A few weeks ago I went to a local musical production of Mary Poppins with my family. The Disney movie Mary Poppins was a childhood favorite so many songs were familiar and I found myself humming to them throughout the performance. However, there was a song that I didn't recognize called "Anything Can Happen" and it had me captivated and in tears by the song's end.
Below is an excerpt of the song's lyrics:
If you reach for the stars...all you get are the stars
but we've found a whole new spin.
If you reach for the heavens
You get the stars thrown in.
Anything can happen it's a marvel
You can be a butterfly
Or just stay larval
Stretch your mind beyond fantastic
dreams are made of strong elastic
Take some sound advice and don't forget it...
Anything can happen if you let it.
--Broadway Musical "Mary Poppins"
These lyrics really resonated with me. The stars may seem impossible to reach but, what if I stretched my mind and dreams beyond even that, and reached for the heavens...the stars would be just thrown in as extra! I am ready to stretch and grow! I am ready to dream BIG in 2018. I want to be a butterfly...no way am I staying larval!
I've spent time this past week reflecting on 2017 and planning for the year ahead. (Click HERE to read my post about the #oneword I chose and my action plan) I recently read an awesome book called 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done by author Peter Bregman. He had some awesome advice that really allowed me to focus on the things that matters most to me in 2018.
WHERE ARE YOU?
His first words of advice were to slow down, pause, and stop to reset. He encourages to look above your current situation to see things as they really are; beyond what you expect them to be. Once you've done that, expand how you view yourself to see your extraordinary potential not settling for being less than who you are. This week I escaped for a few days for some solitude. There is something special that happens when you can get away from all distractions. I was really able to focus on what truly matters most. It was just what I needed to see where I was at and where I dream to go. You can read about it in my Rest. Relax. Recharge. post.
WHAT IS THIS YEAR ABOUT?
The next step is to find your focus for the year by looking at these 4 elements:
PLAN YOUR DAY!
The book discusses an 18-minute plan for managing your day. It breaks down like this:
Morning ( 5 minutes)
Take 5 minutes at the beginning of your day to sit down with your to-do list. Decide what will help further your year's focus as well as feel successful and productive. . Move those things off your "to-do" list and onto your calendar with a time.
Refocus. (1 minute every hour of work day)
Take time each hour to refocus by interrupting yourself with a bell. Set your watch to vibrate or ring on the hour to keep yourself focused. When you get the alert, take a deep breath and ask yourself if the last hour was productive. This will allow you to own the hours rather than the hours owning you.
Evening: (5 minutes)
At the end of the day, ask yourself these questions:
Here are some suggestions Peter Bregman gives to stay focused on your to-do items:
I found 18 Minutes to be a insporational book with a lot of great ideas to help you focus on the things most important to you in the year ahead. "Anybody can do anything as long as 3 conditions exist: You want to achieve it! You believe you can achieve it! You enjoy trying to achieve it!", says Bregman. I am committed to being laser focused on my #oneword this year! I am reaching for the heavens and expecting the stars to be thrown in because...
ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!
This past Fall I was traveling solo to a conference in a city I had not visited before. It had been a long day and as I wearily approached the front desk at the hotel I was staying at, I was greeted by the desk clerk with an infectious smile and a warm welcome. He immediately asked how my day was in a manner that was genuine. Why did this surprise me? Isn't this the greeting you would expect from the hospitality industry? It was all in the manner in which it was given. It wasn't a forced smile or a routine, "How are you?" It was real and I felt it. It didn't end there. With a flick of the wrist he revealed a fanned out hand of playing cards and enthusiastically asked, "Would you like to see some magic?!" Little did this guy know who he was talking to! My reply, "Heck yes, I'm ready for some magic!" Immediately, my fatique was replaced by a burst of energy as I waited eagerly for this kind man to entertain me with his card trick. I was captivated as he performed his trick with skillful sleight of hand and magically revealed the card that I had secretly identified at the beginning. Wow! I was amazed! After the magic trick, he asked if there was anything else I needed to make my stay more comfortable and he had me on my way with my key and wifi password. Within minutes a weary traveler went from exhausted to energized all because of someone's hospitality and passion for his work.
Hospitality is defined as, "the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers." In the book Setting The Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business author Danny Meyer states, "Virtually nothing else is as important as how one is made to feel in any business transaction. Hospitality exists when you believe the other person is on your side." In this business transaction, I definitely was made to feel like the desk clerk was on my side. He was skillful at making me feel a range of emotions within a very short amount of time: laughter, curiosity, comfort, excitement, and joy. I left the front desk knowing that he was on my side; he would ensure that my stay was enjoyable. Now THAT is hospitality at it's finest!
As I reflected on the hospitality I received during my stay, it made me think about the importance of hospitality in our schools. How do our students feel when they enter? Do they believe we are on their side? How different would our schools be if students were all greeted with as warm and memorable of a welcome as I did checking into a hotel?
The following three elements characterize the hospitality I encountered during my hotel stay. Let's look at each and think about how they could translate to our classrooms:
Warm Welcome. He greeted me with a smile and a "How are you?" that was enthusiastic and genuine. I felt that he truly meant it. Our students recognize the authenticity of our interactions. They can see through fake smiles and forced "How are you's?". How are we greeting our students when they come into our classrooms? Are we welcoming students with excited and genuine smiles or are we pre-occupied with other tasks?
Entertaining Hook. After making me feel welcomed, the desk clerk surprised me by revealing a handful of cards and asking if I wanted to see a magic trick. It was unexpected and I was immediately intrigued and excited to participate. In Teach Like a Pirate, author Dave Burgess shares multiple presentation strategies designed to hook students and draw them into your lesson. This guy had his presentation strategy down! I was hooked! What hooks could you use in your lesson to engage students and get them fired up about learning? I highly recommend reading Teach Like a Pirate for a plethora of ideas to draw students into your content. This book has made a tremendous impact on my teaching practice.
Passion and Enthusiasm: Not only was I hooked with the entertaining magic trick, he did it with enthusiasm and passion! The desk clerk tapped into something he was passionate about and brought it into his work. Dave Burgess says, "Bringing your personal passion to the classroom empowers you to create a more powerful lesson because you are teaching from an area of strength". Magic was definitely one of his strengths! By bringing something he was passionate about into his everyday interactions he was empowered to create a powerful experience for me! Is there something that you are passionate about that you could incorporate into the classroom to bring excitement and a powerful experience for your students?
Though this experience took place a few months ago, it is a memory that will stick with me for a long time because of the hospitality I received. The desk clerk that I encountered that day brought the magic with a warm welcome, an entertaining hook, and a large dose of passion and enthusiasm! Our kids deserve our finest service. There is so much we can learn from the hospitality industry. How are we creating classrooms where students not only feel welcomed, but that we are on their side? Let's make every interaction count so that all students can experience the magic of hospitality!
The gift of time and solitude…it’s a beautiful thing. These past few weeks I’ve had the time, but the solitude is hard to come by. Our small home feels even smaller with three dogs, a teenage boy, a college daughter (home for the holidays), and a husband all occupying the space. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love being all together. Our home is full of life, laughter, and joy. I’ve treasured relaxed family meals, game and movie nights, family outings, and lounging around in our PJ’s by the fire on lazy mornings. However, finding moments that are still, quiet, and distraction free are hard to come by. When I let our dogs outside, they scratch on the windows. When I let the dogs in, they are jumping on me wanting attention. My husband and son are either beatboxing or have the TV blaring. My daughter….well, she’s not the issue. Ha! All that to say, I’ve been craving some solitude.
Knowing this, my amazing husband did a magnificent thing for me this week. He arranged for me to spend a few days away so I could have some alone time with me, myself, and I. It was heavenly. I packed my overnight bag and checked into my parents house (they weren’t there) for 2 days and 1 night. During my stay, I took time to reflect on my year, write out my 2018 goals and action steps, and write. I took bubble baths, read, slept in, went on a long walk, and had time to think. It was truly just what I needed to rest, relax, and recharge.
I know it is not easy for everyone to get this time. Life is full and busy with lots commitments that make finding solitude difficult. It’s sometimes hard for us to slow down and prioritize time to rest and recharge even when we do have it. We push, push, push and go, go, go, because that’s just what we do. We have a little time off and it quickly fills with catching up with friends and loved ones, planning for the next unit we’re teaching when we return, deep cleaning the house, putting up Christmas decorations, taking down Christmas decorations….you get my point. Resting and recharging (taking care of us) falls to the end of the list. Although, how much more will be able to give and care for those we love and serve if we make the time to refuel. When we are running on empty everyone suffers…especially us.
With our holiday breaks coming to an end before we know it, let me give you permission to rest. Take some time, even if it’s an hour or two, to find solitude...complete solitude. Read, write, take a bubble bath, set goals, choose your “one word”, make resolutions, it's up to you as long as it fills you up and allows you to rest, relax, and recharge. Take care of you so when the ball drops on New Year’s Eve you’ll be refreshed and ready to CRUSH 2018!
When I think about my journey as an educator, it has been full of exhilarating highs and heartbreaking lows. When you're passionate and invest yourself wholeheartedly in what you do, that's what happens. You're all in. You pour your heart and soul into each student that you serve. It's a relentless pursuit to create the best possible experience for each kid that walks through your door.
My passion for education, is a fire that burns within me. If I can just spark the love of learning in my students than if fed with more fuel, it will get bigger and bigger until it becomes a flame. It can't stop with my students though. I know that there are many students that I can't reach and many subjects that I can't teach. My desire is that teachers everywhere will have the same fire for education. The same desire to make their classrooms a place where learning comes alive and is filled with the magic.
Quite some time ago I heard author of Teach Like a Pirate, Dave Burgess say a phrase that always has stuck with me. "Amplify Your Impact". These words have played in my head many times as I've taken leaps of courage in my educational journey these past few years. Today I ran across a post I wrote in December of 2016: "Don't Step...Leap" When I read my reflections from a year a go, I'm blown away by how much has happened and how much I've grown! As the new year is quickly approaching, I am reflecting on the amazing opportunities that I've been given to share my heart, my passion....my story. With each opportunity I've been given a chance to ignite a spark, kindle a flame, or fuel a fire. Wow! This is so exciting to me; an honor and responsibility I don't take lightly. I don't want to waste one single chance to make a difference; to amplify my impact!
So how am I going to do this? You see, New Year's resolutions are not really my thing. I've made them, but I'm not the best at keeping them. The "One Word" approach of choosing a word that is a driving force for the year, rather than creating a list of resolutions is a bit more my style. However, in year's past I've settled on "a word" for the year, but never really had an action plan to set the word in motion.
This year my word is "AMPLIFY" and I am determined to be intentional about putting this word to action. I was pondering this concept when I ran across a planner at a local gift shop. I've always struggled finding a planner that fits my complicated brain, but the name of this one stopped me in my tracks. The Porpoise Planner: A Year of Inspiration and Action. I like the sound of this! The planner is designed to be a self-mentoring tool that gives you exercises to decide on your big dreams for the year and helps you break them down into action steps.
It gives you space to:
1. Define Your Goals
The planner has monthly spreads to plot each month at a glance so you can define longer-term objectives. It gives a space to write:
It also gives a weekly spread to help with your daily tasks. It gives space for to-do lists, top goals, and scheduled events. The idea is to start each week by identifying major objectives, upcoming highlights, and challenges. You begin every morning by filling out your goals, to-do's, and jotting down what you're grateful for. It also gives space to reflect at the end of the week on your successes, setbacks, and how to make the next week great.
I have lots of dreams to reach and goals to crush in 2018. I'm hoping that by putting my "one word" to action I will truly be able to...
AMPLIFY MY IMPACT!
I came across this quote the other day as I was completing my holiday shopping and it struck me. How often do I miss the magic in the day to day? Do I truly watch the world around me with glittering eyes or am I too hurried, consumed, and pre-occupied to notice? As I am enjoying the slower pace of Winter Break, I am trying to be intentional about viewing the world through glittering eyes and experiencing the magic of life.
Yesterday, the girls in my family went to a local musical production of Mary Poppins. I sat in childlike wonder as the stage magically came to life with singing, dancing, beautiful costumes and special effects. Throughout the production, I continued to glance over at my 6 year old niece who was mesmerized in every scene. Her eyes were glittering. She reminded me of a young Tisha watching it on the movie screen for the first time. You see, Mary Poppins was my very favorite movie growing up. As a child I would listen to the soundtrack on a record over and over again memorizing the words to the songs. I have memories of hanging upside down on our backyard jungle gym saying "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" over and over again until I was able to speak it fluidly. It didn't stop there. Once I'd mastered learning how to say it, I then learned how to say and spell it backwards as well. It's so funny to think back on this now. I was captivated by the movie's magic and wanted to bring that magic into my own life by learning everything I could about it.
This is the kind of magic I want my students to feel when they learn in my classroom. I want their eyes to glitter with anticipation and wonder. I want them to go home and take the learning farther by practicing the cooking methods; adding their own special twists, and creative touches. I'd hope that they would then share their learning with others by serving their creations to their family and friends. But, I don't want it to stop there. I want that experience to lead into another and another. The magic of learning shouldn't ever end.
We can be intentional about creating magical experiences for our students just as the amazing cast of Mary Poppins did. There is magic all around us if we truly look; it's all about perspective. Do we hurry through life focusing on the the "to-do's", the missed opportunities, our failures & regrets, our stress & lack of time. Or, do we choose to look with glittering eyes at the magic that surrounds us? We can learn so much from the daily interactions with those that we encounter and life's every day happenings when we choose to.
When you step foot into a Dollar Tree store do you see low-priced merchandise or amazing props and ideas to make your classroom come to life?
When you go on a walk do you truly notice the beauty of your surroundings and think about how you could bring your kids outdoors to experience it, or how to bring nature inside?
When you watch television do you think about how you could layer those themes over your curriculum to make your content come to life?
What about visiting your local businesses? Do you establish relationships and invite them into your classroom?
How many great secrets are we missing by not paying attention? How many missed opportunities have passed us by? In Mary Poppins, Bert sensed that something was brewing and about to begin. He was paying attention to the world around him. He was looking with glittering eyes at the magic of life? The greatest secrets are hidden in the most unlikely places. Do you believe in magic? I do, and I'm on the hunt to find it. Who's joining me?
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.