Celebrating a Colleague

Celebrating each other's success

By way of this post I am sharing some great news about my WAMS colleague, Christina Donahue. She is way too humble to share the news with our school community, but, as you are aware, I don't have this problem. Thus, I am using this blog space of mine to spread the word and celebrate Srta. Donahue.

So, what's the news?

This summer, Ms. Donahue will be traveling to Madrid, Spain for 2 weeks to sightsee, attend classes, and gather materials for our middle and high school curriculum. She will take courses in AIL Madrid - a language school certified by Instituto Cervantes for teachers of Spanish as a second language (ELE-español como lengua extranjera). 

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Anyone who chooses to mix work with their vacation deserves to be recognized.

As Ms. Donahue's colleague, I commend her drive to travel this summer not only for her personal benefit, but also for the benefit of her students. By taking teacher enhancement course and spending time in Madrid, I know she will bring back amazing ideas and materials that all of our world language teachers at WAMS and RHS will benefit from. 

I, personally, already have a list going.

~ Ms. Donahue, I will need:

1. Any restaurant menus/flyers/maps

2. El Prado ticket stubs/brochures/pictures

3. Any material on Barajas airport, or Atocha station

Come to think of it, anything you bring will do since all of the materials will be authentic. So looking forward to hearing about your trip! 

 

Please join me in celebrating Ms. Donahue and her upcoming Madrid adventure! Here is how.

  • share this post with your social media networks, 

  • leave a comment,

  • tag Ms. Donahue so that she sees your comment,

  • drop her a quick line via email,

  • congratulate her if you see her in a hallway.

¡Gracias!

Out With the Old

This past Wednesday I have attended yet another yoga class. Before that class started, our teacher gave out a blank sheet of paper and asked us to write down 5 things we want to let go of/get rid of/decrease in 2017. The assignment was 5... and of course I wrote 20... 

In 2017, I would like to decrease [if not completely eliminate] the following things: 

  1. Anxiety
  2. Fear
  3. Worry
  4. Bias
  5. Control
  6. Conditioning
  7. Self doubt
  8. Lack of self care
  9. Putting others before myself: martyrdom 
  10. Idleness
  11. Procrastination
  12. Immediate gratification
  13. The need for validation
  14. "Poor me" attitude
  15. Judging others
  16. Judging self
  17. Blaming 
  18. Complaining
  19. The need to prove oneself
  20. Stagnancy

What about you? Have you made a "do not want" list? Please share with me, I'd like to think I am not alone in this!

 

The Book Review: The Clockwork Muse by Eviatar Zerubavel

Here is what they don't tell you in doctoral programs: writing is hard.

For almost 3 years I have been taking 900-level courses on quantitative and qualitative research methods, national and international education systems, curriculum design, faculty personnel, higher education historical developments, and other advanced content classes. Before that, I worked on my master's degree in Educational Leadership.

In spite of the fact that both masters and doctoral coursework entails much scholarly writing, there was no discussion about the actual process of writing. In fact, I didn't hear that 'writing is hard' from any of my professors until I got to Dissertation Seminar I class (!). My professor in dissertation seminar recommended some books on... Guess what? Yes, the process of writing!! 

Although my PhD program has been going tremendously well-thanks to my professor and advisors, I wish I would have read these books on the process of writing earlier.

Reading books on the process of writing would have alleviated much of my anxiety by helping me understand that everyone struggles with writing- even the most seasoned of academics!

Now I am constantly on the look out for tips on productivity (especially as a writer!). As part of my reading goal this winter break, I just finished the Clockwork Muse by Eviatar Zerubavel last night. And before I go any further, my recommendation to you is: get this book. Get it NOW. Especially if you are in a doctoral program. You'll thank me later. 

The main premise of this book is how to become a prolific writer and actually finish that book, thesis or dissertation.

The Clockwork Muse is a great read- brief, clear, and to the point. It gives the reader sound advice on how to weed through your calendar and pinpoint days that you actually can dedicate to writing; how to identify one's energy levels and choose writing tasks accordingly; how to make the final draft flow by rewriting multiple drafts of one's manuscript; and how to break the manuscript into manageable 'bite size' chunks.

As with any book, there will be parts you won't relate to, and that's ok! However, the Clockwork Muse has so much to offer, I highly recommend it to anyone who aspires to become a prolific, self disciplined writer.

Here are some takeaways from the book that I see myself using:

1. Evaluating your calendar to determine days and times that you will NOT be able to write.

Up until now, I scheduled my writing sessions into my calendar without considering whether I will be able to write or not. And, you guessed it, more often then not, I was not able to write. I will now employ a different strategy. I will look at my weekly calendar, and identify days and time when I will NOT be able to write due to a. my teaching job, b. family and friends time, and c. time for my wellbeing and self care (i.e. yoga). Once I have that, then I will schedule my writing time. This way I will keep my priorities in order (yes, dissertation is important but so is my husband), and will not feel guilty that I am doing something else while I 'should' be writing. 

2. Keeping my writing sessions frequent.

I am not sure whether I can write every day, but maybe I can swing writing every other day. Frequent writing sessions minimize recall and organization time. I know that if I only write on Sundays, it will take me at least 30 minutes to get organized and to recall where I was last time. 

3. Do not wait for inspiration. Sit down and start writing/reading/revising [whether you feel like it or not].

This one is major for me. So many times I didn't feel particularly inspired but then after I seated myself in front of my computer and opened my draft and set my timer [another good strategy]-I worked and got things done. The Clockwork Muse reiterates that "only those who develop a certain amount of self-discipline actually end up completing theses, dissertation, and books" (Zerubavel, 2001, p.98). 

The Clockwork Muse by Eviatar Zerubavel

Source: Zerubavel, E. (1999). The clockwork muse: A practical guide to writing theses, dissertations, and books. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Teacher on Winter Break: Renew, Reflect, Replenish

The beginning of December. I can feel the heaviness in my step, hear the annoyance in my voice, and see the lack of creativity in my lessons. Welcome to three weeks before winter break. A time when teachers are counting the days left before their schools close for winter recess.

As teachers, we are trained to give.

We give and give, but we seldom take the time to replenish ourselves. 

Throughout my teaching career, I have spoken to many of my colleagues from various walks of life and at different stages in their careers. From those conversations, teachers feel depleted on a regular basis, but they do not take the necessary steps to refill themselves. A fellow teacher in Morristown, NJ school district posed an eye-opening question: "We always talk about that the kids are tired and stressed. But, what about the tired teachers?"

As educators, how could we nurture ourselves so that we have energy to give to our students?  

Since most of us is on a much-deserved winter break, let us take the time to reflect, recharge, and replenish. Here are some tips I received from my colleagues when I asked them ‘As a teacher, how do you take care of yourself?’

1.     Taking a bath: relaxing and detoxifying;

2.     Yoga: depending on a class, could be relaxing or energizing;

3.     Sitting in silence for a while;

4.     Spend time with loved ones [people, animals, or both];

5.     Be at peace: pray, knit, sew, or just read in silence;

6.     A walk in the woods does wonders for one's focus and takes the edge off;

7.     Writing or journaling is beneficial and can be rather cathartic.

8.     Set a few hours this winter break and treat it as a very important meeting-with yourself. Review and reflect on your weekly, monthly and semester-long goals, analyze why some were accomplished and others fell by the wayside. Life got in a way? Make a note to recognize the obstacles next time. Then, set new goals for the upcoming semester and anticipate problems while brainstorming possible solutions to those. 

9.     Take some time to reflect on this semester and then…Toot your own horn. Be proud of what you do in your classroom, and share, share, share! Include the beautiful things you do in your classroom in your emails or that newsletter to parents, community and/or school administration. Do not feel bad for showing off your craft-be proud of it!

10.  Connect with your colleagues- in your school, district, state, region, or worldwide. Participate in a few Twitter chats, attend a #CoffeeEdu session, share resources using #teacherwellbeing, #edchat or any other hashtag that relates to your discipline.

On January 2, I will be back in my classroom. Rested, I hope to find spring in my step, genuine enthusiasm in my voice, and a chock-full of creative ideas ready to be turned into lessons.

What about you? How do you replenish your mental reserves? How do you restore your energy so that you have more to give to your students? Please respond in the comments below, and thank you for reading. 

Teacher Wellbeing - Worth Talking About

September comes about and we teachers start to excitedly set up our classrooms, gather the best, most authentic and meaningful resources, and put together fun and challenging lessons. We always start as full vessels. But. What do we do when those vessels run dry?

As teachers, we are trained to give.

We give and give, but we seldom take the time to replenish ourselves. 

I have spoken to many of my colleagues from various walks of life and at different stages in their careers. From those conversations, it was clear that teachers feel depleted on a regular basis, but they do not take the necessary steps to refill themselves. A teacher in a Morristown, NJ school district poses a question: "We always talk about that the kids are tired and stressed. What about your tired teachers?"

There isn't really anyone to blame for this-that is how American educational system is set up. American teachers spend more time working than their international peers:

 

Albeit U.S. teachers are the most hard working in the world, rarely they have time to sit and think creatively, come up with ideas, or reflect on lessons. Their days are filled with paperwork and meetings. Their professional contributions are oftentimes not valued by society. 

Working long hours depletes energy reserves. When teachers are depleted, how can they give to their students? When teachers are not valued, put down, and ridiculed, how can we then turn around and send them to teach our children? What kind of lesson do you think a teacher that is tired, frustrated, and burned out will deliver? 

As educators, how could we nurture ourselves so that we have energy to give to our students? 
 

I'm afraid, teachers may have to take matters into your own hands. Here are some ways I accumulated over the years to replenish my energy levels.

  1. Taking a bath: relaxing and detoxifying;
  2. Yoga: depending on a class, could be relaxing or energizing;
  3. Sitting in silence for a while;
  4. Be at peace: pray, knit, sew, or just read in silence;
  5. A walk in the woods does wonders for one's focus and takes the edge off;
  6. Writing or journaling is beneficial and can be rather cathartic. I personally like to journal/write blog posts on Friday nights. 
  7. Noisy environments in schools like lunch duty add to mental clutter. If you supervise lunch this year, bring ear plugs. Your brain will be thankful. 
  8. Set aside an hour each week and treat it as a very important meeting-with yourself. Review and reflect on your weekly, monthly and yearly goals, analyze why some were accomplished and others fell by the wayside. Life gets in a way? Make a note to recognize the obstacles next time. Then, set new goals for the upcoming week, anticipate problems while brainstorming possible solutions to those. 
  9. Schedule that time on your calendar and fiercely protect it-it is YOUR time, don't let anyone hijack it. 
  10.  Advocate for yourself: oftentimes as teachers, and, especially, as women, we are afraid to appear difficult, to ruffle feathers, to disagree, to be an inconvenience [speaking from experience]. However, we need to change that paradigm. Start by speaking your mind, advocating for yourself,  getting support from your colleagues, and do not be afraid. Do not be afraid to speak up. 
  11. Toot your own horn. Be proud of what you do in your classroom, and share, share, share! Include the beautiful things you do in your classroom in your emails or that newsletter to parents, community and/or school administration. Do not feel bad for showing off your craft. Showing off what you do with your students will empower you and make you feel valued. 

What about you? How do you replenish your mental reserves? How do you restore your energy so that you have more to give to your students? How do you motivate yourself? Please respond in the comments below, and thank you for reading. 

Stitch Fix -Personal Stylist

Do you have time to go shopping? Neither do I.

Just signed up for StitchFix after hearing about it on NPR. It's your own personal stylist that sends you fashion-forward pieces every month (you choose the frequency). After filling out a very thorough style profile, you will be styled accordingly. 

How can I describe my wardrobe? Classic, with a touch of funky accessories (mainly the ones I buy during my travels). I'd like to get more edgy/chic pieces... I will be blogging about how it works out for me. My first shipment arrives September 12th. Watch out for updates :) 

 

 

Dissertation Writing Group

In Demystifying Dissertation Writing Peg Boyle Single encourages students that are preparing to start writing their dissertations to create their own agraphia group.  Members of such group are your fellow PhD candidates that are finished with their coursework and passed their comprehensive exams. Being a member of such group holds multiple benefits: 

1. Talking it out with your peers if you are stuck/uninspired/confused;

2. Peer editing each other's' work; and 

3. Holding each other ACCOUNTABLE regarding your academic writing, i.e. "Uh oh, I meet with my group on Saturday, and I will need to report on my progress..."

Know a graduate student that is at the dissertation stage? Please spread the word. You can find the full description:  HERE

2017-2018 Fulbright Application is LIVE!

Dear fellow teachers,

the 2017-2018 Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching application is now live and I think you should go for it.

I've never thought I'd receive this prestigious award but I encourage everyone to at least try. 
It's a long application so you have to "say yes to the application" first, and spend a good chunk of time formulating your ideas but it will be worth it in the end. This grant provides tremendous opportunity to bring to life the project you've always dreamed of doing. 
If you have questions, I'd be glad to help. GO FOR IT!

Source: http://www.fulbrightteacherexchange.org/ap...

THE LONG MEADOW poem by Vijay Seshadri

THE LONG MEADOW

Near the end of one of the old poems, the son of righteousness, 
the source of virtue and civility,
on whose back the kingdom is carried
as on the back of the tortoise the earth is carried,
passes into the next world.
The wood is dark. The wood is dark,
and on the other side of the wood the sea is shallow, warm, endless. 
In and around it, there is no threat of life —
so little is the atmosphere charged with possibility that
he might as well be wading through a flooded basement.
He wades for what seems like forever,
and never stops to rest in the shade of the metal raintrees
springing out of the water at fixed intervals.
Time, though endless, is also short,
so he wades on, until he walks out of the sea and into the mountains, 
where he burns on the windward slopes and freezes in the valleys.
After unendurable struggles,
he finally arrives at the celestial realm.
The god waits there for him. The god invites him to enter.
But looking through the glowing portal,
he sees on that happy plain not those he thinks wait eagerly for him—
his beloved, his brothers, his companions in war and exile,
all long since dead and gone—
but, sitting pretty and enjoying the gorgeous sunset,
his cousin and bitter enemy, the cause of that war, that exile,
whose arrogance and vicious indolence
plunged the world into grief.
The god informs him that, yes, those he loved have been carried down
the river of fire. Their thirst for justice
offended the cosmic powers, who are jealous of justice.
In their place in the celestial realm, called Alaukika in the ancient texts,
the breaker of faith is now glorified.
He, at least, acted in keeping with his nature.
Who has not felt a little of the despair the son of righteousness now feels, 
staring wildly around him?
The god watches, not without compassion and a certain wonder.
This is the final illusion,
the one to which all the others lead.
He has to pierce through it himself, without divine assistance.
He will take a long time about it,
with only his dog to keep him company,
the mongrel dog, celebrated down the millennia,
who has waded with him, 
shivered and burned with him,
and never abandoned him to his loneliness.
That dog bears a slight resemblance to my dog,
a skinny, restless, needy, overprotective mutt,
who was rescued from a crack house by Suzanne.
On weekends, and when I can shake free during the week,
I take her to the Long Meadow, in Prospect Park, where dogs
are allowed off the leash in the early morning.
She’s gray-muzzled and old now, but you can’t tell that by the way she runs.

© 2004, Vijay Seshadri
From: The Long Meadow
Publisher: Graywolf Press, Minnesota, 2004
ISBN: 1555974007

Source: http://www.poetryinternationalweb.net/pi/s...