Going first

During the close of a recent class, I overheard a conversation about the students presenting during their next class period.  Essentially, no one wanted to go first.

I interjected politely and encouraged that they should all be volunteering to present first, to set the bar high, to be confident, that there’s nothing to fear, and to want to go first.  Now, I understand that presenting in middle school and high school is nerve-racking for some kids.  It can even be that way for adults, (myself included sometimes)!

But, I guess what I’ve come to learn is that by embracing this ‘fear’ or apprehension in the first place, let alone going first, is simply a false fear.  Our limbic brain, the amygdala, no longer has to worry about predators, like tigers or wolves, in our modern, civilized world.  The limbic part of our brain controls fight or flight responses.  So, the common fear of public speaking is now something this part of our brain can stress over.

Things to share with kids:

  • Be proactive.  Take initiative, own responsibilities, and prepare.
  • Visualize and begin with the end in mind.
  • Know your content and material inside and out.  Start with the biggest tasks to prepare.
  • Rehearse with peers and family.
  • Use storytelling and narrative to engage your audience, which will help you be better able to recall it yourself.
  • Nothing bad will happen even if a mistake is made.

These tips came to mind after hearing this exchange among those kids. I hope that we can all create a culture of empathy and rapport so that all students can flourish into confident communicators.

Slow down, when you want to speed up

Last year I watched the documentary called FishPeople.  Intrigued by the story of Kimi Werner, (an amazing freediver, spearfisher, chef, and artist) I took time to watch her TEDx Talk.  She said something that resonated with me, “When you feel the need to speed up, slow down.”  This applies specifically to stressful, in the moment decision-making.

Her story and TEDx Talk is inspiring and motivational.  For me, it’s a nice reminder that slowing down is so important for so many reasons – not only decision-making or practicing empathy, but for connecting with family, personal reflection, connecting with nature, pursuing interests, or health, to name a few.

She also created a short film called Variables.

I hope everyone has the opportunity to slow down as we “speed” towards the end of school year, plus, the opportunity to slow down each day.

How do you slow down to speed up?

Zoned Out.

When was the last time you that “zoned out?”

Unfortunately, many of us easily fall into the trap of picking up our phone to be entertained instead of having a moment to think or zone out.  The smartphone and all of the apps are doing exactly what they were designed to do.  Admittedly, I get sucked into the “vortex,” too.  I try to focus my time online learning new things, reading, listening, etc. But I’m still on my phone, and still, the distraction device, ultimately, wins.  It’s a weird way to use our downtime now.  There’s been numerous evidence pointing to the importance of zoning out or daydreaming; letting our mind wander.  Do we get enough time to just sit with our thoughts, observe, to notice new opportunities, to problem solve, or to be creative?

If you remember, share the last time you zoned out.  Share how you have recently had the chance to daydream, to create something just for fun, or “waste time” devoid of technology.

Finally, I wonder if we shouldn’t be so quick to redirect a student staring out the window during a lesson.  For all we know, he/she is listening and thinking deeply, but perhaps not about what we feel is important.

Pursue Your Interests

20% Time: week two reflections:

I had the opportunity to visit Ms. DiDonato’s sixth grade ELA class again last week for 20% Time.  It was awesome!

Students journaled, worked on their interest finding charts, discussed and shared ideas and bounced new ideas off one another.  Their ideas for projects were taking shape.  Some students were still deciding upon ideas to take action on.  Everyone still has time.

Via Hangouts, we also had an excellent conversation/student interview with one of the Google for Education team members, Peter.

Students asked him great questions about his college and career path, his current work, if he gets 20% Time (yes, he does and he shared a cool project for “social good”), and other examples of interesting projects Google has launched.

One of the more interesting questions was: “What did he think about all of the devices and time spent on the Internet by kids?”  Peter’s response was solid.  It was thoughtful, articulate, and mission-driven.

One of the most important messages that Peter conveyed related perfectly to our 20% Time project.  It was that every student should pursue their interests and passions because opportunities will usually find us.

 

Kid’s art

The other day I drew a bunch of pictures and doodles with my son and daughter.

I kept their wild drawings and threw mine out.

Their coloring and random lines, dots, scribbles, and crinkles on colored pieces of construction paper were cool looking. Endearment?  Possibly.

It was a fantastic depiction of randomness and creativity.

My own sketch of some ocean waves (that I’ve been doodling on notebook paper forever) looked simple, unrefined, and lacking.

I really enjoy artist’s work, Jonas Draws.  My son and daughter have his book Surfing Animals. It’s a really fun read for a surfer dad!

I sure can’t draw like Jonas, but I’ll keep trying, or perhaps one of them will become artists.

This article here, “What Happens to Creativity as We Age?” is worth a read and probably explains why I have trouble drawing/doodling new pictures.