May 2018
Volume XV Issue IV


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Look Who’s Talking

Bruce Oliver

Bruce Oliver, the author of Just for the ASKing!, lives in Burke, Virginia. He uses the knowledge, skills, and experience he acquired as a teacher, professional developer, mentor, and middle school principal as he works with school districts across the nation. He has written more than 150 issues of Just for the ASKing!  He is the author of Points to Ponder and also a co-author of Creating a Culture for Learning published by Just ASK.


Words have power. They can make us smile or cause us to think. They can change our minds or spur us to action. They can help us bond with others or they might make us laugh out loud. They can impact our behavior or make us better person. Over the years I have been writing Just for the ASKing!, I have been a collector of words, i.e., quotes, which capture my attention. Periodically I share these points to ponder with the hope that they will resonate with fellow educators. You deserve a treat so take a minute and enjoy these inspirational and sometimes humorous quotes.

Sometimes educators need to take a breath and remember just how important and complicated their jobs are:

“If a doctor, lawyer or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job.”

– Donald D. Quinn,
Thoughts for Teachers

Wisdom from the past can provide just the right perspective:

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”

– Fred Rogers (from his Neighborhood)

‘I’ll tell you what leadership is. It’s persuasion, and conciliation, and education, and patience. It’s long, slow, tough work. That’s the only kind of leadership I know, or believe in, or will practice.”

– President Dwight D. Eisenhower

“The glow of one warm thought is to me worth more than money”

– Thomas Jefferson
Painted on the wall of a restaurant

“Do something wonderful. People may imitate it.”

– Dr. Albert Schweitzer

If we pause and just look around, we just might find words of inspiration that will make us think. Below are some advertisement messages that can apply to our everyday lives:

“In a culture of possibilities, success never looked like a straight line.”
“Everything is impossible until it isn’t.”
“People who wonder if the glass is half empty or half full miss the point. The glass if refillable.”

We have all heard the adage that laughter is the best medicine. Check out the (Google it) that may be just what the doctor ordered:

“No one threw up or cried today.”

– Kindergarten Teacher

“The copier is named ‘Bob Marley’ ‘cause it’s always jammin.”

“Teaching is the only profession where you have to do more work to call in sick than if you just suffered through it.”

– Someecards

“Teaching: The only job where you may find yourself saying, ‘We don’t lick the pencil sharpener.”

– We Are Teachers

“Paperwork is such great use of my planning time said no teacher ever.”

– Someecards

“I don’t know why teachers are complaining that we’re not giving them enough time to align the curriculum to the new standards, grade assessments, input the data, generate item analyses, sift through the results, and differentiate instruction. What could they possibly be doing all day?”

– Can’t Scare a Teacher

Effective educators understand that teaching is much more than the curriculum they are assigned to teach. Their cultural awareness is imbedded in their lessons plans, and they become living examples of fairness and justice:

“The quest for racial and antiracist teaching should propel us to push back on negative stereotypes, correct distortions, and remedy omissions in our behavior that stem from racism.”

– Jon Saphier

Persistence and resilience often lead to unexpected success:

“Never forget: How far you’ve come. Everything you have gotten through. All the times you have pushed on even when you felt you couldn’t. All the mornings you got out of bed no matter how hard it was. All the times you wanted to give up but you got through another day. Never forget how much you have learned and developed.”

– Coffee, Quotes and Me

“Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, anything is possible.”

– Trust the Spiraling of life

“Never be a prisoner of your past; it was just a lesson, not a life sentence.”


Many educators enter the profession because they enjoy being around others and they embrace the personal contacts they develop:

“I truly appreciate kindness. I appreciate people checking up on me. I appreciate a quick message. I appreciate those who ask if I’m okay. I appreciate every single person in my life who has tried to brighten my days. It’s the little things that matter most.”

– Focus on Positivity

“Teachers who put relationships first don’t just have students for one year. They have students who view them as ‘their’ teacher for life.”

– Educator Justin Tarte

Taking the time to reflect on our professional practices, and think through issues instead of reacting impulsively can have a positive impact on those around us:

“Show me an effective people manager and I’ll show you someone who coaches, counsels, communicates, and confronts – but never embarrasses people.”

– John G. Miller

“All students matter and deserve to be treated in a respectful way, even when they misbehave. All teachers deserve a fulfilling career and need an effective structure and strategies with misbehaving students in order to attain it.”

– Richard Curwin, Allen N. Mendler, Brian D. Mendler
Discipline with Dignity

Instead of saying, “Yes, but…” open your mind up to different points of view:

“I tell them: I want you to fail now! Get it wrong now! Get it wrong now, and get feedback.” Eventually students can have their “eureka moments” and be able to say “I can do this. I just need to look really hard.”

– Bronx Math Teacher Michael Gallen

“The goal of 21st Century schooling is the creation of knowledgeable, adaptable people who can work with others to innovate in the new economy. We believe in inspiration, not replication.”

– Dr. Kaleb Rashad
High Tech High School Director

I conclude with two quotes that express my personal beliefs about teaching:

“A sign that you have a positive workplace culture is laughter. Just listen to how much laughter there is where you work. Laughter is a very good sign of positivity. You can work hard and still laugh and enjoy your workday more.”

– Sam Glenn

“Why not make every week Teacher Appreciation Week!”


Permission is granted for reprinting and distribution of this newsletter for non-commercial use only. Please include the following citation on all copies:
Oliver, Bruce. “Look Who’s Talking.” Just for the ASKing! May 2018. Reproduced with permission of Just ASK Publications & Professional Development. © 2018. All rights reserved. Available at