Short Stories and Mashed Potatoes

What I’m Reading:  “100 Years of American Short Stories” edited by Lorrie Moore and Heidi Pitlor. While I love novels, I’m also a sucker for short stories. This particular complication is wonderfully organized by time period starting in 1915. Moore and Pitlor give a brief history of each author before their short story, which I think provides important context. I’ve only just started reading this 753 page behemoth but I’m enjoying it so far!

100 years

Building Confident Learners: Experiential learning. Provide actual context for learners whenever possible. If you’re learning about history, go to a historical home or monument. If you’re learning about science, DO a science experiment or explore nature. Physical and mental exploration are key in retention of information.

What Gives Me Joy: Travel. Although I’m not in a position to travel very far right now, I did visit Charleston with my mom when she was in town for Thanksgiving. American history (both beautiful and horrific) is imbedded in the city and I enjoyed learning more about our country’s past while there. Plus, time with my mom is always a plus!

Charleston
We obviously had to stop for some delicious (although perhaps not nutritious) food on our trip. I’m a fervent fan of mashed potatoes.

The joy of learning. Together. 

Nora

Empathy and Self-Care

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What I’m Reading:  “Empathy Is Tough to Teach, But Here’s One Trick That Will Boost It”– A quick article on teaching empathy. I especially loved how the author notes that sometimes our first thought about a situation is not our best thought.  I have learned to be kind to myself about my sometimes less then wonderful first thoughts, and to wait for the second thought. Usually the second thought is where empathy enters, and where connection can begin.

Building Confident Learners: Connection. Building authentic and meaningful connections with learners is essential. When we feel heard we allow ourselves to open up to an experience, so listening and connecting through empathy and understanding help promote a safe a productive learning environment.

What Gives Me Joy: Yoga. I’ve been trying to readjust my schedule to build in time for yoga and meditation because, I’ll be honest, I haven’t been making it a priority. It’s so easy to forget to do the little things that make us happy (i.e. self-care) so I’m doing my best to remember.

The joy of learning. Together.

Nora

Short Stories, Birthdays, and Cheesecake

What I’m Reading:  A compilation of short stories by O.Henry. Born in Greensboro NC, not too far from Spartanburg, O.Henry is a master of the short story and of capturing the intricacies of the human experience.

Building Confident Learners: Praise when positive gains are made. If a student is struggling take notice of the small, or large gains they make by addressing what they’ve done correctly. No need to make up a compliment, just be mindful of their growth and let them know you see how hard they are working!

What Gives Me Joy: Baking. This week is my husband’s birthday and he loves cheesecake. As it happens, I also love cheesecake so it’s a win-win. To celebrate I made one, and we plan on sharing it with friends. As I’ve said before, there’s no greater joy than sharing a meal (or a cheesecake) with friends and family.

The joy of learning. Together.

Nora

Art Bulbs

What I’m Reading:  I’m listening to “My Brilliant Friend” by Elena Ferrante. It’s the story of a life long friendship between two girls beginning in Naples, Italy in the 1950s. I treasure my long term friendships-shout out to the buddies I’ve been hanging with since elementary and high school…you’re the best and I love you. Thanks for really knowing me. Needless to say, I’m enjoying Ferrante’s exciting and sometimes tragic story of Elena and Lila.

Building Confident Learners: Have fun! Learning is fun, although it sometimes gets a bad reputation for being a daunting process. Value curiosity, and model having fun while learning. It goes a long way!

What Gives Me Joy: Community and the arts. Last Thursday was The Art Bulbs Awards in Spartanburg. I was happy to be able to help hand out awards, and the event was a success. Look at all the amazing pieces of artwork represented in the Art Bulbs around town! And don’t forget to check out the Spartanburg Art Museum. Paper Worlds is on exhibit until December 10th so get yourself on over to SAM to check it out.

The joy of learning. Together.

Nora

Three Things Thursday

What I’m Reading:  “Into the Magic Shop” by James R. Doty. Doty a neurosurgeon and director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University, writes about his rough childhood and his research into the connection between our brain, and our hearts. It gives practical instructions for meditation and empowers readers to take control of their emotional and physical lives. A great read!

Into the Magic Shop

Building Confident Learners: Take breaks when necessary. Sometimes it’s helpful to set a timer for work periods and another for break periods when working or studying for a period that is over an hour. This helps build in necessary brain brains without having to overthink it.

What Gives Me Joy: Family and local restaurants. My uncle and aunt stopped in town on their way to Charleston and we had lunch at The Farmer’s Table. It was great to spend a few hours with my Wisconsin family (who I miss) while enjoying a delicious meal!

Farmers table

The joy of learning. Together.

Nora

Social learning theory, Service, and Self-efficacy

What I’m Reading:  This week I’m nerding out on articles about social learning theory and motivation. If you read Tuesdays post on motivation, and want to explore the concepts I discussed further, follow the links below.

 Building Confident Learners: Help learners build self-efficacy by:

  • Providing them with a balance of tasks that challenge them and that they complete easily. In other words give them opportunities for success from time to time.
  • Modeling a belief in your own ability to be successful by persevering through a problem.
  • Giving them verbal confirmation that they will be able to complete the task at hand.

What Gives Me Joy: Meeting new people and working with others. This week I had the opportunity to volunteer, and to meet a handful of new people. Feeling useful and helpful gives me a sense of purpose,  which in turn gives me joy.

The joy of learning. Together

Nora

Patience for the Process

 

pencil and paper

What I’m Reading:  “Assigning more Writing with Less Grading” by Mathew M. Johnson. This is a great quick read about the necessity of simple practice. Writing is one of the trickiest things to teach because it involves so many moving pieces. It can be done though, and I mirror the author’s opinion on constant assessment. It’s so important to give students freedom to practice and explore without marking their pages with what often feels like criticism. Assessment is an important piece of any teaching strategy but so is providing space to learn and try new things without a “grade”.

Building Confident Learners: Patience. Be patient with a learner when they are trying something for the first time. We often forget how hard something was for us initially, once we’re pros at it. Have patience with the process.

What Gives Me Joy: Music. Once upon a time I sang in a Jazz band, and although I no longer make music myself, I still find solace in listening. I will appropriately quote the late Tom Petty: “Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things.”
The joy of learning. Together.

Nora

Reading and Eating

What I’m Reading:  “25 of the Most Exciting Picture Books of Fall 2017” by Devon Corneal. This is a quick review of 25 great children’s books coming out this fall. If you’re looking for something new to read at home or at school, follow the link to read about the books yourself!

Building Confident Learners: Read, read, read! Reading at home either with an adult or alone is the one of the easiest ways to develop literacy. Choose books that are interesting or new, and set aside specific time to snuggle up with a good book! You can check out the list above for some fun ideas.

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By bedside table full of reading material! 

What Gives Me Joy: Cooking and sharing a meal. Nothing is as comforting as a delicious meal shared with good family and friends. I’ve been enjoying planning meals to cook for the week and have found some fun new recipes in the process! Cooking with kids can be a great way to teach them to follow directions. It also provides a mini lesson in measurement while supporting teamwork.

The joy of learning. Together.

Nora

History, Modeling Behavior, and Coffee!

What I’m Reading:  Radium Girls by Kate Moore. I’m actually listening to the audiobook version using Hoopla, which is an app I think everyone needs to know about! I’m a sucker for historical content so I’m loving this one. Radium Girls tells the story of the young woman who worked in the radium-dial factories painting glowing numbers on watches with radium paint. We know now that radium is a deadly element but at the turn of the 20th century it was a miracle substance. The story chronicles their fight for justice and workers’ rights as they suffered from radium poisoning. So much drama, so much truth, such an important story.

 

Building Confident Learners: Model failing with grace. I know, it’s easier said then done but children learn so much from watching the important adults in their lives. Remember, children are always watching and learning so be who you want them to be. Model the best version of yourself whenever possible (no pressure right?).

What Gives Me Joy: Coffee shops. Writing this, I am at Little River Roasting Co. in downtown Spartanburg drinking a delicious latte. This particular coffee shop also has a bakery (Cakehead Bakeshop) and a bookstore (HubCity Bookshop) attached to it so it’s pretty much my version of heaven.

 

The joy of learning. Together.

Nora

Audiobooks, Empathetic Teaching and Running

What I’m Reading:  I’m currently listening to an audiobook version of “Introvert Power” by Laurie Helgoe, PhD. This is a great book for both introverts and extroverts because it clears up common misconceptions about what both introversion and extroversion really are. For example, I am an introvert, which does not mean that I don’t like people. After all, my chosen profession involves being actively engaged with people much of my waking time. In fact, I really love people and I love being with people. I just need alone time to recharge and collect my thoughts. Additionally, as an educator I also appreciate how the book gives insight into how my introverted students might have different avenues of learning than my extroverted students, and it inspired ideas of how to target each type.

introvertpower

Building Confident Learners: Meet learners where they are. Pay attention to the student’s emotional and physical state and adjust your expectations accordingly. Focus on their health status, their sleep quota, and what’s happening in their lives both inside and outside of school that might affect their overall ability to perform academically.

What Gives Me Joy: Running. I’ve been enjoying running outside now that being outside doesn’t immediately turn me into a human sweat-ball. For this native Wisconsinite, the temperatures of SC have verged on traumatic but I will not give up! I’ve especially enjoyed running on the Mary Black Trail, more commonly called the Rail Trail, in Spartanburg. Everyone waves or smiles when I pass them on my runs, which, when I think about it, really shows how welcoming the community is considering how overheated and disheveled I am. Kudos to the community of Spartanburg for their welcoming nature!

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Me in Alaska (it’s a little colder there), doing a celebratory jump during a run.

The joy of learning. Together.

Nora