MailboxesThanks, Nancy, for the tag. It’s great motivation to blog again. It’s been too long!

11 Random Facts About Me

  1. Little noises enrage me (my brother is the same way). I’ve self-diagnosed myself with misophonia.
  2. I often kid that I’m living my Plan D. Truth be told I had no plans A, B or C.
  3. I’m a big fan of efficiency and the bottom line (get to the point, man!). I like few steps in a process, few words in a speech, few distractions, which may be why I can’t get behind the serial comma. A Spanish professor of mine used to talk about una economía de palabras (an economy of words). (PS, don’t get me started on double-spacing after a period!)
  4. If I hadn’t gone to grad school for Spanish language and literature, I would have gone to cooking school. Maybe if I cooked for a living, I wouldn’t like it as much?
  5. I grew up in Steamboat Springs and skiing was indeed part of the PE curriculum. Each year we chose to either cross-country ski, downhill ski or ice skate every Friday (maybe it was every other Friday?).
  6. One of the best weeks I’ve ever had was last summer in Austin: five days at the ADE Summer Institute followed by a girls’ weekend. My sides ached from laughing so much. #nuttysquirrel
  7. I’ve had three very different sweat lodge experiences.
  8. I hate the flavor of orange-colored fruits: peaches, apricots, mango (especially mango). I love the color, though!
  9. I am a very finicky sleeper. Here’s my ideal sleep scenario: no light, no sound, cool or cold room, nothing constraining my legs (like pj pants), a flat-ish pillow, heavy covers.
  10. I remember names and faces easily. I forget no one (which is a blessing and a curse).
  11. I love lists and bullet points. Maybe it’s part of the efficiency thing?

11 Questions from Nancy for me

  1. What is your favorite technology tool for personal use? The iPhone. How lucky are we that we get to run around with a computer in our pocket?
  2. What is your favorite technology tool for students? See #1.
  3. What is your favorite book? Tough question, Nancy! I love to read and definitely have several favorites. My favorite book that I read recently is Eleanor & Park. Go read it now. I’ll wait.
  4. What is the “next big thing” for education? If only I knew! I think we’ll see more student involvement as far as creating and executing their own educational pathways.
  5. Who do you most admire? I don’t really have a “most.” I’ll get back to you.
  6. What topic/topics are you currently researching? Master scheduling options/rethinking the traditional school day.
  7. What is a favorite place you have visited? Kauai.
  8. What inspires you? People I know inspire me to do better and be better. I find inspiration in the photos I see on Instagram (especially Nicole’s edits!).
  9. Who was your most memorable teacher? I have three: Mrs. Stanko (G4), Profe (G9), Professor Hervey at CSU (RIP).
  10. Were you a good student? I was a decent student. I was never a fan of the courses the I HAD to take. I always want(ed) to take/do what I like(d).
  11. How do you learn best? I have to see it to learn it. And, I learn by doing (who needs to read the directions to that new coffee maker, anyway?).

Tag-You’re it!

  1. Jen Giuffre
  2. Don Goble
  3. Kendra
  4. Carla
  5. Amy White
  6. Pilar Munday
  7. LindaCO
  8. YOU!

11 Questions for YOU. If you don’t blog, feel free to answer in the comments. 

  1. What’s the story behind your name?
  2. How did you end up with the job that you have?
  3. Which song title would sum up 2013 for you?
  4. What is your favorite app and why?
  5. What was your favorite year of school and why?
  6. What is one website/blog you couldn’t go a day without reading?
  7. What is your favorite swear word?
  8. What are three things that are always in your refrigerator?
  9. What are you reading for fun right now?
  10. Who/What inspires you?
  11. What is your favorite movie quote?

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS: When you are tagged…

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 (or so) bloggers.
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

Image

I recently met up with a dear friend of 25 years. Over dinner she talked about her quest to follow the things in life that enliven her. She also challenged me to do the same. As I finally wind down from the school year, I’m taking her advice and the time to notice and follow the things that make me feel more vibrant. On the flip side I suppose I should take note of the things that bring me down and eliminate or modify them the best I can.

Cooking and Baking
I have been playing in the kitchen since I could read. My mom refused to buy me an Easy Bake oven, and the cute little cake kits that came with it, saying I could use the real kitchen anytime. So, I did. I bake and cook for therapy. I bake to show people that I care. I suspect that my son will be getting several care packages from me next year at college.

Dancing
Again, when I was little I took tap and ballet classes. I wasn’t very good, but I recall enjoying it quite a bit. My brother likes to remind me of a dance we performed called “Egg Head.” I’m not sure what the theme of the song was (but could make a guess) and the only line I remember is “‘Egg Head,’ that’s what we call him, ‘Egg Head!’” Hm. Probably wouldn’t fly today. Today, I love going to Zumba classes and salsa nights around town.

Art
Thanks to my iPhone and Instagram I take more photos than before. I’ve always enjoyed photography and now really have fun playing with iPhoneography apps (I used Popsicolor, Percolator and Pop Camera and PicFrame for the images in this post). Using my camera apps and sharing photos has helped me keep an eye out for the beauty that surrounds me and made me more aware of my place. Sharing is an added bonus. Having someone like a photo encourages me to keep seeking beauty and sharing what and how I see.

What brings you joy and makes you feel most alive?

 

“Until then I am a red balloon, a balloon tied to an anchor.”
The House on Mango Street 

The notion of letting go keeps popping up in the darndest places. I read about it and even hear it in songs. I heard about letting go at the ADE 2011 Summer Institute and again in November at an IB symposium in Denver. The contexts in both places involved the idea of educators letting go of practices that are not effective.

Several years ago I met with a woman who practices alternative medicine. She had a knack for finding the most tender pressure points in my neck, but would also talk about big-picture things like universal shifts. She told me that for the current shift, people would have to learn new ways of thinking and to let go of the old to prepare for the new. I keep thinking back to that conversation and all of the things that I still need to let go of.

I’m the eldest in my family (including both sets of cousins) and a Capricorn with a natural tendency towards stubbornness. Letting go is an unnatural and unnerving feeling for me. The words “control freak” may spring to mind. Letting go is scary and requires risk taking, something else that makes me a little queasy. I have a senior in high school. The idea of letting him go into the world usually brings tears to my eyes. He’s got a good head on his shoulders and will land on his feet no matter what he decides to do. I know that deep down. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

When I reflect on letting go, I realize that, while tough, it can also be liberating. Letting go involves a lot of trust. Trust that things will work out for the better. Trust that surrendering is often the best option.

Changing Booths by Ian Junor (Flickr Creative Commons)

2011 was a rewarding year for me professionally. It involved many unique learning opportunities and chances to grow as an educator.

I am still shocked and honored that I was selected to be an Apple Distinguished Educator. The week I spent at the ADE Summer Institute with like-minded colleagues from all of the country was inspiring, challenging and extremely rewarding. (My team’s work on global collaboration will be appearing in iTunes U soon!) I learned about augmented reality from Johnny Kissko at the dinner table. I learned audio/video tips and tricks from pros. Most of all I was reminded of the power and beauty of storytelling. What’s your story? (Check out Bill Frakes and his films.)

Another challenging, yet fun, activity I participated in was an Ignite speech. I’d been to Ignite Fort Collins a couple of times and had pondered giving my own Ignite there. But, Scott and Sandy put together an Ignite event for our district and asked me to play. I had a blast putting the images together for my topic on decisions, decision-making techniques and decision fatigue. I was reminded that I love public speaking even though it is extremely nerve-racking.

I have a new job this year. Well, technically, half of a new job. I continued as IB Coordinator and am also an assistant principal, which entails new learning every single day. Mostly I am learning that I have a lot left to learn about education, working with people and helping kids thrive in and out of school.

I suspect that 2012 will also involve much transition and growth–at work as well as at home. On the home front it will be fun to see what my son decides to do after he graduates from high school in May. At work, the challenges will keep me on my toes, no doubt.

I have followed Alan Levine’s blog and Twitter feed for a couple of years. I love participating in his #ds106 projects from time to time, as well. His dear mom Alyce passed away last week and it hit a nerve with me for a number of reasons-she reminds me of my sweet grandmother who turned 86 yesterday; my mom recently worried that her mom, my other grandmother, wouldn’t be here much longer; and Alyce and I share a love of baking for people. A couple of Alan’s friends declared today Cookies for Cogdog, or the Day of CookieLove, where readers were invited to bake cookies and give them out to strangers.

I set out the butter last night so I could make chocolate chip cookies first thing this morning. I use a recipe that I got from a dear friend in Brookings, SD. Her recipe comes out beautifully every time. I mixed up the batch then divided the baked cookies into three bags. I hadn’t thought about who would get them and started to get a little nervous about it. I talk to strangers all the time, but never offer them cookies.

On the way to my car after church I noticed that there was a man taking a break from working on the roof of the house across the street. As he was heading back toward the house I hollered an “Excuse me?” at him and explained that he was receiving cookies in honor and memory of a friend’s mom (it seemed a lot easier to say “friend” than try to explain the whole online Twitter/blog thing). He was definitely caught off guard in a good way.

At the farmers’ market a few minutes later, I wandered around looking for my next recipient. The gal at the java stand looked a little lonely since most folks there were after the fresh produce. After hemming and hawing a bit, I decided that I’d give her the second bag. I told her the same thing that I told the roofer but she asked me more details about the project and we chatted a bit. She thought that #cookielove was a great idea and, by the way, chocolate chip cookies are her favorite!

The last bag went to two ladies who work at the Good Sam house where my grandparents live. They spend their whole day giving care and I wanted to return some of that to them in cookie form.

What a great project to honor the memory of a kind woman, to treat people to some cookies and to get a little spiritual boost for myself!

Rest in peace, Alyce!

It’s often a struggle to stay upbeat and positive at the end of a school year. Budgets cuts were inevitably huge this past year and we’re still recovering from the after-effects. Last spring I felt like the girls in this video:

To pick up my spirits, I reflected on a sermon I had heard called “In Search of the Spiritual.” The speaker started with the etymology of the word “spirit.” We can see its root in words like “respiration” and “inspiration.” He then offered the list of where he finds spiritual renewal-in music, in solitude, in play, etc. It made me realize that if I start my own list, I can find a bit of renewal whenever I need it:

1. Silence. Since I get sensory-overloaded easily, I take refuge in silence. I am content to ride home in total silence-no radio, no music. To sleep at night, I have to have it totally quiet and dark. I use the silence to recite mantras and get grounded after a stressful day. “Breathe in strength, breathe out growth” is my latest mantra.

2. Laughter. Nothing beats a tear-inducing belly laugh to relieve stress and feel refreshed.

3. Play.  After watching me play (and laugh) in the surf all day in Hawaii a few years ago my sister-in-law reminded me that I am a kid at heart. I love to play, whether it’s cards, golf, volleyball, charades or even dress-up. Play fuels my creativity, releases negative energy and revives me.

4. Nature. I grew up on the Western Slope of Colorado and spent more time outside than in learning to love and appreciate nature. I find renewal when I hike and fish, but especially when I take the time to listen to the aspens and streams and smell the pine trees and flowers. (I recently discovered that the bark of a Ponderosa Pine smells like butterscotch!)

Where do you find renewal?

Bridal Falls Trail Head

In reviewing last year’s list, I still need to finish a couple of books. I am almost done with Committed and am thoroughly enjoying Gilbert’s views and history of marriage.

This summer’s reading includes the following:

  •  I started reading Cutting for Stone earlier in the year, but I decided it was a better summer read since I can only read a few minutes each night before crashing. This novel’s language is rich and the story engaging, so it requires a little more focus than others I might read.
  • Speaking of focus, I’m trudging through Schmoker’s Focus. For the most part, I do not enjoying work-related books, but recognize that it is a necessary evil. On the plus side, I love saying “Schmoker.”
  • My grandmother recently gave me a big stack of novels to read. I’m starting with The Whistling Season and Out Stealing Horses.
If you haven’t read the following novels, I highly recommend them for your summer reading pleasure:
Are you on GoodReads? Find me there.

…they become work-place bullies. I have read several articles recently about bullying in schools amongst kids. But, in looking around the different venues in my life, I see that bullying doesn’t end at high school graduation.

Photo by greencandy8888 at flickr cc

I usually agree with Seth Godin, but today’s post hit me funny. Godin concludes the post by writing, “Being a bully is a choice, and falling for this cycle, permitting it to continue, is a mistake.” I agree that being a bully isn’t only a choice, it’s a habit. What hit me more strongly was the last word–mistake. In talking about the post with my colleagues at our bloggers café, it may be that his wording is throwing me off, but I read “mistake” as something the victim is choosing to ignore thereby making the “mistake.” I explained that suffering due to the words and actions of a bully is a form of abuse not a mistake. Bullies create and thrive on the fear they instill in their victims. In these tough economic times, the people I know who are bullied on a daily basis have no out available to them. There is not another job for them and yes, they’re looking. Go to HR and file a complaint? Sure, but then there’s the retaliation, including being fired, to add to the stress.

What about the members of the tribe, to use Godin’s term, that witness the bullying? What resources are available to us to intervene effectively? What are the repercussions for the victim? While we didn’t come up with any solutions, we started a vital conversation. If nothing else, we may be more self-aware our own dealings with our co-workers.

Nonviolent Communication (book)

10 Tips for Dealing with Bullies at Work (article)

Cross-posted at Writing Matters.

I am a lousy storyteller. I tend to get to the middle of a story and forget where I am going. I was keenly aware of this when I lived with a Mexican family in Monterrey and attempted to tell elaborate stories in Spanish. What was difficult in my native tongue was 100 times more so in my second language.

I have been passively following the ds106 assignments and hash tags for the past couple of weeks in my efforts to better my storytelling skills. After reading Dean Shareski’s post tonight, I decided to try this one where you create a story from song titles and even sign it with a song title. I scanned through my music in iTunes and dumped the songs that I thought would fit into a story into a playlist. Then I culled through that playlist, saw that I had a theme going and pulled the story below together. I invite you to try it yourself!

In an effort to motivate me to practice the piano, my mom would preach, “Practice makes perfect!” Perfection was never my goal. My goal was to survive each recital without forgetting the notes. The pressure of memorizing pieces for those recitals was painful. My piano teacher would say things like “Stinky poo!” or “<Insert composer’s name here> is rolling over in his grave right now!” It’s really no wonder that I wanted to quit my lessons weekly. I only forgot the notes once when I had to make up the ending to a song. I’m sure that composer shuddered a bit in his grave that night.

My sister-in-law’s mom tends to say, “Practice makes practice.” My brother and I just look at each other and shrug because neither of us understands that one. It makes me think of those biblical passages with all the begats: Abraham begat Isaac who begat Jacob who begat Joseph and so on. Who wants to practice only to practice more only to practice even more? I’m sure this points to my tendency to want to finish something in order to move on to the next great thing.

So, what matters more? The process or the product? The journey or the destination? I keep coming back to that phrase and was asked it in an interview last summer. I love the product, whether it’s the recital, the presentation or the finished knit good, but I struggle with enjoying the process–the tedious lessons, the countless edits, the frogging (rip it rip it) of the knitting. My personal growth plan for 2011 includes embracing the process and starting to enjoy the journey.

 

Flickr Photos

Convention Center #percolator #denver

Beautiful day golfing. #distressedfx #steamboat #colorado

Lunch in Estes. #tiltshift #estes #colorado

More Photos

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