Bad Breath and the Art of Teaching

Blog Series, Learning, Learning Design, Smart Teachers

Look. Please allow me to be candid and real when I say that all students have experienced at least a few teachers who were undoubtedly geniuses from afar, but up-close, nothing was learned. More than likely, it wasn’t due to the educators’ limited knowledge, meager speaking abilities, or confidence deficiency. More like infected sinuses, poor dental hygiene, or an inconsiderate decision to eat garlicky onions for lunch.

Yep. You guessed it. Their breath was kicking like a three-legged ninja in a Jackie Chan movie.

Come on now. You know what I mean.

Those unaware teachers whose exhalation within three feet or so causes one’s eyes to water and one’s mind to launch into fight-or-flight mode. And since studies definitively state that learning and anxiety don’t mix too well, this distasteful truth emitting from Coach Halitosis and Ms. Malodorous relates to a more plaguing problem that must be treated.

An unintended lack of awareness.

So, let’s huddle in closely and drop refreshing remedies that are potent enough to rectify bad breath and rejuvenate weary, unaware practitioners of the art of teaching.

Listerine Original Mouthwash and Teachers’ Strengths and Weaknesses

Okay, I get it. The original Listerine Mouthwash is tough to take. What is the recommended gargle time for this burning concoction, anyway? One minute that feels more like an hour? Well, whatever it is, this bad-breath solution is highly effective.

Just as equally effective in the teaching profession is the practice of self-assessment. Sure, an honest inventory of one’s pedagogical strengths and weaknesses is tough to take also, but just like a mutual agreement with a trusted colleague to let each other know when a breath mint is highly needed, awareness of a problem is the first step towards improvement.

Although it is definitely challenging in today’s time-constrained profession of teaching, videotaping one’s classroom practices, asking colleagues for observational feedback, and witnessing fellow teachers successfully facilitate learning are all necessary and vital components of growth and change.

Mentos Candy and Knowledge of Students

In all honesty, I’m not sure I know of anyone who doesn’t like Mentos. Once the candied outer shell is conquered, this mint is highly successful and refreshing.

Some students, too, have set exteriors that are oftentimes hard to break through. Teachers who are aware that these exteriors merely serve as defense mechanisms are usually very patient in their quests to discover how great their students can be. How do they it? They ask questions to learn about students’ interests. They greet students at the door. They attend students’ extracurricular activities. They provide surveys to understand students’ backgrounds. They provide opportunities for students to showcase their talents. And…they…look…in…their…students’…eyes…and…listen.

Ultimately, teachers prove that they and students can together effectively transcend the effects of a broken home, embarrassing acne, social anxiety, bullying, or anything at all in order to illuminate students’ true potential.

Wrigley’s Eclipse and Parent Collaboration

Let’s face it. We have all needed a little help with bad breath before. Maybe it was after a morning cup of coffee or a lunch salad with way too much Italian dressing. If so, you may have become aware of a quick fix that lasts a long time…Wrigley’s Eclipse gum. Yep. Just one piece goes a long way. In fact, I have found that chewing just one or two a day seems to do the trick. Well, at least I haven’t noticed people pinching their noses around me. I’ll take that as a positive.

Speaking of positives, it is difficult to think of anything more uplifting in education than parents and teachers who are on the same page. When teachers and parents act as a unified front—a cohesive team whose unwavering goal is constant awareness of students’ needs, challenges, learning goals, and dreams—nothing is impossible. And, surprisingly enough, this alliance is quick and easy.

Yep! Just like popping in a Chiclet-like piece of Wrigley’s Eclipse gum, creating a solid student support team is immediately effective. Apps like Remind, Twitter, SnapChat, and learning management systems like Canvas are awesome tools to keep connected to parents. Like one of my good colleagues says, “I simply ask parents if they will please form a team with me to make sure their children’s only options are happiness and success.”

What parents would answer “No” to that question?

Listerine Cool Mint Breath Strips and Educational Technology

All educators realize the overabundance of awesome educational technology tools available today. Quite frankly, it can seem overwhelming. Especially if one tries to tackle them all at once.

That’s where educators can take a lesson from Listerine’s Cool Mint Breath Strips. These delicate and thin strips of bad-breath-be-gone goodness are meant to be taken just one at a time and allowed to slowly dissolve. That’s it. Simple.

In fact, slowing down and bringing an awareness that less-is-more with educational technology is quintessential to extracting the most out of educational technology. This is not to say that educators should ignore most new gadgets and apps. However, this is to say that educators should be aware of the benefits of taking any edtech app courtship slowly until a full understanding exists. The result if one takes this approach with new educational technology?

A refreshing awareness of the power of creativity, collaboration, and connectedness through educational technology.

Halls Triple Soothing Action Cough Drops and Teacher Balance

All right. For real though. Raise your hand if you partake in a little courtesy sniff every once in a while. Don’t act like you are unaware of what I’m saying. You know…when you place your hand about an inch away from your nose and mouth and then emit a quick puff of breath into your palm just before quickly testing it to determine if a stick of gum, breath mint, or doctor’s prescription (gasp!) is needed. Well, something like Halls Triple Soothing Action cough drops are perfect. Not only is the Cherry flavor awesome, but the powerful cough drops have a way of clearing the nasal passages, too. And what happens next? Well, you tend to inhale and exhale deeper. More oxygen circulates throughout the body, and you quickly find yourself thinking more clearly. In essence, a bit of balance is restored.

Now, I’m not saying these cough drops will balance your professional and personal lives, but maybe a bit of awareness will sink in with the extra oxygen. Then, hopefully, that awareness will cause you to leave schoolwork at school when possible, play with your kids a bit more, cook a hearty meal for your family, get back to that dear-to-your-heart hobby you’ve been putting off, take a nature hike on some long and winding trail, or just sit and do nothing but relax. After all, an aware and balanced you equals a healthy family, a rocking and challenging classroom, and, ultimately…strong, successful, and happy students.

But seriously speaking and with all jokes aside, all educators struggle at times with overall awareness. Just like occasional bad breath. And, hey, who can blame us? Teaching is an extremely challenging job, and by many accounts it appears to be growing more so each year. But with an invigorating and occasional pause each day, all teachers can be fully aware practitioners of the art of teaching. And that’s not offensive from any distance.

Now, doesn’t that sound refreshing?

Tic Tac, anyone?

John Hardison

John Hardison

John Hardison is an interactive facilitator of learning and blended learning specialist at East Hall High School (Studio 113 & EPiCC) in Gainesville, Georgia. By creating a flexible class where literature creatively comes to life on a stage with students as the stars, Mr. Hardison focuses heavily on creativity, interactive structures, and student choices. In the past 18 years at East Hall High School, he has taught AP Language, American Literature, World Literature, and Applied Communications. Through original learning structures and a shared classroom concept, students are inspired to connect literature with their own talents and interests. Mr. Hardison shares his classroom concept and interactive structures by presenting at professional conferences and upon request by various schools. Look for John at ISTE and follow him on Twitter at @JohnHardison1.

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