"If you don't love kids, love your job, and love the field of education, quit.
Liking isn't good enough when it comes to children's lives."
That's the tough love in this book.
The rest of it is just plain fun, wisdom, and hard-learned truths.
Jim Burgett's funny, no-nonsense words in print
Teachers Change Lives 24/7
150 ways to do it right!
Jim Burgett is one of the Midwest's most decorated speakers, teachers, principals, and superintendents. What he gathered from and about the classroom— mostly couched in stories that pop with love and laughter—is on these pages.
How about an excerpt from the book?
If it's better to show rather than tell, here's a sample chapter from Teachers Change Lives 24/7, followed by 10 of the 150 Ways to Do it Right, so you can see why this book is used so often in college teacher's training classes.
Trees and Kids
There is an unusual tree commonly known as the Chinese Bamboo Tree. It is real. Years ago I heard a speaker talk about it, using it to make a point. It stuck in my head. I even did some research to find out if the speaker was blowing smoke and made up the tree. He didn't.
The story goes like this. You prepare the soil, pick the right spot, then plant the Chinese Bamboo Tree. You water it and wait. But you wait an entire year and nothing appears. No bud, no twig, nothing. So you keep watering and protecting the area and taking care of the future plant, and you wait some more. You wait another year and nothing still happens. Okay, you are a persistent person not prone to giving up, so you keep on watering. You water, check the soil, start talking to the ground, maybe even click your heels in some kind of growing dance you read about in the National Geographic. Another year passes and still no sign of growth.
It has been three years. Should you give up? Someone told you that it might take a while to really see the fruits of your efforts, so you keep on keeping on. More water, more talk, more dancing. The neighbors are wondering. And another year passes. No tree.
You now make a decision. If there is no tree on this date one year from now you will stop watering. Period. So you begin year number five with the same passion as day number one. You water, you wait. You keep watering and keep waiting. You water some more and then, could it be? Is it really? Yep, there it is, something sticking out of the dirt. You come back the next day and WOW it has really grown! In fact you come back each day for about six weeks and finally the Chinese Bamboo tree stops growing—but it is over 80 feet tall! Yes, 80 feet in six weeks! Well, not really. It is 80 feet in five years.
The point is simple. If you had given up for even the shortest period of time, there would be no tree. It took almost impossible persistence. The Chinese Bamboo tree is there for one reason and one reason only—because you never gave up on it.
When I talk to teachers at workshops or institutes I find one who teaches first grade and I ask that person to mentally think of a student who they wouldn't mind see moving to another district. You get the drift, a student who is a real challenge. Let's give the student a name. I'll use my own name to be politically correct. The kid is named Jim. I ask the teacher if they ever had a student like Jim that they really worked hard with, tried every trick in the book, searched for new ways to meet the child's learning needs, and so on, but still felt that at the end of the year that Jim had not learned. That Jim was still a challenge, and although he met the minimum standards to pass, he was not on the teacher's list of proudest achievements. Most teachers usually agree that they have, or had, a Jim in their class.
Now we move to a second grade teacher and we pretend that they get Jim in the fall, work with him all year, watch their hair turn from brunette to shades of stressful gray, and by the end of the year feel they did their best, but it wasn't good enough.
Now, for a minute, let's talk about little Jimmy. He's not in special ed. Jimmy is just a jerk. Don't fall off your chair and gasp, "Did he call that kid a jerk?"I did, but not the jerk you are thinking of. My JERK is an acronym for Just Educationally Resistive Kid. He doesn't have ADD or any other alphabetized condition. He just doesn't like to learn and he resists it. He isn't a bad kid or a troublemaker. "Jimmys"exist in all sizes and shapes and even come in girl forms.
Let's jump to grade three. We have the same conversation all over again. Jim is passed on but he is a disappointment to every teacher so far, and they all worry that if things don't turn around Jim could become a troublemaker or an academic disgrace.
Jim holds his own in grade four. No big changes. He surely doesn't love school, but he isn't failing anything. He exhibits no passion for anything at the schoolhouse. And no signs of any real change either.
Grade five. Jim has a new teacher and all the other teachers try to warn her that Jim is, well, how do we say it? Jim is special, but not special ed. He exists, but barely. He will continue to be a challenge, but he's not a threat to safety. Jim is Jim. Try anything, but nothing will probably work. If you don't believe me, ask all of his previous teachers.
At semester break the new teacher makes a comment about Jim at a teachers meeting. With anticipated sadness, everyone listens. Here is what she says…
"Jim is quite a writer. He turned in a couple of stories and I told him he was very creative. He is now writing a mystery story and it is good! And he's also showing some talent in basketball. He's really growing too. I love his passion to play ball and write. He seems to thrive on the success of his hook shot and his imagination. I really enjoy that kid."Jim has arrived!
Was it the new teacher who pulled out Jim's hidden talents and secret love for learning? Was it some biological change that caused Jim to mature and become a better learner, a more serious student? Was it his physical abilities that expanded his self-esteem and made it easier for him to write?
Maybe it was a little of all these things, but it was also what I call the Chinese Bamboo Factor. Every teacher Jim had since he entered school worked hard providing opportunities for Jim to learn, to grow, and to become. Every teacher watered, fertilized, and cared for Jim. Even when the year ended and they were sometimes glad to pass him on to another teacher, they still knew that they had done their best to give him the best.
Oh, by the way, my story could stop and start at any grade. And Jim could be Janet, and the teacher could be a he rather than a she. It doesn't matter. What does matter is the Chinese Bamboo Factor—never, ever quit on a student. Even when you see no progress, it doesn't mean that the kid isn't processing something somehow somewhere.
One more thing, a big thing: the Chinese Bamboo Tree did start to grow very shortly after the seed was planted. The roots grew deep and strong for many years before there was any sign of a plant above ground. Sometimes that same thing happens with kids. They develop a foundation of learning. They learn to learn. They creep along doing the minimum, building their strengths (or finding them), and sometimes they just wait for the right combination of factors before they bloom. It may be the motivation of a certain teacher or a new found confidence or skill. It may be that all of a sudden "they get it"and learning becomes exciting. If we knew exactly what the formula was and how it worked for everyone, we could probably cure the ills of the world.
So what do we learn from the Chinese Bamboo Tree? I'd suggest the following:
* It takes patience to teach some, even most, kids.
* When you give up on a kid, you give up a human being.
* Even when you don't see progress, if you do your best, it is probably happening.
* If something doesn't work with a kid, try something else—but never quit trying.
* Some of our best teaching doesn't "break soil"until all conditions are right.
* When you think you are growing a tree, you may be growing a root.
* Strong roots support strong trees.
* Sometimes it takes a lot of patience to change a life.
u If you sense they haven't learned the topic of the day, don't move on. If you are not sure, assess their learning before advancing. If they haven't mastered the topic, it may be the way you are teaching.
u Write a note or have a personal conference about behavior issues. Sometimes the written word has more impact. If you have a conference, ask "What can I do to help you?"If you write a note, always point out something good. It helps to mention how proud you are of the student when they do what is right.
u Remember that students have bad days too. One teacher, at the beginning of the year, tells her students to notify her at the start of the hour if they don't feel well or are just having a bad day. It won't happen as often as you think but it just may open a doorway for conversation and an opportunity to provide much needed assistance.
u Utilize peer tutors and peer counseling across grade level lines. Don't be afraid to cross the ill-fated building barriers (high school kids helping at the middle school, MS kids working with grade school students, etc.). Kids helping kids is almost always a win-win-win situation. The kids, at both levels, win. You certainly win.
u Always make an effort to challenge every ability level in every class. Make sure the low-motivated students are called on and challenged. It is best to tailor their questions to foster success. Make sure you give enough time to answer. And, of course, give each student an appropriate positive response. If you don't know, or remember, the correct way to ask questions and solicit responses, ask that a review of this important subject be conducted at a faculty meeting or in-service.
u Provide services for every student. Let them know they will participate in special programs. Here are some examples: Grades K-4: Self-Esteem Team, "Here's Looking at You,"or PeaceBuilders; Grade 5: Dare; Grades 6-8: Teacher/Advisor Program; Grades 9+: LINK, Lifesavers, or SADD.
u Use your school's strengths, not weaknesses. If your school is small, involve as many as possible in co-curricular activities. Plays, for instance, should have 40 people in them instead of one; teams should have five scorekeepers, 15 cheerleaders, etc. If you can't offer 15 sports, then get as many involved in the four that you do offer.
u Have school-wide special events like spirit days, happy daze week, homecoming week, election week, environment week, etc. One school in our area celebrates the anniversary every year of when they went from being a junior high to a middle school. Classrooms can do the same thing with a week-long "special"topic.
u "Faith is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead,"Hebrews 11:6. Never lose faith in a student. Never lose your own faith.
u Of all the "R's"you teach, none is more important than responsibility.
One of the Midwest's favorite educators taps the mind, memory, and heart of every teacher who stands (or stood) in front of a classroom, with wit, humor, wisdom, and immediately usable how-to tips. Find out why superintendents and principals are buying this fast-reading gem by the box loads to spread its message and to help inject renewed purpose, pride, and passion in instructors in their schools and districts.
You might also have heard Burgett keynoting on the educational circuit for a decade. Now it's all available in print—or digitally!
There are more than 6,000,000 teachers in the United States, millions more retired, and 500,000 will soon join the ranks. They will see themselves on almost every page of Jim's funny and touching how-to book. Not only do teachers change lives 24/7, this book will change those teachers' lives too.
What do others think of Jim's book?
I just finished reading Teachers Change Lives 24/7. I couldn't put it down! I recognized myself on the pages. You have shown me that my greatest strength, caring about my kids, is worthwhile.
I closed the book with a renewed excitement and determination to be better. Tomorrow is the final contracted day of our school year. As I read the book and reflected on how I could improve and what I do right, I found myself wishing that the new school year was going to begin now. I can't wait to get back in my classroom! Thank you for reminding me that the mistakes made this year can be my successes next year.
If teachers like me feel the passion and continue to love our children and our jobs, it is because we are supported by people like you. Another element that is key to my successes and continued efforts is the support, respect, and recognition I receive from my administration. Teachers are passionate about their jobs when they know the administration shares and promotes that passion.
Terri Copeland, Language Arts, West Central Middle School, Stronghurst, Illinois
Your book is wonderful! I've been sitting in my office reading portions of it over the past week. Sometimes I laugh so hard that upstairs they wonder what I'm doing! Other times, I find myself in tears. It's hard to capture emotion, feelings, energy, synergy, and all of those things in writing. It's easier to capture those feelings in a speech, talk, or presentation. You've managed to do it, though. I want to compliment you on the book. I plan to give each one of the group that I'm currently working with a copy when the finish the program in May. As they begin their "new" careers in education, they will be well armed with your book regardless of the setting, school, or environment in which they find themselves.
Dr. Rick Acuncius, Coordinator of Alternative Education Certification Program,
McKendree College, Lebanon, Illinois
I'm writing to tell you how wonderful I think Jim's new book Teachers Change Lives 24/7 is. Jim says more about teaching in a few paragraphs than most of the other so called experts do in an entire book. His 175 tips are based on experience, common sense, and, most importantly, treating people like they should be treated. I intend to make this book a must read for all first and second year teachers in my district. It will also be the basis of the book study I will do with my administrative team this summer. It's a must read for any educator no matter how long they have been in the profession.
This past weekend, Jim also facilitated a strategic planning retreat for my school district. He did an excellent job. His book is excellent too—thanks for bringing it to us.
Ralph Grimm, Superintendent, West Central CUSD #235, Biggsville, Illinois
Jim Burgett is a master storyteller. All teacher induction programs should include this book. Seasoned educators will find a reminder on every page of what drew them to this vital, loving profession.
Eric Flohr, Principal, Collinsville High School, Collinsville, Illinois
With his usual warmth, wit, and charm, Jim has written a book for every teacher—from beginner to veteran. His love for kids and passion for teaching inspire every chapter, every anecdote, every teaching tip. A truly useful and inspiring book!
Sharon Rinderer, Retired English Teacher, Highland Middle School, Highland, Illinois
Teachers Change Lives 24/7 is a journey through the author's reflection of his own educational experience as a student, teacher, and administrator. Reading Jim's book is like having a conversation with an old friend. He shares his philosophy, pearls of wisdom, and new ideas for the teacher's instructional tool kit."
Fred W. Singleton, Field Service Director, Illinois Principals Association,
Jim himself has changed many, many lives. His book is loaded with practical, key information. It's a must read for every teacher, parent, and leader who wants to make a difference.
Bruce Trost, Executive V.P., FBL Financial Group, Des Moines, Iowa
An easy-to-read book filled with wit, humor, and practical do-it-now ideas. Burgett's passion for teaching and love of kids shines through every word. I worked side-by-side with Jim for 12 years and he truly walks the talk. Every teacher should read Teachers Change Lives 24/7.
Patsy Schwarm, Retired Assistant Superintendent of Education,
Highland Community Unit School District #5, Highland, Illinois
Who is this Burgett guy?
Jim Burgett is a veteran educator, nationally recognized education speaker, and consultant. He was named the "Illinois Superintendent of the Year"by the American Association of School Administrators and "Administrator of the Year" by the Illinois Association for Educational Office Professionals. Burgett has received numerous honors and recognition for his leadership and skills as a motivator. Jim serves on many boards for the State of Illinois, various professional organizations, the Editorial Board for an educational publisher, and several community organizations.
He is the recipient of the Award of Excellence from the Illinois State Board of Education, was named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International, and was a finalist for Teacher of the Year in Illinois.
After earning a B.S. degree in education, with a minor in chemistry, at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Jim earned his M.S. and C.A.S. degrees at Northern Illinois University. Jim has continued his educational training and currently writes and presents administrative academies for several states.
Education has been the cornerstone of his career. Jim has been a teacher of grades five through twelve and a principal of elementary, middle school, and high school. During his 38-year tenure, Jim has served as the Superintendent of the Elizabeth Community Unit School District, the River Ridge Community Unit School District, and the Highland Community Unit School District, all in Illinois. Jim retired from the Blue-Ribbon Highland District in 2004.
He has frequently published in professional journals, speaks across the country to a variety of organizations, and has keynoted most major educational conferences nationwide.
Jim Burgett is known for his practical leadership. He consults many districts, leads strategic planning sessions, and has been a leader in such areas as school construction, administrative standards, and effective teaching strategies.
In addition to writing Teachers Change Lives 24/7, he co-authored Finding Middle Ground in K-12 Education with Brian Schwartz and both What Every Superintendent and Principal Needs to Know and The Perfect School with Jim Rosborg and Max McGee. Jim also wrote "How to Handle the Death of a Student, Faculty, or Staff Member" as part of the "Excellence in Education for Superintendents and Principals"report series.
If this book isn't more than we promise,
send it back for a full refund, no questions asked.
Is $17.95 ($14 in digital format) too much to pay for a life change?
Don't you wish all of your teachers had read these pages?
And if you're teaching, or will be, can you afford not to?