Time Saving Hacks For The Overwhelmed Teacher

Teaching can be wonderful, teaching can be transformative, and teaching can be down-right overwhelming. The duties and responsibilities placed on the shoulders of a teacher are rivaled by very few other professions. Add in teacher guilt and it’s a perfect recipe for pulling 50-70 hour weeks in a desperate attempt to keep the classroom operating. Educators did not choose this profession to then face years of feeling like they’re drowning to meet expectations. Steps can be taken to get rid of the underlying stream of stress that comes with teaching- these tried and true hacks may just help save your sanity and give you more of a teacher-life balance.

The most common complaint that surfaces from teachers in forums focuses around the concept of time, more specifically, around the lack of time that teachers have available to complete the tasks that are required of them. Legally, districts are only required to provide one lunch period and one prep period per work day. It is a common complaint that this is not enough time for planning, printing off necessary work, grading student work, providing constructive feedback on writing, entering in grades to keep the Student Portal updated, creating teacher lessons and materials, updating classroom bulletin boards, contacting parents about celebrations/concerns, etc. I found myself frequently working through my lunch period, gulping down my lunch just so that I didn’t have to take home as much work to grade that night. I truly felt like a zombie and knew that it was time to figure out some ways to get more of a balance between my real-life and my teacher-life.

Does this sound like you? Are these your concerns too? If so, I have figured out a few time-saving hacks in the past few years that have truly and honestly given me my lunch period back (most of the time).

Common Mistake: Grading Student Work As It Is Turned In

When I was a new teacher, I used to grade homework assignments, test/quizzes and essays whenever the students turned them in to me. In my eyes, I was SAVING time for future me because I was grading the paper now. In reality, I was slowing my grading process down entirely by forcing my brain to grade a paper on characterization that was turned in, then switching gears to grading a few papers turned in about irony, etc. I was exhausted within a few months.

Time-Saving Hack #1: Batch Work Being Graded

“Batching” work means to collect all of a certain assignment BEFORE beginning the grading process. You are essentially streamlining the grading process, and will shave minutes if not eventual hours off of your time spent grading. Your brain can get into a rhythm when it is grading multiple copies of the same assignment, thus eradicating the need to think for a few seconds about each question’s answer before determining its appropriate level of correctness.

Of course, students who turn in work late can’t be avoided, so those assignments will need to be graded when turned in (unless you can wait for all assignments, if the students do not need immediate feedback).

Batching tasks in general is a huge time saver, and something you may already be doing intuitively. When there are papers to be sent to the office, wait until you have everything around that needs to be done in the main office (worksheets to be copied, that book you need to return to a co-worker, study guides already printed to the office, etc). Your time is so valuable, make sure each trip you make is purposeful. You may find yourself feeling less frazzled, less anxious and more present just by getting several tasks done at once.

Common Mistake: Thinking You’ll Remember To Do It Later

I used to have a good memory… before I became the teacher/counselor/cheerleader/second-mom/disciplinarian/coach to over one hundred students a day. On a daily basis, teachers make more split second decisions than most doctors, and are keeping track of multiple levels of data merely by observing behaviors of students. Your to-do list? DEFINITELY not going to be most prominent in your memory space.

Time-Saving Hack #2: Keep a Daily To-Do List For the Week

Print off a weekly to-do list that breaks down each day. Teachers who groan at list-makers, stop. Go print one off. This is not “just one more thing to do”, this will actually aid with time-saving hack #1. Each morning I get to school with enough time before my first period class begins to write out the tasks I have to accomplish for the day, tasks I can push off until the following afternoon, and tasks that need to be completed sometime before Friday at 3:30 PM.

I keep this paper on my desk all week long, crossing out each task completed and jotting down more as ideas come to me. When I get an idea for a neat project I’d love to do (you know, when I get time) I write it out on the back of the paper. Sometimes I DO get to that project over the weekend, and sometimes I file it away for a later date. Either way, I’m not losing the ideas that are always popping into my head because if they are not written down, I can never guarantee they will re-emerge into my brain.

If you don’t want to search for a weekly to-do list or create your own, borrow mine. It’s simple, it’s fun, and it is easy-to-use. Oh, and it’s free.

Common Mistake: Not Having a Set Place For Students to Turn In Work

There are so many different ways of collecting papers from students. Some teachers have been taught to ask students to pass their papers to the front of the room, some teachers collect work from the desk as students are working on something else, other teachers have no system and sometimes ask students to hand their work directly to them. Now, if those systems are working for you and you love them, then you just keep on keepin’ on! However, I have found that I lose papers those ways, I spend too much time shuffling papers around instead of starting the lesson, and I just toss them somewhere on my desk to dig through later. Recipe…for…disaster.

Time-Saving Hack #3: Create a Set Turn-In Location

I purchased cheap paper bins that are each labelled according to grade level and class period. I train my students during the first two weeks of school that any and all assignments need to be placed into the bin. I give them small tasks and they practice placing the work in the bin without me even telling them it is practice. I make a point to refuse to take any paper from a student during those first few weeks, and instead gently ask, “Where do we turn in papers for this class?” which is immediately met with a giggle and feet headed towards the Homework Bins.

Example of Homework Bins

You will need to create a clear and calm expectation that turning in work is to be done in a timely manner and quietly. Any student during the initial learning period and at any time later in the year who turns in work, then chats with a neighbor, is loud and obnoxious etc you must immediately ask them to stop, go collect their paper, return to their seat, and try again. Yes, this will eat up precious classroom minutes… but will pay off in the long run. Remain patient throughout, and keep a neutral face. If you are calm as you teach them this process, they will learn that it isn’t something that can get a reaction out of you and should just be done well.

This system saves time in a few ways:

  1. Students are more certain of expectations for completed work and feel confident enough to walk in after school, in between classes, etc and place their work in the correct bin without having to interrupt me.
  2. The teacher does not have to shuffle/organize papers right then and there, but may immediately begin prepping the next part of the lesson while students return to their seats.
  3. You do not lose papers in the mass struggle of papers that may be accumulating on your desk.
  4. You have an enormous amount of control over where papers are and can strongly counter any student who tries to claim that you, the teacher, lost their paper when in reality… they never completed nor turned the paper in. Consider having a set slot near your desk that you place papers to be returned to students (one slot per class period), that way there is very little room for error.

Common Mistake: You Grade Everything

I think this may have been (and sometimes still is) my greatest downfall as an English teacher. I saw where my students were lacking and I felt that I needed to place a specific, numerical grade on every single assignment I gave. I also felt I had to leave feedback on every paper I returned to them, and so I spent most nights curled up on the couch making notes and helpful tips that students glanced over and then filed away without any further thought. OUCH.

Time-Saving Hack #4: Only Grade What Needs Constructive Feedback

First, take a good hard look at everything you are assigning. Is each one necessary? What is its purpose? If you are assigning it as work to keep the students busy for the class period, but the work itself is not super helpful in achieving the skill you want them to eventually be proficient in, then you have some changes to make. For your sanity, more so than anything else.

Keep assignments that have worked well for this cohort of student. Keep assignments that kids year after year seem to LOVE to complete, and assignments that tend to give the most kids “Aha! Moments”. Then, take an objective eye to the rest and nix assignments that you can admittedly say are not pulling their weight.

Then, gather the assignments that you deemed were valuable for your teaching and organize them into three piles: assignments that need to have written feedback, assignments that need a numerical grade and assignments that need a check-plus, check or check-minus grade. If you’re unsure of the purpose of the latter, it is to let students know where their work fell in terms of quality without you having to assign a specific grade or write feedback. I give these grades to papers that we will all go over in class together, and we discuss why some responses landed in each category. Students learn how to improve their work without taking a hit with a poor numerical grade.

  1. Assignments that need to have written feedback: paragraphs, essay drafts, planning sheets, short responses.
  2. Assignments that need a numerical grade: tests & quizzes, essay final drafts (use a rubric to avoid having to write further extended feedback), study guides.
  3. Assignments that need a check-plus, check or check-minus grade: journal writes, grammar practice, initial worksheets on new skills, background knowledge charts, class work.

This will save (especially English teachers) a LOT of time in grading papers. Oh, so much time.

Common Mistake: You Print Things Off Only As You Need Them

Your first years of teaching may feel like treading water in the Atlantic Ocean – you can barely keep your head above the waves. One mistake teachers make is to only print off worksheets the day before or even the morning of the day that they are going to use them. This puts them in constant prep mode, where they can’t really relax and focus in on the their teaching as they are thinking about what materials they need to print off for the next day.

Time-Saving Hack #5: Print Off Most (If Not All) Materials You Need For The Week At One Time

Admittedly, this ties back into batching your tasks in the first time-saving hack, yet this one is important enough to earn its own header. I plan for my week ahead on Sundays, you may choose a different day according to your schedule. On that day, make a list of materials that you absolutely will need for that week’s lessons. This includes Bell-Ringers, worksheets, homework assignments, Exit Slips, handouts… everything. Make a point of getting to school a bit earlier than everyone else and before you do anything else, get your copies made for the week. Paperclip them into piles according to grade level or class, and keep them somewhere organized by day. Now, you’ve just freed up (at least) one prep period standing in line at the copier, and probably made your week a little bit more blissful.

Here’s to you finding more time for the things your heart truly loves, and investing less time on silly tasks that drain your creative brain.

If you’re looking for a great organizational hack for managing absent work, read my article on a Stress-Free System for Absent Students.

Absent Work Bins

Christmas Gluten-Free… and Easy


Guest Writer: Colleen Cavagna-

Since finding out this spring that I have a gluten intolerance, I have been slowly going through each holiday realizing, with shock and frustration, all the things that I can no longer eat during the holidays. Now, I could have wallowed in self-pity and made everyone around me feel terrible about my new eating regimen but, since I am not the Grinch and not one to miss out on my favorite foods during the holidays, I did my research.

I have happily been trying out gluten-free (GF) versions of the dishes and treats I really don’t want to miss out on and if your diet is also gluten-free OR if you have guests that are gluten-free, I have done all the work for you on how to have a Merry Christmas for everyone. For tips that focus on the main feast, head over to my earlier post that explains how to make the perfect GF gravy, stuffing and other dishes!

Now on to the topic close to most of our hearts… desserts.

  1. Cream Puff Cake

During the cold weather, I think back to my youth when my father and mother made cream puffs. We would drag ourselves into the house from sledding with frozen fingers and toes to be greeted with cream puffs and hot chocolate, mmmm. Well, making cream puffs with GF flour that tastes like I remember wasn’t something I considered possible – until I tried a recipe called Custard Cake. With my first taste, my tongue said, “Whoa, cream puffs,” while my eyes said, “Wait, this doesn’t look anything like cream puffs, what’s up?” Frankly I didn’t care, I just kept eating. I had to fight off my husband for the last piece.

Follow the directions exactly, and you can enjoy this GF dessert that everyone will delight over. This recipe came from Nicole’s Gluten on a Shoestring blog.

Cream Puffs
3/4 cup All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
1/4 tsp Xanthan Gum 
2 Tbsp cornstarch
4 eggs,  at room temperature, separated
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
9 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
2 cups warm milk (about 95°F)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8×8 baking pan and set aside. In bowl, mix flour, xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it), and cornstarch.
  • In stand mixer, whisk egg whites and lemon juice on medium-high speed until frothy. Add half of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form (about 2 minutes). Transfer egg white mixture to another bowl and add yolks to the mixer bowl with the rest of the sugar and vanilla until combined.
  • Add the melted butter to the yolk mixture and beat well. Then add the flour mixture and the warm milk to the bowl in three parts each until just combined. The mixture will be very thin (watery). Add the beaten egg whites to the batter in three parts as well, whisking GENTLY to combine after each addition. The batter should be light and fluffy. Pour into the prepared pan and place in center of preheated oven. Bake until the top of the cake is lightly golden brown and springs back when pressed gently in the center (about 1 hour and 5 mins to 15 minutes, depending upon your oven).
  • The cake will shrink up when removed from the oven and cools. Dust lightly with confectioner’s sugar before serving or top with a pudding then dust with confectioners’ sugar, or top with fruit or a fruit mixture or, or, or, the possibilities are endless!
  1. Frosted Sugar Cookies

Christmas just isn’t Christmas without frosted sugar cookies. Big fluffy Santa’s, snowmen, stars; my mouth is watering just thinking about them. Well, fear not, you can still have your sugar cookie Christmas fix with this recipe. These ones are soft and thick with your favorite frosting!  Celeste at Life After Wheat provided this wonderful recipe.

Sugar Cookies

¾ cup shortening (I used butter)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
½ Tbsp vanilla
1 cup prepared vanilla pudding
4 cups All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour
1 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening (or butter) and sugar together for 1 minute. Add egg and vanilla; mix until smooth.
  • Add pudding and mix on medium until blended. Add remaining ingredients and mix for 1 minute. Dough should be just slightly sticky. If it’s too thick/crumbly, add additional pudding or milk 1 Tablespoon at a time until you have the right consistency.
  • You can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 4 days at this point, or proceed to baking. Roll dough out to desired thickness (I did about 1/4″) on a surface that is lightly dusted with gluten free flour and cut into desired shapes.
  • Arrange cookies on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper 1 inch apart and bake 8-10 minutes until they appear set and the bottom edges are just barely (just barely!) starting to turn a golden brown.
  • Let cool on cookie sheet a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Frost with your favorite frosting and decorate as you like.
  1. Jam Thumb Print Cookies

This means Christmas! They taste so good with your homemade jam and rolled in nuts. I wanted them to taste as close to the gluten version as possible, so I just modified the recipe I have been using for years with delicious results!

Jam ThumbprintsIngredients:
½ cup butter
¼ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp salt
1 ¼  All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour
½ tsp Xanthan Gum
½ – 1 cup chopped nuts


  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cream butter, sugar, and 1 whole egg and 1 yolk (set aside the white for rolling the cookies).
  • In a bowl, combine flour, salt, xanthan gum (only add this if your flour does not already include it.)
  • Add vanilla to creamed butter, sugar and eggs – mix. Then add flour mixture. Dough should be slightly sticky. Add more flour as needed to get to right consistency.
  • Put dough in refrigerator for 1 hour or overnight if you don’t have time right now.
    Shape dough into balls, roll in whisked egg white, then roll in chopped nuts (I use pecans, but you can use whatever nuts you like best).
  • Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Press your thumb in the middle of the dough ball to make a nice deep indent. Maintain a ridge at the edge of the cookies so that the jam does not come out.
  • Bake 8 minutes, remove from oven and add enough jelly to each cookie to fill the indent, return to the oven and bake an additional 13 – 15 minutes or until dough is cooked.
  • Allow to cool and then enjoy.

Obviously, there are plenty more desserts we all like for Christmas, but this will give you a place to start for your gluten-free guests (or yourself) that your gluten guests won’t even realize are gluten-free!

If you want to bake a pie, see my Thanksgiving post for a GREAT pie crust recipe to make your pies GF too. January is my time for baking bread (well all of winter really) – before I become gluten-free – so perhaps my next article will tackle that tricky topic. Enjoy yourselves and have a very Merry Christmas.

“Check-Ins” That Allow Student Ownership of Education

If there is anything that I am a huge advocate for, it’s student ownership of their education. Allowing students to take ownership over their education solves various issues that arise year after year such as apathy towards grades and behavior problems in the classroom. Students that are in charge of what they are learning, and can advocate for themselves inside the classroom are empowered. They want to do better because they feel as if they are the ones in control of what they are learning. If you wish to create empowered students in your classroom, one way to start is to create a “Check-In” system.


Students need to know what the end goal is before you begin a unit or a lesson. There is nothing I enjoy more than going to a training where the day is mapped out and it is clearly evident what I will be gaining from the hours I am investing in their program. Students respond similarly. So, before I begin each unit or a major lesson, students are asked to go do a Check-In.

Student Check-In Station

In my classroom, I have a cardboard organizer where each student has their own folder. I teach enough students that some slots have three or four students’ folders in one slot – the students get used to sharing. When the students are asked to do a check-in, they go back to the organizer, grab their folder, and locate the exact page I have listed on the SmartTV (yes, my district is quite fancy).

I designed a rating scale for each of the Informational and Literature Reading Common Core State Standards that was SUPER student-friendly. I transformed each Reading Standard into an “I can…” statement at the top of a page that students can understand without much explanation from me. Then, underneath the I can statement is a rating chart from 4 to 1, where 4 = “I got it!”, 3 = “Almost!”, 2 =”Kind of” and 1 = “Nope”.


Each number has a corresponding emoji because that’s what my kids absolutely love right now. For each rating, I broke the standard down into a few bullet points to make choosing their rating a bit more scientific than just guessing. My students will read the bullet points and mentally check-off which ones apply to them.

They then give themselves a rating under the Tracking My Progress section, provide an explanation for why they rated themselves that and then write down one solution for improvement in the future.

Once they have finished their Check-In, they return their paperwork to their folder and return their folder to its slot. Then, class commences! We repeat this process halfway through the unit, and then again at the end of the unit. This prevents any students from slipping through the cracks and intimately informs my teaching on an individual student level.

Etiquette for Check-Ins

The biggest reason that Check-Ins work and continue to work for me are that students trust that what they write inside of their folders is only between them and I. I do not read them out loud in class, nor do I address my concerns about their answers in front of any of their classmates. If I need to do re-teaching, we decide on a time for additional practice with a standard without making it extremely obvious to their classmates that they felt inadequate. Students can be kind of hesitant at first to admit that they don’t know something, so make sure you handle the first round of Check-Ins well. After they build trust in you, they will start to be brutally honest in their Check-Ins, which is fantastic for informing your future teaching.

Please be sure to check their answers after class. I often will place a check-mark near students who felt they were in the 3 or 4 range, and I will leave a short note to any students who felt they were a 2 or 1. This shows them that I am reading what they are writing, and it gives us another line of communication outside of class discussion or having to approach me one-on-one after class.

If you plan to implement a system that empowers your students’ learning in some way, write to The Genius Educator and let us know what you have planned!

The Truth About Teaching Middle School

The Dark Ages

During my college years, there always seemed to be some dark aura around the words “middle school”. Everyone revered these teachers who would brave the task of teaching children stuck somewhere between the warm fuzzies of elementary school and the logical thinkers of high school. At my first student teaching placement, I remember looking up at the middle school teachers sitting around the table in the Teacher’s Lounge and noticing that their faces were haggard. Checking my phone, I’d realize it wasn’t even noon yet. They seemed beaten down, exhausted, and grateful for a moment of peace to eat their meal (which was clearly thrown together last minute that morning). I heard horror story after horror story of lessons gone awry due to these miscreants and I remember thinking to myself, “I’LL never be a middle school teacher”.

Well, guess what. I am a middle school teacher.

I’m here to tell you that teaching middle school children is not exactly what everyone told you in college. It’s not what you remember from your middle school years, either. So many things have altered SO MUCH since we were this age, it’s kind of mind boggling. Teaching middle school IS challenging. I can’t deny that being in charge of souls that are trapped somewhere between wanting to be a child and learning who they are comes with its difficulties. Yet, there is so much more to it, too.

What Being A Middle School Teacher Entails

  1. You are going to have to excuse their lack of organization. Scientifically speaking, this age group has not quite developed the frontal lobe, the part of the brain that controls organization. Unless you teach them how to use tab dividers, file away paperwork into neat binders, and to keep notes properly, these kids are going to be a hot-mess-express. You will see them walk into your room with papers sticking out every which way from the binder that is tucked precariously under their arm, as their other arm is loaded up with a textbook, writing utensil and anything else they can possibly cram into their fingers. If you’re a Type A personality, the very idea of this scenario may cause your anxiety to rise. Yet, middle school teachers learn how to go with the flow because we know that with some guidance (and some more brain development), these kids are going to be just fine.
  2. You will have to help them a lot their first year of middle school because, quite frankly, they are going to be a bit helpless. Aside from their lack of organization, the first year of middle school can be daunting for these kids. In some schools this is the first year that they are allowed to transition to classes with no teacher leading the way. They are expected to remember their locker combination, daily schedule, which binder/materials to bring to which class, as well as maintain their social communications with their friends. Many wear a nearly permanent expression of panic their first week as they try to navigate through all of the new independence that middle school offers. Patience is key as a middle school teacher, as well as knowing when to step in to help them, and when to let them learn on their own.
  3. You are going to make a student cry at least once a year. Let me just make this very clear. Middle schoolers are HORMONAL. One second they’re laughing hysterically over something that was just said, and the next they’re a bundle of tears because they think they left their paper in their locker. Daily life for this age group is ROUGH. As the teacher, we learn that keeping ourselves calm is the only way to maintain even a semblance of normalcy during an emotional outburst. We have to learn their personalities well to determine which kids need some empathetic attention during these times, and which kids benefit more from a quick pat on the back and leaving them alone to pull themselves together. Either way, be ready to handle some tears at some point during the year.
  4. You are going to have to be okay with some really goofy, random, sometimes hilarious remarks that have absolutely nothing to do with your lesson. Hands-down, my favorite thing about middle school students is their HUMOR. These creatures soak up some of the funniest jokes from the cartoons they still watch and the numerous memes they see throughout their social media profiles. They may not say them at EXACTLY the most appropriate times (aka in the middle of your lesson on imagery when the joke pops into their brain), but sometimes the best thing for a classroom is a little time for laughter. Reflecting back on some of my best days with these kiddos, they were the days we took a little time to be goofy and relate our topic to silly things. Consider writing down the funny remarks you hear from the very first year you teach… compiling all those things might be a really great article someday.
  5. Your room is going to smell. A lot. PHEW. These guys are not used to the fact that their bodies are changing, nor are they used to having to apply deodorant! And if your class is after gym? FORGET IT! Get those windows open, and get the spray ready for when they leave the class because your room is going to smell like serious B.O. I keep a Scentsy scent in my room at all times to help but… middle school stench is a wild beast all its own.
  6. You will be overwhelmed with the number of stories they want to tell you the second they walk into the door of your classroom. If these kids have an abundance of one thing, it’s energy. From the minute they get to school all the way to the end of the day, they are non-stop talking. Their minds are racing and they are willing to tell anyone their stories who is able to listen. My students walk into my room and the minute they can visually spot me, they are saying my name and launching into some “super cool thing that happened to them the night before”. Then their friend has to jump in to add details, and someone else interjects to make sure the story is told RIGHT. Within a few seconds, your ears are swarmed with the sounds of excitement that mean very little to you, but you have mastered the art of smiling and nodding with an interested expression on your face. You GOT this.
  7. They aren’t too cool for school yet and some may actually get into your lessons if you’re really passionate about your topics. Which can be the greatest boost for a teacher, EVER, especially when you are teaching a topic that you absolutely love. Seeing a student’s eyes light up when you dress up for a lesson to make it more engaging can really add to the energy you put into your teaching. You’re still cool to these students. You’d best believe that older students would have to pretend that you are SO not cool if they saw you doing some of the stunts that you do for your middle schoolers. These tiny humans are like your personal cheerleaders. They WANT to have fun still, because school is still exciting for them.
  8. You are going to be tired out at the end of each day. These kiddos have an abundance of energy. No one can deny that. They require your constant attention, refocusing, and you will have to make split-second decisions hundreds of times a day. No, that is not an exaggeration. So, understand that your brain is going to be tired out, and learn what YOU need to do each night to recharge. You will need to become a master of self-care so that you can show up and be your best self. If you can master this, then teaching this age group may just be enjoyable for you.
  9. They will make you handmade gifts… for better or for worse. Now I say this jokingly because I absolutely love the gifts my students make me. However, you must know that some of the handmade gifts you get are going to be atrocious concoctions and you are GOING to have to master that smile that says, “Wow! This is the best gift I’ve ever had, ever!” by your very first year. If you don’t, refer to #3 and prepare yourself.
  10. You are their role model for quite a while, and whether you know it or not, they are always watching you. No matter how bad of a day you have with a group of these kiddos, keep your cool. Remember that they are going through one of the roughest periods of time in a human’s life. Remember that they are still young too, and that they’re learning who they are by pushing boundaries. Every single day they are learning from you by the way you react to them. If they see you, an adult they love and trust, react angrily towards their classmate, they may internalize that in some way. You have no CLUE what their home life is like. You may be the most positive role model they get to see each and every day! Make sure that what they see is something you would be proud of, if you saw them acting the same.

Fellow middle school colleagues – what else do YOU enjoy about your students?

10 Principles That Will Lead to Success


There have been days that I reflected on my own successes in life and felt I could be doing more. I could be reaching more people, helping more friends, earning more financially, and building a better empire for my family to grow in. I found myself questing for the secret behind success – and I fell across Fearless Motivation, an artist on Spotify, who spoke directly through my Yurbuds and into my heart.

After listening to this piece by this artist, I realized that I was already following several of these principles… and quite a few of them I had been neglecting for a very long time. These principles aren’t only for your career or financial success, they can also be applied to your own personal success in the gym or to building healthy relationships.

Here are ten of the twenty principles that this artist speaks to that will lead you to a more successful life. These are no “secrets”, and I was dumbfounded at how simple yet absolutely effective each one has the potential to be… once you apply it to your own life.

  1. There is nothing you can’t have in life, if you’re willing to work for it. What’s the saying, “Wish in one hand…”? Basically, stop expecting life to drop your wildest dreams into your lap and be willing to do the hard work. Does that mean early mornings? Maybe. Late nights? Probably. Sacrificing other things you WISH you could be doing, in order to chase this other, more important goal? Absolutely. Nothing in life comes without us putting in the work.
  2. Take responsibility for your life. The situation that you are in right now is, ultimately, your doing. Blaming anyone else for your failures, your choices, your mistakes is not owning up to your life. As long as you are willing to face your choices, the way your life is now, and OWN it, then you will continue to climb higher. Take the blame off the table. It’s YOUR life. YOU made it. Now you have the power to continue to shape it EXACTLY how you want.
  3. There’s always something to be grateful for in life. Even in the worst scenario, there is always a blessing. Even if that blessing is as simple as the knowledge to never again do what you just did. Gratitude is one of the most essential guiding principles because it creates pride in what you already have achieved, love towards those who already are in your life, and thankfulness towards the blessings and the lessons you’ve already gone through. If you are appreciative of what you already have in life, then be ready for an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and gratitude once you reach the lofty goals you have been striving for. Your victory is all the sweeter when you live a life of gratitude.
  4. Nothing that has happened in your past can stop you from creating your ideal future. Read that one more time. Some people go through life accumulating baggage from people who have done them wrong, situations that dented their self-worth, and accepted that where they began is where they will have to stay. Don’t go through life dragging around past regrets. Own whatever is weighing you down, and step out into your purpose without the damage that your past has inflicted. Nothing that happened is who you are, in this very moment. We have the option to change ourselves at any given second. If you don’t like your past, change the present, and watch how your future reflects your dreams.
  5. Never stop learning and working on yourself. You are never too knowledgeable, too old, or too experienced to learn something new. No one is perfect, and successful people invest in themselves as part of investing in their businesses. They recognize that without growth comes stagnation, without constant reflection comes staleness. Find a great mentor to learn from, read a self-growth book, watch a meditation video and reflect on your year. Do the inner work to reap the outer rewards.
  6. Live with integrity. If no one is paying attention, do you see the job through? When you can get away with cutting corners, do you? Successful people live an honest life even when others wouldn’t notice that they weren’t. These people aren’t living their lives for anyone else except themselves, and so living with integrity is a personal principle rather than one that is imposed on them by those who are keeping watch over their actions. If you want to live authentically, live with integrity, and find yourself benefiting from it more in the long run.
  7. Give your all. If you want 100% of the hopes and dreams you’ve been working towards, then you need to give 100% of your hard work and time to those goals. Do not expect to work on a dream in your spare time once or twice a week, and find huge success. If what you are striving for is your life’s purpose, then this should feel like life or death for you. Because everyday that you don’t work towards your purpose, a little piece of you dies inside. Everyday you put off achieving the next step towards your goal, a piece of your hope crumbles into oblivion. If you want it, give it your all.
  8. You can change the way you feel by changing your focus. When you think about what you’re trying to achieve, do you immediately feel hope, excitement, passion? Or do you feel doubt, uncertainty, and fear of failure? People who focus on debt attract more debt into their life. Our thoughts are a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe that your dreams are far-fetched and ultimately not achievable, then you will constantly find things that confirm your suspicions in your everyday. If you shift your focus onto the achievable, your reality will show you all of the ways that you CAN and WILL reach your potential. It all comes down to what your thinking is focused on.
  9. Don’t chase money, chase your purpose. So many people make the mistake of chasing money, and so flit from one venture to the next. The problem with chasing money is that there is no PASSION behind it, and you will essentially end up continuing to feel empty during times of low-revenue flow. If you chase your purpose, the money will come. People will see your passion for what you are achieving, and eventually they will recognize the quality of your work. Let the money flow in from you going after something you LOVE… then you will never feel empty and continuously be chasing your purpose.
  10. There’s no such thing as failure, unless you refuse to learn the lesson. Everybody fails. If you’re lucky, you’ll fail every single day. From failure comes a lesson. Those who are willing to search for the lesson and learn from it, inch their way forward in life, never to repeat the same mistake. Failure is only failure when we refuse to understand the lesson, and so are doomed to continue repeating the mistake. The more we fail, the more we learn. Since we are never going to stop learning and improving ourselves, then failing is one of the most important elements to success. If you are failing, then you are trying, and as long as you KEEP TRYING then you will eventually figure out the right way.
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