Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Private Parts

There were two times today when I found myself laughing out loud due to funny student remarks.  And I mean the true, LOL, where I really, truly laughed.  Not just a chuckle.  What's even better were the looks on the kids' faces when they heard me laugh at something. They first looked to see if I was really laughing, and once that was confirmed, they joined in whole-heartedly.  It was a little laugh-fest in my classroom a couple of times today.  Positive vibes were everywhere. 

Now I know I can't just throw this out there and not tell you what it was that was so hilarious, so here goes.  

Laugh #1
One of my boys was showing pictures from his recent trip to the Bahamas on the document camera at lunch.  He had done a spectacular job of printing out some pictures and including wonderful captions.  After we had all finished "oohing" and "ahing" over the gorgeous beaches and animal photos, the student interjected a little fun fact.  And he prefaced it by telling us all he now had a "fun fact" for us. [smile]   The class and I held our breath waiting for this exciting tidbit of knowledge. 

"I'll bet you didn't know that the Bahamas used to be called Hog Island, did you?"

Hmmmm.... well... no I didn't know that.  Neither did twenty-one other little ones who suddenly wanted to understand why in the world anyone would name anything Hog.  And so it started. 

"Why was it called Hog Island?"   (repeat this about twelve times with different stresses on different words in the sentence.) 

Numerous ideas were thrown out and were rejected or agreed with by others.  Suddenly one student jumped out of her seat.  

"I know why it was called that!!" she exclaimed.  "Because the guy that first found the island hogged it!" 

Now, I'm not sure why this was as funny as it was to me at that moment.  When I type it, it doesn't appear nearly as funny as it was in person.  Maybe you had to be there. 

Laugh #2
On to the afternoon of fun 3rd grade curriculum.  We have been learning about the Native Americans and had just read together some information on how much Native Americans respect the land and animals.  We were talking about how Native Americans only killed animals when they needed food and they would use all parts of the animal; nothing went to waste.  We talked about how they used the hides for clothing and the meat for food and the bones for tools, etc.   Now, remember, I told them they used every part of the animal.    Up goes a hand.  Two hands, three hands, and four.   One is waving frantically and soon this student is sitting up on their knees in their seat trying to call even more attention to himself so I would call on him. 

Hmmmmmmm.... I have been a teacher long enough to know that the frantically waving hand usually has one of two things behind it.  Number one:  a completely off topic story about last summer's vacation or number two: an inappropriate remark.   Should I risk it?  And so I did.

"You said they used every part of the animal, right??"  checked the student.
"Yes.  They didn't let things go to waste," I confirmed.
"Well, what did they do with the animal's... you know... the.... animal's... private parts?"  
[Student motions and looks down pointing at his private parts]

After a moment of frozen silence and twenty-two students watching for my reaction, I shrugged my shoulders, rolled my eyes a bit, and LOLed.  They joined in. 

"Good question!" I congratulated him.  And then I moved on to Native American wigwams at lightning speed.  

Now as a teacher there are certainly many times during the day when I hear funny comments or remarks.  I usually smile and even chuckle a little.  But today, I found it was easy, and even fun to just laugh out loud.  Could it be the more positive atmosphere in my classroom?? Could it be that I'm just open to having more fun and enjoying the moment?  

And on a side note, I did google it.  I read that Native Americans ate brains, intestines, and organs of animals (as people do today), but I didn't see anything about private parts.  Just in case you wanted to know.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Numbers Game

If you Google the word "positivity" you'll find in the neighborhood of 23,000,000 hits.  That's a lot of positivity, if you ask me.   As you can probably guess, the most hits were for dictionary type sites and Wikipedia.  I spotted a couple positivity blogs and eagerly clicked on them to see what they might have that my blog does not have (yet).  Not impressed with what I found there and naturally curious, I googled "positivity blogs" and found there are over 13,000,000!  Much to my dismay, after clicking through several pages looking for my blog, I realized that I'm not quite in that higher level of blogging to be in the top sites.  (sigh)

But, keeping on the positive side, I did read a couple of interesting articles about positivity, including one on the Psychology Today site which is worth the read.  You can find it here:

What Good Is Positivity?

I've added the book from above article to my "To Read" list, which admittedly, often doesn't occur until the summer months.  Something to look forward to.

Next I clicked over to Facebook, one of my personal top ten time wasting sites and where I've lately been sucked in by the popular "Words With Friends" game.  It's hard to tell how many sites have the word "positive" in them or related to them, because, well, because it's Facebook.  I checked a couple of what I thought were the more interesting ones out and even 'liked' one or two.  Most seemed to be more of the "Rah Rah" everything is wonderful kind of blog, which isn't something that interests me.  Although I've committed to the positive perspective, I certainly have no plans to go overboard with the whole thing.

Of course, I next went over to Twitter, which I am still trying to figure out how/why to use.  I searched for "positive" and when I saw the first result was one of Justin Bieber's tweets, I couldn't click out of the page fast enough!

Back for some numbers at my own blog and here's what I saw:

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers

United States      2239
Russia                   18
Germany                11
France                   10
Sweden                 10
United Kingdom       7
Canada                   1
Dominican Republic 1
Spain                     1
Croatia                   1

OK, so maybe I'm not in the top Google searches for positivity, or blogging.   But, hey, I think getting hits from nine other countries is pretty cool.  And, Croatia?  I love that.

In other numbers news,  I have 40 posts (and that's a lot of time writing, let me tell you) and 98 comments, which are all positive.   I've been blogging roughly 98 days (well, o.k. not blogging all those days but the blog has been "alive" for about 98 days).

In case you didn't notice, I used the word positive eleven times in this blog -- a new blog record for me!

So, happy Monday!  Here's to many more blogs to come and many more visitors and comments!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pumpkin or Apple?

It's been so wonderful the past four days being on a break from school.  It's not that I don't like school; quite the contrary.  However, I do enjoy a longer break than a weekend every now and then.  It helps reenergize me.  I can take a few steps back and not have school, teaching, and planning on my mind constantly.  

This Thanksgiving, for the fifth year, we hosted my husband's children and their families for the weekend.  It's great to have a houseful of young children to share in the holiday.  This Thanksgiving, for the first year, my daughter flew home from Chicago and her first real job, started in September.  It's great to have her around for a few days as I don't get to see her regularly anymore.  This Thanksgiving, I applied my positivity and really worried less and enjoyed more.  It's great.   My daughter and I actually braved "Black Friday" and had fun, even when waiting in line to just get inside a store.  In years past, if I even ventured out to shop the day after Thanksgiving, I would be grumbling and complaining and highly annoyed.  This year, I actually could feel the difference.  Of course I might just be feeling a bit more positive because my daughter bought me two early Christmas presents and I treated myself to a new coat! 

So, as the hours seem to fly by and Monday morning is just around the corner, I'm going to take advantage of this precious time and enjoy it fully.  As we say our good-byes to family and I drop off my daughter at the airport to fly back to her new 'home' I'm going to remind myself how lucky I am.  

And for now, I'm going to especially relish in the fact that the most difficult decision I have to make for now is do I want pumpkin pie or apple?  Hmmmm.... I'm thinking I want a piece of them both.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pass the Mashed Potatoes

My Poem of Thanks

I'm thankful for colored pencils, and crayons, and such,
Not markers cuz I don't let the kids use them much.

I'm thankful for pencils freshly sharpened and new,
But not tooth marks on pencils that some students chew.

I'm thankful for Spanish, and music, and art,
But not when Senora has to come teach on her cart.

I'm thankful for gym and computer lab days,
But not all the recent hours of test filled haze.

I'm thankful for quiet and I'm thankful for noise,
But I don't like kids playing in their desk with toys.

I'm thankful for thinking and sharing and such,
But "shouter-outers" I don't care for much.

I'm thankful for hand made notes from a child,
But not when before vacations, they get a bit wild.

I'm thankful for field trips and being outside,
But I really don't enjoy those noisy  bus rides.

I'm thankful for support to let my creativity flow,
But I've had more 'bombs' than most will ever know.

I'm thankful for PTO and parents and others,
But I sometimes feel like I'm less teacher, more mother.

I'm thankful for snow days, they're always a treat,
But hate not being able to get down my street.

I'm thankful for clean desks and keeping things neat,
But I'm not a big fan when my room overheats.

I'm thankful for teacher friends I have in the hall,
But don't like getting interrupted by a student's call.

I'm thankful for positivity and my new "improved" mood,
But I'm worried that I still might get an attitude.

I'm thankful for recess and fire drills for a break,
But the paperwork is sometimes just too much to take.

I'm thankful for my job and the joy that it brings,
For it makes me so happy and lets my heart sing.

Happy Thanksgiving.  Remember to stay positive and enjoy the moment.  

And pass the mashed potatoes please.  

Friday, November 16, 2012

New Box of Crayons

This week has been one of the busiest yet of the school year.   We started the week on Monday with our surprise power fail, which earned us all a free afternoon off. I was so thankful for that time, as I had spent hours over the weekend preparing conference folders and organizing for conferences.  I was a tad bitter that I had to devote so much of my free time over the weekend working, but I applied my recently acquired powers of positivity to help prevent a total mood funk.  Instead of doing anything productive with my afternoon off, I relaxed and spent the afternoon in total peace and quiet.  It was heavenly.  

Tuesday night was spent teaching/talking all day and then talking (and teaching a bit) during three straight hours of parent-teacher conferences. Repeat above sentence and insert [Wednesday night] for Tuesday night.

 All this happened to be timed just at the exact time my husband was out of town for the week on business, so it made things a bit more difficult for me.  I always empathize with my teacher friends when we have evening school activities to attend (or conferences).  I was a single parent for many years and I feel their pain.  Many of them have young children and being away from home at night isn't easy for them.  My one and only baby is now twenty-two, graduated from college and living in another state but I still need to hurry home each day for my dog.  Yes, I said dog.  She's a small little poodle, twelve years old who spends almost nine hours home alone every day.  During those nine hours, she probably sleeps 8.75 of them so, needless to say, when I arrive home she is eager to play and needs lots of attention.  And like having young children, I have to make sure someone is there to take care of her if I won't be home after school. 

Just when I should have been over the "hump" of the week, Thursday morning arrives and I have a meeting with some fellow teachers from my building to see The Disney Institute present how Disney is able to provide great customer service and be such a happy place.  After all, who knows positivity better than Disney?   The speakers were entertaining and they relayed lots of interesting information about Walt Disney and the whole Disney experience and approach, the power of creativity and collaboration and listening to all ideas.  

Here are my notes:

      Coloring inside the lines (as in when we move from just coloring on a blank page to stifling our creativity when we color within lines)
      Improv (I'll be honest, I wasn't paying close attention here, but I thought the whole idea of improv might be cool to try with my class)
      No bad ideas ( every idea is a good one until the finance people and human resources department put the kabash on most of it)
      Box of new crayons (the look, the joy!  He also said a crayon is one of the top 20 recognizable smells)
      Know your box (if you're in it know what it is and what's outside of it)
      Why are you saying no? (Try yes!  We are used to saying no)
      Edutainment  [chuckle]  education + entertainment.  Think: Epcot Center
What I should have "won"
      What do they want? (give people what they want or they won't come back)

I was extremely motivated to get one of the little random trinkets (Disney characters, of course) that the presenter was giving out.  He seemed to be giving them to everybody that raised their hand and shouted out an idea, however, he apparently didn't like mine because it was an epic fail and I didn't get one.  I was thinking it would look great on my blog.  So much for "no bad ideas". 

All in all the morning was interesting and I felt it fit in nicely with my general philosophy:  Change is good. Which I guess should now be modified to: Positivity is good.

In addition each morning this week, I've been conferencing with the one or two parents who prefer early morning conferences and/or parents who stood me up for their evening conference.   It always burns me a bit that a parent(s) will just not show up.  No call.  No email.  Nothing.  As a professional, I feel my time is very valuable, especially when those hours occur outside of the school day.  Now this isn't to say that things can come up and cancellations are necessary.  I completely understand when a parent calls to reschedule.  Add to that the fact that I am 100% a morning person, keeping positive in these events is quite difficult.  I usually moan and groan and complain to anyone within a 1/2 mile radius about being stood up.  I even seek out other teachers to complain and, many times, compare our misery.  

Teacher 1:  "I had one stand me up last night."
Teacher 2:  "Well, I had two stand me up last night."
Teacher 3:  "Oh that's nothing.  I had one stand me up that was signed up in the very last slot!"  
Touche'!  You win!

Then along comes Friday.  For some unbeknownst reason, I thought Friday of this week would be the perfect time for my first formal observation of the year by my principal.  Yeah... right.   There's two obvious things wrong with that scenario.  #1, it's a Friday just before the Thanksgiving break.  #2, it's a Friday of the week where I've already worked 50+ hours and the positivity meter is registering rather low.  Thank goodness I have a class that is just short of spectacular!

Well, long story short -- you can probably put yourself in my place right now and guess how positive my mood is now that this week is over!  It's Friday night and I can sit back, relax, reflect on the week, and look ahead to our short two-day week next week and the impending Thanksgiving break.  

There are some things I've learned this week.  I've noticed that I didn't become less positive this week from the stress, anxiety and pressure.  I'm finding I just become more quiet.   I didn't run to vent, complain, and whine so much.  I just dealt.  Two teachers helped me out this week and I thank them.  One sent a little funny gift down with a student.  The other gave me back the positivity coffee mug I gave to her when she was looking for a boost.  Both of these things helped me immensely.  I needed it this week. In addition, I had a Mickey Mouse balloon tied outside my doorway.....   super!

I think I'll open up that new box of crayons I sat out on my desk to remind me about creativity and a blank page. And I'm gonna see what I can create. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Power Of Positivity

So here it was, a completely normal Monday morning.  I got out of bed at my usual time, read the paper, did the NY Times crossword puzzle, and enjoyed a cup of coffee.   I was looking forward to a fun day - we were headed to Cranbrook for a field trip.   This was to be a "brand new" field trip with a presentation on the Three Fires (Michigan's main Native American tribes) and some time in the museum for the kids to explore.  We had lots of parents helping us out and it was promising to be a great day.  Forget the fact that two evenings of conferences (six hours) loomed in the days ahead.  All was good.

I arrived at school early prepared and ready for my two before school conferences.  I tidied up the room and got things ready for the day as I awaited the first set of parents.  They arrived on time and I placed a check mark next to their name on my conference schedule.  One down and twenty-one to go!  Conference two arrived promptly and as we discussed all the great things about their child the lights flickered a bit.   Then they went off for a few seconds and clicked back on.   Then they went off.  And they stayed off.   The parents and I barely missed a beat as we finished up the conference and I placed check #2 on my form.

Out in the hallway there was an excited buzz as the students arrived (sans bell), happily chattering and greeting one another.

"What happened?  How come the lights are off?" asked one student.

"I'm really not sure," I answered.  "What do you think?"

This question brought about all kinds of remarks and guesses as to our lack of power in the building.  One child offered up a generator.  He said he was sure his dad wouldn't mind if we borrowed it.  None of them seemed excited about the possibility of going home and getting the day off.  They are still at the age where school is the best thing going!

Despite the darkness in the classroom,  the students excitedly went to their desks and suddenly realized they couldn't complete their normal morning routine.  Since there wasn't any power, there wasn't any planner to display on the Promethean.  And since there wasn't any planner, there wasn't any homework.

"What about our field trip?" asked one little girl, clutching her coat and lunch, anxious for the field trip.

"I'm not sure.  We will just hang out and see what happens.  We will all practice being flexible," I answered in my most calm, in charge, teacher voice.   Of course, secretly I was feeling a tinge of excitement at the thought of possibly returning home to an unplanned afternoon away from school.  And on a Monday.  I could relax a bit after spending a big chunk of my weekend preparing my conference files.  My positive morning was getting more positive by the minute.

I give my students a lot of credit.  They sat in their seats and waited for me to tell them what we were going to do.  It was too dark to see the white board.  It was too dark to work on our cursive. It was too dark to read or write in their notebooks.   I asked them to share what they had done over the weekend, while I discussed the predicament with my teacher friends in the doorway.  How much fun it would be to get an unexpected gift of a half day off!  We even began thinking about what to do in the event the power was out on Tuesday also (conference night).   You know teachers, always planning.

Back in my classroom, I located my flashlight set aside in my never touched school issued "Emergency Kit".  I gathered the students on the back carpet and read our read-aloud book by flashlight.  I noticed the students pushed in closer than usual to me.  Several students offered to hold the flashlight for me while I read.  Many were pushed up against my legs as I sat in the midst of them on the carpet.  One little girl hooked her arm around mine and smiled up at me as she listened to the story.  And I read and we acted like everything was normal.  Like we always gathered on the carpet in the dark to read and talk about our book.   I was proud of them all for reacting so calmly and trusting in me that everything would be fine.  That just because things weren't the way they expected today, that everything was still alright.

They say that flexibility is one of the things our kids need most, now and in the future.  I venture to say that my kids certainly displayed that today.  Even when I told the students we wouldn't be able to go on our field trip, instead of groaning loudly they all kind of gave a collective sigh.  I let them know we'd try to go another time.  We even had a birthday today, so I let him hand out his cookies in the dark and suggested we celebrate again tomorrow when the lights were back on.

Staff members in the building without students updated us frequently and answered our questions as they patrolled the dark hallways with flashlights.  The bus drivers waited to make sure each student had a parent at home or brought them back to school.   Teachers manned their cell phones to try and make contact with parents and kept the students safe in the classrooms.  And the office staff went over and beyond what they normally do contacting parents, negotiating pickups, and answering many questions, all with a calm smile.

As the building grew colder and even darker from the rainy day, the last student was picked up.  Three hours had went by and now it was the teacher's turn to leave.

"Is the mall open?" one well-dressed teacher asked with a smile as we all grouped together for the announcement from our principal that we could leave.

I didn't hear one negative comment today amidst all the chaos.  In fact, everyone I heard reacted in the most positive of ways, helping out wherever they could.

I learned just a short time ago that the power is back on.  We will be back in school tomorrow, business as usual.  The first thing I will do is compliment my class on their behaviour and flexibility.  I'll tell them I'm proud of them.

In some ways I feel as if today was a positive gift delivered to us teachers on a very stressful week.  Maybe all this collective positivity in the building is working?
Or maybe our positivity vibe in the school is so strong it knocked the power out?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Say What?

One of the best parts of my job as a teacher is getting to chat casually with students throughout the day.  It's incredible how a hoo-hum day can be instantly improved and made more positive after some verbal exchanges with a child.  Many times during lunch or in the mornings as they are arriving, a student will approach me and tell me a story about something that's on their mind or ask me a question. You can tell the urgency of each student based on the decibel and amount of times your name is repeated and/or the by the urgency of the poking in your arm.   I've become a big fan of the 8 to 9 year old kid and the thinking going on in their brain and have collected some of my favorite conversations. 

3rd grader:  "I have a connection!"
Me:  "Super!  I love connections... please tell."
3rd grader:  "We read a book about a girl in the city on Monday and we read another book about a girl in the city today [Wednesday] and you have the same pants and shoes on that you wore on Monday."
   (sigh)  Busted by an eight year old fashionista.

Me: (Trying to get 3rd graders excited about the math lesson)  "I (heart) math!" Writes it on the board with a giant red heart in the middle.
3rd Grader: (raising arm excitedly) "Hey!  I have a t-shirt that my grandma gave me that says that!"
Me: "Really?  I think that's great!  I have never seen a t-shirt that says that.  I would love one."
3rd Grader: (moving finger across shirt and air writing) "Ummm.. wait a minute.  I think it says, I heart Maine."
   Well.   Close enough.

3rd Grader:   "Want to come over to my house and play on Saturday?"
Me: "Well, that depends.  What do you have to play with?"
3rd Grader:  "Well, I have papers and worksheets and books.  We could play school!"
Me:  "Ugh!  I get enough school during the week.  No thanks!"
3rd Grader:  "OK then.  We can play house!"

Me:  "I'll give you another spelling list, for the third time this week, but what are you going to give me?"
3rd Grader: "Hmmmm....ummmmmm...errr.....ummmmm...."
Me: "Well, hurry up. I don't have all day."
3rd Grader:  "You're kind of pretty and I like your dress!"  (smiles)
  Flattery will get you everywhere.  Or at least another spelling list.

3rd Grader:  "Do you like your job?"
Me: "Yes.  Do you like your job?"
3rd Grader:   (look of confusion, nervous laugh)  "I don't have a job.  I'm a kid."
Me: "Sure you have a job.  You are a student.  You have an important job.  You have to listen and learn and think and write and do homework.  You have to work all day."
3rd Grader: (purses lips, shuffles feet, tries to become invisible)  "But I don't want a job!"

3rd Grader:  "Guess what I did last night?"
Me:  "You did all your homework and made me some cookies?"
3rd Grader: (stunned) "Well, I did my homework, but my mom wouldn't let me make you cookies."
  Sure.... blame the mom.

3rd Grader:  "Do you like being a teacher?"
Me: (shrugs) "Do you like being a kid?"
3rd Grader: (shrugs) 
  And there you have it.

This one never gets old.  If you're a teacher I highly recommend you try it. 
Excited 3rd grader approaches. 
"It's my birthday party this Saturday!"
Me: (with even more excitement than the 3rd grader) "Great!  I absolutely LOVE birthday parties!  What time should I come over??"

3rd Grader:  "I can't think of anything to write about."
Me: "Then write about not being able to think about anything to write about."
3rd Grader: (squints)  "Are you trying to trick me?"

3rd Grader:  "My mom forgot to put my homework in my backpack."
Me: "How could that be?"
3rd Grader: "What do you mean?:
Me: "Well was it your homework or your mom's homework?"
3rd Grader: "Mine."
Me: "So.. let me get this straight.  You took your homework home, you did it, but your mom forgot to put it in your backpack?"
    Again... blame the mom.

Take my word for it.   Talking to kids every day helps keep one positive and inspired.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It's All About The Attitude

I've spent quite some time this past week reflecting on my goal of being more positive this year.  Is it working?  Has an adjusted attitude made a difference?  If so, how?  How can I possibly keep this up?

First of all, I truly believe it is "working".  What I mean by that is I definitely have a brighter, sunnier, more positive attitude.  When I do find myself starting to be sucked back into that vortex of negativity, I now more readily and quickly pull myself back into the more positive.  Let's look at an example.

Sometimes there are days when you feel nothing is going your way.  You get to school early so you can be prepared when the students arrive.  You've had your one cup of coffee at home and are ready for your second and final cup of the day.  You make your way to the teacher's lounge, passing by the office to cheerfully greet the secretaries and pick up your mail.  Into the lounge and there is it!  Grrrrrrrrrr...  the coffee pot with one centimeter of coffee left.  Mumbling to yourself you expertly make another pot.  You tell yourself it is just coffee, but you secretly wish that you could catch that person, just once, emptying everything but the final ounce into their cup and sprinting from the lounge.  I imagine them sprinting because they don't want to be bothered (or caught?) making another pot of coffee.  You get over it.  Off to the copier.  Insert spelling activity, choose double-sided because you care about the earth, and hit START.  Out it comes  --  in pink!   Grrrrrrrrrrr.... why can't the person who switches to color paper take it out when they are done?  You take out the pink and put in the white and wait the five minutes for the drawer to lift the paper.  You tell yourself that you've definitely probably been guilty of leaving color paper in the copier at some point too.  Keep smiling!   Back in your room you realize you left a curriculum binder at home that you need today.  Grrrrrrrrrrr..... why didn't you remember to put it in your bag last night when you thought about it?  Suddenly some negative thoughts attempt to take over.  But wait!  You've been practicing the power of positivity for seventy-one days!  You're certainly not going to let coffee, pink paper, and some forgetfulness get you down!   So you sit at your desk, sip your freshly made coffee, paper clip your white copies, and think about what great ideas you can come up with to present the material that's sitting at home in your binder.  And you know what?  When the bell rings you start your day with a positive attitude and  never look back.  So, yes, I'd say "it" is working.

Other signs that I see around the school (and with myself)  that would indicate "it" is working:

Positive comments whenever something not so positive is said.  Think phrases such as, "Think positive!" or "Let's look at that more positively!"  I was so happy today when I walked into the gym to pick up my little darlings and the PE teacher was asking the students if they had questions or comments.  After one not so positive response, she added, "Who has a positive comment?"   Hands shot into the air and the responses I heard for the next couple of minutes were filled with good vibes.  

I made a new BFF (fellow teacher) over the weekend while attending the Visible Thinking conference mentioned on an earlier post.  She works in my school and has always had a contagious positive spirit.  In years past, this happy attitude might have even annoyed me but not any more.  I'm making a point to drop by her room once a day and say hello.    

I really enjoy writing the blog.  I've never thought of myself as a writer, but many days I find myself making mental notes about ideas for the blog and I always look forward to writing it.  

I'm getting positive feedback on the blog.  Teachers at school will chuckle and tell me they really liked a particular blog post or just encourage me to keep it up.  

My international audience is growing.  Last check there are people from eight countries, + the U.S.  Now, I can't tell if it is repeat customers or if they look once and not again.  So -- to any readers in other countries -  can you send a comment??  Let me know if you read the blog and are getting anything from it?   Are you a teacher?   I'm truly interested in your feedback.

I've created thirty-two posts and received eighty-two comments!  I haven't kept track of the hours, but I can tell you it is many.  And I might add, 100% of the comments have been positive.  

My Halloween costume included a pink taffeta skirt, a tiara, and a sash declaring me Miss Positivity!  I would have never in a million years predicted that you'd see me dressed like that!

We had a speaker at one of our recent PDDs (professional development days) and he said you need to do something for thirty days to make a change.  Speaking from seventy-one days out, I'd say I've got this one. It's working, it has made a difference, and I can (and will) keep it up.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Educational Trifecta

I had the privilege of attending the Project Zero: Building a Culture of Thinking conference last Friday and Saturday.  Now, usually my weekends are sacred, reserved for some well needed downtime, family/friends, and fun activities, with a little bit of work sprinkled in.  But way back in May, when our principal mentioned that several teachers would be able to attend, I had crossed my fingers and silently hoped I would be one of the chosen ones.  To go along with my "year of positivity" and participating more, I was thrilled in September to find out I was selected to attend.   Two whole days to talk with other educators and hob-nob with some important people, and of course, partake of a free lunch.  

It was a huge event with over 700 educators in the house (the beautiful Clarkston High School).  People as far away as Africa were gathered to learn, exchange ideas, and hear some wonderful speakers.  People from my own school would be presenting at one of the sessions.  I offered to drive some fellow teacher friends, painstakingly made sub plans, and anxiously settled into my seat on Friday morning to begin my journey.  The first order of business was to google the word "plenary" as it was the opening item on our detailed schedule of events.   I felt a little better when a couple people around me admitted to not being familiar with the word either!  Next I checked and double-checked my scheduled list of classes, times, and mapped them out so I was ready for the day.  

First up -- Ron Ritchhart, a former teacher turned researcher in Project Zero out of Harvard (and so much more)..

 Click on this link if you'd like to learn more about Visible Thinking. 

Now to anyone not familiar with the educational world and their "top dogs" we would be treated to three of the best:  Ron Ritchhart, David Perkins, and Howard Gardner.  Each unique (and brilliant) in their own way. I felt like a tween at a Justin Beiber concert.  

Ron had a fabulous kick-off to the conference on Friday morning, David Perkins wrapped up the day (night) on Friday, and Saturday morning, Howard Gardner (of the multiple intelligences fame) so inspired me when he spoke about the five minds for the future that I lined up to get his book and autograph.  Unfortunately, they ran out of his book before I got to the front of the line. 

Cool PZ bag and button
There were so many ideas and excited conversations taking place all around me.  It was a positive and charged atmosphere. How wonderful to be in a place filled with people where learning and teaching and kids are the priority.  Where everyone wants to share and listen and learn.  So much to see and do, so little time.  

I can't possibly recap and recount everything I learned and did over the two days.  I will say, that normally I am not a note-taker.  I prefer instead to listen while hearing a speaker or new information with the attitude that it will "stick" if worthy.    But I left on Saturday afternoon with several pages of notes/ideas on my iPhone and notebook because I knew I wouldn't remember if I didn't. I learned some new words like "enculturation" and "life worthy".  I was told I am a meta physician and that positive psychology is real (that really validated all my positive thinking ways).  The entire two days renewed me and made me feel proud to be a teacher.  It made me want to do better and be better.   

Cheesecake for lunch!
And if all that wasn't enough, I received a very cool Project Zero bag and a button. I got to hang out with some teacher friends and eat cheesecake for dessert at lunch.   That makes everybody more positive.  If you don't believe me, just look 
at my smiling friend.

And of course, any opportunity Mary gets to stand next to Ron is one that can't be missed.  I think their bright smiles truly reflect the entire mood of
the conference.

To summarize, I feel lucky -  I hit the trifecta this past weekend.  I'm sure the payoff will last for years to come.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

You Had To Be There

Halloween 2012

"A picture is worth a thousand words" refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image. It also aptly characterizes one of the main goals of visualization, namely making it possible to absorb large amounts of data quickly.