Creativity, Design, Inspiration

Don’t Wait For The World To Whack It To You

I am tired. And I should be in bed. But I am reading my email because the tiny human, furry human, and loving husband are in bed and the house is quiet.

And just delivered from GapingVoid is this little gem, hot off the press:

Shine Your Light

It comes with this explanation from Hugh:

Instead of waiting to be hit by the light, I decided to become the light instead.

It was my decision.

It was also one of the happiest and most profound moments of my life.

To use a familiar tennis metaphor, you’re spiritually better off once you teach yourself to always keep the ball inside your own court. Don’t wait for the world to whack it to you. A-men.

~Hugh MacLeod

I have had a lot of work to do with my students pastorally the last few weeks. I think we have reached the tipping point and things are now on the rise.  I hope this is true.  One of the things that changed my outlook on the situation was when I stopped and remembered one of those lists that I had read once – you know, the “things that you need to remember to live a happy and fulfilled life” lists. It was this one.

And part of that list read:

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 11.56.20 PM

Never take things personally.  Let me repeat that: NEVER TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY.

I really started questioning what I was doing as a teacher – or more specifically, what I was (or wasn’t) doing that was resulting in the behavior I was seeing.  How had I gone wrong?  What had I done?  Why am I so terrible at what I am supposed to love doing?

Then I remembered #8 and I remembered #10 and I remembered that according to #7 the Universe (which at the time meant a very supportive and proactive Principal) had my back.  And I decided to take a different tack. I decided to be the light. I decided to take the ball instead of waiting to be whacked – repeatedly – in the head with it.

I did all these things and then Hugh, bless, made me my own cartoon to commemorate my somewhat disastrous but ultimately insightful week.

A-men.

Advertisements
Creativity, Inspiration

At Least I Tried….

I love GapingVoid. Always, it seems to me that Hugh writes his cartoons specifically for me.  Here is what was in my mailbox this morning:

At least I tried

 

It was accompanied by this text…

Screen Shot 2014-01-12 at 10.29.40 AM

 

My kids are one week into two week Passion Projects.  We are doing this ‘extended Genius Hour’ as a precursor to Exhibition.  It is fascinating for me as a watcher of tiny humans to see who does what, how inquiry looks to different children, who is flourishing, who is going under – or thinks they are.

Make a decent go of it. 

I like that.  Maybe you will be rubbish but you’ll never know unless you try and you can’t just try – you have to make a decent go of it.

Can’t ask for more than that.

Leadership

Leaders: Born or Made?

Clearly inspired by yesterday’s post, Gaping Void asked the age old question today: Are leaders born or are they made?

Great question.

Hugh goes on to answer:

We won’t argue which side wins, but we all must agree that made or born, it starts from within. A drive to make a difference to those around you. A simple idea that many people just don’t get.

And summarizes his thoughts with this great image:

20130925-033252.jpg

This post is dedicated to Marina Gijzen, a born leader who has taken the time to develop and refine her leadership skills, driven by a pure vision from within to make a difference. You are exceptional – go for it!

Inspiration

Inspired to Inspire

feel_inspired_1007aCopy.1

Who inspires you?

What inspires you?

When I think of all the people, places, books, articles, blog posts, websites that inspire me, I wonder: where would my ideas come from if not from the sparks of inspiration provided to me by my ‘tribe’ of fellow thinkers, like-minded souls, inspirers?

One of these sources of inspiration for me, is GapingVoid.  Hugh’s cartoons are brilliant in their simplicity to convey a message and to inspire.  One of his latest cartoons reminds me of one his older cartoons that is a favorite of mine.  It is simple, clean, clear, and for me, very true:

Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 10.42.58 AM

This simple cartoon speaks volumes to me. The more you collaborate, the more you will be inspired to create, which will lead you to further collaborative conversations, and so the cycle continues.

Whilst browsing Wonderopolis this morning, I came across this video and pulled some of the key points that stood out to me from it:

If you take away inspiration, you naturally fall back to that voice that says, “you’re not going to make it.”

I want to raise my bar because I have been inspired….to increase my skills and abilities.

If I can inspire somebody to do something bigger and better than what they have done on their own, then ultimately I have done my job.

Again, who inspires you?  What inspires you? I watched the following video and I am inspired by this man’s courage and determination to succeed against the odds:

 

As I begin a new year in a new school, I am inspired by my colleagues.  I am inspired by the friends and colleagues I have recently left behind to continue to look for new ways of doing while keeping some of the ‘old tricks’ I learned with them. I am inspired by the kids who I am yet to meet and their parents and am looking forward to an exciting, challenging year ahead.

Inspiration

Never Lose the Why

I love GapingVoid cartoons.  Here is the one that I am most recently in love with:

Never Lose the Why

As a fan of Simon Sinek and “Start With Why?”, this cartoon is a great reminder for once you have your why pinned down – or as pinned down as defining your purpose can get.

It is also a good reminder for teachers when we ask things of our kids in our classroom.

  • WHY is this worth their time?
  • WHY are we doing this?
  • WHY do we need to do it?
  • WHY did I do it this way?
  • WHY not something else?

I would like to believe that most teachers have a pretty good idea of why they teach.  Sometimes when we move from the philosophical  ideals to the human reality of bodies in the room, administrators, parents, and our own personal lives, we have the potential to lose the ‘why’ that drove us to this profession in the first place.

Don’t do that. Or at the very least, resist at every turn! Keep an eye on your why.  And live it, daily, in your classroom.

A great example of someone who consistently lives out his why, is the CEO of the YMCA here in Boise, Jim Everett.  We visited with him for the second year on our passion tour and again, Jim was hugely popular with my students.  The letters they wrote him were heartfelt and just amazing.  Jim told the story of the death of his dad when he was in third grade and the huge impact that had on his life. One of my kids concluded his letter with, “If your dad were alive today, he would be the proudest dad in the world.”  Yes. Yes he would.

As he did last year, Jim wrote back to us and this year reminded us of the “P” words that he lives his life by and encouraged us to live our lives by.  I turned his words into the following as a visual reminder to always look to fulfill your purpose and never lose sight of your why: (PDF Download)

Jim Everett Manifesto

Inspiration

Make a Dent

I subscribe to the GapingVoid mailer (highly recommend).  It is a short and sweet cartoon delivered to my inbox on a somewhat regular basis.  Tonight’s message is the short and simple, Steve Jobs inspired cartoon:

Source: gapingvoidart.com via Sonya on Pinterest

As Hugh says:

I don’t want to know why your brand is good, or very good, or even great. I want to know why your brand is totally frickin’ amazing.

 

Replace ‘your brand is’ with ‘you are’ and this is something we should be asking our kids every day:

“I don’t want to know why you are good, or very good, or even great.  I want to know why you are totally frickin’ amazing!”

Why not make a dent in the universe daily?

 

PYP, Reflection

A Joint Effort

 

One thing we learned last year during the Exhibition is that it really does help for the parents to be ‘in the know’ and supportive of their child.  It also helps when those unwritten expectations of fifth grade  (being timely, organzied, thoughful, perserverant) are made explicit to students and parents so that we are all on the same page.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be working on the following prep sheets with my class and their families.

Click on each image to enlarge.  Click to download a PDF copy. 

We will do the student portion at school and the sheet will go home to be shared with families and for parents to offer their input.  My main goal?  To create conversation. To get students and parents and their teachers talking and sharing and supporting one another.

We say it is a team effort – now let’s work like we really mean it.

Inspiration

Motivated By Joy

How do you stay motivated when you are tired/sick/busy/exhausted….or any other number of emotions? I know I have a hard time doing so – the proof of that is in the paltry number of posts to my blog in the last six months.

More recently, I have come back to this blog, to Twitter, to my widely spread out network of teachers around the world and have reconnected.  I have resumed “putting it out there” and I have relished in what is out there in order to learn more, do more, share more. It has paid off.  And it has brought me joy.

J is for Joy

According to Seth Godin:

“Joy is different from pleasure or delight or fun.  Joy is the satisfaction of connection, the well-earned emotion you deserve after shipping art that made a difference”

-Seth Godin, V is for Vulnerable

This week I have connected with ‘strangers’ and reconnected with people I have known from years past.  I have learned from people I feel like I know because they work with people I used to work with or are in places I used to work.  I have had ideas challenged and ideas applauded.  I have been complimented and questioned.  And through it all, I have been motivated to do more, share more, think more and create more art. Rather than let ‘life’ – which, let’s face it, is always going to be crazy – get in the way, I want to make sure I use my time in a way that counterbalances the tiredness and exhaustion by replacing that with the joy of sharing, the joy of connecting.

Today I was reminded by a wise friend of some wise words from Neil Gaiman:  “Make good art.” No matter whether you’re told not to, no matter whether it’s appreciated, no matter whether it’s recognized… Make good art.  I intend to follow this advice….you?

Reflection, Teaching

N is for “No”

N is for No

 

 

“No feels safe, while yes is dangerous indeed.  Yes to possibility and yes to risk and yes to looking someone in the eye and telling her the truth. “

-Seth Godin “V is for Vulnerable”

I recently supported a Kickstarter project by Seth Godin.  As part of my reward for backing his initiative, I got a couple of copies of his collaborative project with Hugh MacLeod, “V is for Vulnerable: Life Outside the Comfort Zone – An ABC for Grown-ups”.  As I was re-reading it again today, I stopped when I got to the letter N.  N is for No.  This made me think of my kids and the project they have proposed as part of our How We Express Ourselves unit on persuasion.  It started with this, and then this and ultimately ended with this.  A no.

So, what do we do with the “No”. This has been something I have been thinking about since the last day of school before the break.  On one hand, I think the no is valuable. I think it is good for my kids to learn that just because they are adorable and have a fun idea, people are not automatically going to jump on board and give their blessing.  On the other hand, I still find the no valuable – but for a different reason.  For the reason that a ‘no’ doesn’t have to mean the end.  Just because someone says no, doesn’t mean you have to stop and give up.  The whole point of the unit is to develop our powers of persuasion. How are we doing this if after our first no to our first proposal, we roll over and say “OK”?

What do we do with the no? 

This will be the question that awaits my kids when they come back from our break in January.  I will be guided by them as to how they wish to proceed – that is, after all, what an inquiry based classroom looks like.  I will be looking to them to guide me as we try and figure out where too from here. As I continued to flip through the book, I was inspired again by “Y”.  Y is for Youth.

Y is for Youth

“Youth isn’t a number, it’s an attitude. So many disruptive artists have been youngsters, even the old ones.  Art isn’t a genetic or chronological destiny, it’s a choice, open to anyone willing to trade pain in exchange for magic. “

-Seth Godin “V is for Vulnerable”

I think my kids have attitude and I think they are capable of magic.  I can’t wait to see what they do with the no.

To learn more about Seth Godin’s Kickstarter project, go here.

To learn more about Hugh MacLeod, go here.

21st Century, Inspiration, Play

There Is No Purpose Without Play

This great cartoon just arrived in my inbox from GapingVoid. Here is the text that accompanied the image.  It is worth reading through – and clicking through the links.  Really interesting stuff to help you answer the question, “Are you having fun yet?”

“Purpose” is a big deal in business these days. Finding and having a strong sense of purpose is an important part of having a strong company culture. The blogosphere is utterly awash with it.

My friend, Tony Hsieh of Zappos, really nailed this idea in his New York Times bestseller, “Delivering Happiness”. And another friend, Mark Earls, nailed this idea sooner than most of us with his whole “Purpose-Idea” thing.

With the Olympic GAMES upon us, I was thinking about the idea of “play” in the world of work… (What my favorite future-shocker, Pat Kane calls “The PlayEthic”)…. and how The Play Ethic is so necessary for said “purpose”.

In my experience, the big ideas come from play, not from pressure. Any half-decent artist, hacker, inventor or scientist will tell you the same.

Playing is how we learn to hack, how we learn to invent, how we teach ourselves to create.

How we teach ourselves to SURVIVE.

So as wonderful as the Olympic athletes are to watch, I think maybe it’s time to rethink The Games, not in terms of “achievement,” “excellence,” “competition,” “glory,” but a celebration of PLAY itself.

Just an idea.

-Hugh McLeod

 

It would seem Nike are on a similar train of thought.  Their non-Olympic, Olympic commercial, showcases “all the little leaguers, backyard champions, and living room gymnasts doing what they do for the love of sport with no expectations of being exalted on high and showered with accolades in the form of lucrative endorsements.” (KC Ifeanyi) They are playing. With guts and spirit and determination.  But ultimately, for the love of play.

 

So, how do we embrace this culture as educators at school? I think it has to be a conscious decision. We need to choose play.  We need to make sure we are looking for ways to learn through play – and this is not breaking news!  There will be achievement, excellent, competition and glory.  There will also be failure, mistakes, recalculations and second-tries. There will also be a whole lot of learning.

Millions of people watched Caine Monroy make his cardboard arcade.  We are nearing the one-year anniversary of the flash-mob surprise for the boy with a passion for play and a huge imagination.  In honor of this, everyone has the chance to participate in the Cardboard Box Challenge, culminating in the Global Day of Play.  I have signed up to join in and hope others in my school will want to play too.

I had an interesting conversation recently about “Global Day of _______” type events.  Does having a one-off event hold meaning for a school that is supposed to provide an integrated, student-led, inquiry-based curriculum?  Some would argue that days of fun that support a cause are good fun, a good idea and as teachers, we should be exposing kids to what is ‘out there’.  Totally agree.  But I think we need to go deeper.  If it is good enough for one day, why not all days?  If we are prepared to forgo “normal” school for a day of play, we must think it is important.  If it is important, why not include it every day?  I love the idea of a Global Day of Play.  I just hope it doesn’t start – or stop – there.  I plan on introducing the value of play from the get-go.  It is something I have been looking into and reading about all summer and something I feel passionate about incorporating into my classroom – on the Global Day and Every Day. A new daily question in  my classroom:

 

Are we having fun yet?