Thursday Randomness

  1. Books I recently finished:
    1. SIP by: Brian Allen Carr

 

Image result for sip carr

 

I liked this book for the idea of the story. The world in this book is constructed where people “drink” shadows as a drug. Halley’s comet is involved and an interesting cast of characters. The story has the hint of science fiction. The writing style was not as pleasing as I would have liked. I also wish the characters would have been more deeply developed. I enjoyed the book and the story, but it isn’t a favorite pick of the year.

 

2. The Changeling by Victor LaValle

Image result for the changeling

This book was recommended by Liberty from All The Books. It was about a bookseller and a fantasy story about witches. The story is slightly off center in a fantastic way. The ending took a weird turn for me that seemed off. I kept coming back to the book and wanted to finish it. It was worth the time for sure.

2. I really wanted pancakes yesterday…but didn’t get them.

3. I love to go to the library. I live in a town that is close to where I grew up and still have a card at the library I essentially “grew up in”. Yesterday I went to pick up books on hold. Even though the library has been remodeled and doesn’t look anything like I remember, there is always a sense of comfort walking through the doors. Sometimes I wonder if it is because it is the library and I am comforted by books in general,  or if it actually has to do with the fact that it is a familiar book and reading space.  It represents so much of my reading life through my elementary, middle, and high school years.

4. After listening to the Book Riot Annotated Podcast this morning on my run the question of: “How do you feel about the Oxford comma?” was injected into several conversations throughout the day. If you haven’t checked it out – it is completely worth your time!

 

 

 

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Revealing Myself

Slice of Life2

I am reflective and always have been, but most of the time I just refer to this trait as “over thinking”. I believe that being reflective professionally makes a better educator. Over the past three years in particular I have acutely evaluated what is truly important to me. I love quizzes, personality tests, and asking questions.

As I cleaned out the clutter of my Pinterest account yesterday I came across a pin of 20 questions that reveal your true self and thought today’s post would be a perfect place to answer 4 of these questions.

  1. What is your life motto?

I have two: READING IS THE GATEWAY and LOVE OVER FEAR.

I believe that reading is the gateway to learning and to pleasure. Stories make the world go ’round! Stories makes us more empathetic and help us cope. Books are my favorite things by far! They are a comfort to me. This motto sometimes comes out as, “I have a book for that!”

“LOVE OVER FEAR” came from Gabrielle Bernstein and I must say it changed some negative thinking to a more positive frame. I try to take action based on love rather than the fear of what will happen, or could happen. Motivation comes from passion or fear. I am intentionally choosing love over the fear. It has made a difference.

2. What is my favorite thing about myself? 

My favorite thing about myself is that I am passionate. I am passionate about my job, my reading, my exercise and running, and my husband and kids. If it is something that I am interested in I will kill myself to learn it or get it done.

3. What did I want to be when I was a kid?

When I was young I always wanted to be a teacher. There was a short time I wanted to be a writer too, but it was always thought of as a secondary career. I am not sure why exactly. I have always written poems and stories since I can remember.

I loved to be in school and loved to cut out lamination. The idea of being in school as my job was an exciting prospect when I was little.

4. What is my biggest accomplishment? (professional)

There was a time period of roughly 2 years that I was involved in writing heavy grant and award paperwork. I was honored to be part of a school that won a National Blue Ribbon School Award, a Title I Distinguished School nomination, and the Indiana Exemplary Reading Program. It was great to be recognized for the work the staff was doing with students. I feel my entire career has been full of small and large accomplishments with individual students.

As part of Workshop Wednesday,  I am utilizing personality tests so my staff can better learn how to collaborate and work together. The conversations after one session have been interesting. There are all new teams in my middle school so I hope this helps people to ease the transition into new working relationships.

Office Clutter

I have moved rooms/offices 5 times in 2 years. This process has resulted in approximately 75% of materials and books being dispensed or discarded. Items were shared with students and teachers. I digitized many files and papers and saved on flash keys or Google drive. I have not found myself searching for documents that “I know I have somewhere.” I only seem to be missing student evidence that accompanied professional development sessions I had created.

I still seem to have an abundance of books and materials that are overwhelming my office space. The books are thrown into the bookcases haphazardly and I stack. I am constantly trying to create and tend to print papers and ideas in bulk. I am constantly thinking about multiple projects at once but need to find a method of being able to see it and not lose it in a file cabinet.

Part of my issue is a past experience. When I moved from teaching fourth grade to first grade I purged many materials I didn’t think I would use again. Then I moved into a reading specialist position and needed many of those materials since I worked with kindergarten through fifth grade. Since then, I am reluctant to get rid of much of anything.

I have used the Konmari method at home with success to clear clutter and purge.  The idea of holding onto only what I love was freeing and worked. Professional resources seem more difficult for me.

These are the Konmari questions to use:

Does it spark joy?

Is it necessary?

Does it work?

Does it have a designated place to live?

I need to evaluate if a resource is necessary or if it was effective. I need to determine if it is a resource I would share, and if not then I need to get rid of it. If it is something to share,  I need to formulate a plan of what type of PD it can be most effectively deployed.

A chart with a time frame for ideas may work for highlighting projects to work on,  or list on a page in the bullet journal. Some projects get snippets of time and not Deep Work scheduled time slots which may push it down the priority list.

Finding the time for this process may also be challenging.

Have you found an effective method of purging your educational resources? If so, please share in the comments.

Back to Running

Last week I started running again in the morning. I have been setting the alarm for 4:55 am in order to get out the door. Running in the morning means that I have to run a shorter distance, but I run every morning. The consistency is better for my fitness and motivation.

I have found the running is easier in the morning. I am trying to figure out if it is the change in the schedule. It could be that my brain is still asleep. It could be that it is dark and my eyes and brain are confused as to just how far I am running.

The temperatures have been cool and comfortable. I am glad to have the run done before my day actually starts.

I  am hoping the writing ideas flow. It will allow me to sort through the organization of the day especially when I am presenting.

What is something that you do consistently that makes a difference in the process?

 

 

 

Forest Walking

Forest walking is  a concept that was introduced to me in a research form from Jonathan Fields in his Good Life Project work.

As a new part of my job this year I am running a lunch “detention” that encompasses meditation, walking mediation, yoga, and calming exercises depending on the student. I have had students for 3 out of 4 days since we started school.

It has been amazing the change in attitude of these students from the beginning of the hour to the end with a simple walk in the wooded grounds. The canopy of trees along wood chipped trails is the environment we spend the bulk of our hour in. The conversation flows easier, the breathing is easier, and the self reflection flows. The conversation ranges from why they got in trouble,  to what they want to be when they grow up,  to what they could have done differently. The smiles have been abundant and some laughter has even broken through.

I feel like I have already cultivated better and stronger relationships with students compared to last year. I am hoping to interject some writing into the time. Book talks have already taken place which makes my heart happy. I am excited to see how this time evolves over the school year.

 

Anne Bogel is AMAZING!

Anne Bogel is an amazing woman and I have been a fan for years.

When her new blog post on Modern Mrs Darcy is posted, I read that first.

When her summer reading guide is released I am there!

When her online book club started I was in the first group.

When her podcast comes out every Tuesday I am downloading and listening to it immediately.

When she recommends books I am searching on Amazon where ever I am!

Soooooo….

When I found out she was writing a book I was thrilled!

 

Then I was accepted to become part of the launch team and was able to read the book early which is equivalent to enjoying the whole bakery with sprinkles not just one cupcake.

As someone who loves personality tests this book talks about several measures with real stories and applications. All of us want to know more about ourselves and how and why we react to situations and people. I know that discovering I was an introvert several years ago was mind blowing for me. 

As a teacher coach,  I plan to use personality tests as part of my trainings this year so the insight from Anne’s book will be helpful. I am beginning my Workshop Wednesdays next week, and personality and collaboration is the topic.

Although I was familiar with most of the measures explained in the book, the real life explanations from Anne added to my understanding. I even learned about a couple new measures!!

I am the type of reader that is: THE INSIDER. I want to know all the books that are coming out and what the buzz is about them. I also pay attention to Man Booker Prize and National Book Award lists. I want to know which authors are from the Iowa Writers Workshop. I pay attention to the critics from the New York Times Book Review but I still make my own decisions about what I want to read…and what I chose to recommend.

This book is a great read full of useful information. If you want to know more about yourself and the people around you pre-order the book by clicking on readingpeoplebook.com. The release date is September 19, 2017.

Check out Anne’s blog too! http://www.modernmrsdarcy.com

#readingpeoplebook

Morning Routines

I have been listening to the audiobook Deep Work by Cal Newport. This book has been on my radar multiple times over the past several years, but it has never stuck with me in a meaningful way until now. Books have their way of coming into my life when I most need them. I feel like now is the time for this book to work its magic. I have checked it out of the library and skimmed it more than once, but listening to it seems to resonate better at this time in my life.

Writing rituals and routines are always something in my reading and thinking wheelhouse and a morning routine is part of the strategies talked about in Deep Work.  Two years ago I found the website My Morning Routine which is a site which interviews different people and asks them a series of questions about the success of morning routines. The basic question is, “What is your morning routine?” and “How long have you stuck with the routine?” There is research that links the idea of a solid routine to successful life. Tim Ferris has talked about this concept in his books and his podcast. With so much research I feel this is the time to intentionally create a routine and stick to it to better use my time.

My plan is to carve out time at the beginning of my work day to be able to establish a quality routine that involves some deep work. I am the type of person that needs to be able to have the daily time to focus my attention to deep work rather than shallow work. Some people can carve out a whole day once a week or certain times a month but I do not believe this practice would be effective for my learning style. I have allowed myself to become distracted more lately and need to train my brain to GO DEEP and am hoping this book and some of the strategies will help me be more successful.

I have experimented with different pieces of morning routines for as long as I can remember including exercise, meditation, reading, morning pages, etc. I will experiment with the new routine for 2 weeks and then modify if needed. I used to run every morning which allowed me to think and process the day but my new schedule and life do not allow for this anymore.

New Morning Routine:

  1. Set intention for the day
    1. I have been saying an intention to myself for years. It is how I remind myself what I am working on personally and professionally. It simply starts with “It is my intention….” Currently the words intentional, inspire, and create are contained within my intention.
  2. Check calendar for the day (which was set before leaving work the day before)
  3. Add any activity or meetings for the day.
  4. Write a few notes for what I intend to write for the day and block time in the day for when I will write.
  5. Read and annotate professional book including the connections I need to make to bring pertinent information to the teachers I work with..
  6. Get more coffee.
  7. Start the day with “Here we GO!”

Wish me luck!

 

 

Yes and No

I have been contemplating what I am saying “YES” to in my life and “NO!” This idea has been inspired by Tsh Oxenreider from The Simple Show and her amazing podcast series. She rereads the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown every year which is a title I have also read.

Things I have been saying NO to lately:

+ Feeling bad about truly putting my family first

+ Apologizing for statements about what I believe in

+Toxic people

 

Things I have been saying YES to:

+Family

+Honoring my knowledge, experience, and expertise in the field of education

+New learning and not knowing everything!

+Spending time with people I want to and that are enriching to my life

+Word Connect on my phone

+What really matters

+Reading

+Writing

+Being bored and thinking

 

What are you saying yes and no to in your life?

 

Happy New Year!

Today was the first day back for the new school year. I always think of the first day of school as the new year rather than January 1st. It is a new beginning and a fresh start. January 1st is the time for me to revisit the goals and aspirations I set in August.

The events and situations that I find myself in this year are dramatically different than last. Last year I was new to the corporation and knew no one. This year I had many familiar faces to greet me at the district meeting. Last year no one knew who I was when I walked in the building. This year I have already had meetings with my teachers to discuss the students and curriculum and more are scheduled for tomorrow and the rest of this week! The year is off to a booming start and I prefer it that way! As Thomas the Tank Engine would say: I felt like a very useful engine today.

I have many goals starting my 22nd year of education. Some are small like my own dress code for work to big frameworks I want to implement with my Workshop Wednesdays this year. I want to help my teachers with teaching reading to our middle school students. I want to focus on relationships with teachers and students. I want to write and read more personally and professionally. Rest assured, all these goals are written in a measurable way in my little black book I carry around with me everywhere!

The words I decided in January for 2017 were CREATE and INSPIRE. This is the time of year for me to check in with those words and continue the goals.

One of the best things about today was the laughter! I am blessed to work with some amazing people and I was reminded of that fact many times over today.

It is going to be a great year!