So we signed my second grader up for piano lessons. A week later I signed myself up. That's right, my daughter and I take back to back lessons every Wednesday evening. It had been 20 years since I had taken my last piano lesson.
As a kid I took lessons for about 4 years, I wasn’t bad at it either. Once middle school sports came along my piano lessons took a back seat and eventually faded away. In fact, I can tell you almost exactly when I quit because I still have the sheet music for Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood sung by the one and only Bryan Adams. Because everything I do, I do it for you. Twenty years later I’m still trying to play that song.
It's been about six weeks of lessons. This is what I've learned:
Sometimes learning the keys, placement, and timing literally makes my brain hurt.
Being the student again is nerve-racking because I'm afraid of letting my teacher down.
My daughter just learned Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer--I couldn't be more proud.
I end up spending 45-60 minutes a day practicing but I feel like I'm moving in slow motion.
November Rain will be conquered...eventually.
I'm bad at scales.
I can practice a song so much my family sings it repeatedly through the day, and I don't even think they realize they do it.
I'm secretly hoping my daughter's interest in the arts overtakes sports (not completely, just in the long run of life). The arts can last forever--I wish I would have known that as a kid.
So what does this have to do with school? Absolutely nothing.
It has been a while since I linked up with Holly and her wonderful Tried It Tuesday. Make sure you see what others have been up to and trying out. There's always something for someone.
November means Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving means turkey. Normally, turkeys are stuffed and eaten. I'm trying to change all of this. No, I'm not going to pardon a turkey. I just want my students to start acting like one. What? I created a little turkey acronym for giving thanks and giving back to recognize those who have helped them (students/kids) and think of ways they can help each other.
This is the poster set from Turn Into A Turkey.
Sometimes we all get caught up in our lives, jobs, family, school. It happens. It's life. But it is still important to stop and think about what we can do to give back and give thanks. Sure it's cliched, but it's true. I had the opportunity to show second graders this acronym, present each letter, and then watch their little minds work when they designed their own letter. Seeing them realize what others have done, recognizing their own skills (or deficits), and self-reflecting is pretty cool. Watching this happen is one of the unmeasurable joys of teaching.
Outside my door we're trying to fill up the wall with our giving thanks and giving back ideas. Check it out...
An excellent book to read with you students is How Full is Your Bucket. It sets a great example on how our actions and words make a difference. The ideas portrayed fit the model of giving thanks and giving back.
This blog title is filled with bad puns, but the freebie below isn't. Just in time for Halloween are a set of Edgar Allan Poe quotes, four to be exact. Nevermore than four. Quotes include: "Never to suffer would never to have been blessed" "I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat." "Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words." "Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear."
You can download them from DRIVE or grab it at my TPT store. Either way, they're free.
"I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat," is my favorite. Though, I'd hate to know what my own cats would write due to times they are devils reincarnated. Thanks for tearing up my carpet on the stair and doing your business right next to the litter box Roscoe and Zeke.
"I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And gosh-darn it--I won't quit."
Stuart Smalley was a good man. He knew how to fail and overcome his sadness by working hard and facing facts. Sadly, his time has passed and many students (and adults, teachers, professionals) don't know how fail properly. I'm dealing with it every single day with my students. For some, work is hard and they're afraid of messing up. For other's they're afraid of hard work. And then I've got a few that will never admit to a mistake they've made. FAILURE is tough. Failure is also natural, but for so many its' seen as the end. Whereas it should truly be seen as the beginning. I just put together the poster set How to Fail Like a Pro because I wanted my students to look at all the alternatives to quitting. Here's what it looks like on my bulletin board.
School is tough and we have tons of students that are tiny little perfectionists. BUT they don't know (or have) the coping skills around when the chips are down.
I've found that I normally have to physically walk students through the process of not quitting, figuring out why they failed, and then making adjustments.
This year seems to be about the social/emotional learning and teaching for me. More than any other year, I have kids that need to build these skills. Sometimes though, these are my favorite lessons to teach because your building skills that can carryover for the rest of their lives.
Call it an old wive's tale or an untested scientific hypothesis, but bringing a coffee cup to situations with upset students can assist in de-escalating situations with students who are upset. I know, call me crazy, but this is a theory I can get behind because it is all about a student's own perception.
Just a simple coffee cup. You don't even need coffee in it.
There was a teacher/administrator who always brought an empty cup of coffee whenever they knew they were entering a tense situation involving students. There didn't have to be anything in the coffee cup either because the cups normally from Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts and covered with a top. He'd grab the cup before he left his office, just so he could walk into the situation nonchalantly and without escalating the situation.
Someone drinking a cup of coffee just looks relaxed; enjoying the taste of finely ground beans, all while the aroma awakens the senses and the caffeine grabs hold of your receptors. The idea behind this involved student perception. If students see teachers enter situations with a calm approach (and a cup of coffee) it can immediately change the the entire outlook of the situation. Students pick up on everything. They see, hear, and watch everything. They react to how we interact.
I take my coffee with me everywhere in the building all day long. I've actually used it in situations like this before too. Now there's no scientific proof it works, but the idea behind it is brilliant. Change perception to create a more inviting and positive environment. Many of you might never have to deal with these situations, but for many this is a weekly occurrence. And one of the most important elements is de-escalating the situation so students can cope and use strategies to be successful. So have a cup of coffee. It can be good for everyone. Thanks so much for stopping by to check out this Bright Idea. There are over 100 other wonderful ideas that you should continue to check out, so make sure you see all the links below.
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