What I Learned In Second Grade

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

What I Learned In Second Grade dan skognes motivation blogger speaker trainer coachI recently had the opportunity to teach a second grade class at Grapevine Elementary School.  As a substitute teacher, you never know what you are walking in to, but this class was special (in a good way).

One of the young girls in the class immediately came up to me and told me the “rules.”  LOL. She showed me how to get control of the class when they were getting out of hand and how to give people points for doing well and take away points for poor behavior. She continued to advise me throughout the day to keep me on course. I could see her being a teacher some day.  She had such a heart for helping and encouraging others.

She told me that the substitute teacher they had the day before was AWFUL. Everyone agreed.  They said that the teacher had told them they were the WORST class that she had ever had. I looked at the class and said, “You know what? You are the BEST class I have EVER had….EVER.”  I wish you could have seen their eyes.  It was so cute.  That one word of encouragement started the day off right.

Next, instead of reprimanding them and continually correcting them, I had them sit quietly just for a few seconds…then gave everyone a point for good behavior. Some of these kids apparently did not get many good points…so that was something I did right as well.

I think I relate well to this age group because I am a kid at heart, and I have a real soft spot for those kids who don’t fit in. One young boy was supposed to be my challenge for the day.  Strangely enough, I had very little trouble with him. He had some social issues that we had to work through, but all in all he did well.

I found out that sometimes laughter can cure a boo-boo. One little girl came to me complaining that one of the boys had pushed her and she hurt her arm when it hit the wall. Two other girls were there nodding in agreement.  It was very melodramatic.  No tears and no real harm, but obviously wanting some justice.  I looked her in the eyes and said seriously, “Do you think you will live?”  She looked surprised and said, “Yes.”  I said, “Thank GOODNESS!  I was SO worried.”  We all laughed and they went back to their desks.

I also learned that little things matter.  One boy had taken his shoes off in class.  Apparently this was a no-no and two of the girls were indignant that he was breaking the rules.  They said, “We only take our shoes off on special days, and this is not one of them!”  I thought for a minute and said, “How about we make THIS a special day for everyone?”  I said, “You let me announce it to the class though.”  So I told the class to sit quietly, and that I had something important to say.  They were not to yell or make ANY noise when I told them what we were going to do. I simply asked, “If we make this a special day, how many of you would like to take your shoes off?”  The hands were waving wildly. You would have thought I had told them we were going to Disneyland. It was pretty funny to observe how something so simple mattered to them.

They earned several more positive points through the day and with the exception of one young man who had attention deficit disorder, there were no disruptions to speak of. They were begging me to go on the field trip the next day, but I told them I could not, so they went to the board and started writing little love notes to me…  one after one.  I can see why teachers love to teach kids.  When you really connect with them, and they know you care, they respond.

At the end of the day, I was the one who got schooled.


Dan Skognes

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Why Cant We Be Friends dan skognes motivation blogger speaker authorIf you are a baby boomer or a music aficionado, you remember this song from WAR came out in 1975.  It has a catchy tune and simple lyrics. It begs the question, “Why can’t people get along and actually be friends with one another?”

I have thought long and hard about this and realized that there is no simple answer.  If there was, we would have no more war, no more fighting, no more divorce, no more need for prisons.  Can you imagine a world like that?  I can.

I don’t think it is crazy to envision a world of peace and work towards that goal, albeit a goal that is constantly eluding our grasp.  Why pursue something that is unattainable?  Isn’t that crazy?  Isn’t that absurd?  Well, maybe not.  Maybe it is that we must understand and embrace the frailty of man, and realize that that we all are a work in progress.  Maybe we need to cut each other a little slack.

Our standards should never be lowered to the common denominator of our culture. If we keep dumbing down society to pacify one another, what have we really accomplished?  We have to have basic values that we accept as the foundation upon which we build, and they cannot change without destroying that foundation.

That is why our Constitution and Bill of Rights are so important.  The founding fathers of this country knew that we had to spell out our beliefs clearly in order to have a future free from tyranny.  That is why for me, the Bible is so critical.  It is so much more than a history book.  It is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.

Back to the question, “Why can’t we be friends?” While it is rhetorical in one sense, it is worth asking when we encounter those that are our opposites.  We all have people who come into our lives at some point and they push our buttons.  They seem to know how to get under our skin and really irritate us.  It could be a spouse, a child, a co-worker, an ex, a neighbor, or even a stranger on the highway.  The world seems to be filled with irritating people at times.

So, if you are in that place where the world if full of crazy people, is it really everyone else who is crazy, or do we need to look in the mirror.  Now I know what you are thinking, “You don’t know my boss!”  Or, “You have not met my ex!!!”  True, but what if you could actually be friends with those that irritate you?  Is that possible?  Call me crazy, but I think it is.

Here are some steps to being friends with those that irritate you that you might at least consider:

  • Quit dwelling on everything that they do or say that irritates you.  Start looking for something positive in them and dwell on the positive. Nobody is perfect, so quit demanding that from others.
  • Forgive them for whatever they have said or done in the past that pushed your button. Why hold on to something that is just going to become a root of bitterness in you?  Does that even make sense?  Forgive them and move forward for your own sanity as well as for the benefit of both of you.
  • Quit trying to change other people.  You can’t make them love you, respect you, or even be kind to you.  What you CAN do is love THEM, show respect to THEM, and be kind to THEM even if they don’t deserve it. When you are able to do that, you become free indeed.  Whether or not they ever respond is not your problem. You do the right thing and positive things will happen.

There is a proverb that says, “As much as is possible, be at peace with all people.”  The author knew that being friends with everyone is not possible, but it is a worthy goal.  We still have to stand up to evil when we encounter it.  That is a given.  What we can do is to do our part to be peacemakers.  We can be the ones who seek to restore that which was lost or stolen.  In the end, isn’t that more important than holding on to hurt feelings? Isn’t that more important than the need to be right? The lyrics from another song says it all, “Put a little love in your heart.”


Dan Skognes