Girls Rule

Posted in Funny, Motivational, Relationships

Girls Rule dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator1When I am talking to little kids, sometimes I will say things to shock them. It is hilarious!  I ask them, “Are you married?”  LOL. Or, I ask them, “Is this your boyfriend?”  They squirm and shout, “NOOOOOOO! Ewwwwwww!!!”  LOL.

The little kids haven’t quite figured it out yet. Girls rule. There was a great quote from My Big Fat Greek Wedding that went something like this: “The man is the head, but the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head any way she wants.”  There is so much truth to that.

Another favorite line of mine was from Jesse Jackson.  He was being interviewed and asked about his marriage of 25 years to the same woman and what he attributed his successful marriage to. He said, “In my marriage, I make ALL the important decisions. However, let me add that in 25 years we have yet to have an important decision to make.”  LOL.

Funny how girls go from having cooties to making guys go crazy over them in the matter of just a few years. I was telling a young boy this the other day. I told him, “You want her to treat you like a king?” He said, “Yes!”  I said, “Then treat her like a queen.” This is the problem with so many relationships. The boys / men have not recognized the queen.

I intervened in an argument that a little boy and girl were having at lunch in the cafeteria. The little girl complained how rude the boy had been to her. I looked at him and said, “You had better treat her right. When you mess with her, you mess with me.”  She smiled and gave me a high five.  LOL.

Let me just say that my wife is the queen. I admit it. She rules my heart. I love her and serve her gladly. I am fortunate to have her in my life and I recognize the gift that she is to me. She is like a delicate flower….beautiful, unique…and with a funny way of talking (she IS from Arkansas…LOL). The day I met her, she had me at hello… borrow another famous movie line. She batted those big brown eyes at me and I melted.

So, if you are a guy….wise up and serve the queen. It sure makes life more exciting when you rule together….loving each other, serving one another, and facing the issues of life together. There is a proverb that says a house divided cannot stand. Let the queen know you will be there to serve her and you will have her attention. Stand up to defend her and provide for her and you will have her heart.


Dan Skognes

Teacher Burnout

Posted in Business, Motivational

Teacher Burnout dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorThere is a problem sweeping education that is serious and needs to be addressed. Teacher burnout is quietly spreading throughout the halls of schools everywhere, and yet it is like the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rule. Nobody wants to admit it exists and actually do something to fix it.  How do you fix something that is so widespread and massive? How do you address a problem that is not acknowledged as real?

If you are a teacher:

  • Realize that you will never have enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done. You have to learn the art of prioritizing. Do those things that are important and resist the temptation to do that which is urgent.
  • Collaborate and solicit all the help you can get. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. There are tons of resources at your fingertips on the web and in the minds of those you work with. Use them!
  • Recognize your own worth. Every teacher has those days where they wonder if what they do really matters. It does! Educating kids is one of the greatest callings you can have on your life. What you do is shaping the hearts and minds of generations to come. You matter. Thanks for all you do and the sacrifices you make every day.
  • I know the long hours you put in. I know the pressures you have coming at you from every side. Breathe….and take it one day at a time. Quit beating yourself up over mistakes you have made, and quit worrying about tomorrow. Just do your best today.
  • When you are feeling stressed to the max, take time for yourself. Do something you like to do to unwind and refresh. If you don’t, you will have serious health consequences. Make taking care of yourself a priority so you can be fit for the challenge that teaching gives every educator.

If you are a Principal or Superintendent:

  • Give your teachers the support they need. It is more than lip service. It is giving them the resources they need to do their jobs. This includes copy machines that work, fresh coffee every day, sanitary and fully functioning adult bathrooms, classrooms that are cleaned properly every night, etc. These are the little things that matter to teachers.
  • Give teachers the manpower they need to support their efforts. This includes all the ancillary services…Special Ed, Nursing, Front Office, Security, House Keeping, Counseling, IT, Maintenance, etc. Having holes in any of these areas causes great stress on the team.
  • Give teachers the recognition they so richly deserve. Find ways to celebrate them every day. The worst thing you can do is to take them for granted.
  • Increase the pay for teachers. Public servants should all be paid more (in my humble opinion).

If you are a Parent or just an Adult in general:

  • Treat teachers with TLC. They need to know that what they do matters, and that you appreciate them. Thank them every chance you get.
  • Quit expecting teachers to be the parent for your kids. You have to support teachers and show respect for them, or the kids will reflect your poor attitudes at school, and you will reap the consequences of their bad behavior.
  • Join the PTA. Get involved and give back both physically and financially. Every extra effort you give helps them focus on doing what they were hired to do…educate your kids.

If we all recognize the elephant in the room and address the issues, we can do something to stop the burnout trend. Losing good teachers are bad enough, but the great ones we lose are too costly to count.


Dan Skognes

Effective Teachers

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Effective Teachers dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorAs a teacher’s aide I get to assist in a variety of settings and work side-by-side with numerous professionals. Some are very experienced, and some are brand new. Longevity does not always equate to the best teaching methods, however.

I am a student of human behavior, so I constantly observe to see what works and what does not work with kids. Here are a few things that might help you become a more effective teacher:

  • You don’t have to yell at kids to get their attention. I have seen teachers use very low key methods for getting the attention of very rowdy classes and do it without ever raising their voices. Some of them raise their hand and wait for every student to raise their hand. One by one they get the message. The message is clear…when the teacher’s hand is raised, be silent and look at the teacher. Another teacher said: One, two, three, eyes on me. The kids responded: One, two…eyes on YOU. I was shocked at how well that one worked! Another teacher uses a hand clap that they mimic to get their attention. Whatever works for you….do it without yelling. Too many kids are yelled at when they are at home. You can’t yell loud enough to get the attention of some of these kids. Don’t fall into that trap.
  • The teachers that are extremely effective give clear direction, set the expectation for the project at hand, and then circulate to make sure everyone is on task and understands. They check regularly to see if someone is stuck or not engaged.
  • Effective teachers give kids not just “the what” but “the why.” Kids want to know why they are doing something. What is in it for them? Isn’t that what everyone wants to know when given an assignment? Nobody likes busy-work that is pointless. Let them know how it is going to benefit them. That is the basics of selling, by the way. You sell the sizzle…not the steak, and if you are teaching…you ARE selling. You are selling kids on your ideas, your thoughts, your feeling, and the curriculum at hand. Happy selling.


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Inclusion dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator

The loneliest place to be is alone in a crowded room. You know the feeling: you walk into a room and you don’t know a soul. Everyone seems to know somebody in the room…everyone else but you, that is.

Imagine what it must be like for a child going to school. I do intervention work with students who have learning disabilities. These kids have a lot in common with old people…they don’t like change. One particular day was challenging for a girl who had her schedule changed. She had just become comfortable with her current routine when it had to change again to accommodate her needs in all of her classes.

You would have thought that she had lost her Mom or Dad. It was that traumatic for her. She confided in us that she did not have any friends in the new class and she was lonely. The teacher asked some of the kids to reach out to her and befriend her. When they did, she lit up. That small act of kindness helped her get back on solid ground again.

When you see a child that is sitting alone it is not necessarily a bad thing, but it could be a clue to some deeper issues if it is habitual. If they are continually alone in a crowded room, they probably need someone to say, “Hi.” That small act of kindness just might be the thing that gets them grounded again. Look for them next time you are at a large event. You will see them standing like wall flowers. They need someone to help them bloom.

Everyone knows that introverts are not likely to reach out first to a stranger; it is not in their nature. If they are introverted with learning disabilities, you can be assured they will not. They need someone to not just see them….but to reach out and engage them. As teachers, parents, and educators, we need to be the ones to facilitate inclusion. If we don’t care, how can we expect the kids to?


Dan Skognes

The Power of Our Mind

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

The Power of Our Mind dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorAn ancient proverb says: As a man thinketh in his heart…so is he. That is pretty deep to comprehend, but what we think gives birth to who we are. That is why it is so important to take every thought captive. “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford. Obviously this does not apply to the absurd. You might think you can fly off the edge of a mountain, but you better have a parachute, plane, or bird suit if you expect to survive.

Our brains are the most powerful computers ever made. They work non-stop computing, figuring out things, and helping us live our daily lives. It is pretty amazing when you think about what the brain can do!  If only we would USE it properly. OK, you want to me to burst your bubble? There is a myth that we only use 10% of our brain’s capacity. According to the Scientific American, that is hogwash (as we say here in Texas).

“It turns out though, that we use virtually every part of the brain, and that most of the brain is active almost all the time,” Gordon adds. “Let’s put it this way: the brain represents three percent of the body’s weight and uses 20 percent of the body’s energy.”

So if that is true, then why do some people seem to be so smart and some so lacking? That is a complex question, and I don’t claim to have all the answers, but here is what I do know about the brain:

  • Some folks think quickly and others more methodically. The ones that think quickly may appear smarter, but they also can be more impulsive and prone to make poor decisions because they don’t think things through.
  • Some folks can be quite intelligent and yet lack common sense. They make decisions that are illogical as a result and thus appear to be ignorant…despite having a high IQ.
  • Some folks have bought in to the lies spoken over them and come to believe they are less than they really are. That is a tragedy that they have come to believe they are somehow flawed because someone else said they were.

The mind is a wonderful thing when used for good, and tragic when it is wasted. This is one reason I hate drug and alcohol abuse. It robs people of their mental capacity. One of the things I love about teaching kids is this: If I can help them think deep and wide, then they have the opportunity to do things that they might otherwise think impossible. As the story of the little train suggests…..”I think I can, I think I can…..I knew I could…I knew I could.” What we think matters. Our mind is what separates us from all other forms of creation. Every one of us can change the world. How awesome is that?

I want to end with a poem that sums it up nicely:

“If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don’t,
If you like to win, but you think you can’t
It is almost certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost
For out of the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow’s will
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are
You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the man WHO THINKS HE CAN!”

Walter D. Wintle


Dan Skognes

The Power of Our Words

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

The Power of Our Words dan skognes motivaton blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorThere is a Proverb that says the power of life and death is in the tongue. What we say either breathes life or death! That is a pretty sobering thought when you think of the power of the spoken word. It is one thing to think something, but it takes on a power of its own when you speak it.

I know some folks that constantly speak curses over their lives. They say things like: “I will never get a good job, or I will always be overweight, or I will never find the right person to settle down with, etc.” They have done it so much that they have lost sight of the truth. To them, the lie has become their truth. How sad is that? Their glass is always going to be half empty, if it has anything in it at all. They have cancelled out their blessings with their words.

We don’t have to live like that. It starts with realizing that what we say has power, and we have to take every thought captive (i.e. Think before you speak!). I hate the way some parents, teachers, and adults talk to kids. They talk down to them, yell at them, curse at them, and degrade them. They don’t seem to respect them or value them. They fail to understand that the wounds that they are inflicting on kids can scar them for LIFE. Some wounds are so deep that only God can heal the hurt.

Too many adults are carrying around the scars of abuse from childhood. Unfortunately, what was done to them they will tend to do to others as they become adults themselves. Thus, the generational curse is passed on. That is not a good thing for anyone.

We need to change to old saying to read more like this: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will wound or heal.”  Please think before you speak, and when you speak…speak life.


Dan Skognes

Mutts and Misfits

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Mutts and Misfits dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorI seem to be drawn to them both. I have two dogs that were abused at one point in their lives to prove it. There is something that both have in common. They are not hopeless…they just need to find it again. Show a dog love and compassion on a consistent basis and you will have a friend for life. The same goes for a child. Every living thing needs hope!

There is a child that was given an assignment to write something about his life. He could write a short story about something that he experienced…good or bad. He sat there and sat there and sat there…just staring off into space. When I asked him what he was going to write about, he said, “I can’t think of anything that would be appropriate to share in school.” My heart went out to him as I looked into his eyes. I could see that he needed to find hope. They were filled with sadness. In his world, nothing was going well.

The tragic part of that story is that this is commonplace. There are kids everywhere who have been written off as hopeless by their parents, by schools, and by society. They are not hopeless. Nobody is beyond redemption. They just need to find a reason to hope…and we can be the ones to give it to them.

I recall a story of an auction that had some very expensive things for sale. The last item that came up for auction was an old violin. It was beat up, had a missing string, and was out of tune. Nobody wanted to start the bid for the violin…not even for a dollar. An old man got up from the crowd and went to the stage and picked up the violin and bow. He took a moment to tune it; then played the most beautiful song. The people in the auction sat there spellbound as that seemingly worthless instrument came to life. You see, it always had worth. It just needed the touch of the Master’s hand.

You may be the Master in some child’s life today. You may have the chance to instill hope and bring them to life again. You may be the one to give them a reason to live. Don’t miss that opportunity. Every child is worthy of love. I pray that you and I give it freely and generously to all that cross our path each day.


Dan Skognes


Warning Signs

Posted in Business, Funny, Motivational, Relationships

Warning danskognes motivation blogger speakerA little boy was in the checkout line at Walmart with his Mom. Right ahead of them was a woman waiting to pay her bill. All of a sudden her phone began to beep. The little boy got a panicked look on his face and blurted out, “Look out Mom, she’s backing up!”  LOL. Paints quite a visual….doesn’t it?

There are all types of signs that warn us to stop, yield, slow down, etc. Some of them are literal signs…and some of them are not so obvious. I have been doing intervention work with elementary school kids who are behind academically. We are trained to observe and document behavior that is abnormal. These kids have been diagnosed with learning disabilities already. They are the ones who are getting immediate help.

The kids I am really concerned about are the ones who have not been diagnosed yet and you can hear their silent screams a mile away. You can see the anger, the sadness, and lack of hope in their eyes. Those are the ones that as an educator and a parent I try to help in spite of the system.

Dr. Phil says, “When someone shows you who they are…believe it.” That is great advice in relationships. Pay attention to the warning signs. There are severe and sometimes life-long consequences for ignoring the signs. With children, kids have to learn early how to control their emotions. Some of this will come with peer pressure, but the majority of it comes from the parents and educators who set the standards. The sad part of this is that too many kids have no standards set at home…or they are so low they don’t matter.

Our role as educators is to recognize the warning signs and do what we can to help get them and keep them on the right path. It is a continual battle, it seems, but one that has great reward when you see the child that was isolated become fully functioning. My hope and prayer is that we as educators and parents not just recognize the warning signs, but that we do everything humanly possible to help kids learn to control their own behavior, actively engage in the learning process, and never lose hope.  We can’t expect them to do this on their own…and the schools certainly can’t do it without some support from the parents. Please pay attention and accept responsibility for the signs.


Dan Skognes

Why I Teach

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Why I Teach dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorI was talking with my wife about this recently over coffee. Kids to me are cool. They are full of life…full of energy…and have a sense of wonder about them that is infectious. I love the fact that kids in the elementary school age have not yet been tainted by the world (for the most part) and that is despite the relentless onslaught of the internet and technology.

This summer I was working with the kids of some teachers. They ranged from 5 years old to 12, so it was quite a spread and challenging to say the least to find activities that would keep them engaged but out of each other’s hair. I found that turning off electronics for the morning restored a sense of calm to the classroom. The funny thing is, the kids DID find other things to do either by themselves or in groups to pass the time. They did not die from boredom. They actually learned to play and talk with one another. LOL What did we do before the age of electronics…right?

After school started this year I found myself in a job as a Teacher’s Aid. It is a perfect fit for me. It still allows me time to teach without all the headaches of planning and meeting with parents. This week I pulled lunchroom duty. This was something that most teachers dread and do because they are forced to do it. Not sure why, but I don’t mind it at all. It allows me to mix with the kids, serve them, and get to know them. As I was making the rounds and helping kids get the things they needed for lunch….this little girl came up to me out of the blue and gave me a hug. She never said a word to me. She just hugged me and went back to her seat. I would have thought it strange…but this happens to me a lot… school and in stores. It is hilarious the way kids look at me when they see me in the local WalMart. It is like, “What are YOU doing here?” LOL Then they come and hug me.

One of the gifts I have is the ability to communicate with kids. For some reason, I can connect with them….make them laugh….get them dancing….and keep them on task all at the same time. I almost feel like the Pied Piper.  I thoroughly enjoy getting to know kids individually and teaching them as well. It always blows their mind when they meet an old man who claims to be Superman and says he is married to Wonder Woman! They also can’t believe that I know their music and that I know a few of their dance moves. Now that paints a visual doesn’t it?

I teach because I am using one of my natural abilities, and I know that if I encourage kids the right way they will have the opportunity to become all that God created them to be. If you look at it that way, it is a sacred obligation we have as educators to unlock the hearts and minds of future generations. I am glad that I came to the world of education late in my career because of the wealth of experience that I can pass on to them. This is not to take away from young teachers coming fresh out of college. They certainly have the same opportunity and obligation. For me, though, I think I can relate to kids in ways that I would never have been able to had I not gone through some of life’s battles and had the scars to prove it.

If you are an educator, I want to encourage you to give the best you have to the ones that have been entrusted to you. That is actually good advice for anyone in management as well. We have to opportunity to be world changers in a profound way. I am committed to doing my part, but I can’t do it alone. It does indeed take a village.


Dan Skognes

True Living

Posted in Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

True Living dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educator authorMay you live all your life. Think about it…too many people just exist. They are going through the motions of life but not really living. They have either lost their zest for life, or they never found it. I am not sure which one is worse.

We weren’t created to just exist. We were made to soar like eagles, be fearless as lions, and be focused as an army of ants. Each of us has been uniquely made, created in God’s image. When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

If all you see looking back at yourself are eyes of despair and lines of worry and stress, then I have some important news for you. Today is a new day. Today you can have a fresh start. Today you can put your past behind you. After all…that is why they call it the past. It is time to quit letting your past dictate your future.

If you want to have peace and fulfillment, then you have to be relentless in your pursuit of life. You cannot let the problems and circumstances of life keep you down. You cannot let the hurtful words or deeds of others wound you so deep that you never heal. If you want to live all your life, here is what you have to do:

  • Forgive those who have hurt you…no matter what the offense. Forgiving is FOR GIVING. It does nobody any good if you withhold it. Forgiveness is the key to unlocking the chains of the past. Use it as often as necessary to keep yourself free and living in the present.
  • Learn to be thankful in all circumstances. Whether you have little, or you have a lot, be thankful. An attitude of gratitude will increase your altitude.
  • Put God first, and others before yourself. These two things will help you focus on what really matters in life.
  • Be authentic. There are way too many people walking this earth in the state of denial. They can’t admit their faults and failures.  I have news for you: everyone has faults and failures. Everyone else can see them too….so just admit it when you mess up. Apologize, take responsibility for it, ask for forgiveness; then move forward.

May you live ALL your life. May you be blessed coming in and going out. May God bless you in all that you put your hands to. May you find perfect peace and fulfillment as you walk in God’s grace and fulfill your destiny.  May you never let fear, guilt, or shame keep you in bondage. May God bless you so that you may be a blessing to others.


Dan Skognes