All posts by edulovereading

Believing

How do you feel right now?  I just re-watched Ann Cuddy’s TED talk on body language. I learned that a defeated mentality and body persona really impact how you deal with stress and really uncomfortable situations.  As I go through this blooming stage, I find this information really important in dealing with more an more uncomfortable situations and information.  

My mom would say it has a lot to do with positive thinking and positive beliefs.  What you believe is who you are.  So as I go through this moment of blooming, it is important that I remember to stay positive.  I also spent sometime reading The Power of Right Believing, which told me to remember who I am.  Today was a good day. Tomorrow will be better. Can’t wait to see what it has in store. 

 

http://www.amazon.com/The-Power-Right-Believing-Addiction/dp/145555314X

~Say

Blooming

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tightly closed in a bud, was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

–Anaïs Nin

The last time I posted I wrote about the importance of no being a just.  Well instead of being a hypocrite, I decided to follow my own advice, and work on being me not just a just.  I mean how comfortable is it to just remain in your comfort zone and do what you always have done?  But what happens when what you always have done, no longer describes you? You’ve lost your drive, motivation, gumption,  spark, what ever you want to call it.  This week has been hard for me because I decided that it is time for me to blossom not just as a person but as a citizen of the world.  To be honest that ish hurts, but then in the words of a good mentor of mine, “if it doesn’t scare the shit out of you, then it really isn’t worth it.” So instead of playing with the idea, I have started to go out on a limb and be vulnerable, ask for help and get rid of things that were once my comfort zone and my overall comfort. Did I say that this week hurt?  Well it did.

As a teacher I force my kids out of their comfort zones everyday, I tell them to take risks, cry laugh and not be afraid of the fact that some days some people will not be your favorite people.  However the people who love you unconditionally will always be there.  This week I went out on a limb and let me tell you that by going out on that limb it was emotionally and professionally draining, however it hurts too much to sit still and be tightly closed in a bud.  Instead it is time for me to figure out how to be the best me there is to become.  I am young, and fine as I don’t know what and being a just is just not enough.

So sometimes I will journal and other times I will blog, but my main thing is to continue to write.  I love people, but the first key to not being a just, is to love and appreciate myself and these past years that hasn’t been happening as much.

Is it time to move on?  Absolutely!  Is it time to be accountable to my brain and life goals?  Totally.  By April as the rain showers descend, I will be blossoming with the flowers.  It hurts way too much not to bloom.  As I walk through this journey, I am reminded of the fact that all actions and events happen for a reason and because of that everything will fall into play.

~Say

Not Just a Just

Recently I decided to actually watch the Year of 4 Documentary with Beyoncé. Not only was it really good it was in some ways inspiring. I am not always impressed by other people and their success, but this woman is truly phenomenal and this thing was made a couple of years ago.
Anyway, one of her answers to the interviewers really struck me…
“Sometimes we don’t reach for the stars, sometimes we are satisfied with what people tell us what we’re supposed to be satisfied with and I’m just not going for it.”

This really inspired me because often times I feel as if I am short changing myself and not living up to my full potential. I mean I am good at some things and my drive to accomplish the best tends to make me the best. If something stands in my way or I think I can do better, I do everything I can to get better. But then I sometimes get stuck and I think about what I am “just” instead of who I really am. I get caught up in other people’s dreams and aspirations and then I lose my own.

Obviously I am not the person I was 6 years ago or even yesterday, but I do know that these past years I have been asking others for where I fit in their vision. As if my vision doesn’t matter and that really pissed me off. Let me tell you after years of asking where others see me, what they see is not very far. In other visions you can be a ” just” not a “who”. I have been grappling for years about what I want and where I want to do it, but I think the grappling is over. I think I finally am ready to stop being a “just” and instead be a “who”

I may be good at somethings, but it is time to become good at something else. In the words of wise old Rafiki

“It is time”

What is fair?

I used to tell my babies that fair isn’t getting what you want, but getting what you need. I think what makes teachers these extraordinary people is that they can never really say this is the one thing that is fair. This is what they need. You’re job is mostly trial and error and more times than not you have to throw the plan out of the window. What is interesting to me is when we realize something is not working and we continue to do it. Einstein said, “doing the same thing and expecting different results is called insanity.” Are we just a bunch of insane people hoping that one day things will change? The conflict in discourse says that it take 66 days to break a habit. Considering that there are only 180 days in a school year we waste many days trying to evoke change. How do you know when something is working? How can we really evoke change? Is it really worth it? What is fair is it doing the same thing for all or just giving everyone what they need so that we can all be successful?

Do we have it mixed?

What’s the difference between being racist and classist?  I came across an article that discussed the problems that minority children had with assimilating into preparatory high schools.  The author suggested that the schools, though they may provide an excellent college ready education, they make minority students feel uncomfortable because they are not able to participate in the extracurricular vacations and activities that are costly such as graduation celebrations in the Bahamas.  The author then goes on to say that the minority students find solace with the minority population at their school.  Furthermore, they always exist outside of the majority community. 

So then the question is how much is that class separation not race separation?  I can not really say that there are middle class white families who can easily afford to send their 18 year old on a trip to the Bahamas knowing that college costs are looming.  On the flip side I know some upper class “minority” families who can very well afford to send their 18 year old to the Bahamas after paying for a private high school and prestigious 4year university.
My issue is that there is this assumption that all minorities who attend these private schools and hang out with each other must be poor and exists outside of society.  Actually the sociologist in me says that people gravitate toward others who are in the same socioeconomic class as themselves.  Often times those people are the same race.  It isn’t enough to say it minorities, but rather it is people of a certain socioeconomic status.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/nyregion/for-minority-students-at-elite-new-york-private-schools-admittance-doesnt-bring-acceptance.html

How do you know?

I woke up this morning in a state of discontent. I just had questions.
When is enough really enough? How do you know when to stop second guessing yourself and just love life? When do you let go of the bullshit and just move on? Furthermore, what happens when you are changing and the people around you aren’t changing that much? It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I think that’s a possible reason. Life is changing. People are changing. I’m changing. It’s time to move on.

Rules of the Game

If you create the game, you create the rules. And if you are just do you, there’s no way you can lose!

–India Arie

I was excited this weekend when I found out (rather late) that India.Arie released a new album Songversation recently.  True to form, Arie uses true life to influence her music in an eloquently poetic way.  They lyrics that really stuck with me made me think about life and how there are many rules this game called life.

I just finished Catch-22 this weekend.  I was intrigued how these young men, who were somewhere around my age had no control over their lives and when they tried to there were rules that inhibited them from doing what they wanted.  Don’t get me wrong, they did this comically and interestingly, but it was a little sad.  The rules of their game was simple, do a certain amount of missions and you can go home.  The rules change when they up the amount of missions, it drives people to unexplainable extremes to get what they want.

So what does that mean for education?  My professor once told me how states tend to change the test, when they find that too many students are reaching the advanced or proficient mark. This was the explanation as to why 60 percent on most standardized tests is considered proficient.  I really like that the playing field is a bit leveled with new standardized tests and standards.  I thin the standards encourage teachers to push their students to the highest levels of critical thinking and creativity.  What I hope it doesn’t become, let’s figure out what’s on the test so that we can teach the content and then hope that our kids pass.   I think in order for this to work, the test should be used as a way to gauge gaps in college readiness, not only proficiency in the grade.  How will we (educators) use this data?  Will we use it to empower or punish?

The flip side is that the new standardized tests, require schools to also teach their students from a young age to be computer literate.  Now of course , this is necessary and most 3-year olds know how to use an iPad, however if teachers are just looking at the standards for their grades, they may neglect the fact that there are technology standards and that developmentally students should be proficient in using the mouse and the home keys on a keyboard by the end of second grade.  The new test, the PARCC  (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers)will completely be on the computer, but what happens when schools are unable to satisfy the technological needs to take said test?  I ran across this in the blog section of Education Weekly this past week:

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2013/07/tech_challenges_lead_oklahoma_.html

SO…everything happens for a reason.  It’s no coincidence that I finished reading Catch-22 listened to this awesome album, and finally paid attention to the alerts that crowd my inbox every week.  I think it is really important  that as we think through the changes that we make in our instruction.  I think that if we set the the bar high enough that our kids can be successful.  If we only aim for the bare minimum then we will only get the bare minimum.  MY hope is that when we look at the PARCC in the next two years, that schools will not look at the test and say “Man, we suck” but rather rejoice in knowing that their children are almost college and career ready.   There is a game: a game of ensuring that we get all children regardless of ability college and career ready.  As educators, we created the rules, now it’s time to face up to them.  In fact, if we were to do what we know to be the best, irrespective of the technologies or the income, all of our children will in fact succeed.

Marva Collins is one of America’s great educators, proving that with love and dedication and high stakes, that all students can succeed no matter what their background.  She  said in her book Marva Collins’ Way

Trust yourself. Think for yourself. Act for yourself. Speak for yourself. Be yourself. Imitation is suicide.

That is how we can change the world and make sure the rules work in our favor.

Be yourself!

–Say

Find the Fire–Motivation

So a friend of mine asked me about what motivates my students, and then another friend calls me to tell me that they aren’t sure why they are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in a graduate program–he is unmotivated.  So, actually, really nothing happens by coincidence.  In that spirit, I spent my waking moments wondering about motivation.  What motivates me to want to go to the gym even after I’ve missed my appointment, what motivates my students to want to read for pleasure and love learning, what made graduate school so frustrating for my high school friend that he is now unmotivated to actively pursue and finish his graduate degree? What is it about motivation that makes the most challenging tasks uncomplicated  and the most uncomplicated tasks challenging?  How does that relate to success: personal success, financial success, romantic success, just plain life success?

One my grad school professors introduced me to the 7 building blocks of reading comprehension, and though I only remember 5 of them on a given day (don’t say anything ot her, she would have my head) the one that made the most clout in my success this year is motivation.  So you are probably thinking, yes, you teach a child the letters, their sounds, word solving techniques, give them some background knowledge and they are just going to become these amazing readers. It’s as if you have all the ingredients to make the best meal in the world and you forget that you need a stove cook it all.  Motivation is the fire, literally and figuratively that makes your meal cohesive.  You may need a lot of motivation to do something, or not that much, but without it, you may just have really awesome potential.  Okay so maybe the analogy is all off, but I hope you get the point.

Motivation also works in the opposite direction also, if you have a pot of water to make your famous mashed potatoes, but you forget the knowledge the potatoes, you may burn all of your water away. Then you are left with a fire and a burned pot (which honestly so not fun to actually clean).  It really is a combination of tools, knowledge and motivation  that make people successful because if you have the motivation to find the knowledge then you’ll have the knowledge and therefore fuel your motivation.

So how does this relate back to my students?  SO today my student says to me that she doesn’t like to read because it takes too long and the words are a lot and she can’t find her place.  So she really likes the books but then looses motivation when it is time to read for a while.  Most teachers would tell her to try harder and give her a highlighter ruler (which i fully intend to give her) and then sort of send her on her way.  I actually think it has to do with the fact that the books themselves don’t interest her.  She wants to be chef, but hasn’t read many books about food.  So sitting at the dining room table today we chose three books that we will use to study food.  The chemistry of it, where they come from and the best ways to prepare them.  We sat and read only the reviews and the synopses online and I saw her eyes light up.  It was a spark and it was the best thing ever! Maybe we will have a project on all the knowledge she acquired.  The sky is the limit.

As far as my friend from high school, the jury is still out.  I think with adults the motivation actually comes from purpose.  When a person has purpose then motivation is a by product.  I am not saying by any means that this person lacks purpose, but i will say that they have to spend sometime rekindling the spark.  It is harder with adults because we get really set in our ways, and rekindling becomes harder and a little more difficult.

In his book Drive, Daniel Pink talks about what motivates people and it isn’t always monetary.  It is doing something that matters: something that matters to them, to others, to anyone.  Knowing that what you do matters helps to make that rekindling less challenging.  I think that that’s what it is for my student, so reading and knowing that what she is doing will help advance in her career long after the fourth grade will impact her the most.  I know that what motivated me to spend seven years in school in undergrad and both graduate degrees, was that the work I did in undergrad made me a better person and the work in grad school made me a better teacher, professional and has helped me to impact people like my students and my friends surprisingly enough.

When the going gets tough, I would say find what matters and play around with it.  And if you can’t find what matters soul search until you do.  Ask your kids what matters to them when you find that they don’t want to do what you want them to do (or they said they wanted to do yesterday, but then realized that they really don’t want that anymore).  Find out what really makes you tick intrinsically and the extrinsic reward will happen.  I think that is why we have so many awesome teachers running around.

I’ll leave with this talk from Daniel Pink where he talks about extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation.  It really made me think the first time I listened and I still find new insights each time.

Remember that there are no coincidences, just wonderful acts to make you amazing.

Don’t forget the stove on your next big meal.

–Say

For the love of reading

This morning, I saw a Tedx talk on why it is important to read more.  The speaker Kelly Corrigan, stated that 33% of people who graduate high school never pick up another book and if a person goes to college, only 42% of them would pick up a book for pleasure after school is over. I’m not sure where she got that statistic, but it seems just about right.  I must admit that if I didn’t truly love books and taking that adventure through the pages, I am not ever really required to sit and just read a book for pleasure.

The teacher in me wonders: how can I instill a love of books with my elementary aged students now so that they are apart of the 33 and 42 percent rather than the other 65-75% of the population?  I spoke with a parent of one of my children this morning and she asked me how she could motivate her daughter to read more and not make it a chore.  I volunteered to spend some time with her daughter in the hopes that it will help her to become more enthusiastic about reading and school in general.  I don’t know how successful I will be, but hopefully I can do something positive in her life this summer.

My hope for her is that she develops a love of information so that she can become successful in life.  That will really help her to be successful in life and especially college.  College was difficult for me, but what made me successful was my love of learning and reading.  If I only read because I had to, I don’t think I would be able to make the connections I did while writing papers or communicate with people later in life.  This love actually makes me a better teacher.

After watching this 8 minute clip, I realized that though the speaker was talking and imploring adults to read more, it is more important to spread this message to our children.  They have to understand that the love of reading and the choice to read books years after they are required actually happens way before high school graduation.  It starts now.  We are in the information age, so perhaps imploring everyone to stop using Google is not the best idea, but maybe what I could suggest is asking parents, teachers, aunts and uncles to join a book club with their youngster.  Read the book together (Actually read the book again if you’ve already done so) and then talk about it.  Find out what they are interested in reading and introduce them to new authors or related genres.  I’m not promising that they will become bookworms, but perhaps they will remember this when they graduate high school and college and they go to the beach with their e-reader filled with novels instead of Candy Crush.  I am sure that their future selves will thank you for helping to expand their vocabulary and their world view.

The future starts today!

–Say

Here is the link to the talk if you are interested

Transformation

Recently, one of my friends mentioned that I’ve changed in the past year.  I started listening to TED Talks for fun, being more analytical, and looking at all aspects before making decisions.  I really don’t think it is a bad thing, heck, I think it is a really good thing.  I think part of the reason I’ve made such a transformation is that I had these amazing people around me who all seem more put together than I.  Being the researcher I am, I asked them what made helped them to make the transformation and surprise surprise they each give me this list of books.  HA!

I laugh because I feel like I am always reading, so how in the world am I supposed to add to my already long book list?!  Furthermore, where in the world am I going to find the time to do this amazing reading for said transformation?  SO here I am, a teacher, who spends her life teaching children to love reading and learning, spending her summer reading and transforming.  I think it is amazing because it is an amazing time in my life to transform.  So the transformation is beginning.

The book that inspired me to start this blog, was gifted to me by manager.  I think that can only be the beginning of a transformation.  This year I spent the year collecting books that will transform my life.  7Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey actually made me a better problem solver and that was suggested to me first from my dad, who is so amazing, and my principal, who I swear is a superhero in some ways.  Just a disclaimer, this transformation is just to ensure that I can be the best me I can be.  When you are surrounded by amazing people you just want to makes sure you aren’t slipping and you are always at your highest level of awesome.

So what’s the next book on the awesome list?

CATCH 22 by Joseph Heller!!!

There is always a lesson to be learned from great American Literature, especially when the title alone has significance in our culture.  I’m excited!