Clean your mental tools often

Have you ever been sort of down?  I mean nothing in particular is wrong, but you just dont feel like doing anything?  You don’t feel motivated to do anything (even though you have A LOT to do).  Suddenly you look around and realize that your living space, working space and even your car are a total mess.  You decide to clean up everything and VOILA, your life is back on track!  You have cleaned your physical tools!  The same is true for cars, get a tune up.  If your computer is moving slowly you may need to defrag the hard drive.  It is so important to clean our tools so we can continue doing those things that must be done.  So why dont we do the same thing mentally?

Your mind has been called the best computer there is.  There are years of stored memories, phone numbers, passwords, secrets, emotions, songs and formulas in your mind.  If we could actually look into our minds the way we look into a room, most minds would look like the rooms of Pig Pen (obscure Charlie Brown reference) or Oscar Madison (obscure Odd Couple reference).  There would be piles of things here and there.  A song hidden under the pythagorean theorem, a memory suffocating under the book War and Peace.  It would be a mess!  This is the reason why I tell my mathematics students to write things down.  Doing things in your head can be a problem if your mind is cluttered.  Our everyday occurrances are all stored in some fashion or another.  For the most part our emotions dictate where and how they are stored.  I hate this, I love that, I am scared of this, I am confused about that, I want this, gotta get rid of that!  These are just a few of the categories we attempt to use before we end up with two major piles of good and bad!  Then because we are humans and we change our minds, our piles become an intermingled mess!

Find a way to de-clutter your brain!

Need some help?  Ok here are a few tips that worked for me and some of my acquaintances:

1. Take a break from tv- television fills our minds more than almost anything else.  Take a week or two off and see how it feels.

2. Unload emotional baggage- end that “going nowhere relationship” or get rid of that friend that isn’t really a friend.  Express your real feelings (the best way you know how) to those you care about (or don’t care about). 

3. Avoid senseless chatter, gossip and extended surface conversations – the first two should be self-explanatory.  Surface conversations are those that do not involve anything real.  For example:  Hey whats up man? Nothing much, whuzzup with you?  I’m just chillin man. (and so on!)  While there is nothing wrong with these surface conversations, there IS a problem when they are extended past a simple greeting.  When you stay on the surface you have not invested anything into the person or people you are speaking to and they have not either.  If no one is getting anything out of this, WHY ARE YOU TALKING????????  You are just dirtying up your mind’s room!

4. Exercise your mind- I know most of you are not mathematicians so you might not want to use mathematics as your exercise (although it works well!).  So if you dont want to use sudoku or some math riddles, find some puzzles that challenge you and work them every so often.  You will be amazed at the way your mind starts to work.  Be careful!  You may get a headache.  But like I tell my students: “Working out a muscle that you have not been using always hurts at first!” 

We are at a challenging time in history and we cannot afford to be left behind for not cleaning our mental tools.  So get busy with that broom & dustpan, duster, vacuum or any other tool of your choice.  Remember Cleanliness is next to Godliness, no matter what God you serve!  I can’t wait to hear what works for you!  Let me know how it goes!!!!

Struggling schools, sinking students and sorry situations. What’s the solution?

We are living in a world where mediocrity is a goal that is not reached by the masses.  If you are in my age group (went to school in the 70’s and 80s) and grew up in a big city like I did (NYC), you may remember a time when excellence was defined and attainable.  A high school diploma was something you got just because.  Most of us did not have to be forced to attend school because only the thugs, bums, junkies and drug dealers hung out in the streets during the day.  If you were not trying to be one of them, you went to school!

When you were in class, there was always a kid who pushed the teacher’s limits.  He or she was the class clown.  At most you had two of these individuals in your class.  Even though this kid may be funny at times, the class usually kept him/her in check.  If he/she was too disturbing the other students would tell the class clown to relax or be quiet so they could get their work done.   

Nowadays, students have scientific calculators, Internet access and after school programs and tutors in the school building.  Most students do not know that an English report may be called a term paper because it used to take a whole term to do.  Everything is easier but students are not doing better.  Now, the culture of the classroom is very different.  There are more “wanna be” clowns in over crowded classes now and most students do not challenge them to calm down or be quiet.  They simply enjoy the show.  Fights erupt in the hall and in the classrooms on a regular basis.  The fights are now captured on cell phones and broadcast on YouTube.  Teachers are forced to employ real disciplinary measures just to teach their classes.  If they are not successful, they leave the profession, or worse they stay and become extremely ineffective. 

For these and many other reasons, many schools are not reaching the average yearly progress (AYP) that has been established by the government.  In addition, many good teachers are leaving due to the fact that they cannot teach the years curriculum due to disciplinary issues.  What can we do?

I do not think that I have the answer to every problem in education, but I do know how we can start to take schools back to a time where education occurred more than violence, where technology can be used to make kids smarter instead of making them lazy.  Most teachers will tell you that classroom management and discipline is the key to raising AYP scores and improving teacher retention rates.  So where do we get these skills?

I am a High School Mathematics Teacher who presents Time to Teach Seminars.  These seminars expose teachers to a variety of strategies that can eliminate 80-90% of all low-level discipline issues. If low-level issues are addressed it makes it harder for higher level actions to occur.   This actually creates more time to teach (hence the name!).  If a teacher has less discipline issues, more learning can occur.  If more learning occurs, test scores improve!  In addition, less discipline problems equals less referrals which translates to less student in the principal’s office.  This means the principal can concentrate on other improvements in the school building.

Our seminars are based on methodologies of successful educators and many schools have seen a significant and consistent change in their school culture after having a seminar at their school.  In a typical training teachers will learn:

1) Self-Control strategies, which will help them to “Remain Calm and Respond Right” every time.

2) All of the Teach-To philosophy and strategies, which will help set them and their children up for peak performance.

3) The Unconditional Positive Regard philosophy and strategies which will help them establish connections with all children.

4) Classroom arrangement ideas that actually influence learning and behavior.

5) REFOCUS review philosophy and strategies which will guarantee that a teacher can “stay out of the tornado” and never again find themselves giving multiple warnings and repeated requests.

Need to see more?  Check out these videos :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IC8ZI5oKGQI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XlCzq9s5jY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYp60KFf36Y
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SE_bVtTPgbQ

If you are an educator, administrator, parent or just a concerned person who wants to see your neighborhood schools succeed, feel free to send them my information.  You can receive more information on scheduling a training seminar at our site at www.JustLetMeTeach.com

Feel free to spread the word!  Lets fix our schools!  Our future depends on it!   If you want a training at a particular school, reply and leave me the contact information for that school!

Knowledge changes Perception

I am about 5 foot 10 inches tall (if you can call that tall) and I weigh about 260 lbs.  To most people, I would be considered fat or morbidly obese.  It is a not uncommon to hear people commenting about my size.  Many people, who do not know me will address me as big man or big fella.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not an issue for me, but I do have a point!  There are many people who can look at me in my present state and their perception is that I need to do something to lose weight immediately.  They even go as far as to believe that I am out of control and I do not exercise or have any control over my eating. 

However, those who know me or those who have seen photos of me from just a year ago would know that I have recently lost over 120 lbs.  Those people (who are in the know) do not have the same negative view that the previous group of people have of me.  Why is this?

Knowledge changes Perception!

This is a lesson that is well worth learning.  When you do not know the story about a particular issue, your perception is skewed!  You have based your opinion on your own set of experiences and been drawn to an uneducated guess of what the conclusion may be.  Usually, a brief look into the history of an issue can completely change your opinions and beliefs.  Are we in agreement yet?  If so, I think you will find that a lot of the feelings, beliefs and viewpoints that we share are often based on a lack of knowledge.  The worst part is that we seek out people who feel the same way to strengthen our positions.  This amounts to nothing more than a large collection of ignorance in most cases.  Just think about how many people believed the following: the world is flat, the atom is the smallest particle of matter, Columbus discovered America.  We must realize that large groups of people not only believed these things, they  were willing to bet their lives on this knowledge.  The truth is the world is round, the atom has been split (proving it is not the smallest particle of matter) and Columbus never even set foot on the place we call America. There are many things that a majority of people believed that was incorrect.

Lets take the time this year(and for the rest of our lives) to seek knowledge before we make decisions on anything.  Or at the very least, let us be willing to allow the truth about a situation to positively influence our viewpoints.  Review your opinions and let facts and knowledge have a chance at expanding your mind!

Oh yeah, I do intend to continue losing weight!  Don’t worry about that!

What Now?

Well, the hype of the New Year is gone.  The ball dropped, the confetti has been cleaned up, and the party is over.  Some resolutions have already been dismissed as “unattainable” and many people are back to their everyday lives in their familiar rut.  Where are you?

This cycle of “yearly rebirth” is one of the greatest fallacies known to man.  We put all of our energy into doing something different in the coming year.  When that does not work, we wait for the next year.  Why do we do this?  If you thought about it, I am sure that most of you would agree that our personal “New Year’s Day” is our birthday.  That is truly a new year for each of us.  However true this may be, we would still find ourselves in the same dilemma after each birthday.  So, what is the solution? 

Change your units of measure!

What does this mean?  Set a goal for the new month, the new week, the new day or even the new hour!  Who says we have to fail for a year before we get a chance to reset?  Who put a “magical spell” on the night of December 31st that makes all of our dreams and desires come true?  Obviously, no one or we would be in better shape by now! 

If you have “dropped the ball” on your resolutions already, start over this week.  If you fail, try starting over the next day and take it one day at a time.  It works!  If you did not go to the gym today, start tomorrow.  If you smoked a cigarette and wanted to quit, don’t smoke for the next hour and then the next hour.  Don’t limit yourself by units of time; use them to your advantage.  As long as you are living, there is another second, minute or hour to try again!  Be encouraged and find success in your new resolutions!  I am rooting for you!

Invest In People To Invest In Yourselves!

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day and I gave her some advice about a positive career move she could make.  This career move would solve many of the problems she had with her job and would keep her in her desired profession.  She seemed very impressed with my suggestion and promised to think about it.  She was also very thankful.  After our talk, she told me how much she appreciated my idea, I told her that I enjoy investing in people.  Then I said something that I had never thought of before.  I told her that investing in others could possibly help me because as I invest in them, they could become the missing piece to my success. WOW!  I felt like someone that was SUPER INTELLIGENT had “quantum leaped” into my body!  The thought floored me so much that I can’t even tell you what her reaction was.  The more I thought about it the more true it became.

I am sure that many (if not all of you) can agree that it is better to give than to receive.  Well this new thought process taught me that you MUST give to receive. Now, I cannot tell you that I expect to directly receive something for every kind act or idea I give to others.  But I can tell you that positivity is contagious and we all need each other.  I know that may sound a little cliche’, but its true. Especially for those of us who are aspiring entrepreneurs.  No one person can succeed on his/her own.  I do not care what story you may have heard about a man “pulling himself up by his own bootstraps”.  Believe me, someone helped him!

Just as important as investing in “human capital” is being thankful to those who invest in us.  We have got to let the people who inspire, support and encourage us know how we feel about them and what they have done for us.  They need encouragement too! You may be just the spark they need to continue in their present path.  I truly believe that there would be many more success stories if we could just adhere to these two principles.  Since I am an educator and we are taught to lead by example, I am gonna thank some of the people who are currently investing in me through motivation, encouragement, constructive criticism, etc.

THANK YOU: Marcella Watts, Anita Watts, Cornell Watts, Eva Forde, Denise Britton-Young, Dana Winston, Duane Harrison, Furman Fordham II, Michael Polite, Lashaune Stitt, Nalo Hamilton, Jamal Hamilton, Nina Hamilton, Gwen and William Brown, Lydia Henderson, Marla Hunter, My Tuesday night small group and Dr. Joanna Faulk.

Of course this is not an exhaustive list.  However, it is important to share your feelings of gratitude when you can.  Some people may never know how much you appreciate them!

See you in the next blog!!!!!

Relationships mean everything

Tonight I went to the Legacy Restaurant in Nashville to see Crystal P. (www.crystalpiscrazy.com)   Crystal is a very funny and clean young comedienne.  While I was seated at her table, I started to think about how I came to know her.  My good friend Jonathan Slocumb (comedian) had a Cuss Free Comedy series and asked me to advertise the Nashville show last April.  I did and Zannies was PACKED OUT!!!!  Crystal P. was on that show.  She and Marcus Harvey (theMarcusHarvey.com) took the time to “kick it” with me after the show.  Now I was at one of Crystal’s shows! It started me thinking about how important relationships are in life.  Me and Crystal laughed and talked like old friends during our second meeting because both of us made the most out of our first meeting.  I have had the opportunity to meet may people at various events.  Some of them are singers, actors, comedians, producers, emcees and radio/tv personnel.  No matter what the job, I have established a relationship with them.  This has been a blessing!

Networking is not just about what people can do for you, it is mostly about relationships.  In fact today’s version of networking (social media) is ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS!  I am so glad to have the relationships that I have been blessed to create with a vast array of individuals.  If you check my management site (www.N1SManagement.com) you will see great speakers, performers, producers and other professionals who are also my friends.  Please check them out!  I created a relationship with them and now they trust me with their careers and/or projects.  Relationships can turn into anything!

 

Create a relationship of some degree whenever you meet someone and watch it make a difference in your life!

Brian J. T. Watts

www.theBrianWatts.com

               Me and Crystal P.

My first blog ever!

I am not new to blogs, but I am new to writing them.  It seems that everyone and their mother is LITERALLY writing blogs.  I had no idea what they were about until I started to actually read the blogs of my friends (Denise Young and Cynthia Chea) a few months ago.

So… enough about my short history with blogs.  I want to start of my blog writing career introducing myself to you!  I am not sure if I am a writer or not.  You can be the judge of that.  I have 2 books “in the works” right now and I am hoping to publish them one day!  (Does that make me a writer?)  I am a high school mathematics teacher who teaches Honors Precalculus and AP Calculus AB.

In my  “older age” I am realizing that I am a dreamer!  I dreamed about doing so many things with my life when I was young.  The difference now is that I am actually doing the things I dream about! This website showcases many of my dreams and I believe that not only will I continue to acheive my dreams, but I will inspire others to reach for their dreams and develop new ones.  I am hoping that my blog will be something that you read and enjoy regularly.  I promise not to talk about myself in every blog! 🙂  I am actually only interested in a few things: educating youth, providing quality entertainment, public speaking and travelling.  I love to do all of these things with my beautiful wife: Marcella.

Before I end this “first blog”, I want to encourage those who have no idea what to do with their lives.  It does not matter what age, culture, race or religion, YOU CAN FIND YOURSELF with this next piece of advice;  Use everything!  Yes, thats it!  Use everything!  There are many parts of your personality that happen to be talents. The problem is that you do these things naturally and you do not think that anyone notices, but they do!  If you are great at giving advice and helping to repair relationships, look into counseling.  If you are a great story teller or speaker, get into public speaking.  If you are great at expressing you opinion and influencing others, become a columnist or a pundant.  Use every gift you have to make yourself the best you that you can be!

Do not forget to look around the site and sign up for the free monthly newsletter!

See you soon!

Brian Watts