Wednesday, March 28, 2012

That Extra Degree

I have been very lucky these last few months to have the support of some amazing friends to help me venture down a path towards a healthier lifestyle. If you've been around these woods for a bit, you'll already know that this is not a new battle. I'm often revisiting (and relosing) old habits and pounds in a quest to be healthier and try new things.

Having people there to support me, those connections I talked about yesterday, has made the world of difference in my personal life. My ever-growing PLN has provided me with connections, ideas, opportunities and push-back that have all made a tremendous difference in my teaching life. I'm constantly looking at how I can change things to make a difference for my kids.

I often joke around and say that it would just be so much easier to copy worksheets and teach the lessons right out of the book, but I know full well that I could never teach like that. That's only 211˚. To make a difference, I need to be at least 212˚. What do I mean by that? Check this out:

How have you pushed yourself, professionally or personally, to reach 212˚? I'd love to hear your stories!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Never Underestimate the Power of Connections

I initially started out this post with something flowery... I wanted some prolific statement that would impact anybody who happens to read this little blog of mine. Then I realized, that's not really what this post is about.

This post is really about people. People you can trust. People who care about you. People you care about. And the amazing things that a group of people who trust each other and care about each other can accomplish when they put their minds to it.

We should never, ever underestimate the power of the connections that we make with other people and all that we gain from those connections. I'm guessing that you can think back to your day today and put your finger on one connection with a person that impacted you in a meaningful way. If you can't, I'm very sorry. Thankfully I can.

My day made me realize how lucky I am to have coworkers in whom I can trust and with whom I can brainstorm and work towards change. It also made me realize how important it is to focus on my students and who they are as whole people, not just as bubble-filling-in machines. They don't need that skill when they're adults. They need to know how to be good people who can solve problems.

So they can make connections with others and make a difference when they grow up.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Girls on the Run

On Monday, March 5 I put on yet another hat. This time my hat says, "Coach" although the girls just call me Becky, and I am one of the coaches for my school's Girls on the Run team.

If you don't have Girls on the Run or Girls on Track teams at your school, and you've never heard of the program, you MUST check it out by looking at their website. The premise of Girls on the Run is to provide girls in 3rd - 5th grade with the tools they need to see themselves as strong, powerful young ladies. They get "out of the Girl Box" and recognize that they can be anything and do anything they want. The girls also get the tools they need to make good decisions and stay true to themselves as they enter those challenging pre-teen and teenage years. Oh, and yeah - we do this through lessons, teamwork and running. Our culminating event is a 5K that the girls run with their running buddies.

Now, if you know me at all, the fact that I'm coaching a "running" program is a bit... confusing. Seriously, picture my Maxx, tilting his head to the side and looking at you quizzically. You know.... like this:

I'm not a runner; believe me I've tried (I am still trying to be honest, but my try on Sunday may be my last). The only time I get that runner's high that everybody talks up is when I'm finished and know I don't have to run any more. But I get it. Because I'm not a runner yet still finished a 5K, I know how amazing it feels to do something you didn't think you would ever be able to do. For some of these girls to finish a 5K at 9 and 10? I can't even imagine what it will be like for them to triumphantly cross that line if front of hundreds of cheering fans!

It's so much more than that, though. The lessons we talk about aren't easy things, even for us grown-ups, to talk about: feeling like you don't fit it, thinking negatively, peer pressure, bullying. They dredge up a lot of bad feelings for all of us. Knowing that we all can handle these things - that's priceless. And so are the relationships we're developing with our team. These girls know that no matter what they have three adults, besides their parents, in whom they can trust.

I knew I'd gain a lot by volunteering as a Girls on the Run coach, but the connections with the girls after just 4 practices are more than I expected. This was a challenging week, and every time I saw one of the girls on our team, they smiled, they said hello, they shared their positive words, and I got hugs! Tons and tons of hugs. And today, when the girl who "doesn't really do hugs" walked up and gave me a quick one-arm-around-the-side hug, well that was the highlight of my whole week.

Never underestimate what you can build just by sharing a tiny bit of your time with kids and showing them that you care. It doesn't have to be participating in a program like Girls on the Run. It can be as simple as saying hi to a child in the hallway or asking the kids what they did last night. Those are the little things that will last and will make a difference.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

It's Been a Month

Yep - a whole month since I've checked in here. And that's mostly because I just don't know how to say no. And that's mostly because everything anybody asks me to be involved in is either going to be really great for my kiddos or a really great learning opportunity for me. How in the world do you say no to either one of those?

I know, I know - I probably should learn. One of these days I'm going to say yes to too many things, and no matter how good they are for me and my kids I'll be too overwhelmed to do any of them well. I was almost there during February, but I think...*think*... I've got things figured out.

So what are all of these great things I've been doing? Here's a quick summary!

First, I'm the team leader for a Year 2 PLP PBL (passion based learning) team. Our passion is learning how to meet the needs of the Whole Teacher and Whole Child. (Funny - learning to say no would probably help with that, eh?) Our project is going to focus on helping our students and ourselves make connections with others to learn and grow. You can read about our progress at our Whole Teacher / Whole Child Blog. See - I have been blogging!

Next I was asked to serve as a Connected Coach and mentor for teams participating in the Canadian - New England PLP cohort group. This has been a very exciting opportunity to me, and I'm really enjoying getting to know the teams and applying everything I learned in my class last fall.

In addition to using those skills online, I spent some time using them to help work through a personal situation. I'm still debating about how to / whether I should blog about the experience because I'm not sure some of the people involved would appreciate me blogging about it. And, to be quite frank, the coaching skills I used don't seem to have helped that much anyway. At least I tried, right?

On February 17 I woke up to the best text message. It said, "As of 1:12 AM you are an aunt!" Little Aaron Ross decided it was time to come out, and he wanted out RIGHT NOW!! Mom, Dad and Aaron are all doing well, and he is an absolute sweetheart. I'm looking forward to meeting him over Skype and finally in person some day!

Until then, my brother will have to keep reading all of the books I'm sending!

School has been crazy with our yearly field trip to the state capitol building in Harrisburg and the state museum! We were blessed with beautiful, almost 60 degree weather in the middle of February! With the exception of one chaperone just deciding not to come, the day went pretty smoothly and the kids had a great time.

There's another interesting project in the works at school, and some friends and I have been doing a lot of research on this particular task. It has been a real lesson in being transparent and open and what you can gain by working that way. As with my coaching experience I can't say a whole lot more about this right now, but I hope to be able to share more with you soon. It could be something REALLY great for kids!

Monday after school our Girls on the Run program starts. If you have never heard of this amazing organization, please take a few minutes to look around their website. The Girls on the Run program uses exercise and group meetings to help girls develop a positive self-attitude and realize that they can achieve anything they dream! The culmination of our 10 week program is a 5K - if you're in the area and like to run, we would LOVE for you to join us. And chances are if you aren't in the Lancaster, PA area there is most likely a local group near you.

And finally, on a personal note, with the help of some AMAZING friends I was able to complete my first 30 day challenge, finishing the Insanity: Asylum workout program. I certainly wasn't able to do the program exactly as written - there were many moves I needed to modify. But, I did it. We've been exercising just about every day, even since we've finished Insanity, and it is paying off. I don't often take this time for myself so I'm glad my partners in crime are making me do it. It's probably the only way I've been able to keep up with all of the other stuff you've read about!

So there you have it. That's where I've been. Hopefully I won't stay away so long this next time, but if I do - I hope you'll understand. I'm still learning how to say no. :)