Fresh Mascara and a New Shade of Lipstick….

With a few days off from work for the holiday, I’ve had time to stalk revisit and explore blogs in more depth than my usual 4:30 AM reads.  Man, you guys have some cool stuff out there! But you already knew that, didn’t you?

I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve borrowed a few ideas.  Thanks for the inspiration.

source: http://bit.ly/1uIs1aN

 

Result? Like a trip to the salon, RobinLK.com has undergone a little makeover today. Nothing too drastic, just a new header image here, updated About page there… an added Disclosure page (just in case), and few changes/additions to the sidebar.

 

 

 

Some fresh mascara and a new shade of lipstick…. all a girl really needs, right?   😉

 

 

Tell Us About Yourself: Sending an Introvert Into a Tailspin

Freaked out at the thought of having to introduce yourself to strangers?

 

Quiet Book Cover
Source: http://bit.ly/1wZT1oc

Several months ago I blogged about my BIG discovery {here}, after reading Susan Cain’s, Quiet: The Power of Introverts, last December.  What a great read!  In it, she discusses introverts in our society and society’s response to them.  She writes, “The bias against introversion leads to a colossal waste of talent, energy, and happiness.”

 

 

 

You can see her TED Talk here:

If you’re an introvert, you know she’s singing the gospel… Now, if everyone would just get quiet and listen….!! Right?

What was particularly enlightening to me ~ other than discovering I’m really an introvert camouflaged in an extrovert’s body ~ (light bulb moment!) was to learn why my instructional style is so challenging for some of my students…. You know, the ones who are also introverts, but not masquerading as an extrovert.

These guys and gals take quiet and attentive (qualities a teacher appreciates) to a much higher level, often edging closer to a referral for what appears to be open defiance because they will refuse to participate than have to talk with peers (and/or me).  Yes, it happens!  Maybe you were one of those kids? Maybe you’re raising one?  If so, might be helpful to give your kiddos’ teachers a little insight.  *Not taught in teacher-school.

Turns out, my collaborative classroom approach overwhelms introverted kiddos ~ as probably happens in many classrooms (fellow teacher-types, take note from this slow learner!).  This was a HUGE a-ha! moment for me… during my 20th year in the classroom.  As I read her book, I found myself saying, “That explains a LOT!”

When I reflected on how some of my classes are markedly different from others, it occurred to me:

Those classes that require me to cajole students to talk to one another and/or me {and they still refuse} are the classes in which introverts rule.  They are silently in control! 

When classes resumed after winter vacation last January, I was ready! Armed with this epiphany, I greeted my 2nd period class and told them what I finally understood. Poor kids.  They were visibly relieved. It was as if you could hear them whispering, “Finally, she gets us! Took her long enough!”  😉

HUGE difference between first and second semesters, as I gave my students latitude in how they would interact with their peers (and me), balancing the need to teach effective collaboration skills with giving students a ‘comfortable, safe’ learning environment that worked for everyone.

Electronic communication turned out to be a helpful way to get introverted students to interact.  Much has been written about the interface, including this article for Time by Cain. I have seen it first-hand, having students who didn’t utter a word for an entire semester, become involved in peer and student/teacher discussions when they could interact behind the safety of a keyboard.  Win-win!

Things were much calmer for me, too.  It was nice to have one class a day in which the kids weren’t swinging from the rafters a quiet disposition was expected and appreciated by my students. I didn’t have to be ‘on stage’ to get my point across.  Now if I could just get my other classes to try out this calmer, more focused presence….  Bliss, it would be pure bliss.

I’m kidding. It would be boring as all get-out!

*Interesting side note:  My ‘introverted’ class has been period 2 for three years running. Entirely different groups of kids from year to year, yet it’s consistently 2nd period.  Wonder why?   I smell an action research project lurking in the shadows…. 

Fast-forward eleven months.

Last week, I read a blog post from doc-turned-author Carrie Rubin {here} about her own embarrassing moment with introversion, and her advice for those of us who develop trainings or meetings for others.  As a presenter/PD facilitator/instructional literacy coach, I hadn’t ever considered how introverts might feel in my sessions. But once again, it sure explained a LOT about some participants’ sudden trips to the restroom or to ‘take a call’ when introductions begin.

According to Carrie, introverts are terrified to hear “Tell us about yourself…”  Wow!  This was an eye-opener for me… but makes perfect sense.  Now, when I’m plan sessions, I’ll remember to give participants a heads-up with plenty of ‘think time’ ~ to collect their thoughts and plan their words. Thanks, Carrie!

How about you?

Introvert? Extrovert?

Incognito??

Raising one (or two, or three ….)???

Early Childhood Ed: Tykes, Testing, and (Future) Teachers

This post was first published in 2011.  At the time, I was a member of our district’s CTE Instructional Support team.  Since then, I returned to my own academic classroom, where I’ve spent the past three+ years.  Now, with a wish to return to CTE, I’m sharing an answer to the question I get from fellow academic teachers in my current high school:  What’s Career and Technical Education?  Isn’t that for at-risk kids?  My answer:  No way!  It’s definitely not your father’s shop class anymore.  🙂

-> -> -> ->   Remix debut:   November 2014

 

Rigor + Relevance + Relationships

 What do you get when all three are in balance?

Join me for a tour of a colorful, productive, high-energy, Career and Technical high school class ……..

 

Imagine taking a basic beige high school classroom and turning it into rainbow sherbetcolored walls, miniature chairs and desks, building blocks, comfy carpets, picture books galore, lunchboxes, blankets, pillows and the occasional puzzle.  Throw in tossed-about shoes that fit the tiniest of feet and cool craft supplies kept neatly on the tots’ little table.   Add toddlers with unending  energy, teenagers with lots of patience and creativity, and a teacher whose passion is evident in the gazillion details she lovingly addresses in her Early Childhood Education classroom.

During my time as a CTE Instructional Support Teacher, I’ve gotten to  visit CTE classrooms, talk with students, and experience all the amazing  things happening in Career and Technical Education programs in our district.  It’s definitely one of the best parts of my job, and on the days that I can escape the minutiae of paperwork, reports, and meetings ~ otherwise known as ‘a day in the office’ ~ I happily steer my car toward a school and spend a few hours visiting students and their teachers.

I recently enjoyed such a day.

Early Childhood Education teacher, Jennifer Houston,  invited me to visit her classroom to see her students in action and learn about all the things happening in their very busy world.  (Actually, she’s been inviting me for months; I was finally able to steal away for a few hours!)

Let’s take a peek …..

Colorful walls transform a high school classroom into an exciting learning environment for wee ones.

Tile walls suggested by Mr. Houston (Yes, Mrs. Teacher’s Hubs).  With the help of said husband and a few generous parent volunteers, Jennifer turned her basic beige wall into a work of art, carefully designed, and decorated with wonderful learning tools for the wee ones.  Can you say O-R-G-A-N-I-Z-E-D???

 

Little tykes in all shapes and sizes… definitely not shy.  Sweet. Curious.  Energetic. Very smart!  Los of fun, showing me around their classroom, asking if I was a student or a guest.

 Cubbies for personal belongings and daily reports, written by the high school students who work with the children.

SAMSUNG

 

 

 

 

High school students complete  program  requirements to be a licensed childcare employee or  credentialed teacher: multiple competencies,  a professional portfolio,  many hours working directly with children, and a myriad of tests, to name a few.

Students (and children) in Jennifer’s class use the latest technologies to enhance their learning, including laptops, funded by a grant, and an interactive whiteboard, a tool often underutilized by many educators.    In this class, the interactive whiteboard really is interactive as teacher and students use it during lectures and projects.

A simple purple line divides the high school classroom setting from the childcare lab school side ….  students who aren’t ready yet to work directly with the children are able to observe them from their side of the classroom.  It seems the wee ones will ‘visit’ the high school students and ‘help them’ with their learning, too.  🙂  Fantastic!  Would we call this ‘intergenerational’ learning??

 

To  prepare  to work with the children,  high school students must pass rigorous testing  first.  Jennifer reminds them daily with an easy-to-read board loaded with up-to-date, Need to Know information.  No guessing here!

  

When students  finish their assignments,  they can read a few pointers from former students…..

In a school year (2010 – 11) when CTE programs are being cut due to industry certification issues, and budget deficits are resulting in  massive teacher cuts, public protests, and union rebuttals,  I invite politicians,  administrators, parents, and community members to visit classrooms that reflect the roll-up-your-sleeves work ethic that prepares students to  enter the workforce with skills and credentials needed to be  successful, contributing members of society.

  Not all classrooms are alike and neither are the teachers who inhabit them.  

Some just seem to radiate success a little more than others, shining a little brighter, and often are a bit (lot!) noisier than those of colleagues, as the din of educational energy escapes under the door.  These classrooms have teachers who set high standards, and students who take pride in owning their learning.  These classrooms remind me of  colleagues who became friends over the years…. (you know who you are!).  Gems  indeed, and always worth the extra effort to seek out, visit, and learn something new.

 Jennifer Houston’s Early Childhood Education class is definitely one of those gems.  

Mrs. Houston, with one of her wee ones.
 Thank you Jennifer, for your classroom hospitality, and for *ALL* you do!

 

Classroom 411: An Interactive Training Session Leads to New Ideas

Recently, a dedicated group of twenty educators and industry experts from Valencia Community College, Orange County Public Schools (Career and Technical Education), and Osceola County Public Schools (Career & Technical Education) met on a Saturday to participate in a lively staff development training session that explored ways to build “classroom community” regardless of the environment: live, online, or hybrid, and more importantly, why to do so.

With coffee in hand and preworkshop self-assessments completed, participants arrived for the four-hour session that promised discussion, interaction, and exploring ways to learn about themselves and their students ~ all in an effort to build nurturing, successful, effective learning experiences.

 

Though seasoned in their industry experience, and for most, in their scholarly experience as well, we all agreed that the demographics of our classrooms, whether in person or online, are changing rapidly, and in order to accommodate those changes, we need to better understand who our students are as learners as well as who we are as instructors (and learners) ~ how core personality characteristics, preferred learning styles, and cultural/generational elements affect learning (and teaching).

Through the True Colors and Generational Profiles models, we also discussed how these characteristics affect our relationships with family, friends, and coworkers.  Awareness and understanding of the influences lead to more effective communication at home and in our offices and schools.

Purposeful  thinking and engaged discussion  assisted  participants  in developing  a clearer understanding of  how  innate personality traits, brain-based  learning styles, and generational influences affect the learning environment, which led to  action plans that included tools for getting to know our students better, supporting them in getting to know themselves and each other better, and ways to tweak the learning experience to increase student (and instructor) success.

 A big “thanks” to everyone for their active and enthusiastic participation!  I enjoyed your insight, creativity, and professional dedication on an early Saturday morning.

THINK.  DISCUSS.  ACT.