Sunday, November 30, 2014

Family Movie Night - Lessons for Educators

Last weekend our family had a movie night and we rented The Edge of Tomorrow.  The cover of the movie has the words live, die, repeat.  As I watched it, I began to do what I usually do when watching movies: make connections to education and my life as an educator.  This brought me back to a blog post I started back in March 2014 see below:

I think I have joked with many of my friends about writing this post.  However, this evening I was inspired by Jennifer Kloczco's post This I Believe: Life Lessons and Sports Movies.  Like usual I am going to provide a "brief" explanation to provide a bit of background on where I am coming from.

It is my son's 9th birthday.  When my husband and I were thrown into becoming parents by fate (a very long story for a later time) we had been married for 9 years, I had been teaching for 15 years, and I was at that test for everything under the sun to make sure your baby is healthy age.  I was familiar with Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, and other movies because I would watch them with my students.  Little did I know that after becoming a parent they would dictate the major themes of my life as a parent and an educator. Here are just a few:

The Story of Route 66 - Cars: A great reminder that life is about the journey.  In our classrooms we need to make sure we understand our destination for our students and then plan a meaningful journey as they work to acquire new learning and understanding.  We need to individualize the journey as much as possible and let the students have a hand in creating their paths.  What are you doing everyday to make the journey more meaningful and fun?

My favorite quote from this segment - "Cars didn't drive on it to make great time, they drove on it to have a great time" - Sally

Ellie's Adventure Book - Up and Picture Momentos - Up:  These are a great reminder that life isn't about the exciting adventures and places and trips one experiences.  If you have the right perspective, everyday can be seen as an adventure.  Another message about slowing down, realizing that building relationships and making connections can turn seemingly mundane activities into "learning adventures" in your classroom.  What is in your adventure book and how do we keep our student's adventures alive?

A great quote from Up - "He used to come to all my Sweatlodge meetings and afterwards we'd go get 
ice cream at Fentons. I always get chocolate and he gets butter-brickle. Then we'd sit on this one curb, right outside, and I'll count all the blue cars and he counts all the red ones, and whoever gets the most, wins. I like that curb.  That might sound boring, but I think the boring stuff is the stuff I remember the most."

Finding Their Way - Finding Nemo:  This clip is for the helicopter parents and teachers who have a hard time letting students struggle and face challenges they have to figure out themselves.  We need to stop "rescuing and spoon feeding" our students.  We need to let them explore, discover, struggle, create, revise, edit, think critically, and problem solve.  How do we know what they are capable of if we do not let them try and fail and revise on their own?

Finding Your Center - Rise of the Guardians:  This clip illustrates the importance of knowing what is at your center as an educator and/or parent.  Your center is what you bring into the world and it is what you protect in the students you teach.  This blog has helped me reflect and find my educational center.  When I am veering off course, I can feel it in my core and I know I am not listening and following my center beliefs and fighting for them.  What is your educational center that you will protect in your students and fight for?

First Flight With Toothless - How to Train Your Dragon:  This is my #geniushour and makerspace clip.  It illustrates that when someone is interested in something, they want to find out as much about it as possible.  They will study, learn, problem-solve, and create.  Another lesson in this clip is having the courage to throw away your "cheat sheet".  When you are in the "flow" you can trust your center or gut to guide you.  Making a "cheat sheet" provides you with the foundation and ability to trust you know the information and therefore can throw it out.  Are you creating or providing time for students to explore what they are passionate about?

Believe - The Polar Express:  So much of being an educator is in believing the impossible is possible.  You trust in others to share their knowledge and processes and you take a leap of faith and try new things.  You have to believe that it is worth trying even if it fails.  Either way, you will learn and try again another day.  This clip works with finding your center and using your beliefs to support you center and vice versa.  What do you believe is possible for yourself and your students?

Edge of Tomorrow Trailer: This movie is all about learning and has a strong connection to gaming.  I am a revision queen.  In my writing, someone usually has to rip the piece out of my hands because I believe I can always make it better.  As educators we need to embrace failing as a learning tool.  Moving ahead slowly one step at a time, failing forward is a great way to model for our students and all with whom we work.  It is scary and exhilarating at the same time.  This post: 5 Things Teacher Can Learn From Video Games by Alice Keeler connects to the premise of this movie: "1. Players do not read instructions; 2. Failure is expected; 3. Games are social; 4. Players are actively involved; 5. Challenging is fun.  How do you model failure for your students and colleagues?  Would you save the world with little on no recognition?  Oh Yeah, you already do that everyday!

You don't believe, that is why you fail - Yoda:  I have to add this clip because it really represents the two types of people I meet whether they are students, teachers, parents, friends, or anyone.  One type is the people who will try and take a leap of faith, trusting their gut, no matter the consequences to achieve something.  They do this because they have a support system, are not afraid of failing and see it as learning opportunity.  They believe that no matter what happens, there will always be the opportunity to improve and learn.  The other type will try and give up, or not attempt at all because they are blinded by the fear of failure.  Luckily most folks float between the two extremes depending on what they are doing.  As an educator, what leaps of faith do you take for your students and yourself?  Do you believe?

It's Time to Let Go - Finding Nemo: And finally, a great life lesson about letting go even when you do not know what the outcome will be.  In education we take risks for our students everyday.  We have to believe in ourselves and our students and be willing to jump even if we are not sure of the results and are we are scared.  When was the last time you jumped and took a risk trying something new?  What will be your next "Jump"?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

What Would You Do With An Extra Hour...

As I laid in bed on a rainy Saturday morning, I listened to Scott Simon on Weekend Edition (NPR) as he discussed what if the time change occured during the day instead of the middle of the night, how would you use that extra hour?  CLICK HERE to listen to the segment.  As I listened, I agreed and thought about all of the great ideas he mentioned, I was relishing the fact that the weather had allowed me to stay in bed much longer than I would allow myself on a bright sunny day.  But the question also required me to ponder and reflect, what if I had the gift of an extra hour showing up in the middle of a day, what would I do with it?

  • The mom and wife in me immediately went to - spend more time with my family.
  • The educator in me immediately went to - I can participate in a twitter chat or hang out on tweetdeck, google+, voxer, reading blog posts, etc...
  • The housekeeper in me immediately went to - I can get the vacuuming done.
  • The property owner in me immediately went to - rake pine needles into piles, repeat, repeat.
  • The writer in me immediately went to - I can blog for an hour.
  • The daughter in me immediately went to - I can pay Mom's bills for the month.
  • The exerciser in me immediately went to - I can workout.
  • The guilty part of me immediately went to - watching Project Runway recordings.
  • The college student in me went to - take a NAP
There are many more "me's" that could go on and on.  With the craziness and connectedness of our lives today it is important to stop and take inventory of our priorities and wants and needs.

I think I will take an hour today to sit and be away from all of the me's above.  I find in my hectic life, quiet pondering and reflecting allows me to re-connect to the intuitive me.  That is the most important me because it guides everything I do and provides a foundation for growth and learning in every situation.

The gift of an hour, a luxurious hour... What would you do with an extra hour?