What Stanfield is Reading and Watching: November 2015

Gratitude May Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

In the spirit of the holidays, you might be thinking a lot about what you’re thankful for this week. Well now, research shows that gratitude, and feeling thankful can actually help reduce the risk of heart disease. This is great news, because at James Stanfield, we think it’s so important to teach students gratitude and to urge them to see the value in what they have.

NPR’s Patti Neighmond shares details below in her article:

As we launch into Thanksgiving week, consider this: Research shows that feeling grateful doesn’t just make you feel good. It also helps — literally helps — the heart.

A positive mental attitude is good for your heart. It fends off depression, stress and anxiety, which can increase the risk of heart disease, says Paul Mills, a professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. Mills specializes in disease processes and has been researching behavior and heart health for decades. He wondered if the very specific feeling of gratitude made a difference, too.

So he did a study. He recruited 186 men and women, average age 66, who already had some damage to their heart, either through years of sustained high blood pressure or as a result of heart attack or even an infection of the heart itself. They each filled out a standard questionnaire to rate how grateful they felt for the people, places or things in their lives.

It turned out the more grateful people were, the healthier they were. “They had less depressed mood, slept better and had more energy,” says Mills.

And when Mills did blood tests to measure inflammation, the body’s natural response to injury, or plaque buildup in the arteries, he found lower levels among those who were grateful — an indication of better heart health.

So Mills did a small follow-up study to look even more closely at gratitude. He tested 40 patients for heart disease and noted biological indications of heart disease such as inflammation and heart rhythm. Then he asked half of the patients to keep a journal most days of the week, and write about two or three things they were grateful for. People wrote about everything, from appreciating children to being grateful for spouses, friends, pets, travel, jobs and even good food.

After two months, Mills retested all 40 patients and found health benefits for the patients who wrote in their journals. Inflammation levels were reduced, and heart rhythm improved. And when he compared their heart disease risk before and after journal writing, there was a decrease in risk after two months of writing in their journals. Those results have been submitted to a journal, but aren’t yet published.

Mills isn’t sure exactly how gratitude helps the heart, but he thinks it’s because it reduces stress, a huge factor in heart disease.

“Taking the time to focus on what you are thankful for,” he says, “letting that sense of gratitude wash over you — this helps us manage and cope.”

And helps keep our hearts healthy.

Image and article source: NPR


Motivational Monday

Here’s a different spin on motivational Monday from Jaime Casap, a Google Global Education Evangelist. He says we should stop asking kids what they want to be when they grow up and instead, ask them what problems they want to solve. We love this new way of thinking—it’s a great way to challenge students to think about the future and what they can do to solve problems in the world!


Some Dance Moves are Just Timeless…

We’re bringing you some funk this Friday! Check out this awesome compilation of dance scenes from over 65 old movies that seem to go perfectly with Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk.”

Do more than just watch: The video’s creator supports the following film preservation charities.

The British Film Institute,…
The George Eastman Museum,
The Film Foundation,


The Shortage of Special Education Teachers is Getting Worse

“It is not uncommon for a special ed teacher to tell me, ‘I did not get a degree in special ed to do paperwork. I got a degree to help kids.’ “ – David Pennington, superintendent

The nation is experiencing a shortage of special education teachers. With a higher drop-out rate than most professions, teaching special education is a difficult job that presents different challenges than general education teachers face.

NPR’s Lee Hale gets to the bottom of this shortage and explains what happens to schools that lack special education teachers.

Check out our highlights below:

    • A large percentage of special education teachers are nearing retirement and will be outof the industry soon.
    • Across the country, the demand for special education teachers is rising, and manystate and districts are reporting severe shortages.
    • On top of the normal demands of teaching, special education teachers face additional pressures: feelings of isolation, fear of lawsuits, and students who demand extra attention.
    • Special education teachers also feel overwhelmed with the amount of paperwork: The IDEA and the IEP require hours and hours of filling out forms and writing reports documenting each student’s progress.
    • Without free time during the day, most teachers end up handling paperwork after work, between the hours of 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.

 Read the full article on NPR.


2015’s Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year is….

“Face with Tears of Joy”!

For the first time ever, the Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year is an emoji! And, yep, it’s the “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji—or as we like to call it, the crying-laughing emoji. According to Oxford University Press, the crying-laughing emoji was the most popular emoji across the world this year. This joyful face was chosen as the word that reflected the “ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 205″—we hope that means everyone did a lot of cracking up this year!

It’s undeniable that emojis have wedged their way into language. But how did it happen? Check out OxfordWords blog’s brief history of emoji:
An emoji is ‘a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion in electronic communication’; the term emoji is a loanword from Japanese, and comes from e ‘picture’ + moji ‘letter, character’. The similarity to the English wordemoticon has helped its memorability and rise in use, though the resemblance is actually entirely coincidental: emoticon (a facial expression composed of keyboard characters, such as ;), rather than a stylized image) comes from the English wordsemotion and icon.

Emojis are no longer the preserve of texting teens – instead, they have been embraced as a nuanced form of expression, and one which can cross language barriers. Even Hillary Clinton solicited feedback in the form of emojis, and has had notable use from celebrities and brands alongside everyone else – and even appeared as the caption to the Vine which apparently kicked off the popularity of the term onfleek, which appears on our WOTY shortlist.

Read the rest at Oxford Dictionaries.


Motivational Monday

Today, Chester shares these wise words from Maya Angelou. Don’t try to be normal! Be the amazing person you are.


Sound Familiar?

We thought these products for teachers from LookHuman were pretty hilarious. We’re willing to bet this phrase is all too familiar for teachers out there…


5 Tips to Avoid Teacher Burnout

At James Stanfield, we know how common teacher burnout is and when it hits teachers hard: October and November are typically the months where stress piles up and teachers lose motivation. The burn out rate for special education teachers in particular is extremely high compared to most other professions. Special education teachers are faced with additional challenges that can lead to high stress, frustration, and feelings of defeat. So, as part of our #TeacherWeek, we want to provide you with meaningful content to help combat this burnout period and make it through that final stretch to the holidays! The following 5 Tips for Avoiding Teacher Burnout come to you straight from Mary Beth Hertz at Edutopia:

1) Maintain Your “Other” Life

It’s OK if teaching is your life as long as you have a life outside of your classroom. I see this a lot in new teachers, especially if they are in their early 20s and just starting out. You want to be the best teacher you can. You’ve been dreaming of this moment for years. Now you’re here and determined to launch headfirst into an instantly successful career. You’re figuring out lesson planning, grading, managing student behavior, and classroom procedures. You’re up until midnight and up at 6:00 AM. Your weekends are spent grading and planning. This is an easy road to burnout. Go for a short weekend trip, get lunch with an old friend, go to the gym during the week, or go for a bike ride. (Exercise relieves stress!) Spend some time when you are not thinking about the classroom, and stay connected to your support group of friends and family.

2) Be a Stakeholder When Changes Are Made

Too much change stretches teachers thin and leads to burnout. Include teachers in conversations about changes, and make changes transparent. I have seen the downside of change in the schools I’ve worked in over the years. It seems like the administration changes the discipline policy and procedures every week. The school started the year with a new reading program only to find out that they’ll be using a different one next year. Lunch procedures are revised and changed with no explanation in what seems like a haphazard way throughout the year. Teachers are moved from grade to grade or subject to subject despite their experience with specific grade levels or subject areas. After enough of these hasty, frequent changes, teachers begin to feel as though they’ve lost all control over their day-to-day experiences and responsibilities. This leads to unwillingness to go out on a limb, try new things or put in too much effort — why bother when everything could change on a whim? This takes the passion out of teaching and turns it into a guessing game of what will come next. If a change needs to be made, be transparent about why this change is happening and, whenever possible, include the affected teachers in the process and avoid sudden changes that appear to come out of nowhere. Always think about how a change will affect teachers and staff and plan accordingly.

3) Find Lessons and Opportunities in Everything

One of the easiest ways to burn out as a teacher is to get stuck in the same routine and practices year after year. Keep it fresh by reading new research on teaching, and by learning, talking, and collaborating with peers inside and outside of your school building. Attend conferences and other structured learning activities. Take on a leadership role in your school through which you can learn new skills or build new connections. Share what you’re doing in your classroom with peers, solicit feedback, and revise your lessons. Oh, and read. A lot. Always keep learning. Always keep it fresh.

4) Nurture Peer Connections

Give teachers opportunities to connect with each other about their teaching. When they don’t have time or opportunities to connect, share, and plan together during the day, they start feeling isolated. Isolation can easily lead to burnout if you feel like you’re all alone, figuring things out by yourself, and having few connections within the building. Feeling part of a team, knowing what others are doing in their classrooms, and seeing how your work fits into the bigger picture is motivating, inspiring, and increases feelings of self-worth. Give teachers across grade levels or subject areas the time they need to share student work, units they’re teaching, and ideas they’re working on. Give them opportunities to watch each other teach in a non-threatening, collegial way.

5) Keep It Light

Incorporate humor and laughter into your classroom. Putting on a serious face every day, day after day, is hard. There’s an old adage that says teachers shouldn’t smile until winter break or they’ll never be able to manage their class. Sure, it’s important to be clear about expectations, and sometimes you need to put your foot down. But who wants to sit in a classroom where no one smiles and everything is super-serious all the time? It’s OK to have a good time in the classroom and enjoy yourself. Your students will appreciate your class more, and you will win them over if you seem like you’re having a good time! Teachers have bad days just like anyone, and sometimes we need humor to brighten our day. Letting some humor and laughter into your classroom and making it a pleasant place to be will help counteract feelings of burnout.”

Read it on Edutopia


Eleven TED Talks That Will Get Your Mojo Back!

We know how difficult October and November can be for teachers. You’ve spent these past weeks stressing, organizing, and lesson planning—and you might be feeling pretty burnt out. But there’s hope! These inspirational talks are exactly what you need to boost your mindset and get you back on track for that final stretch until the holidays. So kick back, relax, and be inspired! Click here to check out the playlist!


Motivational Monday

Being a teacher definitely isn’t easy, but as this Motivational Monday quote describes, it is so rewarding because it matters every day. Take the time to appreciate the teachers in your life, and if you’re a teacher yourself, you inspire us! Keep being amazing.


Just for Laughs!

Ever gotten a note from a student’s “parent” that resembled the child’s own handwriting…a little too much? Or got a suspicious note from a student that was signed only “Mom”? We thought this one was pretty hilarious: “I am his mom and what I say goes.” Apparently Ronnie thought this very official note would grant him permission to bring his portable playstation to school… See the rest of them on Buzzfeed’s list of 9 Notes That Were Definitely 100% Written By These Children’s Parents.


Encourage Students by Normalizing Mistakes

It’s okay to make mistakes! That’s one takeaway from Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck’s research on growth mindset, or in other words, the idea of “productive failure” and giving students the time and place to work through difficult problems and share strategies on solving these problems.

Dweck’s research shows that, “children who understand that their brains are malleable and can change when working through challenging problems can do better in school.”

Learning that mistakes are not only normal but valuable to the learning experience is especially important for students with special needs, who may feel more pressure about making mistakes than others. Because students with special needs often learn differently, they may feel worried or self conscious about using different strategies to find the correct answer. The growth mindset wants to change this perception: it’s all about encouraging mistake-making as a path to learning—working hard and powering through a problem is what helps students grow. The video below shows the growth mindset in action: second grade teacher Maricela Montoy-Wilson asks her students to justify their thinking, use reasoning and evidence, and she encourages her students to critique one another’s thinking and ask for help on different strategies. Watch to see why kids who are making mistakes and working really hard say they are “Happy because we are growing our brains.” Awesome!

Article and photo source via KQED News: MindShift. Read the full article here.


Motivational Monday

Today’s Motivational Monday post is bound to get your creative juices flowing. We love this Maya Angelou quote about creativity—the more you use, the more you have!


The Stanfield Way

The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.

Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.

Stanfield Special Education Curriculum

VideoModeling® Programs

VideoModeling® is a ground-breaking teaching concept originated by the James Stanfield Company that’s used in thousands of public and private schools across America and Canada for special education needs.

Read More
Journaling, mediation, and intentional talk aren’t just for adults. 5 ways we can facilitate healthy management of mental health in our children.

James Stanfield Co.

My students were glued to the screen. Love Stanfield’s humor. This is the way to teach social skills.

Susan Simon, Principal

Using Humor to Teach Social Skills

Humor = Retention

We believe you learn best when you laugh. By making the classroom experience more comfortable and enjoyable, humor can make teaching and learning more effective, especially for the K12 segment. At Stanfield, we use humor as an integral part of our curricula.

If you as a speaker don’t help your audience to remember your lessons, then you’re wasting everyone’s time. Humor… can help accomplish that needed retention…

Gean Perret, Screenwriter
Learn more
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