A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A time for reflection

It's hard to communicate the level of overload that I feel, 2-1/2 weeks into the summer. Intellectually and by training, I know that the trick to overcoming feelings of overload is simple. As Tony Robbins would say in a deep, breathy voice, "All you've got to do is chunk it down."

A major source of overload is the amount of clutter I have accumulated, having put aside worries about what to do with all my stuff in an effort to focus on tasks right in front of me. In a sense, my clutter has caught up to me like the blob from some 1960's horror flick. Another source of overload is a feeling that I am running out of time, but with Summer School starting next Monday, that feeling will diminish once I have a class of students in front of me.

If I discipline myself to chunk it down, I won't feel guilty about finishing the other cedar chest that I started building so many years ago. I won't feel like I'm leaving some critical thing undone as I finish the cabinets that just need a few weeks of finishing work. Yesterday, I used my router to cut a groove for the piano hinge on the cedar chest. I sanded using 50 grit. I then used hundred grit sandpaper. The next time I work on it, I will work from 150 grit to to 220 grit, to a final 0000 steel wool as I apply Watco. I need to feel like I've accomplished something.

I am excited about a desktop Task Manager, gTasks HD, which integrates nicely with Google Tasks. It's under $5.00 on Microsoft's online app store. A great feature of gTasks HD is that tasks can be scheduled to 5 minute increments. In conjunction with Google Tasks, the app also generates smart phone notifications. Thus, notifications are forever popping up on my smart phone, and I am constantly moving tasks around, changing dates, times, etc. I like the All lists view, which provides an overview, the same way that gTasks provides on my smart phone.

Assessment is probably the area where I most need to grow as a teacher, which I realized when putting together my Value Added Spreadsheet after the fact. I need to be able to communicate to students more quickly and more specifically where they are and where they are falling short. That's, in short, the purpose of the Value Added Spreadsheet, which I unfortunately scrambled to put together after the fact.

Everybody needs feedback. Receiving timely and specific feedback is key to becoming intelligently responsive and making smart adjustments. One of the things that flashes into my mind is Tony Robbin's description of how Coach John Wooden could tell you what every player he ever coached did and what he did to help his players do in every practice he ever coached. With John Wooden as an inspiration, to help keep score, I put together a Google Doc that I shared with my son Joe that has three columns: Affirmations, Achievements, and Adjustments.

Joe wants to be a varsity baseball player, so the affirmation is "I am a varsity baseball player." I have been somewhat inconsistently tracking how often he comes with me to the gym, how many swings he does, etc. The scope of Joe's affirmations, I noticed, was too limited. I was becoming increasingly frustrated by the amount of time he was spending playing Mine Craft instead of reading and annotating Jane Eyre. The affirmation needs to be adjusted to "I am a student athlete." Tonight, after Joe finishes reading the first 5 chapters of his horrible summer reading book (why would anyone force 16 year old boys to read Jane Eyre?), we will celebrate his achievement by going to watch the Nationals versus the Orioles at Nationals Park.

In my case, my affirmation that "I am healthy" is totally inconsistent with my continued weight gain. Since I finally started stepping on the scale every day, I noticed the gain occurring even though I have started working out 4-5 days per week. With this negative feedback, I became open, as a matter of urgency, to the need to raise my metabolism by making a subtle adjustment in how I work out -- I paid $37 for a 15 minute, 3 days per weekend workout plan with videos, a results tracker, and a Facebook community. Let's hope this isn't another video or ebook about diabetes and diabetes that goes unread, because the weight gain and lethargy are inconsistent with my goal of becoming a better teacher. It's hard to teach when you don't feel good. Time to call Dr. Prinz, schedule that blood test, quit backing up the task.

Another of my affirmations is that I am financially responsible. Having taken the time to do a cash flow analysis, I know that I will have a $2500 cash budget shortfall in September. Knowing exactly when I will run short on cash, I have a few option, and if I adjust my payments just right, I won't have to get anyone else involved, including my wife, who I was considering asking to co-sign on a home equity line of credit. One of the things I realized in running the numbers is that I just need to come up with a creative solution for earning an additional $25 per month. All I need is one or two tutoring clients or find some other personal service somebody might need. I am willing to do just about anything. Somebody close by must need a service that I could provide them for just $25 per month.

My core affirmation is that "I live a disciplined lifestyle." In The Five Major Pieces of Life Puzzle, Jim Rohn asks rhetorically,
"Now, we may have to work hard at the daily discipline part of the equation, but reaching out with our talents to embrace success and its rewards is very easy to do. But if it is so easy, why don't more of us do it? Because while it is easy to do the things that success and happiness require, it is also easy not to do them. (Rohn, J., p. 41, 2013).
Well, on that note, time to get back to assembling number sense activities. While searching for multiplication subitizing flash cards -- 6th graders, as a whole, were terrible with their multiplication facts, I found exactly the kinds of materials I need. Becky Berg has put together a very comprehensive set of resources on her website. Over the next few hours, I'm going to mine Becky Berg's website, and review the excellent fraction and base-10 resources I borrowed from school. I'll get dinner started at 5:00. Then, I'll take Joe to see a baseball game. Somehow, it will all work out.