Posted in mindset

Take what you need

After going through a handful of ideas, I put up the display shown in the picture in both of my classrooms.

In case you can’t see the photo, there’s a poster in the middle that says “take what you need,” surrounded by sticky-notes with messages.

You got this!

I can do it!

Mistakes are opportunities

I am a problem solver

You are a problem solver

I’m going to be OK

Try

Breathe

Focus

Listen

I am in control

It’s hard but it’s worth it

I belong here

You belong here

Better than yesterday

I have grit

Each one is written once on each of five colors of paper and stuck randomly around the center poster.

I introduced this to my students–5th and 6th graders–on Monday at one school and on Thursday at my other school.

They seemed interested. Monday, a few kids grabbed one.

Thursday, most of the kids grabbed one. I didn’t see what everyone took (that wasn’t what we were working on!), but I did go look after they left to see what needed to be replenished. (Eyeball estimate–with random placement, I’m not going to count every single one of those to keep the counts even.)

One or two of many were missing: I’m a problem solver, I can do it, You got this, Breathe (though I think their intention is a reminder to take a good breath when they play).

But this is what struck me (and why I’m writing about it).

Every “I’m going to be OK” was taken.

It gave me pause.

Many of those kids are dealing with problems that I certainly didn’t deal with as a kid. (Some of them have problems I can relate to.) But most of them, I don’t really know their story.

I’m going to be OK.

I made more and stuck them up there. I may start circulating to see who is taking those, if it’s consistently the same kids, and check in, either with them directly or with their homeroom teacher or the counselor.

If that’s what they needed, I’m glad it was there.

Posted in audience participation, ebb & flow, know better do better, marriage, mental health, mindset, parenting, thoughtfulness

Can you go a month without complaining?

A while back, I read a few articles about complaining and how it rewires your brain. Not in a good way.

Also a while back, I used to run 30-day challenges on Facebook.

Two of those challenges have been “life-changing” as per feedback from people in the group.

One was no added sugars (which we ended up doing for 45 days, because we started mid-month) and the other was no complaining.

The no complaining challenge was inspired by a meme challenging the reader to go 24 hours without complaining and “see how your life changes.”

Why not expand 24 hours into a month?

It made us all aware of how much we complain. Several people over the course of the month said it significantly improved their marriages, whether because they had a habit of complaining to or about their spouses.

We had interesting conversations about the differences between talking about negative things and complaining. (How would you distinguish between the two?)

I wrote a bit about my experience at the mid-month mark:

Talking about my no-complaining challenge last night, I was asked if I genuinely feel good, or if I’m just stuffing all the bad stuff. Thought about it, and 95% of the time, I genuinely feel good. The rest of the time, the feeling good does come later. I don’t, after two weeks, feel like I’m accumulating crappiness and am at some point going to explode.

I was thinking about this more, and I think it’s a simple shift in what gets attention. (Simple does not necessarily equal easy, though it’s not been as difficult as I expected. Especially because it positively reinforces itself constantly.)

For example, yesterday, I felt like crap. I’ve been fighting off a cold, and the cold was slowly starting to win. I was slightly stuffy and had absolutely no energy. Something I’d eaten or drunk made my stomach hurt every time I ate or drank (severely bloated), and I just felt miserable.

Any time prior to these two weeks, yesterday, I would have complained to people about not feeling well. I would have complained to myself about not feeling well. Instead, I just did what I needed to do and just didn’t talk about how my body felt. (Not lying, just not bringing it up.)

And you know what? I had a good day. It wasn’t a great day—I felt like crap—but it was definitely a good day. And I don’t think it would have been if I’d been complain-y all day. (I did slip twice, but both short-lived.)

Today? I feel better. Energy is back. Most congestion is gone. Tummy feels better (and I don’t look like I swallowed a balloon).

Happy Friday, everyone!

Recently, I’ve made this adjustment again. Not avoiding complaining altogether, necessarily, but minimizing.

I don’t run the 30-day challenges any more, but I am going to take this opportunity to challenge you to eliminate complaining today. And tomorrow. Maybe the whole weekend? Then see how long you can go.

See what differences you notice.

Report back.

Posted in thoughtfulness

Me vs. us

I wonder why, in a country where everything is about the individual, there is so little emphasis on personal responsibility. Except for people whose bootstraps don’t seem to be working. They should have more personal responsibility. Everybody else…?

Posted in meandering, mindset

Creating our own identity

I make notes in my phone when I hear something that I want to remember: a quote, a book recommendation, a podcast recommendation, and so on.

Going back through my notes? Not always timely.

I found this one from May:

We have the freedom and the burden to make our own identity

It was from a podcast. I don’t know which one.*

But as anyone who has lamented not being a kid knows, freedom can be burdensome.

In some families/communities/countries, people in the system have a very defined role. They don’t get to choose or figure out who they are.

But they also don’t have to.

Not something I’ve thought about in this way. Fun to mess with my brain.

 

*I’ve started noting which podcast, which episode, and sometimes the time stamp in my notes. I used to believe the note was just until I got home, but I’ve wisened up…

Posted in education, know better do better, mindset, motivation, thoughtfulness

“But they need to be ready!”

I wrote over the weekend about K-12 school standards and their inappropriateness.

A loud argument in favor of the standards is “kids need to be ready!”

Ready for what?

Preschoolers need to learn their letters so they’re ready for kindergarten. But we decided that they need that for kindergarten.

It’s top-down. We want them to know xyz when they graduate, which means they need this in 11th grade, this in 10th, and on down. (This leaves, in some cases, parents going nuts about where their kid is going for preschool, because of the trajectory to college. Seriously???)

As I mentioned the other day, this top-down thinking doesn’t take cognitive or emotional readiness into account.

It also never leaves space for us to be present, if we’re always looking ahead to what’s next. What about what’s now? Can we learn something and just enjoy it now that we know it? Can we take time and learn things just for fun? Can we learn that learning is fun, so we continue to pursue it when we’re not obligated?

We’re still operating in the mindset that created public schools over 100 years ago. The world is different. Jobs are different. Societal survival skills are different. What we know about human development (physical, mental, emotional) is different. Schools need to be different.

We need kids who can work with one another. We need kids who are creative. We need kids who are willing to be vulnerable (because you can’t be creative without vulnerability).

But teamwork, creativity, and vulnerability aren’t measurable on multiple choice tests.

We’re applying assembly line thinking to an era of opportunities that aren’t assembly line.

Also in the mix: we need to recognize and celebrate growth. A third grader who reads at a first grade level is seen by many as a failure and is a ding against a school’s competence. But if that child started the year without knowledge of the alphabet, completing the year at a first grade level is fantastic!

Teachers already know this.

(There is a solid handful of legitimate reasons why or how a child could get to third grade without being literate.)

Taking a small tangent…

I see such a drastic disconnect between “they need to be ready!” in an academic sense versus every other sense.

We (as a society) don’t teach our kids how to interact in a healthy way with other people. (As a society, we’re not very good at it, so it’s not taught or modeled for many many kids…)

We don’t teach our kids how to manage money. How to budget. To save. To prioritize. To value quality. To delay gratification. (I’ve heard many people say this should be taught in school, and it could be, but what about parents?)

We don’t teach our kids good food habits. Good movement habits. Good screen habits.

Don’t they need all of those things to be ready? Why is only advanced math and interpreting classic literature considered “readiness”?

Let’s reconsider what we need out of kids when they’re done.

Let’s take it a step farther and consider what we need out of kids if they drop out. What if we get them for 8 or 9 years instead of 13?

What do you think kids need that is appropriate for schools to provide? What should schools add, and what should they subtract, in your opinion?