The Killer Combination for Classroom Success: Attitude and Sweat

Jim Courier of the United States wipes sweat a...
Jim Courier of the United States wipes sweat away from his eyes with a towel during a Men's Singles match at the U.S.Open Tennis Championship on 6th September 1995 at the USTA National Tennis Center in the Flushing neighbourhood of Queens in New York, United States. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

A is for Attitude
In an interview last week, someone asked me about the last thing that made me laugh. I collect sayings. I love them. For example, the Dukes of Hazzard‘s Roscoe P. Coletrain gave me:

“He's fightin' like the third monkey on Noah's gang plank.”

I often use that one to talk about a desperate situation where I'm struggling to hang on.

When students are whining, I also have:

“Call the Waaaambulance.” or
“Call 9 waa waa”

While not all times and places are right for these comments, I have a sign in my room that says “no whining.” If it is whining – even if I'm doing it, I'll say,

“Oh I guess I should call the waambulance” and then I move on.

I was listening to a movie on the TV and the bad guy was on the cell phone trying to make the good guy do something he didn't want to do. Finally, the good guy blurts out:

“Sure. I'll meet you at the corner of ‘ne' and ‘ver.””

Sweet! Another saying. I love it.

Maybe it is because I work with teenagers combined with the fact that I'm completely unable to ever have a ‘comeback' to anything. I don't banter well and usually avoid it, but these little zingers can make everyone smile and also are used to underscore one of my common messages to students.

S is for Sweat

I saw a study sometime back that the top 10% of performers DO NOT have the top 10% IQ scores but rather, have the top 10% of WORK ETHIC. (See Self Discipline Outdoes IQ in predicting Academic performance of adolescents)
Attitude is the most important A in my classroom.

  • Do we work hard on the assigned task the whole 53 minutes of class?
  • Do we find ways to overcome obstacles?
  • Do we take ownership of our attitude and response to stressful situations?
  • Do we apologize when we mess up?
  • Do we follow the golden rule and treat others as we want to be treated?
  • Are the ‘smarter' kids being bossy or learning to pull in the views and opinions of all students?
  • Do we ask good questions and know how to find answers? 
  • Do we realize when we have a knowledge gap and know what to do to fill it without having to ask the teacher?

I teach students how to live life well as much as I teach them to master technology. Both are important in today's world.

What are you teaching in your classroom?

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere