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Teaching in a Diverse World

How to Teach and Motivate the Un-motivated

Letting Your Children Go, So They Can Grow

How to go from Thinking to Life Change

First Things First on the First Day!

Be a Pro-Change Teacher

Teaching is Not About Us

Don’t Pay Attention

Raise Your Standards

The Teacher’s 10 Commandments

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Articles for Teachers and Educators

Prof. Joe has written more than 150 articles for more than a dozen print and on-line publications, including, Empower Magazine,, and Student Leader Magazine. Here are some of his most requested articles for new teachers, including some from a few of his friends. Enjoy!


Be a Pro-Change Teacher

by Professor Joe Martin


Many teachers (especially experienced ones) suffer from what I call “change phobia.” And if not carefully monitored, even new teachers can be inflicted with this the career-ending disease. What is “change phobia” you ask? It’s exactly what you may think it is; it’s an unhealthy fear of change.

As teachers, we can’t afford to be “change phobics”; the nature of our job dictates that we must remain open to change (sometimes at a moment’s notice). But what if you’re not used to it or don’t know where to start? Well, I’m glad you asked, because here’s something I want you to try.


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Teach it Forward and Reap it Forever

by Professor Joe Martin


Sometimes the smallest gifts are the greatest gifts. I should know, because my physical education teacher made an impact on my life that I have not soon forgotten.

I had just completed my final exam (don’t ask me why we had to take a written exam in P.E.), when I attempted to turn it in to my teacher, Coach Bruce. However, when I went to give it to him, Coach Bruce passed a hand-written note to me.

He insisted that I not open it and asked me to read it later. Bewildered, I just agreed and proceeded to leave.

Later that afternoon, as I stood in my room getting ready to change in something more comfortable, I felt the note Coach Bruce had given me stuffed in my back pocket.

I immediately remember he had given it to me, so I proceeded to read it.


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Teach Outside Your Comfort Zone

by Professor Joe Martin


It was the middle of the school year, and I was going through a rough stretch when it seemed like nothing I tried was working with one particular class I taught. I must note that although I wasn’t a beginning teacher, I was still considered a new teacher with less than three years experience.

I found myself complaining to a colleague who always seemed to possess a positive attitude no matter what the circumstances. I told him that I felt very uncomfortable about the progress of my class, and many of them seemed to be lacking the necessary basic skills to master the subject matter.

He proceeded to share a simple philosophy that has transformed, not only my teaching career, but my personal life as well. He suggested that having a challenging class like the one I had was a blessing more so than a burden. He asked me, “Has this class made you more or less creative?”

Of course, I said, “more.” He asked, “Has this class caused you to be more or less resourceful?” Again, I replied, “more.” He continued, “Has this class led you to pray more or less?” And of course, I laughed and said, “more.” And then he made his point.


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Teaching is Not About Us

by Professor Joe Martin


If we ever have the pleasure of meeting each other, whether it be at an education conference, a teacher workshop, or in a classroom, other than my size (I stand only 5’-6”), you’ll notice that I will adorn two bright red bracelets – one on each wrist. I never take them off.

Both are bands I specifically created for a pre-determined purpose: to keep me focused on what’s most important when it comes to building my character as a teacher. One band reads “Integrity” and the other reads “It’s Not About Me.”

I started wearing these bands about two years ago, and I haven’t taken them off since. They serve as a constant reminder that...

1.) no matter how difficult my job as a teacher becomes, I must always be a man of my word; do the right thing when no one’s looking; and do things for God’s approval, not people; and

2.) I must always remember that I became a teacher to serve others, not myself, and to ALWAYS do what’s in the best interest of my students.


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Believe in What You Teach

by Professor Joe Martin


As teachers, we know all too well how tough it is to get (or keep) our energy level up to teach students who sometimes don’t want to learn. I’ve even heard students describe us (teachers) as being “just a speed bump to a grade.”

It is true that more and more students are not mastering the necessary basic skills to succeed. It’s also true that more and more students are taking their education for granted and not respecting the process and institution of learning. However, these obstacles also offer us an opportunity to make a huge impact on our students.

One of the cardinal rules of teaching is that students will not believe in you until you first believe in them and in what you’re teaching them.


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Don’t Get Teacher Amnesia

by Professor Joe Martin


Maybe it’s just me, but does it seem like teaching can speed up the aging process sometimes? When people watch me interact with students, they typically ask, “How old are you?” My response is usually, do you want my age in years or “teaching years?”

Although teaching can put years on our body, I believe teaching also makes us young at heart. But it’s difficult to remember the “blessings” of teaching when you’re constantly bombarded with the “burdens” of teaching. I call this affliction, “teacher amnesia.”

It particularly attacks new and beginning teachers around their third or fourth year. The symptoms are usually restless nights, self doubt, insecurity, and flashes of depression. And unfortunately “Airborne” doesn’t cure it.


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First Things First on the First Day!

by Professor Joe Martin


One of the greatest mistakes that a new teacher can make in a classroom (especially on the first day) is to assume that the student values the class as much as the teacher does. In a perfect world, this assumption would be true. However, in the “real world” of teaching, this just isn’t the case.

As a new (or even a veteran) teacher, it is your responsibility to communicate to your students the importance of any class. In a sense, you have to sell them on the class. This is critical on the first day. If you don’t convince your students that there is something of value in your class that they need, then your dream class could easily turn into a class nightmare.


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From Teaching to Leading the Lazy

by Professor Joe Martin


One of the greatest challenges I’ve faced as a teacher was getting my students to understand how and why they procrastinate, and ultimately what it was costing them to do so. Year after year, I never saw any change in student behavior or attitudes as it related to laziness.

But it was once said that sometimes the best inspiration is born out of desperation. Through utter desperation, I went “back to the drawing board” to remind myself of the purpose of teaching, which is to get students to think for themselves – replacing a closed mind with an open one.

This approach proved effective as I stopped focusing on “giving” my students the answer and started focusing on leading my students to the answer for themselves. I started by mentally putting myself in their shoes. As a student, I asked myself, “What was most important to me as it related to my time?”

This question revealed the following four answers:


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How to Teach and Motivate the Un-motivated

by Professor Joe Martin


It’s been proven that the number one reason why most students drop out of school (mentally and emotionally) is a lack of purpose (typically described as: “school is boring and a waste of time.”

Lack of purpose refers to a lack of clear, compelling reasons for “sticking with the program,” which results in the misuse and abuse of a limited resource called time. As a teacher, your job is to make sure that your students do not fall victim to this infamous culprit.

In actuality, there’s only so much you can do to emotionally connect with a student and save him from his own demise. Quite simply, there are things beyond your direct control.

Poor living conditions, lack of family support, peer pressure, and social problems are all factors that can negatively influence the school success formula for each student in your class.


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Go for Your Teaching Goals

by Professor Joe Martin


Here’s a question, “Do you know how advertisers get us to buy things?” Is it by creating a desire for it? Is it by creating fear of not having it? You’re right in both cases, but a more subtle way that seems to be more effective than both is by “overexposing” us to the message, constantly.

In advertising terms, they call this “impressions.” There is usually a direct correlation in the number of public impressions and the number of sales made. If you don’t believe me, just ask any advertising salesperson.


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