Thursday, July 7, 2016

Upcoming Seminar

I am beyond excited to attend the first International Festival of Positive Education.  It will be a jam packed three days of learning and interacting with a new concept for education incorporating positive psychology.  I will get to hear Dr. Seligman and Shawn Achor speak at this event which for me is a dream come true.  I have long incorporated Shawn Achor's TED talk on happiness into my general psychology course and Dr. Seligman is the founder of positive psychology where it all began.   Angela Duckworth, author of the book "Grit" which I am currently reading will also be speaking at this event along with many more prominent speakers.

So why attend this event?  I am the type of person who is always looking for ways to improve the things I am passionate about.  Children and education are two of those things.  I have taught traditional and nontraditional college students as well as dual enrollment high school students.  There has definitely been a shift in their self worth and understanding.  They have communication issues and more anxiety.  At this point in my life, having essentially raised three girls, I am also looking for a new direction to utilize my primary strength (from Dr. Seligman's site of learning to boost my own happiness while giving back to the community around me.

I started on this journey looking for full time work.  Right now I work part time as an adjunct instructor at my local community college and a freelance writer.  After going back to school (a topic for a different post), I starting teaching part time.  It allowed me some experience doing what I love but not interfering with raising my kids.  My children are young adults and a teenager now and so it is time for mom to find other things in her own life so the empty nest syndrome doesn't lead to depression.

I stumbled across IPEN (International Positive Education Network); began reading about their cause and researching possible job opportunities.  Then they announced this seminar.  I immediately signed up, made my reservations and have been waiting excitedly ever since.  I feel I am on the precipice of a new direction for my life and career.  For me,  there is nothing more exciting than to bring well-being to people who are struggling for guidance.

For now, I will finish Angela Duckworth's book and wait anxiously for my new learning opportunity.  I will be sure to post daily from the first (hopefully annual) International Festival of Positive Education.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Watching them Struggle

At this point in my life I have some practice at watching my children struggle with life.  I have raised two college sophomores and a high school junior.  They have had their struggles in school and socially.  While I wanted to fix everything when they were little, I did my best not to.  It was hard to watch a 4 year old struggle with cutting the paper shape out as perfectly as she wanted.  Or watching the high school freshman draw a total blank with geometry.  It was hard to see the other kids tease, make fun of and outright bully my children.  Most of the time, I made sure I was there to help and offer advice and a few times I stepped in to protect them with the proper authorities.

As I watch my oldest two struggle to heal from some major high school hurts that were done to them by unthinking and thinking mean kids and adults, I am so very proud.  They handled their first year of college with great success academically and socially for the most part.  Both suffered a bit of a broken heart but that is to be expected in life's journey.

So why do I feel even more powerless now than when they were young to help them in life's struggles.  I am watching them put themselves out there socially for more adult relationships and take chances toward their careers and academics.  It physically hurts me when things don't work they way that they want them to now.  With my younger daughter, I don't feel this overwhelming urge to correct things.

My best understanding is that what happens now can actually damage them more long term than things from their childhood.  Eventually my daughter got the scissors to cut the way she wanted, the other was able to get an A in geometry by the end of the year and again, they are healing from the mean girls.  They have achieved so much in one year and built a support system away from home that I am eternally grateful for.  But this nagging feeling still remains.

I can't help with their romantic relationships anymore because they are becoming adults.  I can't help with their career aspirations because they have to decide the trajectory of their lives and no one wants to be a ballerina astronaut anymore.  I can't help with their academics because they have to learn to struggle and overcome as adults without me.  This is so much harder than anything I have done for them so far.

Truly letting go and just listening is where I need to go, but I find myself pushing every instinct to say it will be alright or let's do this away.  If I fix things or tell them their direction that does not let them grow and grow they must.  So while childhood and high school may have their pressures, young adulthood is harder still because I have to truly let them go.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


So I am starting a new journey with this blog, my life and my children.  I will be using this format for my particular journey on all topics.  There will be some crossover for my other sites to talk about children in general and education in general, but here I will remain personal for transformative purposes.

I have learned a lot in the last two years and continue to learn about myself, my family and life in general.  There have been some strides made along with the way.  I am embarking on a seminar this summer that I know will be transformative for my life and career.  I have fallen into a mild depression this last year and am starting to really pull myself out of it.  My oldest (twins) left for college last fall.  While I thought I was prepared; it seems it still hits like a ton of bricks.  I still have one at home, but fully realize that when she leaves in two years I have to have a better understanding of my own life in place.

This will be my journey to get there while I am still raising my girls.  And while I do have a PhD, jobs and fulfilling careers are not easy to come by in the area of the country that I find myself.  (This will be a more elaborate post another day.)  I will still reflect upon raising my children when they were younger but feel that I need to post for myself in this arena as well because it is my journey in life and raising girls.

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!!