Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Modeling Bad Behavior

Teens (especially girls) are notorious for behaving badly towards one another and adults.  Unfortunately, as adults, we not only reinforce the bad behavior we model it as well.  It is like asking our teenage girls to love themselves, faults and all, while mothers complain about their body and wrinkles.

As mothers we have to stress taking care of yourself and being healthy without the negative body talk.  This is what will get through to our daughters.  This does not end with parents.  If you are working with teens in any capacity and allow bad behavior to continue, model it yourself with your own language, or reinforce it through rewards (many times unknowingly), you cannot expect it to stop.

Think about what message you are sending.  Is it worth it to have an exceptional end product, if you are allowing and modeling bad behavior.  It should be more important for all the adults to realize they are role models no matter what they are doing.  It should also be more important for kids to fail and learn lessons now rather than going into the world with a sense of entitlement.  

There is never any excuse to call kids names.  It will not teach them anything.  Allowing kids the power to see you hurt by their bad behavior also teaches nothing.  Remember you are the adult.  Think through the message you want to send.  Don't reinforce the behavior by allowing those students back into your team or group.  Don't model the same behavior back at them trying to get a reaction or shame them.

Girls, all teens really, need to see positive role models and a consequence for their actions.  If a basketball player is making trouble, the coach should bench them.  If it continues, the child should be cut from the team.  The win should not matter.  If it is an artistic pursuit, it would be better to not cast that student again and replace them with someone else.  The production, itself, should not matter when dealing with teens and kids.  They are more important than any sport, play or event.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Do we really want more academic rigor?

I have been reading a lot of books on education.  Where we have been and where we are going as well as how other countries have become education powerhouses.  So far the one thing in common is academic rigor with education being valued and expected.

Interestingly, when an American school did away with their lowest "track" for students, all test scores went up.  So if the answer is this simple that we expect more from our students what is the holdup?  There are several factors to this one, including teachers and parents.

In each of the countries that one book looks at, sports are not in the school.  Can we as Americans (who are very sports oriented) take them out of schools and just compete in club sports?  Are sports too much of a money draw?  Does this misplace the value of education?  Aren't academics the purpose of school?

As a parent, I have always stressed the importance of education in their lives.  The question is not so much how we motivate our children but what example do we set for them.  Isn't it more important that they study for their exam than to go to practice for whatever sport?

The other thing to look at is the teachers we hire.  Shouldn't they be experts in their field instead of coaches that we just place in math or social studies?  While classes on teaching methods are important, shouldn't we also stress that our teachers need to have expert knowledge in their field and not in designing bulletin boards? Our teacher preparation and the methods for allowing who is able to go into teaching needs to be reformed to give the profession more prestige.

We all want teacher accountability but we are missing the mark.  If a teacher doesn't truly understand their subject matter, how can they teach it to students?  Tying higher pay to the teachers knowledge instead of students' ability to pass a test may also be an answer.

Mentoring is also where we let our teachers down.  We typically require 12 weeks of student teaching while Finland has a new teacher mentored for two years.  When students respect their teacher, their motivation will follow.

We must do the hard work and stop with these patching the system measures.  Everyone needs to get on board for what is best for education of our students.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Returning home

This past fall took me for a loop.  I taught more classes than ever before while trying to take care of everything else.  I just took a complete break during Christmas.  So that would have set me up to come back to my writing as soon as the New Year hit, right?  Wrong.

It was my intention to come home here to write as well as my other websites and projects.  Well . . . .  Winter seemed to have other ideas this year.  We began with such frigid temperatures that school was cancelled.  My modem froze every time the temperature dipped below 10 (this was much of the first two weeks in January).  This meant that any time I was up I needed to tend to my online students.

Then we had some huge snow storms (which again cancelled school).  While I don't mind a good snow, my heat and water left us.  We actually had a fire in the upstairs Geo unit due to a brown  out from the storms. Thankfully, we have two Geo systems for our house and our downstairs was still warm.  The water on the other hand took 11 days to return and then broke a pipe when it did return.  We had to replace the entire Geo system upstairs and upgrade.

So now it is nearing the end of February and I have heat and water as well as internet regularly again.  I really have taken for granted some of the little things (like running water).  I could complain some more but, truly, it has given us all a moment to pause and appreciate what we have.

I guess the point of today's post is to get back on the horse (so to speak) and start with my routine of teaching, writing, exercise and looking forward to spring!!

I will build again, and have my own outlet for my thoughts.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Missing in Action

I have been so busy that I have not had time to even turn around.  Between soccer practice/games, drama rehearsals and horse lessons/shows along with the normal everyday things, I haven't written here in a long time.

I am finally getting into a groove of sorts with a heavier course load this fall semester than usual as well.  I actually ran today for the first time in much too long.  While I love attending and driving my kids everywhere, I will really enjoy when two (16 year old twins) of my daughters earn their driver's license.  I know that will bring its own worries but maybe just maybe I will be able to arrive at home (to stay) before 9 p.m. 

I have also completed a few writing projects which absorbed my time.  I am really looking forward to seeing my chapter in a teaching for success anthology.  I loved being able to put my own Aha moments from the classroom into words through a timeline.  The book should be a great read. 

I also have been freelancing for a local magazine and recently finished a Christmas article.  It was hard to write that in sweltering August but this magazine is quarterly which means that they are four months ahead of their publication date. 

So while I have been missing in action here, I have been busy behind the scenes with my college students, writing and, of course, my own beautiful girls.  I am renewing my own commitment to writing here, exercising and reading for myself and book club.  Now, I just need to find time to sleep!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Growing Up and Individuality

One of my kids (16) is at UNC Chapel Hill right now for the NYLF on Medicine.  It was a whirlwind trip (6 hours there, 8 hours back due to traffic) to North Carolina to drop her off.  It is a tremendous opportunity for her and a needed growing up experience.  She is my child who would stay close to home, doesn't like to go out with friends all the time and has a hard time stepping outside of her social box. 

The first full day, I received several texts between sessions and a full discussion that evening about her being homesick.  Now, this is not her first time being away from home.  She went to Europe for 12 days with her school during her freshman year.  The difference this time is that she doesn't have her twin sister with her.  They are very different people with very different interests but still remain closer than most sisters.

Having twins and teaching developmental psychology made me think about how I would raise them.  They are fraternal so they only look like siblings.  I never made them dress alike (well, maybe a few times for pictures but I put their little sister in the same thing too).  When they started fighting about how to keep their room (they actually used painters tape down the middle to straighten out who would clean what), we knew they needed more of their own space.

Fortunately, we also knew that we had outgrown our little house and were able to look for a larger one.  While they enjoy having their own rooms and space, there are many days and nights that they still gravitate to each other and spend the night in the other's room.  For a long time, my youngest daughter (only 2 1/2 years behind the twins) didn't want a younger sister but wanted me to provide her with a twin sister.  Try explaining that one to a 4 year old!!

This is day three and she is acclimating much better.  Yesterday she didn't text at all until bed check at 10:00 p.m.  Whether or not she ever goes into medicine or biomedical research, she is learning to be her own person completely before she goes away to college.  Gaining the confidence that she can do anything all by herself is worth everything to me.

Next week when I pick her up, we will head out to the beach for the rest of the week to completely disengage from reality and I am sure the drive will be filled with everything that she has done and learned.  It will keep me smiling all the way.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


So my friends know that I have never really had a "green" thumb.  I gave up trying for the last few years but this year things felt different.  I don't know if mid-life and menopause has anything to do with it, but I decided to try again.  I bought several hanging baskets, flowers to plant and a container garden of tomatoes, jalapenos and basil. 

I have been trying to make a habit of running followed by watering my plants.  So far so good. 

Growing these plants has been very life affirming for me this year.  As my teenagers grow into more independent young women, I am transferring some of my caretaking to the plants in my life.  While I am not ready to have a farm or an orchard, watching the flowers bloom and the vegetables grow has been a blessing.

I have also been blessed to have my kids involved in this as well.  One of my teens resurrected our initial vegetable garden and planted zucchini and cucumbers which are doing very well.  (More on this in a later post).  Another of my children planted flowers and helped me pick out the flowers that I planted. 

My basil plant is actually larger than the above picture so it was time to use some of it.  I proceeded to pick two cups of leaves.

Then made homemade pesto sauce.

I don't have a picture of the final pasta dish as my kids couldn't wait and devoured it before any good pictures could be taken.  (Which actually made me smile.)  As nurturing as I was when my kids were young, mid-life is bringing out a different version of nurturing where I am also nurturing myself and the world around me.  As my sister in law would say, just starting a new chapter in a nice long book.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Work Schedule Balance

I have finally posted grades for both of my summer classes.  It has been a whirlwind of activity with two summer classes this year.  I have to fit 16 weeks of instruction into 5 weeks and all online which means lots of grading to boot.

I absolutely love that I have this option with my job.  I can work and be home for my kids.  While I will teach two summer classes again next summer if offered, I am glad that I will have about 4 weeks of relaxation and habit building (more on that later) until fall preparation will begin. 

I am one of those online instructors who believes that you have to give feedback if the assignment is turned in on time before the test is due.  I will answer every message, email and post in our discussion board to engage students as much as possible.  For summer that means intensive grading and interacting due to the short time period.  I cannot justify anything less than this and feel like I have given my students what they are paying for and deserve in a course.

This blog fell in the cracks, so to speak.  I have so many posts that are in process that it's not even funny.  My reading schedule is also behind.  BUT, I have been able to take time to do some fun things with my teenagers.  I know they will be flying the coup soon enough and really want to take advantage of the time that we have left as a family unit.

It's nice that they want to decompress from school and friends.  They have seen their friends but not daily and are taking time to just be with one another and the whole family.  My teenagers are much more drawn to their own priorities and not needing to be party goers. 

I know this may change as they earn their drivers' licenses (I have 16 year old twins), but for now I am enjoying their company as much as humanly possible.