Letter of Reflection/Encouragment

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Day 31 of 31 of Year 5 Slicing & First Year I’ve Posted Daily before Midnight

The other morning I was listening to the Jeff and Jenn Show ( & ) on Star 94.1 and I got an idea for a my last blogpost of the month. You see the DJs both wrote letters to themselves (Jenn’s letter, Jeff’s letter). These were letters they wrote to themselves, letters of reflection and encouragement inspired from a producer who had done the same thing when first moving to Atlanta.

After a month of daily blogging, I feel like an inspirational letter of challenge would be a good way for me to think about how I can heed my words moving forward.

Dear Maya,

Congratulations! For the first time in 5 years of slicing with Two Writing Teachers, you have  met the midnight deadline in your daily blogs. Wow! Way to go! When you focus on  a goal and set your sights on it, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to achieving. That is something that you are finally seeing at the age of 47. 

Even though the blogging takes a lot of time, you become much more cognizant of the little things in life as you write daily. You have an outlet for your swirling thoughts, and you are able to process things and gain a more realistic perspective. With the encouragement from reader friends who discuss your posts with as well as teachers who you’ve never met who leave comments, you are able to make sense of the challenges you face.

Just this month you have written and reflected and come to a greater understanding of the nuances of your principal as you wrote of his “Button Pushing Hyperbolic Subtlety” as well as with “The Best.”  

You dealt with writer’s block with parodies, haiku, and bad poetry. Haikuing your way out of writer’s block and filling your blog space, baby, that made for fun moments.

You squared off with your #oneword2016, deliberate, asked some tough questions, and tried some new things. Of course, remember what your “nuts and bolts” principal tells you, “Maya, you’ve got to try something for longer than a few days to know if it works.” Maya, reflect on what you’ve written and tried this month but not for too long. Remember you’ve decided that you need to have a “Bias Towards Action.” Remember that you getting things done will give you more of what you need and more of what your family needs.

Spend your break rereading some of your posts, so you can take reflection into action. Maya, you’ve come a long way. Your words on your blog help you process, but you know, girl, that without action reflection is nothing. Reflection needs to turn into something. You need to set goals–stretch and smart goals, so you can begin to accomplish what you set out to do.  Your kids are growing up. Spend some time with Duhigg–read the rest of Smarter Better Faster: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. You’ll find it refreshing to read a book from outside of the realm of education, and it might be just what you need, a new perspective to fix old problems–deliberateness, prioritization, balance. Remember, though, if you can post and comment for 31 days straight, you can build routines and habits in other areas of life as well. Don’t let the process culminate as words on a screen–make this process something that can be seen. 

Today as you walked with Sarah through the parking lot, you were holding hands as you walked.  A part of you wanted to freeze that moment in time as you began to fear the time that would come when she would no longer hold your hand in parking lots. 

Yes, you have a stack of papers. Yes, you want to engage your students. Yes, you get pulled up and down the hall to help people with technology. At the end of the day, though, you know who the most important people are in your life. Live that love for family. Prioritize. Be deliberate. Figure out how to be Smarter Better Faster

Your boss is right about that. You need to take down time. You need to calendar your down time. In fact, you need to figure out  over break because you know he’s going to ask you when you plan to shut down. Don’t even say you can’t shut down for a few weeks. You can. You will. You must. For your family. For your students. For your coworkers. For yourself. Your health and well-being depend on it. Remember that blog post about letting go

Remember, Maya,  what Jon Gordon wrote. Remember that post you wrote about it–when you feel like you haven’t done something to the best of your ability, when you feel less than successful. When you see a 2 on an evaluation based on a 10 minute window–the way you see each moment is a matter of your perspective. You are not failing; you are becoming. Continue the process of becoming each and every day.

Love,

Maya

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time on Task: Deliberate

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BEFORE TASK TIMER AND EVENING TASKS

I want to see what I can do this evening to be more deliberate (One Word, OLW)  in my evening tasks. I want to get some things done, but I want to do it without wasting time. I set up tasks using a Google Chrome Extension called Task Timer.

taskI used an app called Task Timer. Now I’m going to see what I can get done in the next hour and a half.


AFTER TASK TIMER AND EVENING TASKS

1 hour and 40 minutes later, I feel good about tonight. I set times and I stuck pretty closely to them. I got my work done, and I will be in bed at an hour that is more reasonable than usual.

Here is how I spent my time:

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Was I deliberate? Yes. It took me a few tasks to realize that I should turn on the volume, so I would hear the warning bing. I wanted to be done at 10:30–it’s now 10:40. Lessons are updated. I have a few more newbie SOL blogs I need to respond to, but I’m going to save that until tomorrow.

My goal: finish my tasks and go to bed before 11. I did better than usual.

Things that threw me off: converting my clipped image from tiff to jpg, emails and messages coming in on my phone and at the top of my computer screen, my daughter saying goodnight a second time, and the dog chomping on her rawhide.

Now I just need to figure out how to add a little R and R into my tasks.

10 minutes–I can be in bed. My body needs more rest. Goodnight.

 

 

Deliberate

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One Word 2016: Deliberate. As I sought to become more intentional and focused in my actions, I chose the word deliberate for this year. I liked the fact that my word could express my thoughts as a verb, an action. I liked the fact that I could strive to become a more deliberate person as if I could grab hold of this adjective, this trait and think with a sort of conscious awareness that would propel me into action. As if…

One Word 2015: Prioritize.  The result of 2015 was  I felt incomplete and reworded and rebranded myself (and my blog name) for 2016–perhaps a new word with a new slant would change my actions, help me prioritize, and help me evolve into a person who meanders less and becomes deliberate.

Yeah, right…I ain’t there yet!

I get things done. I meet my deadlines. Still, though, I just feel like there is so much to do and not enough hours in the day to do all these things. I feel like I am always playing catch up. For March Madness (blogging madness, that is), I add blogging and commenting to my plate, and life becomes busier.

I have no problem filling my plate with so many things, yet taking the time deliberately to get things done is where I find myself challenged.

I deliberately looked for deliberate quotes/images to examine. Tonight I deliberate about becoming more deliberate.


 

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While this weekend, I gave time to my husband, my kids (not enough, though), my mom, and my friends, now I find myself wondering how to fit all the things to do before tomorrow in this evening while still being deliberate about the sleep my body needs.

I do want sleep. I sacrifice sleep. My husband constantly tells me about the studies that show that sleep deprivation leads to   X, Y, and Z.  Yet still the clock ticks, midnight comes and goes, I’m still awake, and 5:30 AM is sooooo early.

At some point being deliberate should mean getting the rest I need, giving my family the time they need, and turning off my brain long enough to relax and refuel. A person can only go, go, go for so long.


 

Intentional and Accidental directions.  Opposite traffic sign.

The intentional action produces deliberate results.

The accidental action takes me down my meandering path. Sometimes I make sense of my meandering, yet other times I flounder and get sidetracked.

 


 

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For me, this means think about what I’m going to do, and then, make it happen. All too often, I have spent too much time considering, and then, the action just doesn’t happen.


 

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For me, I think this quote is what being deliberate needs to become for me–manage my thoughts, focus my attention, and act deliberately. Compartmentalizing anything other than a multiple choice question is difficult for me.

 


 

deliberate2bdefinition And therein lies what being a deliberate person truly means. Being this blog is one of eight things I need to do tonight. Checked blog off the to do list I made (Yes, I made a to do list for a change!). Let’s see if I can be deliberate and prioritize this evening as I work my way through what absolutely needs to be done on my to do list.


 

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How true this is! Perhaps this is the essence of being and living deliberately instead of just thinking deliberately.

I liken this to the difference between wisdom and prudence–prudence is the pinnacle of wisdom–this is where the actions match the thoughts.

Now I shall go and see if I can quit deliberating so much about being deliberate. Moving thoughts to action.

My goal in being deliberate is truly the action brought about by focused attention and managed thoughts.

The time is now.

Bells & Whistles &/or Nuts & Bolts

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Bells and whistles.

Wow!  Look at that!  Whoa–get a load of the stereo in that car!  Blaupunkt–wow–turn it up!  That stereo rocks! I can’t wait to drive around campus listening to that. I can imagine those thoughts racing through my brother’s mind before he bought the stereo along with the car. Oftentimes, as consumers we are wooed by the bells and whistles, the extras that make something stand out. I learned the hard way that Hunter remote control ceiling fans will not last as long as the simpler ceiling fans with an old school string to pull, but I indulged in a ceiling fan with that “bell and whistle” that seemed so cool at the time. What I have found is that bells and whistles often overshadow the essentials of so much.

The bells and whistles  of a lesson may have the potential to transform a lesson from good to great; however, if the original lesson is not solidly formed with all its essentials, then there is not a solid foundation on which to build.  Of course, I am attracted by bells and whistles–the shiny stuff that glitters: the engagement factor, the perfect video clip, an engaging and timely text, the perfect real world connection, and the infusion of technology. Yes, these things have the potential to increase engagement and impact learning; however, bells and whistles are a cacophonous noise of distraction if the essential components of a lesson aren’t present.

At some point, you or someone you know well has been lured by the “bells and whistles” of something:

  • In the 80s, my brother bought a lemon, a Volkswagen Passat. While there were some warning signs, the bells and whistles wooed my brother; the car had a rocking Blaupunkt stereo. As a family, we joked that at least he had the stereo to listen to the many time he was broken down for hours on the interstate.
  • In the late 80s, I bought a bedroom suite of cheap black lacquer furniture that shined and shimmered, with trim of a grey marblesque design, a  geometric sort of design of mirrors, and shiny gold pull handles. My sister’s boyfriend criticized me for buying junky furniture, but I didn’t get it. All I saw were the bells and whistles of having furniture that looked good. I failed to notice the cheap construction of furniture that would begin falling apart after one move.
  • Last year, I decided I really wanted to improve my lesson closings, so I blogged about endings that would WOW my audience and wow me to the extent that I would never want to end a day without closing my lesson: Endings that Don’t Suck, Engage, It’s All the Rage, Thought Provoking Questions to End a LessonEndings that Don’t Suck, Part II, QR Closings, and From a Fizzle to a Finale. Even as I tried to frame my closings around the nuts and bolts, I found myself searching for the wow factor/the bells as my first priority.  In the end, I didn’t create lasting change in my practice. I created a some cool tools that I could plug in occasionally to end a lesson, and I fell short of impacting lasting change.

Fast forward to February of 2016, the students survey data indicates that there has been no improvement in the areas of closings on student surveys under the item, “My teacher takes time each day to summarize what we have learned.”

I could give you a litany of excuses to why that score is again lower than I would like:

  • One class surveyed was the lunch class–there isn’t time for closing.
  • I run out of time.
  • With all the differentiation going on, I’m not sure how to close a lesson.
  • We do different sorts of closings, so I’m not sure if the kids see it as a summary.
  • Summarizing a lesson seems like regurgitation, and that’s boring and falls short of the challenges I set forth in each lesson.
  • Did I mention that the lunch class was surveyed?

All that said, I believe my excuses need to be laid to rest along with my search for bells and whistles in everything I do. If I have too many bells and whistles, the kids miss the point as they are distracted by the noise that I’ve created. Furthermore, they won’t find what’s essential.

Admittedly, I have been distracted by the bells and whistles as I look for what shimmers and what shines. The bells and whistles are the add ons, and I can’t add on to something that’s junk.  In other words, I need to ground myself in the practice and habit of good closings before I try to add to them. If I fail to do that, then, I, too, will fail to find what’s essential. If I try to refine a practice I haven’t mastered with consistency, my bells and whistles are like the cacophony of a Blaupunkt stereo attached to a lemon of an automobile.

Before I get distracted by the bells and whistles of engagement as I try to fulfill my vision, I need to focus on the substance of the work that needs to be done. I need to be deliberate about creating a routine of consistent closing practice that focuses on making sure my students get what they need to master the content/standards. Once I’ve established that with fidelity, only then should I add the bells and whistles. I could suffice it to say that I am continually realizing that the nuts and bolts of lesson construction must come before (or at least work alongside) the bells and whistles, and perhaps I’ve found the root cause of the lesson of dots that I cannot connect and the underlying cause of a lesson that my principal refers to as “too busy.”

 

 

 

 

 

Rebranding: One Word=Deliberate

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Yes, today I celebrate the beginning of 2016 by rebranding. While I’ve established my blog as Meandering Maya, I have decided that I need to streamline, and so now I

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in an attempt to mold myself into what I’d like to become. To reach my proverbial market, I need to rebrand.

This means out with the old and in with the new.

Rebranding is the bridge from OLD to NEW. Concept 3D illustration.

 

I want to streamline my focus in all areas of life in 2016  as I reach to achieve new goals such as

deliberateone-word-poster .

Though meandering (ideation in top 5, Gallup Strengthsfinder) helps me make meaning and generate ideas, to others my thoughts seem disjointed; consequently, I’d like to learn to be more deliberate in what I say, write, and do.

And so, today I celebrate my rebranding by unveiling a change in my blog’s title as I strive to go

meanderingtodeliberate .