The Power of Words

This link has been shared online for a while now, and I think it has a powerful message. Our choice of words is critical in expressing our thoughts and feelings, and also in the way we communicate to others. This does emphasize how, when we choose our words carefully, the impact they can have. I think it is a good example of being mindful of the way we express ourselves. What do you think? Do the words we use in our conversations with our own children and our students have an impact we may not realize?

Facts or Faith

It is faith that moves mountains, not facts. Facts do not give birth to faith. Faith needs a story to sustain it – a meaningful story that inspires belief in you and renews hope that your ideas do indeed offer what you promised. Genuine influence goes deeper than getting people to do what you want them to do. It means people pick up where you left off because they believe.

Annette Simmons

I found this quote in a book I am reading and as I have thought about it quite a bit over the past week I believe it has implications for all us in the cohorts as we move forward with our culminating projects. I have more questions than answers, as usual and here are some thoughts as a result.

Do we begin to look at professional learning as a leap of faith for those who resist pedagogical changes in classrooms especially if it involves the use of technology? In the above quote a this stands out for me  – a meaningful story that inspires belief that our ideas do indeed offer what is promised.

How often when professional learning is offered is it presented as a how to, not a why to? Would having a story to tell around the why be helpful? Incorporating our story of the tool, our story of our own changes as a result of use, and our students, help to instill faith – influence people enough to believe what we are asking is worth a try?

We want them to pick up where we leave off, do we need to change our approach to incorporate meaningful stories to inspire belief?

Image Source: Flickr user kodomut

Cranes for Japan

DoSomething.org has teamed up with Students Rebuild – Paper Cranes for Japan, to raise money for the crisis in Japan. I am writing about this today because we talk of collective action during the year, bringing people together, students in particular to work for the greater good of something. This project, is wonderful because students do not need a car, solicit donations, or depend on an adult to be involved and understand they can make a difference in the world.

According to legend, anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes, which are sacred creatures in Japanese culture, will be granted a wish by a crane. With a goal to collect 100,000 origami cranes from young people to represent wishes of support and healing, the challenge hopes to raise $200,000 for the reconstruction of a youth facility by the Japanese team from Architecture for Humanity.

Students will be able to follow the efforts of Architecture for Humanity on their web site to see how their donations are being used in the rebuilding effort. And after 100,000 cranes are submitted, they will be turned into a woven art installation – a symbolic gift from students around the world to their Japanese counterparts.

On the student rebuild page there are links to a video tutorial on how to make the cranes, and also instructions how to request mailing labels for the cranes and where to send them.

Image Source Ellis Aquarius Powell

Birthday Celebration

Yesterday we celebrated our granddaughter’s third birthday, time certainly does go by quickly, at least for me! Here are some fun facts my daughter wrote about her on the family blog. A little peak into our precious little girl.

  • She is a chatterbox, basically talking all day long. She also likes to make sure that you are hanging on her every word, by repeating herself until you acknowledge EVERYTHING that she’s said.
  • She is a constant ball of energy.
  • Her favorite color is pink.
  • She loves to sing and dance.
  • When she dances or plays any kind of musical instrument she closes her eyes and sways from side to side, so we affectionately call her “Ray”.
  • Her favorite restaurant is Moe’s.
  • She loves Dora and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
  • She has a memory like an elephant…I am constantly amazed at the little details she remembers.
  • She LOVES her Daddy and tells everyone that she’s Daddy’s girl.
  • She has strong opinions and isn’t afraid to tell you what she wants.
  • She loves her little brother and always wants to know where he is and what he’s doing.
  • Although she had a traumatic start, she is a daily reminder of God’s goodness.
  • We love her to pieces!

Thoughts on Mindset

I recently read Carol Dweck’s book Mindset and want to share some key points and also get your views.
For those of you who are not familiar, Carol Dweck has a Ph.D. from Yale University, is a professor at Stanford University and a social psychologist. Her book and her work centers around theories of intelligence.  Fixed mindset and growth mindset, nature vs nurture.

In the first few pages of the book she discusses her own beliefs as she started her career in psychology. Prior to her research she believed human qualities were innate, carved in stone. Children are born “gifted”, have “natural talents”, one was smart or they were not, and failure meant you were not smart, it was that simple. This is the description of a “fixed” mindset: a belief in nature, the way you are born is the way you will always be.  Believing your qualities are set in stone, creates an urgency to prove yourself, over and over. When we praise children as being smart or brilliant, we boost their their sense of self and they like it, we all do, and don’t want to loose it.  In so doing, we don’t offer reasons why we believe they are smart, just that they are. Those with fixed mindsets begin to evaluate situations based upon whether they will look smart, whether they will be deemed a winner or a looser, and this may instill a sense of insecurity.  They feel they have to continue to prove they are smart. If they come across something that doesn’t come naturally to them, what happens? Avoidance of the situation, being uncomfortable knowing they may not appear smart.

Growth mindset emphasizes nurture, emphasis is placed on effort and hard work, not simply praised for being smart but why someone thinks they are smart. They are praised for time spent learning something of interest to them, praised for the questions they asked as they were digging deepre, the process they used in tracking down information or constructing something physical.  Those with growth mindset know how to create the outcome they are striving for, challenges are viewed as a good thing, because they feel confident through their perseverance and hard work, they have the ability to succeed, and they believe this about themselves. They enjoy learning, figuring out the answers, asking more questions, because they are not viewing situations as win or lose.

Is it important for adults to understand their own mindset and how it may influence our interactions with others, whether this is at home, in the work place? Whichever mindset you have, isn’t this the lens through which you view all others, all situations?  Can we change our mindsets, would you want to?

I really enjoyed this book, it has given me a lot to think about.

Gaping VoidAmazing


BelieveInTheFutureI saw this great image on Huge MacLeod’s GapingVoid and wanted to share it and ask how do you create the future you hope to see / believe in? Whether it is at home or where you work, do your beliefs / actions contribute to what you hope to be?

Limits We Set

Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about inhibition, what inhibits people from speaking up, sharing what they think, and why, especially in writing.  I find it somewhat ironic in respect to what we ask of students in our classrooms and I would venture to guess of our own children. We encourage them to voice their opinions, not to be a follower, stand up for themselves, take a risk, go out on a limb to contribute in life and in their classes. Yet, when we are asked to do the same with our colleagues we freeze, opt out, find a reason we have nothing worth contributing or say others have already said what we were thinking so we have nothing to add.  In essence we don’t do a good job of modeling what we ask of others.

Inhibitions are self- imposed, internal limits we set, why do we do it?
Why do we limit ourselves, what drives our reluctance to speak, act, and share? I know inhibitions are our defense against criticism; we don’t want to give others the opportunity to disagree, but why? Our inhibitions limit our thinking and without thinking we become stagnant, complacent. Aren’t our thoughts and ideas worth the risk, don’t we grow and gain confidence in who we are and what we believe through our interactions?  As Chris Lehmann has said “what is the worst consequence of your best idea?” Is it that someone will disagree and you will have to defend your thoughts, what is wrong with that? Through challenge and reflection we have the opportunity to examine what we hold dear, and through those same conversations we may be swayed to look at something from a different perspective, which may cause us to change our thinking, learning together, again what is so bad about that?
We give our students grades for participation, how we would grade ourselves?  Isn’t it time we begin to let go of our internal limits, begin talking, sharing ideas, and understand through ongoing dialogue we develop and are more apt to become the people we truly want to be? I know I am ready.

Flickr Source Melanie Milliken