Category: Teaching

2018 – Another year of “Life Lessons”

Hello (almost) 2019!  I must admit that 2018 was a roller-coaster year.  I can only sum it up with these handful of “life lessons”… 

Kindness Matters.  These aren’t just words. This is a call to action to demonstrate without fanfare how kindness matters every single day and to pass on this quest to the younger generation. Thanks to the Born this Way Foundation, I was able to hear many accounts about random (and not so random) acts of kindness that made monumental changes in the lives of others.

Have fun. Have lots of fun.  Travel and then re-pack the suitcase and travel again as the world of travel gives you the best education ever!  See new surroundings through the lens of the local folks instead of the tour guide book.  Take lots of photos and print them.  Chronicle your adventures with these photos and your recollections in print. Hubby and I went on several trips this year and each one taught me something different.

 

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Dogs are the best.  After children, a dog in the house is the best.  Our Bayla brings light and humor to us daily.  She reminds us to live in the moment.  She also reminds me that resiliency is a great trait to possess.  Bayla was also the subject of one of my more controversial blogs where I spoke my mind and heard about it from others.  You can find it here.

Now this was a hard one.  There are no do-overs in serious relationships.  You can never set back the clock and pretend “that your actions that spoke louder than words” could ever be erased.  I have seen lives torn apart this year over unkind acts and tweets.  Just reading the online news alone is proof that relationships shift due to shifty behavior.  Now more than ever, I am reminded of these lessons:  You are accountable for your actions, posts and behavior.  And …”You are the company that you keep.”  

My opinion is simply mine. Not yours.  Don’t twist my words or deeds.  When I write, speak or teach, I am sharing my opinion. I own it.  I do not expect others to agree or even to adopt my opinions.  Don’t like what you are reading – click the arrow to change the page or keep scrolling!  Enough said.

Silence can be the golden path to peace.   I have learned to say nothing when at times I really wanted to scream. I learned this year, more than ever, that silence may be needed  when the world seems clearly out of control.  I remain silent because I want to not be misunderstood about my intent or actions. I remain silent perhaps because  I am trying to listen and learn.  I made 2018 the year of striving for quiet, peace and calm.  Because I KNEW if I started to speak my mind  (beyond a short venting session via a  blog or two),  then I could be at risk for rambling hours or days.  Note: Ranting aloud for days can result in  a bad case of laryngitis.  I have to have faith that eventually, the world will be right again – like in two years.

 Big opportunities and new friendships are found when you look ahead vs. in the “rear view mirror”.  I have had doors open this year that I just didn’t expect and made new friendships that are refreshing and chocked full of ways to expand my learning!  One HUGE lesson I embraced –  I needed to stop what wasn’t working and begin to follow my passion. That is why I have learned to go back to what really mattered to me – investing in the education of  kids by working in schools.  Opportunity knocked and I opened the door.  The kids were smiling. I am happy.

Seek calm and status quo as they can be far better than their counterparts – chaos and drama. I have learned to turn off the noise from those who are negative or have created their own myopic world.  I respect their right to conduct their lives as they wish. But for me… well….  sorry I need to mute these folks, walk away, and remain off their radar.

 You Matter. We All Matter.   On February 14th, hubby and I were in Japan.  I woke up to the news about the Parkland HS shootings. Not from Facebook headline, but from a dear friend’s text telling me that she was beyond upset. The unthinkable was happening  before her eyes as  her daughter’s school was the scene of an active mass shooting.  This young teen witnessed the most horrific scenes that anyone could imagine and lost some of her closest friends and classmates. She went from an innocent young lady to one that now marks time before and after February 14th.   I learned that day,  that sadly, no one is safe from random violence. But, everyone can demonstrate compassion and come together to help the grieving and create change.

I was honored and in awe of those who donated money and services to help people most in need.  Including my women’s networking group, BCBC, who donated monies to help bring a bit of joy to the Parkland students.

Yes … People cared. And …People showed that we ALL matter in this world.

Social media should not be used as your diary or date book.  Of course, I am a big fan of social media but I don’t share my day to day schedule nor do I find it necessary to write my most personal thoughts or a rash of scathing comments. I want to use social media for social good because kindness really does matter.  And when I see a timeline that is more self-serving than serving others, I simply mute it or unfollow.

See a movie. This last one may seem really trivial…but (please) treat yourself to seeing  new release movies in the theater. And, splurge! Get both the popcorn and the candy!

In closing, feel free to share your life lessons in the comment section.  Be good to yourselves.  Be good to others.  Be well.  Happy Holidays! ❤️

xo,

Louise

A very special community gift for a very special teacher.

Hello All,

Last week I was asked to help start a GoFundMe  page for a person I have never met.  She is a physical education teacher who through a series of life events now has debilitating back pain due to a spinal disc that has partially broken off.  Surgery is needed to alleviate the pain and start the healing, but due to red tape, her insurance company is denying or limiting much of the coverage she will need to pay for the “must have” medical procedures and after care.

I don’t want to make this article about insurance issues in our country, but rather how a community has come together in less than five days to donate a serious “chunk of change” to get Ms. Monica Wood back on her feet again. They have given her not only financial help but the gift of their love and community spirit.

Side note: I know the agony of back pain and my experiences have been nothing compared to what Monica is having to endure.  Read related blog. 


Monica Wood and I have communicated via good old fashioned texts and what I have learned is this is a vivacious woman who is beloved by the students, staff and parents at Grand View Elementary School in Manhattan Beach, California.   She exudes all the traits one needs for a  speedy recovery as she is hopeful and keeping a positive outlook. She also believes in not wasting a moment or wallowing on her situation as  she recently asked a group of friends about how to get connected with area organizations who  knit blankets for families with new babies.  Geez – that is one incredible woman!

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Monica’s unique story is best told by the many comments and  photos that have been left on the walls of the GoFundMe campaign.  I am simply inspired by each and every one.  These days we are all so busy and focused on our own lives –  but, the outpouring of love and generosity to help this educator simply is a testimony to the willingness of community members to  stop everything  in order to help.  Not only are they demonstrating their support with their wallets, but also with their hearts and social sharing to others.  Those who are in social media call the act of social sharing: #SocialGood!

From the GoFundMe “Giving BACK to Monica Wood” campaign:

Monica, You are the best! Always positive, encouraging, and energetic. We are so sorry you are having such pain. We wish you a speedy recovery. Love, Kate, JT, Edie and David <B>

 

Ms. Wood- you were the first person to really see Brendan and to help him have happy time in school. You gave him a safe place and a teacher’s love. I’m so sorry you are going through this. You deserve the best of everything. ~ <B.P/>

 

We got your back, Monica!!!!!  ~ Kari

 

 

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Monica Wood has responded to all the amazing folks in her GoFundMe “sphere” with these words

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Lastly, I conclude this note to all with a video from the GoFundMe page and also my thanks to all for reading this very special story.

 

DONATE Now

Have you registered for the 2018 #ShakeOut Drill yet?

This is a friendly reminder for ALL of you to register for the 2018 ShakeOut drill! What is the ShakeOut Drill? (And no, it is not a new dance).  The best description comes from the organization that hosts this annual event –  ShakeOut.  Also, below is an explanation from their website with “hyperlinks” to help you learn more.

Many areas of the globe are prone to earthquakes… You could be anywhere when an earthquake strikes: at home, at work, at school or even on vacation. Are you prepared to survive and to recover quickly?

Great ShakeOut earthquake drills are an opportunity to practice how to be safer during earthquakes: “Drop, Cover and Hold On.” ShakeOut also has been organized to encourage you, your community, your school, or your organization to update emergency plans and supplies, and to secure your space in order to prevent damage and injuries. <Shakeout.org>

 

So, NOW  is the time to take  TWO MINUTES to register your family   or organization for this all important safety drill.  Remember – some of the worst earthquakes in the United States happen in states like Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Virginia! California and Alaska don’t have the monopoly on earthquake activity in North America!  Please don’t be complacent and think, “It can’t happen here” – because history has proven quite the opposite!

Also, included on the ShakeOut.org  website are some very handy resources for students, teachers and much more.

Click on the bolded and underlined titles below to connect with the direct resource:

Preparedness materials, games, posters and downloads for K-12 :   For Educators and School Officials

For College Faculty and Administrators

For those with Access and Functional Needs

A Sign Language Video   for Earthquake and Tsunami Preparedness

General Information and FAQs about ShakeOut

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Winter Activities For Kids That May Lead to Some “Dough”.

The east coast is going to be hit again with potentially another foot of snow and that means a lot of kids will be  home from school.  What to do to beat the “winter time blues”? Here are some ideas that may result in more than keeping the kids busy on a winter day…

  1. Pillows / empty boxes / blankets over a couch and table make the perfect fort!  Include some flashlights, books and board games to make the perfect “camp”.  If you have a group of budding musicians consider challenging them to write a song with music and lyrics.   Think the song has potential? Check out websites for submission,  such as this one.
  2. Create your own board game.  Kids can be super creative.  Offer them the suggestion to submit to the HASBRO gaming lab their idea. Rules and more can be found here.   As an incentive – they are offering some substantial cash prizes and awesome opportunities to meet them in their lab. HASBRO, of course, is a giant in the board game world. Read the rules and terms carefully, before entering.
  3. Create a recipe – then bake it! Of course, supervision is important in any and all activities that I would suggest. But, especially when it comes to using appliances, such as an oven.  Who knows – you  may actually have a budding chef under your roof! Did you know that AllRecipes.com offers a way to submit your own creations? Check it out here And, KitchenChat.info has a multitude of podcasts and recipes for novice and more experienced cooks to try!
  4. Attention Young Authors! Break the winter blahs by inviting your kids to stir their creative writing talents and create a short story for submission. Due diligence is necessary as writing for publication is a tough journey. However, for those who want to venture on this path check  out this article.  

There are many great ways to keep kids who are “stuck” inside busy! Share your ideas below and remember to do your due diligence if submitting to any of the above websites. Good luck and Enjoy!

 

An Outside of the Classroom Education

Airports. Supermarkets. Hospitals and Animal Shelters.  What do all of these places have in common? They all offer an opportunity for “out of classroom” educational experiences. As an educator and one who works in social media, I believe that education is not restricted to the classroom.  Here are some places that you may not realize can be chocked full of learning moments.

airport-1895173_1280Imagine how much one learns about culture, patience and adventure by walking through an airport as people are rushing about to get to a plane? I remember the days, before TSA, when you could meet your loved ones’ at the gate. The joy of reuniting with relatives and friends filled airport gates around the world with happiness! These days you have to patiently await your family somewhere near baggage claim.  Yet, you are exposed to the various people from far away lands or those who simply flew across the state. If you are lucky you will hear languages, other than your own. (Or see them in the case of sign language.) Regardless, if you love watching human behavior, nothing beats an airport!

And, for the record some of the best teachable moments also
happen when you travel.  Family travel enriches a child’s mind beyond measure.  Learning about the Declaration of Independence? Go see it! Experience it as forefather’s had done over two centuries ago. What are the natural wonders of the world – Go visit!

Related: Learn about Global Entry for air travel

Related: Family Travel Info via Colleen Kelly

Supermarkets can teach a child about math and health.  Have a child who thinks that money grows on trees? Try giving them a list of food and “just the right ” amount of money and see if they can get to the register “on budget”.   This is an especially valuable lesson for tweens who are going through the “I gotta have it” stage of life.  Simply give them a reality check by  having them try to buy all the ingredients to make a cake “from scratch”. Then watch their eyes pop at the register when they realize (more than likely) that they fall short of cash.  While flour and sugar may be the cheapest ingredients on the list, chocolate and real vanilla flavoring are not! Oh and if they are adding sprinkles or fruit – well, that could break the proverbial bank!

kitchen-scale-532651_1280.jpgThen flip the situation around and have them gather all the ingredients to make a healthy salad.  Let them compare which is cheaper – cake vs. salad.  I bet a really interesting discussion about shopping the outside aisles of a grocery store vs. the inside aisles will ensue.

Related: Budding chefs and “foodies” will love Kitchen Chat

Hospitals teach a multitude of lessons.  Of course there is the abundant medical terminology. Yet, one can go even deeper and learn about patience (again), family dynamics and sadly – grief. Plus there is the discussion about the value of having health insurance.

What makes hospitals and interesting place for education is that it is rarely a happy place.  We sometimes have to accept and teach that we have to be open to life’s toughest lessons as well as the best it has to offer.

Related: How to make someone’s hospital stay easier 

 

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Lastly, animal shelters teach people about caring and advocacy. It is no secret that some of the most impactful lessons are when we advocate for those who cannot speak up for themselves. Case in point… long ago I recall having my Sunday school class vote as to which charity they wanted to donate monies they had collected.  Almost unanimously the sixth graders voted for the local animal shelter vs. any healthcare organization (such as The American Cancer Society).  Some adults were appalled feeling that my students were displaying a lack of compassion for humans by wanting to support animals, instead. However,  it seemed clear to me why the children made this choice. Almost everyone of the students had a cat or dog in their home and they related to them and their needs much more than someone who had cancer or another disease.  They were advocating for something familiar – a pet.

And…While a trip to the shelter can be very intense, it also can help a child feel that they are making a difference by doing acts of kindness.  While it may not be feasible to adopt all the animals, a family can help by supplying the shelter with old towels, blankets or pet food. When our children were school aged we fostered 17 dogs. Two were “foster fails” – we adopted them.  Years later my children, now adults, are doing the same, including twice having “foster fails”.

Last thoughts… I am a firm believer in formal education. Yet, we can’t overlook that there are limited hours in the day and teacher’s cannot and should not be expected to teach our kids the majority of lessons about LIFE.  That is the job of loving parent’s , family members, mentors, neighbors, and caregivers. We are ALL teachers.  The world is a giant classroom.

Thanks for reading!

Related blogs:

Thank you, Miss Huntley

Could you be your child’s teacher

Everything a New Teacher Should Know.. and I will ASK about! My interview with Otis Kriegel

CoveredInGlue-3D

Once again I hit the airwaves this Sunday, April 14th in order to delve in to a topic that is of great interest to me.. Helping classroom teachers.

WHY?

Well for starters, statistics are staggering over the number of teachers who are leaving their profession.  Many of the reasons cited have nothing to do with salary but the demands that are placed on teachers which in a short amount of time take an emotional and physical toll.

 Years ago teachers had really a handful of simple professional duties. Instruct. Keep the parents as to progress at report card and conference time. Make sure the students get to lunch and to and from the bus on time. Don’t mess up on the fire drill routine.

Today the average classroom teacher is expected to complete all of the above and  a myriad of other duties which include being a surrogate parent, law enforcer, special education expert, local implementer oft disaster and emergency plans, counselor, behavioral specialist, etc.

All of this is why I am delighted that Otis Kriegel who wrote the book  Everything a New Elementary School Teacher REALLY Needs to Know (But Didn’t Learn in College) will be joining me for this interview.  In essence he will share his “pearls of wisdom” for new and seasoned teachers.  I hope his incredible knowledge and candor will help keep teachers in the classroom and motivate others to become teachers. See the featured video below to get a taste of Otis’ ability to relate and engage.

 I loved the book – it truly is great and I am sure we will discuss the why and how of writing it.  

To listen live please join us Sunday, April 14th at 8pET, 5p PT at the 411 VOICES RADIO NETWORK.

           Click here to listen or access downloads

          New teachers with questions are encouraged to call in during the live show.

Learn more about Otis Kriegel on his website www.otiskriegel.com   

The book is available from the publisher  FREE SPIRIT PUBLISHING   and other locations where books are commonly sold.

No payment was received for this interview or review from the author or publisher. Only a copy of the book.
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