Start Small: A Wendell Berry Commencement Address

wendell-berry-quote-2Start Small: A Wendell Berry Commencement Address

by Terry Heick

Almost every challenge, when closely examined, is first a challenge of scale.

If you consider our own corner of the world, learning, the labels and language we use will confirm this theory. Take for example, “ed reform.”

Learning is different than education. It is impossible to examine “education,” for example, without reducing it to a system of learning. Yet it is tempting to talk about how “education” can be fixed, which is akin to “fixing a car” rather than “replacing the starter.”

This kind of overly general language encourages rhetoric and obscures solutions, but worse, promotes an impossible scale. None of us can ever fix education no matter how keen the idea or how stirring the integration.

But you can fix your own classroom.

Of course, it’s not that easy. Punitive standards and artificial pressures and socioeconomic challenges and countless other realities will seemingly gather to block your view, but you might find that if you start small, on a manageable and sustainable scale, everything from that point on will look and feel much different.

This is the shift from ed reform to classroom reform, but it’s really less about teachers and more about all the well-intentioned folks that offer grants and resources and professional development.

Start small, and if at all possible, stay that way.

Which brings us to Kentucky farmer Wendell Berry’s Commencement Address to the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, delivered in 1989. The speech, as most commencement speeches are, was written to offer graduates some kind of perspective before being flung out into the “business world.” (And hopefully steer them to good work.)

The themes–of interdependence, patience, wisdom, and scale–are characteristic of Berry’s non-fiction prose. An abbreviated version appears below, and though it hints more at nature and politics than learning and education, the message of scale seemed worth hearing.

Wendell Berry’s Commencement Address to the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine

“All public movements of thought quickly produce a language that works as a code, useless to the extent that it is abstract. It is readily evident, for example, that you can’t conduct a relationship with another person in terms of rhetoric of the civil rights movement or the women’s movement – as useful as those rhetorics may initially have been to personal relationships.

The same is true of the environment movement. The favorite adjective of this movement now seems to be planetary. This word is used, properly enough, to refer to the interdependence of places, and to the recognition, which is desirable and growing, that no place on the earth can be completely healthy until all places are. But the word planetary also refers to an abstract anxiety or an abstract passion that is desperate and useless exactly to the extent that it is abstract. How, after all, can anybody – any particular body – do anything to heal a planet? Nobody can do anything to heal a planet. The suggestion that anybody could do so is preposterous.

The heroes of abstraction keep galloping in on their white horses to save the planet — and they keep falling off in front of the grandstand. What we need, obviously, is a more intelligent – which is to say, a more accurate – description of the problem.

The description of a problem as planetary arouses a motivation for which, of necessity, there is no employment. The adjective planetary describes a problem in such a way that it cannot be solved. In fact, though we now have serious problems nearly everywhere on the planet, we have no problem that can accurately be described as planetary.

And, short of the total annihilation of the human race, there is no planetary solution. There are also no national, state, or country problems, and no national, state, or county solutions. That will-o’-the-wisp, the large-scale solution to the large-scale problem, which is so dear to governments, universities, and corporations, serves mostly to distract people from the small, private problems that they may, in fact, have the power to solve.

The problems, if we describe them accurately, are all private and small. Or they are so initially.

The problems are our lives.

In the “developed” countries, at least, the large problems occur because all of us are living either partly wrong or almost entirely wrong.

It was not just the greed of corporate shareholders and the hubris of corporate executives that put the fate of Prince William Sound into one ship; it was also our demand that energy be cheap and plentiful. The economies of our communities and households are wrong.

The answers to the human problems of ecology are to be found in economy. And the answers to the problems of economy are to be found in culture and in character. To fail to see this is to go on dividing the world falsely between guilty producers and innocent consumers.

The planetary versions – the heroic versions – of our problems have attracted great intelligence. Our problems, as they are caused and suffered in our lives, our households, and our communities, have attracted very little intelligence. There are some notable exceptions. A few people have learned to do a few things better.

But it is discouraging to reflect that, though we have been talking about most of our problems for decades, we are still mainly talking about them. The civil rights movement has not given us better communities. The women’s movement has not given us better marriages or better households. The environment movement has not changes our parasitic relationship to nature. We have failed to produce new examples of good home and community economies, and we have nearly completed the destruction of the examples we once had.

Without examples, we are left with theory and the bureaucracy and the meddling that come with theory. We change our principles, our thoughts, and our words, but these are changes made in the air. Our lives go on unchanged. For the most part, the subcultures, the countercultures, the dissenters, and the opponents continue mindlessly – or perhaps just helplessly – to follow the pattern of the dominant society in its extravagance, its wastefulness, its dependencies, and its addictions.

The old problem remains: How do you get intelligence out of an institution or an organization? The question that must be addressed, therefore, is not how to care for the planet but how to care for each of the planet’s millions of human and natural neighborhoods, each of its millions of small pieces and parcels of land, each one of which is in some precious way different from all the others.

Our understandable wish to preserve the planet must somehow be reduced to the scale of our competence – that is, to the wish to preserve all of its humble households and neighborhoods.

The religion and the environmentalism of the highly industrialized countries are at bottom a sham, because they make it their business to fight against something that they do not really wish to destroy. We all live by robbing nature, but our standard of living demands that the robbery shall continue. We must achieve the character and acquire the skills to live much poorer than we do. We must waste less. We must do more for ourselves and each other.

It is either that or continue merely to think and talk about changes that we are inviting catastrophe to make. The great obstacle is the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependent upon what is wrong. But that is the addict’s excuse, and we know that it will not do. I am trying not to mislead you, or myself, about our situation. I think that we have hardly begun to realize the gravity of the mess we are in.

Our most serious problem, perhaps, is that we have become a nation of fantasists. We believe, apparently, in the infinite availability of finite resources. We persist in land-use methods that reduce the potentially infinite power of soil fertility to a finite quantity, which we then proceed to waste as if it were an infinite quantity. We have an economy that depends not upon the quality and quantity of necessary goods and services but on the behavior of a few stockbrokers.

We believe that democratic freedom can be preserved by people ignorant of the history of democracy and indifferent to the responsibilities of freedom. Our leaders have been for many years as oblivious to the realities and dangers of their time as were George III and Lord North. They believe that the difference between war and peace is still the overriding political difference – when, in fact, the difference has diminished to the point of insignificance.

How would you describe the difference between modern war and modern industry- between, say, bombing and strip mining, or between chemical warfare and chemical manufacturing? The difference seems to be only that in war the victimization of humans is directly intentional and in industry it is “accepted” as a “trade-off.” Were the catastrophes of Love Canal, Chernobyl, and the Exxon Valdez episodes of war or of peace?

They were, in fact, peacetime acts of aggression, intentional to the extent that the risks were known and ignored. We are involved unremittingly in a war not against “foreign enemies” but against the world, against our freedom, and indeed against our existence. Our so-called industrial accidents should be looked upon as revenges of Nature. We forgot that Nature is necessarily party to all our enterprises and that it imposes conditions of its own.

Now Nature is plainly saying to us : “If you put the fates of whole communities or cities or regions or ecosystems at risk in single ships or factories or power plants, then I will furnish the drunk or the fool or the imbecile who will make the necessary small mistake.”

And so, graduates, my advice to you is simply my hope for us all: Beware the justice of Nature. Understand that there can be no successful human economy apart from Nature or in defiance of Nature.

Understand that no amount of education can overcome the innate limits of human intelligence and responsibility. We are not smart enough or conscious enough or alert enough to work responsibly on a gigantic scale. In making things always bigger and more centralized, we make them both more vulnerable in themselves and more dangerous to everything else.

Learn, therefore, to prefer small-scale elegance and generosity to large-scale greed, crudity, and glamour.

Make a home.

Help to make a community.

Be loyal to what you have made.

Put the interest of the community first.

Love your neighbors – not the neighbors you pick out, but the ones you have.

Love this miraculous world that we did not make, that is a gift to us.

As far as you are able make your lives dependent upon your local place, neighborhood, and household – which thrive by care and generosity – and independent of the industrial economy, which thrives by damage.

Find work, if you can, that does no damage.

Enjoy your work. Work well.”


So This Guy Reads Poetry To Stuck Commuters


So This Guy Reads Poetry To Stuck Commuters

by TeachThought Staff

Going about our daily lives can be largely impersonal.

Aside from interacting with family, or the shallow (and largely mandatory) conversations that are required for work, genuine connection is scarce among those we don’t know and are unlikely to see often.

Generally, we don’t share our joys with the strangers of the world like we do with those who we already know and love.

See Also So I Think I Figured Out The Source Of All Human Suffering

When’s the last time you nudged the stranger next to you in line and urged them to read a paragraph of your favorite book? Or handed them your phone to share something that made you laugh? Or done anything at all to reach out to people passing by, in an attempt to cultivate a shared sense of joy?

The very thought probably leaves you with a vague sense of awkward discomfort.

But what would it look like if we stepped outside of our comfort zone and made a concentrated effort to bring happiness to others, expecting nothing in return?

It might look a lot like Tony Knight, a railway station announcer with South Western Railway who has been reading pieces from his childhood copy of Winnie the Pooh to commuters on the platform at Wokingham station in Berkshire.

You can see the BBC News post here.

Is it weird? A little.

Is it lovely? A lot.

We save our passions, hoard our art, and keep that which is dear to us close when what the world needs most is for us to share these things, and ourselves, with each other.

And a little Winnie the Pooh poetry is the perfect way to start or end each day.

So This Guy Reads Poetry To Stuck Commuters


How To Respond To Negative Social Media About Your Business

How To Respond To Negative Social Media About Your Business

contributed by Catherine Wilson

When you’re operating a business—an eBook store, for example—you’ll please all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time. But you’ll never please all of the people all of the time.

In times such as those, what you do afterwards will determine how widespread the problem becomes. Here’s how to respond to negative social media about your eBook store to keep the problem as small as possible.

1. Don’t Ignore It.

Like bills, taxes, and the funny noise your car has started making, ignoring negative social media won’t make it go away. You have to take control of the situation; otherwise your eBook business could suffer. After all, a store is only as good as its reputation.

You can’t afford to leave yours to the whims of anyone with a keyboard and time on their hands. Keep a close eye on your social media feeds and set a Google alert to trigger when any new instance of your name or your store’s name appears on the internet. When you see the comment, take some time to evaluate it and understand both their message and their mindset. Help them solve their problem.

Do not allow your emotions to govern your response. Think it through and devise a positive reply. For example, if they’re having trouble opening a book, offer troubleshooting tips to try to help them.

2. Try to Contact Them Directly.

As part of your positive response in the public forum, ask the individual to reply by PM to work out the issue. You can say something along the lines of:

“Hi Jenny – We too, are dismayed by your experience. Thank you for letting us know about it. We do not consider this to be an acceptable situation at all. How can we get in touch to help you? Please forward your personal email or phone number by PM, and “John” (always use the name of the person with whom they will work) will contact you to get it straightened out today.”

This message accomplishes a number of objectives simultaneously. It acknowledges “Jenny’s” issue, assures her you think her feelings to have merit and tells her you’re not cool with what happened. It also moves the conversation out of public view. And, because it’s a personalized response, she can see you consider her concern important.

3. Know When to Block. (And the ‘when’ is rare.)

Sometimes you’ll run into a ‘troll’—someone online that is purposely trying to create negativity, start arguments, or otherwise cause problems.

This person is more interested in drawing a negative situation (see 6 Critical Thinking Questions For Any Situation) out than trying to reach an amicable solution—no matter what you do. If the harassment (because that’s what it will have become at this point) continues after a few rounds of making nice and trying to take the conversation offline, your only option is to block them and delete the exchange.

Remember, selling eBooks is your ultimate goal and others are always watching to see how you respond. Whatever you do, keep it respectful and cordial. Attentive readers will recognize your efforts to resolve the situation positively.

Once the person is blocked, they will be unlikely to take things further.

4. Show Personality and Humor. Be Human.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to using humor to resolve a conflict in business. On the one hand, a bit of self-deprecation will generally make people see your human side. Just make sure your joke is with them as opposed to being on them.

On the other hand, if you’re dealing with someone who is being negative just for the sake of being negative, introducing humor could provide an opening to attack you with more virulence. You’ll have to evaluate the situation to make the best decision in this regard.

Above all, whenever you’re pondering how to respond to negative social media about your eBook store, do not disparage the negative poster—regardless of how ugly their statements become. It’s always better to err on the side of civility.

If you wallow in the mud, you’ll come out looking like a pig, too.


These Octopus Kites Are Nightmare Fuel

These Octopus Kites Are Nightmare Fuel

by TeachThought Staff

There are good kites and there are bad kites.

And then there are octopus kites.

A ‘good kite’ would be something like the one Benjamin Franklin flew. Whether we evaluate its quality by its flying performance or its historical significance, that’s one amazing kite.

A ‘bad kite’ would be the one you can’t get off the ground at the park and you start to notice other parents judging you so you have to ‘try again next time’ and take your kids for ice cream instead.

A truly awful kite is this streaming nightmare–a heinous, black monstrosity whose limbs move like terrifyingly-large amoeba. And since it’s Halloween in the United States, let’s talk about it for a second.

If an extraterrestrial/alien species ever discovered earth and felt compelled to drop in and show off their aerodynamic prowess, or just punish us psychologically before eating us, it would look like this.

This is all the nightmare fuel you’ll ever need. Just look at them.

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”

“And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
This it is and nothing more.”


“Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

(The Raven, Edgar Allen Poe)

These Octopus Kites Are The Worst


Hurricane Information Index: 50 Resources To Stay Safe During Hurricanes

Hurricane Information Index: 50 Resources To Stay Safe During Hurricanes

by TeachThought Staff

Today is hurricane day on TeachThought, apparently.

In addition to staying safe and preparedness checklists (see below), we’ve also started curating the best/most important resources on staying safe during hurricanes.

Below are 50 of the best resources for hurricanes, including anticipation them, understanding how they work & responding to their various threats, from buoy data and flood maps to explanations of how hurricanes form and how to stay safe in response.

Ed note: This list will be updated on an ongoing basis, especially through the 2017 hurricane season.

Hurricane Information Index: 50 Resources To Understand, Anticipate & Respond To Hurricanes

How To Safe During A Hurricane

6 Hurricane Preparedness Checklists & A Blank Template To Make Your Own

Hurricane Preparation Checklist

How Hurricanes Form (Video)

Quick Explanation of Storm Surges (Video)

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale

Category 5 Hurricane Simulation (Video)

The difference between cyclones, tropical storms, and hurricanes

National Hurricane Center Historical Archives

National Hurricane Center

National Weather Service Hurricane Safety

Blank Tracking Maps from the NHC

FEMA: How To Stay Safe During A Hurricane

FEMA Current News

Interactive Hurricane Tracker from Accuweather

Hurricane Central on

FEMA Flood Map Service Center: Search By Address

Hurricane Tracker App

Interactive: Historical Hurricane Tracks

In-depth National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Satellite Data for Hurricane Irma

NHC Atlantic Ops twitter

NHC Atlantic Ops site

Twitter: #irma

US Rainfall Map

Twitter: Eric Blake, National Hurricane Center scientist

Twitter: Hurricane Hunters

Twitter: Michael Lowry, FEMA task force lead

Twitter: Ryan Maue, Meteorologist/PhD

National Data Bouy Center for oceanic monitoring & data

Florida Specific Hurricane Resources

Florida Distaster Information via

Florida Topography Data

Florida Land Boundary Information Center

Central Florida Hurricane Center

Florida travel & emergency info: Phone call 511 to find out about construction updates, lane closures, traffic incidents, severe weather reports and Amber Alerts for child abductions

Click here for an album of photos of Hurricane Irma damage. 

50 Resources To Better Understand & Prepare For Hurricanes; Hurricane Information Index: 50 Resources To Stay Safe During Hurricanes


6 Hurricane Preparedness Checklists So You Can Make Your Own

6 Hurricane Preparedness Checklists So You Can Make Your Own

by TeachThought Staff

It’s hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean, and how to survive a hurricane is a matter of preparation.

In the above post, we discussed the need for personalization in preparation:

‘Hurricane Katrina showed that local infrastructure and response matter. Hurricane Harvey showed that one hurricane may dump extraordinary amounts of rain while another overwhelming wind, and that the threat of each is relative to exactly where it is occurring; storm surges are less dangerous than wind the farther you are from coastline and above sea level, and the reverse is also true.

So how to stay safe during a hurricane isn’t a set thing with a universal sequence. If we were to make it universal, it’d have to be a simple matter of priorities, something like Shelter/Sustenance/Morale. That is, let’s focus one these three ideas to guide our preparation.’

With the need for personalization in mind, below we’ve curated 6 of the best hurricane preparedness checklists we could find so that you can piece together one that makes sense for you and your circumstance.

Let us know in the comments if there are other/better lists that we missed, and we’ll add the ‘best’ to the list. You can then use a blank checklist–something like this–if you want something to print, as most of the blank checklists are available in .doc and PDF format.

6 Hurricane Preparedness Checklists So You Can Make Your Own

FEMA Hurricane Emergency Supply List

National Hurricane Center Preparation & Resources

CNN Hurricane Preparedness Checklist

Red Cross Hurricane Preparedness Checklist

Modern Survival Blog Preparedness Checklist Hurricane Preparedness Checklist

6 Hurricane Preparedness Checklists


How To Stay Safe During A Hurricane

How To Stay Safe During A Hurricane

by Terry Heick

Right off the bat, let me say that I’m (very obviously) not an expert in hurricanes. If you want government-endorsed and specific FEMA-created checklists, you’re not going to get that here.

I used to fly airplanes as a teen and grew up fascinated with severe weather, but I’m not Jim Cantore. I write–often about critical thinking, learning, futurology, and other nerdy bits. How to survive a hurricane may not be in my wheelhouse, but how to think about how to stay safe in a hurricane is.

(If you want to get right to the ‘How To Stay Safe During A Hurricane’ bit, scroll down. First, some backstory–especially for those wondering why we’re writing about Hurricane safety on TeachThought.)

Climate change is impacting our planet in very clear and often unpredictable ways.

A warmer planet earth is melting polar ice caps, causing glaciers to recede, bleaching the Great Barrier Reef, and most visibly in September 2017, leading to historic weather events including Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, which two weeks from now will likely have been replaced in our cultural schema by new hurricanes and/or new signinficant weather events.

 See also 6 Hurricane Preparedness Checklists So You Can Make Your Own

Hurricane Information vs Hurricane Safety

After visiting a school in Florida this week, I came within 24 hours of being trapped in the beach peninsula for Hurricane Irma, making it on one of the last flights out.

Once I realized I could end up stuck, I started doing some reading on hurricanes and hurricane safety and noticed a huge chasm between government resources (dry and full of warnings and written with a very governmental tone) and the spectacle of YouTube videos and ‘deadliest hurricanes ever recorded’ fare. There had to be something in-between: readable, useful, credible, and informative.

I started by gathering information to understand the specific threats a hurricane represents, then examining local topography maps and historic flood data and hurricane tracking trends and first-hand videos on twitter and so on to get a sense of what might happen and where, and what I should do in response.

I realized that staying safe in a hurricane was a delicate dance between information, instinct, and ongoing awareness. (That’s the reason you’re getting three hurricane posts in a row, because I spent the time reading and looking and skimming and viewing, and figured it might help someone out there, either for Irma or a future hurricane.)

How To Safe During A Hurricane

So, how can you stay safe during a hurricane? If you can survive the initial winds and storm surge, and navigate the threats of possible flooding and food and water shortages after, you can ‘survive’ a hurricane.’

But of course it’s not that simple–Hurricane Katrina showed that local infrastructure and response matter. Hurricane Harvey showed that one hurricane may dump extraordinary amounts of rain while another overwhelming wind, and that the threat of each is relative to exactly where it is occurring; storm surges are less dangerous than wind the farther you are from coastline and above sea level, and the reverse is also true.

So how to stay safe during a hurricane isn’t a set thing with a universal sequence. If we were to make it universal, it’d have to be a simple matter of priorities, something like Shelter/Sustenance/Morale. That is, let’s focus one these three ideas to guide our preparation.

We could focus on examining what it is we’re protecting–protecting your home, protecting your family, protecting your food sources, protecting your ways in and out of your neighborhood or city and away from hurricane threats, and so on.

Or it could be a matter of chronology–staying safe Before, During, and After the hurricane.

We could also talk about Strategies & Tactics, Tips & Dos and Don’ts, supplies, use the study of previous hurricanes as kinds of ‘simulations’ to imagine how to respond to a hurricane local to you.

Or we could frame it around the specific threats themselves. Since the primary threats of a hurricane–at least initially– are storm surges, flooding, debris and wind damage, you could develop mini-plans to respond to and mitigate the threat for each.

And those are the big ideas of this post–priorities and personalization.

There isn’t a one way to stay safe because there isn’t one hurricane or one ‘place’ to protect, much in the same way there isn’t any ‘best’ way to teach or ‘best’ way to assess. Every circumstance is different, which is why there isn’t any single definitive how-to guide. Otherwise, there’d already be a perfect guide and everyone would use it.

Staying safe during a hurricane is a matter of analyzing how the specific hurricane you’re trying to survive might impact the specific area you’re trying to survive it in, then establishing clear priorities that you believe–with the help of experts and experienced friends and family–will help you do so.

This is where the more general guides come in handy. You can use these kinds of lists and tips to create your own plan based on the priorities you created for yourself and our family.

You can find FEMA’s full list of tips on how to stay safe during a hurricane here.

For a more ‘everyman’ writeup, lifehacker has a nice post here.

How To Stay Safe During A Hurricane


Be A Creator, Not An Inheritor

sparkfunelectronics-inherit-fiBe A Creator, Not An Inheritor

by Dale Schlundt, M.A.

“There is no research stating it is harmful, but I wouldn’t.”

These are the words of my wife’s OBGYN when I asked him about spraying insect poison and its potential effects on my unborn son at the time. A very scholarly way of saying, “I don’t know”.

And you know what, there is nothing wrong with that reply. It reaffirmed two points for me. The first being I’ll throw out the poison and well, bugs, “Welcome”. The second is it reaffirms a simple truth that we all need to be reminded of at times, there is a purpose for everyone in this society. There is an opportunity to differentiate ourselves in our profession by fulfilling a gap. A need to find the missing piece, if you will.

Everyone at some point in their lives feels that their work is insignificant. The feeling that what I am doing is not unique, there will be no lasting effect. I have received that response from editors on articles I have written. I recall one that sent me a few responses from the editorial team, “great points, but nothing new here”. It still hurts. Of course, there have been those more impressed then not. Nevertheless, what I strive for is to create something needed, both in my writings and my profession. Perhaps not even something new, only a new way of viewing the old.

I pose the question to you, what is the difference between the individuals discussing immigration reform seeking their party’s presidential nomination? They are all arguing for the same relative concept with small variations. Legalized immigration as opposed to a lack of control over the flow of those crossing the border. However, what does every political candidate tell you they can do? “I can do it better.” You know, perhaps so. Why not? Why else are we listening if they are all the same?

That being said, why would we believe an individual we’ve never met and discount our own abilities to create something the world needs? This is due to the fact that we have been taught to be inheritors. To inherit information, rules, culture, and so on, without adding to them. If you think about any time while you were in school, regardless of what level, how many times did your educators ask for your opinion as opposed to giving their own? When you left your institution of education, did your employer focus on making an asset of what makes you unique or did they promote conformity in all regards? We are not taught how and when to be pragmatic. When to challenge the status quo.

The Jamestown Rediscovery Project is the perfect example of the opportunities for which I am suggesting we should all strive to find. 2012 was another intriguing year, the project found the remains of a young girl who had been cannibalized. Not a common practice in our first successful English colony, this incident is something we already knew of through primary sources.

Though let’s keep in mind, anyone can write anything, just take a look at Twitter. Yet, now we have corroborated that evidence so what we considered as semi-truth or potential fact, has now a much higher probability of being so. Our understanding of 400 year old history changing because there are those who do not simply accept the status quo, but felt they can both learn from as well as add to the knowledge of our world.

Every profession needs these minds. No doubt there will be a M.D. that one days tells a patient, “There is now evidence suggesting certain bug poisons are harmful to fetuses, so do not spray.” The patient thinks, “I am so glad I asked and thankful there are pioneers who push prenatal health forward.”  

Do not only inherit your world, create it.  

Dale Schlundt holds a Master’s Degree in Adult Education with a concentration in American History from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is currently an Adjunct Professor for Palo Alto College and Northwest Vista College. Dale has two new books available, Tracking Life’s Lessons: Through Experiences, History, and a Little Interpretation and Education Decoded (A Collection of My Writings) now available on Amazon.

Be A Creator, Not An Inheritor; adapted image attribution flickr user sparkfunelectronics


How To Be Happy: 25 Things That Happy People Do


25 Things That Happy People Do

by Terry Heick

Is the world changing? Urgently, yes.

What is the relationship between change and that happiness? That’s a kind of context for this post.

While not a post purely about pedagogy or education technology, if you think of one goal of learning as being the ability to live a meaningful life, and happiness being a kernel here, it’s not such a stretch. In fact, happiness, joy, curiosity, and purpose could be considered a significant part of what’s missing in formal education. Just as academia separates content from “real world” and authentic contexts, separating teachers and students from their human emotions–narrowing their reality to a set of indexes to be measured and “increased”–should be more than a little suspect.

Connecting & Happiness

Is happiness something that can be caused, or is it primarily the result of a fortunate genetic sequence that can only be adjusted in small degrees? Nature. Nurture. Social conditioning. Cortisol levels. Lead in the paint. Yoga. What a fantastic mess. I’ve written recently about my own struggles with anxiety. They’re not fun, and I’m going to write more soon about mental health in education–and society–soon. There’s a lot to this that is way beyond my expertise, but I do have experience to share, and questions to ask–most immediately, is there a pattern to happiness, and what does technology have to do with it?

The answer to the latter bit seems pretty clear–very little. Well, not so fast maybe. Technology can lubricate the processes that lead to habits and patterns of happiness–the things that happy people tend to do–but it’s not the the catalyst.

Connecting is the catalyst, and is timeless.

To what, when, and why–that’s the tech part that’s fluid. Technology shifts how we view ourselves–a little rectangle of a window to one version of ourselves we want the world to see. It also changes what we value. When our contexts change, we as participants in those contexts are forced to adapt even as we change the contexts. The tools we use to communicate, and our habits we use to do so are always new. They lose credibility as they age.

Take the rapid normalization of social and digital media. For many societies, these are no longer “emerging” and “exciting” ways to share information, whimsy, and thinking, but the new normal for doing so. Like it or not for many, technology is no longer a tool, but a standard. We refract our thinking towards and through technology so that technology itself becomes the schema for the world rather than the other way around. Not always, and not for everyone. But if our (apparent) contexts and values are fluid, what does that mean for us as participants in these contexts? And as causes and effects for human emotion–happiness, joy, and contentment? And is it causation or correlation? Studied as cycles, certain rhythms may emerge.

So below are 25 things I’ve noticed that might be considered causes of happiness–things that, no matter the prevalence of technology, rate of change, or scale of access to information, are timeless in their utility.

With Or Without Technology: 25 Things That Happy People Do

  1. They connect meaningfully with other living things.
  2. They are playful–in whatever form they choose, they create and take advantage of opportunities for “Deep Play” (see Diane Ackerman).
  3. They control their thinking. Thoughts become beliefs, and beliefs lead to behavior. Beliefs also lead you to seek specific data that that fits your beliefs. In that way, you literally construct your own reality–and thus happiness or suffering.
  4. They see like a scientist (with an open mind and objective analysis), think like a farmer (with reverence and interdependence), and behave like an artist (with creativity and disavowment of convention).
  5. They know that happiness is a muscle. Neurology shows us that thinking patterns lead to more of the same, so establish that neural pathway. Flex your happy muscle even if you’re not feeling it at the moment. You won’t smile if you’re not happy; you can’t be happy if you don’t smile.
  6. They practice visualizing the things they want to achieve (as a teacher–delivering a lesson, collaborating with another teacher, talking with an administrator or parent, etc.) The law of attraction makes sense. See different, seek different, attain difference.
  7. They find comfort in new experiences and ideas. They don’t just accept them, but see them as opportunities (usually out of their control anyway).
  8. They find value in substance, and whimsy in recreation. That is, purpose and meaning can drive their behavior, but their soul is still playful with the universe around it.
  9. They are brutally honest with themselves and those around them. (That said, they also know the difference between honesty and insecurity.)
  10. They adapt their thinking and behavior to an elegant and sustainable scale. Not too humble (which sparks nothing), not too broad (which burns recklessly).
  11. They embrace ambiguity. There is no one way to see, understand, or do anything.
  12. They accept that the world, while flawed, is likely ‘better’ than it’s ever been. This is hugely debatable and another post of its own, but this is a thought that keeps creeping up on me recently. Yes, we have a long way to go, but the modern focus on equality and acceptance and social justice, while insufficient, is a trend whose value can’t be overstated.
  13. They trust others. Yes, people let you down sometimes; yes, people hurt you, but there is joy in human connections that can’t be found anywhere else in the universe. (See #1.)
  14. They serve others, and love ‘differences.’ Diversity. Change. They honor fear and (mild) anxiety, but understand that a fundamental law of the nature of all things is change.
  15. They believe in their own ability to positively impact their environment.
  16. They eat well–food that nourishes their bodies, and reflects their respect for the earth, and their own future.
  17. They exert themselves physically, whether through work, exercise, yoga, sports, etc.
  18. They honor the complexity of things. They assume that they don’t understand. When you assume that you do, you’ll lean towards judgment. When you assume that you don’t, you’ll lean towards analysis. One leads to suffering, one leads to something closer to wisdom.
  19. They make things–and wildly original things. There can be joy in execution (other people’s ideas), but creating something out of nothing is a uniquely human–and humanizing–concept. The more fully human you are, the more of an opportunity you’ll have for contentment, happiness, and joy.
  20. They restore things.
  21. They know that living is in the moment–everything else is an illusion. (And even living in the moment is problematic depending on how you’re constructing that moment through your own perceptions–see #2.) So find the texture in each moment. Within that texture is design, nuance, purity, and love.
  22. They grasp the various legacies they are a part of, and the ecologies that need their sense of living citizenship.
  23. They stop seeking and start accepting. Then, from a position of acceptance, they begin to see what they really need.
  24. They embrace the journey, not the triumph and suffering that happen along the way.
  25. They don’t seek happiness. They know that happiness is not a cause or condition, but an effect–the resonance of an alignment between your behavior and your belief system as a human being.

Humanizing Ourselves: 25 Things That Happy People Will Always Do; Humanizing Ourselves: 25 Things That Can Make You Happy; 25 Things That Happy People Do image attribution flickr user hdtpcar


Graphic: How Sleep Affects Student Performance In School


Graphic: How Sleep Affects Student Performance In School

Contributed by

How important is sleep to academic performance? Sleep researcher Ravi Allada puts it simply: “One of the most profound effects of a night of sleep is the improvement in our ability to remember things.” Reading, writing, and remembering are the foundation of formal learning, so it’s easy to see that if you have trouble remembering, understanding–and thus performance in school–will suffer.

And according to students, they’re not sleeping very well in college.

  • 11% claim to ‘sleep well’ (enjoy it now)
  • 20% of all college students pull at least one
  • 27% of college students are at risk for at least one sleep disorder.
  • 68% have trouble sleeping at night due to stress over academic concerns

In the graphic below, 5 tips for better ‘sleep performance’ in pursuit of performance in the classroom and higher GPAs are given, including limiting or avoiding caffeine, energy drinks, and blue light from electronic devices late at night. Naps are also recommended, in addition to exercise, and having a sleep routine to alert the body and mind that it’s time for rest.

Of course, sleep is much more than a matter of doing well in school. Sleep problems that begin during school years can persist for years, affecting physical health and emotional well-being. While GPA can be a product of sleep (and the reverse can be true–sleep can be a product of GPA), as “students” become professional, begin families, and are forced to ‘perform’ in a broader world beyond the classroom, being well-rested can be among the most important characteristics for long-term happiness and success.

Graphic: How Sleep Affects Student Performance In School

Sleep better, improve your learning experience

Image courtesy of:

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated us via payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will be good for our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Grant Wiggins, Champion Of Understanding

gwiggins-fiGrant Wiggins, Champion Of Understanding

by Terry Heick

Modern education icon Grant Wiggins, co-creator of Understanding by Design, has died, as announced on his twitter account by Grant’s wife, Denise. Our colleagues at ASCD have also verified Grant’s death, as has Grant’s professional development company, Authentic Education. His daughter Alexis has also confirmed the news on her account below.

The First Time I Saw Grant Grant was tremendously influential on me as an educator. His focus on what it means to understand, his focus on transfer, and his work on thematic unit and lesson design all changed me, first as a teacher of literature, and today as director of an education organization.  Sometime around 2005 I think, I was walking through the booths at a major conference. Row after row of blahblahblah. A lot of textbooks. Standardized curriculum. Misrepresentative edtech. Lots and lots of smartboards.

But as I kept walking toward the exit, at one of the last booths I saw this bearded guy with gentle eyes, perched on a stool, talking about understanding. And that’s all he talked about. A revelation! After hearing the cliche calls for alignment, data, and rigor as the tools of school improvement in my own district, in Grant I found a voice that–as far as my tiny mind could tell–knew what it was talking about. Think about the simplicity and power of his message. Authenticity. Understanding. Design. Transfer. This is the blueprint for great teaching!  He sat at a textbook company’s booth and, without irony, described a way of teaching that would be difficult to accomplish with a textbook. I loved it!

Champion Of Understanding I listened to him talk, bought a UbD book, then reached out to him via email individually as a follow up to try to better understand “big idea planning.” Fast forward several years, I was floored when, not long after I started TeachThought, he began contributing to the site as a writer. I nerded out.  As an educator, Grant was able to deftly balance the trivium of education improvement–thought, research, and practical tools teachers can use in the classroom.

As a result–in my opinion–there are few who have done more to change education in the last fifty years.  The good news? His work remains. His writing is always available–here, in his books, on his own blog, his twitter account, and more. When your work is thought and you leave a record of that thought, then your work never stops. Even when you ultimately have to. Above all else, as I see it, his legacy is that of a champion of understanding. And that’s pretty awesome.  

Rest in peace, Grant. Love and strength to your family. You can show your support, for now, by tweeting with the hashtag #grantwiggins.

image courtesy authenticeducation and huffingtonpost


Preventing Youth Suicide Through Lessons Of Hope

preventing-youth-suicide-lessons-of-hopePreventing Youth Suicide Through Lessons Of Hope

by TeachThought Staff

CHICAGO, IL — Schools for Hope is a new, free educational curriculum that was developed by The International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression (iFred) to prevent youth suicide by giving students, educators and parents the necessary learning tools to find and maintain hope.  According to a recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, 1 out of 9 children self-reported a suicide attempt before graduating high school; with forty percent of those children in grade school.  Schools for Hope provides free life-saving skills to children, teachers and parents with the goal of reversing those staggering statistics

“Teaching children the importance of caring for their mental health is crucial to their emotional well-being and quality of life,” said Penny Tate, Schools for Hope Project Manager.  “By giving children tools to have hope, we not only aid in their ability to handle life’s challenges and save lives, but we empower them to become their most vital selves.  As a mother of two young girls, and as a survivor of suicide loss, I’ve seen firsthand the importance and critical need that exists to have an open dialogue with our children and give them hope.”

Schools for Hope is a free program that is available to any interested school, community group, after school program or nonprofit in the U.S. and overseas.  It has comprehensive instructions and can be easily self-led, so the costs associated with implementation are low.  The curriculum is based on research that suggests hope is a teachable skill—a vitally important aptitude because hopelessness is the leading symptom of depression and predictor of suicide.

The curriculum is made up of ten core lessons and additional workshops on Heroes for Hope, Movies for Hope and Artwork for Hope. It is currently being tested among 5th graders because of the significant rise in suicide attempts in sixth grade, and educates students on the importance of emotional health and well-being, how to get their brain into a hopeful state, and meditation and deep breathing techniques.  The program also teaches children how to define hope, explore and define the meaning of ‘success’, and practice emotional self-regulation techniques. They will also learn about the biology of the brain and how to connect their passion and purpose in life.

iFred launched Schools for Hope in Fall 2014 in two Chicago-area school districts (Woodland Intermediate School in  Gurnee, IL and Oakland School in Antioch, IL) with the goal of expanding nationally and internationally. The program is expanding to South America and Nepal this year, and is available for translation and in cobranded partnerships with other nonprofits interested in teaching the curriculum to their members.

“I enjoyed teaching the lessons because I think that our students aren’t really in touch with their emotions,” said April Cooksey, a 5th grade teacher at Woodland School.  “I believe that this project created a safe place for my students to express their thoughts and feelings.”

Amy Werner, also a teacher at Woodland School added, “My students looked forward to the hope lessons every day.  They couldn’t wait to learn and often still ask when we will do more lessons.  It’s not often students ask to be educated!”

For interest in testing or implementing the 5th grade curriculum, please email Schools for Hope at or visit the website to download the free lesson plans.  There are also tools and support items for teachers and educators, as well as research to date on the program and information on how the curriculum fits with current social and emotional learning standards mandated in several states.  More information is available at

Fall Curriculum

(Fall) Lesson 1: Define Hope

(Fall) Lesson 2: Hopeful people live more fulfilling and successful lives

(Fall) Lesson 3: Hope happens in the ‘upstairs’ brain

(Fall) Lesson 4: Self-regulation

(Fall) Lesson 5: Sacredness

Spring Curriculum

(Spring) Lesson 6: Hope revisited

(Spring) Lesson 7: Setting goals and creating action steps to those goals

(Spring) Lesson 8: Anticipating and planning for obstacles

(Spring) Lesson 9: Using hope tools to cope with unexpected events; finding someone to support you

(Spring) Lesson 10: Giving back

About iFred: International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression’s mission is to shine a positive light on depression and eliminate the stigma associated with the disease through prevention, research and education.  Its goal is to ensure 100% of the 350 million people affected by depression seek and receive treatment.

iFred is creating a shift in society’s negative perception of the disease through positive imagery and branding-establishing the sunflower and the color yellow as the international symbols of hope for depression.  To further its mission, iFred engages with individuals and organizations to execute high impact and effective campaigns that educate the public about support and treatment for depression.

Website: Twitter: @iFredorg Facebook:


A Very, Very Powerful Motivational Video For Teens

A Very, Very Powerful Motivational Video For Teens

by TeachThought Staff

Motivation is one of the great mysteries of humankind. Why do we want what we want?

We even study it in literature–character motivation. What does this character want, and what do they have to overcome to get it?

The answer is never simple. Even a reductionist take says that there are primary and secondary motivations–and thus often primary and secondary conflicts in any story.

Student motivation goes into even deeper waters: What motivates this student to “succeed” in school? Is it intrinsic motivation or extrinsic motivation? Does it ebb and flow? Is it perishable altogether?

And does success mean different things for different students? Good grades? Reaching a new personal best? Reconfiguring their self-identity as a learner and as a student? Simply showing up every day for a week?

The video above distills the idea of motivation into something elemental. If you’re motivated by things or events or glory, you’re not motivated at all because that’s not motivation. You’re not really motivated to achieve something until you want it as bad as you want your next breath. And every decision you make directly impacts that achievement–whatever that achievement is for that student. When you say you want something, and then act in a way that indicates otherwise, that’s revealing.

That’s not even “bad” necessarily. It clarifies things for you, because it’s clear you don’t really want it. You just want to say you want it. You just like to talk about goals. You like the way it feels to feign ambition. If you can’t make progress, you find things to blame.

But the truth is something simpler: Until you can’t be deterred, you don’t really want it.

Note, there is a whole bunch of shirtless-dude in this video, so consider your audience accordingly. It uses a football player training as a backdrop for the message, so it probably wouldn’t appeal much to younger children, or maybe even to you as a teacher.

But for teens–especially males–it may just get their attention.

A Very, Very Powerful Motivational Video For Teens


Maybe It’s Time To Stop Talking About Bullying, And Talk Kindness Instead

woodleywonderworks-boys-making-planesMaybe It’s Time To Stop Talking About Bullying, And Talk Kindness Instead

by Lisa

I thought I was in a safe environment.

A group on facebook where people from around the world gathered to exchange information and tips on a range of topics. I understood it to be a forum where I could ask questions and people would offer solutions and support without judgement.

When a subject I was interested in was posted, I joined the conversation. Being in a different time zone, most of the others were sleeping then, so I didn’t check the forum again until the next day.

A lot happened on the other side of the globe during the night, and I woke to find I was the subject of abuse and condemnation. As I read the responses, I was shocked that such an innocent question had triggered angry and targeted outbursts by a few of the women.

I’d like to say that it didn’t affect me. As an adult I should have been able to brush it off, but how could I when the insults had followed me to my community page as well. I felt embarrassed, hurt and physically ill.

Being new to the group, I was left reeling. Stunned, miserable, and completely deflated, my entire agenda for the day had gone out the window. I struggled to get a handle on my emotions and understand what had happened. I didn’t think I’d said anything that should have triggered such a public attack.

My First Response

My first reaction was to leave the group, but there was a part of me that felt that wasn’t the answer. I felt like a victim as the reality of my first cyberbullying experience started to sink in. Then it occurred to me that these women must have been victims too.

Drawing on the work I do with school children, I thought about the bullies whose hearts I help to soften by teaching them how to be kind. I thought about the way most people respond to bullies with anger and hatred. There’s usually no consideration or empathy for the hardships a bully has endured. Few are able to imagine what someone’s may have been through to become so bitter and angry that they want to belittle others.

When I applied this to these women, I felt a softening and wondered what they had been through to respond that way. The whole experience got me thinking about other victims of bullying. Many children and adult endure much worse than I had, relentlessly tormented every day.In days gone by, it was bullying in the schoolyard that kids could shut the door on when they went home. What makes it worse now is that bullying is now longer confined and it’s claiming lives!

Modern bullying is in your face. The advent of the internet and mobile phones means bullies are everywhere. With you in your pocket, your home and your bedroom… there’s just no escape!

Too many children have become statistics. Often unsupported because they’re uncomfortable talking about it. Sometimes they’re ashamed or feel that they’ll disappoint their parents if they tell. My own son begged me not to tell the teachers about a time when he was being bullied because he feared it would get worse!

It makes me feel sick knowing this is a reality for so many kids and their families. How do they cope, go to school and where’s the joy in their life if that’s what they’ve got to deal with every day When I looked up the latest statistics on cyberbullying, I was horrified to find that McAfee reported an increase.

“Despite significant efforts to discourage cyberbullying and its negative effects, the number of occurrences continues to grow with 87% of youth having witnessed cyberbullying. Of those who responded they were cyberbullied, 72% responded it was due to appearance while 26% answered due to race or religion and 22% stated their sexuality was the driving factor. Of those who witnessed cyberbullying, 53% responded the victims became defensive or angry, while 47% said the victims deleted their social media accounts, underscoring its significant emotional impact. While the study reveals cyberbullying continues to represent a serious problem for youth, the 2014 survey found 24% of youth would not know what to do if they were harassed or bullied online.” 

My own experience and the horrifying data makes me fear for the future and how many more innocent lives will be damaged or destroyed. It makes me more determined than ever to do my part in changing the way kids interact. It’s gone on long enough and I don’t know how we expect things to change if we don’t change the way we approach the issue.

Our Collective Response

We’re not going to stop bullying overnight, we need an ongoing, long term plan.As past approaches seem to be falling short, we have to change the way we tackle bullying. I’m convinced that we have to confront it with its psychological opposite – kindness. It’s far more effective to teach children the positive behaviour that will help them understand what it means to be a good friend.

In-school character education and kindness programs address bullying in a positive way. They also equip students with the social and emotional skills they’ll need all their lives. Kids are suffering–sometimes being pushed to breaking point. It makes me sad and angry to think we really haven’t come very far in this war against bullying, even after investing so much time and money.

Maybe it’s time to stop talking about bullying, and start talking about kindness instead.


Lisa Currie is the founder of Ripple Kindness Project. A community project and whole school curriculum to improve social, emotional and mental health and reduce bullying.The positive psychology curriculum teaches children about their emotions and the impact their words and actions have. Ongoing lessons and activities provide opportunities for students to notice and shown kindness in everyday situations to make altruism a natural and instinctive part of life.; Adapted image attribution flickr user woodleywonderworks; Maybe It’s Time To Stop Talking About Bullying, And Talk Kindness Instead


90 Retailers That Offer Teacher Discounts

teacher-discounts90 Retailers That Offer Teacher Discounts

Contributed by

Ed Note: This post was compiled by Please leave any feedback in the comments, or send them directly to us by email.

Bookstore Discounts

Online School Supply & Teacher Discount Stores

Retail School Supply Discounts

  • A.C. Moore: Teacher Discount Program: mail in information to get discount card
  • Ben Franklin Crafts: 10% off every Tuesday with teacher ID.
  • Big Lots: Teacher Appreciation Day on August 11, 2012. See our Big Lots Coupons page for more savings.
  • The Container Store: Organized Teacher Discount Program: 10% off. See our Container Store Coupons page for other savings.
  • Crayola: Gold Star Teacher program: Discounts from & opportunities to test/provide feedback on new products & lesson plans. See our Crayola Coupons page for other savings.
  • FedEx OfficeNational Educators Discount Program: 15% off
  • Hancock Fabrics: Show your school ID for 15% off. See our Hancock Fabric Coupons page for more savings. (in-store only)
  • Home DepotTeachers pay no sales tax with tax exempt paperwork. (in-store only)
  • JoAnn Fabrics15% off with Teacher Rewards membership.
  • Kmart:Various teacher-exclusive savings. See our Kmart Coupons page for other savings.
  • Lakeshore Learning: Teacher’s Club Members can save 15% and monthly specials.
  • Lowe’s: Teacher’s pay no sales tax with tax exempt paper work (in-store only).
  • Michael’s: 15% off with school ID
  • MPM School Supplies: 10% off for teachers on their first purchase.
  • Office Depot: Star Teacher Program: 10% back in rewards on ink, toner, & paper; 1% back on almost everything else; 15% off copy & print orders. See our Office Depot Coupons page for other savings.
  • Office Max: MaxPerks Rewards for Teachers: $10 reward for every $75 spent. See our Office Max Coupons page for other savings.
  • StaplesTeacher Rewards Program: 10% back in rewards on most purchases. See our Staples Coupons page for other savings.
  • Room Store Furniture: 10% off with school ID  (in-store only).

Clothing Discounts

Tech & Computer Discounts

  • Adobe: Heavy Discounts (25-75% off retail) via Adobe Teacher & Student Store. See our Adobe Coupons page for other savings.
  • Apple Store: 5-10% via’s Edu Store for Faculty, Staff, Students. See our Apple Store Coupons page for other savings.
  • AT&TUsually around 19% off your monthly bill. Varies by educational institution – need to enter work/school email address for discount eligibility
  • Best Buy: Will honor other manufacturer discounts; up to individual store. See our Best Buy Coupons page for other savings.(in-store only)
  • Bose: Educators Direct Group: special pricing for US Educators only on certain items; have to call the Customer Focused Development Team (1-800-353-4207). See our Bose Coupons page for other savings.
  • CampusTech: Discounts on software & technology products
  • DellDell University – savings vary by college (offer high school discounts too). See our Dell Coupons page for other savings.
  • Gradware: Discounts vary, good for student or teachers, just online
  • HP: Up to 10% off via Academic Purchase Programs. See our HP Coupons for other savings.
  • Faculty pricing – varies by school
  • Lenovo: 5% off. See our Lenovo Coupons page for other savings.
  • PBS: PBS Teachers program: sign up to receive 10% discount on next purchase at ShopPBS for Teachers
  • School sales & discounts: 10% discount on all orders over $100
  • Sony: Eye on Education Program: various pricing discounts, financing solutions, & trade-in programs. See our Sony Coupons page for other savings.
  • Sprint: Up to 18% off for teachers in participating schools.
  • Verizon: Employee Discount Program: varies. See our Verizon Coupons page for other savings.
  • AT&T:  Offers a 15% teacher discount on monthly bills in most states. This discount, however, varies state to state, so be sure to call your local AT&T store to confirm.

Travel Discounts

  • Educators Bed & Breakfast Travel NetworkMembers can get discounted travel at $40 per night for 2 people; Home Stays with other members of the EBBN
  • Explorica: Book trips & join Extra Rewards program: chance to attend an international teacher convention for free
  • Sta Travel:  Discounts vary
  • Student UniverseDiscounted group airfares for students & faculty members (groups of 12+)
  • Teachers Travel Web: B&B and home exchange for members worldwide
  • Vacations To Go: Cruise discounts – vary by cruise line & availability
  • Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Hotel: Teacher/education staff discount – have to check rates & availability. See our Disney Coupons page for other savings.
  • Educator Subscription Discounts: up to 50% off regular magazine subscription rates.
  • National Geographic: Teachers are eligible for discount on Geographic Project kits; Have to email info to receive additional info about discounts.
  • Time Magazine for Kids: School-wide volume discounts (from 10-99 to 300+)
  • Marriott Hotels: Discounts vary. Show your ID and say you’re a local government employee.
  • National Park Service: Show a valid school ID to receive 15% off park purchases. This is not valid on park entry fees, camping fees or Smoky the Bear Petting Zoo fees.
  • Marco Island Marriott: Show a valid school ID to receive 20% off the lowest rate Sunday through Thursday.
  • Jupiter Beach Res0rt: Show a valid school ID to receive 20% off the lowest rate, plus 20% off spa treatments and 50% off valet parking.
  • San Juan Marriott Resort: Show a valid school ID to receive 25% off the lowest rate

Other Discounts

  • Art Institute of Chicago: Free admission for Illinois teachers that have registered for the Educator Network.
  • Boston Children’s Museum: Free admission for teachers with valid ID; discount at museum store
  • Dallas Museum of Art: Call the Member Services desk at 214-922-1247 to learn about discounted single-day tickets and annual memberships.
  • Field Museum of Chicago: Free admission for teachers with valid ID
  • Graceland TN: Free tours for teachers with valid ID.
  • Gulf Breeze Zoo in Florida: Free admission for teachers with valid ID
  • Free educational DVD to teachers grade 6-12 on their birthday.
  • John Mable Ringling Museum of Art: A valid school ID will get you a discounted day pass.
  • Kennedy Space Center: Free Educator Study Pass to teachers from Florida and Georgia
  • Life’s Little Favors: Call customer service at 1-800-406-9985 to find out how you can get 10% off at this online favor boutique. (in-store only)
  • Mote Aquarium in Florida: Present a recent pay stub at the admissions desk for one free ticket.
  • My Corporate Logo: 15% off custom logo design (code: bWNsMDAx)
  • Museum of Science in Boston: Register for the Teacher Partner Program to receive special benefits and discounts.
  • NEA (National Education Association)Various NEA member benefits & discounts
  • New England Aquarium: Current teachers can get 10% off in the store and on family memberships.
  • Regal Theaters:  in-theater only, *depends on theater, usually 25% off
  • Replace My Contacts:  5% off an order of $100 or more
  • Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, SCFree admission for teachers and half off for their guests with valid ID.
  • Shedd Aquarium in Chicago: Free general admission with teacher ID. On the Shedd Aquarium page that is hyperlinked here, scroll down to “Other Discounts” to find out more information.
  • Various discounts for NEA members/AFT members/Non-Union teachers
  • Teachers’ Insurance Plan:  Special savings on car insurance for active & retired education professionals
  • U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development: Good Neighbor Next Door Program: up to 50% discount on the list price of homes
  • PETCO: Free aquarium for select teachers with application (PETCO only gives this aquarium to a set number of teachers each year)
  • Pets in the Classroom: Teachers of pre-K-8th grade students in both public and private schools can apply for a hassle free grant that will refund them the costs of having a small classroom pet (Up to $150).
  • Pizza Hut: 10%-20% off depending on the store with a teacher I.D. (in-store only)
  • Schlotsky’s: 10% off with school ID (in-store only)
  • Visible Changes: 10% off with school ID. Just show your ID the first time you get your hair cut there.

Do you know of any additional discounts for teachers?  Please comment below and we will add them to our list. Looking for a printable version of this list? Click the link below and hit the “Print” button in your browser.

Teacher Discounts: 90+ Stores Offering Discounts for Teachers & Educators (PDF, 181KB)

90 Retailers That Offer Teacher Discounts


The Science Of Character: 6 Categories & 24 Traits

The Science Of Character: 6 Categories & 24 Traits

What is character?

What kinds of ideas and related characteristics do we associate with it?

What contributes to its development? Can certain attributes be cultivated?

How can we bring a little science to such an abstract idea?

These are the ideas behind an upcoming film by Tiffany Shlain that seeks to clarify the idea. In the graphic below, there are six overarching descriptors offered: Wisdom, Creativity, Curiosity, Love of Learning, Perspective, and Courage. It then offers indicators–or components–for each.

periodic-table-of-character-strengths-fi6 Categories & 24 Traits

1. Wisdom



Love of Learning


2. Courage





3. Humanity



Social Intelligence

4. Justice

Social Responsibility




5. Temperance





6. Transcendence

Appreciation Of Beauty





Further Reading

The press release also indicates that “in addition to free customized versions of the film, Let it Ripple and partners like Common Sense Media will offer a list of films, games, and apps to strength particular character strengths, a free Discussion Guide, a character strengths survey, and resource guide. #CharacterDay will also feature online discussions led by experts in all time zones featuring leaders in education and character development.”

You can

The Science Of Character: 6 Categories & 24 Traits


Social Media Stalking Is A Thing

dangers-of-social-mediaSocial Media Stalking Is A Thing

We all love to share our lives via social media.

What we eat. Who we love. Where we are. What we’re doing there. When we’ll be home. What we’re feeling.

This has consequences. Creepers and stalkers, for example.

Comedian Jack Vale takes it from here (though there is some bleeped out language, so it may not be appropriate to show students in the classroom).

Social Media Stalking Is A Thing


Every Single Satellite Orbiting The Earth

Every Single Satellite Orbiting The Earth

Presented (mostly) without commentary: What must the aliens think?

every-single-satellite-orbiting-earth-fullEvery Single Satellite Orbiting The Earth