Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Veterans Day

I spent a good portion of my day yesterday taking pictures of our students planting flags to honor Veterans Day. One of my students walked into my room while I was working on making a sign for kids to hold in their picture. Here is the conversation that followed...

Student: What's that for?
Me: It's for Veterans Day.
Student: What's vegetarians day?
Me: This sign is not about choosing not to eat meat.
Student: Huh? Meat? What is veterinarians day?
Me: I guess that would be a day to honor animal doctors.  
Student: Wait, what? No, what are you making?
Me: A sign for Veterans Day.
Student: Let's just get started reading now.

This made me laugh... and of course I explained Veterans day when we were done. 

Here are some of the pics taken yesterday... too bad we can't show pics of kids faces, I got a few really cute ones!

Our leaders Mr. Steele & Ms. Kelly
Mrs. Roberts wearing her husbands jacket.          

Friday, November 7, 2014

My Family Molded Me...2 houses, 2 MINDSETS

Growing up, I had 2 houses.

I lived primarily with my mom, step-dad- Brent, and brother- Brett in an area of Kansas very comparable to Plano. My father resided in Texas with my step-mom- Paula, and brother- Blake.
Outwardly, the many apparent similarities in my 2 families struck people as coincidental...
-My parents both remarried a year a part.
-My mom and Paula had babies within 6 months of each other, both boys. (Can you imagine having 2 pregnant mothers at the same time? I actually LOVED waiting with anticipation to finally become a big sister.)
-The men in my life follow a B pattern... Brent, Brett, Bill, Blake.
-My brothers both struggled with learning difficulties in school.

The love and happiness within the walls of both families prove that divorce can sometimes be an incredible blessing. I had 4 loving parents, 2 houses, and endless examples of finding your true happiness.

Was is difficult at times? Sure.

How did my family make being a product of separation a blessing? They never got ugly. My brothers played together when my Texas family came to town. For my birthday we always went to dinner... all of us. My step-parents embraced me as their own and welcomed the comradery between families.

Inside my dwellings the differences were striking.

At Mom's house the expectations and conversations took on the traditional parent-child relationship. Boundaries were set out of love. Child pushes boundaries (hard to believe that I ever pushed boundaries, I know) and I was on a journey to become my own person. Phone conversations were listened to. My bedroom searched through. And questions...oh, the questions. Who, what, when, where, why?  ...The control of everything. It stemmed out of wanting the best. Pushing me to be successful with friendships, in school, and as a growing woman. There was a lot of love, laughter, and cuddles. Family dinners were mandatory and came with a preset question: What were 2 good things and one bad thing about your day? Then we discussed.

I remember back when I was having a teen angst argument with Mom. She was fed up and finally said, "You are just like your father." Without hesitation, I shot back, "Good!" End of argument.

I realized the sacrifices my father made to be present only after becoming an adult. Though separated by 500 miles, we talked on the phone nightly. If there was a performance or event, he was there. The distance that physically separated us made it possible to only focus on the important things. My father parented by modeling and teaching a growth mindset.  My father pushed me to analyze every aspect of who I was becoming. When I called to share results of a test or report card the conversation followed a distinct pattern...
I told him my grades. He asked how I felt about them. We would discuss the difficulty of the class. He would not praise me for an A that I didn't have to work for. He based his response on the level of effort put into a situation. It wasn't about doing great and passing, it was about working hard and trying my best. When I shared the news of my C in Social Studies he responded in the same way, "How do you feel about that?" The conversations about my C sometimes lead to me admitting I had not done my best or had missed assignments. Thus, earning the grade that merited disappointment in myself. His comments that followed would often say, "You can try harder next time." He did not critique me, he gave me the chance to critique myself.
Other times I would confess that I worked my butt off in a class and just barely passed with a C. At that point my father would tell me that I should be more proud of the C I worked hard to earn than the A that came easy. I never got straight A's, but I never felt that I was a success or failure based on what grade came home one the report card.

My dad understood that self worth comes from within. It is the self-talk and intrinsic motivation that makes someone successful. He understood that sometimes you fail, but are not a failure. He knew that sometimes you succeeded and learned nothing. There have been many times in my adult life that I have been in situations and replayed his voice in my head. Times where I have been praised for something that I felt could have done better. Times where I missed the mark but was able to fully understand that the level of effort given was worth feeling proud.

I will admit that as a child this could be annoying at times... when I got the easy A and wanted the pat on the back... that I didn't earn. Looking back I now see the amazing gift given by my father.

I am 50-50 mixture in both look and personality of my mother and father. I am the product of living full time with one parent and having the traditional parent-child loving relationship. I am also the product of a family that was separated by distance but remained close. A family that gifted me with the lens of a growth mindset. Without the 500 mile separation, the relationship I held with my father would not have been possible It would have been clouded with the everyday inevitable happenings.

As a teacher, I strive to instill statements that follow my dad's lead to a growth mindset.

As a parent, I know that everyday parts of life will often overshadow my ability to stay as focused on modeling the internal conversation. I just hope that I can instill growth that fosters self confidence. Confidence that will not be measured by grades or other peoples' opinions but on self-reflection and internal motivation.

So, I have a question... How do you FEEL about what you are accomplishing? Are you able to self-analyze with a positive internal voice?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Padlet, Popplet, and Plickers... oh my!

Today I rearranged my schedule so that I could attend grade level planning meetings. Our instructional tech guru was on campus all day showing teachers fun things to do in their classrooms. We are so fortunate to be educators in a time of endless opportunity.

After attending the Plickers training I gave it a go with my 5th grade kiddos... This was the first time I have given them an assessment and they asked if they could answer more questions when we were done.

Upon conclusion of our Plickers cause and effect quiz one student said, "Man, technology these days!"

That makes me think back to my childhood my cassette tapes were replaced by brand new amazing CD's.

The joy of getting my bright purple pager in high school and thinking how techy I was wearing it- complete with the tiny chain attaching to my belt loop.

My first cell phone, amazing at the time, has become an artifact that these students ponder over.
The technology we are all amazed by right now will soon become the dusty pager. My brain cannot even begin to imagine what tools these kids will use 20 years from now.

In a Twitter chat the other day someone posed the question of how to get reluctant teachers on board with technology. My answer was something about technology being the thing that keeps teachers from becoming fossils. How can anyone NOT be on board to discover this technological realm? Hesitancy is unfathomable.

At one point in time technology was a thing that you could chose to use or ignore... like a computer lab in school. You could sign up for the class to practice typing at a certain speed and then play Oregon Trail hoping you don't die of dysentery... or you could simply never enter the "technology" area and go on pretending the "machines" didn't exist.

That mindset simply doesn't work anymore. Technology is all around. There is not a divide. You can not escape technological advances. Unless you are living in a cave, you need to hop on for the ride. Still reluctant? You won't be left behind...  you will be forever lost.

You will be a bike stuck in the tree. Technology will grow and change around you. You will remain stuck in your rut of ignorance. Advances will only continue.
Bicycle Eaten by a Tree.

In the words of my 5th grader... Man, technology these days...