Category Archives: Classroom Life

Broken but Ferocious …. {Six Word Wednesday}

six word story:  they surround you broken but ferrocious

 

 

Another random gathering of words that presented themselves to me.

From the first time I read these words and every time after, I think of the teenagers I’ve taught over 20+ years –

many broken, but angry and trying to hide it ….

 

What’s your story in six today? 

6

Art + Writing = Creative by Discovery 

What’s happening in the studios these days?

Latest pictures and projects on Facebook and Instagram  @RobinLK Studios 

She Flew….. {Six Word Wednesday}

Painting in progress in art studio

What’s your story in six today? 

🙂

 

Learner or Teacher?

 

man working on a laptop
credit: smart-elearning.eu

The other day, while reading fellow blogger and author Carrie Rubin’s post about authors, gender, standards, and profanity/violence, I replied with my perspective as a teacher who worked with middle and high school students for many years. As a reading specialist and as a writer myself, I required lots of writing from my students and taught them that reading and writing go hand-in-hand.

My reply to her post:  Characters need to be believable and readers need to decide what’s appropriate for themselves (or with a parent, if the reader is a preteen/adolescent); a rating system isn’t necessary. I didn’t give my response a second thought when I hit Send….. I naturally define my thinking from a teacher’s perspective.

Or do I?

When Carrie thanked me for the ‘teacher perspective,’ I kind of chuckled and thought, “You’re welcome. There it is! My ‘teacher-filter’ is in full-swing again!”

But I got to thinking…..

How we learn is a big part of who I am as both learner and educator. When I had my own classes, I was constantly analyzing my instructional delivery:

  • Is it on-point?
  • Is it fun?
  • Am I being concise enough, while still including key information?
  • Am I being verbose, boring them to tears?
  • Am I talking over their heads?
  • Is it interesting to them? Can they connect what they know with what I’m teaching? (value leads to ownership: What’s in it for me?)
  • Are they getting it? How do I know? How do they know?

And all of this chatter was happening in my head while I was in the middle of instruction. Every. Day. All. The. Time. Holy cow!!

Now, as an instructional coach, I have this internal dialogue when I facilitate professional development sessions or do demonstration lessons. I also often walk into classrooms and think, “Wow! So many ways this could be taught!”

So, as I write this post, I’m thinking to myself (as I often do when I write): So what? Why am I sharing these particular thoughts? 

And in this instance, I realize this:  My perspective isn’t that of a teacher as much as it is of a learner.

I want someone to teach me who:

  • is on-point & funny/engaging/approachable
  • gives key details, but asks lots of questions to engage my thinking – often referred to as Socratic Teaching… I just call it ‘giving the learner a chance to think’!
  • speaks a language I understand – this has nothing to do with linguistics and everything to do with understanding ‘audience’
  • connects the information he or she is teaching with something in my life – a hook that pulls me in
  • a good story-teller who practices brevity
  • notices if I’m getting it or not… acknowledges when I’m struggling and puts the empowerment of struggle in its rightful place

I love learning. I love awesome teaching just as much….. whether it’s an author who makes characters ‘real’ through believable words and actions, a presenter who makes a tough subject relatable, or a parent that helps a child understand (and appreciate) diverse thinking and opinions.

little girl studying in school
credit: businessinsider.com

I used to tell my high school students that if I didn’t learn something new each day, then it was a wasted day. That may sound like a bit of a stretch, but to sell the idea of learning for life’s sake (not for a test) to kiddos was a big part of my ‘mission’ you might say. Plant the seed. Lay the foundation. Whether five or fifty, learning is for life.

plant growing in soil
credit: wealthenthusiast.com

 
Learner or teacher?

Learner, first!  Always.

 

Amazon, You Continue to Fascinate (and Scare!) Me

GLAD wrap Amazon Dash Button
credit: amazon

 

How easy is it to shop in your PJs, have something delivered the same day, and now push a button to reorder something while you’re in the middle of your daily household routines?

Well, if you’re an Amazon shopper, pretty darn easy!

I admit: I’m fascinated by Amazon’s continued efforts to make shopping convenient and affordable. I’m less fascinated by the personalization, though. Minority Report comes to mind….

 

amazon prime logo

A few years ago, while still in the classroom and often buying books at the request of my high school students, I discovered Amazon’s Prime service. For a modest annual fee I could purchase books online and have them delivered to my door within two days? For a busy teacher whose need for classroom resources was immediate and constant, it was a godsend, especially when the closest bookstore (that may or may not have the books I’m looking for) was 15 miles away.

In more recent years, Amazon added Next Day Delivery to their services. Could it get any better??

As if answering my question, Amazon introduced its then-newest service:  Same Day Delivery. Are you kidding me? How do they get the order, process it, ship it, and deliver it – all in the same day??? I was fascinated; it sounded too good to be true.

So what’s a gal to do?  Put it to the test, of course.

On a quiet Sunday morning, sitting comfortably on the couch with a cup of coffee and my phone, I placed an order, noted the time: 10:30 AM, and doubted I’d see the package that day. Imagine my surprise when our doorbell rang at 4:30 that afternoon. There stood a delivery person, with a smile and my package. Did I mention it was Sunday???  #impressed and at the same time, #dismayed

After finding that Same Day Delivery is real, I found myself grappling with the notion that having something delivered the same day is self-serving, environmentally irresponsible, and well, lazy. Or is it? Could I make the argument that it’s job security for someone? Or is that reaching?

While I’m all for shopping locally and supporting small business (and we do), I appreciate convenience and efficiency.

Enter my latest discovery – Amazon Dash Buttons. Introduced in 2015, and well covered in the media, I recently stumbled on to them. Of course, always the curious one, I did some clicking around to find out what they are…

 

 

Okay, so the question begs to be asked:  Is this really necessary???

Is this convenience for a busy lifestyle or simply a branding opportunity for companies? Is it just another gaudy example of over-inflated consumerism or a boon to those trying to simplify their hectic lives?

To be honest, this move toward increasing convenience scares me a little….. and we didn’t even mention drones.

A scene from a movie comes to mind.

 

As odd as this scene from Wall-E (produced by Pixar and released by Walt Disney Pictures) may seem to some, is it really that far from the truth? It’s a scene that floats through my brain from time to time (and not many movie scenes do) … causing me to pause and reflect on our ‘modern conveniences’ and where we might be headed, with far-reaching issues and consequences.

CNET reporter Bridget Carey shared ‘issues’ in her investigative report on Amazon Dash Buttons:

 

And is the Amazon Dash Button safe from a cyber perspective? Can someone hack my button via wifi and order supplies remotely while I get the bill? I wondered about these sorts of things as I read the How to Use page. In my need to know more, I ran across this post and a Part 2 here by Mark Gibbs over at networkworld.com.

Ironically, during the start of Lent, I find the $4.99 price tag reasonable enough to satisfy my curiosity. Will I give in to yet another convenience that may be perpetuating environmental irresponsibility, blatant consumerism, and the fast track to dystopia? I’d like to say no, but the jury’s out….  Look for my review of the Amazon Dash Button in upcoming weeks.

Until then, would love to hear if you’ve tried them….

 

Filed Under “Wow!” Einstein’s Space-Time Theory Confirmed

Image: Einstein's General Theory
credit: en.wikipedia.org

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” ~ Albert Einstein

 

Thank you, Dr. Einstein, for always questioning. Thanks to a team of physicists who also embraced questions, Einstein’s space-time theory is finally confirmed. According to The New York Times today,

 

A team of physicists who can now count themselves as astronomers announced on Thursday that they had heard and recorded the sound of two black holes colliding a billion light-years away, a fleeting chirp that fulfilled the last prophecy of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

That faint rising tone, physicists say, is the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago. And it is a ringing (pun intended) confirmation of the nature of black holes, the bottomless gravitational pits from which not even light can escape, which were the most foreboding (and unwelcome) part of his theory.

More generally, it means that scientists have finally tapped into the deepest register of physical reality, where the weirdest and wildest implications of Einstein’s universe become manifest.

 

While this is particularly cool news for science buffs and/or Big Bang Theory fans (like The Mr. and me), it’s also interesting news for a generation who’s heard about Dr. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity as a scientific construct. Wondering what black holes are and why they’re so ‘foreboding’?

Check out this trailer for Interstellar, a 2014 fictional movie about black holes, but with ‘an amazingly accurate view of a black hole,’ says its creators.   

 

Prefer a more scientific perspective? Check out this documentary on YouTube:

 

 

Scary AND exciting stuff, don’t you think??

 

Disconnected…

A year ago, January 4, 2015, I drafted this post, but never published it. I was struggling terribly and knew that if something didn’t change soon, I’d go right over the edge. It was a really, really, tough time for me……

gasoline tank reading in car
credit: affinitycentre.co.uk

Jan 4, 2015:

What do you do when what you do is no longer what you wish to do? 

 

The clarity is undeniable.

As I write this post, it’s Sunday evening. In a few short hours, I’ll return to my high school classroom and my students, after two weeks’ winter vacation. We will catch up ~ talking of gifts and family visits, travels and test scores (ACT and SAT scores were being posted during our time off). We will laugh and tell stories. Then, we will pick up where we left off in December. Inevitably, we will count the days to our next vacation (nine).

In spite of this wonderful sharing with my kiddos, time away from the classroom continues to clarify for me:  I no longer wish to be there.  I’m ready for a new chapter.  I have disconnected….

Tony Robbins quote about change

 

In September 2014, I began putting the wheels in motion to make a change, discussing with my principal that I was ready to leave the K-12 classroom (for the second – and final – time), and didn’t want to return to the classroom at the start of 2014-15, but wasn’t completely sure what else I wanted to do… yet. I hoped he would understand my need for change. He did, thankfully, though my transition turned out to be a lengthy process. Leaving a teaching position in the middle of a school year is generally frowned upon (and not something I’d ever do under ‘normal’ circumstances), but I knew my health and mental wellbeing were being compromised with each week that went by.  I was overwhelmed, depressed, and filled with anxiety as I considered my options. I needed to get out, but what would be my next chapter? I tinkered (again) with leaving Education, but wasn’t sure ……  I desperately looked for a *sign* that would help guide me.

Soon enough, several *signs* practically hit me in the face, and I figured it out; I wanted to return to Career and Technical Education as an Instructional Coach, this time on a campus instead of at district level. While I was ready to leave the classroom, being able to interact with students every day is important to me – to stay connected to the reason we do what we do in Education (and being an administrator is not on my Bucket List). Instructional coaching allows a teacher to be part of a leadership team, but not have to manage staff, budgets, facilities, etc…. Instead, an IC focuses on supporting teachers and their students by positively influencing effective instruction – from teaching and learning strategies to time management, organization, and relationship-building – through professional conversations, modeling, side-by-side teaching, and feedback – much like an athletic coach, but without the cursing, push-ups, or laps. 😉

Time seemed endless as I waited for the ‘right seat on the bus’ to open up. It was during that time that I turned to art as a respite. As I struggled to go to my classroom each morning and my inner writing voice that had been my early-morning friend, had fallen silent as I struggled, I needed a way to focus and … cope. Exploring art and other writing forms helped me through a difficult time. Time well spent, some might say…. I’m a glass-half-full-sorta gal, after all.   RobinLK Studios was established in 2015.

baby with a fist - Success
credit: prweb.com
Fast-forward a year.

Next month, I’ll celebrate my one-year work anniversary on my current campus. Working as an IC, I help new teachers navigate the complicated waters of entering teaching, while learning how to navigate the complicated waters of working with seasoned teachers – who tell me no help is needed, thank you very much….. all the while working on my own professional shortcomings, namely, high expectations that must be tempered, so I can meet teachers where they are without stepping on toes.  The new role hasn’t been without many ‘growth opportunities’ for me, but these make me understand the bigger picture:

It’s not about us. It’s about something much bigger than each of us, which I’ve known a long time, but sometimes a swift kick in the butt is needed… just sayin’.  😉   We need to get out of our own way, sometimes.

 

So, what do you do when what you do is no longer what you wish to do?  My humble advice:

  1. Accept that change is necessary for your own wellbeing (and for those around you – who have to deal with you!).
  2. Dig deep. Ask the tough questions. Discover who you are (or as someone said to me, “Figure out your sh*#!).
  3. Find your passion.
  4. Take the leap!

 

I’ve come to realize that being disconnected isn’t a bad thing, though sad sometimes, as we leave a part of ourselves behind… Instead, it’s part of the process of life, an opportunity to see the stepping stones on our own path to something better(?), different(?)…. more fulfilling…. perhaps.

stepping stones across a river
credit: commons.wikimedia.org

 

Have you ever struggled with feeling disconnected and needing to make a change? What did you do? How did it turn out? What advice would you give others?

 

Thanks for stopping by… Wishing you a wonderful day… and clarity to get out of your own way and step on that next stone….   🙂