Friday, September 30, 2016


Sorry, guys, I just couldn't resist....

From The Washington Post, by David A. Fahrenthold: Trump Foundation lacks the certification required for charities that solicit money (with a few [related reports] and [sarah snarks] sprinkled in for your delectation....)


Donald Trump's charitable foundation — which has been sustained for years by donors outside the Trump family — has never obtained the certification that New York requires before charities can solicit money from the public, according to the state attorney general's office.  [Aw, say it ain't so, Donny!]

Under the laws in New York, where the Donald J. Trump Foundation is based, any charity that solicits more than $25,000 a year from the public must obtain a special kind of registration beforehand.  [Duh.]  Charities as large as Trump's must also submit to a rigorous annual audit that asks — among other things — whether the charity spent any money for the personal benefit of its officers.

If New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) finds that Trump's foundation raised money in violation of the law, he could order the charity to stop raising money immediately.  With a court's permission, Schneiderman could also force Trump to return money that his foundation has already raised.

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Schneiderman's office declined to comment on whether it was investigating the lack of registration for the Trump Foundation.  Schneiderman had previously launched an investigation of the foundation in the wake of reports by The Washington Post that Trump used his charity's money to make a political gift, to buy paintings of himself, and to settle legal disputes involving his for-profit businesses[Seriously, Donald, paintings of yourself?  This is what you do with embezzled money??]

Tax filings show that in each of the past 10 years for which there are records, the Trump Foundation raised more than $25,000 from outsiders.  Tax records alone do not reveal whether the donations amounted to solicitations under New York law, but in several cases there is strong evidence that they did.

For instance, the foundation has received more than $2.3 million from companies that owed money to Trump or one of his businesses — but that were instructed to pay the foundation instead, according to people familiar with those transactions.

In the most obvious example of a public solicitation, the Trump Foundation set up a website early this year to collect small-dollar donations that it promised to pass along to veterans.  [Uncool.]  In all, the website said, the Trump Foundation took in $1.67 million through that site.

[Trump directed $2.3 million owed to him to his tax-exempt foundation instead]

But, as of this week, the Trump Foundation had not obtained the state registration required to ask for donations, according to a spokesman for Schneiderman.  [Really uncool.]

Experts on charity law said they were surprised that Trump's foundation — given its connections to a wealthy man and his complex corporation — did not register to solicit funds.  [Bahahahahaha!]

"He's a billionaire who acts like a thousandaire," said James J. Fishman, a professor at Pace University's law school in White Plains, N.Y.  He said Trump's foundation seemed to have made errors, including the lack of proper registration, that were more common among very small family foundations.  [BAHAHAHAHAHA!!]

"You wouldn't expect somebody who's supposed to be sophisticated, and brags about his business prowess, would run his foundation like this," Fishman said.

The Trump Foundation was established by Trump in 1987 to give away the proceeds of his book "The Art of the Deal."  Trump is still the foundation's president.

For many years, Trump was the foundation's sole donor: He gave a total of $5.4 million between 1987 and 2006.

Under state law, the foundation during that period was required to have only the ­least-demanding kind of certification, referred to as "EPTL," because it is governed by the Estates, Powers and Trusts Law.

Under that registration, the Trump Foundation filed annual reports with the Internal Revenue Service and the state.  But the state did not require an independent audit to ensure that the charity was handling its funds properly.

[Trump is doing his foundation a favor by "storing" its portrait on golf resort wall, adviser says]

But starting in the early 2000s, Trump's foundation began to change.  It began to take in donations from other people.  [Mo' Money.]

At first, it happened a little bit at a time.  In 2004, for instance, an autograph seeker sent $25 to Trump Tower, along with a book he wanted Trump to sign.  The book came back signed.  The money was deposited in the Trump Foundation.

Then, the gifts began to get larger.  [Mo' Problems.]

In 2005, Trump's wife, Melania, was named "Godmother" of a new ship launched by Norwegian Cruise Lines.  As part of its agreement with Melania Trump, the cruise lines said, it gave $100,000 to the Trump Foundation.  The Trump campaign has not responded to requests for comment on the gift.

In the meantime, Trump himself drastically reduced his gifts.  [Ya don't say?!]  After 2008, tax records show he stopped giving altogether.  Since then, according to tax records, the Trump Foundation has received all of its incoming money — more than $4.3 million — from other donors.

Under state law, charities that solicit donations from others in New York must register under a different law, called "7A" for its article heading.  [7A is also the home of Melvin's Juice Box and Miss Lily's Jerk Shack and Rum Bar - a taste of the Caribbean right here in the East Village.]

In that law, the definitions of "solicit" and "in New York" are both broad.  Solicit means "to directly or indirectly make a request for a contribution, whether express or implied, through any medium."  The requirement covers any solicitation that happened in New York or involved a donor who was in New York when somebody called them and asked.  [Crystal clear.]

The only thing it wouldn't cover is somebody giving money without being asked," said Pamela Mann, a former head of the New York State charities bureau, who is now in private practice at Carter Ledyard & Milburn.  "The law says that soliciting from the public in New York, without being registered to do so, is an illegal act."

The Trump Foundation has received more than $25,000 from people other than Trump in all of the past 10 years shown in tax records.  In some cases, the donors have declined to comment, so it is not clear whether the donations were actually solicited and, if so, whether the solicitation happened in New York.

[Trump used $258,000 from his charity to settle legal problems]

But, in several cases, The Post's reporting has indicated that the Trump Foundation or Trump himself did help bring in the money.

In 2011, for instance, Trump was the star of a televised "roast" on Comedy Central in New York.  He directed his $400,000 appearance fee to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, according to a Trump campaign staffer.

Between 2011 and 2014, the Trump Foundation also received nearly $1.9 million from a New York businessman named Richard Ebers, who sells high-end tickets and one-of-a-kind experiences to wealthy clients.  [Googling him now....]

Two people familiar with those transactions told The Post that Ebers bought tickets and other goods and services from Trump, and was instructed — by Trump or someone at his company — to pay the Trump Foundation instead.

Trump's campaign has neither confirmed nor denied The Post's reporting about the nature of the donations from Ebers.  Ebers has declined to comment.

Then, this year, Trump skipped a Republican primary debate in Iowa and instead held a televised fundraiser for veterans' causes.  As part of that effort, he set up a website,, which took donations via credit card — and sent them to the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

"Over 1,670,000 raised online," said the thank-you message from the Trump Foundation, after The Post made a $10 donation in March.  [Scoop!]

The most important consequence of not registering under the more rigorous "7A" level was that the Trump Foundation was not required by the state to submit to an annual audit by outside accountants.  In such an audit, charity-law experts said, the accountants might have checked the Trump Foundation's books — comparing its records with its outgoing checks, and asking whether the foundation had engaged in any transactions that benefited Trump or his busi­nesses.

In recent years, The Post has reported, Trump's foundation does appear to have violated tax laws in several instances.

In 2013, it gave a donation to a political group supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) — despite a ban on nonprofit groups making political gifts.  [Wrong.]  The Trump Foundation then filed an incorrect tax filing, which omitted any mention of that gift, and said incorrectly that the money had gone to a charity in Kansas.  [Heinous.]  Trump paid a $2,500 penalty tax for that political gift this year.

In two other instances, Trump's foundation has made payments which appeared to help settle legal disputes involving Trump's for-profit businesses.  In 2007, Trump's foundation paid $100,000 to settle a lawsuit involving his Mar-a-Lago Club in FloridaAnd in 2012, the foundation paid $158,000 to the charity of a New York man named Martin Greenberg on the day that Greenberg settled a lawsuit against one of Trump's golf courses.  [CRIMINAL.]

Those two cases are under investigation by Schneiderman.  Just this week, his office requested that a Florida attorney provide a copy of the foundation check that Trump had sent to settle the Mar-a-Lago case.  [Well, you asked for "Law&Order," didn'tcha?!]

Trump's son Eric has his own foundation, also headquartered in New York, which raises money from the public through an annual golf tournament.

Unlike his father's charity, however, the Eric Trump Foundation has registered to solicit funds in the state and files an annual audit report.  The two Trump foundations share an accountant, Donald Bender of the firm WeiserMazars.  A spokeswoman for the firm declined to comment on Thursday.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Talented Tenth

Greetings dear readers, hope you are all doing well.  It has been a busy week or so since I last wrote, and I haven't had much time to compose an original entry.  However, not wanting to leave you hanging, I thought this article from The New York Daily News about gifted children and the limited options available to them here in New York (a highly developed city in a highly developed country) offered an interesting perspective.
It's sometimes difficult for us to grasp that the children who we find the most "difficult" or "challenging" are often the ones who harbor hidden talents and special gifts.  We typically see their behavioral idiosyncrasies or subpar academic performances first and foremost.

In Tanzania, The Toa Nafasi Project works with children with learning difficulties or "slow learners," but we also recognize that some children just aren't scholastically inclined and perhaps have other aptitudes worth fostering.  This is an unusual way to look at what is most valued in a developing country.  And, it's interesting to compare and contrast the same in the developed world.

NB on this post's title: Theodore Johnson in The Huffington Post said, "Without question, the term "Talented Tenth" is a sensitive touchpoint among many African Americans.  The implication that 90% of us are helpless victims whose prospects are solely reliant on the book-learning of the others is literally logic from another century, and not well-received today.  [Used by] President Barack Obama, the concept is still of some utility when the emphasis is shifted to promoting an inclusive black collective that inspires and leads others by example and empathy."

The brightest kids need a hand up: It's time to truly invest in gifted and talented education, especially for low-income New Yorkers.
Here's a question you won't find on any city exam: How much does New York spend specifically on gifted and talented programming in grades K-8?  Choose from (a) as much as it spends on special education programming; (b) somewhat more than it spends on special education programming; (c) somewhat less than it spends on special education programming.

Try (d): nothing at all.  New York does not spend any additional money on gifted and talented programming in grades K-8.

New York uses a weighting formula to determine school budgets.  For instance, for every special ed student a school serves, that school receives extra funds ranging from $2,000 to $8,000 a year.  But schools don't get any additional funds if they serve gifted and talented students.

Why does this matter?  Because gifted students who stay trapped in regular classes grow bored, lose interest in school, and fail to realize their full potential.  And good gifted and talented classroom programming costs money.

It requires teachers who are experts in their subject areas with advanced degrees from reputable graduate schools.  It means providing books (not worksheets), well-equipped labs, and opportunities to learn outside the classroom.

Malika, one student I met, was so bored by her classes at her middle school in the Bronx, she hated going to school.  It didn't help that she was getting bullied by her peers for being bookish and criticized by her teachers for being "sassy."

Alas, personal attention, highly qualified teachers, and extra classes for higher-achieving students don't come cheap.  At the city's top private schools, where the expectation is that all students are gifted and talented, middle school tuition approaches $50,000.

I'm not suggesting that New York suddenly double what it currently spends per gifted and talented student to be on par with private schools.  But the current situation is a disaster.  There is so little gifted and talented programming in New York that only the top 1% of students get the chance to participate in true G&T classes.  (These are citywide classes that are considered the gold standard.)

The situation is particularly grim in majority-black districts.  Last year there were no Gifted and Talented classes at all in South Bronx District 7, Crotona Park's District 12, Bedford-Stuyvesant's District 16 or Ocean Hill-Brownsville's District 23.  There were no classes because not enough students in those districts passed — or even sat for — the city's screening exam.

Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen FariƱa recognize there is a problem.  A special G&T program has been launched in those four districts with a holistic admissions process that does not rely exclusively on test scores, akin to private school admissions.

That's appreciated, but insufficient.

In 1903, scholar and educator W.E.B. Dubois first publicized the concept of a "talented tenth."  He believed that the top 10% of black students could easily achieve greatness — if given the opportunity through education.

Over 100 years later, New York still doesn't seem to care about its talented tenth.

The result is a self-perpetuating cycle of underachievement and poverty.  Low-income black students are shut out of gifted education at early grades.  They are then unable to compete for spots at New York's prestigious specialized high schools, like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science.

They remain trapped in mediocre schools with peers who bully them and classes that do not challenge them.  They go to community colleges with low graduation rates.  In the end, they remain stuck in the cycle of poverty.

New York must invest in gifted education — budgeting not just for students who are struggling, but for those with the potential for extraordinary success.

Author David Allyn is CEO of The Oliver Scholars Program, which prepares high-achieving African-American and Latino students for success at top independent high schools and prestigious colleges.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

In a New York Minute

Hi everyone and many greetings from the Empire State!  I have been back in the U.S. for just over three weeks now and am completely over any trace of jetlag, food poisoning, or other malaise (except for missing Drogo, of course!).  After going down to Washington two weeks ago and spending a hot second at our favorite national park in West Virginia for Labor Day, I quickly returned to the City to get back into my New York groove.
What groove, you ask?  Well, I'll tell you!  Basically, days consist of an early wake-up, checking the telly for what's going on in the world, running downstairs for coffee (the gas has been out in my apartment building for months now, which is fine since I use my oven for storage, but not being able to boil water is a little annoying), heading to the gym for a workout (on a proper elliptical machine - my little legs are so happy!), coming back up to shower and dress (loooove Western water pressure - almost makes up for the gas sitch!!), and then off again to find a quiet, comfortable work space where I can camp out for the rest of the day and address Toa needs.
At first, I was just going around the corner to the Starbucks on Greenwich (aka the Derek Jeter Starbucks, where he was often photographed when he lived in the West Village and where I spent countless hours stalking him sipping delicious coffee beverages last year).  Now, I have been going farther afield, investigating the small libraries around my alma mater, Columbia, as well as down at NYU, and other non-Starbucks coffee shops and, let's be honest, wine bars around town.
I knew it would be a busy Fall and I must be Kreskin (call me amazing!) because that prediction is totally on point.  Every waking minute of the day, there is something to do!  Good Lord, this business of expansion is busy-making!!  But it's also a lot of fun and I love that the running of Toa Nafasi has gone from a one-woman show to a full-blown Team Toa effort.
Here, in the States, Mom and Pop are on-board as Secretary to the Board and General Counsel respectively.  Our U.S. Board of Directors are all here in Washington with the exception of Veronica Rovegno, who resides in Dar es Salaam, and who I hope to catch up with upon my return to Tanzania.  We are also a newly minted pro bono client of the law firm Akin Gump whose associate Lucy Lee is helping us to navigate the murky waters of corporate sponsorship and matching grants.  With her contacts and a perky presentation from Yours Truly, we are hoping to entice employees of places like JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Citibank, and Bank of America to contribute to the Project.
Back "home" in Kilimanjaro, my affectionately nicknamed troika, HGH (Human Growth Hormone or Hyasinta-Gasto-Heidi) are holding down the fort, Heidi quite literally as she has taken up residence in my "Fort Knox" while I'm gone.  We keep in touch with regular email and Whatsapp contact and are whipping things into shape slowly but surely.
The big thing to be done this Fall is to get our operating budget in proper working order.  Obviously, this informs EVERYTHING else, so Heidi and I are working to make it as accurate as possible.  Once that is more or less finalized and approved by the Board, we can use it in future grant applications, reports, and the like.
A part of getting this budget into workable shape is figuring out the new system of paying the teachers' salaries with NSSF (basically, social security) withholding and income tax.  It's been a bit difficult to get everything just right, but I think we are now on the level and once the system is in place, it will be a cakewalk to keep up.
We are also shoring up our list of potential funding opportunities.  Heidi has created a list of resources based on what came before, mainly through Rhiannon's and before her, Lizzy's, work.  Carla and I have attempted to add possibilities to this list by going down the the Foundation Center and spending a little time searching their databases.
I am also working on a paper titled "Gaining Through Training: Cultivating a Professional Persona in a Rural Setting" which, if accepted, I will be presenting at next year's IASE (International Association of Special Education) biennial conference in Perth, Australia.  It addresses the way in which Toa Nafasi has provided employment opportunities to local women which have not only bestowed them with a paycheck but also with a newfound skilled status.  Additionally, the current and past presidents of the organization have invited me to be part of the planning committee for the 2019 conference to be held....  Dum dum dum!....  In Arusha!!  Of course, I told them that Team Toa would be most delighted to help.
Heidi has already made herself invaluable to the Project by creating a cache of new documents that will enable us to keep track of things more smoothly.  In addition to the Funding Resources List, we now have a template for a donor database which I will start to fill out with all our current donors and their information.  We also now have templates for MOUs with our participating schools, parental consent forms, photo/video consent forms, an agenda for our introductory meeting to parents new to the Project, and the start of an employee handbook which will clearly state the rights and responsibilities of each staff member.  Asante sana, Heidi!
The Toa Nafasi video is nearly complete and we are just waiting on a few finishing touches by Miss Marytza, videographer extraordinaire, so we shall soon be sharing that footage with all our friends of the Project.  Asante sana, Marytza!
Lastly, we are finalizing Toa Nafasi's first official report since being awarded a grant!  Last year, The Masalina Foundation, a family foundation out of Paris, France, awarded The Toa Nafasi Project a generous grant for which we are incredibly grateful.  The terms of the funding however were quite loose with not much reporting requested from their side.  Yet, under Heidi's tutelage, we (mostly Heidi, Carla, and myself) have taken this opportunity to draft a report back to them to show how we spent the money.  It's been a bit of a learning curve for me though I have made progress.  The idea is that grant-writing and then the subsequent report-writing utilize language that is very different from what I would normally use (no shock there!), so the question becomes how do I write a report that employs that type of writing without losing my own voice?
Definitely a give-and-take process, and I probably wouldn't care so much about this particular report except that it was our first grant and one on which Rhiannon and I had so much fun racing to the deadline to complete, so I want to give it it's due diligence.  Thus, I've been line-editing and proof-reading for over a week and it's still not quite right.  For future proposals and reports, methinks I'll leave the grant-writing and its attendant vernacular to Miss Heidi, but I'll just finish this one up and be out of her way!
Think that's all the news that's fit to print (though there's soooo much more: I highlighted my hair, signed up for OkCupid, and bought a new pair of boots, for starters....), so I shall sign off now and come back to y'all next week with further haps.  Take care, everybody!!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Africa Rising

Heading down to West Virginny in just a bit to celebrate Labor Day weekend with Carla and David - and Julia in absentia - but saw this cool article from the Tanzania Daily News and thought I'd do a quick post!

In a political "moment in time" fraught with question marks (and exclamation points), I thought the idea of this "Kilimanjaro Declaration" was pretty innovative.  What do you all think?


A new version of the Arusha Declaration to be known as the "Kilimanjaro Declaration," has been launched in Arusha under the same theme of self-reliance but with a broader continental focus.

The Kilimanjaro Declaration was born at the MS Training Center Development Cooperation (MSTCDC) in the Usa River area of the Arumeru District.  It was unanimously signed by more than 250 delegates from nearly 45 African countries who gathered in Arusha for the "Africa Rising" conference and its related continental movement.

The Kilimanjaro Declaration of August 2016 gets born again nearly 50 years after the original Arusha Declaration was launched here by the first president and father of the nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere in 1967.

Speaking at the event, the Public Interest Campaigner for the Africa Rising movement, Mr. Irungu Houghton said the Kilimanjaro Declaration treads within the footsteps of its mother manifest, which promoted unity and self-reliance among Tanzanians.

"The Kilimanjaro Declaration also calls for self-reliance, in which African countries will no longer rely on donor communities or developed countries for funds, aid, and support.  This will help build confidence and total freedom," said Mr. Houghton, who is also the Director of the Society for International Development.

The Declaration statement goes like this: "We, the citizens and descendants of Africa, as part of the Africa Rising movement, are outraged by the centuries of oppression.  We condemn the plunder of our natural and mineral resources and the suppression of our fundamental human rights."

"We are determined to foster an Africa-wide solidarity and unity of purpose of the peoples of Africa to build the future we want - a right to peace, social inclusion, and shared prosperity."

On his part, Mr. Abdillah Lugome, a youth and human rights activist from Tanzania, said the Kilimanjaro Declaration was written in Kiswahili as the "Azimio la Kilimanjaro," and that all correspondences, meetings, and conferences related to the manifest will be done in Kiswahili to promote the continent's widespread language.

Over 400 million people, among the Africa's population of one billion, speak Kiswahili.

The Conference declared that: "Africa is a rich continent.  That wealth belongs to all our people, not to a narrow political and economic elite."

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Eight Things

Hi everybody, I hope this blog post finds you all well.  I'm doing better my second week back in NYC, about to head down to DC for the holiday weekend and spend some time in the old Rosenbloom homestead.

Still, I wanted to put up a quick post before I traveled, and this article by Larry Ferlazzo for Educational Leadership, the flagship publication of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development caught my eye.  Check it out!


Eight Things Skilled Teachers Think, Say, and Do

Among the many challenges teachers face, often the most difficult is how to engage students who seem unreachable, who resist learning activities, or who disrupt them for others.  This is also one of the challenges that skilled teachers have some control over.  In my nine years of teaching high school, I've found that one of the best approaches to engaging challenging students is to develop their intrinsic motivation.

The root of intrinsic is the Latin intrinsecus, a combination of two words meaning within and alongside.  It's likely that our students are intrinsically motivated—just motivated to follow their own interests, not to do what we want them to do.  Teachers' challenge is to work alongside our students, to know their interests and goals, and to develop trusting relationships that help students connect their learning to their goals in a way that motivates from within.

How can teachers do this?  It's helpful to consider this question in three parts: What skilled teachers think, what they say, and what they do.

What Skilled Teachers Can Think

What we think guides how we view the world, including how we view challenging students.  Developing and maintaining three mind-sets will help teachers maintain their equilibrium in the face of behavior or resistance to learning from certain students that would ordinarily knock us off balance.

1. Remember that authoritative beats authoritarian.

Being authoritarian means wielding power unilaterally to control someone, demanding obedience without giving any explanation for why one's orders are important.  Being authoritative, on the other hand, means demonstrating control, but doing so relationally through listening and explaining.  Studies of effective parenting have found that children view parents who use an authoritative style as legitimate authority figures; such children are less likely to engage in delinquent behavior.  The opposite is true for children of authoritarian parents (University of New Hampshire, 2012).

2. Believe that everyone can grow.

Many teachers are familiar with Carol Dweck's distinction between a "growth" mind-set and a "fixed" one.  When we have a growth mind-set, we believe that everyone has the inner power to grow and change.  We see mistakes as opportunities to learn.  Holding a fixed mind-set leads us to believe that people's traits—such as intelligence—are immutable.  A mistake on the part of someone we believe is unintelligent seems to validate that belief.

Teachers aren't superhuman.  There are some things we cannot accomplish.  But we must ask ourselves whether we too readily write off students who try our patience as "incapable," or some similar adjective, without considering whether differentiating instruction for these students might spur change and growth.

3. Understand that power isn't a finite pie.

I was a community organizer for 19 years before I became a teacher.  A key lesson I learned was that power isn't a finite pie.  If I share the power I have, that doesn't mean I'll have less.  In fact, the pie will get bigger as more possibilities are created for everyone.

Power struggles are at the root of much misbehavior.  William Glasser (1988) believes that students have a basic need for power and that 95 percent of classroom management issues occur as a result of students trying to fulfill this need.  Having more power actually helps students learn.  Giving students choices—about their homework, assignments, how they're grouped, and so on—leads to higher levels of student engagement and achievement (Sparks, 2010).

What Skilled Teachers Can Say

4. Give positive messages.

Positive messages are essential to motivation.  Subtle shifts in teacher language infuse positive messages throughout our interactions.  Here are three practices I've found helpful.

Use positive framing.  "Loss framed" messages (if you do this, then something bad will happen to you) don't have the persuasive advantage that they're often thought to have.  "Positive framed messages" (if you do this, these good things will happen) are more effective (Dean, 2010).  Positive messages that connect students' current actions to broader student-identified hopes or goals are different from "if-then" statements focused on what teachers want students to do ("If you don't get out of your seat without permission, then you'll get extra credit").  As Daniel Pink (2009) notes, such extrinsic manipulations don't develop students' higher-order thinking skills or long-term commitments to change.

Say "yes."  Avoidant instruction is language that emphasizes what people should not do ("Don't walk on the grass."  "Don't chew gum").  Some researchers (British Psychological Society, 2010) believe that a more effective way to get a desired behavior is to emphasize what you want people to do.  For example, if a student asks to go the restroom, but the timing isn't right, rather than saying no, I try to say, "Yes, you can.  I just need you to wait a few minutes."  Or if a student is talking at an inappropriate time, instead of saying, "Don't talk!" I sometimes go over and tell that learner, "I see you have a lot of energy today.  We'll be breaking into small groups later and you'll have plenty of time to talk then.  I'd appreciate your listening now."

Say "please" and "thank you."  People are more likely to comply with a task (and do so more quickly) if someone asks them instead of tells them (Yong, 2010).  I've found that "Can you please sit down?" is more effective than "Sit down!"  Saying thank you provides immediate positive reinforcement to students.  Research (Sutton, 2010) shows that people who are thanked by authority figures are more likely to cooperate, feel valued, and exhibit self-confidence.

5. Apologize.

Teachers are human, and we make plenty of mistakes.  There is no reason why we shouldn't apologize when we do.

But saying, "I'm sorry," may not be enough.  I often use the "regret, reason, and remedy" formula recommended by Dorothy Armstrong (2009).  For example, one afternoon my students Omar and Quang were paired up in my class but were sitting passively while everyone else focused on the task at hand.  I said sharply, "Come on now, get working!"  A few minutes later, I said simply to the two boys, "I'm sorry I barked at you earlier.  I was frustrated that you weren't doing what I'd asked you to do.  I'll try to show more patience in the future."  They clearly focused more energy on their work after this apology.

What Skilled Teachers Can Do

6. Be flexible.

Being flexible might be the most important thing teachers can "do" to help students who challenge us—in fact all students—to get past whatever challenges of their own they confront.  Three practices help me differentiate instruction and classroom management in a way that helps everyone.

Help them get started.  Psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik identified the Zeigarnik Effect: Once people start doing something, they tend to want to finish it (Dean, 2011).  If we get a disengaged or anxious student started, that's half the battle.  For a task that's likely to challenge some students, present a variety of ways to get started: a menu of questions, the option to create a visual representation of a concept, a chance to work with a partner.  Encourage students to launch themselves by just answering the first question or the easiest one.

Help postpone tempting distractions.  Making a conscious decision to postpone giving in to temptation can reduce a desire that's getting in the way of a goal (Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 2012).  My student Mai was frequently using her cell phone to text message during class.  I didn't want to take her phone away, so I made a deal with her—she could text in my classroom during two specific times: from the moment she entered the room until the bell rang and as soon as the lunch bell rang.  Since we made that deal, Mai hardly ever uses her cell phone during class.  Even more significant, she hardly ever uses it during our agreed-on times.

Acknowledge stress.  As most of us know from experience, people tend to have less self-control when they're under stress (Szalavitz, 2012).  When a student is demonstrating self-control issues in my class, I often learn through a conversation with him or her that this student is going through family disruptions or similar problems.  Sometimes, just providing students an opportunity to vent worries can have a positive effect.

7. Set the right climate.

Pink (2009) and other researchers have found that extrinsic rewards work in the short term for mechanical tasks that don't require much higher-order thinking, but they don't produce true motivation for work that requires higher-order thinking and creativity.  However, everyone needs "baseline rewards"—conditions that provide adequate compensation for one's presence and effort.

At school, baseline rewards might include fair grading, a caring teacher, engaging lessons, and a clean classroom.  If such needs aren't met, Pink (2009) notes, the student will focus on "the unfairness of her situation and the anxiety of her circumstance.  You'll get neither the predictability of extrinsic motivation nor the weirdness of intrinsic motivation.  You'll get very little motivation at all" (p. 35).

8. Teach life lessons.

My colleagues and I frontload our school year with what we call life-skills lessons.  These simple, engaging activities help students see how it's in their short-term and long-term interest to try their best.

For example, a lesson might highlight how the learning process physically alters the brain.  This particular lesson encourages a growth mind-set.  It was eye-opening to one of my students who had claimed, "We're all born smart or dumb and stay that way."  In terms of keeping up kids' motivation, the times throughout the year when I refer back to these concepts and reflect on how they apply to learning struggles are as important as the initial lessons.

What We Can Always Do

Consistently implementing these practices is easier said than done—and is probably impossible unless you're Mother Teresa.  But most teachers already do something that makes all these practices flow more naturally, and that we can do more intensely with conscious effort—we build relationships with students.  Caring relationships with teachers helps students build resilience.  By fostering these relationships, we learn about students' interests and goals, which are fuel for motivation.