25 February 2014

What are you teaching the world?

Take a minute and think about this question...

We don't realize the impact we have on those around us.  Whether we mean to or not, we are sending a message to the world with our actions.

How do you enter a room?

  • Are you smiling, saying hi to everyone?
  • Are the first words out of your mouth something negative, cursing out whatever bad luck has befallen you that day?
  • Do you keep your eyes down and try to just slip in?
  • Do you quickly walk in, grab what you need and walk out?
  • Do you avoid any room that contains people?
Now that you are in the room, what messages are your actions and words sending?

Simple gestures and phrases can have a huge impact on those around us.  And the bigger problem is, people talk.  A lot.  They talk about the good and they talk about the bad.  Mostly they remember the bad and how it made them feel.

What you say and what you do teaches the world a lot about you.

What are you teaching the world?

21 February 2014

How many hours are there in a day?

I recently read Total Recall:  My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger.  It was fantastic! But this is not a book review.  There was one part toward the end that really had an impact on me.

During his time as Governor of California, Schwarzenegger was speaking to a group of college students when one of the students stood up and said that he needed additional financial assistance from the state to continue to go to college.  The young man said that because tuition was increasing, but his financial aid was not, he would be forced to get a part-time job to pay his bills.  How could he be expected to keep up his grades and graduate if he had to work while going to school?

Schwarzenegger looked at him and asked 'How many hours are there in the day?'

The student was confused, but responded '24, of course.'

Schwarzenegger asked how many hours he went to class and the student responded with 2 hours on one day and 3 hours on the other.

This is when the Governator began to truly school the kid.  He said, 'Let's say you study a couple of hours each day for each class.  Between classes and studying that's about 6 hours one day and 7 the other.  Now you only need about 5 or 6 hours of sleep, that's about what I average each day.  That leaves you 11-12 hours each day.  Even if you took 2 hours each day to watch TV, play video games, party and drink that would still leave you enough time to have a full time job.  So, explain why the state should give you more money when you aren't willing to work for it in the first place?'

Everyone is going to take away from this story something slightly different.  For me, it means that I shouldn't complain about not having enough time, but rather accomplish more meaningful things with the time I have.  I have decided that during the school day, I will give myself 15 minutes of "down time."  At home, outside of family time, my "down time" will be 30-60 minutes.  Other than that, it is working to make my classroom a better learning environment, my assessments more meaningful, my labs more interesting, and my technology more seamlessly integrated.  Being more focused will lead me to be a better advisor, a more involved teacher, and a more attentive father and husband.

What do you take away from this story?

07 February 2014

I Am Awesome

Repeat after me...

Ok, one more time...

Last time, and with some feeling...

How often do you do this?  Just stop what you are doing and say, out loud, that you are awesome.  We just don't do it.  Why?

Because someone might hear?

Because we don't think we really are awesome?

Because someone might prove us wrong?

I have been developing this post for a couple of days and something happened in class today that made me sit down and finally put words to this.  I have a students who is an amazing artist.  I love everything that she sketches in her book.  She was working a drawing of a parrot and the eye on the parrot was so fantastically drawn that I actually touched the paper to make sure that she didn't glue a picture on top of it to make it look better.  The shading, the colors.  I was blown away.  I told her work was amazing and she got embarrassed.  Not embarrassed like "Oh, you are just being kind." but actually was on the verge of a panic attack because I was giving her compliments.  I told her that she is extremely gifted and she should be standing up in class showing her work to everyone.  That made it worse and she covered up her book with her arms so I couldn't look anymore.

There is a ton of research out there on brain theory and the differences between men and women.  I have read that males are more likely to raise their hands and answer questions in class, but females will only answer after they have a thoughtful response and are confident in their answer.  I see this happen every day.  Typically guys will call out the first thing that pops in their head, but the girls are more likely to get the answer correct.

We tell people to have confidence in themselves, but if they were to go around proclaiming their awesomeness, we call them egotistical.

You were made to be awesome.  If you ever doubt yourself, just look in a mirror and say "Who's Awesome? I'm Awesome!"

And don't you ever forget it!!!

02 February 2014

Class, it's time to learn

I love when I can share the great work done by the students in my school.

I came across a tweet announcing a student film contest sponsored by the White House.  It asked them to create short (less than 3 minute) video describing how technology has changed their school and the future for education.  I didn't see it until mid-January, but I immediately shared it with our video production teacher and his advanced students.  Two students stepped up and got their video shot in 1 day, edited in 2 days, and submitted a few hours before the deadline.  It looks fantastic and I hope they get the chance to have it shown at the White House film festival.