to the leader.

The CEO Disease can also lie with subordinates who hesitate to tell their boss exactly what they think for fear of being penalised. Less evident is that asking people to comment on how a leader’s emotional disposition affects their work is seen as too unconventional and vague.

The implication is that primal leadership demands more than putting on a game face every day. It requires an executive to determine, through reflective analysis, how his/her emotional leadership drives the moods and actions of the organization, and then, with equal discipline, the need to adjust his/her behavior accordingly.

The solution instead is rather more complex. The Harvard team explain that a person’s emotional skills, while having a genetic component, are significantly influenced by one’s personal life experiences. These in turn build on each other, to the extent that a set pattern of behaviour is difficult to alter. As the authors point out:

‘And therein lies the rub: The more we act a certain way – be it happy, depressed or cranky – the more the behavior becomes ingrained in our brain circuitry, and the more we will continue to feel and act that way.’

group hand fist bump

Five Steps To Managing Your Moods Effectively

The solution proposed by the Harvard team is a five-stage process designed in effect to ‘rewire the brain towards more emotionally intelligent behaviours.’

They outline it as follows:

1. Who do I want to be?

This involves imagining an ideal version of yourself. The team asked leaders to imagine themselves eight years ahead as an effective leader, taking into account how they would feel, what they would do, and who would be there. This exercise encouraged them to envisage how their working and emotional lives might change if they had a different outlook.

2. Who am I now?

This step requires leaders to begin to see themselves as others do. A small element of ‘ego-defence’ is inevitable, and indeed is a useful way of remaining enthusiastic and positive when making difficult decisions. Yet as the team suggest, ‘self-delusion should come in very small doses.’ They suggest remaining continually receptive towards criticism, even going as far as actively inviting negative feedback.

Interestingly, the team also stress that it is important not to focus simply on the leader’s perceived weaknesses. Having an accurate picture of their main strengths provides the motivation and focus for them to concentrate on counteracting their weaknesses.

3. How do I get from here to there?

The Harvard research team suggest that the learning process might take the form of the leader requesting written, anonymous feedback from every team member about their mood and its affect on the team.

Other techniques might include a weekly diary in order to compare, week by week, the leader’s self-perception with that of those around him, or the appointment of one or two carefully chosen colleagues to act as both coach and devil’s advocate.

It must be understood that any change will be gradual and will only be successful if the leader’s increased state of awareness is fairly constant. Paying more attention to new methods of behaviour in itself acts as stimulation for the breaking of former habits and the experimentation with new ones.

4. How do I make change stick?

As already suggested, altering ingrained behaviour patterns requires continual rehearsal. But modifying one’s actions in practice is not the only way that these patterns can be altered. This can actually occur merely by visualising a different method of behaviour: ‘imagining something in vivid detail can fire the same brain cells actually involved in doing that activity…So to alleviate the fears associated with trying out riskier ways of leading, we should first visualize some likely scenarios.’ This can be done anywhere when the leader has some spare time, e.g. while travelling to work, or when waiting for colleagues to arrive at a meeting.

5. Who can help me?

The final stage involves forming what the Harvard team term ‘a community of supporters.’ They cite an executive learning programme carried out by Unilever where managers came together in regular learning groups, initially to discuss career and leadership ideas. This gradually evolved as trust built up between the executives to include frank discussion about each others’ technique and performance. The advantage of such an approach is that ‘people we trust let us try out unfamiliar parts of our leadership repertoire without risk.’

Thus, it is important that once you are aware of an emotion, you can trace its cause and change it. Left unchanged, an extended period of emotion becomes your “mood.” A very extended mood can also develop into a character trait. Some people remain trapped in a chronically negative mood which then affects their state and subsequently influences others.

Surely, the ability to manage your own state is fundamental to managing yourself and to influencing the state of another person. Given the high probability of disappointment, failed expectations and loss in the world, we are vulnerable to being pushed into a negative state unless we have learned to self-manage.

THE BAD NEWS is that a leader’s mood affects corporate results.

THE GOOD NEWS is that moods, while certainly ingrained in our individual psyches, are not fixed there permanently.

THUS, with recourse to the proper techniques, unproductive mood swings and harmful fluctuations of temperament can be reduced; to the good of a leader, staff members and organisation alike.

I am sure I didn’t ruffle up a few feathers

Good luck in all your endeavours to improve your image.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL.


HIGH SCHOOL is a key point in a student’s education because of the importance it carries in terms of writing skills. Writing is a big part of every High School student’s life. In fact, students write more than ever before – from school research papers to essays on standardized tests to texting their friends. Yet, writing problems abound.

According to the latest US-based results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), only 24% of twelfth-graders are at or above the proficient level in writing and only 3% write at an advanced level.

While these results are disappointing, the overall effect on student achievement is a larger concern: writing problems can greatly hinder college and career success. The good news is that with hard work, patience, and targeted help, High School writing problems can be overcome.

It is crucial to develop competent writing skills for the future, but students often encounter challenges in terms of writing. In order to help them, parents need to understand these challenges and learn the best way to face them in order to help their children.

IMPROVING students’ writing skills help them succeed inside and outside the classroom. Effective writing is a vital component of students’ literacy achievement, and writing is a critical communication tool for students to convey thoughts and opinions, describe ideas and events, and analyze information. Indeed, writing is a life-long skill that plays a key role in post-secondary success across academic and vocational disciplines. So, firstly …

HS Teacher and StudentWhat is Proficient High School Writing?

By understanding High School writing proficiency standards, parents can be more effective in helping their children meet grade-level expectations. At the proficient level or above, High School students are able to plan, draft, and complete error-free essays.

High School students should know how to select the appropriate form of writing for various audiences and purposes, including narrative, expository, persuasive, descriptive, business, and literary forms. Any type of essay writing!

Students in all grades should exhibit an increasing facility with . . .

  • complex sentence structures,
  • more sophisticated vocabulary,
  • and an evolving individual writing style.

When revising selected drafts, students are expected to improve the development of a central theme, the logical organization of content, and the creation of meaningful relationships among ideas.

In addition, students must edit their essays for the correct use of Standard English.

What Does Your Writing Look Like?

How much do you relate to these three questions:

  1. Do you make errors in SPaG – Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar?
  2. Do you have poorly constructed sentences and unsuitable word choices?
  3. Is there a lack of organization or supporting ideas in your essays?

These three questions are relatable. Writing at High School is a complex intellectual task involving many component skills, some of which students may lack completely, or others may have only partially mastered by the time they leave High School. The few good to excellent ones do so by harnessing various skills chief among which, are overcoming certain challenges.

These certain writing mechanics which High School students need to master before moving on to paragraphs and then essays include:

  • Correctly identifying the parts of a sentence.
  • Understanding complex sentences.
  • Learning subject-verb agreement.
  • Differentiating between plural and possessive nouns.
  • Using pronouns, adjectives and adverbs in sentences.
  • Identifying and spelling words that often confuse writers.
  • Correctly using commas, semicolons, and other punctuation.
  • Proofreading their writing for errors.

Writing has now become a huge part of every student’s life, starting with the simplest content to the most complex writing pieces. At this point, students are asked to craft different types of essays, research papers and other kinds of creative writing tasks.

The reason for this increase in variety of papers lies in the importance writing carries in students’ lives during and after their education. Writing is a skill students will need for the future, which is why it is crucial to develop it to the proper level.

HS Two Girls22 Common Writing Mistakes & Overcoming Them

It’s not a secret that errors in Grammar and Punctuation are one of the main reasons why people lose their marks in academic papers. This is a great problem for many High School students who may use wrong words, confuse prepositions and conjunctions, miss auxiliary verb or simply are not familiar with punctuation rules.

A number of High School students need to master skills involving, among other things:


Reading comprehension is not an innate and largely fixed mental ability related to levels of intelligence, but a series of skills that have to be mastered for effective understanding and analysis to take place.

To improve your COMPREHENSIVE SKILLS you should:

  • Understand the author’s thoughts
  • Understand diction, mood and tone.
  • Reflect on the meaning of the words and sentences.
  • Read and reread.

Complicating matters is the fact that many students’ reading skills are also poor. For example, if they cannot recognize the main point of an argument in their reading, they obviously cannot respond to this point in their writing. In addition, students often lack the meta-cognitive skills (planning, monitoring, and assessing one’s understanding and performance) to recognize the areas in which their prior knowledge and skills are insufficient – and thus, which skills they need to work to improve on.

To improve your ANALYTICAL SKILLS you should . . .

  • Identify a topic, problem or issue.
  • Gather information.
  • Play complicated brain games.
  • Join a book or debate club.
  • Think multiple sides to a problem.
  • Read extensively.

A key element to analytical thinking is the ability to quickly identify cause and effect relationships. This means understanding what might happen during the problem-solving process, for example, and examining how new ideas relate to the original topic.

Most analytical thinking requires trial and error. Students with strong analytical thinking skills are often capable of quickly analyzing a situation, topic or problem, and often work well in a team setting to accomplish goals.


There are many mistakes that students are faced with, chief among which, include:

    • Writing mechanics: grammar, sentence structure, spelling.
    • Planning a writing strategy.
    • Communicating ideas clearly and concisely.
    • Constructing a reasoned, demonstrable argument.
    • Effectively marshaling evidence and using sources appropriately.
    • Organizing ideas effectively.

When students lack skills in these areas, their writing may be unsatisfactory in multiple ways – from poor grammar and syntax to unclear organization to weak reasoning and arguments.

Unfortunately, the majority of students still fail to develop their writing skills even after finishing High School. The reasons for this are numerous, including insufficient word stock and writing mechanics. Even the most talented students need to learn how to understand complex sentences, differentiate between different nouns, use proper punctuation and proofread their writing for errors.


A sentence fragment is a sentence that’s missing a subject (the thing doing the action) or a verb (the action). Watch out for this in your writing!

  • Example: Going to the football game this afternoon.
  • Solution: I am going to the football game this afternoon.


Many languages do not use articles (a, an, the), so, some students tend to miss them in their writing. Articles (a, an, the) are determiners or noun markers that function to specify if the noun is general or specific in its reference.

  • The articles a and an are indefinite articles. They are used with a singular countable noun when the noun referred to is nonspecific or generic.
  • The article the is a definite article. It is used to show specific reference and can be used with both singular and plural nouns and with both countable and uncountable nouns.


A coordinating conjunction connects two clauses that could be sentences on their own.

You can use the acronym FANBOYS to remember the most common coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. Unless the clauses are very short and closely related, you need a comma before the conjunction. If you forget to put a comma before the conjunction, it becomes a run-on sentence. What is wrong with these sentences?

  • My dog barks at the mailman but she’s too lazy to chase him.
  • I enjoy going to the movies first I have to finish my homework.

Solution: Check to see if the clauses before and after the conjunction could be sentences on their own. If so, insert a comma before the conjunction. Now, notice where the comma has been placed:

  • My dog barks at the mailman, but she’s too lazy to chase him.
  • I enjoy going to the movies, but first, I have to finish my homework.


Singular subjects take singular verbs and plural subjects take plural verbs. Identify the mistakes in these sentences:

  • Michael study at the library every day.
  • She drive every day.

Here is the correct way to write these sentences:

  • Michael studies at the library every day.
  • She drives every day.


Modifiers are words, phrases, or clauses that add description to sentences. A squinting modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that could modify the word before it or the word after it; however, making unclear which one. Identify the error below:

  • Students who study rarely get bad grades.

A squinting modifier can usually be corrected by changing its position in the sentence. The solution is to put the modifier next to the word it should modify. For example:

  • Students who rarely study get bad grades. OR: Students who study get bad grades rarely.

Other common errors within the class of modifiers include:  dangling modifiers, which describe something that is not in the sentence, and misplaced modifier which describes something in your sentence that is not what you intended it to.

Modifiers tend to be descriptive words, such as adjectives and adverbs and must clearly show the word, usually noun being modified. Always watch for their correct use!


Interrupters are little thoughts in the middle of a thought, added to show emotion, tone or emphasis providing additional detail.. Thus, when we use an interrupter in the middle of a sentence, it should be emphasized with commas. Always remember to put commas around interrupters.

  • WRONG: It was unfortunately the end of winter vacation.
  • CORRECT: It was, unfortunately, the end of winter vacation.


Many spelling mistakes occur when incorrect homophones (words with the same pronunciation, such as “right,” “rite,” and “write”) are used in a sentence. I have a whole lot of homophones here:


Correct these sentences:

  • Watch you’re words!
  • Spell-check may not sea words that are miss used because they are spelled rite!

The correct way for these sentences are:

  • Watch your words!
  • Spell check may not see words that are misused because they are spelled right!


This occurs when a writer, either intentionally or unintentionally, uses far too many words or unnecessarily complex or abstract words. Wordiness can seriously detract from the coherency and quality of your writing and will likely frustrate your readers.

Good writing is simple and direct; it uses the simplest word possible that conveys the same meaning. Wordiness takes away from this clarity.

A sentence is wordy if it uses more words than necessary to convey meaning. Wordiness often makes writing unclear.

  • Shona ended up having to walk all the way home due to the fact that she missed the last train leaving Central Station.

SOLUTION: Identify long phrases that can be replaced with a single word. Try to . . .

  • Eliminate words that have the same meaning.
  • Eliminate weak words, such as “basically” and “sort of.”
  • Eliminate nonessential information.

The above sentence, can, thus be corrected as . . .

  • Shona walked home because she missed the last train.


This is closely related to WORDINESS but here the problem is with the use of conjunctions/transitions or simply using words as sign-posts.. Proper linking words and phrases is actually not that simple for many people, but quite essential for High School students who have to write essays, reports, articles, etc. Each of these papers requires linking one idea/argument to another and developing coherence within a paragraph.

Here is a comprehensive list of transitions for you to apply to your writing:



The vast majority of nouns in the English language are made plural by adding an “s” or “es” to the end of the word. For example, book, apple, house, table, cat, and boss are just some of the many words that become plural with the simple addition of an “s” or “es” – books, apples, houses, tables, cats, and bosses, respectively.

However, certain nouns have irregular plurals that do not behave in this standard way. And, even though most irregular plural nouns follow a pattern, there are several different patterns to watch out for:

Noncount nouns (also called collective nouns) have no plural form because they are assumed to be plural. Most abstract nouns are noncount nouns. Some examples are: hair, grass , or mud.

  • There are many different styles of hair.
  • There are several varieties of grass.
  • There are three different kinds of mud.

Unchanging Nouns – Certain other nouns have the same singular and plural form. A large number of animals happen to follow this rule. These examples will be spelled the same: deer, fish, bison, moose, shrimp, or elk.


One of the core problems students have with writing is that they are not able to write a clear, understandable and strong thesis statement.


You may come across a similar problem while writing the essay. However, if you do some practice and check ideas of thesis statements on the web, then it will be easy for you to come up with a well-defined and quality thesis statement.


A paragraph is a collection of related sentences dealing with a single topic. Learning to write good paragraphs will help you as a writer stay on track during your drafting and revision stages. Good paragraphing also greatly assists your readers in following a piece of writing.

You can have fantastic ideas, but if those ideas aren’t presented in an organized fashion, you will lose your readers (and fail to achieve your goals in writing).

The basic rule of thumb with paragraphing is to keep one idea to one paragraph. If you begin to transition into a new idea, it belongs in a new paragraph.


Very closely related to the thesis statement is text structure. All High School essays/compositions have a certain structure which every student must master. Typically, they all are based on three main components: introduction, main body and conclusion.

You may be surprised, but many students have problems with structuring their work for a variety of reasons, the main one   of which is the inability to draw up every single part considering the singularity of all other. The only way out is improving the knowledge, supplementing the vocabulary and practicing essay/composition writing. The second is reading how good students overcome this through peer editing/reading exemplar work.

Consequently, exemplar texts, whether published or created by teachers or peers, can clearly illustrate specific features of effective writing. As practice shows, both of them can lead to the desired result.


If you are having a hard time writing an essay, then you should write enough examples to support your arguments. Another major mistake students make is that they do not provide enough proof or evidence to clarify their viewpoints.

When in High School, students must learn how to argument their thoughts and ideas in order to be able to write important pieces of content later on, such as an admission letter or even their resume.

To overcome this, I have looked at argumentative/discursive essays and come up with the acronym: RACPpER SEE to aid High School students in their writing. The link below will help you:



It refers to the practice of varying the length and structure of sentences to avoid monotony and provide appropriate emphasis.

“Sentence variety is a means by which the writer helps the reader to understand which ideas are most important, which ideas support or explain other ideas, etc. Variety of sentence structures is also a part of style and voice.”

To add variety, mix up your sentence structure. Some ways to do this include:

Starting with an adverb:

  1. Suddenly, she jumped to her feet and ran to the door.
  2. Unfailingly, he arrives at work at 6 AM every morning.

Beginning the sentence with a prepositional phrase (a phrase that modifies a noun or verb):

  1. In the garden, she worked to clear out the weeds and deadhead the flowers.
  2. Before purchasing a new couch, it’s important to measure your doorway.

Inverting the subject and verb in the sentence:

  • Sprinting to the train, she made it just before the doors closed.
  • Using baking soda and vinegar, you can unclog your shower drain.


Writing the introduction is as important as writing the conclusion in an essay. Basically, your essay should consist of three main parts: the introduction, the body section, and the conclusion.

The conclusion is often missed or ignored by students, and it can lead them to leave a bad impression on the marker.


Quotation marks are an essential punctuation which serve to set off text (as in a quote, a phrase, or a dialogue). However, they are often appropriated for purposes the punctuation was not meant to handle.

Thus, used in the wrong place, these little punctuation marks can really “change the meaning” of a sign or words.

  • –  APOSTROPHE:  It is used in contractions and to indicate a possessive. No space before or after.  Eg.
    • That cat’s cute.
    • Mike’s cat is ugly. It’s not its fault.
  • ‘ ’INVERTED COMMAS:  It is used for short quotes, answers and media titles. Thus, wrap words at the beginning and the end of the quote, eg:
    • The answer is ‘A’
    • He said ‘OK’ and went on captioning ‘The Young and the Restless’.
  •  “ ”DOUBLE QUOTATION MARKS:  It is used for long and direct quotes.Wrap words at beginning and end of the quote. Eg:
    • She said, “Use double quotes when quoting poems, prose or conversation.”
    • Example to avoid: We offer the ‘best price in town’!
  • How to Avoid: If you’re not quoting something, don’t use single or double quotation marks. If you want to emphasize a specific part of your message, use a bold or italicized font.


You have three options for punctuating the end of a sentence: a period/full stop, an exclamation mark, or a question mark.

Each one sets a different tone for the whole sentence: that of a statement, an outcry, or a question, respectively. Always remember to end your sentences correctly – with the correct end punctuation.


This is a recurring problem among High School students where a typed project/research paper is not properly formatted. All sources used must have good organization and be cited in a way suitable for the type of paper: font type and size; referencing style; etc.

Make sure that your child has this clear and formats all papers in the way requested by their teachers. Simply checking their papers before the delivery date is enough to help them understand what they did wrong.


Plagiarism is not only frowned upon, but forbidden too. It is simply, trying to do the assignment, through borrowing passages from articles, books and even websites without identifying or acknowledging their sources.

With today’s technology advancing this rapidly, detecting plagiarism is now easier than ever. Teachers will surely try to explain this to your child, but you must make sure that they understand how important unique content is, if they want to succeed.

20190802_152616WRITING @ HIGH SCHOOL is not a walk in the park. It needs practice and by integrating writing and reading to emphasize key writing features help students learn about important text features. For example, asking students to summarize a text they just read signals that well-written texts have a set of main points, that students should understand main points while they read, and that when students write certain types of compositions they should focus on main points.

Reading exemplar texts familiarizes students with important features of writing, which they can then emulate.

Dear Student – Please identify where you see yourself falling short and work towards improving your writing repertoire.

Good luck in your endeavours 



Here is an interesting story . . . .

Legend has it that Thomas Edison – the American inventor and businessman whose inventions include the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, and the motion picture camera, as well as improving the telegraph and telephone  –  experimented with tens of thousands of different designs before settling on the perfect one. With almost a thousand patents under his belt, it’s hard to envision the prolific inventor succeeding every day in his Menlo Park lab.

Despite being plagued by the fear of “failure” throughout his career, Edison never gave in. All of his alleged “failures,” which number in the tens of thousands, served as a teaching tool for him. The phonograph, telegraph, and motion picture all came about as a result of his tenacity and perseverance during the early part of the twentieth century.

It’s difficult to conceive of what our world might be like now if Edison had given up after his initial setback. Is he resilient enough to overcome his challenges?

Thomas Edison’s narrative inspires us to reflect on our own life. Alternatively, ….

  1. Do we allow our setbacks to disrupt our goals?
  2. If we had the fortitude to keep going, who knows what we could accomplish?

“No matter how much falls on us, we keep plowing ahead. That’s the only way to keep the roads clear” ― Greg Kincaid


It is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.” It is our ability to adapt and bounce back when things don’t go as planned. Resilient people don’t wallow or dwell on failures; they acknowledge the situation, learn from their mistakes, and then move forward.

What Does Research Say About Resilience?

According to the research of leading psychologist, Susan Kobasa, there are three elements that are essential to resilience:

CHALLENGE – A challenging situation is viewed as a challenge by resilient people, rather than as a life-threatening occurrence. They view their mistakes and failings as opportunities for growth and lessons to be learned. They don’t see them as an indictment of their character or sense of self-importance.

COMMITMENT – Resistant individuals commit to their life and their ambitions, and they have a good purpose for getting out of bed every morning. Not only do they devote themselves fully to the job at hand, but to their personal connections as well as to the causes close to their hearts and religious or spiritual convictions which guide them.

PERSONAL CONTROL – Resilient people focus their attention and energy on things they can influence. They are empowered and self-assured as a result of focusing their efforts where they will have the greatest influence. Those who spend a lot of time thinking about things they can’t change may feel hopeless and helpless.

Martin Seligman, a well-known psychologist, believes that how we explain setbacks to ourselves is crucial. Rather than resilience, he uses the phrases optimism and pessimism, although the result is essentially the same. These three elements make up the “explanatory style”:

PERMANENCE – In other words, optimists (who are more resilient) believe that negative things will only last for a short time. Instead of saying “My boss never likes my work,” they can say “My boss didn’t like the job I performed on that project.”

•PERVASIVENESS – Being omnipresent means resilient people don’t let setbacks or unpleasant events have an impact on aspects of their lives that are unconnected to them. Instead of saying “I’m no good at anything,” they can say “I’m not very good at this.”

•PERSONALIZATION – Those that are resilient don’t place the blame on themselves when awful things happen. Instead, they attribute the problem to other individuals or external factors. Instead of saying, “I messed up that project because I can’t perform my job,” they can say, “I didn’t obtain the support I needed to finish that successfully.”

SOME more attributes that are common in resilient people include:

  • Resilient people don’t see themselves as victims. In other words, the future is bright for those who are resilient as they keep a positive view and look forward to better days.
  • Resistant people have clear goals they want to achieve.
  • Resilient people are empathetic and compassionate. They also spend less time thinking about what others think of them. But they don’t give in to peer pressure and preserve healthy relationships.
  • Resilient people never think of themselves as victims – they focus their time and energy on changing the things that they have control over.

There’s no getting around the reality that we’re all going to fail from time to time: it’s an unavoidable aspect of life that we make mistakes and fall flat on our faces every now and again. The only way to prevent this is to live a closed-off and meagre existence, never attempting anything new or taking a chance on something. A life like that is one most of us would rather avoid!

“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good” ― Elizabeth Edwards


If you’re not inherently robust, it is possible to learn to build a resilient mindset and attitude. This is great news! To do this, make the following daily changes to your routine:

1. Relaxation Is A Skill That Can Be Learned. Take care of your mind and body, and you’ll be able to better handle life’s obstacles. Make sleep a priority, try something new, or employ relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation to help you unwind.

2. Develop The Ability To Be Conscious Of One’s Thoughts. Negative thoughts aren’t allowed to disrupt the efforts of resilient people. They, on the other hand, are staunch believers in the power of positive thinking. When anything goes wrong, pay attention to how you talk to yourself. If you find yourself making assertions that are permanent, pervasive, or personalised, modify your thinking.

3. Make Changes To Your Outlook. Work on cognitive restructuring to alter the way you perceive unfavourable situations and unfortunate events.

4. Learn From Your Mistakes And Failures. To be successful, you must learn from your setbacks and mistakes. Look for the lesson in every scenario since every mistake has the capacity to teach you something. Another thing to consider is “post-traumatic growth”; many people feel that crises like losing a job or a breakup in a relationship allow them to reflect on their lives and make positive changes.

5. Choose Your Response:  Keep in mind that everyone has bad days and goes through crises from time to time. There is a choice in our response: panic and negativity are options, or we can remain cool and reasonable to come up with an answer. It’s always up to you how you react.

6. Maintain A Clear Head: Individuals with high levels of resilience recognise that while a circumstance or crisis may appear overwhelming at the time, it may not have a lasting impact. Avoid exaggerating the significance of occurrences.

7. Set Some Goals For Yourself:  Learn to develop SMART, effective personal goals that are in line with your beliefs and can help you learn from your mistakes if you haven’t previously.

8. Build Your Self-Confidence:  Resilient people, on the other hand, believe in their ability to succeed in the long run despite obstacles or pressures. Confidence and a strong sense of self allow people to take risks and keep moving forward, all of which are necessary if someone wants to succeed.

9. Build Solid Connections With Others: It’s been proven that people who have great work relationships cope better with stress and are more satisfied in their jobs. You’ll be more resilient since you’ll have a strong support network to lean on if things get tough in your personal life as well. Here, it is critical to treat individuals with compassion and sensitivity.

10. Be Open To New Ideas:  Things change, and even the most meticulously laid plans may need to be modified or cancelled at times.

“‎Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself-and be lenient to everybody else” ― Henry Ward Beecher


According to an American Psychological Association (APA) report, The Road to Resilience, being resilient does not mean that a person is impervious to adversity or distress. People who have faced severe difficulty in their lives are more prone to suffer from emotional distress and dissatisfaction (e.g., doctors). In truth, the path to resilience is likely to be paved with a great deal of emotional suffering. Resilience is not a trait that can be gained or lost over time. Because these behaviours, attitudes, and actions can be learned and developed by anybody, they can be acquired and developed by anyone.”

Resilience is defined by psychologists as the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or severe causes of stress, such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or employment and financial stressors.

As much as resilience entails “bouncing back” from adversity, it can also entail tremendous personal growth.

The APA offers these 10 ways to build resilience:

1. Make connections. “Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience.”

2. Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. “Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better.”

3. Accept that change is a part of living. “Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.”

4. Move toward your goals. “Do something regularly—even if it seems like a small accomplishment—that enables you to move toward your goals.”

5. Take decisive actions. “Rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away, act on adverse situations as much as you can.”

6. Look for opportunities for self-discovery. “People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss.”

7. Nurture a positive view of yourself. “Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.”

8. Keep things in perspective. “Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective.”

9. Maintain a hopeful outlook. “Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.”

10. Take care of yourself. “Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing.”

“Strong people alone know how to organize their suffering so as to bear only the most necessary pain” ― Emil Dorian.

Thus, . . . . .

Despite the fact that life does not come with a map, everyone will experience twists and turns, ranging from minor setbacks to devastating occurrences with long-term consequences, such as the death of a loved one, a life-altering accident, or a life-threatening illness. Each shift has a distinct impact on people, bringing with it a unique stream of thoughts, powerful emotions, and a sense of insecurity. Despite this, people often adjust effectively over time to life-changing crises and stressful conditions—in part because to their ability to maintain their composure.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!!


Whilst pursuing a Masters in Education: Leadership and Management, one of the key modules was entitled SLOM [Strategic Leadership, Organization and Management]. The module was an eye opener in many ways as, among other notables, it focused on types of educational management based on trust. The emphasis was simple:

Being trustworthy is fundamental to establishing credibility.

However, as people are unlikely to tell you that they don’t trust you, it can be difficult to measure. Here we look at the importance of others having confidence in you, and how you can develop relationships built on trust.

pexels-photo.jpgHow Trust Works

Trust is slightly unusual in the sense that it’s usually afforded in advance but is then tested afterwards. For example, a friend may ask you to do them a certain favour, and they have faith that you’ll do it. With this trust in place, you have to be careful not to abuse it.

If you’re a person who is honest and genuine in their dealings, people will have confidence in you. It’s not necessarily difficult to gain someone’s trust (a lot of that is dependent on the other person), but it will always take integrity.

In order for others to trust you, on a personal level, they need to know that:

  • They can share their thoughts and feelings with you, and that you’ll respect them for it, even if you don’t agree with them.
  • You will not spread their personal thoughts indiscriminately, or use this knowledge to gain an advantage over them.
  • When they ask for your help, you will be supportive and offer constructive advice or assistance.
  • There is respect between you, which in turn informs a positive and beneficial relationship.
  • You will treat them in a fair, open and honest way.
  • You can be relied upon to deal with situations in a dignified manner, and in a way that displays integrity.

The Importance Of Trust At Work

Trust is equally significant when forming working relationships. Whenever you make a decision about someone, it plays a major part in your thinking process. Consider this:

  • When an organization fosters relationship and trust-building behaviors, employees focus on the work they were hired to do and productivity increases.
  • When trust is damaged, morale and productivity begin to decline and turnover increases.
  • Alternatively, as trust is a two-way process, the same applies whenever someone else is making a decision about you. For example: Can I trust them to get this finished on time? Can I trust them to deliver quality work? Can I trust them with this confidential information?

During my sojourn Down Under, I came across this book: Organisational Behaviour: Leading and Managing in Australia and New Zealand, by Robbins, Millett, Cacioppe and Waters-Marsh which identifies five dimensions that underpin the concept of trust:

  • INTEGRITY – Integrity is consistently demonstrating honesty and truthfulness be it in giving feedback, acknowledging and accepting successes and mistakes of others as well as relaying and communicating relevant information. Integrity seems to be rated the most critical characteristic, as a positive perception of another’s moral character and basic honesty; the other dimensions of trust begin to have meaning once integrity is established.
  • CONSISTENCY – This is having strong credibility, reliability, predictability and good judgment in handling any situation.
  • OPENNESS – It is showing a genuine willingness to share ideas and information freely and openly; ensuring feelings, experiences, and concerns can be aired safely.
  • LOYALTY – This is when demonstrating a willingness to protect and positively represent teams and individuals; as well as retaining confidentiality.
  • COMPETENCE – This is possessing technical and interpersonal knowledge and skills including the ability to initiate new ideas, to be creative and communicating relevant information.

To help with this, it’s important you feel you are working in an environment that inspires trust. Just by being trustworthy yourself, you can have a positive impact and promote this culture.

Love SignEssential Ways On Building Trust 

By working effectively, and respecting your colleagues, you’ll find that trust builds naturally. However, these additional pointers should also help:

  • Understand why people trust you. People will trust you based on their personal experience and knowledge of your performance. If they know that you can do something, they will trust you to do it again, as well as similar related tasks. By constantly delivering and demonstrating your high standards, you can encourage others to increase their belief in your abilities. Trust will develop as your reputation as a high performer increases.
  • When you don’t do the right thing, admit it. Be transparent, authentic and willing to share your mistakes and faults. When you are vulnerable and have nothing to hide, you radiate trust.
  • Spread your trust factor. People remember you for your actions, good and bad! If you’ve made a success of something, don’t hide it. It’s not boasting to highlight a particular achievement; you’re merely demonstrating your effectiveness. Align your actions with results – trustworthy people can afford to let their track record speak for them, so make it a focus point.
  • Show people you care about them. When people know you care about their interests as much as your own they will trust you. If they know you are out for yourself, their internal alarm sounds and they will say to themselves “watch out for that person.”
  • Keep your promises. If you make a mistake or miss a deadline, admit to it rather than hope it goes unnoticed. Take steps to redress the situation and reassure people when objectives will be met. Always be clear in your own mind how you’re going to achieve your goals and keep communicating your progress to those involved.
  • Trust generates commitment; commitment fosters teamwork; and teamwork delivers results. When people trust their team members they not only work harder, but they work harder for the good of the team.
  • Trust is built one day, one interaction at a time, and yet it can be lost in a moment because of one poor decision. Make the right decision.

In this spirit, I have endeavoured sharing some thoughts about how we can build the trust that is essential for great relationships. Many of the suggestions above are already known and most of the ideas are common sense. However, I’ve found that so often amidst the chaos of life and work we forget the simple and powerful truths that matter most.

I leave you with a quote from Ernest Hemingway which goes: “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL



Life will never ever be the same again after this lockdown. As a result . . .

High school students will soon be on the job market. Some, after work experience in the summer, will get a weekend job while others will have to spruce up their curriculum vitaes (CVs) waiting for the next job opportunity.

However, many jobseekers are ruling themselves out before they even get called for an interview with a string of mistakes, bloopers and howlers on their CVs, which can easily be avoided.

So don’t be found wanting when you do your CV no matter what type of opportunity you are seeking.

Here are some of the common mistakes, bloopers and howlers you need to avoid on your CV:

1. INCLUDING IRRELEVANT PERSONAL INFORMATIONRecruiters are inundated with CVs for every job available so it is normal for them to spend just ten seconds looking at CVs. So don’t clog up your CV with irrelevant information that’s not going to help your application – and may cause recruiters to miss the really juicy contents. This means unless it’s directly relevant to the position you’re applying for, leave out details like your religion, political preferences, height, weight and the story about the time you met one of the celebrities.

2. POOR SPELLING And GRAMMARThere are no excuses for spelling mistakes – even if English isn’t your forte. An error-free CV is vital in showcasing your precision and attention to detail, so check everything – even your contact details. Spellcheck and proofread your CV yourself before asking others to cast their critical eye checking it over for you.

Consider these sentences – Can you identify where the errors are?

  • I am a prooficient typist.
  • Socially I like to dine out with different backgrounds.
  • I left last four jobs only because the managers were completely unreasonable.
  • I have excellent typong skills.
  • While working in this role, I had intercourse with a variety of people.

Thus, it is essential to minimise the risk of making mistakes by taking your time – never leave writing your CV to the last minute. Rushed examples are easily spotted and quickly dismissed.

‘Careless errors are rarely tolerated. So, avoid needless rejection by slowly and meticulously checking over your CV.’

Having good written English is a skill that most employers look for, so make sure that you don’t do what one candidate did and write your entire CV in abbreviated text language throughout.

3. USING ONE VERSION Of YOUR CVIf you have just one version of your CV that you are using to make multiple applications, the chances are that this is not working for you. Every job description is different – address the person specification succinctly – so you need to focus and target your CV each time you make an application.

Some recruitment experts believe that spending quality time on fewer applications is generally more effective that the scatter-gun approach. This also means . . .

4. FAILING TO TAILOR Your APPLICATIONWhen it comes to CVs, one size doesn’t fit all. Everything that you include must be completely tailored to the company and role that you’re applying for. This actually makes it easy for the recruiter to see that you’re the perfect candidate for the job.

By looking closely at the job description or person specification helps you in sensing whether you’ve sufficiently assessed the job requirements. Through evaluating which of your skills match the job specification most effectively will give you the best chance of success.

‘Don’t be afraid to remove irrelevant experiences, even if you’re applying for similar roles with different organisations, check their specific requirements and tweak your CV accordingly.’

5. Info Graphics And Overly Designed CVsKeep your CV format clean and clutter free. Use a sensible amount of white space and don’t cram too much into a small space.

Your CV will not get noticed more because you’ve coloured it purple and made the headings exceptionally large. Don’t use graphics to self-certify your skills, employers don’t buy that. Also, graphics aren’t easy to read so they are likely to be entirely missed by initial filters.

6. POOR FORMATTING And UNNECESSARILY ELABORATE DESIGNCVs that aren’t clear and easy to read are a huge turn-off for employers. Research shows that recruiters spend an average of just about ten seconds reviewing each CV that they receive – which leaves you precious little time to make a good first impression.

These days, the chances are your CV is going to be judged on a screen. So don’t take the opportunity to play with fancy fonts and colours – stick to typefaces that are screen friendly (like Ariel, Times New Roman or Verdana) and use a font size of 10 or 12 for body copy, and slightly larger for subheadings. If you’re sending it as an attachment, use Word and avoid backgrounds and ornate borders. Let your experiences and achievements be the star.

Before printing or submitting your CV, save it and spend some time away from it. Going back to it for a second time to scrutinise how everything looks on your computer screen is a good advice.

 Thus, cluttered, disorganised and messy are three characteristics that your CV shouldn’t possess.

7. LYING Or MANIPULATION Of The TruthWhen you’re trying to get a foot in the door and impress potential employers, it’s tempting to be economical with the truth, because who’s going to check, right?

Wrong! The facts on your CV are easy to corroborate so never assume that recruiters won’t make enquiries to do so.

Giving yourself a grade boost, fibbing about your current job title or embellishing a period of work experience won’t do you any favours in the long run. At best, your lies will be obvious and your CV will be rejected out of hand. At worst, you may be invited for an interview where you’ll either trip yourself up or be asked questions that you’re unable to answer.

While your CV should absolutely be the best, shiny version of you and your experiences, making up qualifications, experiences or achievements will invalidate any of your real, hard won successes. Recruiters are on the lookout for anything that seems out of place, including salaries and job titles (and are often expert at spotting them), so be honest and ensure that you give your real attributes a fair chance of getting you the job you want.

Instead of using your time and energy to concoct half-truths and complete fabrications, use it instead to really sell the qualifications, skills and experience you do have.

8. Lack Of EvidenceIt’s easy to make generic, empty statements on your CV when you’re trying to meet a tight application deadline. However, failing to effectively evidence your skills, achievements and experiences can be a fatal mistake.

Always try to quantify your successes whenever possible – but never at the expense of the CV’s readability. Recruiters will be assessing not just what you’ve done, but also your written communication skills so writing concisely but meaningfully is crucial, as this is a central element of many jobs.

9. Not Explaining ‘Why’It isn’t enough to just state your credentials; you need to prove them by justifying why you’ve chosen to undertake certain activities in terms of your personal and professional development. You should then elaborate even further on the resulting skills you’ve gained.

As for High School students, discussing your extra-curricular activities is very important providing you pay particular attention to any positions of responsibility you’ve held and outline what you’ve taken from the experience.Ever Tried

As a general rule, okay CVs give you the ‘what’ – for example, the degrees or jobs that person has held. However, great CVs also give you the ‘why’ – for example, why that person has chosen that degree or society.

10. Copied And Pasted Job DescriptionsThis is a big no, no! A CV is a personal document and should provide evidence of what you have done, your own individual achievements. It’s not simply about reciting a list of job responsibilities. Think about it, if every ‘customer service assistant’ copied and pasted their job description into their CV how would an employer ever choose whom to interview?

11. Ignoring Gaps In Your Work HistoryGaps in employment history are fairly common and rarely a problem as long as they’re explained.

You don’t need to worry about gaps of a couple of weeks but if you’ve been out of work for months (or even years) you need to clearly and concisely explain why. Any unexplained absences of this length will be looked upon with suspicion by potential employers and will give the impression that you’ve been idle during this time.

Don’t be afraid to let recruiters know that you took some time out to volunteer, look after a sick relative or travel the world. There’s also no shame in informing employers of a period spent away from work due to illness or redundancy or . . .

12. Mysterious Gaps In EmploymentIf for any reason you’ve taken a break for employment – whether it’s for travel, study, volunteering, redundancy or simply to care for your child – explain it. If you don’t, recruiter may jump to their own, less flattering conclusions and pass your CV over without a second thought.

13. A Meaningless IntroductionIf you include an introduction in your CV, make sure it’s to the point, and accurately sums up the key qualities the recruiter is looking for. Avoid meaningless phrases like ‘dynamic, results-oriented, driven, personable team player’ and instead clearly outline your key qualification for the role. For example, ‘Part time sales manager with 16 years’ experience in the commercial sector’. If a recruiter looks at one thing on your CV, it could well be your introduction so ensure it tells them as much as possible.

14. Being Too VagueUsing phrases like ‘several’, ‘a few’ and ‘numerous’ can come across as too vague on a CV. So if you spent three years working on a project, say so. Or if you exceeded a sales target, include how much it was by. And if you say you delivered more than a client was expecting, briefly explain how. If you’re too vague it can seem like at best you’re exaggerating, at worst, making something up completely.writing-notes-idea-conference.jpg

15. Including ReferencesYou’ve little enough space on your CV to ensure you are able to portray yourself as the full package, so don’t waste any with lengthy references. Most recruiters don’t expect them, and a simple note saying ‘References available on request’ is enough. If a job advert specifically requests references, you can include them on a separate sheet.

16. Hiding Important InformationJust as you need to declutter your CV by leaving out anything irrelevant, it’s vital to highlight the key points that may help swing an interview for a particular job. So think about the design of your CV and ways you can bring important details to the fore, for example by putting key achievements in bullet points or bolding your previous job titles.

Finally note that . . .

We all make mistakes. That’s just part of being human. The important thing is that we learn from them. If you have been firing off your CV and getting no response, it may be time to reflect and ask yourself why? Just go through the list of common mistakes, bloopers and howlers on CVs, which you can easily avoid. Correct yourself and see what you can achieve.

In one of my forthcoming instalments, I am going to look at the format of a good CV. In other words, what do I have to include in my CV, or what topics or sub-topics do I have to address?

Until then, good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL.




One secondary school teacher once said: ‘Make sure expectations are consistent and reinforced by all – I am fed up of being the disliked teacher because I follow school expectations and others don’t – this has happened in every school I’ve worked in.’

What Are Teachers Saying About Behavior Management?

According to an OfSTED (Office for Standards in Education based in the UK) survey of 2014, of teachers themselves, an average secondary school might contain five or six teachers who lose at least 10 minutes of learning time per lesson as they struggle to maintain good order.

Problems range from:

  • Hard-working teachers having their efforts to maintain discipline undermined by the inconsistent approach of other teaching staff to behaviour management.
  • Inconsistency in applying behaviour policies annoy students and parents.
  • Some teachers lack the skills to enforce consistently high standards of behaviour management.  Too often, teachers complained that their senior leaders did not assert their authority.
  • In some schools, teachers blur the boundaries between friendliness and familiarity, for example, by allowing the use of their first names.
  • In certain circumstances, students too often, demonstrate a lack of respect for staff by talking across them or taking too long to respond to instructions.
  • Enthusiasm and lack of self-control – The lack of awareness among students that interrupting is inappropriate.
  • Teachers’ confidence is sometimes undermined by fear of discussing problems with senior staff, who, instead of supporting the teachers, blame them when poor behaviour is brought up to the leadership team.
  • Sending mixed messages -Students can be observed behaving impeccably in one lesson with different teachers and worse off in another because rules of behaviour varied according to the teacher.

Broadly, one in twelf secondary teachers said that more than 10 minutes of learning was lost per hour.

pexels-photo-416322.jpegNow that we have reflected on where the problems lie with inappropriate behaviour, let’s think about our relationships, as teachers, with our students.

What Type Of Teacher Are You?

There are SIX types of teachers when it comes to behaviour management in the classroom. Which of the following best describes your relationships with students?


  • The teacher has strong sense of purpose in pursuing clear goals for learning and for the class.
  • The teacher shows leadership qualities.
  • The teacher tends to guide and control.
  • The teacher is prepared to discipline unapologetically.

Too dominant/assertive

  • The teacher is too controlling.
  • The teacher shows lack of concern for students.
  • The teacher-students relationship is damaged.


  • The teacher shows great concern for the needs and opinions of students.
  • The teacher is helpful and friendly.
  • The teacher avoids strife and seeks consensus.
  • The teacher enjoys working together with students.

Too cooperative/collaborative

  • The teacher is too understanding and accepting of apologies.
  • The teacher waits for students to be ready and lets students dictate.
  • The teacher is too keen to be accepted by students.
  • The teacher passes responsibility completely to students.
  • The teacher abdicates responsibility and leadership.


  • The teacher treats students as the enemy.
  • The teacher expresses anger and irritation.
  • The teacher needs to ’win’ if there is a disagreement between teacher and pupil.
  • The teacher sees the classroom as a battleground.


  • The teacher lacks clarity of purpose.
  • The teacher keeps a low profile.
  • The teacher tends to submit to the will of the class.
  • The teacher is entirely unassertive, rather glum and apologetic.
  • The teacher expects difficulties.

RESEARCH has found that the most effective teachers find a balance between dominance and cooperation. We will look at how you can improve these areas when we look at strategies to improve behaviour.

Robert Marzano’s (2003) findings from his study of over 100 reports on classroom management, including 134 experiments designed to fInd the most successful classroom strategies as well as finding that pupils prefer the dominant cooperative style mix twice as much as the purely cooperative style or indeed any other style .

Behaviour Improvement

There are, of course, many strategies designed to improve behaviour, but remember it is not solely your responsibility to do so.

Any strategy you choose to use will only work, if it is underpinned by the following principles:

  • They are clear and robust.
  • They follow behaviour and discipline systems and a framework of consequences, which are understood and contributed to by teachers and students.
  • There is a whole school approach.
  • There is a focus on positive recognition of appropriate behaviour.
  • Positive relationships are developed and maintained.
  • The school works in partnership with agencies and stakeholders, including
  • There is an awareness of the adults’ emotional responses to inappropriate behaviour.

pexels-photo.jpgFour Basics To Improving Behaviour

There are four basic approaches, which research has found to improve classroom behaviour:

1.  Rules and procedure
2. Teacher-pupil/student relationships
3. Disciplinary interventions
4. Mental set

Think back to how you said you responded to inappropriate behaviour and consider these two questions:

  • Is there anything you may want to change or improve?
  • Could a small change have a dramatic effect?

You are, like many other teachers, concerned about behaviour, but think about it this way:

If you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting the same responses.

1. Rules And Procedures

Classrooms become more orderly places when rules are clearly stated and perform even better when rules have been negotiated, discussed and justified.

Here are 10 steps to improving rules and procedures:

1. Create rules and express them positively. It shouldn’t just be a list of don’ts.
2. Justify rules and rehearse them! “Because I say so” is not a persuasive justification.
3. Discuss rules with the class. Explain their purpose, i.e. to improve learning.
4. Negotiate with the students to get commitment. Ask for suggestions and
remember to justify and compromise. Make posters and get them to sign up!
5. Regularly review the rules together.
6. Encourage students to devise rules and take ownership of them.
7. Remind students of any relevant rules before a potentially disruptive activity or if you are aware of “something brewing”. This kind of response can drastically reduce inappropriate behavior.
8. Encourage and develop team working (team rules for success).

9. Regularly get students to self-assess their own behaviour set against the rules.

2. Teacher-Pupil/Student Relationships

Think about the style of relationship you have with your students. Your relationship will, of course, depend on the class or group, but a balance between a dominant and cooperative style is regarded as the most effective way to improve classroom management.

How do you increase your dominance and assertiveness?

Dominance and assertiveness is about effective leadership, having a clear path to learning goals and good behaviour, pursued with vigour and enthusiasm. It should also be student-centred.

Here are a number of tips to increase dominance and assertiveness in the classroom:

For the class or group

  • Negotiate ground rules.
  • Set goals and assessment criteria.
  • Set learning objectives.
  • Set specific behaviour objectives.

For you

  • Be authoritative – in your speech and in your body language.
  • Fake it until you make it – be absolutely confident and in control even if you don’t feel it.
  • Get out of the habit of sitting behind the desk.

Try the PEP Approach

  • Proximity: Walk around the classroom, stand by a pupil that may be about to misbehave. Stand a “little too close for comfort” but don’t invade personal space. This is a difficult judgement, sometimes. You don’t want to come over as aggressive or intimidating.
  • Eye contact: Holding eye contact expresses dominance. What you say will be taken more seriously if you can maintain eye contact before, during and after speaking.
  • Posing questions: Rather than telling a student off, pose a question, such as “Why have you not started your work?
    These actions are often more effective and far less exhausting than getting angry or shouting and will make you appear in control (even if you do not feel it).


Try the CASPER Approach

  • Calm – Always try to appear calm, even if you are not feeling calm. The first step in a difficult situation is to create thinking time, taking a deep breath.
  • Assertive  – Have a good eye contact. State your needs clearly and use “I” statements, eg: “I want . . .”; “I need . . .”
  • Status Preservation – Students operate within a peer group. When correcting behaviour always be aware of this and use private rather than public reprimands.
  • Empathy – Show empathy and avoid challenging questions such as “What do you think you are doing?”
  • Respect – Model appropriate behaviour to reinforce your expectations. Always show your students respect, even if they are disrespectful.

group hand fist bump

Behaviour Improvement

How do you increase cooperation and collaboration?
We all know how challenging it can be to cooperative with badly behaved pupils. Sometimes a cycle can develop between the teacher and the students that make things even worse: the pupils misbehave more, you dislike them more, you are less positive and friendly, they dislike you and your classes more, they disrupt more and so it goes on. The cycle needs to be broken.

The next time you have a class with a particularly difficult student or a challenging group, why not try the following:

              First  . . .

Try focusing on putting negotiated and clear rules in place. This will often require a great deal of emotional generosity and patience or restraint! The main aims are to be more positive, friendly and fair.

            Then . . .
1. Meet and greet students by the door. Get off to a good start.
2. Catch them doing the right thing and comment positively in private. A lot of inappropriate behaviour is attention seeking.
3. Put the student in “intensive care!” No it’s not what you think! Smile, use their name positively, ask for their opinion, make a point at looking at their work, comment favourably about genuine effort or achievement. Talk to them, be patient and helpful, have high expectations and keep calm. Show that you value them. But don’t overdo it! Be fair, use this approach with your well-behaved students as well.
4. Learn their names. This is especially valuable when you are new to a school.
5. Engage students in an informal way. Let them know you don’t just see them as students but as individuals with interests, hobbies and lives outside of school.
6. Use eye contact and proximity.
7. Collaborate and problem solve together. What’s the problem here? What can we do about this?
8. Build team and group work.
9. Have high expectations and let them know what those are.
10. Develop flexible responses and teaching styles.
11. Give responsibilities to particular students.
12. Avoid sarcasm. What you might think is light may be damaging your teacher- student relationship.
13. Check for understanding, reinforce learning goals and expectations.
14. Be a good role model for your students by acting in the way that you want them to behave.

3. Disciplinary Interventions

Think back again to how you respond to inappropriate behaviour in the classroom.

  • Are you reactive?
  • Do you wait for problems to happen and then respond?
  • Are you consistent?
  • Are you fair?

A proactive approach to improving behaviour is usually much more effective. Remember managing behaviour is not just about responding to inappropriate behaviour. It is about creating conditions that encourage positive actions.

Try the following approaches:

  • Remind students of the rules before activities take place.
  • Reinforce appropriate behaviour. Use tokens and symbols which can be used for privileges.
  • Encourage students to self-assess their behaviour and award themselves appropriate tokens/points.
  • Use individual, group and whole class rewards. To receive these, there needs to be very clear success criteria.
  • Mild punishments: What’s important is the consistency and fairness of the punishment. Its success is also dependent on the assertiveness in which it is given. It means being firm, unemotional, unapologetic and confident. It does not mean being hostile or aggressive.

At a Glance: Top Tips For Managing Student Behaviour

  • Learn names quickly and with correct pronunciation
  • Use a seating plan
  • Greet at the door
  • Be positive (and don’t take it personally)
  • Set clear rules for behaviour
  • Follow up everything – that means EVERYTHING – no matter how small.
  • Keep your cool
  • Follow the CASPER approach.

4. Mental Set

Although, you are not solely responsible for improving student behavior, improving your attitude to classroom management can have dramatic effects. There are two parts to this:


This ‘Withitness’ is a term first used by Kounin (1970) meaning an awareness of what is going on in all areas of your classroom and having a quick response to actual and possible disruptions. It’s a “nip in the bud” approach that stops inappropriate behaviour spreading. Think about how you will respond to
disruption and not letting your emotions lead the way.

Withitness Strategies

  • Invest time getting to know your classroom and students.
  • Understand the physical, social and psychological settings that you and your students find themselves.
  • Find out where the “hot spots” are. Run a behaviour audit or make this part of classroom observation.
  • Position yourself so you can scan regularly and make eye contact with as many of the class as you can.
  • Intervene promptly. Make your students know straight away, or even before it happens that their disruptive behaviour will not be tolerated.
  • Combine eye contact and proximity approaches as mentioned earlier. Early identification and intervention is an essential factor in successful behaviour management.
  • Use of names combined with eye contact and a sharp tone.
  • Use a silent and still approach. Stop what you are doing and remain silent.
    Maintain eye contact until you get the response you want, then continue.
  • Non-verbal reminders and commands. These are quite traditional but are still effective e.g. finger to lips to ask for silence, standing straight with hands on hips to signal displeasure, clicking fingers to signal “stop it”.
  • Be organised. Prepare your classroom and have materials ready!
  • Use reminders and warnings about rules before an activity.
  • Walk about with plenty of eye contact.

Emotional Objectivity

It is not always easy to remember, but bad behaviour is not an attack on you. It is not personal. If you do see it as something personal, you are more likely to get angry, upset, depressed or resentful. Try to remain unemotional. This does not mean being distant. You should be alert and business like, but you are protecting yourself and your emotional well-being.

Understand Yourself

Try not to show anger or frustration, you’ll look and feel more in control. Remember what upset you, so that you recognise the situation next time. Practice. Practice. Practice!

Students Have Their Own Issues

Remember that your students may well be dealing with difficulties or issues themselves that may be causing the inappropriate behaviour.

Seek Support – You Have Allies

You do not need to suffer inappropriate behaviour alone. You can get support from within your school but it is important to recognise your own feelings. Talk things over with a friend, or colleague, your head of department or senior management team.

The support available from each school will differ, so please get to know where and when to seek support.

This is an approach I have used for many years with amendments here and there. It is not easy at all but with perseverance, enthusiasm and commitment, you will get it right.  I have also worked with RTS – Respect; Trust and Support – with my students:

  • I Respect them,
  • I Trust them too and
  • I value their Support.

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL



The importance of vocabulary knowledge to school success, in general, and reading comprehension, in particular, is widely documented. Becker, 1977; Anderson & Nagy, 1991

This is the last of three related posts on this interesting topic on vocabulary @High School. The other two posts can be accessed here are entitled:

The acquisition of vocabulary is one of the most important tasks in language learning. If you have enough words, you can make sense of what you are reading or listening to and you can somehow express yourself.

In short, vocabulary acquisition is much more important than grammar. The grammar we have is acquired gradually as we become familiar with the language, with the words, but first of all, we need words.

Explore Learn Grow

A. How Do We TEACH Vocabulary?

Vocabulary knowledge is not something that can ever be fully mastered; it is something that expands and deepens over the course of a lifetime. Instruction in vocabulary involves far more than looking up words in a dictionary and using the words in a sentence.

RESEARCH has brutally exposed a long held belief on . . .

Least Effective Strategies On Teaching Vocabulary through . . .

  • copying definitions
  • writing sentences
  • memorizing definitions from a vocabulary study sheet
  • asking students to use context for unknown words when there is little contextual support.

Most Effective Strategies On Teaching Vocabulary are through . . .

  • direct, explicit instruction of words in context
  • using simple conceptual maps
  • teaching specific context clues
  • selecting meaningful words to teach
  • increasing independent reading
  • directly teaching word learning strategies connecting new concepts/meanings to existing knowledge base.

Just as increasing vocabulary knowledge should occur on a continuous basis, so should vocabulary instruction. The following  four steps in teaching new vocabulary words have been used extensively.

It is important that teachers make sure that their students use:

  1. Explicit Instruction of Using the Vocabulary Word Correctly: [I do it] – Students hear their teacher explicitly give a student-friendly definition and then see her or him model how the vocabulary term is used.
  2. Guided Instruction: [We do it] – Students have opportunities to use new vocabulary while the teacher is there to “help with the tricky parts” and is circulating around the classroom to make sure that students are using the word correctly and giving corrective feedback when needed.
  3.  Collaborative Learning: [You do it together] – Students are given lots of opportunities to clarify and refine meaning and usage in the company of peers. Students teach other students how to use the word correctly/verifying the correct definition. An extended version would be using oral language to communicate the meaning in different contexts and having groups of students complete assignments involving semantic mapping or other graphic organizers.
  4. Independent: [You do it alone] – Students practice use of the term in independent reading, writing, discussion, and assessment.


B. Six Step Process For Teaching Vocabulary

Marzano (2004) has developed a six step process for teaching vocabulary to students of all ages. While the vocabulary needs of students increase over time, these same procedures can be used on a frequent basis with all students of varying abilities across all content areas. The effective techniques on how to use these six steps follow the description of Marzano’s Six Step Process for Teaching Vocabulary.

Marzano’s six steps for teaching new words can be used with all students (K-12), including those with learning disabilities.

  • Use the first three steps to introduce new words to students.
  • The next three steps give students multiple exposures of the new word for review and retention.

The six steps are as follows:

Step 1: EXPLAIN— The teacher provides a student-friendly description, explanation or an example of the new term. (This is where the teacher explicitly states the definition that will make sense to the students.)

Step 2: RESTATE— Teacher asks students to restate the description, explanation or example in their own words. (Students could add the term to their notebooks or to a chart in the classroom, followed by the following step.)

Step 3: SHOW— The teacher asks students to construct a picture, symbol, or graphic representation of the term. (If possible, ask students to come up with an antonym or synonym to the new word.)

Step 4: DISCUSS—The teacher engages students periodically in structured vocabulary discussions that help them add to their knowledge of the terms in their vocabulary notebooks. (Have students use new words in oral sentences or use the new words in questions you ask your students.)

Step 5: REFINE AND REFLECT—Periodically, the teacher asks students to return to their notebooks to discuss and refine entries. (When another new word comes up, try to mention previously learned words as similar or different.)

Step 6: APPLY IN LEARNING GAMES— The teacher involves students periodically in games that allow them to play with new terms. (Examples to try: Jeopardy, Name that Word, Bingo, and Concentration.)

C. The Four P’s of Vocabulary Acquisition

PROVIDE opportunities for reading wide and reading volume with accountability.

PRE-VIEW the text to determine which words to teach.

PRE-TEACH meaningful words and phrases.

PROVIDE direct instruction and multiple exposures of the vocabulary in reading, writing, listening and speaking.

D. Importance of Vocabulary to Reading

Some conclusions which research has established include that  . . .

  • There is a strong relationship between vocabulary and reading comprehension.
  • Vocabulary knowledge is linked to overall academic success.


Vocabulary Strategies: Before, During And After Reading

Before Reading Vocabulary Strategies

  • Use explicit instruction to pre-teach unfamiliar important words from the text that will help build background knowledge, and those words that are critical for students’ understanding of what they are reading.
  • Help students relate new vocabulary to their prior knowledge and experiences, as well as to previously read text.
  • In longer, multisyllabic words, teach meanings of root words, prefixes and suffixes so that students can recognize these morphographs in unknown words to help them determine their meanings. Review these morphographs in new words that may be unfamiliar to students as needed.
  • Have students use mapping techniques, such as Semantic Mapping and other graphic organizers to help them think about other words that share the same meanings or that have the same roots. For example, teaching the root ‘tele’ which means from afar, can be used to teach telescope, telephone, telepathic, television, and telegraph.

During Reading Vocabulary Strategies

  • Teach students to use prefixes, suffixes, and familiar word parts to decode new words and determine their meanings.
  • Teach students how to use the structure of both narrative and expository text to figure out word meanings. Although this strategy does not always help with determining an unknown word’s meaning, it is one that students should try to use while reading, especially on assignments done independently.
  • Expand on word meanings that were defined in the textbook in context to ensure students’ understanding of these new words.
  • Have students add new words and concepts to their semantic maps and graphic organizers they began prior to reading.
  • Use content-area word walls as a resource for students to use when they need help remembering a word’s meaning.

After Reading Vocabulary Strategies

  • Have students use their own words to explain the meaning of new words in the way it was used in the text, as well as using it in other contexts.
  • Play vocabulary games (e.g., using synonyms, antonyms, roots, concepts) to provide enrichment of new word meanings.
  • Have students copy their word wall vocabulary  in any order that they wish. Play a game like Bingo, but instead of just calling out the word, say a short definition and then the students will cover the vocabulary word that matches the definition.

E. Words are learned indirectly as research concludes . . .

  • Rarity and variety of words found in children’s books is greater than that found in adult conversation!
  • More words are learned through reading than from spoken language.
  • So read, read, read!!!

Good luck in all your endeavours

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL


I have three related posts on this interesting topic:

SOME researched comments on how VOCABULARY affects comprehension include:

  • Vocabulary knowledge is directly related to comprehension.
  • Increased vocabulary instruction increases comprehension more than any other intervention.
  • Fluent word recognition affects comprehension.

THE ACQUISITION of vocabulary is one of the most important tasks in language learning. If you have enough words, you can make sense of what you are reading or listening to and you can somehow express yourself.


Gathering Words – Tried and Tested Method

When I was growing up I expanded my vocabulary through collecting relevant and useful words. Here are some ways that have worked for me:

  • First, find ways to expose yourself to new words: read and listen to a variety of books, articles, television programs, and videos (see if you can find the spelling of the new word from the subtitles, if need be).
  • Next, you will record the new words that you discover. Write down new words as you hear or read them — use a notebook or flash cards to collect vocabulary.
  • Later, when you have time, look up your new words in a dictionary.
  • Write the definition and an example sentence in your notebook or flash cards. Also, as you read textbooks and class materials, pay attention to words that are used often or that are important for understanding concepts in your program.
  • You will want to take time to learn these words.

In short, vocabulary acquisition is much more important than grammar. The grammar we have is acquired gradually as we become familiar with the language, with the words, but first of all we need words.

How Do We Learn Vocabulary?

The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it. – Michelangelo

Vocabulary knowledge is not something that can ever be fully mastered; it is something that expands and deepens over the course of a lifetime. Instruction in vocabulary involves far more than looking up words in a dictionary and using the words in a sentence.

Moving Words From Short-Term To Long-Term Memory

When you first hear or read a new word, it enters your short-term memory. Short-term memory can only hold new words for a brief period, usually seconds. To move the new word to long-term memory, you will need to ENCODE, STORE, and RETRIEVE the word.

1) When you ENCODE, you give meaning to the information. As you study vocabulary, you will learn the different meanings the word can have. You may also compare the English word to similar words in other languages you know.

2) To STORE the material, you will use strategies to review the word’s meaning. Regular review and repetition is important for learning new words.

3) When you use a new vocabulary word when speaking or writing, you RETRIEVE it. This creates strong knowledge of the word in your long-term memory.



Set A Specific Goal

Learning new words requires a commitment. Since you’re less likely to hear sophisticated vocabulary in daily conversation, take matters into your own hands and teach yourself new words. Set a goal such as, “I’ll learn one new word each day” or “I’ll try one suggestion on this handout every day during semester break or summer.”

Spend 15 Minutes Every day Reading

As you read a novel, newspaper or a weekly newsmagazine, circle unfamiliar words. When you finish the article, return to these words and use context clues to try to determine meaning. Then look the words up in a dictionary, comparing your definition with the actual definition. Add each word, its definition, and its sentence in a vocabulary notebook or onto a web site like for later review.

 Use Quizlet To Review The New Words You Learn

Go to and enter your words. The program will generate quizzes and games custom-made for your word list.

Do Crossword Puzzles And Other Word Puzzles

Although some crossword-puzzle words are obscure or seldom used, some words will increase your vocabulary. And the information in crossword puzzles may increase your background knowledge.

Write, Look, Cover, Repeat (WLCR)

This is the ultimate classic. For me, vocabulary learning has always been a notebook and a pen. The physical motion of writing something down is very useful as it satisfies the needs of haptic learners. Take a pad, draw a vertical line in the middle and write the word on one side in your native/source language and on the other side in your target language. Memorise the list, then cover one side and tick off all that you remember. Then repeat.

“Use A Word 3 Times And It’s Yours!”

It’s that simple. If you don’t make an effort to use new words you learn, you’re likely to forget them.

Using words make them a permanent part of your vocabulary. You know common words like “cow,” “walk” and “pleasant” because you have been doing FOUR things:

  1. You’ve heard them frequently.
  2. You’ve read them frequently.
  3. They may have been taught to you.
  4. You’ve used them many times in your speech and your writing.

If you don’t routinely hear or read words like “catalyst,” “disparage” or “aberration,” use them at least three times in your writing or your speech. Gradually they will become a part of your vocabulary and ultimately you will surprise yourself and many others within your circle.

Study Linguistics

Many words are made up of parts of other words. So this one requires a bit of study, but it will make your vocabulary learning the smartest it has ever been. Become familiar with prefixes and suffixes, word roots and common sources of target language words.

In short, this means BREAK LONG WORDS INTO PARTS. If you can remember the meaning of prefixes (e.g. con-, anti-, pre-) and suffixes (e.g. -ly, -able), it will be easier to predict the meaning of new words you encounter.

Use Index Cards (4 X 6) To Make Vocabulary Flash Cards.

As you try the suggestions here, don’t just read about a new word or look it up in a dictionary. Make a vocabulary flash card. On one side of an index card, write the new word, its part of speech, and its phonetic spelling including Greek or Latin word parts and on the other side, write its definition and any related word parts.

Carry these cards with you to review. Before you write papers, flip through your cards. This increases your chance of being able to use one or two of these words in your writing.

Read, Read and More Reading

The more you read, the more you learn. You will pick up new words without even realizing it when you read. Reading lets you see how words are used in sentences, and lets you understand them through context clues.

  • SAT Word List: There are even some books that are meant to teach vocabulary. These are usually written for students studying for the SATs, but they make a great tool for anyone who wants to learn English because they have definitions of many of the words right there in the book.
  • COMICS: If the SAT text is too difficult for your English level, you can try reading comic books instead. Comics have a lot of dialogue, and their text is in smaller, easier to understand parts. Superman, Batman, and the other well-known heroes are full of words for you to learn. If you don’t like superheroes, there are many other options out there, like Calvin and Hobbes or even Garfield.

Thus, it’s important to read a variety of materials. The more you expose yourself to new words, the more words you will learn.

Use Your Senses As You Learn

Associate vocabulary with pictures or gestures. This will help you recall the new words better than writing or speaking alone. Using more than one of your senses as you learn new words promotes the development of a strong word network in the brain. This helps you retrieve new words when you write or speak.

Learn New Words In Context

Use example sentences as you gather words. Try making up a funny story with new vocabulary.

As you create and use a vocabulary learning system, you will grow in your ability to understand what you hear and read. You will be able to communicate your thoughts clearly and precisely.

Related Words

If you just learned the word “care”, don’t stop there! Use a dictionary or the internet to find derivatives of that word, and expressions that use it.

For example: careful, carefree, careless, take care! See? You started with one word but quickly learned four more, and because their meaning is related, it is easier to understand and remember what each one means.

Use Context Clues

ALWAYS try to determine the meanings of words and don’t skip over unfamiliar words. Try to determine meaning by analyzing unfamiliar words and the sentences surrounding them. Careful analysis can often give you a pretty good idea of what the word means. Mark the word with a pencil.

When you finish reading, look up the word in a dictionary to see if you were close. Although context clues may not always be present, looking for them can sharpen your comprehension.


These are ways to help us remember things better.

A great online resource for mnemonics is the; you can type in the words you want to remember and you will see many different ways to help you memorize.

Use Vocabulary Web Sites

There are some websites with a “Word of the Day,” which may be useful for increasing your vocabulary:

These web sites have a “Word of the Day” feature. Subscribe and a new word will be sent to your e-mail address every day. This is an easy way to build your vocabulary:

Make Sentences

Making sentences helps us put everything we have learned into action: so you have learned a new word and you understand when to use it. But for the brain to remember this word in the future, the best way to memorize is by using it. Try to make sentences that use different meanings of the word you want to learn or, if it is a verb, with different tenses.

Use Specific Vocabulary Lists

Instead of studying a long list of unrelated words, use specific vocabulary lists that will help you learn the kind of vocabulary you need for your work or school.

Record Yourself

By hearing your own voice say the words out loud and feeling your mouth move, you are making even more connections in your brain.

So, use a camera, your phone or your webcam to record yourself practicing your new vocabulary words and using them in the sentences you made.

LASTLY, Dear Reader . . .

Repeat, REPEAT and REPEAT yourself 

An old English saying: “repetition is the key to success” is applicable here. To learn anything you must repeat, repeat, repeat. So every day, set aside some time to study vocabulary. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but it is important that you practice a little daily. This will create a good habit.

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL

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