Thursday, April 23, 2015

Making 100 Minutes a Habit

Recently, I read a blogpost by Brad Currie titled 100 Minutes a Week. In it Mr. Currie succinctly discussed how 100 minutes a week, or 20 minutes a day, would be greatly beneficial for educators in their professional development. Time is a tricky thing to bring up with any educator probably, but making PD a priority is the utmost importance for the sake of the students and forward progress. There are certainly other priorities that should take precedence such as faith, family, or whatever floats your boat.

What caught my eyes over and over were the specific examples Mr. Currie provided in order that readers could gain insight into the endless opportunities we educators have and the variety of input possible when developing. 

I now consider how these ideas could be driven and lived out as habits since reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. The habit loop below presents the science.
There is a cue before every habit. If you want the routine of PD to start without much thought, let there be a cue you create beforehand. My first thought is the Twitter chat that many of us take part in. For example, when the 5:30am alarm goes off, the #BFC530 crew hops onto Twitter for 15 minutes. Others such as #sunchat know that the beautiful habit of collaboration happens every Sunday from 9-10am ET. I do not think only these chats but other resources have extraordinary impacts within the habits as well. Look into what helps you best as an educator, and tailor it to your best capability. PD doesn't need to look the same every time or for every person.

The rewards for such habits are worthwhile.

growth, more resources, creativity, ideas, information, reflection, encouragement, challenges, ______________...
What good habits do you have as an educator set for improvement? 

What cues do you have before the habits happen? 

What rewards do you feel or receive afterwards (and during)?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Joining #read15in15

Seeing #read15in15 trend on Twitter the other day had me Bing it. Turns out there is a plethora of people* who have set the goal to read 15 books in 2015. Lorinda Kline from Warsaw Community Schools is who I've seen lead the way in my feed. Kudos to her and the influence she's having on others in her community!

I really like this idea because of the reading, continuous learning, and collaboration possible. There are educators and others from around the world who have joined. I'm not sure how most are counting, up or down, so I'll go with UP since my unwritten goal is somewhere above 15. :)

It's extremely helpful to create a scroll on TweetDeck with the hashtag #read15in15 so as to see what others are reading and saying.

The following are several books I have already read this year with their authors and personal ratings. The order is by the dates I finished reading them.

1. Bringing Up Boys, James C. Dobson, 3/5

2. The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, Sir Ken Robinson, 4/5

3. Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life, Sir Ken Robinson, 5/5

4. Assessment 3.0: Throw Out Your Grade Book and Inspire Learning, Mark Barnes, 5/5

5. Our Greatest Gift, Henri J.M. Nouwen, 5/5

6. What Great Teachers Do Differently: 17 Things That Matter Most, Todd Whitaker, 3/5

7. The Good Fight: How Conflict Can Bring You Closer, Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott, 5/5

I have four books on my plate right now, and three of them are parenting books since our six-month-old recently started crawling and standing up on his own. I plan to start another ed book or fiction in the near future. Until, read, read!!!

*Check out Goodreads for more in-depth reviews or stroll Twitter for readers' comments.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

I understand.

Last week, I walked in to what seemed to be another normal day with a fifth grade class. Within the ten-minute passing period, one of the students (we'll call him Thomas) approached me to ask if I had researched the next question he and I had encountered in reading up on the International Space Station, space, and other related topics. This one dealt with the English name of a specific part of the ISS. And I failed.

How? Because I didn't do what I told him I would do.

Usually a student might be let down, walk away with a sigh, not feel appreciated, or (D) all of the above. What did Thomas say? "It's okay, Mr. Scott. I understand." Before I could apologize again, remind him that I have a baby son and blah blah blah, he continued, "I have a baby brother. I know how you feel." He then smiled, walked away, and went back to reading his space book and creating a puzzle about the information he was compiling.

Wait. What? Did he just empathize with me? Whoa.

I was touched. This 11-year-old boy softened my heart in one of the best ways I've felt in my five years of teaching.

This experience connects very much with two books I'm currently readingUnconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn and The Whole-Brained Child by Daniel Siegel and Tina Bryson.

Unconditional Parenting: Thomas didn't get upset with me, raise his voice, pout, or even look the slightest bit unappreciated. He was patient, spoke in a normal voice, and expressed a desire to grow together (as he has every time we've talked). He empathized with me by telling me he understands, giving a non-verbal with a smile, and moving on to what he was doing. He treated me with love instead of a force to comply, and he let me feel in my own heart in lieu of focusing mainly on the behavior and telling me how to act.

The Whole-Brained Child: Thomas connected this situation right-brain to right-brain. He didn't say anything that logically had me move on and forget about it. No! He expressed his experiences and emotions with my feeling at that time. He didn't have to say anything to redirect me following his compassionate words because I knew what I had to do. And I did it the next moment I could research ISS. ;)

Sometimes, we as parents/teachers may try to redirect children without the connection needed beforehand. We also could have tendencies to coerce them to obey rather than to guide them in their thinking. What this boy did last week made an impression on me and proved how applications from these two books can travel both ways in a relationship.

This event echoed one of many things I enjoy about teaching: The students help me become a better person.