One of the biggest problems of our modern schools is the fact that many of our students believe they are doomed to failure. Our students face great pressures daily. Again, and again, they received negative messages from family, teachers, and classmates. They see that other children have everything, and they feel that they have practically nothing.
The main challenge teachers face now, is convincing their students that if they want it, they can succeed not only in school but also in life. Teachers usually have little control over the message which students will receive from others, but we have control of the message they receive from us and the message must be very clear, a message of high expectations. The message is simple “you can succeed if you persevere”. We have to capture their minds and hearts and show them with facts that they can succeed. This is not simple; it requires a lot of work, it takes a lot of effort, it requires putting the heart to learning and teaching; but the reward is huge for them, and it is evident.
I am a teacher with more than 25 years of teaching experience, and I have trained hundreds of winners. I was a teacher at college-level for more than 15 years with excellent results; I often meet alumni who are directors of companies, owners of companies, employees in high positions who thank me mainly for having imbued them with confidence, that if they persevere and never consider themselves defeated, they will succeed.
I also have two master’s degrees here in the United States, and some time ago I received an invitation to work as a university-level teacher because they know the excellent results I had in higher education previously. On that occasion, I did not accept that offer, but I chose to be a teacher at middle school (with less salary and more hours of work) because I think what we have to influence the students from below. I have several academic blogs that are visited by hundreds of thousands of people a year, from dozens of countries and I have the great satisfaction of being collaborating, even a little in their education of all of them.
Year after year, my students occupy the highest places in the school, in the school district and frequently in the state evaluation (STAAR/State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness). Please see the following chart that corresponds to last year. It was the result of an experiment in which several teachers including Mr. Quesada and Mr. Alonzo who worked together with me, with the common goal of raising the educational level of our students. We teach the same students in the sixth grade and then the seventh grade so that they knew our rhythm and way of working. The results are extraordinary, as the graph shows:
We had three students with a perfect grade in Math, and it would have been more than a dozen if not because some of them do not have a good command of English since they are ESL students (English as a Second Language), and they did not understand the meaning of some words that came in the exam. Many ESL students not only passed but obtained outstanding grades.
We can summarize this in a sentence:
Yes, you can!
In this school year, I am looking to support ESL teachers precisely so that together we better prepare all students who really want to do it.
Having excelled so much has caused envy, criticism and low blows by other schoolmates. For all of them, my message is very simple and direct “You can do it too, but it takes time, effort and dedication”, “you need to convince students to work overtime to fill in the gaps they have in their academic preparation and dare to succeed”. And you also need to work overtime!
For all the students the formula is very simple: “If you want to succeed, work hard and persevere until you succeed”.
“Life rewards efforts, not pretexts” Anonymous
“A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed an irremediable failure would turn into glorious success.” – Elbert Hubbard
If you want to change your future, you must build it with the daily effort, always striving to be better, and not let yourself be defeated by the setbacks that will surely arise along the way.
The students of this school year are supposedly the best I have received during my entire stay at this school. And it is curious that being the best, more than 30% of them did not even know the multiplication tables or how to perform basic arithmetic operations, so these first weeks have been fully dedicated to filling gaps in their education. Until their knowledge of the basis in math is solid and definitive. With great satisfaction, I can tell you that you are making outstanding progress and that you are very different in knowledge and behavior compared with the students that I received at the beginning of the school year.
Students from previous years have also excelled in their final grade, always among the best places in the school and the district. Although in the previous years the school administration repeatedly sent me many of the students with great academic and behavioral deficiencies. So almost year after year I have protested to the administration that the distribution is unfair, and mainly asking the administration to send me students who really want to put their effort to succeed. Here is an example:
Let’s work together to make our students overcome all their limitations and succeed in their lives!
Dear teachers, allow me to recommend a book that tells many success stories and that we can easily incorporate into our teaching practice.
When I was a child, in elementary school I had very good teachers of spelling and grammar, but not mathematics.
In middle school, the math teacher had a complicated pregnancy and because of that was often missing, and so many of the class hours were spent playing basketball.
I did not feel competent in math and thought that I would never find a career.
I was fortunate to find a teacher of Spanish origin, the engineer Ramayo, who believed in me and told me something no one had ever told me, that I was very competent in mathematics and could achieve what I aimed for in life.
Thanks to his motivation, I studied engineering and excelled in my studies, completed two master’s degrees, directed research groups in the oil industry and have run my own companies, I have generated several patents in the energy sector, I have been a university professor for more than 20 years, and now I have been a teacher in middle school for thirteen years.
In my teaching experience, I have realized the importance of believing in students, and the relevance of making them see that they can achieve everything they set out to do.
In psychology, this phenomenon has been studied (the experiment of Rosenthal and Jacobson in 1966 is well known) and is known as the Pygmalion effect, or of self-fulfilling prophecy.
If parents and teachers have confidence in the child and they convince him that he can succeed in life and emphasize what he can achieve; the child will excel and succeed. But if on the contrary, they only emphasize their shortcomings and defects, by word or deed, they make them feel that they will fail, the child will not work, he will not be careful, and his school performance will be mediocre or badly plain.
There is a Henry Ford thought that sums up this: “So whether you believe you can or if you think you can not, in both cases you are right.”
It is something that I live on a daily basis. Students who are stars with me, who stand out a lot in my class, who obtain the highest degrees of academic excellence, are the same students who in previous years, had serious academic problems and even failed in mathematics, which is the subject that I teach. I mention a frequent case, students who failed the state test (STAAR) in the previous year, are often the commended performance, which all the teachers in the following year want to have.
Sometimes I talk to other teachers who teach the same students, and they say: “I do not tolerate so-and-so, very apathetic and disinterested, and their work is rather mediocre.” It is hard for them to believe, when I tell them, that in my subject they are bright and participative students, who stand out among their classmates and who are sure to succeed in whatever they propose.
The future is not casual but causal. We build it with our daily work, with determination and perseverance in achieving our goals. The difference between success or failure is in the decisions and actions you take daily, as well as the perseverance you apply to achieve your goals. Leave your comfort zone, and dare to succeed. Remember: If you keep doing the same actions, you will still get the same results. If you want to get different results, you will have to start by performing different actions.
Einstein put it this way: “the definition of stupidity is to do the same actions and expect different results“. Using another analogy, it would be like planting apple seeds and waiting to harvest oranges, sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?
If you propose it, the triumph will be in your hands. If you do not stop yourself, no one will stop you, and you will achieve everything that you propose.
I know that you all want to succeed.
And I know what they can do if you are decided to do it and work hard to achieve it.
I invite you to watch the following motivational by Denzel Washington. I’m sure it will be of great help to decide to succeed and to break down any obstacle that comes your way. Thank you Denzel, for sharing with us this moving message that will undoubtedly be of great help to all students to transform their lives and that of their families, turning them into winners.
If you really want to succeed, the secret is simple: study. If you compare what a worker who just finished High School (which is the basic level they ask for any job) earns, against what someone who has finished a professional career, a master’s degree or a doctorate, the difference really is enormous.
A person who just finished High School has an income that is just at the poverty line. Instead, a professional has the money to live comfortably and fully enjoy their family. Good homes, good cars, good medical care, holidays and all the comforts of modern life. It is estimated that with only four additional years of study the difference in income over 30 years of work is more than one million dollars.
Let’s do some quick accounting; a minimum wage person earns $ 7.25 an hour ($ 58 a day) when he gets a job. If you are sick with the flu and your mom takes you to the general practitioner for a 15-minute consultation, the fee is $ 50, so they can earn $ 200 in one hour (on a good day $ 1,600 or more). In two weeks a professional can earn what a minimum wage employee earns in a year. In addition, the physical effort is very different; it is not the same to be working where every day you are moving heavy things and doing strenuous work, compared to the physical effort of a professional, which in most professions is minimal because it is intellectual work.
Have confidence in yourself, you must believe in yourself; do not ever get defeated. Dare to dream. If you have a dream, pursue it. Set goals and have the courage, determination, and dedication to achieve them. In life, you will always find obstacles and pitfalls, but you must have the will to rise and persevere. Only the one who gives up is defeated.
If you want to be part of a success story – study. Many students do not finish high school because they did not arrive well prepared in their subjects from the previous years. In Middle School, you learn the bases that will allow you to succeed later in your studies. All construction requires a good foundation, and here we are laying the foundations of what you will build tomorrow.
At Middle School, you must create solid foundations in reading, writing, and mathematics. I do not worry about how low your math skills are; I offer you that if you attend class regularly, if you pay attention, if you do the assigned activities and you frankly consult your doubts in order to clarify them, you will learn what is necessary to get ahead in your studies. I have 30 years as a teacher, and many of my alumni are successful; Even former students, some who had never passed a Texas state test, have achieved Commended Performance and then have achieved a professional career.
Success depends on the will rather than the talent. The foundations of your future and that of your family are built today. Dare to succeed.
In days gone by, sadly I learned that a child at our school was caught up in drugs. This is one of the great concerns that we have as parents and teachers because we know the huge risk involved in drug addiction and its dire consequences to those who consume them.
Regrettably, modern society regards to drug use as normal and instead of combating it with awareness campaigns at all levels, we see with sadness, that in some states it is being legalized. However, I believe that schools should be a place where drugs are completely banned. Under no circumstances should they be tolerated.
Today I want to share with you the story of Aldo. I met him when I finished my studies; he was a Catholic priest who was very different from everyone I had met before. When we were going to confess to the priest, it was common to hear him say “who am I to judge you? I too have been a sinner, and my sins have been greater than yours. Yet God rescued me and so also wants to rescue you, so that you may bear fruits of His love and give them abundantly.” In Aldo, we always had a friend and a counselor, at any time we could go to him, and we felt the peace and tranquility that is emanated.
Aldo said that the confession was not with the priest but with God and with those whom we had offended. When we wanted to do this, we could confess in small groups in the sacristy, in some very emotional sessions that we could now call group therapy. Everyone recognized their sins and asked for forgiveness publicly, offering sincerely, to remedy their sins and not to sin again.
Aldo was born in Nevada and at a very young age lost his parents, so he was a problem child during his adolescence and when he came of age, given that he had artistic inclinations, became a renowned dancer in Las Vegas. He told us that he had lived a life of excesses, women, drinks, drugs; And yet when he was alone and thinking he realized that his life was empty; that others cared only for what he could provide them and that personally he wanted luxury and personal pleasures and did not care what happens to the rest of the world.
One day he had a dental problem, and he went without an appointment at the dental office. While waiting he began to read the magazines in the waiting room; he found an article, a rare thing, of the life of St. Francis of Assisi. He commented that he can not stop reading it, and resulted in him going to buy a book to know more about his life. And at that moment he felt that like St Francis, he must totally renounce that life of hedonism and pleasures, and really be interested in others. He entered the seminary, and when he finished, he sought to officiate in a poor parish where his help was most needed.
Aldo told us “Get away from drugs, if you consume them they are surely sorrowful to God, who wants all that is good for you and the evil one rejoices. If you have already consumed them and want to leave them, seek the support of God who will always be at your side to return you to the right path. For him there is no impossible, for him, there is no sin that can not be forgiven, we are his children, and he does not want to lose us .“
This same message I give to my students. Get away from drugs, avoid the company of other boys who consume them, seek the support of your parents and teachers, do not look for false shortcuts, really strive to be better in every way, seek to be better children, better brothers, better students, and I have the confidence that when they are adults they will have a full life, the recognition of the community and the affection of their loved ones.
Ten years ago, I retired as a college-level professor and started teaching math to middle school students. As a university professor, I never knew of any of my students having problems with drug addiction. However, in my first year of teaching math to seventh graders, I had the opportunity to meet a student whom I love very much, who faced a drug problem that school year and was able to overcome it. She told me that one of her friends insisted that she take some white pills that she distributed. She suggested that they would make her forget all of her problems, she told her she would really enjoy life, she would always feel good about herself, and that she could stop taking them whenever she wanted to.
After much persistence, she agreed. She went from being a regular student to a student who did not assimilate to anything, who was missing a lot of classes, was always distracted and now had behavior problems and at the end of the year failed every subject.
She told me that when she remembered that incident, she always thought of the biblical story of the serpent’s temptation. She said that who she thought was her friend, just wanted to drag her into a bottomless pit of drug addiction and hopelessness. Like the serpent of the biblical story, her friend offered her many false promises, to tempt her over and over again, until she was able to hook her on drugs. I can hardly remember her face, she told me, but when I think of her, her face is transfigured into a snake.
She told me that she was able to overcome the problem of drug addiction when she realized that her life was in ruins, that everything had been a hoax. She felt had fallen into a bottomless abyss. She told me that drugs had destroyed her life and made her loved ones unhappy. She told me that there was a time when she would think about suicide to leave everything behind. That before she had drugs she had problems, but her vice now made them worse it made them intolerable. She told me she would have gladly given everything she had to have returned to the time when she was a student who was not addicted to drugs. She confided her problem to her grandmother; she told me that they cried a lot together and that together they also asked God to ask her for the strength that would help her get ahead and out of doing drugs.
That is why I tell my students what drugs are, which is the greatest enemy they have to succeed in life, and the fastest way to destroy their future. They are the easiest way to prison, to poverty, to loss of health, loss of family, and finally death.
One child asked me if she could die with one-time use of drugs. I shared what I have read of cases of sudden death, and the more frequent cases of people suffering irreversible brain damage with a single use of some drugs. I suggested he check the internet statistics. More than 55,000 people die each year in the United States directly from drug use and, there are more than a million people incarcerated for that same reason, countless families live with the martyrdom of having a drug addict in the family. We talked more and he understood that drugs were not worth trying.
Drugs are bad for both those who consume them and those around them, they hurt them individually and hurt their families and friends. If someone wants you to do drugs, stay away from him or her, that person does not wish you any good.
If you have fallen into this serious problem, seek the support of your close relatives, your spiritual guide, your teachers or counselors. Do not give up, always fight to get ahead!
Previously Published On 5/18/2015
Last week I was very sad to hear that a sixth-year child was caught smoking drugs in the school bathrooms. The next day I learned of an eighth-grader who offered drugs to his classmates. This news worried me a lot, and I had no sleep. Over and over again I wondered to myself, what can I do? What should I do?
Many times, I have seen that some students destroy their lives, their studies, their personal and family relations, as well as any possibility of future success because they fall into the trap of drugs.
Ten years ago, I retired as a teacher of higher education and started teaching math at the middle school level. In the first year, I learned of a similar drug case, and I went to the school authorities to ask what we would do. The answer surprised me: “That’s society, there’s nothing we can do”: I totally disagreed with it. When authority is defeated and does not want to intervene, minimizing and in some cases hiding incidents of this type, it will only aggravate the problem.
Society has placed in the teachers and school authorities the great responsibility of cultivating and caring for the most valuable treasure of all the families and of the nation, this is its young people. We can not turn a blind eye to these problems and ignore them. On the contrary, we should alert parents and raise awareness among young people of the serious dangers of drug addiction. To deny the existence of a problem or to pretend that it does not exist does not solve it; but on the contrary, aggravates it. It is a task for all adults to protect with all our strength, with all our heart, with a clear and determined strategy that protects our students from this serious problem.
If a friend offers you drugs he is not a friend, a good friend does not endanger your life and your future.
Take advantage of this great educational opportunity you have today; your future and that of your family depend on what you do today. Do not make a mistake that you’ll regret all your life
Do you think having a drug-addicted child is what your parents want when they send you to school?
And if you have already fallen into this problem, seek help. Lean on someone you can trust, a close relative, your teachers, school or spiritual counselors. I want to tell you that with will, determination, and perseverance, other people have come out of drugs. There is a thought that I want to share:
“God changes caterpillars into butterflies, sand into pearls and coal into diamonds by using time and pressure. He is working on you too”– Rick Warren.
A Math Journal is a way of keeping your math work organized, so you can self-assess what you have learned. A journal entry should be written at the end of each math exercise. The math journal entries should take no more than 5 minutes.
Every journal entry becomes a record of the experience received from the specific math exercise.
Math Journals allows students to organize, clarify, and reflect on their thinking.
Daily journal prompts:
- I solved the problem by ___
- I can check my answer by ___
- The strategy I used was ___
- Another strategy I could use would be ___
- The first thing I did was ___
- Today’s lesson helped me to understand ___
- I learned that ___
- I would use this in my real life when ___
- I know that __ is __ because __.
- I knew I was right when……
- The best way to solve this problem would be___
- First ___ next ___ then ___ after that ___
Cornell notes are an effective way for students to take notes on a math subject.
If students write their own word problems, they will develop their reasoning skills and make connections between what they learn in class and its applications in the real world.
Once a week, write your own math word problem.
We will use math word walls to build vocabulary.
Vocabulary for the first six weeks:
|Bar notation, Common denominator, Least common denominator, Like fractions, Rational numbers, Repeating decimal, Terminating decimal, Unlike fractions,||Absolute Value, Integers, Positive integers, Negative integers,||Proper fractions, Improper Fractions, Mixed Numbers, Complex Fraction,|
|Rate , Unit rate, Unit ratio, Proportional, Non Proportional, Equivalent ratios,||Coordinate plane, Quadrants, Ordered Pair, X-Coordinate, Y-Coordinate, X-Axis, Y-Axis,||Proportions, Cross Product, Customary, Metric, Conversion Factor, Rate of change, Constant rate of change, Constant of proportionality, Constant of variation, Direct variation,|
Organizing Your Math Journal
Section 1: Vocabulary /Frayer models (Vocabulary sheets for each unit)
Section 2: Notes (All of the notes you take in class)
Section 3: Homework (Homework assignments)
Section 4: Quizzes/Tests
As a teacher, I have always believed that our mission transcends the task of simply transmitting knowledge, and calls upon us to give children the means to succeed in life. I also believe that we should not limit ourselves to teaching our students the standard curriculum in Math, Science, and English, but should also give them the tools to be effective parents themselves when the time comes.
Regrettably, no one teaches us how to be parents, and when the time comes, we often confront the challenge by improvising and learning on the job from our repeated mistakes. As parents, we often go to one extreme or the other: We become overprotective of our children or give them too little protection. This leads to some kids being shielded from all their responsibilities and being unable to do anything on their own, and others being left to fend for themselves in the absence of any supervision. Good parenting requires us to strike a balance between protecting them and letting them discover the world on their own.
One of the major problems that I have encountered as a teacher is that of overindulgent parents, who—in their desire to protect their children—keep them in their comfort zone; this ends up sabotaging their academic achievement. I know from experience that there are some parents who often do their children’s homework and other academic work because the youngsters are unable to understand the concepts in the work sent home by the teachers for further study. Worse still, since the teachers are under the impression that the students have already mastered the concepts, they do not schedule any further review of the topic. This does not help our students; it has the opposite effect because it encourages irresponsibility and deceit. These habits will, in the long run, end up hindering the chances of academic success.
Several research studies show that there is a link between overindulgent parents and deviant behaviors such as drug use, underage drinking, pregnant teens and affective disorders.
As teachers, we must contend with the myriad of excuses that parents give to explain why their children did not do their homework; some excuses are very creative, but most are very run-of-the-mill. Parents often make excuses to explain their children’s absence from class—such as medical appointments, family illness, unavoidable social gatherings. Parents should understand that by doing this they are not helping their children, on the contrary, they are hurting their children’s development. Every kid must learn to take responsibility for his own assignments.
Excuses are for losers
There is a proven recipe for success that I would like to share with you:
Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time. Arnold H. Glasow