cup half empty · cup half full · letting go

Cup half full or cup half empty? How do you see the world?

How do you view your days?
As a cup half empty or a cup half full?

Although, I move between the two perspectives,
I try to stay inside the “cup half full” camp.
Sometimes I succeed but not very often.

I know it’s more pleasant and enriching to see the positive side of things.
But I have a difficult time letting go.

I read somewhere that it is “human nature” to hold onto the negative aspect of things.
So I’m OK, right?

Either way, I’m working on letting go of what’s not working,
such as holding onto grudges, negative thoughts or feelings.

What about you?

driving · letting go

Driving and Letting Go

I think I’m a good driver. 

Source: http://morganalyx.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/assertive-driving/

I’m careful, alert and follow traffic regulations. That’s why I get annoyed when other drivers aren’t the same way. When someone cuts me in traffic without signalling, speeds down a busy intersection, or is reckless in their driving, I get mad. But, I don’t just get mad and then move on. After all, I have to pay attention to the road. No. I stay mad. I start cursing under my breath and I look around me, wondering why the other drivers aren’t visibly foaming at the mouth, too.

But before I go much further, I guess I should explain that driving in Quito, or in many other parts of Ecuador, can be challenging. Up until recently, many drivers didn’t go through a certified driving school, have a “real” license, or follow, much less know, the traffic regulations in the country. There was no speed limit and getting to where you were going faster was the only law of the highway. However, things are changing. There are now known speed limits and hefty (for here) tickets for not following the speed limits, and a culture of courtesy is being cultivated on the road. After having been away for six years, and having returned now for almost two, I can tell the difference. In fact, the country’s slogan, accompanied by a variety of programs and carefully crafted advertisements, is “Ecuador del buen vivir”. Roughly translated, this would be something like, “Ecuador, a place for living well”.

Source: http://educaciongeneralbasic.blogspot.com/2012/05/el-buen-vivir-en-la-educacion.html

So, in this year of “letting go of what’s not working’, and embracing the idea of “living well’, I have decided that getting angry at other drivers just doesn’t work. Just like constantly trying to figure out why people, particularly administration, do certain things at school that don’t make sense and make life for everyone less than pleasant, doesn’t work either. First of all, the mental space that is used up worrying or being angry, takes my full attention off my driving (teaching). Getting even a little distracted by my angry thoughts could potentially cause me to make a mistake resulting in an accident (or an angry word to a student or colleague, which sometimes can’t be taken back and can cause unnecessary damage). Second of all, it makes the start to my day less than pleasant. Driving (Teaching) can be stressful enough. I don’t need another trigger to make it even more stressful. Third, I have found that if I do the things I want others to do, such as being courteous, then others will start doing them too. And if they don’t, then I can practise forgiving them for not being ready to do so. That is so much more pleasant than not letting people pass you on the highway just because you don’t want them to (or letting their words or actions interfere with effective teaching and learning), and accepting where they are in their spiritual growth.

Without meaning to, I am getting closer to writing about some other sensitive topics that I keep avoiding. It’s curious how a post that started out about driving has turned into so much more. The potential of writing to reveal thoughts, feelings and ideas you didn’t know were there is incredibly powerful. And, that is leading me to a lesson I might do with my students this afternoon in writing club. But I’ll stop here before this post segues into something else entirely. Maybe for next time…

Cross posted to Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesdays

letting go · writing club

Writing Club and Letting Go

Tuesday, after school, was the first day of writing club, an after school activity modelled after writing workshop. I had four students, three girls in grade 3 and one boy in grade 4. Whenever I’ve sponsored a writing club in the past, I’ve gotten at least 40 kids. This was in my previous school in Calgary when I offered writing club during the lunch hour. This is the third time I’ve offered writing club at my current school and to have a total of four students register, again, was disappointing to say the least.

Nevertheless, I decided it was important to offer these students a quality writing club experience so I pocketed my disappointment and planned for the first day.

I modelled how to choose a topic by writing down two or three big ideas and smaller, more manageable sub-ideas below these. I used a think aloud strategy so that my students could listen in on how a more experienced writer selects a writing topic from a sea of potential ideas. Then, I had my students do the same thing and share their list with a partner. Next, we wrote silently for the first 10 minutes of club time. I believe it’s important for writers to have a quiet writing time during some portion of the writing workshop. At the end of the 10 minutes, we shared our writing with a partner.

During the last 15 minutes, the students had a choice to continue writing or drawing, or to start working on something new. This is my time to confer with students about their writing – the most important part of writing workshop for me as a teacher.

This predictable structure – focus lesson, 10 minutes of silent writing, sharing with a partner, writing (alone or with a partner), teacher conferring with students  – will remain the same throughout the writing club sessions to allow students to plan for their writing.

I experienced a deep sense of satisfaction at the end of writing club, not only because all four kids were writing and engaged but because I practised letting go of something that never works for me – holding on to disappointments or resentments (in this case having only 4 students register for writing club) and finding what works: accepting what is and planning for that, enjoying my students, and celebrating writing.

#SOL · early riser · letting go · New Year's resolutions

Letting Go

I am an early riser.
Morning is my favourite time of the day.
During the school year, I’m up at 5:00 or earlier.
On weekends and holidays, I cut myself a little slack and set my alarm for 5:30 or 6:00.

The point is that I’m an early riser.

I get my best work done in the early morning. I answer emails, write, read (mostly for my doctoral program), and assess student papers all while having my first (and usually only) cup of coffee.

The house is quiet.
The promise of a new and improved day is palpable.
I feel at peace with myself.

And, then the dogs start barking…but that’s another story.

During the past week, while we’ve been on a family vacation, I did not set my alarm or get up earlier than 8:30 in the morning. I didn’t plan it this way. It just happened and I enjoyed “sleeping in”.

This morning was a different story.

I woke up at 5:30 and felt fully awake and rested.

Should I get up or just lie in bed for another hour or two?

Was I done with getting up at the crack of dawn now that I was back home?

It didn’t take long for me to decide. I felt awake and happy. My vacation sleep had rejuvenated me. It was time to get up.

I made myself some coffee.

I turned on my computer (I hadn’t used it for over a week) and decided it was time to start my New Year’s resolution early: “let go of what’s not working”.

I have already made this resolve public on Twitter and am now making a commitment on my blog; this SOL is one of my first attempts to practise my resolution.

Confused? Wondering what writing a SOL has to do with letting go of what’s not working? I would be too if I were you. Well, it’s quite simple really. When Tuesday rolls around I lament, regret and feel like a failure because I didn’t post my SOL for yet another week. Well, I’m letting go of those negative feelings and I’m making time to write a SOL every week.

It feels good.

My first official act of letting go.

Cross-posted to Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life.