The Beginner's Mind: Learning to take risks

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As a kid, do you remember the first time you took the training wheels off and tried to ride your first bicycle?  In the beginner’s mind, it was the next step in being a big kid, and it meant being open to making mistakes and being willing to take a huge risk. 

Years later, I can remember feeling the same way when I began teaching my first yoga class.  Again, in my beginner’s mind, I had the same butterflies in my stomach.  I had the same jittery legs, a similar mindset, and those sweaty palms that showed up to accompany me on my new adventure.  I was older and wiser, so I knew I was outside of my comfort zone and had to dismiss my nerves to just do it.  Although I made mistakes that day, I recognized my own courage and bravery in trying something new. 

It’s like the first year I taught Shurley English.   Once I understood its methodology, it became like a second language to me.  Sure, I felt the butterflies…because it was new!  It was new to my students too.  They also had the beginner’s mind, and I always tried to be mindful of that anytime I taught something new. 

With practice, my students learned to speak up, to find their voice in writing, and to become competent, confident communicators!  That’s a huge deal.  It all starts by recognizing how it feels to learn something new—and with practice—to move beyond the beginner’s mind

I learned that practice doesn’t always make perfect, but practice does make progress and growth.  Being outside of your comfort zone is where the real growth happens, and that takes practice.

You have the unique opportunity, as a teacher, to create an environment that encourages students to take risks.  When your students see you work outside of your comfort zone, trying something new, they will be more likely to do the same.  Shurley English allows you to teach much more than language arts.  So, be compassionate and kind and never forget what it feels like to try something new.  Always strive to teach and learn from a beginner’s mind, and grow from there.

 

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Lesson Planning: Embracing the Beginner’s Mind

The beginning of a new grading period or unit of study is the perfect time to have a quick lesson discussing the beginner’s mind. Give each student a pink eraser to remind him/her that learning is about progress, not perfection.  The pink eraser serves as a reminder that it’s okay to take risks. 

  • Place an eraser on each desk without an explanation. 

  • Begin a class discussion about taking risks, being outside of your comfort zone, and trying something new. 

  • Create a bulletin board, journal writing prompt, or implement a daily/weekly share-time designed to celebrate being a beginner. 

  • Don’t forget to celebrate your growth as a teacher….you’re amazing! 

How to Manage Stress During the Holiday Season

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There are only seven shopping days left before Christmas! (Let that sink in for just a minute!) I know that Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but right about now, I’m feeling a little less than wonderful!  The very idea that I only have a handful of days left to select, purchase, and wrap gifts for my family stresses me out!  I’ve never been this unprepared!

People deal with stress on a daily basis, but it’s no secret that stress runs extra-high during the holidays.  With all of the Christmas programs, parties, shopping, baking, etc., most people will experience stress in some form or another during the season. 

There are four common types of stress, according to Dr. Karl Albrecht in his book entitled, “Stress and the Manager.”  In it, he states that if a person can understand the common types of stress and know how to anticipate them, stress can be managed much easier.  Albrecht’s four common types of stress include:    

A. Time Stress- when you worry about time or the lack of time

B. Anticipatory Stress-when you worry about upcoming events

C. Situational Stress-when you’re in a scary situation and you have no control over what is happening

D. Encounter Stress-when you worry about interactions with a certain person or a certain group of people

Sometimes, no matter how mindful you are about the four common types of stress, life just happens!  Instead of sticking your head in the sand, blowing up, breaking down, or whatever your style under stress happens to be, why not try some instant stress relievers!  These ideas don’t cost a thing, and they just might help no matter what type of stress you have to manage!

Instant Stress Relievers:

Take a “Breathing-Break.”  That’s right.  Set aside a few minutes to concentrate on taking some deep, relaxing breaths.  Focus on the air coming in and going out of your lungs.  Scientists say that a deep breathe sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax.

Take an “Exercise-Break.” Scientists have found that exercise reduces stress, so take a brisk walk during your break, or have fun climbing some stairs!  Exercise will improve your frame of mind.

Make Yourself Laugh. Watch a comedy show on television, or go to a funny movie.  Check out babies laughing-out-loud on a YouTube video.  Read some jokes and laugh out loud yourself!  Laughter is an amazing stress reliever.   Data is mounting on the short-term and long-term benefits to laughter, and stress reduction is at the top of the list.

Give or Receive a Hug. Hugging is universally comforting, and according to scientists, hugging reduces stress.  Hug your kids.  Hug your spouse.  Hug your pet.  Hug, hug, hug!

Change Your Scene. This stress-relieving technique can be done physically or mentally.  Physically, you can walk to a window or into another area, etc., to change the scene.  Figuratively, you can conjure up soothing scenes, places, or experiences in your mind to help you relax and reduce stress. 

Appreciate the Positives. Focus your thoughts on the positive aspects of your life and the things for which you are most grateful.  Positive thoughts reduce stress and make life happier! 

 

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” -William James 

From all of us at Shurley English, Happy Holidays!

Comment /Source

Jamie Geneva

Jamie Geneva is the Senior National Consultant at Shurley Instructional Materials and is a seasoned subject matter expert in the realm of English Language Arts.  Her career with the company began during the days of the Shurley Method binder, which was pre-1st Edition, and has spanned across three decades.  Over the years, her various roles have included teacher, presenter, state representative, consultant, manager, and most recently, a Shurley English Digital Assistant.  You might not recognize her face, but her voice could certainly sound familar.  That’s because she’s recorded Jingles, Q&A Flow Sentences, and other Shurley English content for many, many years. 

Jamie and her husband, Garret, live in the foothills of eastern Oklahoma. She loves spending quality time with her family, traveling, reading, cooking, and staying connected on social media.

Ms. Geneva received her B.S. degree in Elementary Education and her M.Ed in Public School Administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK. 

Helping Children Experience the JOY of Giving

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Christmas is known as the season of giving, but that might be a difficult concept for children to understand.  With the onslaught of holiday ads, it’s only natural for them to ponder “getting” vs. “giving” during the holidays. While receiving gifts usually produces a good feeling, research indicates that giving creates an even greater joy.

To give means to offer something to someone without a requirement for anything to be given in return.  Research suggests that the act of giving increases a person’s health and happiness!  In addition, it’s contagious!  When someone gives us something with no strings attached, it often stimulates our desire to reciprocate even though it’s not required.

A study by James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, and Nicholas Christakis of Harvard, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, shows that when one person behaves generously, it inspires observers to behave generously later, toward different people.  The researchers found that altruism (feelings and behavior that show a desire to help other people and a lack of selfishness) could spread by three degrees—from person to person to person to person. “As a result,” they write, “each person in a network can influence dozens or even hundreds of people, some of whom he or she does not know and has not met.”

I want to encourage each of you to be the catalyst that inspires a child to experience the joy of giving. Here are a few suggestions to help you start the process: 

  1. Be a role model.  Let your children see you donate your time, money, or material goods to those in need during the holiday season. 

  2. Encourage your children to get involved.  As children get older, they can take a more active role alongside you in causes they support.

  3. Teach your child that it doesn’t always take money to give.  Help your child make gift certificates that offer acts of service that are good for things like walking the dog, washing the car, breakfast in bed, etc.  These make excellent Christmas gifts!  Help them gather items like gently used clothes or toys and donate them to organizations they support.

  4. Make it personal.  Openly discuss how your act of giving will benefit others.  Children need to learn how to be more mindful.

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”

                                                                                                --Maya Angelou

Comment /Source

Jamie Geneva

Jamie Geneva is the Senior National Consultant at Shurley Instructional Materials and is a seasoned subject matter expert in the realm of English Language Arts.  Her career with the company began during the days of the Shurley Method binder, which was pre-1st Edition, and has spanned across three decades.  Over the years, her various roles have included teacher, presenter, state representative, consultant, manager, and most recently, a Shurley English Digital Assistant.  You might not recognize her face, but her voice could certainly sound familar.  That’s because she’s recorded Jingles, Q&A Flow Sentences, and other Shurley English content for many, many years. 

Jamie and her husband, Garret, live in the foothills of eastern Oklahoma. She loves spending quality time with her family, traveling, reading, cooking, and staying connected on social media.

Ms. Geneva received her B.S. degree in Elementary Education and her M.Ed in Public School Administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK.