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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in self management
Posted by on in General

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Sometimes the thought of right now can be overwhelming! We have so much going on in our lives that we feel we cannot add one more thing to our already full plates.

I did not write this post to convince you otherwise. I wrote this post to suggest a different way of thinking about things that pushes tothe side the right now mindset.

Because let’s be honest.

Right now is scary! And when we put right now demands on our brain it usually reacts in one of two ways. And I am not fond of either one.

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Posted by on in Professional Development

art materials

One of the side effects of teaching is that we often give up our hobbies, our crafts, even our art for our job.  Our jobs are so overwhelming that we often sacrifice our music, our art thinking we don't have time for it, not with needing to make another parent phone call or write another lesson plan.

For those of us battling chronic illness or even disability, though, we need to make time for our crafts, our art.  An interesting study by Stuckey and Nobel in 2010 found that patients with chronic health problems do better if they create something, anything, especially visual art, music, dance, or creative writing.  In all reality, it helps all teachers, since the study found that, "despite methodological and other limitations, the studies included in our review appear to indicate that creative engagement can decrease anxiety, stress, and mood disturbances" (Stuckey & Nobel, 2010).  For those of us living with pain or chronic health issues, creating music or poetry, painting or knitting, dancing or sewing can help us heal: "When people are invited to work with creative and artistic processes that affect more than their identity with illness, they are more able to 'create congruence between their affective states and their conceptual sense making.'104(p53) Through creativity and imagination, we find our identity and our reservoir of healing" (Stuckey & Nobel, 2010).  Finding that "reservoir of healing" would be amazing for most of us.

So, how do we fix this?  Kate Harper interviewed Rice Freeman-Zachery, author of Creative Time and Space: Making Room for Making Art, and she came up with ten ways to make time for our creative processes.  In reality, many of these are tricks teachers already use to make time for our jobs at home, but we can also use these to fit in our music, our art, our writing.  I personally like #7, wearing what we need to feel like the artists we are.  We so often wear teaching clothes, even outside of the classroom, putting on that professional mask  It's okay to wear what we need to wear, put on what you need to write, create, sing, dance.  Do it to feel better, to be whole.

References

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

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In August of 2015, I summited the 13,770 foot Grand Teton. I had attempted the climb over 12 years before, but was turned back because of weather and it remained an unmet personal goal over the years. Thanks to a push from my cousin last winter, we decided we were going to attempt the “Grand” together at the end of the 2015 summer. I once again set my focus on the goal of reaching the top of the “Grand” and this time I successfully met the physical and mental challenges it took to complete the climb.

chairThe morning following my 14-hour climb, descent and celebration dinner, I pulled myself out of bed because my friend Luis Hernandez, an early childhood specialist from the Western Kentucky University, was facilitating at the Children’s Learning Center staff retreat and I did not want to miss him. I was delighted I did because we had a fantastic morning focused on early childhood leadership... my favorite topic.

When I returned home that afternoon, I began to feel the “blues” caused by the emotional letdown from my huge accomplishment the day before. I had spent so much time preparing for my climb. I had set my vision more then 12 years prior, taken steps to reach the summit, both literally and figuratively, and now the accomplishment was behind me. I had been leaning into the process for a long time and now there was nothing to push against.

A couple of days later, when my body felt good enough to take a walk again, I began to reflect on my feelings of letdown and my thoughts brought me back to Luis, leadership, and a book he co-authored with Holly Elissa Bruno, Janet Gonzalez-Mena, and Debra Ren-Etta Sullivan called Learning from the Bumps in the Road: Insights from Early Childhood Leaders, specifically the chapter titled The Great Imposter: Unmasking the burden of Self-doubt in Our Professional Lives. It occurred to me during my emotional letdown I had begun to question my accomplishment... had I really been good enough or was it a fluke? Did I have it in me to gear up to take such a risk and meet similar challenges again? And more importantly, do I need to set a new vision and start working on it immediately?

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Posted by on in Teens and Tweens

Kids look into the mind’s mirror, see themselves (maybe for the first time), and write about what they find.  How scary is that?  This is “Reflections,” an application of “Music Writing,” which introduced adolescents to the wild world of inner experience via music, and how the mind’s eye, like a giant spotlight, illuminates events as mental image pictures to contemplate.  Contemplation helped kids to examine their inner and outer worlds and gave them organic and real reasons for writing, motivating them from the inside to express their everyday experiences.  

I created Reflections because student contemplations in Music Writing described painful events present in their minds: divorce, death, illness, failures, and negativity.  After practicing Music Writing for two months (see http://www.edutopia.org/blog/music-writing-trigger-creativity-jeffrey-pflaum), I began Reflections, whose aims were to:

  • Locate a past experience and describe it in 100 words or more.
  • Use visualization, reflection, and contemplation to find and re-create the experience.
  • Improve self-awareness, -knowledge, -understanding, -esteem, and -expression.
  • Use discussion to reinforce all the above objectives.

 INTRODUCTORY LESSON 

I defined “reflection” by drawing a stick figure looking into a mirror, and said: ”When you see a reflection of yourself in a mirror, you’re looking at yourself.”  I sketched a diagram of the inner eye looking at experiences-as-mind-pictures.  I drew the eye looking at images in a mirror inside the stick figure’s head.  I explained: “You see your self, your experiences, in an imaginary mirror.  Observe your reflection inside the mind.  Use your inner eye to find, visualize, reflect on, and contemplate a past experience.  Then, write about it.”  

Practice oral reflection lesson: 

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

 

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I am often asked what I believe to be the biggest problems in education, and without hesitation, my reply is always cheating. According to a recent Stanford study, 86% of high school students admitted to cheating on a test in school. In the same survey 66% of middle school students admitted to cheating. When asked about copying homework, almost all students did not consider this to even be a form of cheating. The SAT requires student identification at check, a recheck when students return from the bathroom, and no students are allowed to wear hats during the test because cheating is such a problem in testing. The above photo is my room on an exam day: all phones are required to be on the board when exams are out.

Why is cheating such a problem? Many students feel the pressure to make good grades and be accepted into a good college. The work load can also be extremely overwhelming with students taking multiple AP classes, and cheating becomes simply a way to survive. Ironically, the overwhelming majority of students who cheating are the “good” kids, the achievers because they have an image to uphold. Cheating also seems to be built into the school culture, public and private, and students are eventually worn down, tired of seeing cheaters get ahead and move to the top of the class without putting in as much work.

As teachers, we must keep the focus on learning and not grades. Grades should take into account an attempt to redo papers, projects, and exams when students do not master the learning target the first time. Teachers should also design tests in a way which show thoughtful answers and not a simple recall A, B, or C which is easy to cheat. Educators need to take the time to thoroughly explain plagarism, paraphrasing, quoting, and proper citation. 

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