Tips for Managing Your Classroom (Spoiler Alert: It’s the FISH! Philosophy)

As we enter Spring Break season, surely plenty of educators are starting to reflect back on the first part of the semester and the year as a whole. What’s going well in your classroom? What could be improved? Are you managing your class and your classroom effectively? If you feel like your classroom management could use improvement, experts recommend starting by focusing on building better relationships with your students. Education researchers Jana and Robert Marzano, for example, have found that when teachers build “high-quality relationships” with the members of their classroom, those students experience over 30% fewer disciplinary issues, and studies have found that adolescents are less likely to turn to substance abuse or engage in violent behavior when they feel “cared for” in the classroom.

2023-03-06T11:54:21-06:00March 22nd, 2023|

How the FISH! Philosophy Can Build Classroom Community

For decades and decades, the fundamental cultural structure of the classroom has remained fairly steady. Psychologist Carl Rogers described it as a place where “The teachers are the possessors of knowledge, the students the expected recipients; the teachers are the possessors of power, the students the ones who obey.” In essence, teachers are an authority to be listened to without question, and students are passive receptacles of knowledge and understanding. But how does that fit in with what we’re actually trying to teach our children in a free, democratic society? Sure, facts and figures are important, but part of the schooling process is building an understanding in our youth of how they’re expected to act and behave in the “real world” outside of the school building. Proud parents, informed citizens, and successful teachers are those that embrace problem solving and critical thinking skills, yet the way we structure our classrooms is often entirely the opposite–a culture of total obedience and narrow-minded compliance.

2023-02-28T08:55:43-06:00March 15th, 2023|

How Children Can Teach Us to Play

“The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression,” says Play expert Stuart Brown. Far too often, we think of play and work as being mutually exclusive concepts positioned on opposite ends of the same spectrum, and that’s why we so often hear from people that Play is the most difficult-to-grasp pillar of the FISH! Philosophy. But Play is not mutually exclusive from work; instead, it’s something that can be integrated into our workspaces and our work processes to help improve the quality of our ideas, our outputs, and our collaborative processes. If you’re struggling to wrap your head around the idea of what Play looks like in the workplace, let’s remove the idea of “the workplace” entirely and take a step back to a time when Play was a natural way of being: childhood. Children are the ultimate experts in Play, and adults could learn a thing or two about it from them: after all, we all need to play, and humans (and animals!) that don’t play find themselves anxious and withdrawn.

2023-02-23T10:51:57-06:00March 8th, 2023|

Be There as an “All A” Leader–Awareness, Aptitude, and Attitude, Always

Be There is one of the core pillars of the FISH! Philosophy, and also a key differentiator between being merely an authority figure vs being a true leader. To truly Be There for your team is to not just be physically present and not just act “managerial,” but to be emotionally present as well. Rather than just playing the role of “the boss,” a true leader shepherds their team through difficult times and pushes them to be the best versions of themselves by listening to their needs, honoring them as individuals, and playing to their strengths. To Be There as a leader isn’t always easy, but sometimes it is simple: you don’t even have to look past the first letter of the alphabet! By following the three “A’s” of successful leadership as they tie into the FISH! Philosophy, you’ll be well on your way to acting as the emotionally intelligent, personally supportive, and professionally competent teammate you need to be to transcend from boss or manager to that capital-L “Leader.” A is for Awareness Awareness is, simply put, the act of being cognizant of your surroundings. This sounds simple, but in business and social situations it can be deeply complex. It’s not just about noticing who’s in the room with you, but it’s about asking yourself who that person is–what do you know about them? What do they respond positively to? Negatively? What’s the best way to approach this particular interaction with them?

2023-03-02T09:27:35-06:00March 1st, 2023|

Curiosity and the Limitations of Assumption

Have you ever really sat down and thought about what it means for something to be a paradigm? It’s one of those words that we sort of understand intuitively, but what does it really mean? In dictionary terms, it really just means a “typical example” of something, or a recurring pattern–but in common usage, we tend to say it to mean a way of thinking or manner of behaving that has been assumed by our dominant culture. In other words, a paradigm is something we assume to be true or right, but may not be rooted in fact or logic and may instead just be a belief or behavior that exists through a sense of cultural inertia. Not all paradigms are bad, of course, but when we hear of a “paradigm shift,” it’s usually because people have started reflecting on something without preconceived assumptions and instead with a renewed sense of curiosity. In the workplace, unquestioned paradigms can often be a force holding the organization back from real, meaningful change–in order to dramatically improve, an organization needs to practice curiosity and question the pre-existing paradigmatic assumptions that may be leading to stagnation or inefficiency. This sense of curiosity is at the heart of all four core pillars of the FISH! Philosophy, so let’s take a look at how our assumptions can hold us back–and how getting curious can help us keep moving forward.

2023-02-08T14:12:20-06:00February 22nd, 2023|

Choose Your Attitude and Be Done With Drama

Have you ever lived your own version of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day? A day that felt like from the very moment you stepped out of bed, everything you did was met with a dramatic mix of chaos, disarray, anger, sadness, and general bad vibes? This, of course, is a completely rhetorical question–each and every one of us has had not just a day like that, but many! Drama and negativity are a fundamental part of the human experience, and anybody who claims they’ve never had any is hiding something from you, or possibly from themself. But just because drama is an inevitability sometimes doesn’t mean that it has to be a constant presence in our lives, nor does it mean that it’s something completely outside our locus of control. The way we feel and act affects the world around us, and has reverberations throughout our daily lives–when we approach every day with a defeated, indifferent, angry, or uninterested attitude, the interactions we have with our world and other people will invariably reflect that back to us to some degree.

2023-02-08T14:11:33-06:00February 15th, 2023|

Building Self-Awareness and the FISH! Philosophy

Self-awareness is one of those traits and skills that most of us believe we have, but few of us actually do. The ability to take a step back, self-reflect, and recognize your own personality, strengths, weaknesses, habits, and unconscious tendencies is absolutely key to understanding our relationships with ourselves, others, and our workplaces. It’s also a vital trait when it comes to embodying the FISH! Philosophy. So how can we practice building self-awareness, and how can we use that to further our practice of the 4 pillars of FISH!? Listen to Others A key to self-awareness is checking in to make sure that our self-perceptions and our perceptions of our own actions match the perceptions of others. After all, awareness of self means very little in the real world if it consistently conflicts with how others perceive us!

2023-02-08T14:07:36-06:00February 8th, 2023|

Using the FISH! Philosophy to Build Gratitude

Over the past few years, more and more people and organizations have had their eyes opened to the extreme power of simple gratitude. No longer just the domain of pre-Thanksgiving Dinner share sessions, scientific research has been showing that those of us who intentionally make an effort to think about what we’re thankful for and express our gratitude to those around us are generally happier, healthier, and live more fulfilling lives. However, the key word in that last paragraph is intentional. Our brains are wired like thermostats, and have a tendency to emotionally regulate themselves back to a default state in the face of extreme changes. When an emotion is experienced frequently, this trait (called “hedonic adaptation") causes that emotion to be felt less strongly, which can make it difficult to be fully aware of when something truly positive is happening in our lives.

2023-01-23T08:53:20-06:00January 24th, 2023|

The Best Way to Change a Habit: Behavioral loops and the FISH! Philosophy

What is a habit? In the most basic terms, it’s your brain rewiring itself to make life easier… for itself. When we repeat something often enough, our brains create the neural pathways that make these tasks feel like second nature, meaning we have to devote very little brainpower to completing them successfully. This is great when you don’t have to think about brushing your teeth before bed, but it can be not-so-great when it comes time to break a habit that’s detrimental or unhealthy, like responding defensively to constructive criticism or pushing back against changes to your work routine.

2023-01-04T13:48:31-06:00January 17th, 2023|

5 FISH! Philosophy Strategies for Avoiding Burnout

For many people, they think that burnout is the same as stress, but that’s not entirely accurate. Stress is acute–we experience it in-the-moment due to a particular trigger. But burnout? Burnout is more long-term. It stems from accumulated stress over time, and often manifests almost like a depression: you may feel perpetually exhausted and anxious. You may feel like you can’t catch up on sleep, or that nothing brings you pleasure. You have trouble concentrating and connecting with people you love. Burnout takes time to set in, and also takes time to heal, and it’s often caused by long-term workplace stressors (although it can definitely be caused by non-work-related concerns such as marital problems or ongoing crises). What can you do if you’re feeling burned out at work? Here are five things you can do as a coworker or manager to help yourself and others find relief.

2023-01-04T13:43:57-06:00January 10th, 2023|


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