What is School for?

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I’m a teacher and I’m usually loathe to listen to any non-teacher who criticizes education. However, Seth Godin is a teacher in his own right and what he has to say makes perfect sense.

Godin published an education manifesto and I think everyone should read it. It’s made a deep impression on me and I’ve made immediate changes to my teaching. Rote memory is ridiculous. Deducting points off for trivial things is dumb. Let’s teach students how to learn and then CREATE things and take ACTION!

Please, read some of his manifesto or watch his podcast (Stop Stealing Dreams) if you care about education.

Just because it’s hard to make change doesn’t mean we should give up.

Even Brahms Did it…

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We attended our daughter’s concert tonight. She’s a member of the Youth Symphony of the Southwest (members are aged 15-20). They played Brahms:  Symphony No. 1 in C minor and it was 45 minutes of absolute bliss.

I learned something new: Brahms so admired Beethoven and wanted so badly to create something in the same caliber that it took him fourteen years to complete this concerto.  Fourteen years.

He toiled and created on one project for fourteen years. That’s some serious perseverance.

So if you’re working on a masterpiece of any kind and you’re stressed about how long it’s taking you to create it, don’t sweat it. Just keep at it and pay no mind to time.

 

 

More Scanning and Cataloging…

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The moth will go in the lower left space of the word page unless I create something else that makes more sense. I’m happy with my productivity with the illustrations for my soon-to-be self-published children’s book. Thank you, readers, for your kind support!

Calling Home

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Photo by Tim Wright

He talked as I taught the lesson. I asked him to stop.

He talked some more during work time. I asked him to stop.

I changed his seating – nestling him between two quiet students. He talked out loud instead of getting his work done.

I called him to my desk. His parents’ phone numbers were in front of us.

I rarely call home.

“Who shall I call? Mom or dad?”

“Mom,” he said.

“Dad it is!”

 

Lessons Learned Before Dawn

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Kevin the Complainer. I was going to make his complaining in red ink, but then realized it would look like he was spitting up blood. I think I’ll re-do this one. He looks much plumper than the first rendition and the fourth stripe bled out.

The Bike Ride

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I rode my bike home from work twice last week. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for several years, but was afraid to try. The route home includes driving alongside very busy traffic and crossing two freeway ramps. But I (finally) conquered my fears and did it!

While riding, I couldn’t help but see how riding a bike home was analogous to life: there are choices you make that send you off (literally) on a different path. Every bit of the way, you make choices:

  • smile or don’t smile at those you encounter;
  • appreciate nature (or don’t);
  • follow the rules/laws (or take dangerous risks);
  • breathe and enjoy the journey OR stress and rush to get to your destination

All journeys (literal and figurative) share a common theme: It’s beneficial to look ahead and do a little planning (to be prepared), but most pleasant and constructive to be fully present.

It is rarely helpful to look back.

 

 

 

 

Shades of Gray

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I’m really into monochrome right now. I love the great variety available using black, gray and white. I’ve decided to do my illustrations for Kevin the Complainer this way, utilizing other colors for symbolism or emphasis.

 

Two Funnies

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I made the inner flowers go the wrong direction. Or…is it the outer petals that are incorrect? Either way, I find the end result interesting. It makes the outer petals look like thorns.

 

A funny quote from my 15-year-old daughter yesterday:

“Mom, I’m out of chocolates and I’m out of hot Cheetos. I’ve lost the will to live.”

 

Quelle Coincidence!

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Photo by Aaron Burden

“Living in the present moment is living free of the burden of the personality.”

Eckhart Tolle

 

I chose this quote from Tolle and then I found this beautiful photo on unsplash.com. I looked up the name of the photographer to give credit…

 

Peace in Unlikely Places

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“Instead of seeking liberation in some future moment, realize that the “limitations” you are experiencing right now are openings into presence…into space. When you surrender to that, you are rooted into the formless and deep peace.

Nothing in the world of form matters that much.”

Eckhart Tolle

 

Figure It Out As You Go

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Sometimes we are unsure of ourselves. Sometimes, we are frightened. And sometimes we don’t want to do any work because it’s winter and we’re hibernating.

But we have those goals and we do want to reach them.

I created a highly imperfect system for organizing my tasks towards National Board Certification, but I think I’m making progress.   ;)\

 

 

 

 

Make it Matter

It’s the holiday season and maybe you are shopping for gifts. Why not make it matter?

Watching TOMS founder speak about taking action in the face of fear is awe-inspiring:

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Yellow – Corn – Wealth

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Took the photo – not completely dry yet

The yellow poppy symbolizes wealth. This is due, in part, to a legend:

“It’s mainly due to some legends and stories that these meanings were attached to the flower.  According to a Greek legend, the poppy was the creation of the god of sleep.  Helping the goddess of corn when she lost her daughter, the poppies were used to sooth her to sleep.

If she rested the corn grew and because she fell asleep, the corn started to grow again.  It’s viewed that the poppies are essential to the growth of corn.  Corn is more than food but also a source of income.  That’s why yellow poppies mean wealth.”

Source:  https://www.auntyflo.com/flower-dictionary/yellow-poppy

No Problem

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Jiddu Krishnamurti: “Do you know what my secret* is? I don’t mind what happens.”

By this, he did not mean blindly accept everything (oppression, violence, etc.) but to accept reality, and to not be “put off” by unforeseen circumstances. This is where you must start before exacting change or growth.

He lived by the tenet, “I don’t mind at all.” So I decided that would be my mantra today.

I sat down to paint. “Caroline, can you help me get my car to the garage for servicing?” I don’t mind at all.

And then I wanted to take a bath. “Honey, can you help me fix the window?” I don’t mind at all.

Throughout the day, I was called upon to do something unplanned and I thought, I don’t mind at all.

Saying it to myself in response to these events, I felt my body relax and my brain say, “This isn’t a big deal, I’m happy to help.”

I still managed to get my work done and I just completed a painting. I’m about to take a bath now…unless, of course, someone needs me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*secret to complete inner peace

Kevin the Complainer it is!

The results of my survey are in. I surveyed 90 5th graders and 30 6th graders:

I love using the survey feature in Google Classroom and the students appreciate being able to “vote” on everything from what kind of assessment to complete (quiz, diorama, paper, etc.) to helping me choose my next book title.

Tamed

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A month ago, they were fighting so much we had to muzzle them when they were in the same room.

What changed?

A slow transition to unmuzzled company.

Daily exercise.

Firm but loving handling: sitting before going out a door, sitting before feeding, etc.

Immediately redirecting any aggressive behavior.

Lots of positive reinforcement of good behavior.

 

Dogs are a lot like humans!

Soul in Manacles

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“If someone else can decide what will happen within you right now, isn’t that the ultimate slavery?”

Sadhguru

 

“He’s a narcissist and he’s dating that whore.”

This is something she said for over eight years. Eight years. She wore bitterness on her sleeves, she spoke of her ex-husband – their father –  like this openly.  In her desire to vent and let her ego shine, she cast a dark shadow on her sons.

What she didn’t realize was that she had no control over his actions, but she DID (and still does) have control over her own thoughts and actions. When we get angry about the words and actions of others, we have just placed manacles on our own words and actions. We have become slaves to others, allowing our moods to be swayed by them.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Kiss your ex goodbye, wish him well and move on.

 

 

Work Backwards

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I’ve attended several workshops for the National Board Certification Program through AZ K12. They have an excellent program. You can take one year to get certified, or two, or three.

NBCT leaves deadlines largely up to the teachers. But because there is no formal structure in terms of time, I was feeling uncertain. I started the work, but felt a bit overwhelmed. And then I realized I had to create my own timeline.

I know I want to complete it in one year.

I know what needs to be done.

Work backwards! In order to be prepared for the exam in May, I need to complete three components in five months. But I also want to leave myself time to get my work reviewed by others and make changes if necessary.

So, I am giving myself a little over one month for each component.

You’d think that giving myself this structure with deadlines would cause more stress. Au contraire!  I’m feeling MUCH better knowing I have five weeks to complete my first component. This enables me to measure my progress week to week. This will increase my chances of success.

Sometimes, I forget to work backwards, but it’s so helpful.

Is there a goal you have – personal or professional – where backwards planning might prove helpful?

Honoring All Who Served

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Thank you, Veterans of all colors and creed,

for today, we honor the actions behind your beliefs

Your love of our country – with her beauty and blemishes –

in contemplation, we hope to mirror your images

The Fringe

“A look at life in New York City during the 1970s and ’80s when porn and prostitution were rampant in Manhattan.”

IMdb.com

 

Me:  There are no Asian characters in this show.

Hubby: That’s because Asians don’t break the law.

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

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I pack my daughters’ lunches on school days. Yes, they’re teenagers and could do it themselves and no, I’m not spoiling them. I do it because it really is a pleasure for me.

Monday, I packed chicken quesadillas. I used Costco shredded cheese. Literally, it says “Mexican Blend Cheese“:

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Ava comes home and says, “The Mexican boys at my table saw my lunch and asked me why you use yellow cheese. I told them that I have a Korean mom.”

 

!

 

Tuesday, I packed garlicky pasta. Because I’m so nice and thoughtful, I taped a piece of gum on the thermos:

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No comment from the peanut gallery teens.

 

Wednesday, I packed Korean sticky rice and threw in some dried seaweed. Ava says she wants to be more vegetarian, so I thought this was perfect.

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She came home and said, “I got so much teasing over my Asian lunch.”

 

Thursday, I packed more Korean sticky rice and baked tilapia. But when I looked for small tupperware, I had none. I’ve decided to stop using plastic bags (you know, the ocean and all) and so I had to use the zipper pouches I wrote about before:

Wegreeco Reusable Sandwich & Snack Bags - Set of 3 - (Odyssey)

Yes, I put fish in a bag. 

That afternoon, Ava comes home and sighs.

“Could you please pack lunches that won’t get me beat up*?”

 

 

*Obviously, she’s not really getting beat nor bullied.

 

Inktober

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I should could be working on my National Board Certification, but I wanted to do this instead. Drawing and painting help me get centered, as long as I embrace imperfection.

This is the first in a series of lessons in Lisa Congdon’s Inktober challenge (Creativebug.com). I’m supposed to use ink, but I don’t have any yet. So I used watercolor. 

 

 

Lily

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Can this chameleon use anything else? Constructive criticism welcome! She is a character in my next children’s book and she might seem “bland” but she’s supposed to be.

 

 

Good Company

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Photo from Everson Mayer

I’m in a room of about 100 teachers from all over Arizona. I feel blessed to be here. We’re all pursuing National Board Certification. Sure, we get a (small) financial award, but the biggest reason that we’ve shown up is that each of us will deepen our teaching practice and bring more to each of our 30 – 180 students each day.

The great majority of teachers are exceptional people.

 

And then there are these bigots (who ought to lose their jobs):

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13% of their student body is Latin-American. Idaho needs to do better for the children.

 

 

Today’s Challenge

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Next Book Title Votes from my sixth graders

Can you stop thinking?

Try it.

Say, I will stop thinking now. Then, wait.        Wait.                 Wait.

How long before a thought comes?

Try it again.

This is practice and you’ll get better.

We grow up believing that people who think are smarter.

Of course, one needs to think in order to achieve or produce.

But most of the time, we have 12,000-60,000 thoughts a day and research has shown that over 90% of those thoughts are repeated thoughts from the day before. Completely unnecessary.

This is the gateway to personal power and inner peace.

 

Truth of the Day

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One of my sixth graders told me, “I feel like the older I get, the faster time goes.”

 

All: I didn’t catch the beautiful essence of this woman. Anyone with tips – I welcome constructive criticism.  🙂

Motivation

 

I am sitting at the open window (at four a.m.) and breathing the lovely air of a spring morning… Life is still good, [and] it is worth living on a May morning… I assert that life is beautiful in spite of everything! This “everything” includes the following items: 1. Illness; I am getting much too stout, and my nerves are all to pieces. 2. The Conservatoire oppresses me to extinction; I am more and more convinced that I am absolutely unfitted to teach the theory of music. 3. My pecuniary situation is very bad. 4. I am very doubtful if Undine will be performed. I have heard that they are likely to throw me over.”

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 

 

“You absolutely have to believe in yourself. Man, you’ll get rejected hundreds of times. You have to believe in yourself if you’re going to succeed.”

Jon Bon Jovi

 

Confidence – noun, a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities. 

Tchaikovsky was plagued by depression and also a hypochondriac. Somehow, he persevered and produced prolifically.  Bon Jovi and Tchaikovsky both possessed the drive to create music. This high level of motivation enabled them to overcome obstacles such as rejection and mental illness.

 

 

*photos from Unsplash.com

 

 

Bless This Union

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Photo by Jeremy Wong-Unsplash

This is the very best article I have ever read on marriage. It’s by Byron Katie.

If you are ready, reading this will feel like sitting in the light of truth.

It will feel like bathing in authenticity.

If you’re ready, reading this article can change all of your relationships – for the better.

My favorite line:

There’s no way to truly join your partner except by getting free of your belief that you need something from him that he’s not giving. 

I was raised on conditions. I had to prove my worth in order to be loved. And I grew up and did the same to those I loved. I think this is the root of many dysfunctional relationships.

 

 

Audacity

Source: Wikipedia

My daughter told me a fellow classmate asked her what her last name was.

Ava: “My last name is Wipff”

Girl: “W-i–f-f?”

Ava: “No, W-i-p-f-f.  P, as in pterodactyl or pseudonym.”