Vaping Surges…Largest Year-to-Year Increase Ever Recorded

Since 1975, the Monitoring the Future (MTF) study of substance use among U.S. adolescents has been conducted annually by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

For the past 20 years, I have turned to the MTF study to see what the national trends are with adolescent substance use from one year to the next. I’ve seen a lot of trends with different substances over the years – trends that primarily show a decrease in use while other trends have raised some concerns.

I recently read the summary of the 2018 MTF survey which involved about 44,500 students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades enrolled in 392 secondary schools nationwide. I must say…I was alarmed. I’ve never read a summary of a MTF survey that raised concerns as this one did.

Increases in adolescent vaping from 2017 to 2018 were the largest EVER recorded in the past 43 years for any adolescent substance use outcome in the U.S.

Vaping involves the use of a battery-powered device to heat a liquid or plant material that releases chemicals in an inhalable aerosol. Examples of vaping devices include e-cigarettes, such as the popular brand JUUL and “mods.” The aerosol may contain nicotine, the active ingredients of marijuana, flavored propylene glycol, and/or flavored vegetable glycerin. The liquid that is vaporized comes in hundreds of flavors, many of which are likely to be attractive to teens (e.g., bubble gum and milk chocolate cream).

The percentage of 12th grade students who reported vaping nicotine in the past 30 days nearly doubled, rising from 11% in 2017 to 21% in 2018. As a result of the increase, one in five 12th grade students vaped nicotine in the last 30 days in 2018. For secondary students in grades 9 through 12 the increases in nicotine vaping translate into at least 1.3 million additional nicotine vapers in 2018 as compared to 2017.

To put the nicotine vaping increase in context, it is the largest out of more than one thousand reported year-to-year changes since 1975 for use of substances within the 30 days prior to the survey among 12th grade students.

In addition, the percent of 12th grade students who reported use of nicotine in the past 30 days significantly increased to 28.5% in 2018 from 23.7% in 2017. Nicotine use is indicated by any use of cigarettes, large cigars, flavored or regular small cigars, hookah, smokeless tobacco or a vaping device with nicotine. This increase was driven entirely by vaping.

What do these findings mean for you and for me in our work with kids?

  • We need to personally recognize the harmful effects of vaping. It is not a safer option that cigarette smoking.
  •  We need to use proven, research-based prevention strategies to address vaping and other substances with adolescents.
  • We need to equip parents with the tools to recognize and address vaping use with their children.
  • We need to advocate for more research on vaping and its adverse effects and more regulation of the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes to kids.

Since nicotine is involved in most vaping and it is a highly addictive substance, these findings present a serious threat to all of the hard-won progress we have made in the past 25 years in reducing cigarette smoking among adolescents.

If there was ever a trend we need to turn around, this is the one. I don’t want to read the 2019 MTF summary next year and be alarmed again and write another blog with news like this one. Let’s all do the work we need to do for the sake of our kids.

P.S. Did you know that our All Stars middle school series – Core, Booster and Plus – now addresses vaping as a risky behavior? Be sure to purchase the most up-to-date copyrighted materials every time you teach the program so you are giving your students the best the program has to offer!

How Your Kids Will Remember You

You are a leader. You are a leader of children. You are creating a legacy every day you come to work. You are leaving your mark – an indelible impression upon the kids entrusted to your care. How will your kids remember you?

I wonder…

They may not remember what your educational degree was.

They may not remember how many diplomas hung on your wall.

They may not remember the amazing lesson plans you created.

They may not remember how organized your bulletin boards were.

They may not remember how straight and neat the desk rows were.

They may not remember what their final grade was in your class.

There are plenty of things your kids will remember.

They will remember you listened and you always had time to listen.

They will remember that you expected the best for them and of them.

They will remember that you gave your time to them when you probably had other things to do.

They will remember that you were happy to be at work and seemed to really enjoy being there.

They will remember that you could be silly, you appreciated practical jokes and you never took yourself too seriously.

They will remember you asked them about their family members because you were genuinely interested.

They will remember that you cared enough to talk with them when they weren’t being or acting their best – and challenged them to be and do better.

They will remember that you gave them a second chance when no one else would.

They will remember you always had their back.

They will remember you noticed when they were absent and that you told them, “We missed you.”

They will remember how much you encouraged them and that you were one of their biggest cheerleaders.

They will remember that you treated each one of them like they were important.

They will remember that you always tried to give them the benefit of the doubt.

They will remember when you gave them a “shout out” and how good it made them feel.

They will remember you were always upbeat… even on days when it was hard to be.

They will remember that you didn’t ask them to do anything you weren’t willing to do yourself.

They will remember that you had fun and enjoyed being with them.

They will remember that you noticed when they were having a bad day and took the time to ask, “What’s wrong? Can I help?”

Kids can see through the flashy stuff and while it might impress them initially, it’s the  relationships we build with them that will leave a lasting impression. It’s the time we invest. It’s all the little ways we stop and show concern. It’s the love we share with them of learning, of life, and most importantly, of people.

So go back to your students and really take a look. As pressing as it may be, see past the behaviors, the issues and the concerns. Look beyond the stack of papers on your desk, the list of emails in your Inbox and the long “to do” list in your planner. Look. And you will see that it’s there – right inside you. The ability to make an impact. The chance of a lifetime to make a difference in a child’s life. And you can do it. It’s in you. I know it is.

Remember, you are leaving a legacy that surpasses test scores, lesson plans, outcomes, reports, budgets and even bulletin boards. Your kids will remember you for all the little things you did to show you cared about them. You were their leader and you encouraged them, supported them and inspired them. They will remember you because YOU made a difference and you knew THEY made a difference, too!

Lessons Learned from Stories Told

One of the best parts of my job is hearing stories from All Stars teachers after they have taught the program. Some stories make me laugh. Some stories make me proud. Some stories make me cry.

But, every story teaches me (and you!) a lesson that impacts our work with kids, especially in All Stars.

Here are three stories recently shared with me that all have lessons to teach us:

Story #1: Making an Impact Beyond the Student

Chelsea was a young middle school student who participated in All Stars at her church. All Stars gave her the opportunity to think about her future in ways she never had before. Every week as she left her All Stars class she was challenged to have conversations with an important adult in her life. Chelsea could choose who the adult would be. She choose her mom and dad.

No one outside the family knew that Chelsea’s father was abusing alcohol. Chelsea’s involvement in All Stars gave her and both of her parents an opportunity to explore the role alcohol was playing in their lives. These discussions were the catalyst for her father to seek treatment for his alcohol problem. Within several months of Chelsea’s graduation from All Stars her father began his road of recovery from alcoholism.

Since then, Chelsea and her family have relocated twice to different states. Each re-location had her leaving a support group of drug-free friends behind and the challenge of seeking a new group of friends. As she has moved on in life, one thing has remained the same – an All Stars commitment ring on her finger. In fact, Chelsea has worn out two rings and is now wearing her third All Stars commitment ring.

The impact All Stars has had on Chelsea and her family has motivated her grandmother to become involved with the program. She now volunteers as a facilitator of All Stars at the church where Chelsea participated.

Even though Chelsea was the one who participated in All Stars, the program’s impact went beyond her and into the lives of her parents and grandmother. They will all be first to admit that All Stars has changed their lives – and for the better!

Lesson to be Learned from Chelsea’s Story: When you teach All Stars, don’t be satisfied with just delivering the program. Expect to change lives. Expect to change lives beyond just the student in All Stars. And, take time to get to know your students and their family situations and be ready to give support and encouragement wherever you can.

Story #2: It’s Never Too Early

As told by the All Stars teacher:

I received a phone call from Megan, one of my All Stars students, on the evening of our last day of school – the same day as our All Stars celebration. She was sobbing as she related her story. She was staying overnight with two of her friends when they pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. They pressured her to try to smoke which she didn’t want to do. She told her friends that she forgot her pajamas and ran to her home not far away. When she got there, she told her mother what happened and asked if she could call me. When I asked Megan why she choose not to smoke the cigarettes, she said, “All I could think about was the All Stars commitments I made to myself, to my mom and to you. It was so hard. I didn’t want to let myself or you down.”

I asked if she thought she would have smoked the cigarettes if they had not talked about it in All Stars and she said, “I think I would have tried it because my friends said nothing would happen if I did it. But because of All Stars I knew something would have happened and that would have been breaking my commitments.”

Lesson Learned: This teacher never could have anticipated how soon after All Stars her student would face pressure and how she would react to it. You never know how or when they will be faced with their first encounter. Experiencing All Stars later would have been too late. Luckily, All Stars happened at the right time! As the girl’s mother said, “Thank, God, for All Stars!”

Story #3: Are You Reaching the Mikes in All Stars?

This story was shared in writing with me by an All Stars teacher:

Mike is one of those kids who would please everyone if he could. The only reason he participated in All Stars was because a friend wanted him to. He seemed to be enjoying himself, but no one could ever tell what was really going on inside of him. He was one of the most quiet students in the group.

His parents came to the All Stars Celebration and sat in the very front row. During the commitment video segment, I noticed his mother wiping away tears. When I asked her later what was going on, I got the following story.

Mike’s best friend had tried pot and was caught by his parents. Not only was Mike able to tell us, but he also confided in us that he had been offered some, as well. We feel very strongly that had it not been for his participation in All Stars he would not have had the courage to stand up and say “no” or the open forum to discuss it with us.

They thanked me for letting him be a part of the group and told me they thought I and All Stars had a huge impact on Mike’s life – maybe even saving it.

I walked away from the evening ready to do it all over again.

Lesson Learned from Mike’s Story: Even the most quiet students, like Mike, can be impacted with All Stars. You never know how the program is reaching kids like him, but you have to trust and believe that it is. Deliver All Stars with an open mind, welcoming arms and patience. What you do in All Stars does change lives.

Teens and Volunteerism: “Try It! They’ll Like It!”

I remember a summer day when I told my 8-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son that I was taking them to lunch. They were excited and quickly requested their favorite restaurant.

We got into the van and drove off. It didn’t take them long to notice I wasn’t going in the direction they expected me to go. Instead I parked in front of a local soup kitchen with people lined up outside waiting for lunch.

Confused, they asked, “Where are we? I thought we were going to lunch.” I reassured them they would get lunch but after they served lunch to others who couldn’t afford it. They cautiously got out of the van and walked by the line of people waiting and went in.

During the next hour we served lunch to over 150 people and when we were done we joined them to eat the leftovers. When we got back in the van to head home they couldn’t quit talking about what they had just done.

Before taking my children to the soup kitchen I worried about whether they were too young to do what they did, but when it was over I was convinced they weren’t. In fact, research says the earlier kids begin volunteering, the better. Kids who learn early to be caring, compassionate and helpful perform better in school and are more likely to graduate at the top of their class. Teens who volunteer look more attractive on college and scholarship applications. Teens who volunteer just two hours a week are also 50% less likely to use alcohol and cigarettes, become pregnant or engage in other risky behaviors.

Many youth might start volunteering because “they have to” for a school or youth group project. The amazing thing is, once they try it, they love it! Research shows that one positive volunteer experience is more likely to lead to more. Teens report they learn to respect others, to be helpful and kind, to understand people who are different from them, develop leadership skills, become more patient and better understand good citizenship. They feel empowered and valued.

Summer is a great time to connect kids with volunteer opportunities. It’s one of the most important things you can do for them. Volunteer opportunities aren’t hard to find for any age. Consider places of worship, hospitals, libraries, children’s museums, community centers, parks, zoon or local charities. Make volunteering a year-round commitment for students as they would to a sports team, dance, music group or club.

Today, my children are 29 and 26 years of age and since that summer day they have logged in over a thousand hours of volunteer time between both of them. I didn’t know the experience that day would have the long-term impact it did. At the same time, it doesn’t surprise me. My kids aren’t unique. Today’s teenagers volunteer 2.4 billion hours annually. More than one in four teens nationwide does some type of volunteer work. I guess research is right when it says, “Once they try it, they’ll love it!” The question is, “Have your students tried it?”

Lessons Learned from a “Dark Monday”

I refer to it as “Dark Monday.” It was April 15, 2019. In a matter of hours, I learned…

  • I had to write a check to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). (UGH!)
  • My daughter was moving out and into her own place to live; leaving me to live alone for the first time in my home.
  • My aunt had hours to live.
  • My dad was diagnosed with kidney failure.
  • I was diagnosed with shingles.

I’ve had challenges, bad news and unfortunate luck in my past, but usually it’s over the course of weeks, months or years. I have never had a single day when, within hours, I have been hit with so much devastating and life-changing news.

I am someone who can juggle and manage a lot of things “on my own” without getting overwhelmed. I have a way of dissecting a problem “on my own” and finding a solution, a plan of attack or the “silver lining”. I know how to take care of myself “on my own” when my body is telling me it needs a little self-care and love. I am a very organized person and can take a long “to do” list, prioritize it and do what needs to get done “on my own.”

Yeah. I can do a lot “on my own.” And then, “Dark Monday” happened.

It really put me in a tail spin. It overwhelmed me. It threw me off balance. I couldn’t find quick solutions. It was hard to be or see the positive. I wasn’t taking care of myself. Important day-to-day tasks weren’t getting done.  

Reality hit. I simply couldn’t do things “on my own” anymore.

I think it’s interesting how hard it is for most of us to admit we need help or support from others. The do it “on my own” attitude makes us feel more in control, gives us a sense of independence, doesn’t bother other people, allows us to do it our way and makes us appear as being strong and resilient.

I needed “Dark Monday” to remind me that I can’t do everything “on my own.” I need the help and support of others. It has been hard to admit and hard to accept, but it’s true.

I also needed “Dark Monday” to remind me of the gifts that come when you let go of the “on my own” attitude and allow others to step up and step in and the gifts you receive from doing it. Allowing others into my life to help has humbled me, filled me with gratitude, made me smile and laugh and given me peace, hope and balance in my life again.  

Most importantly, I have learned through other’s actions towards me how to support another person when their “on my own” attitude is no longer enough for them to maneuver through life. I know how important it is to:

  • Ask, “How are you doing?”, and then stop and genuinely listen to the person tell you.
  • Ask what you can do to help, but when the person really doesn’t know or have a clear answer, offer your own idea(s); OR
  • Not ask the person what they need, but just think about it on your own. If you were in their shoes, what would you most likely need. Then be proactive and do something to meet that need.
  • Say, “I’ll include you in my prayers” or “I’ll pray for you” and then really do it!
  • Text them an encouraging message, devotion or prayer.
  • Send them a card in the mail with a reassuring and uplifting message – when they might least expect it.
  • Be proactive. Don’t wait to hear from them. Text or call them and do it frequently.
  • Respect their time and understand they can’t always respond quickly to your messages. And, if you don’t hear from them in a day or two, reach out to them again.
  • Tell them you will call to talk on the phone and then you do it – sooner, rather than later.
  • Give your time to have an in-person, face-to-face conversation with them.
  • Invite them to do something fun with you.
  • Honor them and understand that sometimes they just need to be alone in their own private space.

“Dark Monday” has also been a reminder to me that some of the kids you work with have many “Dark Mondays” in their life. In fact, every day might be a dark day for them. Perhaps it’s not having enough food to eat, living in a neighborhood that isn’t safe, being in a home of abuse, neglect or mental illness, struggling with the high demands and expectations of school or being bullied by their peers.

Whatever it might be, every day might put them into a tail spin. Every day might overwhelm them. Every day might be hard for them to do what needs to get done. Every day might be challenging for them to take care of themselves. Every day might be hard for them to see, feel or experience anything positive.

I had just one day do all of this to me. Now, imagine if every day is like this for your kids AND they are trying to get through every day with an “on my own” attitude.

I’m a great example of how eventually the “on my own” attitude doesn’t work any more. You need others to step up and step in.

Your kids need you. They need many positive adults to support, mentor, guide, cheer, affirm and love them through their “Dark Mondays”. Do with your kids what others have done for me since my “Dark Monday” on April 15, 2019. If you do, I know for sure you will eventually turn the “on my own” attitude into a “we’re in this together” attitude and turn more of their dark days into brighter ones.

P.S. Since April 15, 2019: My dad has started dialysis for his kidney failure. He also had a right knee replacement removed due to a staph infection and will have a new knee eventually put back in at the age of 88! My shingles are still hanging around – probably due to the stress of managing Dad’s medical care – but are getting better. My aunt peacefully passed away the day after. My daughter is thriving and happy to be living on her own. I have accepted the fact that most 26-year-olds don’t want to live with their mother anymore – even if you are best friends with one another. And, the IRS got their money as they wanted.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

A dear friend and colleague shared a podcast with me this morning and encouraged me to listen to it. The podcast, What’s Not On The Test: The Overlooked Factors That Determine Success, was published by NPR as part of their Hidden Brain podcast series. It really got me thinking…

The podcast featured an interview with James Heckman, a professor at the University of Chicago. In 2000, he won the Nobel Prize in Economics. Some of his early work focused on programs like the GED that are designed to give young people a second chance to earn a high school diploma. Jim wanted to know whether people with a GED were as successful as people with a high school diploma. He started by looking at their test scores. What really surprised him was their test scores were virtually the same. Within a few months, the GED program was allowing students to catch up with peers who had spent years in high school. But then Jim looked further. Were GED grads holding onto jobs and long-term relationships and staying out of trouble?

If you looked at the GEDs later in life, they weren’t doing so well. If they got a job they were more likely to quit the job or be fired. Their marriages or partnerships were much less stable compared to the ordinary high school graduate. And, they were more likely to commit crime.

These findings turned Jim onto a subject he believes is really important for long term success and understanding success and failure. The subject? Noncognitive skills, or in other words, social and emotional skills.

In comparing GED graduates to those who stay in school and graduate, the GEDs were very deficient in social and emotional skills. In fact, they were far worse than the high school graduates. This evidence shows that staying in school can help build these skills – if, especially, the classroom environment and the teacher encourages the skills.

People with strong social and emotional skills seemed to have some common traits. A few of them are:

  • The ability to plan and persist. How well can I actually plan my life forward and make good use of my time? How well can I persist on a task? How resilient am I? If I experience failure, how far can I go and bounce back and try, try again?
  • Being open to new experiences and ideas. Am I closed off? Do I shun contact with new ideas and with new people? How agreeable am I? If I find I disagree with someone, what do I do?
  • Having grit and the ability to delay gratification. This is how Jim describes it… “I can see a gain later if I do the work now. If I go to school today, even if it’s unpleasant, I don’t like the teacher and I don’t like studying, I know that if I finish high school, I will have a much better opportunity in life. So, I grin and bear it and stay in school.”

The good news about these traits – they are malleable (can be altered and learned), can be measured and are very powerful in producing positive life outcomes!

In the podcast, Jim talks about a program that ran in the 1960s and intervened in the lives of disadvantaged African American kids in Ypsilanti, Michigan, for 1-2 years (the Perry Preschool Project). The project integrated social and emotional skills into the learning environment for the students. In addition, a parent component was included in the curriculum.

The goal of the parent component was to build the parents’ engagement with their child through home visits. The child and a person from the child care center would go home and work with the parent. Over time, they found the parents getting motivated and excited to work with their child. There was active engagement on the part of the parents that had not been there before.

As a result, the parents provided a warmer environment. They spent a lot more time with their child reading, playing and encouraging. The parents had a greater appreciation for what their own children could do and a greater understanding of their importance in nourishing the child. Even though the program lasted only two years, a nourishing cocoon now surrounded the child, encouraging the child, staying with the child and fostering the child in the years to come.

Jim Heckman has followed the kids who went through the Perry Preschool Project over the years. They’re now middle-aged. And he’s followed what happened to their children. What he found is that an early investment in kids, especially disadvantaged kids, and their parents can pay dividends across generations.

The kids in the Perry Preschool Project in the 1960’s were more likely to be cooperative, engage in school, graduate from high school, go on to college, make more earnings and much less likely to commit crime. When they were followed into their 20s and into their 30s, you began to see even more substantial benefits that came from the program.

Those benefits were with the children of the original participants. The children of the participants were healthier. They had better social and emotional skills. They were more likely to graduate high school, go on to college, earn more and were less likely to engage in the criminal justice system.

There is something quite incredible about a program that ran in the 1960s, intervened in the lives of kids for maybe one or two years, and that you see the effects of 50 years down the road – both in the lives of the people who went through the program and their children. You see beneficial effects that go on to the next generation.

And that, according to Jim, is an important lesson. The lesson is that if you start doing interventions and then evaluate them immediately upon their conclusion or within a few years you may not recognize the program’s multiple effects over time. If you don’t allow those effects to generate and express themselves over time, you can reach very premature negative conclusions. You may not think you made any or much difference in the short-term, when in actuality, you may have made a BIG difference long term.

So, what does all of this mean for you, your kids and All Stars? It means, keep doing what you are doing in All Stars! You and I know that All Stars is that social and emotional intervention that kids WANT and NEED!

  • All Stars can be a student’s respite from tests, note taking and hard class subjects during the school day by offering the opportunity for kids to only think and talk about themselves.
  • All Stars can be a student’s safe zone from a negative home or neighborhood environment that offers hope, encouragement and affirmation.
  • All Stars helps kids look forward to and plan for a positive future.
  • All Stars challenges kids to have the grit and perseverance to do the hard work, today, to realize their future later.
  • All Stars engages the students in important conversations with parents or other important adults to create that “nurturing, safe, encouraging and understanding cocoon” kids need for a lifetime.

It really is remarkable when you think about it. A program that was done 50+ years ago not only had benefits for the recipient, but that the benefit was passed on to the next generation, as well.

Or, think about it like this…It really is remarkable to think that what YOU are doing in All Stars today not only has long term benefits for your All Stars students, but that the benefit will be passed on to the next generation, as well. You truly are giving a gift that keeps on giving. Believe it and keep on giving!

P.S. Listen to the full podcast!

Everyone Needs a Mr. Stewart in Their Life


If your students were asked 20-50 years from now to name a teacher in their life who had a positive influence on them, would they name you?

Now think about this…

Who is a teacher who had a positive influence on you in elementary, middle school/junior high and high school?

Take a moment. Give this some thought.

Jot your teacher’s name down on a piece of paper.

My teacher is Mr. Stewart – my high school biology teacher.

Describe what your teacher did to have a positive influence on you.

What did your teacher specifically do to have this influence on you? Write your thoughts next to your teacher’s name.

For me, there were many things Mr. Stewart did that made a difference in my life. I remember asking for a pass from my study hall class quite frequently to visit his classroom which was also his free period. Sometimes I had something I wanted to share with him. He would listen. Sometimes I needed advice. He would give it. Sometimes I needed encouragement. He would offer it. Sometimes I didn’t anything other than to just be in his presence. He would welcome me. I’m sure he had a lot of classwork to do during his free period and didn’t always have time to give me when I would walk into his classroom. But, I never once felt like I was interrupting, was an inconvenience or not welcomed. He was always there for me.

I was a student in his high school biology class. Science was not my favorite subject. Yet, I always looked forward to going to his biology class. I worked hard. I always wanted to do my best in the class. Why? Because I wanted to for Mr. Stewart. He believed in me (even when I didn’t think I could dissect an animal!) I didn’t want to disappoint him.

I always felt like I was Mr. Stewart’s favorite student. But, now, I think every one of his students felt that way. How he treated me was how he treated all of his students.

List the personal characteristics and qualities of your teacher.

What words would you use to describe your teacher? Make a note of them.

Mr. Stewart was a good listener, attentive, genuine, a positive role model, mentor, gave selfishly of his time, showed a personal interest in his students and had high expectations for all of us.

Does your teacher still influence you still today in any way? If so, how?

Think deeply about this…How does your teacher still influence you today?

Mr. Stewart is the only teacher I stay in touch with after graduating from high school 38 years ago. He attended my wedding. We exchange Christmas cards and letters. We try to connect in-person at least once, if not more, each year. We text each other to periodically check in with one another. I attended his retirement party three years ago.

Not much has changed over the years. He is still genuinely interested in me. He still listens, advises, encourages, affirms and welcomes me.

One thing that has changed is he is a dear friend of mine of whom I now call, Mike. (It took me a long time to get used to it!)

I also had a pinnacle moment in my career when the tables turned and I became his teacher! Mr. Stewart attended an All Stars training I was leading. I was nervous. I still didn’t want to disappoint him. I don’t think I did. He went on to be a rock-star All Stars teacher for 10+ years before he retired!

Mr. Stewart exemplifies a teacher who can positively influence their students’ lives for years. He has the five qualities research identifies with teachers who have this ability.

Take a listen to a webinar I did yesterday, “How to Have a Positive Influence on Your Kid’s Lives that Lasts For Years.” I unpack each of the five qualities an influential teacher has. Think about whether your influential teacher has these five qualities.

Then imagine again…

If we asked your students 20-50 years from now…

“Who is a teacher from your elementary, middle school/junior high and high school years that had a positive influence on you?”

And, they named YOU!

Are you ready to begin the journey to make it happen?

Listen to the webinar…I await your answer!

My Best to You and Your Kids,


P.S. Just a heads up! The audio of the webinar starts at about the 1 minute mark and it gets a bit muffled for a few seconds in some places on the replay. And, you will want to watch it ALL as I have a BIG announcement in the webinar!

To Pick the Tomatoes or Not Pick the Tomatoes

My son, Christopher, was an All Stars student. It didn’t surprise me that he choose me as the adult he wanted to talk to about his All Stars conversational assignments. I also wasn’t surprised by what he was saying about himself through his All Stars work. Everything seemed to “fit” for him. For example, Christopher by nature is a helpful person. It was no surprise to me when he brought his Getting A Reputation worksheet home and he had written that the reputation he most wanted in his future was “to be a helper.” It fit. He got great advice from his classroom partner, his best friend, and me on things he should and should not do if he wanted to earn this reputation.

Things were going well for Christopher until one hot July day six months after All Stars concluded. That day I asked Christopher to pick the tomatoes in the garden. He had every excuse as to why he couldn’t pick the tomatoes. I was not in the mood to argue with him. In fact, I knew I didn’t have to argue with him. Within an arm’s reach hanging on the refrigerator were his All Stars worksheets, including his Getting A Reputation worksheet. I removed the sheet from the refrigerator and asked him to listen to something he wrote six months earlier. I read what he had written, “More than anything else, I want to have a reputation of being a helper.” I also read aloud the advice his best friend and I had given him on how to earn this reputation, which included “being willing to do something when asked.”

I gave him three options:

  • Pick the tomatoes and earn his way towards the reputation he wants.
  • Don’t pick the tomatoes and not move any closer to earning his desired reputation.
  • Change your reputation if this one is no longer important to you.

Not saying another word, he walked out the door to the garden and picked the tomatoes!

Later, we talked about the incident and I reminded him of the classroom discussion they had in All Stars when it was determined that a reputation is only earned when something is done by the person repeatedly over a long period of time. I also helped him understand that today was a day in his future he was planning for six months ago in All Stars. Today is a day full of opportunities for him to do what he needs to do to get what he said he wanted. I told him, “You either use it or you lose it.”

Your All Stars students will want great things in their future just like Christopher. The real test is whether they are willing to do what they need to do after All Stars to get it. At times when they get lazy, forget, or just don’t seem to care, it is important that you and others remind them of what they said and wanted. It’s easy to get off track. Put them back on track with their own words. Over time, they will realize what Christopher quickly realized. All Stars is really not over. It’s just beginning.

What Great Teachers Know About Kids

It’s about the kids. It’s always about the kids.

Some kids act apathetic. It’s an act. Every kid cares about
something and great teachers try to figure out what it is.

Some kids come to school ready to learn and some not so much.
Great teachers come to school ready to make a difference with all of them.

Kids are much more likely to remember how you taught than what
you taught.

Classroom management is not about having the right rules FOR
kids. It’s about having the right relationships WITH kids.

Great teachers remember that not every kid is looking forward to
summer break. For some kids, school is the safest place there is.

Very few kids engaged in a lesson have ever misbehaved.

Kids sometimes do stupid stuff in class, but great teachers
don’t sweat the shenanigans. They’re too busy teaching and building

The kids might not remember how much work you put into your
class. But they will always remember how much heart you put into your class.

It’s quite possible that the kids you like the least, are the
ones who need you the most.

When teachers love their jobs, kids notice. When teachers are
counting down the days, kids notice. It turns out, kids notice a lot!

Some kids dream of trying to change the world and some are just
trying to make it through the day. The best teachers meet the kids right where they are.

They realize their job is bigger than any lesson plan or
standardized test.

Kids don’t usually remember lessons for a long time. But they
remember kindness, humor and joy. Great teachers have those qualities.

Kids don’t gravitate to subjects. They gravitate to teachers.

Great teachers know that when they show up to work, are happy to
be there, they have significantly increased the likelihood that the students will have a great day.

Before you can win their mind, you generally have to win their

The kids in the school usually know which adults love being
there. Kids are perceptive. You can’t fake it.

It’s about the kids. It’s always about the kids.


Share on facebook
Share on print
Share on email

Every Good Teacher is Prepared

I think everyone will agree how important it is to prepare before teaching an All Stars lesson. However, agreeing and doing are two different things. Two challenges I hear All Stars teachers say they face in prepping is time and not knowing how to effectively prepare. Here are some suggestions.
Spend enough time. I recommend at least 45 minutes of preparation time prior to each All Stars lesson. It doesn’t matter if you are a brand new teacher or someone who has taught the program many times over. Every group is different – bringing different challenges to consider and work through each time.
Prepare ahead. It is ideal if you can prepare for a lesson at least two days prior to teaching it. This gives you adequate time to do what needs to be done while still keeping the information fresh in your mind. When you put together your All Stars teaching schedule mark out 45 minutes from your schedule two days in advance of each lesson. If you don’t plan to spend time preparing, it probably won’t happen. Treat your preparation schedule as being just as important as your teaching schedule.
Use preparation time effectively. Here are some proven tips on how to use your time effectively when preparing for an All Stars lesson:
  • Read through the lesson at least three times and visualize how the lesson should go.
  • Ask yourself, “What is the mediator (e.g. idealism, normative beliefs, personal commitment) I am targeting in this lesson? How is this lesson helping me to influence this mediator?” If you don’t know the answer to these two questions, call me.
  • Highlight key questions or “points to make” during the lesson in your teacher’s manual.
  • If you participated in All Stars teacher training, refer to your training power point notes. These notes offer tips for every lesson. Consider how you can apply as many of the tips offered.
  • Review your post-program notes from previous times you taught the lesson to see what you did well and what you thought you should do differently the next time. Apply as many of your own tips as possible.
  • Think about what materials or handouts you need and make sure they are available and ready beforehand.
  • Consider how effective your room set-up, placement of students and overall classroom environment is. Make changes, if necessary.
  • Are there any students you need to meet with one-on-one? Arrange a time prior to or after the lesson to meet with them.

Being well prepared can make All Stars even more effective and enjoyable for the students. Take the time and use your time wisely to prepare. The time invested will pay off for you and the students.

Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on print