Wednesday, May 30, 2007

8 Things Meme

First, here's what a meme is (I had no clue- thank goodness for

American Heritage Dictionary -
meme (mēm) n. A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.

I've been tagged for a meme! This one is the 8 Things Meme and it comes to me from Ruth at Inspiring Readers & Writers (for some reason I can't figure out how to link this. I know, I'm so savvy!)

Here are the rules: Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves.
The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1. I am a TV junkie. I love my TiVo & couldn't live without it.
2. My favorite, all time movie is Grease. Followed perhaps by Little Miss Sunshine. I've never laughed so hard in all of my life!
3. I love wearing flip flops!
4. My favorite color is blue.
5. I have a Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper at least once a day (you have to get your caffeine in somehow.)
6. I love the smell of freshly sliced cucumber.
7. I failed miserably at beginning tennis & piano lessons as a kid.
8. Laughter is one of the greatest gifts life has to offer.

Now to tag 8 people (I'll have to think on this one... or go searching)...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Can't think "can't"

We are all familiar with the notion to instill an absence of the word "can't" in our students' vocabulary. We know it limits them and the possibilities they may see in his or her own potential. We know and believe (for the most part) that people can, in fact, do almost everything that they set his or her mind to do.

The trouble seems to be that we can't see how damaging using can't in our own vocabulary and interpretation of student success can be.

So often I feel myself grimace as I hear professionals make comments like:
~"He just can't write legibly."
~"She can't talk to me that way."
~"He can't read and comprehend this book."
~"He can't respond in that manner."
~"I can't do anything about it."

Here's the trouble with it:
  • Can't is like using a stop sign. It creates no further thinking or problem solving. It's like just stating a fact (which isn't one).
  • Using can't indicates that things labeled as two things- can & can not. There is no room for improvement, possibility or change. This is "all or none" thinking.
  • Can't is a strong word with a heavy meaning. Does the phrase "self-fulfilling prophecy" sound familiar?
  • Can't is the line in the sand. If you step on the wrong side of the line what happens? If you step on the right side- then what?
  • Can't is a very good indicator of our own, personal "buttons." When the person above mentions that a student "can't talk to me that way", the most probable translation could really be, "I dislike it when this student talks to me this way. I feel disrespected and that I could lose control of the situation if I allow this to happen."

So, the truth of the matter is that students (and the rest of us) can & will do whatever it is they choose to, are lead to or are taught. They can write, they can talk to you in a positive manner, they can improve reading and, yes, you can do something about it.

Start here. Just rephrase the statements above by a word or two. It can be amazing to see what thoughts & ideas will follow after removing that one simple word.

~"He is having a difficult time writing as legibly as I would like him to." So, what can you do to help him faciliate success?

~"I wish she wouldn't talk to me that way." I wonder what I could do to encourage her to speak to me more positively?

~"He is struggling to comprehend this book." I wonder if I should try to use a different method to help him?

~"I'd prefer if he wouldn't talk to me in that manner." Is there a way I could reinforce him when he communicates with me in a way that I prefer?

~"I can do something about this." You bet you can!

The beauty of eliminating word is that you have eliminated excuses and stop signs towards success. Eliminating this word from your own vocabulary can empower you to question further and dig deeper so you can get to the bottom of that reading problem, behavior concern and put forth a plan of action. It also sparks creativity, makes you look for solutions and gives hope.

It's amazing how just altering one little word can really make quite an impact on you, your teaching and relationships with others. What a difference a word makes. Don't worry, I know you can do it!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Here's to the Crazy Ones...

Ruth Ayres posted this on her blog. She inspired me to do the same.

"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

~ Jack Kerouac

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Resilience- Part 3 (finale)

As you shift to looking at students through the lens of resilience, you may notice that your attitude, enthusiasm and idealism towards teaching & working with youth begins to increase. You may notice that student behaviors effect you in a less personal way. Also, it may seem as though you have more energy and ideas to use with some of the "difficult" students you have in your classroom.

It can be an enlightening view. It isn't that you're not being realistic, but rather, looking at the student inside out. You may be amazed at what a gentle shift in thinking may create for you & students.

It is hoped, that the world will look different to you. You will begin to see adults and other students in your classroom, who you realize have had someone to help them in their resilient journey. Your resilience-based outlook will include:

~ A realization & belief that people who endure have had a key & crucial adult in their life that is / was:
* Supportive
* Lead in a positive directions
* Tell truth in a proactive & meaningful way

~ Focuses on student strengths, not pathology.

~ Has an appreciation of the student’s struggles.

~ Has implemented and retried a series of interventions and solutions generated from what the student thinks will solve their problems based on their past experience and hopes for the future.

~ Possesses a hopeful & energizing approach with youth.

I think that one of the greatest gifts we can offer to our students is one of hope. Recognizing resilience as a means to survival and endurance gives me hope that I can assist youth in utilizing their strengths in various ways. I also hope that it will do the same for you & your students.

*Thank you to Michael Kelly, LCSW for allowing me to share some of his information in this series. Mr. Kelly is a speaker and works for the Chicago Center for Family Health.