What inanimate object would you compare yourself to? Check out how some of my students very cleverly describe themselves . . . While not all objects below are inanimate, you can see, I have beautiful students.
- I am a baseball mitt because I have to be taken care of in order to do what I can do.
- I am an iguana because I am sly and stay out of trouble when I need to.
- I am a foreign film because not everyone understands me.
- I am a pair of Converse shoes because I am laid back and casual.
- I am a pair of dumbells, dangerous if I am wrongly used but excellent if I am being used for the good of others.
- I am a bad trader because I give but don’t require anything in return.
- I am a cup of hot chocolate because I am warm and sweet.
- I am a picture frame because I hold many special memories.
- I am a waterproof jacket because it takes me a while to absorb information
- I am a lamp because I brighten up the dark and give a positive outlook on things.
- I am an ant because I need to live in a large group to survive.
- I am a bill at Congress just waiting for the world to know me.
- I am a tree because I have deep cultural roots.
- I am the internet because I am full of bad jokes and random facts.
- I am a plane because I’m never on time.
- I am a rubber band because I am flexible but I can break.
- I am an elephant because I have a great memory and rarely forget.
- I am a brick wall because nothing will knock me down.
A needed piece of sunshine and moonbeams on this evening . . . .
Spend some time with a baby and you’ll understand what life is all about. Babies love unconditionally. They are not selective or judgmental or prejudice. Babies are joyful and happy just because. Babies find wonder in the most trivial pursuits and revel in how wondrous this world truly is. Babies can smile even in the midst of a crying spell. In The Power of Intention, Dr. Wayne D. Dyer declares it well:
- “Just watch little babies. They’ve done nothing to be so happy about. They don’t work; they poop in their pants; and they have no goals other than to expand, grow, and explore this amazing world. They love everyone, they’re completely entertained by a plastic bottle or goofy faces, and they’re in a constant state of joy.”
“Constant state of joy” . . . I really like that. Even if you don’t have a special baby in your life, you certainly were once this blissful as a babe yourself. I’m a firm believer that we can reach that state again if we just be. Take Dr. Dyer’s advice and “vow to emulate” a baby’s joy.
Happy February! Having a wee bit of trouble keeping up with your new year’s resolutions? No worries – here are some ideas for embracing the sheer joy of exercise!
1. Invest in a spray tan and stroll into the gym with your newly applied color. It’ll accentuate your muscles and make you feel fabulous flexing them. My A+ recommendation = Get Your Tan On
2. Equipment everyone should have at home when you can’t get to the gym:
a. 10 & 15 pound dumbbells
b. a jump rope (fun, inexpensive, easy cardio!)
c. an exercise ball – there are so many exercises you can do with this from performing crunches while sitting on the ball to lying on the ground with the ball squeezed between your calves and performing leg raises.
d. your able-bodied self! (push ups, sit ups, lunges, squats, kicks, etc . . . none of these powerhouse moves absolutely require a piece of equipment)
Honestly, that is all you truly need to get in a solid workout at home. Check out my Workout for the Weary for more info.
3. Treat yourself to a new exercise outfit. My A+ recommendation for the ladies = the Best Yoga Pants Ever! Trust me!!
4. Schedule hot yoga, massage, and a mani & pedi all in the same day. I did this once and can’t wait to do it again. Heaven on Earth! My A+ place for hot yoga = The Only Guaranteed Moment is This One
5. Break out of your mold and try a new exercise or use a piece of equipment that you’ve never used before at the gym.
6. Try a new type of cardio. I just played racquetball for the first time – very fun!!! Additionally, here’s a review of a class that holds benefits for all gym goers: Improve Posture and Poise with Pam’s Pilates and Progression in Pam’s Pilates
8. One goal on my list for this year – and it should be yours too: schedule a photo shoot with a physique photographer!! It’ll motivate you to get into tip-top shape.
9. Double your repetitions on all exercises for a month, then check out your cuts in the mirror!
10. Check out my favorite resources for fitness facts: Muscle & Fitness Hers and Oxygen. Both of these magazines are packed with step-by-step exercise instruction, nutrition nuggets and inspiring fitness facts. Gentlemen, Muscle & Fitness is highly recommended!
I’m sitting here watching the news getting more than a little anxious about our pending potential blizzard. I know my East Coast colleagues can’t say the same but my school district has yet to declare a snow day this year; in fact, we didn’t partake in the snow dance last year either. While the amount of snow the wise weathermen are declaring is daunting, I’d really like just one measly snow day . . . just one. After all, there’s so much we teachers can do to remain our productive selves. Here are the top ideas. What would you add to this to-do list?
1. Always wanted to create a blog?! Snow days are perfect days to begin one. If you’re creating a blog for your classroom, I highly recommend edublogs.org. Edublogs is free (or $40 for the ad-free Pro version) and student-friendly with helpful hints every step of the way. Check out my latest, newest classroom blog for my senior expository writing class: Writing Well
2. Check out the archives of #engchat for all the great convos you’ve missed. You’ll pick up insightful ideas from a resourceful network.
4. Make ahead a scrumptious lunch to bring to school tomorrow. My recommendation: Baby spinach leaves + dried cranberries + grilled chicken + cinnamon roasted pecans + pomegranate vinaigrette = one amazing lunch! (Thanks @MichelleLMyers!)
5. Bake a batch of cookies, brownies or cupcakes to bring to your students. They will always remember you for it! OR bake a batch for your colleagues to share in the office. A favorite in my office: Mint Chocolate Brownies
6. Plan ahead!! Vow to plan at least two week’s worth of lessons for at least one class. If you’re so inclined, do this for all your classes and/or increase it to one month’s worth.
7. Organize that inbox!!! Create folders for your work emails and organize them!!! Make a folder for each class, a folder for technology tips, a folder for student information, etc.
8. Exercise. A healthy teacher is a happy teacher. Try my Workout for the Weary that will take you about 15 minutes to complete.
9. Of course, catch up on that pile of papers or set of blogs to grade!! You know I had to include this one. Maybe the least fun of ideas but perhaps the one that will make you feel most refreshed when you return.
10. Take time for fun. Snow days are as exciting for teachers as they are for students. When was the last time you made a snow angel, built a snowman, sled down a hill, had a snowball fight?
I made a poster out of this and have it hanging in each classroom that I teach.
The Importance of Collaboration
We remember . . .
- 10 percent of what we read
- 20 percent of what we hear
- 30 percent of what we see
- 50 percent of what we both see and hear
- 70 percent of what we talk about with others
Thus, the act of collaboration itself raises the reading comprehension of every student in this class. Let’s collaborate!!
**Adapted from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers
I err on the optimistic side – arguably, to a fault – consistently attempting to see the good in everyone and the positive outcomes in every situation. Moreover, I tend to express more than the average intensity of spirit or enthusiasm. And I’ve been known to shout out in glee for seemingly no reason at all. At times, my positiveness is tested during everyday affairs such as promoting new initiatives to disgruntled colleagues or during much more significant transitions such as my father’s unexpected death and my divorce. As I blogged a few days ago on my One Cannot Earn an F in Life post, life is full of lessons large and small in which we may stumble but always learn from and become a better, stronger person for it. That’s why it can be difficult for me to understand consistently pessimistic people. Why choose to be sad or mad or resentful? Yes, it is a choice.
As Iyanla Vanzant describes in her book Until Today! Daily Devotionals for Spiritual Growth and Peace of Mind, someone with a “goodness allergy” finds something wrong when things are going well. Undoubtedly, as you read this, someone you know is coming to mind. Every one of us knows someone like this. A person such as this tends to focus upon what happened yesterday rather than on the good he is experiencing today. Just as a person allergic to cats tries to stay away from the little critters, a person allergic to good shuns happiness by believing nothing good will occur. Believing begets reality.
A diagnosis for a goodness allergy includes relying on the past. It’s safer because the past is familiar and doesn’t require doing something scary or taking a risk – in fact, it doesn’t require doing anything at all except pining. A goodness allergic stays mad about what happened in the past, keeping the argument going. When the allergy really flares up, this person finds something wrong with how good came or who brought the good. This person questions why he is receiving the good and how much it is going to cost.
A goodness allergy is caused by fear. Fear of getting hurt. Fear of losing what one has. Fear that one doesn’t deserve good because of something done in the past. Fear that if one opens up his heart and mind to receive good, he will have nothing to complain about. At the very, very heart of a goodness allergy is the fear that if nothing is wrong, then one must be all right – and that would be just too good to be true.
True to my optimism, I believe there is a cure. It may not occur right away, the “medicine” may take some time to take effect, but anyone can curtail the symptoms if not erase the allergy altogether. First, acknowledge the allergy. All too often those with the strongest allergies deny it. Second, write it down. I’m a firm believer in the power of writing, and writing it down can be one way to diminish the allergic symptoms. If one spends time writing down all the good things that have happened in a given day (for oneself and because of oneself), it may be easier to concretely see all the good that is truly happening. Ponder over the list and reflect on how you really feel about all the good that you’ve received and have done. The “itch” of the allergy will dissipate soon and be replaced with the contagious feeling of peace and joy. And when all else fails, never underestimate the power of a smile. 🙂
I ♡ lists! Making lists provides a provocative, probing expedition into your mind, heart and soul. I invite everyone who reads this to complete one of these lists!! In the classroom, this provides a fabulous writing warm-up or a lesson in itself. Students can choose one item on their lists to elaborate on further. Let’s list!!
A Lovely List of Lists
~ List all the names you’ve been called, endearing and not so
~ List what’s consistently in your garbage
~ List the things you think you can’t live without
~ List the transitions in your life that taught you the most
~ List what you learned from each of your ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends
~ List the times you said yes when you wish you said no OR vice versa
~ List the foods you’d eat if you’d never ever gain calories or fat
~ List the toys, clothes and other items from your childhood you wished you’d saved
~ List all the magazines you subscribe to
~ List words that touch your soul
Some of these prompt disclosure of very personal pieces of information; nevertheless, I can’t wait to complete mine in future posts. I promise I will. And I have ideas for more lists when these are complete! In the meantime, see a smattering of GG’s Listing Through Life previous lists:
Care to share your list?!
It’s that time of year at many schools, the end of the semester, the point in the school year during which teachers hear all too often too late, the infamous question, “What can I do to raise my grade?” I get that same sensation of despair when a student earns an F as I did back as a first year teacher. Even after all the extra encouragements, the extra times before or after class, the reminders, the talking and emailing parents, the tutoring . . . . we teachers can’t help but wonder what more could be done . . . it’s the nature of the beast of the biz.
The fact is that we ultimately teach the students NOT the subject. Before she hired me, the principal of my school (now our superintendent!) asked me which I teach – no brainer – I instantly declared the students. Yes, we have a curriculum to follow but it is the life lessons that students walk away with that help shape them into the bright, capable young adults they soon become.
Case in point . . . one of my sophomore reading students, upset over his grades and the realization he completed too little too late, wrote himself off as a failure. I stopped him right in his tracks today and asked him, “Did you know there’s no such thing as failing in life? You absolutely cannot fail.” He shot back a quizzical stare as I continued to explain that, yes, he may have to attend summer school or take a class he doesn’t want to take, but under no circumstances that matter in life can he ever truly fail. He may stumble as he is stumbling now with his grades but he can use that despair to push himself forward.
A young man may break an arm but perhaps gain some more mobility in the other arm and appreciate dexterity all the more when the break heals. A driver may get lost but discover an uncharted road with special sights she may never have seen had she not taken the wrong turn. A woman may lose something, have something taken away at a time she believes she cannot do without it. Something else eventually replaces the loss, something special she may not have gained otherwise.
In other words . . . regardless of what happens, when it happens, or how it happens, the one thing one absolutely cannot do is fail. Live and learn is a cliché but it’s the truth. Our hardest stumbles can lead to our greatest triumphs. Yes, some of us even gain scars from those stumbles but all scars fade as time goes on. We can live peacefully with those scars and move on.
We may not always get an A in school or an A on a GG review, 🙂 but we cannot fail in life. Move through every experience and situation with grace, knowing your success is assured.
Fresh from this evening’s EC Ning Webstitute, “Work with Me: The Essence of Authentic Collaboration,”
I’m devoting my most recent collection of Quotable Quotations to the art of collaboration. Teamwork!
- “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” ~Henry Ford
- “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” ~Isaac Newton Ask the experts, work with the best of the best.
- “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” ~ Ryunosuke Satoro
- “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” ~ Anonymous
- “Respect your fellow human being, treat them fairly, disagree with them honestly, enjoy their friendship, explore your thoughts about one another candidly, work together for a common goal and help one another achieve it.” ~Bill Bradley . . . a good formula to follow
- “Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe A little goes a long way if we all pitch in.
- “One piece of log creates a small fire, adequate to warm you up, add just a few more pieces to blast an immense bonfire, large enough to warm up your entire circle of friends; needless to say that individuality counts but team work dynamites.” ~ Jin Kwon
- “It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.” ~ Anonymous
- “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” ~ Henry Ford Everything has a way of falling into place.
- “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery . . . The author of one of my favorites, “The Little Prince.”
- “Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.” ~ Andre Gide I like this one a lot!!
Students appreciate when teachers demonstrate commitment and take that extra step (in this case, literally!) for them. My fingers are flying on the keyboard because I’m still on a high from the success of an initiative I coordinated at my school – an initiative to showcase our staff’s unity and commitment to the spirit of our school.
This video showcases just how inspiringly excited the students were over the fabulous staff participation! One of the teachers up front, you can’t tell here, but she’s got goosebumps! 😉
It all started thanks to my former high school French teacher. She shared a video on FB this past May, depicting what her colleagues at Leyden Township conjured up at an assembly to surprise the students. I was so inspired by this “flash mob” performance that I instantly wanted to do it!! We’ve never done anything of the sort at my school, and I knew that the students would absolutely love it. I imagined teachers, administrators, secretaries, custodians – everyone – to be out there on the gym floor. During the last week of school in June, I proposed the idea to my principal for the following year. He didn’t hesitate to say, “Go for it,” nor did he blink when I told him the catch – he had to dance smack dab in the center!!!
Over the summer, I brainstormed songs to use and dabbled with WavePad to mix the music. I choreographed the majority of the dance and divided it into four sections with the idea that more staff members would enter at each point until the gym floor was completely full. My principal and I decided the Winter Sports assembly in December would allow enough time for coordination. That seemed ions away but as all teachers know, every year seems to trickle away faster than the last. The middle of October crept in quickly and I finalized the dance with the help of two wonderful cheerleading coaches at my school. Finally, it was time to announce the big event. At an all-staff meeting, I explained the flash mob and emphasized that we must keep this a secret from students – hence the whole idea behind a flash mob, a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place and perform a surprise act. I shared a mob video – there was so much laughter in the auditorium, I knew I had them all hooked . . . or so I thought. . .
When dealing with 200+ people, you can’t please them all. About a week later, when I sent out the email detailing rehearsals I started to get a little slack: “This really isn’t a good time with everything else we have going on” or “I can’t dance.” I didn’t get discouraged, knowing all worthy causes require a little effort. I sent out a second email explaining that participation was completely voluntary, that rehearsals were not mandatory, and that I’d be placing instructional videos online so that people could practice at home at their own convenience – including from the back (the key to making dance instruction easy).
I became a little nervous about participation with only about 25-40 people coming to rehearsals at a time. hmmm . . . As time drew closer, more started to trickle in but I still was nervous because we never practiced as a whole group. With a late start date scheduled the Tuesday before our Friday performance, I asked administration for just a half-hour before PLC work to congregate in the gym for an all-staff run-through. That was when I knew it was a guaranteed success – I was floored by the turnout! With the microphone in one hand, I excitedly walked everyone through Section 4 (the last section in which those that never came to a rehearsal would enter upon). They mastered it within two takes. We ran through the whole thing a few times, I got goosebumps, and called it a rap.
The rest of the week was nothing but thrilling . . . Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I couldn’t walk in the hallway without a teacher or staff member exclaiming excitement: “Thank you for making my retirement year so memorable” or “I was sick all last month, and now I have something to look forward to” or “We needed something like this to boost morale around here.” WOW, let me just say it is a dream to have such a supportive administrative, faculty and staff!!!
For those thinking about coordinating this at your own school, the instructional videos turned out to be invaluable. With my Flip camera, we taped 6 instructional videos: 1 front view of entire dance with music, 1 back view of entire dance with music (back view to ease coordination), and 1 of each ‘section’ in which I “walk through” and explain each step without the music (all back view). I placed the videos on YouTube, keeping them on ‘private’ to avoid prying eyes. There were many people who practiced entirely at home and surprisingly showed up at a last-minute rehearsal completely familiar the routine.
The bottom line is just as many of the staff members left their comfort zone to try something new, we’re asking students to not be afraid to ‘put themselves out there’ and join new clubs, take on more challenges in the classroom and commit to the spirit of our school. The flash mob proved an exciting, memorable way to get that message across.
A+ to the teachers, teacher assistants, administrators, guidance counselors, and support staff who kept this a complete secret, made the commitment to learn this dance and shoved aside any hesitations to act silly in front of the students. A+ to the students for being the best audience ever!! They kept us motivated to move just as they keep us motivated to inspire in the classroom.
Here’s a closer recording taken by one of my students. You don’t get the impact of the overwhelming number of participants but it’s a clearer view of the dance itself:
My Senior Expository Writing students recently finished the “Find the Fib” assignment. Click here for the assignment. At first, they claimed profusely they had nothing interesting about themselves to reveal. I insisted that each and every one of them did; they only had to think about it for a moment. Here are some of the interesting things they soon realized and revealed about themselves. These are the truths, not the fibs! I asked for detailed elaboration in their writing to prove it. →
~ I was a Gerber baby model.
~ I’m missing a bone from my neck.
~ I play the guitar with my teeth.
~ Starting at age 5, I skated with Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek for a few years.
~ I played hacky-sack on the top of a 12,400 foot mountain.
~ Olympic gymnast Nastia Luskin taught at my summer camp.
~ I have 34 first cousins.
~ My family frequently has dinner with celebrities including Robert Downey, Jr. (this summer), Nicole Kidman, Julie Andrews and Felicity Huffman.
~ I’ve lived in 6 different states.
~ I placed 3rd in a Super Smash Bros. tournament.
~ I found a noose in my backyard.
~ I came face-to-face with a barracuda.
~ I’ve dislocated my knee 5 times.
~ I’ve seen bears up close in the wild.
~ I became a black belt in Tae Kwon Do in 6th grade. (a female student!)
~ My middle name is 10 letters long.
~ My grandparents are candy makers, as were many generations of my ancestors before them.
~ I met Barack Obama when he was an Illinois senator.
~ I swam with sharks.
~ I’ve never been on an airplane.
~ I met Jessica Simpson backstage at her concert benefiting Hurricane Katrina victims.
~ I had seats right next to the stage at a recent Taylor Swift concert.
My students are such interesting individuals!! 🙂
Yesterday, Todd Strasser paid a visit to my school for Writer’s Day and, later, to the students in our reading classes for a more intimate writing workshop.This is the second year my school has been lucky enough to host a popular YA author. (Neil Schusterman presented last year after we completed Unwind.) Engaging and personable, Strasser literally brought the writing process to life, keeping the students captiviated and involved. My students were particularly excited to ask questions about the novel we recently completed in Reading Strategies, If I Grow Up. He even promised to name a character after one of my students. Watch for Tiara in his next book! 🙂
During his all-school presentation in the auditorium, Mr. Strasser emphasized the importance of writing and reading in the 21st century while humorously depicting his own journey as an author. Here are a few of the highlights ~
- Writing is a struggle no matter what the assignment is. That’s the journey . . . that’s the adventure . . . that’s the challenge.
- Writers get ideas from either their own experiences or through experiences of those they know. If they don’t know someone with a particular experience, they research until they do know!!
- All of Strasser’s books are about “outsiders” because he always considered himself an “outsider.”
- Revise, revise, revise . . . A piece of writing is never complete.
- Strasser takes 8 – 9 months to complete a novel. (this seems short to me!)
During the writing workshop, Strasser created a short story with the students to illustrate the writing process in action ~
- Writers write to send a message. A message is unfolded gradually throughout the course of a story. It’s all about baby steps . . . that’s what keeps us turning the pages.
- Subplots are disguised . . . characters who seem “incredibly useless” are often the most significantly important.
- Good stories are character-driven . . . the plot unfolds not because of outside pressure or force but because of who the characters are.
- Whatever is happening in a story is not usually what the main character is expecting to happen.
- Writing and reading go hand-in-hand. The more we read, the more we are exposed to writing styles.
- Reading others’ writing validates our own thoughts.
Now where’s my green pen??
Watch for GG’s review of Delivering Happiness on its release date, June 7th 2010!!
I am honored to be selected to review the new, yet-to-be released book by Tony Hsieh, the successful, young CEO of Zappos.com! The Zappos team generously sent me two advanced copies of Delivering Happiness – A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. I’m busy reading my first copy and can’t wait to post the review. In the meantime, I’d like to give away the second copy to one lucky GG follower.
This book will not be released until June 7th. I would like YOU to receive an advanced copy!
I’m almost halfway through the book and can tell you that Hsieh shares insightful, interesting and humorous anecdotes about his plight through entrepreneurship. He doesn’t use a ghostwriter and writes authentically. This read is useful for all in its illustration of how Hsieh uses happiness as a framework (imagine!!) to produce results in business and personal life.
So . . . here is my challenge to you. Too many times people see the glass half empty instead of half full; too many times people don’t see the fun in life; too many times people don’t feel the joy in their journeys. I challenge you to deliver happiness to someone and share just how you did it:
1. Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GradingGirl
2. Perform an act of kindness to someone you know or to a complete stranger. Your act of kindness can be as simple or elaborate as you like.
3. Come back to this post and, in the comments, describe that act of kindness. What did you do? What was the reaction and result of your delivered happiness?
4. Respond by Friday, May 14th 11:59pm. You can post as many delivered happiness descriptions as you like.
5. One winner will be chosen based on the genuineness of the delivered happiness.
6. I will mail the book anywhere in the United States. SPAM comments will be deleted if deemed appropriate. Make sure you have a valid email address when commenting so I can contact you for a shipping address. (your email address will be kept private)
Enjoy delivering happiness!!!
**GG does NOT endorse or giveaway products I do not stand behind. As an English teacher, a self-proclaimed reviewer of “all things worth grading,” and a life-long reader of many books, I can give this away with confidence that the recipient will not be disappointed.**