Okay, so I’m a cryer. To all that know me, you can verify this as truth. I will agree that I am a highly sensitive, emotional soul, that wears my heart on my sleeve. Though there have been many times in my life (even recently) that I have wished I could trade those traits in for another two that were a little easier to live with, it is part of what makes me who I am. I own it.
I have come to appreciate the rare qualities these traits possess and I have come to find, contrary to popular belief, there is a powerful strength that comes with them as well. Many people associate sensitivity and emotions with fragility and weakness, but I have found the opposite to be true.
The sensitive person has a fierce inner strength that allows them to weather life’s storms with incredible tenacity for a variety of reasons. Being sensitive is hard. We feel deeply. We love deeply. We fall hard. When you feel this level of emotion throughout your life, you develop a special resolve. Each life experience is woven into an intricate web of strength that can’t easily be broken.
While some people are fearful of exhibiting emotion in public, the sensitive person embraces it. We’ve had a lifetime of experience crying, so why hide it. We acknowledge and comprehend our emotion giving us the courage to let the tears flow in front of others. This ability to express emotion allows us to not only stand strong, but thrive in the face of adversity. When you understand your emotions and what drives them, you develop a strong sense of self and confidence that allows you to lead and inspire others. This self awareness allows us to be honest with ourselves and others as well as learn and develop our unique skills throughout life’s experiences.
The sensitive person is good at putting ourselves in others’ shoes. We listen for understanding and without judgement. We are authentic and open-minded valuing differing perspectives. Because we have a highly developed intuition we are able to better understand what is happening in any given situation. In an emotional moment our view may be cloudy, but after the clouds move away our view becomes crystal clear and we are able to handle the issues at hand. Additionally, the sensitive person understands the strengths and weaknesses we possess and are less critical of others. This is a powerful leadership trait gives the sensitive person special abilities to collaborate and communicate with others effectively.
People who cry easily, often laugh easily too. Though negative emotions are felt easily, so are the positive ones. The sensitive person tends to be spreaders of positivity and encouragement because those feelings are much more enjoyable to experience than those of negativity and discouragement. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We are able to laugh at our mistakes which allows us to keep things in perspective. We love spreading joy, not sadness.
Don’t underestimate the strength of the sensitive soul.
We are sensitive, but we are strong.
We are fierce, passionate, and purposeful.
We are fighters.
We are overcomers.
We love with all of our being.
In my last post, I shared how I've launched an Innovation Team made up of "Spark Starters" from each school in our district. I am incredibly excited about this magical team and the sparks that are already being ignited.
Building meaningful relationships from the beginning is really important to me. It was always a priority as a teacher, and I know it must be a priority in this role as well. Being the only Tech Integration Specialist in my district, I have a lot of area to cover since my Spark Starters are from 19 different schools covering a wide area. A dear friend and colleague of mine, Jenni Jones @jennijonestech, was chatting with me the other night about how we needed to collect our "greatest success" moments this year with all the new adventures we are beginning. That's when my friend Jenni had an idea to create a jar to collect them that we can reflect back on. I loved this idea so much that another lightbulb moment happened! What if I create jars for each of the "Spark Starters" to collect "Daily Spark" moments?! I could deliver them when I visit each of them this month at their schools!
DAILY SPARK JAR ASSEMBLY
With a plan developing in my head, my colleague and I hurried off to Walmart on the hunt for a few items for our jars:
Now for assembly. I cut the cardstock using a paper cutter into small rectangles and tied 30 pieces together with twine. I wrote a message on cardstock with the following instructions:
If I was to do this again, I would type out these instructions and then print them to save time. Live and learn. On one side of the tags, I wrote "Daily Sparks" and on the other side I wrote a quote:
To put them together, I placed the cardstock bundle, pen, and instructions in each (threw in a Make Learning Magical sticker too). I screwed on the lid and tied the tag around the top with twine.
DAILY SPARK JAR READY FOR DELIVERY!
The best part of this process was delivering them! I absolutely loved the adventure of driving to schools and finding each Spark Starter's classroom. It was a wonderful way to see them in their element and in many cases meet them for the first time. They were so sweet and appreciative and it brought so much joy to my heart to be able to give this gift of love and appreciation for accepting my invitation to be on our Innovation Team! I can’t wait for these jars to fill with “spark moments” as we ignite innovation this year!
For the first time in 22 years I am starting the school year without a classroom or students. I've experienced a myriad of emotions throughout this transition, but what gets me fired up about my new role as Tech Integration Specialist is the opportunity to ignite innovation in my district. The past four years have been a whirlwind for me and the most epic adventure as I've embraced innovation and discovered how it can open up amazing possibilities for growth and student learning. My journey has been so transformational that I can't help but share my passion for making learning magical with others.
CALLING ALL SPARK STARTERS!
One of the very first things I did as Tech Integration Specialist happened 3 months before my new role officially started. After sharing my plan for igniting innovation in our district with my administrator, I asked for 10 minutes at our district's last Admin Council meeting of the year to share my vision and ask for their assistance. I handed out a card to each principal with room for them to write two educators in their school that they would consider to be a "Spark Starter". I told them I wasn't looking for the most tech savvy, but rather someone who had the following attributes:
The Courageous-takes leaps in their learning.
The Encouraging-Builds up those around them.
The Sunshine Spreaders-Lights up a room with positivity.
The Innovators-Likes to create new ideas or ways of doing things.
This team of "Spark Starters" will meet monthly after school for 1 1/2 hours for a fun-engaging time of learning and collaboration. I will also be visiting each "Spark Starter" monthly in their classrooms to help support them with the innovative things they are doing. My vision is that having "sparks" in each school will ignite other sparks and soon we will have a district on fire for innovation.
RALLYING THE TROOPS!
Once I collected the cards, I sent out an email the next day with an invite to all of the identified "Spark Starters" to join our Innovation Team with a link to fill out a Google Form. It was the last day of the school year, so I knew I may not get a ton of responses, but wanted it to at least go out before we went into summer.
We have 19 schools in our district, so I sent out approximately 38 invites. I had about one quarter of those invited onto the team respond, so I sent out the email invite again in August before school started followed by a personal phone call a week later to all those who I had not heard from. The phone calls took about 3 hours, but were so worth it. I was able to share my passion and make a personal connection with each one. Additionally, I was able to personally invite them to our half hour Innovation Team Meet & Greet during inservice week.
Out of 38 invites, I am starting out a team of 30 excited Spark Starters with at least one representative from each school in our district! We had an amazing kick-off and now I can't wait to see what sparks of innovation are ignited this school year!
Our innovation adventures have just begun!
I have always had a vivid imagination. I remember the first time someone told me that they rarely dream and never in color, I was shook. I had never even fathomed that being a possibility since I dream nightly and always in vibrant color. I was similarly perplexed when I realized that not everyone pictures the months of the year as race track oval with January at one turn and July on it’s direct opposite. My mind and imagination have always been extremely active, which I find to be a blessing and a curse. It’s like I have a million light bulbs flickering in my brain at all times, but not all of them turn all the way on. However, when they all turn on at the same time it radiates a beautiful and brilliant light.
Though having a vivid imagination has its perks, it can also easily run in a negative direction. Instead of those light bulbs flickering on to produce light, they all flicker out to produce a darkness that brings me to a very negative place. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to navigate this world where my imagination runs wild. Over time I've found that people with these traits are often considered to be highly sensitive in nature. My mom, wired very similarly, recognized my highly sensitive qualities as a young child and provided me with a nurturing supportive environment where I could thrive. However, sometimes my senses spiral out of control and I have to reflect on all the traits of a highly sensitive person that are beneficial.
BENEFITS OF BEING HIGHLY SENSITIVE
Author of Highly Sensitive People Going Strong, Josephine T. Lewis, breaks down the benefits of being highly sensitive into these nine qualities that I've summarized below.
Creativity: Senses are always on overdrive, so the brain is continuously being flooded by information overload. Due to the mind processing this information in a different way than most others, the perspective of a situation has the potential for turning into a brilliant idea.
Health: Tend to have faster reflexes, and are more acutely aware of changes in the body and are less likely to use stimulants such as coffee because the senses are always awake. (Note to self...maybe I should quit my coffee addiction...yikes!)
Sense of Self: High attention to detail, so have a better understanding of self and what life goals to pursue.
Sense of Pleasure: More intense experience with new discoveries such as a new movie, song, or hobby which could be linked to higher dopamine levels in the brain. More motivated and determined to achieve goals, because you know what you love.
Vivid and Emotional Dreams: Dreams are intense and vivid and often correlate to emotional areas in life. Also, it is easier to recall dream’s details and reflect your life and subconscious.
Compassion and Kindness: Have a better sense of your own feelings and the feeling of others. You have a huge heart and a good grasp on what could hurt others. Kindness is given freely and compassion is deep.
Intuition: Are able to piece together details that are often overlooked, allowing you to predict how things may play out in future. You are able to feel the energy in a room and have a great sense of situations. It’s like you have a sixth sense.
Sense of Nature: Often the first to notice subtle changes in weather. Can literally sense when a storm is brewing. You also feel more pleasure from nature and influenced and calmed by being out in it.
Hard Workers: Extremely determined and motivated, you are prone to be a perfectionist. Your acute attention to detail compels you to complete tasks thoroughly and diligently.
QUALITIES OF THE HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON
In our world of education we encounter highly sensitive children and adults everyday, but may not completely understand how they perceive and process the world around them. I’ve listed a few of the common qualities of sensitivity as characterized by Dr. Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person:
WHAT I'VE LEARNED ABOUT ME...
Here are some things that I have learned about myself in order to fully appreciate my personality.
Surround myself with positivity: Though we don’t always have a choice about everyone who enters our world on a daily basis, we can still be intentional about creating a network of positive people that inspire, support, and encourage. Reaching out to those personal and professional networks can bring sunshine into my life on the gloomiest of days. I also have learned to let go of people in my professional or personal life that are toxic and sappers of joy. It’s so hard, but sometimes necessary.
It’s not all about me: Because of my sensitivity to fluctuations in moods and emotions, I can easily let other people’s moods affect mine if I’m not careful and let it sap my energy. I have to stop myself in my tracks sometimes and realize that their moods or emotions often having nothing to do with me. Taking the time to show empathy and truly understand what is going on, can shift my self-centered focus.
Focus on what is true: It is easy for me to read into a comment whether it is in a text, email, or DM, and let my imagination run in a direction that is simply false. I struggle with this. When people leave me on “read”, or don’t respond with the same punctuation as I might use, it is easy for me to jump to conclusions and before long my mood can plummet from joy to despair. When this happens, I need to stop and focus on what I know to be true and stop my imagination from getting the best of me. The way I react or respond isn’t how everyone does.
Find time to feed my soul: I often find that when my mind spirals out of control, I am tired or overstressed. Taking time to do something that I love brings me peace and solitude and can help me decompress or recenter my focus. Walking, reading, praying, writing, or drawing are activities I turn to when I need to retreat. In fact, that is exactly what I’m doing by writing this post. I have a “to do” list a mile long, but I was not in the right frame of mind to tackle it, so knew I needed to feed my soul and write. Often in these moments, all my light bulbs flicker on and my best ideas are born. Sometimes, all I need is sleep. When I start feeling emotional about silly things I have learned to stop everything and just go to bed. Often times I feel much better in the morning.
EMBRACE THE MAGIC OF YOU!
Because my sensitivity can be so draining at times, sometimes I forget that the qualities I possess can be a gift to others. When I focus on my sensitivity as a strength and not a weakness, I can bring brilliant color to the world around me. Whether or not you possess the qualities of a highly sensitive person, you are made up of amazing characteristics that make you uniquely you! Embrace them, develop them and sprinkle your magic on this world.
Sketchnotes have changed the way students take notes in my culinary classroom. It’s been a powerful shift as students have come to understand the power of connecting their text to images and making their learning meaningful. In Culinary Arts it has been especially powerful when giving food demonstrations. As students observe the steps to the culinary and baking methods, they make connections to the terminology and ingredients being discussed by drawing the images and text on paper or a digital app like Paper53. In an elective class, this form of visual notetaking has been especially helpful as my students have a wide range of educational needs.
At the end of the demonstration, students have a recipe sketch that they can refer to when they transition to their culinary kitchens to practice what had been demonstrated. The beauty of these recipe sketches, is that they can use them to reflect, study, and can continue adding to them as they practice the methods themselves. Some have found as I have, that adding color, text, and images after the initial sketch helps further cement the learning.
Students enjoy this visual note taking method so much that I decided it would be awesome to create a Culinary Mission aka Side Quest (for my gamification friends) where students create their own recipe incorporating any of the methods learned about in the unit and turn it into a recipe sketch. I announced the mission and posted it on Google Classroom. Students could choose to accept or decline this mission, and as I do with all of my Culinary Missions, included an expiration date and time. (expiration dates sounds more exciting than due dates and giving a time like “midnight” sounds cooler too.) Students who completed the mission in time earned 1000 XP. Not everyone accepted the mission, but those who did had a blast creating their own recipes and sharing it in the form of a recipe sketch.
This month, as I was scrolling Twitter I saw my friend Stefanie Crawford post this:
Inspired by Michael Matera and Carrie Baughcum and their #five4five challenges, Stefanie Crawford decided to join in with 5 days of recipe sketches. Monica Spillman joined in the fun too and even created a digital deck for ebook of all the recipe sketches being created! She took it to another level and called them #sketchipes. WHAT?! Genius...why hadn't I thought of that! Click HERE to view this beautiful Sketchipe book.
Being the lover of all things culinary, challenges, and sketchnotes, I couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by... I had to create a sketchipe too!
Taking part in this fun challenge made me reflect on how powerful this activity was with students and inspired me to think of other ways to take it to the next level. How fun would it be to compile all of my student's sketchipes in a digital collection as Monica shared and have students share out on Twitter! Even better, what about launching a global #sketchipe challenge with culinary classes from across the world and create a digital collection on Padlet, Book Creator, or Google Slides! So many possibilities!
Want to give #sketchipes a try?! Please post on Twitter and tag me (@tishrich) on your creations Also tag, @MrsCford_tweets, @mospillman, and @heckawesome and @mrmatera! In fact, make sure you are following them....they all ROCK!
Have any other ideas for incorporating #sketchnotes or #sketchipes into the classroom? Please share! We are all #BetterTogether.
Learn more about how I've used #sketchnoting in my class here:
Introducing Sketchnoting to Students
Hooked on Sketchnoting
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon, passionate about finding innovative ways to make learning MAGICAL for students!