It’s Not the Teacher’s Fault

It’s Not the Teacher’s Fault

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this. Mainly from students but also from parents who see the teacher as the problem in a particular class. I have to admit, I have even said the same thing when I was in school. Even though this is an easy thing to fall back on, I have never felt comfortable (and the more I work with teachers and schools, I feel less and less comfortable) with this mentality. The problem has been that I didn’t know how to process this mentality in order to make it better, much less how to communicate to people how they too could shift their perspective, stop blaming and start making positive progress. That is until recently. I just finished a book called Extreme Leadership. It is a business book, but the last principle they talk about in the book helped me begin to clarify why the idea that the teacher is the problem doesn’t compute for me, and I hope it won’t for you either.

5 Ways to Keep Teens Safe This Summer

5 Ways to Keep Teens Safe This Summer

As a teenager, there are few things greater than Summer Break – no school, getting to sleep in, more time with friends, days by the pool or at the lake, family vacations, snow cones, and fewer rules. Wait, fewer rules? How does that make sense? Unfortunately, as teenagers gain more free time in the summer, many are also held to lower standards, fewer boundaries and later curfews. As someone who works with students in the school year, who hears about their wild weekends, and crazy summer stories, please don’t make it easier for your child to get into trouble. Summer is fun (and it should stay that way), but fun doesn’t mean that you stop parenting. Summer is the time when you need to be even more on guard! As the parent (or friend, coach, youth minister, mentor) of a teenager, it is your job to help them set their boundaries, manage freedom and make good decisions.

Helping Students Lament

Helping Students Lament

This past week, I was on staff at a church camp and spent time teaching a Bible Class. Earlier in the Spring, they put out the class list for the teachers to choose a topic, and I guess I got there a little too late…One of the only topics left was on mourning. Yay! Or boo, I guess. As I started preparing for this lesson, I was led to the various “laments” in the Old Testament of the Bible. In these laments, the authors would express their pain and grief in such a way to leave no doubt how they were feeling about things. Typically, the authors would speak in metaphors to describe the pain they were going through, and often the finger was pointed directly at God. Being a former youth pastor, I thought I had taught it all. And having taught “church kids” most of that time, I assumed they have heard it all. But not this time.

Ask These 5 Questions First

Ask These 5 Questions First

This past week, I watched Apple’s WWDC event. There is a formula for events that big to go well. While there isn’t so much a formula for helping students, there are some things we can apply to many different situations in order to form a process that can most often lead to the best results. Our steps have been formed over more than a decade of working with students (7 years as Teen Lifeline), and we keep working to make it better. We get calls fairly often from parents asking how they can get help for their teen. When we get those calls, there are some questions I like to work through that seem most helpful and help me know what information and resources I can offer to be most helpful. These questions are not necessarily in any particular order, but I do typically work through them as I have listed them below. You can decide where you want to start and end in your own situations.

The Best/Worst Time of the Year

The Best/Worst Time of the Year

Summer is upon us! Depending on your perspective, this can be the best/worst time of year for an adult in the life of a student. Over the next few weeks, you might see more joyous posts on Instagram from teachers with more trepidatious thoughts from parents. But for the student, this can also be the best/worst time as well. You see, for many students this time of year means freedom. They can sleep until noon (or 3), not be bothered with homework and other expectations, and generally just be free to do what they want. This freedom comes with an unburdening of sorts and a place to just “breathe”.

5 Tips to Better Listen to Your Teen

5 Tips to Better Listen to Your Teen

All of us that work with teenagers have a difficult task. How do we sort through the noise of adolescent life and glean the important information students are trying to tell us so that we can be a helpful adult in their life? Of course, there is no perfect answer but...