Quotes for the moment

Today, I saw these two pics during my prep period.  Thanks to   and   for these quotes.

I decided to write them on the whiteboard and see what happened. 

What happened was really interesting…

Initially I had thought I would save the quotes for the next day but I was worried I might forget:) So I decided to write them on the board right then and there.  It might be seen by one class (my prep is 6th period and then I teach one more class before the school bell rings) but I was hopeful.

See…this class had struggled yesterday.  They were feeling tired after the weekend and out of their comfort zone because we were doing “CHOREOGRAPHY”! We had ended the class yesterday with a short, 5 minute, discussion on how the pattern we were seeing each day was making it so we weren’t going to be ready for the concert in 14 school days.  We talked about how to overcome their fears and how each of them was important to the team. I hoped for the best for today.

I said nothing about the quotes on the board as they came in.  I just listened and watched.  Each student had their own response.  Some didn’t notice anything.  Some glanced and kept moving towards their seat.  And then it happened.  I heard this small yet audible gasp.  I looked over to where it came from.  I found the source and loved the look I received.  It was as if a lightbulb had gone off in my student’s head.  She was surprised but seemed excited. She even made a comment which to the effect that she loved the play on words. She had noticed the quote on success and it really resounded with her.  Once she noticed, more students noticed.  Then they noticed the other quote. It was so interesting to continue to watch their responses.  This only took a couple of minutes but I was truly excited for what I was seeing.

I asked them what they thought of the quotes.  This let into a short discussion (again only about 5 minutes as those seem to powerful time spans) into what we each thought.  The amazing thing was in the way that they participated today.  I still had one that was visibly tired and felt sorry and somewhat worried for him but even he still gave a lot.

We started where we last left off. They practice, they worked, they created success.  We were even able to continue to work so well that they finished the piece. This was something that didn’t seem like it was ever going to happen.  It was complete turnaround.  We even reviewed the beginning of another piece and were able to add a new part to that one.  The new part REALLY took them out of the comfort zone but they did it and they did it well.

The things I have learned from my PLN on Twitter has been so ideal that I won’t be stopping my learning any time soon.

I know there are many more quotes I have LIKED so I can have access to them and I know there are many more I will find but I am thankful for the quotes I saw at that moment. It changed everything.

 

Confusion

CONFUSION 

Confusion can happen at any moment.  

Confusion is just that…confusing.  

Confusion can be frustrating, especially when it comes with the caveat of a needed decision.

  • What do you do when you know what you want and you can’t have what you want so you have to find something new?
  • What do you do when you think you know what you want and you are told it’s not possible so you have you look in a new direction?
  • What do you do when you have what you think you want but are told it has to change?
  • What do you do when you’ve done the work to look somewhere else and you found, not just one but two valid possibilities?

YOU MAKE A DECISION

Decisions can be just as frustrating.  It’s hard enough to make a decision when you don’t see any options or when there are two options presented.  It’s worse when there are three.  Because then you can take those three options and make SO MANY MORE.

All of this reminds me of Cinderella’s lament from Into the Woods.

“You think, what do you want?
You think, make a decision…It’s my first big decision,
The choice isn’t easy to make.”
https://www.allmusicals.com/lyrics/intothewoods/onthestepsofthepalace.htm

Too often people decide not to decide.  They put off the decision. They leave it until it’s too late and they lose out on a better life or at least the opportunity of one.  They might even hurt the ones they profess to care for through their indecision.

Decisions may be hard and even sometimes painful, but you have to make them.  Life does not go on without decisions.

How do you make the right decision? 

Well, I can’t tell you the RIGHT way for you or even for every situation.

I can only tell you what I do.  

Start with the pros and cons of the situation.  Are the pros and cons equal? Are there more pros than cons or vice versa? Are the pros and cons equivalent? Can they even be compared? Does your list contain feelings or logic or both?

I would tell you to eliminate the feelings, at least initially.  To me, if you are going to do a Pros & Cons list, feelings can’t be there.  This is supposed to be the logical part.  Feelings and intuition will come into play later.

Once the list is done, look at it. Does it make sense? Do you get any sense there is a distinct way to go? YES? Great, you probably made your decision and it was rather quick.  NO? Unsure? Yep, you’re like me.  You probably somehow, intentionally or unintentionally, made sure the lists were equal in length.  Yep…you and I have a problem.  Our need to have things even made it so the list isn’t as helpful as it is intended to be.

So what next?

I say…look at that list again.  Is there anything on the list that when push comes to shove you would say it’s not really important?  Is there anything on one side or the other on that list that you simply dismiss because you really have already made your decision, you are just prolonging the potential joy or agony?

For me, sometimes the list tells me everything I need to know.  Sometimes it tells me what I already knew.  Sometimes, it doesn’t seem to really help at all.

So…I ask again…what next?

If you have faith of any kind, this is the time to use it.  If your faith is a huge part of who you are, I would recommend praying since that is one of the inherent qualities of having any kind of faith. If not, keep trying with different logical situations and deeply ponder it. Talk to friends, etc.  Either way, process completely yet don’t take too long.  You don’t want something to pass you by that would benefit you, your family and/or others you are intending to help or work with. You may also have to process quickly because you are given a time limit.  We all know that adds to the stress but is sometimes a necessary requirement of an organization.

Confusion?…Process and make a Decision.

Tuesday Afternoon

Tuesday

Somehow, Tuesday is always harder on my students than Monday was.  Those that were wide awake yesterday are exhausted today.  I’m sure why that happens.  It just seems to work out that way.  Thankfully, most were excited to come into our classroom and work to learn right away.  Those that needed more time, took a few more minutes to regroup and quickly joined in.

Today…Tuesday, was our first day with staging our pieces for our upcoming concert.  This is always a challenge because some students don’t feel comfortable “dancing” in front of an audience.  With the help and support of the other students, we find ways  to help alleviate most stresses.  Through this process, we realize that if we all work together, the show will be a success.  If someone doesn’t give their all, it will be that person the audience looks at…sometimes with a critical eye, sometimes with confusion, sometimes with pity.  If they do their best, no one will know they don’t feel comfortable.  The students are also reminded that we have about three weeks to practice and accomplish all of this…ample time to help each of us become more practiced and at ease with what we are going to do.

I haven’t told most of the classes yet that I will be singing with one of the groups.  The group I will be singing with knows, just not the others. I haven’t ever sung with my students at any of our concerts thus far. When we practice and I demonstrate what I want from them, many of my students have asked me to sing to them.  Some have even asked me to sing with them on occasion.  However, I have always felt it was their show…not mine.

Earlier this year, I went to a music training where the presenter talked about ways to enhance our choir performances.  Many of those ways are in the works for this concert.  But one stuck out to me…the presenter asked us why we weren’t singing with our students.  The responses given were very much like my thoughts.  He then went on to say…If you aren’t sharing your talents with your students, what are doing teaching them? Wow, that made me think.

So, I went to my advanced group and asked them what they wanted.  Did they want me to sing with them?  Would they rather have it be solos from the students? Although there are always students that want to sing solos, I was really surprised by the number of students that wrote on a silent/anonymous ballot that they wanted me to sing with them.  I was honored.

I still want them to shine more than me so I gave into their requests for me starting the song with a black stage and spotlight, them slowly joining me on stage singing as they enter but then I will back off so my voice blends rather than stands out.  It will be an interesting evening as this piece is our closing number.  It will be interesting because many decisions should have been made by then.  It will be interesting to see what some of the parents say about me performing with their students.

For now, I worry not about those things.

For now, I care much more about getting the students ready and finding my groove with how we want to perform it.

For now, I will continue to look for Tuesday afternoons:

I’m just beginning to see
Now I’m on my way
It doesn’t matter to me
Chasing the clouds away

 

Spinners in the classroom

Spinners

There are a lot of students that come from privileged families that place in an inordinate amount of pressure on them to be “something”. This means expecting straight A’s even if another grade really reflects what they understand.  It means feeling as though they aren’t ever capable of being good enough.  It means anxiety.

Sometimes students carry around passes that give them a 5-minute break when their anxiety gets out of control. As teachers, we can sometimes help.  We can work with them over a course of a year and help them so they rarely use them. However, that is usually more because of the number of students in the class than anything we could really do. There are always new tools that are created with the goal to help students that have ADD, ADHD, Anxiety or any other situation manage classroom learning and expectations.  Recently, it’s been the spinner or the fidget cube.

When I see such a tool, the only conversation I have with them is a quiet one that asks them to use it as the tool was designed to be used.  However,  if I see it being passed around or thrown (yes I have students that will do those thing), I will have to ask that it be put away.

I have some have this be the result of such behavior.  They were asked to put it away until they could use it responsibly.  Usually, they just need to realize they needed the tool more than they needed to play.

As a teacher, I could ask that students have parent permission to use such a tool. Yes, there are teachers out there saying that’s in order for the tool to be used, parents must come in and explain to the teacher why it needs to be there.  However, I really feel that as teachers we don’t always need a form or file or parent input to do what’s best for our students. If a teacher finds the kids aren’t using any tool correctly, there should be a conversation with that student first. Students are smarter than we give them credit for (at any age).

I also think that as teachers, we sometimes forget that it really isn’t OUR ROOM. We go to school and say that we agree with our professors when we learn about setting up our classroom as a place of refuge for our students.  We even talk as teachers, in meetings, that we recognize our students often have lives at home such that our room is the only place they will feel positive reinforcement in their lives. So, if it’s supposed to be a place of safety and learning for those kids, when it’s OUR ROOM, can we really say that is always the case. I say, if its really that big of an issue in your classroom, “Let the kids take ownership of the room. Let them decide what should be done when someone takes something intended to be used for good and changes it’s use jeopardizing someone else’s ability to learn effectively.

Blessings

I hope no one begrudged me the day off yesterday as it was Sunday.  I tell my students, I take one day off every week from doing ANY work even including their emails or Remind texts to me, and now I will include this blog as I see it as work albeit quite enjoyable work.  So this post was written Saturday evening.

I want to say THANK YOU.  I say thank you for a number of reasons.  First, This past week* has been an amazing ride!  *I’ve already written about my ‘bumpy’ ride since January but you can read that post later.

 

It was amazing because I am an introvert.  Once people get to know me and I feel comfortable around you, you forget how introverted I really am…because I can talk nonstop:0 However, I went so far out of my comfort zone this week in starting a blog that I’m almost surprised I did.  I will admit that when A.J. Juliani, in one of the videos from Innovative Teaching Academy, said one of our assignments was to start a blog, I almost did what I complain about others doing…I started to blub, to mutter, to come up with reasons I couldn’t do it and on and on.  I can’t really say why I stopped myself but something within me said to just suck it up and do it.  So I did.  

For me, this road has been almost cathartic.  It’s been an emotional roller coaster in a number of ways and for a number of reasons.  However, as much as I have worried about what to write and what to add to the website (there is still a lot I want to add) and have learned much through trial and error about putting together a website, I can say I have learned most about myself.

Despite being told by different people over the years, many who were family members, that I couldn’t do this or that because of this or that, I realized I can do just about anything if I put in the time and the effort and I truly believe in myself.  I tell my students to do this all the time.  However, I can’t say I completely believed it for myself.  My students are young, with endless possibilities and opportunities ahead of them. But I often feel I am limited.  Limited by my age, my size, my education (I’m not smart enough for some, too smart for others) and other numberless ideas I can think of.

However, there is really good song that truly sums up what it feels like to let go, do something new and even scary, and almost feel free for the first time…Defying Gravity.  I know, you though I would “Let it Go”.  That one is definitely good.  However, Defying Gravity is a song that I share a love of with many of my students.  Many have not been through, although too many might have too close a glimpse through their own experiences, what I have been through but I still think we can share the wonderful knowledge that we too can change and take charge of our own destinies.

“Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap!”

Read more: Wicked – Defying Gravity Lyrics | MetroLyrics