Sunday, November 17, 2013

Blogging Burrito: People Come First

I haven't blogged in over two months but there have been six events in particular this week that all revolve around one theme so I'm throwing them into one post and calling it a blogging burrito, so here goes nothing.

Event #1:
Banner many students signed
Quote that was circulated by students
A Junior at my high school took his own life two weeks ago. It was a very sudden and unexpected thing, even to his closest friends. This was the very same friend who I had driven around the neighborhood in plastic Power Wheels cars, played laser tag with at 9:00 at night thinking we were so cool, and who showed me how to Bluetooth on a flip phone (yes, back when everyone carried a Motorola Razor). It was a serious wake up call to me on how much I share with people that they are important and matter, especially with my sarcastic personality. The school had so much outpouring of support after the incident but I kept thinking that The Band Perry really did sum it up with the line of, "Funny when you're dead how people start listenin'". I have taken a personal oath now to make sure everyone knows they do matter and that someone is always there for you. Angela Maiers is coming to speak to all 1,500 students of within the next month to share the same message with everyone.

Event #2:
A member of our marching band sent me a direct message on Twitter about how they think sports are starting to overpower the school. This is usually the cliche case at many high schools, but Waukee is different. In this case, we decided on a video showcasing the volunteer groups, academic clubs, and extracurricular things besides our sports program.

Event #3:
On Friday, I donated blood at our bi-annual school drive. The nurse told me I was saving three lives promptly before shoving a needle in my arm almost making me faint. I was not any happier than when they took that needle back out of me after five minutes. Disclaimer: I did black out when they took the needle out. It is pretty funny now but I thought I was dying when it happened. Even after that, I plan on doing it again next Spring because those three people somewhere are counting on me.

Event #4:
My best friend -- an understatement -- is a grade younger than me. One year, six months, and 26 days younger in age. And two inches taller in height -- He likes to remind me about that frequently. For being younger, he has shaped me as a person more than anyone else ever has. This last week he told me I was his "Biggest role model, and it means so much to know you support me. But, when you don't support me, it honestly makes me feel terrible". WOW. If that doesn't show you how much relationships between people truly matter then I don't know what will. 

Event #5:
A teacher told my girlfriend that "Since you and Ian started dating, you've been a lot happier and productive". How much more data do teachers and the world need that people are happier, livelier, more outgoing, and learn easier when they know they matter. Geez! I knew I had people that constantly looked to me as a role model and as a friend, but that I could affect someone and their life so much was outstanding.

Event #6:
My math teacher, out of the blue, asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I told him I wanted to be an english teacher. He asked why instantly, in a negative connotation. I told him that
"I can't think of any other job where I don't have to work in an office, don't officially work during the summer, can share my passion of reading, writing and talking, and inspire so many young lives every day I come to work". His response was something along the lines of "True 'dat" but I have noticed he's been a little nicer ever since. :)

People matter most.
Others come first.
Choose to care.

However you say it, don't forget to share with a coworker that their outlook in a meeting made you think differently, your kids that their text message during work made you laugh, or your neighbor that you appreciate when they pull your garbage cans up from the middle of the street after a snow storm. It doesn't have to be something big, just something authentic. Trust me, it makes a difference. Save a life, brighten a mood, share the kindness. You matter.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

School Shouldn't Suck - Support #SBAR

You learned to read. To write. To speak. To stick up for yourself. But, when you entered high school you had to start waking up at 6:30 five days a week. Going to school after relentless studying, cramming, and assignments from the night before. Having to take standardized tests to prove that you are competent of basic skills.

Where did the learning end up at in this evolving school scene? Where did you end up?

Standards Based Grading is a compilation of “I can…” statements that give students a guide to the expectations of their teachers and their courses. Standards Based Grading should be incorporated throughout all of our education system because students know what they have learned, successful motivation does not come from a grade, and students are prepared for a life full of learning outside of their primary educational institute.

Students know where they stand on what they have learned and what’s ahead of them to learn. Each standard is a different skill that should be understood and, at a point in time, be able to be demonstrated. Students knowing the skills they are being taught by doing work in critical thinking problems, reading, and writing to get rid of the “I don’t do anything in that class” phrase students often use. Oh, and the infamous dinner question when your parents ask “What’d you learn today” and you reply “Nothing…” Standards Based Grading allows you to know exactly what you know, accurately, not just based off of one test score.

Along with enabling students to see their own learning, Standards Based Grading allows for more learning to occur. A teacher giving a student a zero on an assignment is not going to motivate that student to try harder. It’s going to show them that a number matters more than their learning does. It won’t make them try to re-do and relearn the content, it will make them give up. If the teacher doesn’t believe in the student, why should the student believe in themselves? It is not the numbers that matter but the people and ideas that associate them. Therefore, grades being used as an ineffective motivator would be eliminated in a Standards Based environment.

Chiefly, Standards Based Grading is the most opportune system in preparing students for life. A student will very rarely ever be given a grade with an A, B, C, D, F in the working world. They will be given a task, points, or standards, to cover in a project, presentation, or paper. Upon completion, they won’t be given a score. They will get all kinds of feedback: constructive, negative, positive all based upon whether it met the original outlined standards. The performance of that employee is not only clear to the teacher, but the employee and other supervisors.

Because Standards Based Grading enables students to know their position in what they have learned, motivation does not exist in letter grades, and it prepares students for a life enriched with constant learning it should be implemented throughout our entire education system. It is based on people, not in numbers. Don’t become a letter or a number. We are not a world of synonymous robots performing laborious tasks in uniform. Standards Based Grading is the future of our nation and workforce. The numbers don’t matter; it’s you that matters.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Student Voice Opportunity - Iowa Student Learning Institute

School is changing. With No Child Left Behind and Common Core combining with new types of standardized testing and the integration of technology, straight row school is no longer a viable option. With all this change shouldn't we be listening to the voices that are affected most by change?

We are proud to announce the Iowa Student Learning Institute. Designed to give a stage to the voice of our students with the support of our educators. ISLI will be a combination of a variety of sessions. A keynote from Duane Magee and Scott Mcleod along with breakout sessions in the morning with a time for face to face collaboration carried out by students throughout the afternoon. We welcome students of all ages across Iowa to come and make your voice heard in this 1st annual student education conference.*

Register to attend with your students on Eventbrite.
View more details on our Smore website.

*Composed for the ISLI campaign by Dane Barner.


  1. Teachers learn to teach the same way.
  2. Students perform and learn in different ways naturally.
  3. Where did these two get mixed and lost?

Dogs are individuals and different beings. We get it. Then why does our education system not treat our own students like this?! Our work and life are self-paced and "real" but our schools that lead us up to that point are not "real".

All the dogs and your students do have one thing in common: they all had guidance from their instructor. As a teacher, you have the power to change. I urge you to do so because we have a serious epidemic to solve here.

*This video is creative commons licensed, so please, use it to your needs in spreading the word!*

Top 10 Reasons that GPA's Suck

Though not endorsed by David Letterman, grade point averages do suck (really).

10. It shouldn't matter what number you or everyone else is. It's all a part of your own personal growth.

9. Someone who was not great at a required selective course is seen as a bad student even though they are excelling in every other class.

8. Assessments don't always know what I know.

7. Numbers are passionless. People aren't.

6.  Inaccurate until the semester ends. Feedback twice a year doesn't help continuous learning.

5. It should be considered a form of bullying by unfairly comparing students to one another.

4. It's completely irrelevant when left standing by itself. What does it represent: A sneaky cheater, a well behaved studier, or a 5 minute study crammer? It's an assessment taking score, not one of learning.

3. It takes the natural learning out of school. If it truly matters, you will know. A number won't.

2. Where is the data to even back up this number? Stored in more numbers ranging from 0-100%?

1. "It's not the number that matters, but what got you there" -Angela Maiers.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

That Excuse is Invalid

I went on a tour of the John Deere ISG facilities this past Thursday and noticed a drastic difference in the way we think of jobs and the reality there. The office buildings were filled with programmers, developers and testers. These are the jobs of the future we try to prepare students for today.

Collaboration stations: These individuals don't work in square cubicles with high walls in rows with no windows. This is a thing of the past. They work in no wall environments with desks and tables pushed to the edges so that collaborative tables can be in the middle.
So, why do our students sit in separated rows?

Brain vomit walls*: Every interior wall they had was covered in Wink Wall Whiteboard paint. It's a product that allows you to paint a wall whatever color you choose then use the Wink clear coat over top to make it a whiteboard surface. They also utilize the outer sides of cubicles to stick all kinds of post-its on progress through various stages.

So, why do our students use lined paper?

Minimal Mass-Audiences: There were little to no conference rooms or large meeting rooms. I counted 3-4 projectors in total on our tour. They collaborate personally not in mass consumption PowerPoints.
So, why do our students "learn" from lectures?

Comfortable: There were all kinds of chairs and conversation areas throughout the building. The tables lifted from sitting height to standing ability which you could change in a matter of seconds based on your preference. They had a break room with ping pong tables and a cafe style food area, not a lunchroom.

So, why do our students function in factories?
The excuse of preparation for "the working world" is no longer valid.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Let Them Learn... For Pete's Sake!

This picture speaks a thousand words but here are five key points I got from it.

1. Physical Space: It's not a rectangle room* with tan walls and 30 desks oriented in rows facing a whiteboard. There is overwhelming space to create, craft, discovery and work with their hands. The room is comfortable, green** and personalized. How we work as educators and life long learners not in factory schools.

2. Eager Smiles: Do you see the excitement and focus in their face? It's not compliance driven. Enough said.

3. Use of technology: It doesn't overwhelm and take over their life. The importance of crafting and creating is stressed just as much online as in "the real world". The Chromebook was used when she felt it necessary and let go of when it wasn't important. It doesn't consume her. May I also point out that she found it on the desk on her own, turned it on and found the website all by herself. And she's in 1st grade. Can this be stressed enough? These kids will out learn all of us and that's awesome!

4. Information Consumption: The books are open. Being read, analyzed and then used. Drawing cats from them and planning their future art projects. Where does this dreaming get lost in our system?

5. Let them create: A majority of the desk is covered in paper and markers and fun stuff. This is HUGE metaphorically. Nowhere is there lined paper and #2 testing pencils. These girls come down to this desk all the time and create***. They work towards their future career goals, not towards their future high school and college. They are architects when drawing houses, fashionistas making American Girl Doll outfits online and CEO's when they run Target and various other companies. But, most importantly, they are teachers sharing their passions with pretend students because the opportunity to share isn't present in school.

Presentation from Jeff Utecht.
Photo reused with permission
from Kristina Peters.
The divide between school and life is too big. A student said today****, "I don't learn in school. I memorize stuff. And then I forget it all after the test because there's more to learn after this." This isn't life and it shouldn't be school. Not even close.

*Okay, it really is physically, but not mentally.
**The color of learning.
***I don't do anything but monitor the use of glue and glitter.
****Perfectly quoted because I wrote it down today.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Questions are the Basis of Progress

Upon submitting an application to be a part of the student shark tank answering questions from teachers, I had to compose a brief essay on the two questions below. The Bacon Wrapped Lesson conference is a great professional development tool, leaving you with over 60 new lesson plans at the end of two days. Considering registering for the event here.

What do you think makes for a good and engaging class in school? Why do you want to be a part of this?

The role of educators in and out of the classroom has shifted recently from containing all of the information in the classroom to being guiders of knowledge in our 21st century global community. The physical space needs to enable students to gather, collaborate, research and then create at their own level and pace. When you allow the students to guide their own personal learning, differentiation and assessments come naturally. Teachers are still leaders and students will take after how they compose and function their own learning as educators.

I have witnessed the change of teachers handing over the reigns to students and have only seen success stories. My blog is focused on “Live to learn, learn to live, then teach others” (Horton) by sharing my stories and daily observations. If one does not apply or do anything with the knowledge they contain there is no meaning in even possessing it.

As our system becomes more dynamic than ever, I challenge educators to not only question and accelerate their students, but question themselves on how they empower students in their room and curriculum.

It is important for everyone to make time to reflect and change because “the power to question is the basis of all human progress” (Gandhi). The future of thousands of lives are in your control and the power lies within everyone of us to make that difference. I am asking to be a leader at the forefront of this revolution in the name of lifelong learning.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Kind Word is Never Wasted

Last night I pondered upon this post that absolutely outraged me. After a night of sleeping it off it still bothers me but I am going to view it as a teachable moment.

Why would you post something negative about another person online?* Yes, you did not tag him in your post but that does not make it okay. How many people have now seen this and think differently of you? It's not cool and it never will be. Businesses will not hire you for treating others like that. Do you realize the real influence your voice has in person and online? It is not just your life being affected here either, think of the kid you are making fun of. Your stupidity has a much more serious effect on him. Think of the humiliation he felt when people commented about this event to him in person and now, you have the nerve to post it online and keep the situation going!? Of all people, a school ambassador, representing more than yourself, posted this online to torment someone forever. Is it not bad enough this student is teased and ignored everyday in person? I'm not sure about you but I do not take this lightly. I know how it feels and no one else should have to also.

The next time this situation comes up, view it as a teaching moment with your students. Don't ban or block it, teach them appropriate use. I could not be the bystander in this situation. Make sure they understand the true power of their words and the influential power everyone of us holds so dearly. Our world will get nowhere with the attitude, actions and consequences of bullying one another. Choose to care and choose to matter about yourself and others.

*And No, Facebook is NOT fair game. It's online and will be kept forever.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Technology: Help or Hindrance to Communication

This is an essay I wrote two months ago in my speech class, now publicly publishing* it.

Communication is extremely different than even a decade ago (Frenkel). The integration of email and social networking sites has benefited and prohibited effective communication by providing instantaneous feedback, disallowing one to study their kinesics, and taking time to reflect and ponder what they just received. Habitual reevaluation is necessary to see the benefits and downfalls of each channel of communication we use (Frenkel).
Some wonder why this is a dilemma now. Before the deep integration of email the use of letter writing was much larger. Humans are used to the joyous feeling of getting mail. Standing by the mailbox on a summer afternoon opening cards from your friends and family. When you run inside and are enthused to respond right away to their letter, you get in the right mood and reflect a little before you start writing (Rosen). Unlike this rare event of the past “we are living in an age of electronic intimacy” and for most people “this is new emotional terrain” (Rosen). Very seldom do people take time to write letters. Their replacement has been the introduction of email. The encoding process of typing an email differs greatly from that of the emotional rush before writing a letter. “I do notice that emails are often fired off without any real consideration” and have been subject to great variance in the receiver's decoding because of their purpose (Rees-Mogg).
Contrary to the popular belief of most, emails and communication using new channels of technology do have benefits. The acquaintances formed using pen and paper can now be accessed by your fingertips in real time online (Rosen). Using email allows for time to think and reflect before responding (Cellan-Jones). One also gets a dopamine, stimulant that makes one happy, high when you get new emails, texts and interactions. (Rosen). Much of the communication we now do is non-verbal and carries into every part of our lives. A day of work consists of using many channels, which can be but are not limited to calling, texting, emailing, instant messaging, blogging, tweeting, and participating in webinars (Frenkel). The ease of sharing and resharing emails is a much simpler way of communicating without needing to re-encode a message each time. An AT&T commercial portrays effective communication as businessmen sit in a coffee shop emailing into a meeting (Rosen). An account from an English writer, Roy Cellan-Jones, sums up that “I can’t imagine how I would do my job without tools like Twitter” (Cellan-Jones). Various technologies available to us benefit, not hinder our communication. We have become smarter because of technology. It has improved some’s self perception by allowing them to be social without face-to-face impromptu conversations. Some types of people need time to think before relaying their feedback and technology grants that to them. “Technology is a massive aid to communication” by gaining the opportunity of instantaneous feedback and the constant development of new forms that grant us the use of paralanguage and kinesics. The ever changing “communication technologies provide an addition, not a replacement, for traditional means” of communicating (Cellan-Jones).
New communication also has many downsides (Frenkel). The use of email has a defined purpose of efficiency, not human feelings (Rosen). It was not intended for the purpose of entertaining but to exert control and inform. Email as it was designed, could have devastating impacts on our businesses and society. The enhancements to technology is driving us to be lazier about talking with one another. Administrators writing emails that are encoded with frustration could be decoded as anger and rejection which could lead to contracts or business being missed out on. That business decision will be regretted in the future because of a moment not taken to check for an encoding error (Cellan-Jones). Your words permanently stay in writing and attached to your name so the take the time to make sure they are beneficial for you (Frenkel).
Old, one-way communication.
If not used with a formal purpose, email could become an addictive habit (Cellan-Jones). It has evolved into the lazy way of communicating (Price). Executives have viewed it as the ruder form of communicating with someone because very little effort is involved. Getting hooked online is dangerous to the art of talking face to face but the large amounts of tweets, facebook messages, and phone calls every day are overwhelming. Overwhelming, but appreciated because you are able to use photos and voice to encode and decode a message allowing for more effective feedback that email does not provide (Cellan-Jones). One advancement in our society that has caused this revolution of ditching email is our smart phones giving us the happiness of being connected and receiving feedback much faster than an email provides it (Rosen).
Email has come under fire because of it’s ancient years in technology time. The foundation it laid for online communication has transformed us into data hungry creatures. It has turned private friendships into a mass spectator sport where everyone watches and participates while companies like Facebook collect from our profits. Our society demands us to publicize our feelings and relationships frequently. It has caused our self perception to change dramatically by creating more self conscious human beings. Many people suffer from society anxiety when they do not receive any new messages. The more friends one tends to have on Facebook increased their chance of saying others lived happier lives than them (Rosen). Ones online presence and digital footprint “often lays the foundation for your reputation long before you can shape it yourself” (Frenkel). A majority of people perceive “themselves rather than their appliances as being ‘plugged in’” (Rosen).
Using technology as a channel extremely limits your ability to send and receive information effectively. Sarcasm cannot be interpreted through “words on a screen” and leads to ineffective communication and possibly a communication breakdown. There are many numerous ways you can understand one simple sentence. As human communicators, one should be able to recognize where the error occurred and know how to go about fixing it with feedback and clarification. It is normal for one to make assumptions when encoding because “the fact that you know how you intend for your message to be received biases you even more to believe that’s the way your message will be read” (Frenkel). Many times when reading someones post or email it can be misinterpreted because of a lack of background and purpose. The feedback that follows is the most important piece in being an effective communicator (Frenkel).
Crucial steps in avoiding ineffective communication are not difficult at all. The first item to check for is your purpose. Use the channel appropriate to the event and purpose of your communication. Are you entertaining, exerting control, informing, sharing feelings, entertaining or simply being a conformist of following social rules because everyone else uses that channel of communication? If you have received an email in all caps with an encoding of excitement, you probably decoded it as being yelled at. If the sender would have sent you a text, the informality would have suggested something more fun (Frenkel). Email is best for relaying information to one person, not many who have no meaning behind why they were included in your email chain. Some companies, such as Atos, have banned email as a form of communicating within the company. Volkswagen has also prohibited its Blackberry servers from sending email to an employee 30 minutes after their shift is over. These companies are “not rejecting modern communication but recognizing that a new generation already thinks email is old hat” (Cellan-Jones). The second piece to check for is if you are assuming and taking the shortcut. This can greatly hinder effective communication as well. It is okay to assume as long as you are aware of when you are doing it and ready to defend yourself from the receiver. Train yourself to make the assumption that many people will be reading your words. Consider the many possibilities that next message has in their decoding process (Frenkel). If “you can do the count to ten rule and think a bit before you respond” all should be fine (Bulger). Adding into the equation everything happening around you, do not let the distractions affect the cognitive load in your mind (Cellan-Jones).
Talking is important (Cellan-Jones). As more people realize this there will tend to be more migratory friendships, connections that started online that form into face-to-face, real world relationships. By having access and constant feedback will humans become unable to demonstrate the feeling of longing for one another? (Rosen). “We used to simply drop in on people or bump into them in the street”. We were “able to visualize the ‘whites of their eyes’ when making direct contact (Cellan-Jones). The use of kinesics has been forgotten in many forms of communication besides personal confrontation. This is a very important part of communication because we miss 75% of what we hear each day. If we are able to watch and connect ones actions over their words we receive a verbal and nonverbal message to decode correctly. This is a big improvement in having effective communication without interference. As a group of college students summarized best, “you use social networking and modern technology to arrange meeting face to face” (Cellan-Jones).
It has come time to “Rethink Possible” and reexamine our world and how we communicate between cultures, species and even ideas (AT&T). Before, “ a closed door usually stayed closed forever. No longer” is this the case (Rosen). Integrating email and social networking into our lives has benefited and prohibited effective communication over forms of talking and letter writing by providing constant feedback, blocking one from studying their kinesics and taking time to reflect and think before sending our feedback. We live in a constantly changing world but humans adapt. We have previously and we can again. The question though is will it be for the better? (Rosen).

Works Cited
Cellan-Jones, Rory. "We Don't Talk Any More - Is Technology Harming Communication?" BBC News Technology. BBC, 29 Dec. 2011. Web. 12 Feb. 2013. <>.
Frenkel, Stephen. "Communication 2.0: The Perils of Communicating Through Technology." Harvard Negotiation Law Review. Harvard Negotiation Law Review, 5 Apr. 2009. Web. 12 Feb. 2013. <>.
Rosen, Christine. "Electronic Intimacy." Wilson Quarterly 36.2 (2012): 48-51. Literary Reference Center. Web. 11 Feb. 2013.

*While creating reduntant alliterated introduction phrases.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Creating Creatively: What I've been up to

I haven't taken time to write formally on my own and it really does make me feel bad. I have been doing much more creating lately though. Everything from posters, logos, presentations, documents, videos and photo organizing. I thought I would share some of what I have done. Anyways, why does it matter if you can't share it with someone?

Here are the PDF downloads (in Dropbox) of inspirational quote signs I made. Feel free to use them however you would like to.

I have made logos, dance tickets, posters and numerous planning for the Student Ambassador groups at the middle school and my current building.

I am currently working on a presentation on volunteering to present to Becky Goerend's 5th grade students along with many more in my speech class.

You can check up some of the other recent videos I have worked on at my YouTube channel or in this 9th grade playlist. My featured and favorite works are collected in this playlist.

Most of my daily time has been shifting through the thousands of photos I have taken. Here is an album I've collected so far of my favorites and publishing worthy photos.

I have been drafting blog posts (on paper!) that I hope to sit down and publish soon.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Cycles in Assessments

In speech we finished up the communication model of a message being sent, received, feedback given, cycle goes on and repeats. Everything is a cycle, right? A day does not go by that we don't communicate or do anything besides a cycle. Life in general is a cycle. Work is a cycle. School is a cycle, even though it shouldn't be. But we can bust out of cycles, right? We can break habits and routines and the society we have to conform into. After talking with Angela Maiers last week I started to question. I don't think on the spot, I need time to ponder most everything. Here's what I came up with:

Is a process and a product different than a cycle?
  • I see a definitive difference between the two. A process and a product is thought of as a static unchanging occurrence  They are extremely similar in the fact that you have to put in work during the process to get a product and outcome you like. A cycle is viewed as taking it a step higher and taking that process and product and doing it again. Tweaking and changing it, but in essence doing the same thing again justifying it as a dynamic occurrence. 
  • Example: A student taking notes, participating in activities, and studying to get the outcome they would like of passing the assessment. If they are satisfied, is it done and over? Move on. If they did not get what they wanted it could be retaken and reassessed making it a cycle.

Was the process different than the product? Which was more important?
  • This is tough. In every instance there is a process and product as a result of it. Quality of the product is dependent on the process. But what if the process is more important? A student can demonstrate their critical thinking skills amazingly but the essay they wrote was not typed or well written. It had grammatical, spelling, and organizational issues. Is it still a good piece? What part matters most: the thought process or the end result? Too often I feel like the end result is being looked at too heavily. As the famous saying goes, it's the thought that counts.

Is there a point where you can stop and call it good enough?
  • Even in a cycle there must be a product generated at some point. It may just be revised numerous times. But now the question comes back to the definition of a cycle? No where is it stated that a cycle can stop. If it is not done regularly it is not a cycle. It could be referring to the overarching idea of reassessing work until an end point is reached where all parties, teacher, student, parent, are satisfied. 
  • Going back to my example of the student being assessed from question number one, how do you know when you reach this magic end point? Is it when they get an A+ on a multiple choice assessment? They most likely did not reach the highest level of understanding and certainly did not demonstrate it in that form. 
Angela stated plain and simple that "It's not about the number [product] that matters but what got you there [process]". Though this was referencing clout scores and online digital footprints it can be applied in every situation. That is where reflection comes in, to think about your thinking and the process behind where you are.

Summing up this debate with myself we can conclude that:
  • cycles have a process and generate a product
  • Often the thinking and skills used in the process can be poorly represented or poorly assessed in the product.
  • Cycles are more of an overarching term of a repeating revision in the process and product.

Instead of leaving questions unanswered at the end of the post I am trying a new format of answering them during the post. Pretty smart, huh? ;) I would love to discuss and hear what parts of your thinking were pushed farther from my intense questioning whether it be in the comments or on Twitter. Game on.

Friday, January 18, 2013

"45 Lessons Life Taught Me"

My principal, Mrs. Murphy-Tiernan, shared these recently with the staff who felt it was important to pass onto their students. They are 45 life lessons written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, from Cleveland Ohio. Here's how they go....

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short – enjoy it.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Don't buy stuff you don't need.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with yourself. You can take it.

9. Save for things that matter.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow..

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive but don’t forget.

29.. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. People love you because of who you are, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have not what you need.

42. The best is yet to come ...

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Number 27 Is my personal favorite. It really hits home being a teenager where people tend to question their self worth. Just remember, you matter

What are your life morals? What is your legacy? How do you survive the hour/day/week? 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Importance of a Goldfish

Tonight I volunteered at the Waukee Public Library booth at the first Maple Grove Elementary Parent University. I was the official “Handy Hippo Helper” (how about that for a properly alliterated title) that got the privilege of decorating bookmarks and applying tattoos. Tattoos are temporary but the joy and connections I made cannot be scrubbed away.

I got to work with the kids during story time and helped with assembling their craft for the program. A couple recognized me and dubbed me as “the tattoo guy” and showed me that they were still on their hand where I put them. I offered help and many accepted it. One kid blatantly told the storyteller that he worked better by himself and sat himself away from the others. He didn’t need my help. I admire him for knowing what works for him and adjusting it to work that way.

Crafts are creative and interpreted differently by everyone. One table represented the drastic differences that arts and crafts have from one another.
“Can I put a goldfish on my snowman?” Erik was asked.
Note that this did not start out as an edible craft though some were persistent on making it one.
“That would be AWESOME!” bellowed Erik right back.
From that point they made a hipster snowman with sunglasses, a spider with many eyes and legs, and numerous gold fish cracker covered snowman.

I noticed one boy was attempting to glue one goldfish to another.
“That won’t work. You need to glue them to the felt.” I discouraged.
I dismissed it and ubiquitously floated to another table group. He found me later and was very excited to prove me wrong and show off his proud work of two goldfish stuck together without being smashed.

At that point I realized how much I was being looked up to for guidance and shunned for the unenthusiasm of his creative work. I was whom they were looking to for help. I was his negative motivator that led him to try again and do what he was trying to achieve. I was the person who would impact these kids’ lives today. I was the image of who they admire to become one day. That last one seems to be pushing it a little but I still remember the event when I was in first grade and the fourth graders wrote a story with us about something with PJ’s. I still have that memory. I recall how my “buddy” was irritated in being forced to work with younger kids. I just hope that wasn’t me tonight. Unlike the temporary tattoos I applied earlier, the guidance and connections I provided will never be washed away.

How do you impact others everyday? How does your unintentional communication represent you? How do you make a difference? Your Story Matters.