A Powerful 4-Letter Word: Grit

I was ready to go to bed after the Blue Jays won the game against the L.A. Dodgers last night but decided to have a shot of espresso since the machine had been on for the last couple of hours. Guess what happened? It kept me up for a few hours more. Make this moment useful and productive. Write.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been tweeting out scoring moments of the Toronto Blue Jays. I am not athletic. Far from happening. I’ve been watching the game because I am amaze to see each player on the baseball field. The sport is slow-paced, in my own term. But once the ball is released, I need to hold my breath and wait for what is going to happen next.

If I am going to fill in my Word Wall, it will have the terms slider, fastball, relievers, baseball, defence, pitcher, catcher, home runs, curve ball, good pitch, breaking ball, RBIs, mph, inherited runners, ball, strike. These are just some of the technical terms that I regularly hear from those sports commentators while watching the game. Don’t ask me of any more technical questions because I do not know the answer.

What makes me wonder the most is how much time, effort and courage each of this player has put in and continue to do in order to improve and perfect their craft. Yet, errors are committed along the way, during the game, in front of thousands of spectators. In spite of this, they continue. Disappointments and frustrations are sometimes visible. Their human side. But giving up has no place. This is what I see every time they pitch, catch, pass or throw that ball.

Watching the game most nights serve as a great reflection for me. A reason to keep pushing. There are things that don’t go my way when and where I want them to be. Seeing their determination in conquering the challenges they’re facing help me to remind myself that what I worry about is minute to what they have to deal with. Maybe.

In the classroom, I hear students saying they can’t do the task on hand because it’s too hard. Sometimes, the students and I feel the same way. “It’s too hard. We can’t do it. I’ve been trying.” Getting stuck will not get both of us anywhere. Take a deep breath. Move one foot forward. Then, the other. I need to have that courage. Walk the talk.

One life skill that I need to remind myself and I would like these young learners to equip themselves in facing adversities: GRIT.

 

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Just Like Seeds

When the seeds that were planted a few weeks ago started to germinate, it made me think of the students in our care everyday.

They are like these seeds that come from different plants. Although placed in the soil at the same time, they grow at different rates. But both of them have something in common. They both need love and care.

Every student that is placed in our hands come from different backgrounds, different beliefs, different environment. When they gather as a class, they share all these differences in one space.

As educators, we try to meet all their needs which are not limited in the school vicinity. We come home and still thinking of ways on how we can help and guide them to be successful individuals. The minute we open our eyes in the morning, our mind is already occupied of what we have planned for them for the day.

We have students where school is the only safe place for them. It’s where they can be with friends and leave their real life behind. It’s where they look forward to coming everyday to fill their hungry stomach for their first meal of the day. It’s where they can just sit still.

It breaks my heart every time I hear a story where a child is not doing well because of the life at home.

The reality is, we are tied with what we need to cover and accomplish. But if we take a few steps back and see that child through, it’s not the knowledge that the child is wanting to at the moment to have but is longing for a caring hand and a listening heart.

 

1, 2, 3, Blow!

A slice of measurement for the Slice of Life Story Challenge: Day 22.

One of my favourite topics in math is measurement. There are just so many fun things to do using non-standard and standard units.

Instead of doing everything that’s planned for today, students were given the time to finish their Easter egg symmetry and math measurement activity that they started working on yesterday.

Before they headed off to Music at the end of the day, we read a short story titled, Measurement Day. It’s about the different activities that students brainstormed that they can do on Measurement Day in the gym. One of them was Blowing Feather. They were all ears while I was reading the story. Why not do one of them?

There was no feather in the classroom but crepe papers. I cut a small piece from each colour: green, purple, pink, fuchsia. The class was divided into 4 groups of 4. Two metre sticks were laid on the carpet as starting point. The distance of each paper will be measured from the starting point to where it will land using a ruler (cm). One member from each group every turn. 1, 2, 3, Blow!

It’s a spur of the moment simple math activity and yet, students were so engaged during the learning process. Who would have thought?

 

DPA: Daily Physical Activity

A slice of exercise for the Slice of Life Story Challenge: Day 29.

Often times, I feel guilty having students sitting for the longest time because they need to finish an assigned task. Meanwhile, as a teacher, I like to move around. When attending workshops, I need to have some caffeine boost especially if it’s happening after work and I know I will be sitting down for a minimum of 2 hours.

Kids are the same way. They want to move around. Some of them need more space than others. One or two would need that extra room on the carpet when the whole class is there. I had one student who would be moving from one spot to another during this time but he’s all attentive to what’s happening. As a whole class, we learned that it’s what he needed. We gave that to him.

Four years ago, I made a compilation of dance songs in a CD. Of course, one of them was Cha Cha Slide. Now, there are more resources that are available for us to use in our classroom. As long as we have the internet connection, they are available for use anytime. They are more up-to-date too. Here are the links that I use that the kids love.

I am getting better at allowing frequent breaks in the classroom reminding myself that exercise is good for the heart as well as the mind.

 

The Book With No Pictures

A slice of my today’s reading for my A Slice of Life Story Challenge: Day 9.

Books that are out of the ordinary really catch my attention. The Book With No Pictures is one of them. A student showed it to me this morning with all the excitement in his eyes. His so thrilled that he was able to get hold of the book from the library. He started showing me the few pages.

Would it be such a pleasure to see all students getting excited in reading like him? As educators, we try our best and maximize our time to give opportunities to students to be able to read while in the school. Each classroom has its own collection of books. Each school has a library that houses reading materials of all genre.

As much as we encourage to extend the reading at home by parents reading to them or listening to their children read, each family situation is different. In school, we speak the same language and provide the same environment that’s conducive to learning of each individual.

When they leave the school’s premises, they deal with their own situation at home. Some are fortunate to have a home that’s full of love and care. They are given the attention they need. There’s food on the table. But some are less fortunate to have this ideal home environment. If this is the case, how can we inspire them to develop the love for reading if the basic needs are not met?

Let’s remind ourselves that these young people also have their own baggage when they enter our classroom. Our hope is to see each of them succeed in life no matter what kind of situation they’re in right now.

As challenging as it can be, let’s continue to keep that spark in their eyes and their curiosity for learning. Let them paint happy pictures on the book that only have the words.

(Photo Source: hellogiggles.com)

Building Relationships

A slice of relationship for the Slice of Life Story Challenge: Day 26.

Over the years, we have built quite a big network of friends that became more like families. These are families that we met through a friend , of a friend, of a friend.

For over 10 years of friendship, the kids grew up together. They look forward to activities that we do together such as riding our bikes, barbecuing in the park, camping, hiking or having a get-together at each other’s home for birthdays, Canada Day or just because it’s a warm summer night.

Yesterday was Good Friday and for a few years now, one family whose house is a walking distance from the church has been hosting the dinner after attending the church service. The young ones, aged 11 to 21, had a wonderful time playing cards, Truth or Consequence, watching funny videos, and sharing stories while us, adults had our own stories to tell from getting a $175 parking ticket, the new government, our jobs, their kids education, taxes we pay, travel. We went home around 2:00 in the morning with smiles on our faces from all the stories we shared the whole time.

As we spend more time together, we discover sharing the same views on a lot of things, contrasting perspective on a few, and neutral on very little or random topics. Sometimes, the people that we met first were the ones who have drifted away while the connection strengthens with others. Our relationships started from being strangers to trusting each other.

Tomorrow is another day for us to be together hosted by another family to celebrate Easter Sunday. And it will feel like we haven’t seen each other in a long time.

As the saying goes, “No man is an island…”

 

Do You Know How to Take a Video?

A slice of video for the Slice of Life Story Challenge for Day 14.

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8 February 2013: I still have the VVS here.

Taking photos and recording videos are just a click away now using one gadget: smartphone. My video camera with the hard disk that I bought years ago sits in the armoire now. During our vacation in Portugal back in January, I brought it. Did I ever use the camcorder? No. Did I record some videos? Yes. How? Using my phone.

A few days ago, as I was scrolling down my Twitter feed, I came across the tweet below.

After watching the video, I couldn’t help it but jumped into the conversation.

Because of this takeaway, I am not going to let this challenge be over without passing on the learning that took place in a matter of minutes with these wonderful #PLN, Alice Keeler, Phillip Cowell, and Josh Shepard connecting globally, sharing and laughing!