Thursday, February 28, 2019

Happy Birthday to My Husband

Happy birthday to the love of my life! I am thankful for every year of life we can spend together!

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Fake It Until You Make It

“It’s entirely possible that acting as if would actually create the very outcome you’re hoping for.”

When I first became a volunteer at the state park to lead second graders around the lake, I was nervous. I was afraid that I would mess up. After giving myself a pep talk, I decided that since no one in the group knew that I was new at this, I would act as if I wasn’t. I acted like I had experience and knew what I was doing. My stomach was doing flip flops all through the hike, but I believe everyone had a great time and I didn’t mess up. By acting as if it was all going to be fine, my mental attitude helped me achieve my outcome.

Recently I learned how to use my sewing machine because my friends came over to help me learn how to sew a skirt. Then I decided to make a top all by myself. I had to ask myself what was the worst thing that could happen. No one knew I was doing this so all I would do is waste time and material. So, I told myself that I could do this and if I needed to, I could always go to my friends for help. After a few hours, I had a new top and it looked great. It wasn’t perfect but I made it all by myself.

When I get before a group of my peers to give a presentation, I always get so nervous. I’m nervous because I don’t want to mess up, I want people to like my presentation and I want people to feel like they haven’t wasted their time by being there. I know that fear and lack of confidence can really ruin a presentation, so I act like I’m brave and confident. Usually, within a few minutes, I don’t have to act this way because I actually feel this way.

I believe this is a skill that I need to teach my students. I know that athletes sometimes use this “positive visualization” in order to picture themselves achieving their goals. This would be great for students to picture also but I don’t think this is enough. I think that students need to be actively believing that they can do it while they are working towards that goal. Believing is just not enough. By taking action, you are making belief more real and this makes the goal more possible.

When have you had to fake it until make it? Please share.

Photo by Steven Libralon on Unsplash

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Being Exclusive

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, inclusive means “broad in orientation or scope” and exclusive means “excluding others from participation.”

I hear so much on social media about how we need to work on diversity in our community and be more inclusive. I believe that it is too easy to go around and say how inclusive a group is, but it is much harder to think about the ways that we exclude people. There are many ways we exclude people without even thinking about it.  

We will never be totally inclusive in every aspect of society because it is impossible. I think it is important that we make sure we are including and excluding people for the right reasons. Exclusivity is a fact of life.

There are so many ways that we exclude people and there may be times that there is no other way. We exclude people from attending certain colleges and universities because they don’t meet the minimum standard required. We exclude certain people for jobs because they don’t have the required skills. We exclude students from general education classrooms because we think they may need a more restrictive environment.

We need to make sure that people are allowed to do things regardless of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, or sexual orientation as long as they possess the skills needed to accomplish the goal. Yet, there are times when a person’s skill level may limit them to what they can do because of safety reasons. Being inclusive should not supersede safety precautions and minimum standards. I do not want a person who is blind to be using power tools or driving a car. A person with a hearing disability should not be working at a place where hearing sound is vital to the safety of everyone.  

People should not be hired or expected to do a job just because we want to show the world how inclusive we are.  But, if it doesn’t involve safety or specific skills needed, we need to make sure that we don’t exclude people because of their race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, or sexual orientation.

There are many other ways that we exclude people without meaning to do so.

When I assign homework, I want to make sure that the student has everything needed in order to be successful in completing the assignment. If I know that the student will need to do research, I need to make sure that the student has access to the internet or a library. If I want an assignment printed out and not handwritten, I need to make sure that the student has access to a keyboard and a printer. The student may have to use the school library to do this work. I remember when I was in school and we were expected to read the newspaper every night and bring in a news article the next day to discuss. Unfortunately, my family did not subscribe to the newspaper so I would always get a bad grade on this homework assignment.

If I want the student to create something, I need to make sure that the student has access to the materials needed. Some of my students may have financial difficulties where getting the materials is impossible. The parents of this student may use all of their money toward foods and shelter. For them, art supplies are a luxury that they don’t have. I remember growing up and having to do projects like this, but my parents could not afford the supplies and I was too ashamed to tell the teacher. Instead, I got a low grade for not completing the project. Or I may have been assigned to a group and everyone in the group could afford expensive supplies except me, so no one really wanted me in their group.  I may be able to lend the student materials or even supply some of the raw material (drawing paper, clay, etc.).

What other ways are students excluded in the classroom? Please share.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Monday, February 25, 2019

Matching My Lesson to My Students

In Skill vs planning from Seth Godin's Blog by Seth Godin talks about gardening and says,  

“But don’t beat yourself up just because the climate doesn’t match your seeds.

This has me thinking about how sometimes my lessons work in the classroom and sometimes they don’t. When it doesn’t work, I need to reflect and figure out why it didn’t. If I don’t try to figure out the cause, I may end up repeating the same mistakes and getting the same results.

I need to make sure that I’m not just teaching a lesson to teach the lesson. I need to make sure that I’m not teaching a lesson because “everyone else is teaching it!” I need to make sure there is a need for students to learn this material. If the students are not motivated to learn because of relevance, then it is my problem and not their problem. Sometimes the relevance may be the fact, that I am required to teach it and they are required to learn it in order to build on this skill for future lessons. I believe it is okay to tell students this. There will many times as adults that they will have to learn something they aren’t that interested in because it is a building block for another skill they will need.

I need to make sure that I’m teaching this lesson on the level of my student’s understanding. If I water it down too much, it will feel condescending and my students will tune me out. If it is too complicated and complex, then my students will shut down when they become frustrated. If my students are high school level, I should not have lessons that are babyish and make them feel humiliated. I also shouldn’t be teaching elementary school students a lesson that is geared for a high school class because their developmental level may not be at the same point as an older student.

I need to make sure that there are enough activities within the lesson that will keep my students engaged in the lesson. I find lectures and taking notes pretty boring and I’m sure most of my students do too. If it is boring for me to teach it, I’m sure that the students are even more bored. If I have activities that are fun and interesting, not only will be students be engaged but hopefully, they will remember what they learn.

By matching my lesson to the students’ needs and instruction levels, I will be more successful in teaching the lesson.

How do you match your lessons to your students? Please share.

Photo by Joshua Lanzarini on Unsplash