Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Earbuds vs Interactions: Which one is winning at your school?

My parents bought me AirPods as a Christmas gift, and they have been a GAME CHANGER for me in my workouts. Not having to fight with a cord or be connected to my phone has been awesome! I totally understand the joy of using earbuds to enjoy music, podcasts, Voxer, and more. 

In my world, though, I can't imagine myself going to the grocery store with my AirPods in. I wouldn't wear them at work, and I haven't even worn them when I've taken an Uber somewhere. 

I also know and respect that my world and a teenager's world are different, with different needs and actions.

You may be asking, Where are you going with that, Jennifer? 

All that to say... with two daughters who are young adults, and as an educator in a 1-to-1 school, I could totally relate to Jennifer Gonzalez's tweet in the image below. 

I see this in our school. I see kids in the hallway, cafeteria, and in classrooms with earbuds in their ears.

I shared this image with our staff and asked for their feedback. Here's what some of them said:

“I completely agree- it's a rare treat for my kids to get to have their earbuds in.  I let them do it a good deal last year, and I really ended up questioning myself.  I felt like I was contributing to their inability to communicate well, deal positively with down time- all that stuff.   
So this year, as I've prevented them from having their individual music during independent work, they've questioned me.   
And I've answered with evidence about how our dependence on tech has made us more isolated, and more and more our students are without some vital communication skills as well as the ability to deal with frustration levels.  I tell them that I want them to talk to each other about the content as they work, to be able to ask me questions, that sort of thing.   
Ultimately I realized that last year I was letting the earbuds become my babysitter.  It's harder when I don't let them have the music during all independent work, but that's ok.  And they're getting used to it.”   

“It concerns me greatly that so many of our students have become 'islands of isolation.' They walk down the hall, across the courtyard, sit in the cafeteria or library or classroom with earbuds/headphones on, reading their phones, etc. and absolutely no contact with those around them.  
I call their name and they can't hear me because they're so into their music or their video game. I drive to work and I see them, young ones even, waiting for the bus, standing in isolation from the others as they're on their Chromebooks or phones. It's disturbing to me.”


“I would say that 70% of the students that walk into the health room have earbuds in their ears......while they are explaining their symptoms. We have discussed putting a sign on the door stating to remove earbuds and headphones before entering. We will do this and see what results we get.” 

“One of the things that is bothersome to me is headphones in the hallways. I have tried to call students names out and they will not turn around because of the music in their ears. I think this is risk if there was an emergency situation. Just my thoughts:)” 

“This is why I ban the phones and make them work in groups.  It's not a good trend.  Very rarely are they allowed to listen to music while they work.” 

“I have a no earbud and no phone zone.  BUT it is a struggle daily. I've done it all.  Asked to put them up.  Taken them up.  Had them put in bags.  Written them up.  I've decided that it's just going to be something I have to constantly deal with.  The addiction to their phones is so real.  Really.  There are not many of us that have this rule.  According to my kids, I'm the "ONLY" one.  I know that is a stretch, but there could be some truth to that?  
How do I get them interacting?  I did away with reading check quizzes.  It's graded discussion now with the pilot/co-pilot method.  They are talking a lot!  They really like it and many who were not good at this at first are getting better.”

“Small thing, but I know when I walk down the halls I say hello to every person I pass and demand at least a recognition back, most of the time waiting for at least a verbal response.  Many times students pull their earbuds out to hear me and/or reply.  Again, small but it at least requires some type of exchange with another person…”

One of our teachers shares her No Distractions Policy with her students at the start of the school year. This teacher is well known for using technology with her students, and on almost any given day, you can visit her classrooms and her students will be using technology such as Kahoot, Goosechase, digital breakouts, and more. 

I'm curious and want to learn from you... I'll ask again the question from Jennifer Gonzalez: What is your school doing to get students interacting more? 

Leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter. I would love to hear from you. 

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Achieve More with Less - Applying the 80-20 Rule

Among the goals that have been shared with me by blog readers and newsletter subscribers, many of them have to do with personal productivity and achieving more than in the past. 

In today's post, I want to share a productivity strategy with you to help you reflect on your time management and make adjustments that will yield greater results for you this year. 

Have you heard of the Pareto Principle? It's also called the 80-20 rule. 

It says that 80% of consequences come from 20% of actions.

Vilfredo Pareto was an economist in Italy in the late 1800's and early 1900's, and he noticed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the people. He also noticed that 80% of the peas in his garden came from 20% of his pea plants. 

"80% of effects come from 20% of causes"

Maybe you've heard of it in terms of your clothes. It's been said that we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. (Are you grabbing the same outfit week after week?)

In graduate school for my administrative degree, I heard, "Twenty percent of the teachers account for 80% of the discipline referrals."

In terms of management, there's a belief that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the team members. (Do you find this to be true in your workplace?)

How can we use the 80-20 rule to help us be more productive and better time managers? Use the Pareto Principle to evaluate specific areas of your life:

  • How are you spending your leisure time? 20% of what you are doing is providing 80% of the joy you get from leisure activities. What can you eliminate?
  • Are there clothes that you haven't worn in a while that you can donate? It will reduce your choices in the mornings and save time and decision-making energy.
  • What about your email Inbox? You probably read 20% of the newsletters and emails that you've subscribed to. Unsubscribe from the extra ones, and read and implement what you learn from the 20%.
  • Twenty percent of your daily tasks produce 80% of your results towards your goals. What can you streamline and take OFF your to-do plate? Eliminate unnecessary tasks or ones that you can delegate to others. Try to only do the things that produce results and move you closer towards your goals. 
  • Since only 20% of your tasks produce the results you want or need, avoid starting with the "busywork" that doesn't produce results. Sometimes we start with the "easy" tasks that allow us to check a box somewhere, but we need to be focusing our time and energy on those actions that have the greatest impact.

"If you want to have more, do more, and be more, it all begins with the voice that no one else hears."  
~Tim Ferriss

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts the other day - Glambition Radio with Ali Brown, and she was interviewing Lynn Perkins, CEO and Co-Founder of UrbanSitter.

In the interview, Lynn said that at the beginning of each day, she writes down three things to get done by the end of the day. 

Those three things are ones that when she leaves the office in the afternoon, if she's done those things she would feel good about what she had accomplished that day. 

It helps to keep her goals prioritized throughout the day, especially when things get hectic. Can't we all relate?

I would love to hear about the changes in your life after applying the 80-20 rule.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

My 3 Words for 2019

At the close of each year, I take time to reflect on the year and think about what I want to accomplish in the new year. 

I tend to be hard on myself, but I am learning (with the help of all of you in my PLN), that forgiving myself just as much as I forgive others is courageous and important. 

While I faced disappointments in 2018 that taught me many lessons, there were accomplishments and events that happened that keep me feeling inspired.

And it's you I have to thank. From my readers who connect with me on twitter and Voxer to those of you who believe in me and lift me up... Thank you for being a part of my 2018. 

As we head into 2019, I intentionally choose 3 words each year to serve as guideposts throughout the year. (It's a practice I started in 2014, after learning about it from Chris Brogan.) 

The words help keep me "in my lane" and focused on the goals I want to achieve during the year. 

Does that mean I'm perfectly focused? Not by a long shot.

There are some words that I should probably roll over into the next year because I simply didn't follow my own advice and got off-course during the year. But that's for another post...

One thing I did do in 2018 was that I did a monthly check-in with myself and my three words, which I will do again in 2019. (Try it! Just set a reminder or event on your calendar to show up each month.) 

I also used my goal-setting strategy to make sure that I wasn't over-extending myself (so that I could really accomplish all that was on my plate) and to keep balance in my personal and professional life. 

I've got three new words for 2019, which represent where I'm currently at and where I want to be by the end of the year. 

There are some big milestones that will happen in 2019 as well as some new adventures, so my words reflect the thoughts that surround those impending events, too. 


I chose practice because it means two things to me. the first has to do with doing the daily work. When I was coaching athletes, I made sure that we had a structured practice plan and that we maximized our time together. 

Often, my athletes would say that the games were "easier" than the practices, because their limits were challenged many times during each practice so that when game time arrived, they would be ready for any physical, mental, or emotional challenge. 

The word Practice is my reminder throughout the year to do the daily work, and remember that it all adds up. 

This past year, one of my words was LIFT. I wanted to lift others up as well as get myself to the gym more. I was able to do both, and I want to continue to be consistent with coaching and lifting up others as well as taking care of myself. 

Practice is also a reminder to tackle those things that I'm not good at. If I shy away from certain things because I'm not good at them, then I'll never be good at them. 

I want to keep trying new things, whether it's something personal or professional, and even especially when they scare me and when I have room to grow. 


My next word was inspired by a blog post written by Joe Jacobi, where he shares that one of his words is Actions (read his post for the inspiring event that helped him choose the word.) 

Then, as I was reading through Chris Brogan's previous posts, I saw that he had chosen Execute for one of his words for 2018. A light bulb went off. 

When I think of the word execute, it means to me to do something well (like, "They executed the basketball play well.") I also think of carrying out plans and acting on intentions. 

Merriam-Webster defines EXECUTE as this:

     ~ to carry out fully : put completely into effect

     ~  to do what is provided or required by

     ~  to make or produce (something, such as a work of art) especially by carrying out a design

     ~  to perform what is required to give validity to

So while Practice is about doing the daily work and getting better at something, Execute is about facing fears and "pushing the button." 

I want the new year to be full of actions and not regrets, and I'm looking forward to having these two words to guide me. 


My first two words are practice and execute... they have to do with actions. BE is a word that in my mind is the opposite. 

It's about letting go of the need to achieve and filling the space with acceptance. 

It's about embracing peace and being fully present for myself and others. 

It's about having faith and love and knowing that I am who I am and that I am enough. 

Join the movement and share your three words on twitter using the hashtag #my3words. Feel free to tag me, too. I want to be your cheerleader!

My Past 3 Word Choices

2014 - Discipline. Intentional. Balance.

2015 - Rhythm. Bravery. Fitness.

2016 - Focus. Purpose. Do.

2017 - Pivot. Go. Grow.

2018 - Lift. Create. Relentless.