Inspirational Quote Of The Day

If you want to find your purpose in life, if you want to live a life full of passion, you’ve got to do YOU. No masks. No insincerity. Just you. Authentically you. Love it!

LadyRomp

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Daily Prompt: Do You Believe in Magic?

 

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.”

― J.M. BarriePeter Pan

 

If I awoke from that first baby’s laugh to find myself flitting about with little flickering wings and a glimmer of pixie dust, I’d skim across the lakes with pointed toes and sleep on petals of a yellow rose.  I’d bathe in the light of the setting sun and paint with the earths vibrant hues.  I’d dance under the glow of the moon and sing sweet songs carried on the back of the winds.  I’d whisper happy thoughts into the ears of the world’s little dreamers and give their wishes flight.  

 

And when I was feeling a little impish, I’d sneak along in shadows with a mischievous little twinkle in my eye…                                       Oh, yes, I do believe in fairies! 

 

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Daily Prompt: Do you Believe in magic 

 

 

 

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My 2013 in Review

2013It was a strange year for me. Nothing particularly amazing happened. If hard pressed for highlights, I suppose I could say:

— Participated in LeaderShape and got to work with some awesome Student Leaders!
— Went to see Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees, and NKOTB in concert
— Finalized my divorce
— Got Accepted to Non-degree status in Graduate School
— Participated in the design and implementation of a new position at work
— Started volunteering in the nursery at church
— Joined Co-curricular Committee at Work
— Attended the Residential Curriculum Institute in South Carolina
— Became a little paparazzi in NYC catching a glimpse of Orlando Bloom and cheesing with Dule Hill
–Got a 100% in my first course towards my PhD
— Received the Poopin’ Reindeer for Christmas, my invitation into the cool club.

My list isn’t particularly long, but things with work have been going well and I’ve started on my journey towards a PhD.  I’m just kind of content right now.  I’ve got this peace about where I am in life.  That’s not to say I’ve lost my drive and ambition– I have a degree to pursue and career goals to achieve– but I’m not looking back on 2013 with regrets.  And that, to me, is a good year!

Here’s to an even better one in 2014!

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The Next Generation School

 

The Daily Post asks “You get to redesign school as we know it from the ground up. Will you do away with reading, writing, and arithmetic? What skills and knowledge will your school focus on imparting to young minds?”

 

After spending a semester thinking about the way students learn today in comparison to the way they learned in the past, I’m ready to entirely revamp our school system.  We need a school system that focuses more on individual education, learning, and development rather than test scores and comparison between students, states, and countries.  Our legislation and our school districts need to support educators, giving them the funds and resources they need to do their jobs well.  Educators also need to be encouraged to continue to educate themselves, modeling the learning process to their students.  Gone are the days when teachers can learn all they need to know and turn around and teach it.  It’s no longer about retaining information; we have Google for that.  It’s about evaluating the validity and reliability of information, thinking critically about it and putting it to good use.

 

What does that mean for our classrooms? It means that we need to stop emphasizing memorization and start focusing on application.  It means more opportunities to experiment in labs instead of memorizing formulas.  It means making deeper connections to real world applications of mathematics principles.  It means using vocabulary words rather than memorizing their definitions.

 

More importantly, it means giving students the opportunity to become the investigators and the experts in the classroom.  Teachers become the facilitators of learning rather than the ones with sole responsibility for imparting knowledge.  This will likely be a tough transition as many educators are used to the hierarchical structure of the traditional classroom.

 

This change in education doesn’t devalue the core subjects, rather it places more emphasis on the use of information rather than the collection of knowledge.  Curriculum will need to change to scaffold student learning and encourage them to take ownership of the learning process.  They need the tools of today’s world– computers, tablets, smartphones, software, interactive tools– that prepare them for a life of learning.  Information in texts is quickly outdated and severely limits the scope of a students learning experience.  Furthermore, texts and lectures fail to capitalize on the collaborative, interactive nature of students learning preferences.  Before they even get to school children learn their numbers and letters through interactive toys; they learn to read and basic math through video games.  If this is the style of learning familiar to students and appreciated by them, why not take advantage of it?  Bring on the gamification of learning!

 

Gone are the days when professionals emerge from college full trained. Instead, people are constantly going back to school, taking online courses, and informally educating themselves long after their degree is earned.  The K-12 classrooms need to prepare students for their future– a future that looks much brighter for those who continue to educate themselves through their own initiative and diligence.  In order to do this, the classroom needs to be a safe place to learn, to explore, to make mistakes, to challenge ideas and to create new meaning through the evaluation and synthesis of information and experience afforded to them.

 

Spend less money on books and less time on tests.
Focus more on critical thought so students learn best!

 

 

 

 

 

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Risk Management

Image representing Seth Godin as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

 

I work in academia.  Better yet, I work in Student Affairs at an institution where there is an entire department of individuals — Risk Management– whose main function is to assess and manage potential risk.  I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about this, to be honest.  I am fairly familiar with the types of activities that would raise a red flag with that department, and I generally avoid them. It’s so much easier than trying to dance around the red tape, especially when there are suitable alternative activities that don’t require all that extra effort.  I’m not lazy; I just believe in working smarter rather than harder.

 

But risk has come up quite a bit lately, and each time it has come up, I realize more and more that I avoid risk all together.  Choosing to avoid risky situations to keep my students safe and to utilize my time and resources in the work place seems like a smart, safe decision.  But is it really smart and safe to avoid risk frequently in all aspects of life?

 

My pastor has been talking often about being “Bold for Christ.”  While this idea probably isn’t new to many Christians, it certainly struck a chord with me.  I don’t like to rock the boat.  I also find it extremely important to be accepting and inclusive.  But in the process, am I failing to be bold for Christ?  Is He not worth the risk of offending if the intention is a good one?

 

I was on the questioning side of an interview recently and the word risk was introduced in the conversation.  As one moves up in the work place, it would seem that you have greater responsibility.  Is risk another necessary piece in climbing the professional ladder?  Does an increase in responsibility by definition imply a greater level of risk?

 

And here I am reminded yet again as I sit reading Godin’s Poke the Box that our lizard brains “… relentlessly [exaggerate] the cost of being wrong.”  No one likes to be wrong.  But is being wrong really such a terrible thing?  Is it not better to try something new and risk that it may fail, for on the flip side of that same failure is triumph and success– success that wouldn’t be possible without that initial moment of risk?

 

Risk seems like such a necessary part of life when I look at it in these contexts. And yet… and yet I know that risk-taking is something outside my comfort zone and not in my nature.  I’m a true blue who prefers stability to change, assurances to risk.  So how do I know this about myself and know the value of risk and somehow reconcile those two points?

 

What are your feelings on risk? What big risks have you taken in life and to what result?

 

 

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Who Am I? Who Am I? I’m…

Well, no.  I’m not Jean Valjean, though I totally love him and the amazing musical Les Miserables.  But in the past couple of months, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about who I am.  And perhaps just as importantly, I’ve been reflecting on the way I’m being perceived by others.  For intention means little in the scheme of things when they say that perception is ninety percent of reality.

Part of this is likely due to current events in life; events that force a person to re-evaluate what is important and focus internally on what will make one’s own life better.  Lately, I’ve felt a little selfish as I’ve made decisions for /me/.   I’ve spent more time alone and doing things to take care of myself– praying more, exercising more, blogging more. Ha.  Perhaps what they say about ENFJs is true; we do tend to be hard on ourselves and feel guilty about taking time for ourselves.  It’s good to know that even while I’ve been feeling selfish for taking that time, others have been recognizing a deeper truth.

Others are at the center of my universe.  I often make choices based on how it will affect the important people in my life.  And, as I am realizing and those around me are recognizing, I look at the world through a relationship-oriented lens.  I don’t wear rose-colored glasses.  I’m not a perpetual optimist.  My glass is almost never half-full.  But I do view the world from a perspective that focuses a great deal on other people.  While it’s become more apparent, I’ve known this about myself for a long time.  What has been rewarding in these last few months is the way others are seeing those things in me, too.

I went to a training in January that focused on the concept of sustainability.  It used a game or fishing demonstration to illustrate the risk of depleting resources.  While I certainly understood the exercise, most of my contributions to the discussion post-activity centered around relationships.  When given an assignment to conserve resources, it’s easier to take a turn sacrificing when you /trust/ the others involved to do the same.  Therefore, I find it easier to practice the type of lessons learned from the activity about sustainability when working with a common group with which I already have a relationship.  When you extend this principle to the world, or even a larger group of lesser known individuals, there is a fear that sets in and a lack of trust if not a sense of distrust.  At the end of the two-hour activity, the facilitator spoke with me briefly and asked, “You brought up a lot of relationship-oriented thoughts in our discussion. Is that your lens? You seem very other-centered.”  My colleague, standing beside me, answered on my behalf “Yes. That’s totally her lens.”  Thank you, Mr. Facilitator and my Dear Colleague, for picking up what I’ve been trying to throw out into the universe.

This seems to further validate the concepts of the book The Secret or Sinek’s TED Talk, each of which I previously reflected upon in earlier blogs.  Here I am putting out these relationship-oriented, other-centered vibes.  And I’m indeed surrounded by folks who have or have-adopted similar views and offer those same warm-fuzzy vibes right back.  I supervise a staff of twelve student paraprofessionals.  Their responsibilities are many in number, often time-consuming, and occasionally quite heavy.  As their supervisor, I need to hold them accountable and make sure that they’re adequately meeting the expectations of their position.  Yes, I use excel sheets, evaluation forms, spreadsheets and other tools to help me stay organized.  But I find that there’s a great deal less worry about holding my staff accountable because there is such a positive working relationship that was established from the very beginning.  We’ve spent a good deal of time getting to know each other and learning each other’s expectations.  We’ve built enough trust that they feel comfortable telling me when they’re struggling.  This allows me to comfortably afford them extra time on tasks that are less time-sensitive.  It also allows me to more easily give them a slap on the wrist when they’re not performing to the level at which they should be without fear of how they will receive the reprimand or reminder.  So while others around the table may like to judge the way that my office is like Grand Central Station with the comings and goings of a large number of my twelve staff members, I am quite happy with the boisterous afternoons.  While occasionally distracting, I find them extremely valuable– both personally and professionally, as it is these relationships that encourage their hard work and productivity.  Oh, and of course I love to hear that they love their staff and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else! Who doesn’t love happy staffers, right?

So, what about you? How do you define yourself? And do you think other’s would describe you that way?  If not, why?

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Talk About It, Talk About It, Talk About it…

 

“If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those believe what you believe.”  — Simon Sinek

English: Simon Sinek speaking at TEDx Maastric...

So I listened to this TED Talk with Simon Sinek called “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” I need to admit now that I had a very hard time concentrating on the message about leadership– a topic I’m passionate about– because I found Simon to be an incredibly arrogant and annoying speaker.  Sorry to Sinek & his fan club; he simply rubbed me the wrong way and I spent a good bit of my time feeling irked by him rather than concentrating on the concept he was trying to share.  However, there were a few things in the talk that moved beyond my annoyance and skepticism and really struck a chord with me.  The opening statement above is one of those golden nuggets, and I found it to be worthy of serious reflection. Now, in Sinek’s talk the focus was on leadership, particularly business leadership.  His example was Apple– a successful business– and how they are able to use his concept of starting with “Why” to influence “What” you do and “How” you do it in your organization.  But for me, “If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those believe what you believe,” resonates on a much more personal level than a business model.

 

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot more about faith– particularly my own and my relationship with God.  I suppose with age, we begin to feel a little bit more comfortable in our own skin.  And it’s in adulthood that your faith begins to take on a new shape, a personal shape– one that isn’t defined by your parents’ beliefs.  Because of this, I find myself allowing my faith and beliefs to appear in casual conversation and in visible ways as I go about my life.  And as I talk more about my faith, lo and behold! I’m finding other people who share similar beliefs and want to share.

 

There are some pretty obvious connections between the TED talk and one’s professional life.  I don’t work in the business world, but much of it applies to the customer service aspect of the job that I do in Student Affairs.  It goes further than that, though.  In Student Affairs, I feel that we’re often trying to justify our positions at the University. We’re trying to prove that as staff, we’re not second-rate to faculty– no disrespect to academia and the wonderful professors and instructors out there.  We really do have a value as part of the college experience, but sometimes it’s hard to get others to buy into that truth.  Instead of explaining what we do and how we do it.  Perhaps we need to explain more about /why/ we do our jobs. After all, most of us in Student Affairs aren’t in our positions because they’re financially lucrative.  We do our jobs because we’re passionate about student development and assisting students in their experiences at college.  So if we’re driven by this passion, it should be relatively easy to articulate /why/ we do what we do.  These beliefs out to be shared. And maybe if we talk about it enough, other like-minded folks at our campuses will become our champions.

 

Like most people, I’ve been shaped into the person I am from a combination of my upbringing and my personal experiences.  I have a code of ethics and a set of values that govern the way I live my life.  They also influence how I make decisions and what I am passionate about.  If I take Sinek’s message to heart, it seems that all I need to do to find others who share my passions and the standard by which I live my life is to openly talk about it.  For someone who loves to talk… this couldn’t seem much easier!

 

So I do believe that I’ll be utilizing this blog to talk about what I believe and what’s important to me in hopes of finding other people like me!  Are you out there? What is it that /you/ are putting out into the universe?

 

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