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Saving Summer: A dog’s life

This is a picture I took this morning of our dog, Mia:

Mia’s morning routine includes naps on my husband’s chair. His nightly routine is cleaning the hair off of it.

Mia is two years old. We have an older dog, Snickers, who is a mutt, and also very sweet, albeit he is in the old, stinky phase of his years.

If you use Twitter, I highly recommend following @XplodingUnicorn. His tweets about his children are charming and deeply funny. This particular tweet produced many commenters saying yes, dogs do have jobs–Mia herself is a “working” breed, and when we take our walks around the neighborhood we are on patrol–she is calm, focused on us, and very well trained. However, when she’s in the backyard all bets are off, and she does what she wants. In fact, she does what she wants most of the time. She’s having a pretty great life. And here is the thing: the other working dogs are having pretty great lives, too. They are truly engaged, happy, and feel purpose–they want to do their jobs and get the occasional belly rub.

How would you frame this for students? To show that yes, there is work in life, but it can be joyful? We all want this– we can learn a lot from dogs.

Cats– well, we can learn how to not give a darn. There’s time for that, too.

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Saving Summer: Just what I needed…

How to Use the Concept Attainment Strategy

This seems like a fancy way to do “one of these things is not like the other” but hey, if calling it a ed-psych term like Concept Attainment Strategy makes something cool palatable, then by all means! What a cool idea when I use images in lessons, this idea will really help when teaching theme. Good stuff: saving!



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Saving Summer: Disconnection Connection

Aziz Ansari recently put himself on an internet diet, and maybe the rest of us should follow suit.

I bought the full-meal deal from Freedom a year ago, and it’s been buggy ever since, and the customer support is confusing, but I’ll keep trying. I’ve tried to limit myself: making jewelry again, just reading (though it is on an i-pad/Kindle), and doing other things…but it’s been tough. All I’ve succeeded in doing is making a mess. This next week I’ll focus on finishing up the computer technology curriculum and nailing down the first few weeks of ELA. My schedule next year will be a bit different, and I’m trying to be flexibly- proactive. (Whatever that means!) It was time I went through my own digital hoarding and pulled out some of the best articles/ideas.

Let’s get our brains back:

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Saving Summer: Go, team!

No, really…go…wait…stay…come back!

Teaching is mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting, which is why, until we get some other issues solved, I don’t see U.S. schools going to a year-round schedule anytime soon. I am luxuriating that it’s a weekend during summer break: for some reason, this feels especially decadent– a weekend AND a break?! Well, I just got home from InstructureCon and tomorrow through Thursday I’ll be driving over an hour away to a STEM fellowship through WABS. I don’t mind have structure and purpose during my summer days, but they are precious and dwindling fast. And there’s still so much to do.

I wanted to follow up to my question about teams, (teams going, coming back, going, and coming back)–I am allowed to pursue these questions about the effectiveness and desire for teams that are not writ large: not all teams are effective. Just because I am craving to be on good, supportive localized team again (not a PLC: those serve other purposes) doesn’t mean they didn’t come fraught with issues and dysfunction. I’ll define a “team” in this context as the cohort of cross-content teachers who share the same cohort of students. The team is usually made up of a Science, Social Studies, and ELA teacher, and sometimes Math. The elective and physical education teachers are included in the big student concern meetings/discussions, but the ‘grassroots’ level support for students comes from the trio.

Over the years (when we had teams) I was fortunate to work with superstars: friends/colleagues who supported my questions, and we worked together to support students. We appreciated and valued our different styles and personalities, and kept ego out of the equation: it was a godsend when each of us recognized that one student may prefer one teacher over the other, but kept a united front with students; we told students it was perfectly okay to like one of us, but we all had their back. We could meet with individual students, share parent contact duties, (which as a parent is awesome not to receive three or five phone calls about a child, but one), and we felt a comradery that modeled friendship and respect to our students.

When teams are not functional, teammates don’t communicate, they undermine, form opinions without questioning and probing, and passive-aggressively send the message that other teachers on the team are incompetent, etc. Not. Cool. And yes, we’ve all experienced a coworker like that.

But in this day and age of collaboration and teams, many introverted teachers are ducking out. Well, introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, we’re all feeling brain-drain.

Why Introverted Teachers Are Burning Out

“The term “introversion” can mean a variety of different things in different contexts. Carl Jung defined it as an orientation through “subjective psychic contents,” while Scientific American contends that introversion is more aptly described as a lessened “sensitivity to rewards in the environment.” It’s generally accepted, however, that as Stephen A. Diamond gracefully describes it, “[Extraversion and introversion] are two extreme poles on a continuum which we all occupy.””

So how do we navigate the need for collaboration, good teams, and keeping our own psychic energy bright and healthy? One good resource is Elena Aquilar. She writes books and excellent article about teams, coaching, and coaching teams.

10 Truths About Building School Teams

Introverts struggle with extroverts. Extroverts sometimes assume that when an introvert is being quiet, they’re A. Not listening B. Not smart (and then get some patronizing explanation) C. Don’t even notice. But extroverts aren’t bad: sometimes extroverts see the big picture quickly and have the ability to share, the exuberance and passion that comes out physically and verbally. Introverts are awesome because they garner the slow-simmer, deeper thoughts. For me, the best way for both kinds of personalities to work on teams well is the basics rules for any relationship: learn to listen, speak when necessary, and be kind.

And: advocate for yourself.

If the collaboration or process isn’t working, it should always be acceptable to say that a discussion needs to be shelved for a later time.

Last thoughts:

Extroverts: put your bullhorn away. Introverts: pick up the mic. Let’s all support each other so none of us burn out.


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