Go with the Flow

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Rethink | Rebuild | Renew

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Rethink

If you could find an inexpensive and healthy way to improve the lack of learning engagement, focused study and positive social interactions in your classroom and school, would you use it?

The good news is there is something out there that will improve learning, attitudes and social-emotional issues. It’s not a pill. It’s not an app for your phone. It’s not a new book of strategies from the latest education guru.

What is it?!

It’s a combination of EXERCISE, EATING nutritious foods and APPLYING the wisdom of God’s Word.

To increase brain capacity, focus and memory, we all need exercise and healthy food. Neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki discovered just how important exercise is not only to physical health but for achieving a healthy mind.

“…to celebrate her birthday, she booked an adventure trip that forced her to wake up to a startling reality: despite her professional success, she was overweight, lonely, and tired and knew that her life had to change. Wendy started simply—by going to an exercise class.

Eventually, she noticed an improvement in her memory, her energy levels, and her ability to work quickly and move from task to task easily. Not only did Wendy begin to get fit, but she also became sharper, had more energy, and her memory improved. Being a neuroscientist, she wanted to know why.” –  http://www.wendysuzuki.com/the-book/

 

How well are you feeding your brain?  Yes, What You Eat Affects Your Brain – Huffington Post

How well are you applying God’s Word each day?

“…Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9 (TLB)

Rebuild

I’m an avid fan of criminal investigation shows and documentaries exploring the minds of violent criminals. Recently, I stumbled across the video by Dr. Suzuki after watching the video below entitled Violent Minds. Notice the areas of the brain which light up on the scans (most notably the prefrontal cortex)  –  normal brains compared to those brains which have a propensity toward violence.

The violent minds video is around 50 minutes long so fast forward it and watch minutes 17:34 – 21:02 which highlights what has been discovered from studying the scans of impulsive individuals who often have ADHD.

Today, I found this research from Professor Jim Fallon. You may be like me and wondering how and why criminal behavior starts? Does it start in the mind or soul? Is it a matter of good vs. evil? Is it nature or nurture? Watch this…

Since the minds of impulsive criminals (not the organized and calculating minds of psychopaths) do not properly activate certain areas of the brain and exercise promotes activity in those parts of the brain, shouldn’t exercise play a major role in rehabilitation, mental health programs as well as teaching and learning?

What is the best way to use exercise throughout the school day? How might exercise and social-emotional learning be embedded across classrooms in an effort to improve mental health? What do teachers need to know about social-emotional learning in order to implement best practices in their classrooms?

How might you rely on God’s grace to rebuild your mind and your life each day? How might this help you to support your students?

You will be rebuilt.” –  Blog post which highlights Jer. 31:4 where God promises to rebuild our ruins – Joni Eareckson Tada at Joni and Friends

Renew

In no way do I want to oversimplify issues of learning or social-emotional and mental health. But in a day and age in which teacher workdays begin with preparedness training for what to do in the event of an armed intruder, social-emotional health has to be of upmost importance in schools and classrooms. It’s critical that educators notice the signs which indicate a student may be hurting emotionally or may be mentally unstable. We must do all that we can to support not only the mastery of academic standards but to support the CHILD.

Today’s education landscape is vast and complicated and educators face challenges unlike any before. I believe it’s time for each of us to reboot and reconnect:

  1. do more by doing less (do only what matters most)
  2. connect offline more than online (spend more time with people than with their social media profiles)
  3. exercise
  4. eat right (buy local; grow or raise your own food)
  5. be kind and loving
  6. connect to Father God daily

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2 (KJV)

Photo Credit: flickr

Increase Grit through Growth Mindset

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Enjoying reading Grit this morning… 🙂

“Students who graduated on schedule were grittier, and grit was a more powerful predictor of graduation than how much students cared about school, how conscientious they were about their studies, and even how safe they felt at school.”- Angela Duckworth, Grit

“Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it.” – Angela Duckworth, Grit

Motivation trumps intelligence. Duckworth TED Talk

“The highly accomplished were paragons of perseverance.” – Grit

Integrate Disciplines

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Why Should Schools Embrace Integrated Studies?: It Fosters a Way of Learning that Mimics Real Life, Edutopia

“Integrated studies, sometimes called interdisciplinary studies, brings together diverse disciplines in a comprehensive manner, enabling students to develop a meaningful understanding of the complex associations and influences within a topic. A happy by-product of this approach, which is often coupled with project-based learning, is that it makes school more interesting and productive for students and teachers.”

“Creativity, adaptability, critical reasoning, and collaboration are highly valued skills. When it comes to fostering those skills in the classroom, integrated study is an extremely effective approach, helping students develop multifaceted expertise and grasp the important role interrelationships can play in the real world.”

Photo credit: Flickr

Cultivate Creativity

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Some condemn schools for killing creativity. But, this week our high school celebrated creativity through a Holiday Café in which students and staff alike stayed after school to share their writing; one student even sang for us. Two of our English teachers hosted the event in which students were encouraged to perform poetry and stories they’d written this semester.

We had a great turnout – a room full of students sharing a part of themselves through a piece of their own writing over hot cocoa and coffee. So many talented kids at WCHS! I’m happy to say I also mustered up the courage to share a poem I wrote earlier this year. Putting your art out there for the world to see or hear takes a lot of courage so I applaud these kids for being brave and stepping out to share their writing.

“We are educating people out of their creative capacities.” – Sir Ken Robinson

“Our task is to educate their whole being…” – Sir Ken Robinson

Now, I’m left wondering how we might continue using creativity to improve teaching and learning at our school. How can we cultivate creativity across classrooms? How can we teach in ways that inspire students to be creative and innovative instead of passive and disengaged?

Learn from your Students

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My aha’s from today’s classroom observations, co-teaching and two students’ critique of a teacher’s lesson:

  • Talk with students, not at them. Notice what they are saying – verbally and with their body language.
  • Listen to kids. They have valuable things to say.
  • Trust kids. They can engage in in-depth conversations, deep thinking and problem solving about meaningful topics.
  • Learn from kids. Ask and they will share insights that will help you improve your teaching.

Frost by Robert John Meehan

Sometimes a moment
Stands out in time
A new life discovered
By a lesson in rhyme

Everything changed by
A single selection
A turning point made
In a moment’s alliteration

A new way to continue
Discovered in rhyme
One moment that changed
My life for all time

In that moment of time
A difference was made
My turning point reached
A life’s validity laid

My life’s road discovered
By a lesson in rhyme
The road less traveled
Was that selection of mine

And that too has made
All the difference

(copyright1993-2007)

Photo Credit: Pinterest

 

Believe in the Least of These

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I had such a blessed day today and the highlight was working with a student from creative writing class. This student struggles academically and has an IEP but with support in a quiet setting and the promise of a reward for working for a certain amount of time he was able to complete his story. I had no idea what reward I would give him if he actually completed the assignment. 

When he did finish the entire piece (working twice as long as his teacher and I required) he asked,”Do you have any candy?” Luckily, I had tucked away a Snickers bar into my purse the night before so I happily gave it to him.  He deserved it along with lots of praise. I want to remember this day and how proud this student was to return to his class and tell his teacher he had finished his writing piece. 

ALWAYS believe in every student. Give them your BEST. (And if you have one, give them a Snickers bar.)

“…’Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” – Matt 25:40 NIV

“Then before I left class, Ms. Gruwell told me something that would change my life forever. She told me she believed in me. I have never heard those words from anyone… especially a teacher.” – The Freedom Writers Diary