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Archive for the ‘happiness’ Category

Photo by @Jaymaisel

First Snow, Elizabeth Street Photo by @Jaymaisel

I woke up today after whirl wind of recent days past.  ECOO, EdCampSWO and back to the school house and family!  I am always tired at days end. Its the kids and my kids that bring me great joy that I do not realize my fatigue until 9 pm at night when I K.O. in 3 minutes flat.  This morning I woke at 5 am to head out to the gym to realize it was snowing.  Falls first snow.  It has been amazing to me since I was a kid.  I get real joy out of listening to the kids oh and ah at the window. I decided to stay home from the gym and wait for them to wake up just to hear them this year.  It was as I expected.  Zoe threw on boots and took Hawksley Sirius (the dog) out for a run in the snow.  The flakes were huge here in Essex County.

When ever this happens for the first time I remember the words I heard Taylor Mali speak at Learning Forwards Annual conference in 2010.  He blew me away with this one and I have never forgotten.  So today to honour kids, snow and learning everywhere I picked up the P.A. handheld and read Undivided Attention to the entire school with no intro or warning.  I share it with you here.  Enjoy.

Undivided Attention
by Taylor Mali

A grand piano wrapped in quilted pads by movers,
tied up with canvas straps—like classical music’s
birthday gift to the criminally insane—
is gently nudged without its legs
out an eighth‐floor window on 62nd street.

It dangles in April air from the neck of the movers’ crane,
Chopin-­‐shiny black lacquer squares
and dirty white crisscross patterns hanging like the second‐to­‐last
note of a concerto played on the edge of the seat,
the edge of tears, the edge of eight stories up going over—
it’s a piano being pushed out of a window
and lowered down onto a flatbed truck!—and
I’m trying to teach math in the building across the street.

Who can teach when there are such lessons to be learned?
All the greatest common factors are delivered by
long‐necked cranes and flatbed trucks
or come through everything, even air.
Like snow.

See, snow falls for the first time every year, and every year
my students rush to the window
as if snow were more interesting than math,
which, of course, it is.

So please.

Let me teach like a Steinway,
spinning slowly in April air,
so almost-­‐falling, so hinderingly
dangling from the neck of the movers’ crane.
So on the edge of losing everything.

Let me teach like the first snow, falling.

Mali. Taylor. “Undivided Attention.” What Learning Leaves. Newtown, CT: Hanover Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN: 1-­‐887012-­‐17-­‐6)

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Experiment!  I just mailed in cheek swabs from Hawksley!

What breeds make up this handsome young man?

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Please post your replies on twitter or comment below.

In 10 days DNAmydog.com will send back all the pertinent information for me to understand the breeds that make up Hawksley’s genome.  Will the information be beneficial to me helping him stop barking at everything that rolls? (car tires, kids on bikes, skateboards and roller blades)  Will the test help me in learning why he likes glossy magazines instead of his expensive chew toys?  Will the test final put to rest the debate in the Cowper House: Lab or Boxer?

Stay tuned to find out!

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Golfing with me Da made it to my heart list in Atlanta. I am very fortunate.

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My son has been whispering I’m sorry from the wing back lounge chair for almost 30 minutes. At least I hope that is what he is whispering. Could be he is still repeating that I didn’t buy him a lego set. This might be the largest Starbucks I’ve been too besides Seattle’s flagship. Yet I’ve only seen the first 10 feet. I havent even ordered my triple venti latte yet. This is something as, I admit, I am addicted. No, instead I am using this time to help my son learn a lesson about being grateful.

He entered LEGOLAND in Chicago bouncing and giggling. He left all snot and lower lip. What started as “take my picture, take a picture of that spider, take a picture of the hippo.” Ended as “I didnt get a lego set! I wanted a lego set.” His heart rate was 114 going in and 114 comin out. (I checked with my Azumio app.) Mine, a duldrum 41. We are sometimes “out of sync.”

Remaining calm in the face of such acrimonious dialogue is a skill I did not learn from my father. I am sure generation Xers can relate. My dad did not reason or coddle. You with me so far. While my Dad cultivated my philosophy of high expectations and trust above all else it is my life and skills as an educator that have most certainly saved me as a parent. For instance, I have written this entire post during “the episode” as my daughter calls them. I distance myself from the behaviour, refuse to own negative energy and resist fully the temptation to take events like this personally. The last element being the hardest as Gavin is my flesh and blood.

“You just don’t like me, that is why you didn’t get me legos or a birthday present.” You see he even makes stuff up to try and engage me. Not happening. At this point in the timeout I am surprised the barista hasn’t charged us for the bazillion Starbucks napkins Gavin has used to wipe his nose.

This relationship, between parenting and teaching, is the most important aspect of my life as a father. I share this everyday with students, parents and teachers. It is the one aspect of my personal life that I cannot seperate from my work life. In Loco Parentis or in this case In Parentis.

I got an apology. I got a hug. More than that Gavin figured it all out when he saw me typing on my iPhone.

“Are you writing this all down Daddy?”

“Yes Gavin.” I replied stoically.

“For everyone to read Daddy.”

“Yes Gav. For everyone to read and learn from our mistakes and our work.”

“I love you Daddy. Sorry.”

It seems Gavin has my desire to help others too.

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A friend of mine told me a story about his younger brother the other day.  His mom would point a finger and say to him “You had better behave!”  His brother would then rebut…”I am being Hav!”  To change behaviour fast. . . add a little fun.

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I just finished watching The Effective use of Consequences on my PD 360 account. This video was great as it reminded me of so many ultra-important philosophies when dealing with kids (my own included). Here are some examples:
1. Most kids would rather be seen as behaviour problems than slow learners.
2. There are no punishments, only consequences and consequences are opportunities for learning.

I found the poem below in an email one day.  The subject of the email was “do you read bad poetry”  This was a reflection activity on the relationship between consequences and punishments. After I read it I deepened my belief that we must understand the student’s perspective and stance on consequences and punishments for it to be truly reflective.  Many schools have them.  Detention rooms, Reflection rooms, Room 104, The “Thinking Room”.  What ever you might call yours I ask you, what are they for?  Who do they serve?  Is it effective or is there a better way? 

Reflection Room–author unknown
I have spent too many nights – sleepless,
fighting with you in my head.
I cannot live with it.
Yet each day that it continues
without my action condones it.
My soul hurts
for kids like Kye-
punished for who his parents are,
and where he comes from,
and because he is a bother-  to us.
Kye doesn’t get what he needs.
Kye gets what we think he needs
from our privileged position.
Kye gets our pity,
but not our compassion.
When did we forget-
what it looks like and feels like
-school for Kye?
Maybe we didn’t forget-
maybe we never knew.
When did good intentions
become a battle for control-
Us vs Them? Final SMACKDOWN!
When did being on Kye’s side
mean that I’m not on yours?
Look in the mirror-
I can’t live with the reflection. (room)

I am reminded of so many important learners that have shared their experiences and beliefs with me over the last 6 years.  Todd Whitaker’s stance on relationships and student behaviour-“they need to leave the office happy because hurt people hurt people.”  I think of Kevin Cameron’s empty vessel analogy in reference to students that need “one caring adult in their lives to make a difference.”  Ruby Payne’s work goes without mentioning a single quote just the simple idea that discipline without relationship breeds resentment.  I thought about many things when viewing this segment.  What I thought about the most though was that I wanted my boy to be loved and treated with patience and understanding when he enters school.  And that is why I will extend that same right to all the students I work with.

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The New Tag (thenewtag.wordpress.com) writes about happiness in a Blog entry entitled:  Want kids to be happy?  Teach gratitude. 
 
“The biggest difference between people who are generally happy and people who are generally not, is this: Happy people recognize, focus on, think about, talk about and attribute value to what is good in their lives most of the time. Unhappy people don’t. It really is that simple.”
 
This entry reminded me of a draft I started months ago and finish here.  It was after a tough day at school.  I asked two different kids these 2 questions:  Are you happy?  What makes you happy?   The first child responded “I don’t know. I am not really happy.”  The second child responded: “Yes I am happy. A lot of fings make me happy like. . .” and then she answered in this exact order in about 3 minutes:
 
popsicles
playing with Haley (friend)
sunshine
school
reading
spelling
playing
Mommy
Daddy
Having Tea
Gavin
Playing with Gavin
Helping Daddy
Counting and Math
Richie
My whole family
Avery the cat
Having dinner
Grandmas
Music and dancing
 
I learn so much from kids everyday.  Especially from the contrast between those at work and those at home. Thanks The New Tag for reminding me of this event in my life.  I attempt to bring the kind of happiness my daughter feels to the students I work with everyday.  We all have so much to be thankful for, to be happy about.  According to my daughter’s list they are one and the same I presume.

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