Journal/Article: Motivating the Unmotivated

After over 10 years of teaching, I witnessed those around me in the schools I have worked in become unmotivated. I was motivated and enthusiastic to see change and whether that change is small or big, I was hoping it would occur. I wrote what you see below and had it shared anonymously with the school staff. I was hoping to make a difference and inspire through the power of words and continue to be hopeful. Through words and writing, I truly believe positive outcomes will occur.

                                    Motivating The Unmotivated                                                

                                        (Based on a true story)

As a teacher who has been in a handful of schools, I have witnessed other teachers who were once motivated become unmotivated over time. This could be happening in your school. They were not particularly older or younger or have taught many years. They could be second year teachers or have taught more than 10 years. I thought long and hard about this for a couple of years and have come up with a reasonable conclusion. Why do I care? I strongly believe EACH educator can make a difference in the life of a child and in a school and also believe that ALL educators can make a bigger difference if everyone is involved. A good school has motivated teachers in all of its’ classrooms. The best school has motivated teachers who work together to create the best learning environment. Motivation is vital and it is a necessity for the “unappreciated” job we call teaching.

The big question is, “How can teachers stay motivated when there are many factors that make teaching challenging?” There is no anecdote, recipe or criteria. Teachers all have several things in common! Those who become teachers want to make a difference and care about children and their future. They want to have a rewarding and fulfilling job. Unfortunately, the reality of teaching does not match these expectations. There are high expectations for teachers from the district, mandated curriculum, big class sizes, standardized testing and scores to maintain, behavior issues, lack of family involvement and school politics can make teaching more stressful than fulfilling. Often, teachers are not trained for what they really face in the classroom and in their school.

Let’s face it! MOTIVATION is all up to YOU! It happens inside that room in a school we call CLASSROOM:

-YOU set the tone, YOU take ownership, and YOU take responsibility.

-YOU make a difference, YOU see progress in your students

-YOU ignite the fire, YOU make students smile, YOU are the reason they have good memories

-YOU are the reason their families appreciate you even though they don’t show it sometimes

-YOU are willing to seek ways to ensure that all students are learning

-YOU create goals for yourself and for your students

-YOU are open to new ideas

-YOU are working with the students, not against them

-YOU are flexible, YOU are open-minded and welcome change

-YOU are a role model to not only your students but to your colleagues

-YOU influence the culture in a school

-YOU become the influence

 It starts with you. You are the domino that makes it happen! When one becomes unmotivated, others are affected. When there are a few in a school who are unmotivated, that few become “several”, that several becomes “most.” Teachers are leaders and leaders lead. Support in schools from other colleagues and administration is important to sustain motivation.

Inspirational Quotes:

I think the teaching profession contributes more to the future of our society than any other single profession. By: John Wooden

Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives. By: Andy Rooney

To this end the greatest asset of a school is the personality of the teacher.

By: John Strachan

Written by: Mary Tran


It Is My Birthday and Maybe, Just Maybe, I Can Be A Voice!

                      Maybe, Just Maybe, I Can Be a Voice!


This year, I am compelled to make this wish tomorrow as I blow out my birthday candles. I don’t wish for or want material things but have wishes for things that are abstract. As I write, I wish that I can think of that ONE word that would sum up all my wishes for my birthday this year. With the recent news, social networking videos of recent happenings, recent deaths and reasons for them, I have a list of thoughts, hopes and desires. Who am I? I am this one small person or an ant in this big world with no big name, no picture on the cover of a magazine, or a glimpse in a movie. I am not an author of a best-selling novel neither am I in the book of the Guinness world records. I have no power to change politics, the law or influence those who do have the power. I am but one person and maybe, just maybe, I can be a voice.

My wishes include RESPECT for people of a different race, color, religion, appearance and cognitive abilities. My wish also includes granting each person living in this planet patience, kindness, understanding and respect for the quality of all life (plants, animals and people). I also wish for each person to be open-minded and not judge, to be optimistic and not so negative, to welcome difference and change for the better of mankind and to treat one another as if they were family.

Birthdays are not a big deal! It comes each year and you just get older… But within each year are 365 days and in each day are 24 hours and you know what? … A hell of a lot can happen in a year! So, I’m going to make that wish and maybe, just maybe, I can be a voice.






Journal 4: On Summer Mode: Sipping Lemonade and Thinking “Autism”


School is out and I’m spending quality time with my children. One of my favorite drinks in the summer time is a nice cold glass of lemonade. While enjoying one just now, I was thinking about the list of things I have recycled from my own children and still need to purchase before September. In my experience with my own children (2 of whom are toddlers ages 3 and 4) and some experience with children with autism, I have come up with a list of “must haves” for my classroom. Some things are “must haves” in a typical Kindergarten classroom:

1) timer (s): used to time breaks, lessons or transitions

2) the big duplex legos

3) toy vehicles (bus, cars and trucks)  and a rug with roads

5) bean bag chairs (used for breaks)

6) various puzzles

7) bins used for organization and have a clutter free space

8) name strips for arranged seating and to label cubbies

9) painter’s tape: used to define space for each child

10) various size plastic balls

11) folders for each student: used to organize data, progress and goals

12) tennis balls used to decrease noise level under the legs of student chairs and tables

Here are just some of the things that I have in mind currently.  A week from now, my list may get bigger. For now, less is better as long as it is a necessity!

For those who are on summer break, hope it is a relaxing and a fun one!





Journal 3: To Take Care of Your Child (ren), You Have to Consider Taking Care of Yourself

The Benefits of Daily Exercise for All Parents

I can’t stress enough how beneficial it is to have quality “work outs” as a person. Whether you are older, younger, female, male, in school or a professional, everyone highly benefits from a quality “work out.” As a busy parent, it is so beneficial to “work out.” Initially, people think the purpose of working out is to lose weight but there are so much more reasons why it is important and beneficial! After a 20-40 minute workout, I am energetic and less tired. It boosts up my spirits  when I am stressed and it is fun! Maintaing daily work outs is challenging for a busy parent with a full schedule but if you could squeeze it in, you will see that it is well worth it!! I usually fit it in when my kids are in bed.  For now, while I am working full time and my 3 children are all under the ages of 7, I work out at home on weekdays. If I can fit  in a “run” on the weekends, I definitely do. My “work outs” are very short and simple but after it, I feel like a new person!  If you can, involve the children. It is good for them too! There are many applications of the iPhone and iPad that are wonderful! See below for some free apps. that I would pay for!  I’m a big fan of Jillian Michaels (a fitness instructor) who has perfect work out videos on You Tube that you can watch and use during your work outs! She was premiered on the hit TV show, “The Biggest Loser.”  Here is the list of things needed:

1) Comfortable quality sneakers

2) Cushioned mat

3) 2 dumbells (the weight depends on you)

4) water bottle

5) work out clothing

6) a laptop, iPad or your phone

Below is website listing 7 benefits to daily exercise (Check it out):

The “Short Read” is below or you can click on the link.  

Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity

You know exercise is good for you, but do you know how good? From boosting your mood to improving your sex life, find out how exercise can improve your life.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Want to feel better, have more energy and perhaps even live longer? Look no further than exercise. The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. And the benefits of exercise are yours for the taking, regardless of your age, sex or physical ability. Need more convincing to exercise? Check out these seven ways exercise can improve your life.

No. 1: Exercise controls weight

Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. You don’t need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap weight-loss benefits. If you can’t do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways — by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or revving up your household chores.

No. 2: Exercise combats health conditions and diseases

Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.

No. 3: Exercise improves mood

Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.

No. 4: Exercise boosts energy

Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily chores.

No. 5: Exercise promotes better sleep

Struggling to fall asleep? Or to stay asleep? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to fall asleep.

No. 6: Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life

Do you feel too tired or too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy? Regular physical activity can leave you feeling energized and looking better, which may have a positive effect on your sex life. But there’s more to it than that. Regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise.

No. 7: Exercise can be fun

Exercise and physical activity can be a fun way to spend some time. It gives you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting. So, take a dance class, hit the hiking trails or join a soccer team. Find a physical activity you enjoy, and just do it. If you get bored, try something new.

The bottom line on exercise

Exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, gain health benefits and have fun. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you haven’t exercised for a long time, have chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis, or you have any concerns.

Below are 4 great FREE apps. for your work out indoors or on your run! These are just a few among many apps available!

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Journal entry 2: Put Yourself in the Shoes of a Person With Disabilities

Think As if  You Were in the Shoes of a Person with Disabilities

Think long and hard about this: What if you had down syndrome? What if you had autism? What if you had cerebral palsy and is wheelchair bound?  What if you had speech impediments?  What if you had a learning disability? What if you had ADD or ADHD? What if you were blind? What if you were deaf? What if you were deaf and blind? What if you were nonverbal and did not know how to communicate your needs and wants?  These are some questions I think to myself as a teacher of special needs children, a mother and a person.

Put yourself in the shoes of these children with these disabilities and imagine your life and the world around you. How would you feel? Would you feel anxious, scared, confused, frustrated, angry or upset?  What are your thoughts? Would you think you were different, odd, or left out?

Sometimes, when I go out on field trips or on walks with my students, I see people around us stare at my students. Some people are not used to seeing my students or simply do not know what to think of them. Some people approach us and greet the students and some people stare and walk away. Without knowledge, awareness and exposure to people with disabilities, you might be curious and will have questions and not know how it is to have the disabilities mentioned above. Educate, learn and welcome the knowledge that you may not have about these special people. You will see that people with disabilities face challenges that others without disabilities don’t face. You will see that some people with disabilities can impress you and are able to do and communicate a lot better than you think. You will also see that some some people with disabilities have physical disabilities, others have cognitive disabilities and some have both physical and cognitive disabilities. Furthermore, you will see that with the right support, education, endurance and medical help, some people with disabilities are able to lead regular and independent lives.  Some ways to educate and expose yourself is by volunteering in a school or a hospital, talk to families with children who have special needs and do not hesitate to ask questions. Ask questions with respect as you would want that same respect if asked about you. Be proactive!

Below are pictures taken from Google Images. It shows a child having speech therapy, a child in a wheelchair, a child with downs syndrome and a child with autism.


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Journal entry 1: What every parent and (special ed.) teacher should have

I have 3 little children. My children are currently 2, 3 and 7 years of age. My younger two children are pretty independent but dependent in specific areas. My oldest 7 year old is quite independent but could be needy as any child is. They all have different personalities and characteristics that make them unique and who they are! Even though each of my children has their own needs and personalities, they all enjoy playing with each other. They all like music and dancing, playing games and have books read to them. They all like to cuddle, they all like praise and they like to record themselves and watch themselves on the videos of the phone or iPad. Each day as they grow, I observe their personalities grow, their smile and laugh, their tantrums and sad moments.  I observe them playing independently and with each other. There are moments I am stressed, tired and overwhelmed but there are  so much more moments where I just watch, soak it in and smile. As I smile, I think of how fast time flew as they grow up.

In the 13 years that I have been teaching students with severe special needs from the ages of 11-15 (down syndrome, cerebral palsy, developmental delay, etc.), I am fortunate to have been with a variety of students all of whom are unique individuals.  Since the classrooms are formatted so that I have the students from the 6-8 grade, I have the students for 3 years. During these three years, I am able to see progress.  Like my children, I shared moments with my students and observed anxiety, frustration and discomfort but I also shared moments of joy, pride, happiness and excitement. I witnessed some students identify colors and letters in the eighth grade but could not in the sixth, write their names in the 8th but could not in the 6th, ask for preference by pointing to pictures in the 8th but did not in the 6th. So much can happen in three years, whether the progress is slow or not, there is progress. There is a sense of accomplishment.

For my children and students, I have expectations. Whether the expectations are high or low, having expectations is important during the individual’s growth. I have respect for my children and students as they are each unique having their own unique needs. I am motivated by my children and students to be the best mother and teacher as I see each individual grow personally and physically. I have goals and hopes for my children and students… all different but nevertheless, I strive to see those goals accomplished. I am inspired and touched by my children and students as I witness moments of pride, happiness, growth, maturation, etc. I am determined to have them feel safe, secure and comfortable in the appropriate settings. Finally, I continue to be optimistic even when I am challenged in all aspects of life at home and in school. Being optimistic is so important as a role model and an authority figure. It creates a positive energy all around and it could be so contagious!


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