It’s been a wee while……anyone would think I’m freakin’ busy!

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So, since my last entry I am VERY happy to say that **WOOHOO**…..I am into my 2nd year of my degree!
I won’t lie and say it’s been a breeze, as I’ve kicked my studies up to full time….on top of working full time, but it’s soooooooo ACE to see more units crossed off my list.  (…Sleep is soooo overrated..!!)  Having said that, I am also happy to say that I not only passed my last two units (Language & Literacy for teachers….and Childhood Development), but finished with overall Distinctions for both!
Who says you can’t teach oldies new tricks 😉

So, this semester I am completing Educational Psychology & Visual and Media Arts …..I think at the end of this semester I shall need some psychology advise myself, as they are pretty full on……but so far so good….

DORY BLOORY is still swimming  😉

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3 exams, 1 micro-teaching video, and 2 learning journal portfolios (that consist of a combined 24 pieces of academic work) to go ~ yep…..I’ve sooo got this….

#CoffeeIsMyAcademicFriend   #ChardonnayIsMyCreativeFriend   #SleepIsOverRated

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C’mon….Get Happy :)

I found this great article on “We are teachers”
http://www.weareteachers.com
#NoteToSelf

Defeating Debbie-Downerism: 7 Tips for a More Positive Mind-Set

7 Tips for Improving Your Mental Teaching Game

Want to take a test? Of course you do! It’s the 21st century in education; testing is all the rage.

The test is simple. As you read this post, make a note of every word you read that rhymes with “YELLOW” (Feel free to write your words down as you see them). At the end of the post, you will be assessed on your observation skills.

In the meantime, consider a couple mentalities a teacher might have:

A) These kids are driving me crazy. I knew that they were going to be annoying yesterday, and sure enough, they were. I bet today students are going to roll in late, sit like a bunch of slugs and be rude any time I ask them to do something. Don’t even get me started on all the ways I’ll get interrupted as I teach; it’s like a flippin’ circus here.

B) I’m going to have some fun today. True, some students will look at me like a freak but—meh—I’ll still have fun. I believe they’ll perform well today also. I mean, we’re not talking Freedom Writers performance, but better than yesterday. I can handle mellow rather than raucous. It’s going to be a good day.

Which of these two classes will have more student annoyancesmore interruptions, more disruptions? The answer: I don’t know and neither do you. For all we know, they could be the same … Maybe class B is worse. But that’s not the real question.

In which of these two classes will the teacher be more annoyed? This question we could probably answer with some confidence. Teacher A is probably going to hate his/her life more than teacher B. Why?

Because you notice what you look for in life.

Confirmation Bias. The Tetris Effect. Both these concepts are critical for us to understand. In short, by priming our brains to focus on a certain type of stimuli, we increase it’s ability to find such stimuli. And we are more apt to focus our perception on our existing beliefs (e.g., I already think Kurt is a jerk, so I’ll notice his jerk-like tendencies more often). Relatedly, in noticing one type of details, we may miss another entirely.

In case you want a “video break,” here’s a great example:

Awareness Test

We notice what we look for, and we may miss important details in the process.

How often do teachers go into an experience expecting the worst? We meet with an administrator or dean lookingfor him or her to criticize our teaching. We conference with parents looking for them to blame us for their child’s ills. We surge our blood pressure looking for those mean punks in third hour to terrorize our souls. We draw our mental weapons, ready to duel the educational trainer or consultant who comes to our meetings. What kind of idiot are they sending us today? I bet they haven’t taught my students at my grade level in my classroom in my district in my space-time continuum.

This isn’t to say that we aren’t going to face criticism from admin, blame from parents, terror from teens or consultant hocus-pocus from time to time. But are we also looking just as hard for the good in our colleagues, communities and classes?

Let’s check in: Have you been noticing those words rhyming with “yellow”? Keep looking.

Before your test, here are seven ways we can foster and teach more positive perceptions.

1. Do Some Positive Prep

Before your next meeting, training or conference, set a goal of finding and writing down X number of positives that are helping the education of your students. Maybe it’s a caring colleague who has never lost her passion for teaching, even after 40 years. Maybe it’s an idea that could help minimize interruptions. Compete with a fellow colleague to see who can find the most positives.

2. Hand Out Goodness Awards

Make a weekly/monthly goal to bestow a “Goodness Award” to someone (staff member, student, etc.). Be sure to explain why that person has demonstrated a certain quality or goodness. Bonus: Between meetings, the current award holder must find the next award recipient.

A coveted award in our classroom

3. Seek Daily Gratitudes

At a habituated time each day, write down three things for which you are grateful. Clearly identify why you are fortunate for each thing. Be sure to check out some of theresearch on the short- and long-term effects of this practice. To stoke your inner techy, you can even use apps like Gratitude365 to hold you accountable. For more, consult the guru of gratitude, Dr. Robert Emmons of UC Davis.

4. Avoid the Downers in the Teacher’s Lounge

I’m sure you can think of at least a couple fellow teachers who always have some gripe-of-the-century to bellow at anyone in earshot (find them in their natural habitat: the teacher’s lounge). If you’re feeling particularly mopey, it may be worth avoiding these folks for a bit. If you can’t (or shouldn’t) avoid these people, be extra vigilant in looking for the good qualities in each person. Remember: If you go into a conversation looking for someone to be negative, you will find it. Or make a note to do one positive for your students or staff for every one gripe or excessive complaint a downer says.

5. Conspire to Inspire

Create positive conspiracies. Place a student’s favorite candy bar on his/her desk before class begins. Enlist your class to give a fellow teacher random high-fives throughout the day. Mail a positive, thankful note to a parents about their student. Most importantly, do these random acts of kindness anonymously so that the recipient doesn’t know who initiated it. The anonymity will require the recipient to see everyone as a potential source of positivity.

6. Kick-Start With Mood Boosters

Say hello to a brighter day or meeting by starting each session with positive shares. Students write compliments to hand one another (or place in a box to be reviewed and distributed later). Staff share “great moments” they’ve had that day or week before getting on to the learning or business. Parents must list three things they like about their child before commencing with the conference. Play an inspiring or hilarious video or read a positive news story in the morning.

7. Teach Tetris Effect Thinking

Ask students to take a mental note of every yellow thing they see in the next week. Make sure that students know their “observation skills will be assessed” by listing what they see. Remind them to look for the yellow each day. On assessment day, have them list out all the green things they have seen in the last week. After they spaz out and throw things at you in disbelief, explain the concept of “seeing what you look for.” Lead a discussion on the benefits of seeking positive observationswith their peers, with their classes and with their daily lives. Note:Please don’t actually grade students on their observations. If you do so, you deserve to have things thrown at youand for them to hit the target.

With that, it’s time for your test:

List out all the words you noticed that rhyme with GREEN.

I’m sure you took great note of all the words rhyming with YELLOW (there were four). But did you miss the words rhyming with GREEN (there were also four)?

You notice what you look for in life.

It’s important to note that there are still times in which criticism and judgment are necessary in education. Not every complaint is misguided. Not every day will be a Mary Poppins sing-along. Unrealistic optimism can be just as muchif not morecounterproductive to education as excessive pessimism. In only looking for positives, we may actually miss serious issues like bullying or violence.

Has the scale been tipped too far to the negative? Are we constantly setting ourselves up to only see the malice in every moment? Can we do more to find the goodness in every day, every student, every colleague and every part of our community?

Look for the green. You’ll find it. And you’ll love it.

7 Ways to Get Your Happy Back

7 Habits of aMaZiNg Student Teachers

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 11.16.49 am#MentalNoteToSelf  🙂

1. They take opportunities to be helpful instead of waiting to be told what to do. Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing impolite or unhelpful about asking, “What would you like me to do now?”, but there is something incredible about realizing my student teacher has anticipated and met a need without me even addressing it. Sometimes when I zone out or get bogged down with one of my 2,045,778 emails, I’ll look up and my current student teacher will be doing something I didn’t ask her to do but is totally wonderful, like straightening the bookshelves or supply closet, cleaning off desks, or organizing the mountain of papers threatening to take over my back table.

2. They say goodbye to their comfort zones. Student teaching is scary, y’all. It’s like meeting your future spouse and their 120 children for the first time… on the day of your wedding. We all have limits on what we are and aren’t comfortable with (and it’s important that both the student teacher and mentor teacher share and understand these), but good student teachers know that there is no better time to fail or make a fool of yourself than now, in a controlled environment with support from the mentor teacher.

3. They share ideas. Student teaching is not (or at least should not) be a one-way street where the supervising teacher simply tells the student teacher what to do the whole semester. Personally, I’m so grateful for my student teachers’ fresh lesson plan ideas and new ways of doing things, and I know my students are, too.

student-teacher
4. They are direct, but kind.
One of my favorite things about my student teachers has been that they respect me enough to let me know about their needs and suggestions directly and in a kind way. Just before break, my student teacher said some version of, “I would really like to know more about your planning process—can you show me more of that next semester?” I loved that she let me know this directly instead of going the rest of the year wishing things were different, or worse, going into next year not knowing how to plan a unit because her mentor teacher would go into a silent, scary Planning Trance at her computer.

5. They embrace the grunt work. I think I’ve made it clear that I’m not a supporter of the king-servant ideology regarding the student teaching experience. But that being said, I think it would be a disservice to the student teacher to let them think that teaching is purely lesson plans and classroom management. My student teachers have been absolutely amazing about helping me make copies, grade, move furniture, and doing other odd jobs when asked—and with a smile on their faces! (I have no idea who they learned that from. I walk down the hall on Monday mornings singing loudly in a minor key.)

6. They welcome feedback—positive and critical.Everyone loves positive feedback—that’s easy. But what’s trickier is accepting and welcoming critical feedback. Good student teachers interpret critical feedback as opportunities for growth, not reasons to slash the tires of their mentor teacher.

7. They are flexible.
I remember being frustrated as a student teacher when my mentor teacher would tell me I had a certain amount of time to teach a lesson or unit and then suddenly change the amount of time at the last minute. Now, with a few years under my belt, I know that’s just the nature of the beast. It’s rare for any teacher to always have more than a few days’ notice about field trips, schedule changes, assemblies, and other things that affect lesson/unit planning. Both of my student teachers have been so flexible with last-minute changes, which is not only a relief to me, but is good practice for the unpredictable world of teaching in which they are making their first steps.

What do you think makes a good student teacher?

It seems Maths “IS” my friend…….go figure…..pardon the pun..!!

5436521212_1550b5ef7d_zSo here I am, halfway through week 7 of my Maths unit…..and never in a million years would I have thought I would have the results I do so far ~ #1 MCT exam 86.5%….#2 MCT exam 90.5%…..Assignment #1 Distinction….and Assignment #2 completed & submitted 4 days early  🙂  With #3 MCT exam & Assignment #3 still to complete…..
I’m still not loving this unit, as maths does not come naturally to me, however, I have learnt many things along the way.  I think the main thing for me so far, is learning not to fear maths…..not to fear problem statements.…and trusting my instincts.  I have spent many years successfully avoiding any form of maths…..even as a Bank Manager all those years ago…..and now BAM….suddenly maths has become very real….!!
Maths, now is all about finding the right strategies….analysing and understanding my mistakes….asking questions – as we all know questions are the vehicle by which we learn…..and to remember that maths is cumulative.
So heres hoping for a Pass or better with Assignment #2, and a tail wind home for my next exam & final assignment 🙂
I’m really looking forward to crossing this unit off my study plan..!!
#WoooHoooo
#MathsReallyIsMyFriend
🙂

Mathematics..!!

As expected, maths is NOT my favourite subject…..however, I have surprised myself with a score of 86.5% in my first MCT exam 🙂  #HappyJig
My first assignment has been submitted, but my nerves are wreaking havock, as I can already see area’s that I did not cover fully….but….it’s too late to do anything about it now..!!  Fingers crossed for a “Pass”….Results due around the 11th Jan……#HateWaiting
So, here I am, week 5 of this joyful unit, which brings me to number 2 MCT exam…..urghhhh……after celebrating a beautiful Christmas with my family, and gearing up for some New Year’s Eve celebrations…..another maths exam is really the last thing I am wanting to do…!!!  Add to that, assignment number 2 that is lurking in the shadows…..which is completing & pulling apart a year 9 NAPLAN test & 2000 words…??!!  I’m struggling with Primary school maths, let alone year 9 maths…..??!!  And, for the record…..I could have sworn I was doing a “Primary” degree……so my need to investigate and breakdown year 9 maths, is surely just there to haunt me..!!!
But….as an educator, I must have an open curious mind ~ it turns out that the best educators are the best learners…..so I learn I must 🙂
#MathsIsMyFriend
#DegreeComeAtMe

My brain hurts…….but it’s not a headache ;-)


I have always had difficulty with mathematics, and I make no secret of that.  When I was at school in the 80’s I opted for “vegie maths’…..the maths you did when you couldn’t do maths..!!  Even then I struggled…..but….as my mother said way back in 1988….”If you put as much effort into your maths as you do into chasing boys and following bands, you would probably surprise yourself and pass with flying colours”….!!!
The problem I had with maths was that it was boring…..it was either right or wrong…..and everyone had to do it the same.  My love for creativity was null and void.  I had absolutely no interest in it…..and sadly, my teachers believed in just rattling off formulas and equations and too bad if we didn’t understand or keep up…..you either passed or failed.  So…..I scrapped through by the skin of my teeth…..and as soon as school was over, I vowed never to look at another stupid linear equation or fraction ever again……………………………………………………………………………….Until now….!!!!
So, I have decided to change my mindset…….I know that I will never be GREAT at maths, or a mathematician…..nor will I ever love maths……but, this time around, I will learn to ‘understand’ it……I will learn to ‘explore’ it…..& I will learn to ‘question’ and become a ‘problem solver’.  I do not need to know every single formula…..I just need to know the process and the ‘how to’ and the ‘explanation’ of the equation.
Yes….there has already been tears, and I’m sure there will be plenty more…….but I’m focused, determined….after all….it’s just a bunch of numbers, symbols and systems…….not tooooooooo scary……right….!!
#DegreeComeAtMe
🙂

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