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How many times have you driven down a street or highway and seen a bumper sticker with this phrase?  Likely most everyone has seen it at one time or another.  It is also true that many children learn to read from parents and family members as well. In fact, lately we have seen a great deal of negative press about public education and teachers. It is distressing for everyone. No matter what side of the argument makes the most sense to you, however, everyone can think of at least one teacher they want to thank today for making a difference their life.  Take a moment to conjure up the name, place and year of a teacher that was special for you. . . .

I can think of  several teachers who have made a significant impact on my life. School was a positive experience for me, my friends and my own children.  From Mrs. Moore in fourth grade to Mrs. Winter in high school journalism, I had many encouraging professional role models. However,  the one teacher who challenged my thinking the most was Mr. Lux, my eleventh grade accelerated English teacher.  He was at least 6’5” and weighed over 300 lbs.  His hands covered an entire sheet of loose leaf paper, and he wore large horn-rimmed glasses and a suit and tie every day. In those days, all men teachers wore suits and ties to school – – pretty impressive role models, don’t you think? Mr. Lux was firm, articulate and no-nonsense – – unless you listened carefully and caught a tongue-in-cheek comment every now and then.  He was also a scholar and he taught the brightest, highest SAT-scoring students in the school.  I felt honored to be selected to be in this special English class.

The day he recognized my oral defense of an essay assigned as homework, provided impetus for me, a 1960’s woman, to believe in myself.  He called on me often after that, scored my writing highly and made me feel very talented. I was a sparkling gem in English class in room 212 at Edwin Denby High School – – Motor City, USA – – and I will always remember Mr. Lux for empowering my thinking and recognizing what I could do well. I majored in English and Journalism in college, largely due to him, and have loved writing and speaking all of my life.

We want our children to see their strengths and talents. Our job, as teachers and caring adults, is to encourage and nurture those gifts.  No need to give false praise and rewards. Self-esteem is built upon the reality of achievement and success.  Our job is to actuate the potential in our kids. Let it shine and sparkle.

Who is a teacher that made a difference in your life? Write them a brief letter in the comment section.  The teacher, or a relative, or fellow-classmate might even see it!  I waited too long to write my letter to Mr. Lux. Sad, perhaps. Yet, I will always know that I put my pen to paper and told him how much his talent meant to me.  Enjoy the experience and thank you, Mr. Lux, wherever you are.


Have you ever seen a kid wearing a t-shirt with this title?  Or maybe you’ve been browsing through the kids’ department at a retail store and saw something similar on a clothing rack.  We might even see people grin or chuckle at such phrases, suggesting that there is something cute about the phrase. It is like the jokes we have heard about inebriated adults, stumbling, slurring their speech, or taking senseless chances.  But it is not funny. The next time you see such a sign or phase on the clothing or belongings of young people, think about what the sign is really saying. Such verbage begets the law of self-fulfilling prophecy making a statement that is not a positive one.

What message do we as adults deliver when we reflect this attitude or expectation about a child?  We are labeling them as a troublemaker.  From the child’s view, if the expectation of significant adults surrounding her/him think they attract trouble or are the cause of problems, then the child learns to live up to what the adult perceives.

We know that children who succeed have significant adults in their lives who believe they can be successful and build relationships of caring and high expectations for the future. We can make a difference by setting that example and showing them what good citizenship means. It reflects learning, good health habits, caring about family, friends and the community and about having interests and hobbies.

Remember every kid is at-risk.  Unless provided with the belief that they can be successful through proper role models, high expectations and steps to make a strong future a reality, kids are at-risk and our future and culture are as well.

How have you built a positive self-fulfilling prophecy for the important kid(s) in your life?


A bowl full of berries.


Since you have created a VISION for areas of development for your child’s future (see my first post in January 2011), you have clarified and articulated specifics about her/his adult life. Earlier you also wrote a S.M.A.R.T. goal that was Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.  You are now ready to create and ACTION PLAN to drive you toward goal success and building strong, capable young people. 

Writing an ACTION PLAN is as easy as eating a bowl full of berries, once you have the template.  Divide your paper/EXCEL sheet/or WORD document into the following columns:

         GOAL :    My Two yr. old grandson will learn to love books.                                                                                                    

         ACTION:  I will take him to story hour at the library. We will talk about the story read.      

         DATE:   We will attend the story hour sessions once a week.


                    By June 2011, he will choose two books to take home.  We will have a special place for his books at home.

A goal does not need to be complex – the example is a short, simple ACTION PLAN.  However, you can see the elements of the S.M.A.R.T. format:  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. When you develop an ACTION PLAN for building the character and future of that special child(ren) in your life, you are on the path to helping a kid achieve success. You are also creating a better future for all. With your ACTION PLAN you now know where you want to go and how you will arrive.  You can model and teach with ease. It can be as easy a bowl full of berries, once you have the steps!

How can ACTION PLANNING help you with your children, children you know, even your own personal daily living?  Have you ever followed a similar plan in the past?  What worked especially well?  Did you find you needed to change your plan? 



Every New Year’s Eve my husband and I share our goals for the new year to come.  “What are your New Year’s resolutions?” we ask each other. In fact the question has gone beyond private hubby and wife conversation to common party chatter and social gatherings in late December and early January. Now we are in the month of February, and we have either fallen off the goal-directed path or forgotten what we said we had planned to do anyway.

Why does this bad thing happen to well-intended, good people?  Perhaps we are groping in the dark with a walking stick, trying to embark upon that direct path that will take us to our destination. However, good intentions alone will not lead us to our goal — our end result. Having a VISION along with that specific S.M.A.R.T. goal will help us to achieve and be effective adults in the lives of children (and in our own personal decisions as well).

Looking at last week’s goal of building a responsible child, our VISION of what a responsible child looks like will help keep us on our goal tract. Being able to visualize the end result will bring success in achieving this goal – any goal.  When you visualize what a responsible child looks like, what are the qualities you might expect to see, both in the short term and many years ahead? 

On Friday we will create the rest of the ACTION PLAN you are building for your special kiddo.  Do you think having a VISION of what the goal outcome will look like help you to achieve your goal(s)?  Have you ever used this strategy in the past? What examples of developing a VISION and goals to meet that mental picture have helped you in your child-rearing, teaching, grand parenting or even your own personal life?



                                                                                                             These steps can lead to success! I can show you how…

“The way to make learning a lesson-a celebration instead of a cause for regret- it to ask: How can I put this to use tomorrow?”              ~ by author, Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards ~

Today I will offer you a format to develop your “ACTION PLAN” to segment your kid VISION into specific daily/weekly steps. Through a specific plan of action, you can truly see the effect of your vision, the role modeling and the teaching you do on a regular basis. When we receive feedback on our performance – both personally and professionally – we feel successful. When we see concrete results, our confidence develops and we begin to see how we truly can make those dreams for the future you are creating come true. Developing an ACTION PLAN proves that we not only believe in kids, but believe we can truly make a difference in the outcome of building great adults.  And, its easy to do!

In your VISION statement, you wrote about how you envision your child in various categories as an adult. You may have developed a VISION about a professional career, their societal role in ten years, or even how they might select the right marriage partner. In order to successfully achieve the VISION, the next step is writing an “ACTION PLAN.”  Your plan should have four categories: the GOAL, ACTION, DATE ACHIEVED, EVIDENCE.  To write your first GOAL, you will be most successful if you follow the S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting format. The letters S.M.A.R.T. stand for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-centered.

                            How to Write S.M.A.R.T. Goals

         GOAL:  My child will learn responsibility commitments by feeding the dog after dinner without being reminded, following performing this task with me daily for three weeks .  

  •  Specific: We know exactly what the child is expected to do to attain the goal that is directed toward the VISION.

  •   Measureable: We know the measurable degree to which the expectation has been set – daily.

  •   Attainable: We know that this is a task a child can most likely complete with ease.

  •   Realistic:    Is the daily expectation realistic?  Yes, the dog needs to eat daily and the adult will model how this is done.

  •   Time-centered: The parent has a plan to model and provide practice to build the habit of feeding the dog.

Now, write your GOAL(S).  On Friday we will move on to the other categories. Did you enjoy writing your goal(s)?  Was it difficult?  Did you find that you changed your goal writing after you began to consider the S.M.A.R.T. attributes?  If you would like feedback on your goal or would like to share with our readers, please feel free to do so.  See you Friday with more on this important process.