When Babies Fall Down…

when babies fall...

Note: Though I’m talking about teaching here, you’ll find that it applies to any walk of life.

Babies fall down. It’s what they do.
Toddlers try and try to walk over and over, falling and falling.

Baby steps become dreams realized.

Let’s look more closely at this idea.

First, your students. They mess up. Over and over and over. You have to be wise when you see that. Example: I gave a student a paper back yesterday that had 11 out of 14. I wrote, “I hope you’re not happy with that grade.”

Why? Because I knew it would motivate her to greater success. I watched her go into action to make it better immediately.

For other students, that would feel like a slap in the face. She’s been falling by being overly social and then the “check came due.” And she was ready.

For other students, to get 11/14 on a paper would make them very excited. My comment – “I’m proud of you. You worked hard!”

When a toddler falls down, we don’t scold them. We help them get back up for them to try again. They have to do it 1000 times. It doesn’t bother us. And one little one starts walking at 7 months. The next one figures it out at 18 months. We don’t worry. We keep helping them. Smiling and laughing. Learning to walk is one of The Hardest Things We Ever Have to Learn, but we all learn it in an environment of fun and joy.

If we shift our perspective on our students behavior, can it lead to more joy and greater engagement?

Do you seem encouraging or demanding to your students?

What about your life?

I’m sure you are aware of some things were you feel like you are falling short.

I’ll tell you about one of mine. First the result – right now my classroom and my desk are the cleanest they have EVER been at this point in the school year. Why? Because I have finally put the idea of baby steps to work.

It’s like this: every day, I have a checklist of things that I’m working to improve in my life. One of those things is straightening up my classroom, especially my desk.

My old attitude – I have to get this ALL done.
My new attitude – I have to do some. As long as any surface looks cleaner, it counts.

How did I build that habit?

I put it on my checklist. I failed over and over and over for months. I fell down.

Side note – for some things on my list, as soon as I write them, I get better at it. Immediately. Organizing and straightening up my desk and work spaces was not one of these!

One day I looked at that item on the checklist and gave myself permission to do even a little bit. As long as the surface looked better, it counted.

In one week, my classroom was calmer, more relaxing place to work.

For you, it might not be organization. But I’d be surprised. Most of use can find a place in our lives where we need to get more organized. Where it would pay off greatly if we were.

What’s that habit that you would love to be squared away in a few months or even a year?

Maybe you want to build the habit of taking a walk every day. You say, “I’m going for a half hour walk!”

You feel like you need to get just the right shoes, clothes, and push your schedule around until it all starts to work.

And you do it once or twice and it doesn’t happen. So you give up.

Try this.

Go for 5 minute walks no matter the shoes, clothes or time. Everyone has 5 minutes.

Then, watch it fall into place. Soon, you’re going on half hour walks because it has become this habit that you MUST do.

How about your school?

What is a baby step your school needs to start doing? What’s that one thing that would make a big difference if everyone did it.

Maybe it’s a big thing like analyzing test data regularly. Ugh.

Baby step. Spend 5 minutes looking at a test metric every day. When you hit 5 minutes, you get to stop.

Everyone clicks a Google Form that says, “I did it.” Or “oops.”

The info goes on spreadsheet. And you can see if you are building this into your school workflow.

That’s just an idea. I’m not even doing that one yet. But I can see where it would help me and that I could do it. I would learn a lot about my students.

The idea is for you to create your own list and your own baby steps that you need.

Wisely begin to recognize baby steps for your students, for you, and for your school.

You can do that. (By the way, these are the kinds of things I write about in The Art of Focus and The Art of Motivation).

Be good. Be wise. Be jubilant.

Art S. Lieberman

P.S. Your baby steps become your dreams REALIZED!


I’ll Never Forget My First Pull-Up

Never Forget

That pull-up was a goal of mine. It was a huge goal.

Because in my search for stress-relief I learned the magic of exercise. The more I exercised, the more I wanted to know.

I was especially fond of body-weight exercise because I didn’t hurt myself when I did it.

I eventually learned that there were just 4 core body-weight exercises and their variations.

The four are:

  • The squat
  • The leg lift
  • The push-up
  • The pull-up

I could do the other three. But I couldn’t do the pull-up. And that bugged me!

So, I started to work on it. I did all the easier variations of the pull-up that I could manage. The easiest one is to get under a low bar with your feet on the ground and pull up in what looks more like an inverted push-up. Sometimes you can find a crossbar on a swing set that is at the right height for this.

So the day I did a full pull up was special. I cherished it.

Read The Art of Focus to help you get focused on what matters to you the most.


the art of focus

I got knocked out by a fat black belt wearing hockey gloves!

knocked out

I love martial arts. I know just enough to look stupid. But I love it.

All of my children have participated. Three of them are black belts.

Years ago, I enrolled my children in a Tae Kwon Do class. Great class in a garage. The instructor was a cranky yet fun overweight man who obviously knew his stuff.

After watching my children have all the fun for two months, I joined.

A few months later, the cranky one said, “It’s time to spar.”

We had a makeshift bunch of gear. But it was enough to make-do. None of us had head-gear.

Still, we were tough, so I thought that was fine.

The very first time, I stepped onto the mat to spar, I was feeling my oats. At one point, I got around behind the teacher and hit him a few times, but I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to take advantage of that. By the way, he never let that happen again.

But he took me more seriously all of a sudden.

I dropped my hands and wham…. He hit me with his hockey gloves in the side of the head and I went down. Greyed out for a second. Twisted my ankle badly as I fell.

See I thought I was focused on the right stuff. But I wasn’t.

It takes a lot of practice to keep those hands up. Especially when your opponent crunches a few into your ribs.

Always have to keep moving and take in everything he does. Adjust to every movement.

We all need help focusing sometimes.

I wrote The Art of Focus for when no matter what you do, you can’t seem to get the marbles in your head to all roll in the right direction. For when focusing takes everything and it still isn’t enough.

Read The Art of Focus.

What Amazon Reviewers Are Saying About The Art Of Focus

“I love to read Art’s writing because he finds interesting new ways to present information. A lot of the other books I’ve read on the topic of living intentionally all sound the same. But reading Art’s book is like chatting with a friend.”

“I read this book in one sitting! I loved the way I felt like I was sitting down and having a conversation over coffee with Art. He offers practical strategies for reducing stress and ultimately living a more fulfilled and healthy life. Art is supportive, encouraging, provides many resources and helpful tips. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to refocus, reboot and re-energize. Great read!”

“I really enjoyed this quick read. While my summer list is packed, this was a powerful, yet quick read to fit in. Art’s casual tone made it feel as though I was having a conversation with a good friend as I read. I feel like this book is very well suited for any reader from any profession.”

Get The Art of Focus for free on June 29th and 30th.



Please Review The Art of Focus!

Read and ReviewI need a big favor.

I need you to review The Art of Focus!

Amazon reacts strongly to early reviews. When the reviews aren’t there, they burythe book.

It will cost you about 99 cents to do it.

Here’s the sequence:

  1. Buy the book today on Amazon for 99 cents. (bit.ly/aofbook)
  2. Read it. It’sonly 57 pages.
  3. Review it. There’s a link at the end of your book on Kindle… Or you can log in to your Amazon account to review it. I need 5 star reviews (if you liked it of course).

That is a lot for me to ask. But it’s a good book. I want it to help as many people as it possibly can.

Start by going to the amazon link… bit.ly/aofbook

Or just click on the image above.