Monthly Archives: November 2014

Live and Learn

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Calling all perfectionists – yes, we are talking to you! Life can be rather strict without a lot of joy when you expect only the best AND no errors along the way. It is something different to expect the best and expect errors along the way. So – Make a mistake! Go for it! We dare you. It is important in life to make mistakes and learn and grow from them. According to Micah Lancaster, basketball trainer extraordinaire, if we do not make mistakes we are not working hard enough. We need to give it our all and that “all” is going to require a few slip ups along the way as we strive to get better.

This concept is one that we need to model for our friends and family. It is critical that we model acceptance of mistakes in our classrooms with our students. The number wrong on an assessment does not define who we are; rather, it points out our attempts to learn and move forward. FAIL just means First Attempt in Learning. The only true failure is not trying at all. Encourage students to try – to give it their best shot. Einstein made countless errors in his scientific studies. He did not give up when others thought him to be quite the opposite of smart along the way.

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving in the USA. It is a chance to give thanks for all that we have and more importantly, who we have in our lives. It is also a time to give thanks for life’s lessons, too. Be thankful for the mistakes. They make us who we are. It is important to give thanks for the mistakes we make in the learning opportunities we have each day.

We can’t get better if everything we do is perfect start. If that phrase does not leave you convinced, maybe one of these famous or fresh quotes will do the trick.

*It is the process not the product.

*It is the journey not the destination that makes us who we are.

*Live and learn.

*Try, try, and try again.

Remember – The only true failure happens when we don’t even try.

Go out and make a mistake today. It’s okay; you have our permission… just don’t hurt anyone on purpose. 😉

Stay Calm & Lead On!
Profs ~ Dr. C. & Dr. V.

Shake it Off

google images - because you don't want to see us do this!
google images – because you don’t want to see us do this!

The other night while watching a high school volleyball playoff match, one player was starting to get frustrated. She shanked a pass and so, naturally, the other team continued to serve at her hoping she would lose all confidence. She did and it showed. She became frustrated and angry. It was obvious to the whole crowd that her attitude had gone south. That’s when an extremely loud fan yelled “SHAKE IT OFF!”

We could relate. We’ve yelled the very same thing to our own kids when they’ve become frustrated on the court or the field or the course. When we see their attitudes starting to quickly fade from positive to negative, we mom’s yell “SHAKE IT OFF!” And maybe even add a “NOW” to the end.

Sometimes our “mom” personalities kick in for our teacher candidates at SMSU. There are times when our teacher candidates need to “SHAKE IT OFF” – this is true when their field experience placements are received a little bit late, or when learning about the edTPA requirements, or when they did not pass one of their MTLE exams, or when trying to figure out how they will fit in the 45 lab hours that are due at the end of the semester.

Stress can make us act out of sorts and not our rational selves so that is when we need to shake it off. We know the need to shake it off like our teacher candidates do, and we remind each other of it from time to time. 🙂

Here are five ways to help you shake it off:

Breathe – Take a few deep breaths. Inhale for a count of eight then exhale for a count of eight. Get your oxygen flowing to help clear your head!

Refocus – Change your perspective. Only you can change you. Focus on the positive not the negative. Begin again.

Take Responsibility – You are responsible for no one but yourself. Stop blaming others, and stop complaining to others.

Positive Self-Talk – Think positively. Adjust your attitude. Reflect on what you need to do then tell yourself “I can do this! I am an organized person. I’ve been trained for this. I will succeed.”

Fight – Adopt an attitude of a soldier. Be courageous, make some sacrifices, and do the best you can to fight for great results on whatever tasks you are given.

For that volleyball player who lost her confidence, and for our students who are feeling overwhelmed right now—“Keep cruisin’, keep movin’, keep groovin’ and it’ll be all right. And then just “SHAKE IT OFF.”  🙂

Stay Calm & Lead On!
Profs Dr. C. & Dr. V.

Intentional Creativity

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Who do you think is going to win the race? We have a pretty good idea. When we think about education in terms of a race, we need to consider this illustration to keep us in the lead. “Think outside the box.” This common phrase leads us to consider anything but common practice. It challenges us to think of alternative paths and possibilities.

It is sometimes easier said than done, however. Being creative is not always as easy as it sounds. Writers block is an example of blocked creativity. When creativity is stopped in its tracks or not allowed to even start, it is up to us to make it happen or nothing will ever be different, change, or move forward.

“Brain research helps us to understand how to improve our creative thinking and make creative thinking a habit. The creative drive is a result of the interaction between the frontal lobe (where we generate ideas), the temporal lobe (where we judge), and the release of dopamine (which makes us feel good). Learning creates neutral pathways in the brain, which are reinforced with use. … By practicing creative thinking, students become comfortable making new, meaningful connections and thinking of new possibilities rather than relying on established neutral pathways. With enough practice, this new way of thinking becomes habitual and automatic. … Our brains are wired for success, which means students like to be assured of an outcome where there is only one answer: the right answer. This is not what creativity is about. With creative thinking, as long as students can defend their reasoning, many answers can be correct” (Drapeau, 2014, p.12).

We need to challenge our students (colleagues, friends, family) to think outside of the box and model creative behaviors to ensure creative outcomes. Modeling is encouraged but providing a standard example or answer is not quite the path to develop creative thinking. Our teacher candidates would like to see examples and samples of what is expected. Rethink this – if we show examples of everything we can only expect what has been done. We need to expect what has not been created yet.

Don’t allow this to be you or your class or your colleagues.

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“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” ~ John Wooden

Find a new perspective with intentional creativity. Nurture creativity and make it a habit to try something new and be creative. You want the answer to “just how do we do this,” don’t you? Then go out and create it.

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Stay Calm & Lead On!
Profs ~ Dr. C. & Dr. V.

Stressed Spelled Backwards—Desserts

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Do you have those days when you feel like yeast-less bread because of being stressed out? Life can cook up many challenges, and at this time of the year we are starting to feel just a tad stressed. The demands of work, emails, projects, correcting, meetings, trainings, volunteering, and planning for the upcoming holidays, can certainly make us feel like a dense flop.

Well, try not to be discouraged and give up on the recipe of less stress. Here are some key ingredients to make sure your stressed-out days turn around and become like sweet morsels to the soul:

Eat dessert: Dessert first, please. Stressed spelled backwards equals desserts. Sweeten your day by dishing up a small bowl of ice cream, savoring a chocolate chip cookie, or sinking your teeth into a juicy apple. All are sweet morsels for our palate and our soul. No – we didn’t say enjoy with no limits. If that is what you think you read, then refer to our September blog regarding the SACS 30 Day Challenge.

Color: Who says you have to be a kid to color. Find a box of crayons, a coloring book, and a quiet spot and color away. Oh the joys of coloring. It will make you smile. Do try to refrain from taking over your (or someone else’s) child’s school project, however. One of us can tend to get carried away with coloring and needs a reminder that we passed first grade already. Anyway – if you don’t like to color then try this…

Zentangle®: Maybe doodling would be more calming. Use Zentangle® to relax and create a beautiful doodling image. Check out the Zentangle® Beginners website to get started; it will definitely help you find your zen.

Laugh: Laugh out loud daily and laugh often. Try this…when you wake up in the morning and before you get out of bed, force yourself to laugh. It’ll seem so silly that you’ll end up laughing…out loud. Okay – we might be going over the edge with this one. LOL.

Walk: Any type of exercise will help the stress disappear. Walk, run, play racquetball, ride a bike, or dance Zumba style. Just move and it’s guaranteed that you will be less stressed.

Hot bath: Remember the commercial, “Calgon, take me away?” Take its advice and take a nice hot bath and lose yourself in luxury. Feel the stress wash away. Speaking of bath…

Sing: Just like Julia Roberts did in her movie, Pretty Woman, sing like no one is listening. Play your favorite music. Pretend to be Carrie Underwood, Prince, or even Chris Rice on his Pandora station and belt it out.

Drink: Drink lots and lots of H2O. It is said you are supposed to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water. So, if you weigh 120 pounds, you should be drinking 60 ounces of water a day. Dehydration can cause lots of bad side effects so stay hydrated!

Read: Pick up a book and connect with a character.  Read to someone else. Let someone read to you.  Read alone. But read! Reading can truly take you places if you only let your imagination take you there. It is definitely a stress-buster and reading is part of the recipe for success.

Unplug: Smart phones, computers, iPads, Kindles, and all electronic devices can drain us of energy throughout the day. Give your devices a curfew and shut them down at that time. Take a mini vacation from your technologies and you’ll be recharged in the morning just like your devices will be. Goodnight iPad, good night Doom, good night bird launching over the moon….Good night pop stars, good night MacBook Air, goodnight gadgets everywhere.

Take charge of your stress so the day won’t be a dense flop. Just like you are in charge of baking up some light, fluffy, airy bread; you can also be in charge of whipping up a light, fluffy, airy day. Throw on that apron and make each day delicious!

Stay Calm & Lead On!
Profs Dr. C. & Dr. V.