FISH Philosophy for Theories on Thursday

Have you ever been to Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, WA?  If you are mature older like me, you might remember the fish market from the Levi's commercial in the early 1990s - A bunch of (cute) fishmonger guys wearing Levi jeans, throwing fish to be weighed as customers ordered them?  Ring any bells?

Well, it does for me.  In fact, when I was at Pike Place in the 90s, I felt compelled to watch the fish market/entertainment for almost an hour.  Evidently, I had a sixth sense seeing those Levi-wearing mongers in action would one day prove useful for blogging.

Years later, a FISH philosophy was documented using the organized fish market mayhem.  Though some ex-employees from Pike Place say the philosophy is...smelly....many businesses and schools have adopted the FISH philosophy and its four tenets as everyday practice.  See what you think?  Could your classroom adopt these tenets?  For parents and assorted others, could your family or business?

Tenet #1Be there.  Focus on your students and what is going on in the classroom; not all the things you have to do when you get out of work that evening.  Ask students to do the same.  This creates mindfulness and encourages being in the present moment.

Tenet #2:  Play.  Teaching and learning is more fun when educators and students are having fun.  How can you encourage play in your classroom and still balance tackling your daily learning objectives? 

Tenet #3:  Make Their Day.  Little acts of kindness can go a long way.  How can you show students they are valued in your classroom and welcomed there?  Can you make their day collectively or individually?  I've been known to go down my roster and make a different student's day each day.  It does take a splash of creativity and effort to pull this off sucessfully.

Tenet #4:  Choose Your Attitude.  Life, as we know, has its ups and downs. The attitude we choose to get through those ups and downs is what makes good folks great.  Which attitude will you choose today?  How about your students?  My friend, D, writes down on a sticky note a word describing the attitude she chooses for that day.  That way, if she needs a reminder, it is visually there for her.

The FISH philosophy and organization has many resources for you to learn more and make your FISHing most meaningful.  I highly recommend their books - Fish, Fish Sticks and Fish Tales - to name a few.  If you click on the bookmark above, you can download a whole page of bookmarks; a great reminder of the four tenets.

Off to make little O's day,


  1. I was looking for new ways to continually motivate my students and I LOVE the FISH idea. I can't wait to use my new bulletin board that my students covered to stress these 4 tenets and implement them daily. I think my favorite is "play." Just last week, I had 10 minutes of free time in my first mod class and I had kids throw trash into the trash can if they got review questions correct and they were OBSESSED! I need to play more games and incorporate joy more in my class and tenet 2 will remind me!

  2. Those kinesthetic learners need time to move. Trash ball, as I have heard it called, is a good way to harness their energy.

    Happy fishing,

  3. This is great, i completely agree with the reasoning among each tenet. My favorite has to be three, having the students feel that school was one of best things they did that day will have a greater chance for the information to stick more.
    Gyler T

  4. I agree with the Fish Philosophy tenet 1-4 are important and should be incorporated in the classroom. Incorporating this philosophy in the classroom will allow students to enjoy education and the class will have a good flow. If the students are enjoying the time spent in the classroom this will help students learn and give them a good attitude towards education.

    Ana V.

  5. The FISH philosophy seems to connect beautifully to the caring classroom. All of the tenets can be utilized in the the caring classroom, but in particular 1 (be there) and 4 (choose your attitude). I once observed a teacher who greeted every student by name, every day and she said goodbye to each student every day. It really made a huge difference and really emphasized to the students that they were important.

    Meredith L.

  6. I need to print this so I have a visual reminder everyday to do this. Play is very important in the Responsive Classroom as well. I tend to 'fall down on the job' when I don't plan the opportunity to play. I also tend to be lose with the rules of play (respect) at the end of the day when I'm exhausted.

    Elise T

  7. After discussing the FISH philosophy in class, I decided to choose my attitude every day. It has made such a difference. I have to remind myself a few times a day of my chosen attitude, but once I am reminded everything changes. I start to feel optimistic, more energetic, and happier all around. I can see how this could be a huge help in the classroom.
    Patricia L.

  8. Having the teacher's altitude written up on the board when the students walk in as well as having the students write down and discuss each one's altitude with the class or in small groups is a good way to get students focused, motivated, and ready for the day. If there is a student with a "not so good" ooutlook, discussion will help turn that around and get them ready for the day. Maybe some granola bars too for the ones who are down simply because they are hungry.

  9. As I have already told you, this philosophy has totally changed my home life! Not everyday, because sometimes I forget, but the one I am best at is "choose your attitude" I can just keep telling myself, "I'm ok, I'm positive" even when I accidentally forgot to open the chimney while starting a fire and the room filled of smoke, and when I dumped the humidifier on the carpet and am sick with a 102 fever and a teething baby is crying. (All of which were tonight). I was close to freaking out but then I looked on the fridge where we have the FISH philosophy hanging and my attitude was quickly adjusted. I need to work on "being there" but I've done a lot better with the others. Being there is the tough one when you are trying to multi task. I cannot wait to have a class of my own to use this philosophy with. This is my favorite thing I think I have ever learned and I plan to teach it to every student I ever have.

  10. Teachers can be one of the most influential people in a child's life, and need to make the concious effort to be a good one. The everyday struggles teachers have to keep their students on task and learning, along with the pressures of a curriculum can sometimes be daunting. With this said...children are being molded for their future, and an encouraging teacher can help make a difference of who they may become. Today, many students are also faced with family pressures due to the economic status, but a teachers understanding can be more meaningful and allow them a break from the pressures.

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