15 Memes That Make Me Laugh, Cry, and Try!

Posted
12/11/2018
Jon Konen
School Principal
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Memes can be powerful reminders about the current state of education. It will interesting to compare them ten or twenty years from now. What we focus on now, may or may not be what we focus on then.

As educators they can have a impact on what we do daily, or they can simply make us laugh. Laughter is a great remedy to a stressful day in the classroom. We have to remember though, that sarcasm can take us to a place that can be destructive. Sarcasm can be a catalyst for us not liking our jobs, colleagues, leaders, or even students.

There are plenty of hilarious memes I am not including in my top 15 because of their negative connotation towards students, teachers, or administrators. These can be misconstrued easily. I have collected over a 1,000 memes that are all connected to education in the past five years. I use them routinely. Choosing 15 was difficult, but they all have a short story or anecdote that needs to be told!

1 - Don't Give Up

Hal Bowman's memes are some of the most powerful education messages on the web in my opinion. The pictures he chooses are unique and they correspond with commanding diction that makes you think. They can even make you change your practices or encourage you to spread the message to your colleagues or professional learning network.

The above meme automatically makes me think about my most challenging kids in school, as well as staff that chooses to never give up on them. I am making this into a poster to hang in our staff room. I want staff to see this meme every day, especially in the months of February and March in Montana.

2 - Be the KIND Kid

My school loves this meme. We took the words from another meme on the internet and corrected a couple words to fit our High Trust language (www.hightrust.net). We work on culture in our school every single day. This is a message we talk to our students about routinely.

Working on socio-emotional learning in our classrooms reinforce this meme. We want students to think about getting along with other students, being generous, happy, doing the correct thing, and being the kind kid. Having students stop and read this bulletin board in our hallway helps them focus on what is truly important!

3 - Dinosaurs Didn't Read, Now they Are Extinct

Many schools focus on reading, but some are better than others at actually encouraging kids to read. Nothing is as funny to me as this dinosaur based meme. It lets students know that the importance of reading is vital for survival. Using humor to connect with students and families is important, especially with reluctant readers.

In my school, hopefully yours as well, we spend a lot of time trying to find a "right fit" book. Finding a right fight book connects a student's interest to their reading level for enjoyment. What many parents and educators do not understand is that students can read above their enjoyment level if it is something they are interested in reading. We need to give students some choices if we expect to see them growing as readers, and growing from reading!

4 - As teachers, we believe we can always be better!

Carol Dweck's work rings true in this meme. Though the forest meadow backdrop may lure you in at first, it is the words that make this meme so powerful. Transitioning a teacher or a staff to believe that they are not only excellent, but believing that they need to continue to learn to be better can be a difficult task for an educational leader.

Trust between leaders and teachers is built in an education environment when feedback is given two ways and both parties feel respected. Buy-in from all stakeholders, believing that we all can improve- it is vital that we model these things for our students. When this occurs, increased achievement is possible.

5 - Why be a Principal

Though this meme is riddled with sarcasm from the movie and book character Willie Wonka (from the movie, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory), I believe the position of principal is one of the greatest jobs there is in education. This meme reminds me of why I began as a principal, as well as the "whys" I continue to think about each and every day.

I have had a multitude of people tell me, "I would never want to be a principal." I tell them, though it may look difficult, the rewards are so numerous. I believe more people can be principals if they knew they could design what their day looks like. The best principals learn how to transition from being reactive to being more proactive. Being a proactive principal means being deliberate with our words, and actions. Personally, I love being a principal and I try to make it fun every day!

6 - The Power to Change the World

Many may not know the story behind Malala Yousafzai, but if you did you would understand that this is one of the most world changing quotes. We must realize that not everyone has access to education in our world. In Malala's world, girls encounter many roadblocks to education, and in many ways are actively discouraged from becoming educated- and she wanted to make a change.

We can change the world as educators. We must remember that teachers create all other professions, and more importantly, education can pull people out of horrible situations. We must invest in education, an education that includes all children across borders and cultures.

7 - Been a Rough Week

It is amazing the work we do during the week, and much of it we didn't know we were going to tackle. How many Friday's have we as educators thought about going out to a nice dinner or even a little dancing? Then, as soon as the dismissal bell rings we vow not to move off our couch!

This meme tells a story…the story of an educator who gives 100% day in and day out. This educator gives to students, staff, and parents every day. Not only is our job physically exhausting, it is mentally strenuous as well. This educator is ready for some self-care. We must remember that self-care helps us support others even more effectively.

8 - Collaboration is Key

In my school each week we celebrate our colleagues by writing a positive comment about another staff member. The goal each week is to find at least one other person to celebrate. On any given day in our school there are staff members that are supporting someone else, and there are staff members that need support to make it through the week, or even through the day. We talk about leaning on others for support…trying to do this job on an island will not work.

We talk about how we can get ideas and support from others in our school and we try to do so routinely. We spend at least one prep during the week planning together, as well as two professional learning community time slots per month. This creates an atmosphere that supports "we" more than "I."

9 - Maslow before Bloom's

In the last two years we started using the mantra, "Let's take care of Maslow, before we do Bloom's." This of course reminds us that Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs should be our number one priority before we teach different levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. Meeting the basic needs of students, clothing, food, shelter, and love, we can then work with them to learn new material. After the basic needs are met, we have a much better chance to make academic progress.

This meme reminds us that we educators can make a difference. Dig deep and create strong relationships that support students in order to first meet their basic needs!

10 - The Power of Clear Directions

It is always amazing to watch the teachers that are exemplary at giving directions. They have students that can complete a task correctly the first time. These teachers work hard to seek understanding from their students before they ever let them loose to complete it on their own.

Even when we have become excellent at giving directions, we still may have a student that does things differently or incorrectly. Though I believe this meme has a couple different meanings, I chose to switch this to the positive. Does the student make it over the hurdle? Yes, he just does it differently than his peers. I believe we should celebrate students who are able to accomplish a task, but do it differently. Our brains are not wired all the same, and we must celebrate these differences.

11 - Don't Rescue, Teach Them

A recent article from the web site, We Are Teachers, references a new type of parent similar to a helicopter parent, a "Lawnmower Parent." This parent mows down all obstacles to make it easier for their child to succeed. This meme reminds us that we need to continue to be teachers, especially as a parent.

We must build grit and perseverance by not rescuing them from challenges. We must teach them that instant gratification may not come when learning. Teachers are battling this societal issue each and every day. We continue to work on engagement, but we know it is hard to compete with a smart phone or video game. Knowing that, we must be creative in how we connect and engage students in our curriculum. The exemplary teachers know how to do this!

12 - Like the Whole Child Movement, Let's Think About the Whole Teacher

We have heard about the Whole Child Movement for the last two decades. This is in reference to the No Child Left Behind legislation's emphasis on math and reading. In fact, schools only reported these two subjects (math and reading scores) to the state and the national government entities to determine adequate yearly progress.

We must remember to not judge teachers purely on the assessment scores of their students. Yes, if our students fail every test we give them, there is probably an instructional effectiveness problem. If we have students that show progress in other areas than on a test, we must take that in account when evaluating a teacher's effectiveness. What other areas are important in your school or district?

13 - The Disruptive Student Knows

As educators we are continually working on room arrangements that are going to work best for each student. This may be where a student sits, who they sit by, what they sit on, and how often they have to sit. With a disruptive student we know we need to decrease one or all of these facets of any behavior: frequency, duration, or intensity.

This meme involves Gary Coleman in his role as Arnold on the television show, Different Strokes. Arnold can sometimes be a difficult child in the household. Many times he is viewed as being smarter than his age and stature presents. In much the same manner, we have students in our classroom that know how to push our buttons. Many times they continue to push our buttons to see if we are going do what we say we are going to do…they thrive on boundaries. Lastly, I believe this meme helps remind us that moving locations may not work, but a strong relationship with the student can be that determining factor.

14 - Stay Positive

This is one of my favorite memes and isn't necessarily only for educators. There seems to be an ever growing amount of stress in the education field. We are dealing with more and more problems that many generations of teachers have not. Each of us have "firsts" - sometimes it seems like we're encountering new "firsts" every week. The best of us "go to solution" rather than wallow in the problem going nowhere.

We can make our job less stressful if we are continually looking for the positives in our job. The students, the parents, and community connections provide us with so many different possibilities to celebrate. As John Gordon states, "we must be Positive Warriors." We are seeing massive numbers of educators quitting the field of education every year. If we really look at the bigger picture, there are so many positive things going on in our schools…we just have to continue to look for them and tell the story of hope!

15 - Stay Strong

My last meme I am sharing reminds us that, "You got this." Staying strong throughout the whole year involves keeping a positive attitude as well as leaning on our colleagues. As many of us enter our second quarter or trimester of the year, this helps us think about the end game. We truly only have these students for roughly 180 days or 1,000 hours. We chose this profession to make a difference, hopefully not just a paycheck.

This meme shows a new born raising his hand and exerting a grimace. To me this shows power and strength. Our students are with us for only a blink of an eye…make a difference in every student's life.

Jon Konen

Jon Konen is a father, husband, K-6 elementary principal, and freelance writer in Great Falls, Montana. He has taught most all grade levels K-6, and has been a K-12 principal of a rural school. As a 5th grade teacher in 2010, he won the Presidential Award for Elementary Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST). As a principal, his school won the 2012 Blue Ribbon Award. In 2018, he won the National Distinguished Principal Award (NDP). He is the author of two guides, An Educator's Guide to Combat Bullying & Bully Prevention and Teacher Evaluation: A Transition Guide to Exemplary Performance. He has authored a children's picture book that will be released in October, 2018 titled, Principal Reads and Benjamin's Visit to the Office…Not the First!
Jon Konen

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