Use PSP When You Teach

Sometimes doing new things can be daunting. It’s intimidating, frustrating, and can lead to feelings of inferiority of the subject or of the teacher. This road block is nothing new.

It stems from fear.

Mostly fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, or fear of rejection. Perhaps combinations of these fears.  So we avoid the pain.

In an attempt to minimize pain, we demote this intimidating subject as something unimportant and therefore care less and less about it. In return, this attitude protects our ego.

This is the driving force behind the dejected learner. Soon this process becomes second nature and is the first line of defense for ANYTHING that comes their way that is perceived as causing pain.

It’s a vicious cycle. As teachers, we must fight against it.


The Vicious Cycle

My daughter is only 3 1/2 years old and she is learning to read. She is becoming a great reader. However, she nearly became a member of the dejected learner cycle because of me.

I got frustrated with her when she wouldn’t look at the word phonetically. She could hear the frustration in my voice and it affected her deeply. She gets so much good out of praise but the flip side of that coin is that she gets torn down by negativity. She started shying away from reading activities. I was being an idiot. She is doing something that I think is the easiest thing in the world but she is doing it for the first time.

She didn’t want to do her reading, reading eggs game, or phonetics games with me. So I realized I had to do something fast to change this process and fish her out of the detrimental pit. So I changed they way I behaved and kept myself in check. I remembered a teaching technique that I had learned when I was in high school.



When I was a senior, I became a drum major for our marching band. To do this, I had to attend a drum major summer camp before the next marching season. It’s here they taught us a simple guideline to interact with peers and motivate them to do your will, of sorts.


When noticing an initial error in understanding or performance, immediately find something good your student is doing. Approach them and let them know that you noticed they are doing well in that area. This strokes their ego, lowers their defenses, and subconsciously gives you an esteemed position in their eyes, if for only a second.

Yes it sounds like manipulation but only because you know what it is doing. It’s still good to compliment people and this act would still have the same effect.

“You are doing really well with your marking time, your heels are at the right height…”



You then immediately pose a simple suggestion for improvement. Before you even approach the student to compliment them, you know the problem and what they can do to remedy their lack of skill or knowledge.

“I noticed that when you step off in a forward march, you are having a little trouble with the glide/roll step. Think of squeezing a tube of toothpaste from one end to the other and roll through your ankle. Here, let me show you….



Let them work on it, ask you questions, and adjust. Don’t move on or leave until they feel like they made an improvement. When they do, let them know it.

“Yes! That is a lot better. Your toes are higher, your upper body isn’t bouncing up and down, and your forward march is smoother. You also have  great attention posture. Nice job.”

Notice in the last praise, you give them benchmarks and reminders on how to improve their performance. You can also throw in an unrelated compliment that you noticed they were doing well. As the late Stephen Covey would say, you are making a deposit in their emotional bank account for when you need to make a withdrawal later. (you disappoint, blow up, act human, etc.).

This process allows the learner to be less intimidated by the subject (or you) and gives you the power of making suggestions to benefit them (and they feel like you are benefiting them). It brings their psychological walls down and creates and environment for real learning. The student will become more comfortable when making mistakes because they are constantly reminded there are things they do correctly and can always improve.


You want kids to feel comfortable taking risks and failing. Fear and failure can be minimized when the student concentrates on small improvements. This also creates the idea that longevity, self-evaluation, and perseverance are keys to risking and succeeding.


Thanks to the late George N. Parks and his Drum Major Academy for this invaluable tip. 

This Creative Resource Came Across My Browser



This is a website that teaches you the ins and outs of chess. From learning how the pieces move to advanced strategies.


With videos, games, and tactical exercises; you are equipped to learn and study chess at a high level.

I think this creates a lot of opportunities for the student to use their creative talents. Once strategies and deep understanding of the game are developed, the student should be able to use their creative mind to play chess. I think this is a great resource.

Here is a sample video

I wanted to make sure you were aware of it for the coming school year.

Chess has now become fun and cool.

Chess club anyone?



Here is $5 At Educents

I received an email a few days ago offering my readers $5 at Educents. I have been watching them for the past year and they have had some great buys and great products to promote creative education. So if you’re in the market for educational products, as many homeschooling families are purchasing curriculum at this time, here is $5 to a great resource if you’re a new customer. Just click on the big red $5.

*Full Disclosure: I am a recent affiliate of Educents and I only promote things I believe to be beneficial to my readers and supportive of their educational endeavors. Don’t worry, this blog won’t turn into a shameless promotion of products.

Ch Ch Ch Changes…

I have been away from the blogosphere for a while (does that terminology still exist?). I have shut down a failed website on music education, redecorated my office for better aesthetics and functionality, and starting new projects for myself and my family that I am really excited about.

However, I am not going into that today. I want to share with you something that I read recently. I think this article may change the way I homeschool forever because so far the implementation of ideas I gleaned from this article has worked extremely well.

Continue reading

Drum Your Heart Out

I have been inspired this week.

I took my family out to a pizzeria and we sat down in the back room away from the main dining room. This room is normally reserved for sporting events (as evidenced by their large T.V.s) but since we are out of season, so to speak, it was just background noise. Until this commercial came on:

I love seeing a composer’s talents utilized in such a creative fashion. You can actually hear the song they intended through the water. So this inspired me to write some tutorials on how one could do this in their own home. If you have some talent and experience in music and rhythm, this will be easy for you. However, if you don’t have any, don’t worry. I have a fool proof way anyone could come up with something like this.

Here is another talented example:

So how do you get started? Well, find some things around the house, garage, or closet and see what you can find that could become a percussion instrument. In the following weeks, I will show you how to use them.

Share this post with your friends!

Creative Activity — Connect the Dots with 1 Line Revealed

I hope all of you are enjoying these creative genius activities. I know that you may be a bit out of your comfort zone (I often am) but it gets better, trust me.

With my current piano students, I am having them compose their own song. Paradoxically, the younger ones are having an easier time even though they are less experienced. The older ones (near teen age and teens) are having a harder time. They expect there to be a right or wrong answer. They sit at the piano creating nothing because they are too judgmental. I met with one student yesterday having a very hard time. I finally got him to boil the problem down to fear. He was afraid it wasn’t going to be good. He feared criticism.

I told him that he would have to take a small risk. I wasn’t going to get on his case. I also told him no one at the recital was going to judge his composition or him because they haven’t composed before. I told him to risk the criticism, shove fear aside, and just write something! The pep talk seemed to work after I gave him a few pointers and told him to at least write 8 measures worth of music.

So why tell you this? Risk creativity. Be bold in just one creative pursuit. If it’s not your size, you don’t have to try it on more than once.

In the last creative genius post, you were to connect 9 dots using just 1 line. Here are two ways you could have solved it.

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Did You Do It With 3 Lines? Connect the Dots Part 3

Well, I think I have learned that the beginning of the week for creative genius practice is too busy for me. So I am going to shoot for the middle of the week.

Divergent Thinking of 3 Lines

So how did you do on the last problem?

Did you get all 9 dots lined up with only 3 lines?

I hope you did! If not, here is an idea to help you.

I gave you a clue: Use your TAN lines. TAN being all capitalized….for “tangent”. If you look below, the 3 lines become tangent lines for 2 out of 3 circles in each row.


The lines do meet together, I just didn’t have enough room in my graphic editor. Oh well.


Divergent Thinking of 1 Line


Now we get to try this with one line.


Notice: The instructions are a bit different so you have even more freedom to be creative with the solution.

What would you do? Leave your possible solutions in the comments below.

Creative Genius Tuesday? — Connect the Dots Part 2

This late creative genius post is brought to you by the flu. My daughter is currently in the trenches and it started yesterday. Our family has been sick since Dec 26th. It has been a veritable blitzkrieg of  disease on our house. But now to the main issue:

Connecting the Dots

In the last creative genius post, you were supposed to connect a matrix of dots with just 4 straight lines without lifting your pencil. Now, there are many different ways to accomplish this but here is the most famous one:

4 lines answer

 To think outside of the box on this one, you have to realize…there is no spoon…I mean box. A lot of people will automatically assume they cannot go outside of the boarders that are artificially created by the rows and columns of the dots. So this brings us to our new one: Continue reading

What is Your Mission?

What is your mission? What are your values?

This Christmas break, I decided to get a lot of books from the library (creative, education, psychology, etc). One of those books pressed upon me the necessity of defining your values personally. I’ve never really thought of spending much time thinking about my core values. However, I am excited with what I am learning.

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