Airports Safety Lessons for Schools

 Schools can make a safer environment for teachers and students by looking at security measures that our airlines have taken.  That way teachers can get back to teaching and students can learn & grow to be a part of the solution to the problem.  

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The airlines taught us to put on our own oxygen before assisting others, which is a great example for how to take care of yourself before caring for others. The environment within the airport has changed and awakened the travelers to to pay attention to their surroundings.   In years past, when the "stewardess" manned the plane, people seemed to keep to themselves.  

The messages are broadcasted throughout the terminals. See something, say something;  Notices about left luggage/packages, suspicious looking person/people, or unusual activity, REPORT IT.  Security lines form daily with everyone who enters the airport.  Travelers, pilots, flight attendants, food and employees entering the airport all get screened. This effort has drastically made a difference and safer to travel.  They empowered the people in the airport to be a part of the solution. How brilliant!

Now let's empower the entire school body to be a part of the solution.  Safety first! Everyone who enters the school building goes through security. This will allow teachers to teach, not be on the swat team. The intercom systems should be used through out the day to remind everyone: see something, say something. Additionally, the intercom system should announce mindful messages intermittently throughout the day to promote a healthy living environment..

Creating a mindful culture, with messages such as:

  • There is no time like the present, to be present
  • Unplug from your devices.
  • Stop what you are doing.  Look, listen and hear this moment.
  • Someone needs help, help them.
  • When someone talks, listen.
  • How to have a friend/how to be a friend,  Be that friend.

Let's create an environment in schools that we want to reflect in our  communities, country, and world.

Email us to find out more about the Carrie Flower Curriculum. 




Are We Doing Enough?

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Like all of you, I’ve spent the last few weeks saddened and shocked at what happened in Florida.  I was shocked to hear many in the media describe the shooter as a animal. That animal was once kindergarten little boy probably struggling emotionally.  That kindergartener wasn’t born wanting to hurt so many.  Let’s stop and think for a moment; how can we help prevent this from happening?

Let’s stop blaming and start creating an environment where we do get involved to help our friends, neighbors and the community at large to make a difference in a positive way. I bet if I were to talk to teachers in elementary schools they would say they know the children who are struggling emotionally.  If we want a safer community to live in, we need to be willing to get involved. As the African proverb states, It takes a village to raise a child.

I see our role as encouraging children to reach out to include others.

I see our role as inviting all classmates to birthday parties.

I see our role as teachers/parents encouraging classmates to interact with everyone  to learn about differences.

I see our role as empowering children to help.

I believe that we have the power, at early ages (Pre-K through 2nd grade) to do more. That isn’t to say that we can prevent every tragedy. But I ask, are we doing everything we can?

What if more of us understood the simple truth: there is nothing that makes us feel better than helping others.  Maybe we could serve each others’ needs in a way that makes us all stronger, brighter, and more empowered.

Here’s what Carrie Flower is doing…

Our Carrie Flower Social & Emotional curriculum, for early learning is built on a simple idea: when a student struggles with math,  we teach them math. When a student struggles socially, society punishes them. Carrie Flower provides the tools for teachers to teach those essential social and emotional skills. 

Take for instance our Garden Wall. It’s one of the classroom strategies with little tools that has a huge impact. Everyday, Carrie Flower classrooms help teachers and students easily identify all of the good, healthy choices and actions that each student makes. What gets noticed grows. Before you know it more and more students are proactively looking for opportunities to help, serve, and get involved.
If you need a social & emotional curriculum for early learners and would like to learn more about Carrie Flower Social & Emotional Garden Kits for your schools classrooms or if you want to find out if you really are doing everything  so you can to set your students up for success, comment below. I’m happy to chat with you and help.



Differentiating Instruction

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       There are three critical issues to be discussed as we begin to examine differentiating instruction. One perception, which I have encountered throughout my career, is for some individuals to treat students differently. Many individuals believe that all children should be treated the same, as we would treat any other child. It is our nature to think no child deserves any special treatment, nor does any child deserve more attention regardless of their academic ability.

       The second issue I have encountered is, “How do we assign grades, if we are differentiating instruction for our students.” Can we justify assigning some students an elevated grade if the quality, quantity, or content of their performance is unlike the more advanced students? 

       Lastly, the third compelling issue is, “How do we manage to effectively differentiate instruction in our classes, when students have such varying ability levels and we have large class sizes?” My intention is to discuss two of these issues in subsequent posts. However today, I would like to focus on the first issue motioned, the subject of fairness by treating students differently.

       Let’s think logically, we know that the children in our classes are extremely diverse. We know that most students generally learn at a different pace and/or in a different fashion. We know that most students come to school at different developmental levels, with different skills and needs. Most importantly, we also know that minimal learning occurs when students have already mastered the material being taught. On the other hand, the same is true, if tasks are far ahead of a student’s current point of mastery.  In both cases, this typically leads to frustration or boredom, which increases the potential for behavioral problems.

       Think about your initial appointment with your physician.  After you complete your front-desk check-in, a nurse or medical assistant will bring you back for your appointment. At your first visit, the doctor will collect as much information about your condition as possible. It is really a way for the doctor to fully understand your symptoms. Essentially, he or she gathers data.  Based on the data collected, the doctor will ultimately make a diagnosis or recommend tests or treatment options. Everyone is treated fairly, however everyone’s treatment plan is different.

       It should be no different in our schools. We diagnose each child and based on the data collected, student’s may have very different goals. The goal for the instructor is the same as the goal of the physician. Both want to implement a treatment where the outcome results in success.

“Fairness isn’t Everyone Getting the Same Thing…Fairness is Everyone Getting What They Need.”

       Therefore, we must meet students where they are. It is important for ALL students to be successful.  Below is the mission statement in the last school I worked.

Our mission is to foster educational excellence for ALL students in an engaging, inspiring, and challenging environment to become successful, responsible citizens in today’s society."

As you read on, think about the physician analogy.

       In order to differentiate appropriately for all students, it is important to know where every child is functioning and then assess how much the child is learning and how far he/she is progressing. Student achievement should be based on growth over a period of time.

       An efficient method to measure achievement is using progress monitoring. This strategy can help children learn more and learn faster. It will also assist in making better decisions about the type of instruction that works best for a child. In other words, student progress monitoring is not another way of assigning a number to a child; it is a way of helping a child learn. After each measurement, compare it to the previous measurement and evaluate rates of learning. Track the measurements on a graph as a way of showing student success.

       Remember, “We cannot expect every student to dunk a basketball.” However, we must see the potential in every child and truly believe that every child can learn. Doing so will give them the confidence and conviction to see the potential in themselves!

Next time, I will give you my perspective on grading in a differentiated classroom.

Until next time!!           Dr. G.


Become a Strong Classroom Leader


In my last post, I mentioned that one of the greatest anxieties I faced as a teacher, was “How to manage my classroom so all students could learn.”  So, based on my experiences and researching various classroom leadership strategies, I would like to share a few ideas modified from Tyler Hester’s blog that supports everything I believe is important to become a true classroom leader.

Love and Care for Your Students

While spending many years observing classroom teachers, I believe that the one element that separates good teachers from great teachers is that they love and truly care about their students. They stand firmly against behavior that doesn't reflect the inner greatness of the child. Students often internalize their own inadequacy, and it is our responsibility to remind them of their infinite value. By loving our students unconditionally, we remind them of their true worth.

Remember, students know how we feel about them. They see it in our actions toward them and our tone. Therefore, the student is justified in resenting us, for we have failed to see the beauty that exists within that child. Maya Angelou said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Have High Expectations for Your Students

When a student does not meet a classroom expectation, they need to know that you love them but not their misbehavior. They need to know that you care for them and will not accept their poor choice because it will ultimately hurt them and doesn’t reflect how great they really are.

Praise Students as Often as Possible

Call attention to the things your students do that are positive.

It enables you to restate and reinforce the expectations for student behavior in a non-negative way. It enables students who may have misheard you the first time to hear exactly what you expect of them. It is easier for students to meet your expectations when they are stated clearly.

It shows your students that you're very aware of what's happening in the classroom. When they realize that you see and hear everything, they know that you are serious and that even their smallest actions matter.

Minor Misbehaviors Matter

In those first few minutes, hours and days in the classroom, you are creating a environment. And you want that environment to put your students on a path to a life filled with meaningful opportunities. Behaviors or actions that will detract from that environment should be eliminated. If you only "sweat" major misbehaviors, students will get the sense that minor misbehaviors are OK. If, on the other hand, you lovingly confront even the smallest misbehaviors, then it will be clear to students that anything that detracts from what you're trying to achieve is unacceptable.

Let Your Students Know Who You Are

Tell your students about who you are and why you're there. A classroom where each student deeply trusts the teacher has the potential to be a great environment for learning. To build that trust, tell your students who you are and why you chose to be a teacher. Tell them about your background, what you did when you were their age, and why you want to be their teacher. The more your students know about you and your intentions, the more they'll trust you to lead them.

Create a Respectful Environment

Begin the year by forging a positive, collective identity as a class. Praise the entire class so that they began to feel they were part of something special in your classroom. Conversely, redirect individual students rather than the whole class. If possible, address behavior issues in private and give the student a dignified way to get out of a bad situation

Plan and Be Prepared

Preparation and planning will unquestionably help to minimize behavior issues in your classroom.  Boredom is the primary cause of acting out. If you keep students engaged, you will maximize their ability to lean and they will be less likely to cause classroom discipline issues. This also applies to transitions during class time. Try increasing the variety of learning activities but decrease transition time. Student engagement and on-task behaviors are dependent on how smoothly and efficiently teachers move from one learning activity to another.

Hope these Ideas are helpful!    Until Next Time … Dr. G.

Does Punishment Work in Our Schools?

As a former teacher, I found that one of the greatest anxieties I faced, and I believe many other teachers face, is “How do I manage my classroom so all students can learn?”  Well, Dr. Lori Cooper, a friend and colleague, stated in a recent presentation, “When children struggle with reading we teach them, when children struggle with math we provide support so they can achieve, however when children struggle with managing their behavior, we punish them.”

There is so much truth to that statement. How many of our schools still remove students from the classroom or playground, impose in and out of school suspension, etc.

In an article from the “Highly Effective Teacher,” they identified several reasons why punishment DOES NOT work.

  1. Punishment and zero tolerance policies try to repress inappropriate behavior, however, they foster resentment and increase violence, aggression and truancy. An Australian study found that students were 4.5 times more likely to engage in criminal activity when they were suspended compared to when they were truant.
  2. Punishment does not teach alternative behavior or give a student practice at using more appropriate behaviors.  Students who struggle to behave appropriately, need prompts and scaffolds to learn how to relate to others and function productively in the school and later in life.
  3. Punishment undermines relationships. When we use punishment or punitive consequences, we risk losing the trust and connection that we have built with a student. These students often have a history of fragile relationships with others and so do not trust easily.
  4. Punishment does not address the learning needs of the student. 80% of students with disruptive behavior are lacking academic skills. What are the contributing factors in the environment that inhibit the student’s learning and ability to behave appropriately? Is the student failing school or is school failing the student?

Think about this, we have jails filled with people who do not respond to the threat of incarceration so why do we think losing recess or suspension will change a student’s behavior? Let’s be honest, we as educators know that punishment doesn’t work, we have been punishing students for decades and the problems still persist.  So why are we so reluctant to change?

We Need a Different Approach.

Paraphrased from an article published by Dr. Dustine Rey, schools that have implemented programs designed to help students better identify and manage their emotions, establish respectful caring relationships and resolve conflicts, using non-violent means, have seen significant decreases in poor student behavior.

A decade of research shows that children who are engaged in a high-quality social and emotional program, will dramatically reduce aggression and increase social and emotional understanding. Children who have participated in such school programs are kinder, more cooperative, inclusive of others, less aggressive and less likely to bully others.

If you are ready to change how your school deals with student behavior, please check out the Carrie Flower Curriculum.  Help us make our world a better place!

Until Next Time … Dr. G.








Ask Us Why...

This past week, I had the opportunity to watch a TED Talks video entitled “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” by Simon Sinek.  His presentation focused on why some businesses or individuals are successful, while others are not. He provided examples such as Apple, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Wright Brothers.  His theory is that all these companies/individuals, have something in common, and that commonality is how they “Communicate much differently than others.” Rather than expressing what they do and how they do it, they speak to “Why they do things and what they believe.”

After viewing the video, I spoke with Cynthia and said, “We do this.” I then thought about a poster we always use when presenting or when displaying our products at various conferences.  The poster states, “Ask Us Why…”

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This blog has nothing to do with success, nor does it imply that the Carrie Flower Company will become successful. Rather, it is a testament to our belief that developing social and emotional skills in young children, including teaching them to value everyone’s individual differences will create positive change and enhance their opportunities for success. It is the reason why we developed the Carrie Flower Curriculum.

We are passionate about our goal to help children develop both socially and emotionally. We believe the skills covered in the Carrie Flower Curriculum will have positive effects on all children.  (Blad, Evie, 2017), writes that programs that teach students how to recognize their emotions, solve problems, and form healthy relationships may continue to show positive benefits months, or even years, after they complete them.

A new meta-analysis finds, students who completed social-emotional learning interventions fared better than their peers who didn't participate on a variety of indicators—including academic performance, social skills, and avoiding negative behaviors like drug use. 

So, please “Ask Us Why…” We will be happy to share our beliefs and discuss the importance of implementing a curriculum developed by individuals who want to create positive change.

Until Next Time … Dr. G.

What is More Important IQ or EQ?

     Most people are familiar with a person’s IQ or Intelligence Quotient.  It is used to determine academic abilities and identify individuals with extremely high intelligence or those that have mental challenges.  Emotional Intelligence, or emotional quotient (EQ), is defined as an individual's ability to identify, evaluate, control, and express emotions.

     EQ is a skill set that’s been getting a lot of attention lately, with some experts and educators suggesting it matters more than a child’s IQ score. So, which is more important IQ or EQ?

     There have been many studies that show IQ only accounts for about 20% of a person’s success. The major determinants of success are social and emotional intelligence. In a study conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in the U.S. found that the primary causes of executive failure involve deficiencies in emotional competence. It found that the three main reasons for failure are difficulty in handling change, inability to work well in a team, and poor interpersonal relations.

     Egon Zehnder International analyzed 515 senior executives and discovered that those who were strongest in emotional intelligence were more likely to succeed than those strongest in either IQ or relevant previous experience.  People with high EQ’s typically make great leaders and team players because of their ability to understand, empathize, and connect with the people around them.

     When you teach children how to recognize their feelings and learn how to deal with them, you are teaching them the most important skills for their success in life. Young people with high EQ’s earn higher grades, stay in school, and make better choices.

     In conclusion, if EQ is a measure that determines a person’s success, why do our schools put very little emphasis on developing emotional intelligence. Only a handful of schools have any formal programs that address emotional intelligence.  Please check out our website if your school values student success.

Until Next Time!   Dr. G.

The Importance of Teaching Good Decision-Making


Making choices and decisions are an everyday part of life. Our decisions determine the way our lives evolve. So, it is difficult to understand why many individuals reach adulthood and have not mastered decision-making. Why? This issue amplifies the importance of teaching children decision-making skills at an early age.

Often important choices are made for many children. Decision making is one of the most important skills children need in order to develop into mature adults. The decisions children make dictate the path their lives will take.

Toddlers need to be given precise options. For example, offer the child a choice with very few options. “Do you want cereal or eggs; milk or water?” “Do you want to wear the red shirt or the blue shirt with your black pants?” This allows the child to have a voice in making decisions that fit into your selections. For older children, you can increase the number of choices.

The Carrie Flower Curriculum provides a variety of scenarios, which can be selected based on a child’s developmental level. The activity integrates hand puppets, for children to role play their decision-making skills.

Children will be challenged to do the following:

    a. What is the problem?

   b. What are the choices you have?

   c. What do you think the consequences of your choices will be for yourself and others who are involved?

   d. What values do you need to consider? (i.e. honesty, fairness, kindness, justice, trustworthiness self-respect, etc.)

   e. How do you feel about the situation?

   f. Is there anything else you need to learn about it?

   g. Do you think you will need to ask for help? If so, who will you ask?

   h. What is your decision?

   i. Do you think you made the right decision? Why?

Have students:

1.    Divide into small groups and develop an answer for each question.

2.   Provide time for each group to report on their answers.

3.   Have each group defend their response and discuss why they chose their answer.

4.   Foster discussion with students throughout the process.

5.   Have students come to a consensus regarding their answers by developing a classroom answer, and post it in the classroom for future discussion.

6.   Reinforce good decisions when evidenced by various groups.

Always be available for a child to talk about an issue or problem arising from a decision, and encourage and lend support, particularly if they make a poor decision. Making some bad decisions is part of the maturation process.

No one is likely to make all good choices in life. However, developing decision-making skills will help to make the important choices easier. Good decision-making is one of the most important life skills children need to begin learning at an early age.

Thank You for following my blog.  Please post any comments or suggestions in the box below.

Until Next Time!  Dr. G.