A little “Grit” goes a long way

20180519_081131.jpgA little over a year ago I started to run. I have always liked running but saw myself as a sprinter never a long distance runner. In fact, last year I barely could do 5km in 1 hour. I would wheeze, cough and walk half the distance. As the year progressed I got myself to 10km in 1 hour and felt very proud of my accomplishments. I had a lot of friends tell me hey your ready for a 1/2 marathon and I would just laugh in their face. “Me, do a half? Yeah, right!” Well as of May 19th I can no longer say that! In fact, I sort of crushed that comment by completing my first half marathon in 1 hour and 38mins.

But this post really isn’t about the running but more about what I learned that day. At the 15km mark, my hamstring started to tighten and my brain started to say “STOP”. I was physically done but part of me just said no keep going and so I did. It was a grind but I was determined to finish and finish I did. It reminded me of what I tell my students, a little disequilibrium goes a long way. When we are in that moment of frustration and exasperation we learn so much more about ourselves. The problem is I think we as adults have forgotten what it is like to be in those moments. Now I am not implying we don’t have our moments but I think they are a lot less than when we were children.

As an adult, we have had many experiences that formulate the sum of our learning and decisions but for a child, they have a lot less. I think we often forget what it is like to be frustrated and therefore we jump right in. I am also sure there is some brain science behind adults fully form logic versus kids but all in all we have to remember what it is like to be a kid. To wonder, to explore, to question and to make mistakes. The problem we have as adults is we forgot what struggle is like and so have a hard time relating to our students making those mistakes. Running this half has reminded me how important struggle is and just how important it is to let me own students and children struggle.

So as we head into next year I encourage you to think about “Grit” and how are you purposefully planning this in your classroom. Any ideas please share.

Also if you want to share, some of your most recent struggles? Love to hear them.

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Stem Labs Alpha Kit Review

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So while researching STEM ideas and products for the classroom, I came across a company called Stem Labs. They are a company that sells small robotics kits that link coding and robotics together. Students will have the opportunity to play with various sensors and components to make autonomous creations.

It is an interesting product and not really a new idea as we have products like this on the market. However, what I do like about STEM labs alpha kits is the flexibility to interact with various components and pretty much build or think of amazing ideas. In addition to the various parts, each part can be connected to lego which helps with the structural building piece. Another great part of their product is all of the teacher lessons that go with the product.  These lessons are linked at the moment to United Kingdoms curriculum plan but I hope they will be soon linked to Canadian content. That being said with some decent teacher thinking you can make the relationships to the science materials.

A really cool lesson we tried was the probability lesson.

What I really enjoyed about the product is the flexibility it has to fit most if not all of our science curriculums here in Ontario. In addition, the kids picked it up really easy and even my 8 years old built a car and coded it to move. They are simple pieces that can be moved, manipulated and used in many parts of your curriculum.

They have various size kits and for $1000 can easily order a nice set for your classroom to use.

So if you are thinking about adding to your Makerspaces or need some more STEM ideas take a look at SAM labs.

Webinar for more info: https://youtu.be/lZf6OvgGydE

Balance

A balance I think is something that we find hard as teachers. For most of us, if not all, teaching is not just a career but a huge passion. It is something that we put more than 100% (yes I know there isn’t really more than 100%, but bear with me on this). Yet, balance is needed.

This year I have been on a journey of a sort to keep that balance in my life. The funny thing is I am not too sure if my journey was planned or if it sort of found me but none the less it has been quite a thoughtful idea. This year has been a struggle I am not going to lie. It has been a lot of ups and downs. I started the year in a rough place, with a lot of negative energy around me and inside. I write this because I want others to know that this does happen. I write this because we all have those moments but the important part is recognizing this and moving forward. Having balance find me has been one of the greatest parts of this journey. Reflecting on what makes me feel better has been great.

Unfortunately, part of that balance has been reducing my time on social media and blogging, which a part of me regrets. I know many find blogging to be therapeutic and I am glad for that but for me writing brings a lot of stress and anxiety. It has never been a strength of mine but I did it because it has helped me improve and articulate my thoughts in a different platform. instead, I have turned more to being with my kids and more physical exercise. Running has become a passion of mind and a way to unwind and reflect on my day. In fact, I would have never thought of myself as a runner. It was something I did once in my life but never long distances and now I may be a little obsessed.

We all have hidden passions and balance comes in many forms and may look differently for others. I know many of you may feel resting is the greatest form of balance but really balance is doing things that fill your bucket and replenishing your soul.  As a teacher, we lose connections sometimes to who we are as people. We tend to define ourselves by being a teacher but we are so much more. Don’t get me wrong I love being a teacher but there are years were sometimes a break is needed.  What do you do to find that balance? I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.

As the year comes to an end and we head into a downtime for ourselves remember to find time for yourself, replenish your soul and set a balance for yourself the following year. You are more and #youmatter