Busy is NOT the Boss of Me Anymore!

So…the title says it all, really.  I thought I could try to be Superwoman, but apparently that is not in my DNA.  I have found my kryptonite.  It’s name is university.

I have withdrawn from my #tiegrad studies.

There…I wrote it down in bold letters.  That makes it official, right?

I feel like a truck has hit me.  I am physically and emotionally broken.  I had wanted to better myself.  I had wanted to get my Masters degree.  I had wanted to do it all while not giving up anything of my real life.

Well, reality is very different. 

I gave up a lot. 

My family gave up a lot.

I gave up sleep.  My brain was racing around in too many different directions because of all the new things I was trying to learn and stuff in there.

I hope now that I will be able to sleep.

I gave up my health.  There was no time for exercise.  I’m now being treated for tennis elbow and ironically I have never played tennis.  The injury comes from too much time on the computer.  BTW…after this post I will be taking a blogging hiatus.  I will come back to it eventually, but I need to rest my arms and typing with only my left hand is really tricky.

Some day the pain will go away, won’t it?

I gave up time with my friends.  I miss my friends dearly, but if I were to do my best at studying, time for fun had to be limited. 

I hope they will forgive me.

I gave up time with my family.  This one hurts the most.  I asked my family to support me and they did in the most loving and selfless ways.  I am so sorry that my ambition took me away from them.

I hope they will forgive me.

I hope I can forgive myself.

My wise friend, Carolyn Durley, wrote a post on her blog not too long ago titled “Is busy the boss of you?” and if you haven’t read it yet, please do.  This post HAUNTED me.  Busy is exactly what was the problem in my life. To quote Carolyn:

Not only is busy a bully but he is a liar too. Some of his lies you may have heard include:

1. Busy is how to make a difference in the world

2. Busy will pay you back one day.

3. Busy excuses you from being present.

4. Busy has a higher purpose.

5. Busy has your best interests at heart.

6. Busy is a sign of toughness.

7. Busy wants to help you be “successful.”

8. Busy is the same as quality work.

9. Busy offers fulfillment.

10. Busy is for important people.

There is far more to my story.  I have had a new split grade to teach (stress), chronic back problems that were aggravated by being a student (stress), THREE different principals this year (stress) and so many other things that I just pushed aside as part of attaining my goal.

There is never one thing that brings someone to a monumental decision.

I had many people give me well-meaning advice.  “Just push through, you can DO IT!” “I did my Masters, SO CAN YOU!” “It’s short-term pain for long-term GAIN!” Of course I would have loved to stick with it, but you know what?  The only person’s advice I should listen to is my own.  My brain, heart and body were telling me that this was the wrong decision.  I spent five weeks in the fall being more sick than I have ever been before…but I was enjoying my class , so I ignored the signs of burn out. Now my arm hurts so much I can’t even pick up my coffee cup without wincing in pain.

My body is telling me I need a break.

My heart knows it is the right decision.

So, there you have it.  Some may call me a failure.  Some may call me a quitter.  I have called myself those things so many times over the course of my internal struggle to make this decision.  But you know what?  I am not a failure and I am not a quitter.  I have become self-aware enough to know that I can’t do it all, and I can’t expect the people around me to pay for my ambitions and wants. I know that I am a good person, wife, mother, daughter, sister, niece, friend and teacher…WITHOUT the extra letters behind my name.

I will continue to learn.  That does not have to be done in a university.  My twitter PLN helps me learn every day and for that I thank them deeply.

I am not wealthier in the financial sense (the extra degree would have bumped my pay significantly) but I am RICH in so many other ways that the money doesn’t matter.

I have a wonderful, amazing, loving husband.

I have two incredible, awesome, brilliant sons.

I have incredibly supportive and loving parents, siblings and extended family members.

I have the best and most understanding friends (both real and in the virtual world) that anyone could ask for.

I teach at a fantastic school with great colleagues, kids and their families.

You see, money can’t buy what I have. 

I AM BLESSED AND I AM HAPPY!

#tiegrad…I am so sorry I couldn’t make it work.  You are an amazing group of people and I am honoured to have been traveling this journey with you.  I wish you nothing but the best and can’t wait to celebrate with you when you finish your degrees!

Valerie…thank you for encouraging me, believing in me and teaching me.  I will be forever grateful for the faith that you have in me. I will continue to learn from you, even though it is not in a formal university program.

Advertisements

Technology and Attention

“There is a debate on whether technology is harming students attention. Do you think technology in the classroom will contribute to the deterioration of students attention OR help students attention for learning. (Please include outside sources to back up your point)”

This is a loaded question. My answer as a K/1 teacher will likely differ greatly from someone’s opinion if they teach high school. In my opinion, technology does not negatively affect my students’ attention because it is carefully monitored and controlled…by me. I choose the amount of time my students are exposed to technology and how much they use tech to enhance their education. Yes, students are able to choose tech devices to show their thinking and we do use movies and different apps to add to their learning experience in relevant content areas, but my students are not distracted by games and texting like older student might be. I try to fit in an appropriate amount of tech use while still giving my students plenty of time to learn by playing with hands on, real world materials.

In fact, I would go so far as to say my students’ attention is enhanced by technology. Their engagement in their work is extremely high when given the option to use technology vs. traditional tools such as pencil and paper. They are eager to show me their ability to manipulate the iPad to create posts for their blog or photograph their traditionally produced projects.

In a 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center for the Pew Research Internet Project, there were many differing views expressed. Many respondents were noting a negative impact on student attention and critical thinking skills because of technology use, however, this comment resonated with me:

Many survey participants said always-on connectivity to global information is a double-edged sword. Dave Rogers, managing editor of Yahoo Kids, observed that there will be winners and losers as this technology evolves. “Certainly,” he noted, “there will be some teens and young adults who will suffer cognitive difficulties from unhealthy use of the internet, Web, social media, games, and mobile technology. These problems will arise not because of the technology but because of wholly inadequate adult guidance, training, and discipline over young people’s use of the technology. But most teens and young adults will prosper as described in the first option.”

If students in my class were to be given free reign over their technology, then my opinion would be very different. Children are not yet able to self-regulate their tech use, so they are drawn to use it for an inappropriate amount of time. Tech addiction is an issue that needs to be addressed, for sure. It is still extremely important for children to learn to use pencil, crayons, paper, scissors and other traditional tools to have a well-rounded education.

In Pshychology Today, Dr. Jim Taylor writes:

What does all this mean for raising your children? The bottom line is that too much screen time and not enough other activities, such as reading, playing games, and good old unstructured and imaginative play, will result in your children having their brains wired in ways that may make them less, not more, prepared to thrive in this crazy new world of technology. (2012)

Is there a place for technology at school? Of course, but there is also a place for paint, paper, water, sand, dirt, mud, blocks, Lego and caterpillars. Technology should never be the main focus of attention in a kindergarten classroom, it should be a tool used just like a pencil or a piece of paper to demonstrate a student’s learning. Teachers must teach their students how to appropriately regulate their use of technology and in turn, hold their students to a high standard of learning that demonstrates that technology enhances what we have done in our classrooms all along.

References:

Anderson, J. and Rainie, L. (2012, Feb. 29) Main findings: Teens, technology, and human potential in 2020
Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2012/02/29/main-findings-teens-technology-and-human-potential-in-2020/

Taylor, J. (2012, Dec. 4) How Technology is Changing the Way Children Think and Focus Are your children prepared to think and focus for success in 21st century life?
Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/201212/how-technology-is-changing-the-way-children-think-and-focus

Thank You Shrek and Pinocchio

That’s it, folks. The curtain is closed, the stage is dark, and another successful musical theatre production is only but a memory. But WHAT a memory!

A year ago when we went to see the touring production of Shrek the Musical little did I know what the following months would bring. David said back then that he wanted the part of Shrek, but my goodness, what a part…Shrek is on stage for all but about 15 minutes of the 2 and a half hour show! And he has MANY powerful songs to sing. What else can a mom do, but support her son and say “GO FOR IT!”?

Matthew, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure. He wanted to be in the show but didn’t want the attention that a speaking and singing part would bring. However, the choreographer and directors had other things in mind. They wanted Pinocchio to break dance and Matt is a break dancer. He had to step up and find the confidence he lacked to bring Pinocchio to life.

I will be forever grateful to Willis Taylor (artistic director) and Allen Reynolds (musical director) who had enough faith in my boys to entrust their production to my boys’ acting, singing, dancing and leadership abilities. The opportunities that Willis and Allen gave my boys have helped them develop into the wonderful young men they are today. Yes, I think my boys are wonderful! I’m biased and I am ok with that. 😉

I even brought Shrek the Musical into my classroom. My students and I read every fairy tale associated with the show. We created portraits of all of the characters in Shrek the Musical. We learned about character, plot, setting, problems in storylines and resolutions for happy ever afters. We had a Fairy Tale Day and created a Fairy Tale Museum. I even had David and Matthew visit the school to explain the audition and rehearsal process to prepare the students for seeing the musical. My entire school dressed in green and went to the Abby Arts Center to see the show. My students made Shrek ears and tiaras to wear in the audience. My students were just as excited about the show as I was! My students even wrote thank you letters to the cast after we returned from the performance.  We immersed ourselves in the world of Shrek, Donkey, Fiona and Lord Farquaad and loved every minute of it.

I saw Shrek the Musical from the audience three times and from backstage five times. The boys and I even joked that I could step in to play a part if one of the actors was sick, I knew the show so well.  I helped out wherever I could: doing make-up, doing hair, removing green make-up (it took 1.5 hours for the make-up artist to get him into the make-up, 30 minutes for FOUR of us to take it off), washing costumes soiled with stage make-up, and just being available wherever needed…even kneeling in the orchestra pit when one of the performers had stage fright. I didn’t want to be in the way (as some stage moms can be), but wanted to be as supportive as possible. Being there for my boys, their friends and their production made for an exhausting two weeks, as I tried to keep up with university work, school work and everything else life usually entails (thanks to Shawn for keeping the house running!) but I would not have missed the experience for anything.

I appreciate being able to show my boys that I am behind them 100%, not only in words, but in actions: being a cheerleader, encourager, and sometime butt-kicker when energy and emotion was running low. These memories we created will always have a special place in my heart.

David, you were unbelievable! I was blown away by how you KILLED every single performance. You owned that stage! The way you and your buddy Zach played Shrek and Donkey is a memory I will cherish forever. I could not think of a better way for you two to end your high school acting careers.P1090393

Matthew, I am so proud of how you overcame your hesitation for taking on the role of Pinocchio! Your voice was hilarious, your dancing was awesome, and your comedic timing was impeccable. I am so glad that Mr. Taylor and Mr. Reynolds saw your talent and gave you this opportunity.

P1090394

Thank you, David and Matthew, for allowing me to be a part of this wonderful journey with you. Thank you for wanting me to be there. Thank you for all the hugs. I love you and I am blessed to be your mom!

P1090392