Monday, March 11, 2019

3 inspiring messages that help us rise up

Sometimes things happen, and it's as if someone is trying to get a clear message to you through related events. 

I will try to weave the pieces of the story together here, and share my reflections of the past week.

Piece #1... 

Last week, American Idol returned to television for its seventeenth season. I'm a sucker for reality TV, especially when it includes singing (something I would LOVE to be able to do well.) 

One very talented singer brought Lionel Richie to tears, and her story is captivating. 

Shayla Winn, who goes by Shayy, is a 17-year old from Virginia who started going blind about a year ago. 

Being a blind singer is not the inspiring part. How Shayy has handled this right turn in her life is what is extremely inspiring. (What else inspires me?)

During the show last week, Shayy says that about a year ago she was having trouble seeing the whiteboard at school, so she thought she would need glasses. At the eye doctor, several tests were run and the optometrist told her that she needed to go to the ER immediately. 

After having an MRI, Shayy was told that she has a brain tumor. 

On the show, Shayy says, "I got dragged to my MRI and that’s when they found a tumor in my brain. One doctor was like, ‘Okay, Shayy, I’m going to try and save you from going blind. I was like, ‘What’d he just say?'”

Shayy shares that when she got home from the hospital, she couldn't see well and going back to school was hard. Kids were cruel. They kicked her cane. 

On American Idol, Shayy shares that she asked her mom at one point, ‘Why did that happen to me?’ 

Shayy also says, "But on the other side, I have people that have been really supportive and I have made new friends. There’s a whole other side to life that I never knew about. People are always going to say, ‘You can’t do this, you can’t do that.’ But you can do it. You got it!”

I love how Shayy says that she has made new friends and there's a "whole other side to life." Finding new friends as a teenager is HAAARD. Shay is a champion. She shows that it can be done. She reminds us that for whatever struggle we may be going through, there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and we will be stronger for it. 

If you can't see the video on your device, watch here:

Take a few minutes to watch the video above. Go ahead. I'll wait on you. 

Shayy has an amazing voice, and her choice of song is spot on. "Rise Up" by Andra Day is a perfect song for this inspiring teenager who we can all learn from. 

Rise Up

You're broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry go round
And you can't find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains

And I'll rise up
I'll rise like the day
I'll rise up
I'll rise unafraid
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousand times again
And I'll rise up
High like the waves
I'll rise up
In spite of the ache
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousands times again
For you
For you
For you
For you

When the silence isn't quiet
And it feels like it's getting hard to breathe
And I know you feel like dying
But I promise we'll take the world to its feet
And move mountains
We'll take it to its feet
And move mountains

And I'll rise up
I'll rise like the day
I'll rise up
I'll rise unafraid
I'll rise up

If you believe in yourself and work hard, you have a fighting shot at having your dreams come true.  
-Mindy Kaling

Piece #2...

Yesterday, on Sunday, I saw an Instagram post by my friend, Sarah Johnson. 

It read, "Came across this photo of my first principal experience. Loved those kids, that staff, the community and remember this moment vividly. That lady at the wheel had no idea the fires that would forge her into the woman she is today."

Having walked across come hot coals in my life and career, I could totally relate to Sarah's words. I immediately thought of Shayy and the positivity she exuded on American Idol as she had a fire that she had to walk through to get to the other side.  

We say "iron sharpens iron," but it's really the iron PLUS a significant amount of heat. We need the fires, plus the iron, to mold us into the strong leaders of today and tomorrow. 

"Isolation does not breed confidence."
-Suzanne Roff, Ph.D.

Piece #3...

In our most recent podcast episode of Rising Tide Radio, Allyson Apsey (@AllysonApsey) and I discuss the value of reflection. 

You can listen to Episode 4 above. If you cannot view it on your device, you can play it here:

Through these three seemingly unrelated events, I've realized a few things.

The first is the value of having a strong support system as a conduit to confidence. Confidence comes when there are others who can empathize, challenge, and appreciate the meanings that we make in our lives. 

Ultimately, confidence and the ability to rise up comes from within. It means changing the inner narrative to one of positivity and hope, and it may mean changing long-held negative beliefs about one's self. 

It's time to set the bar high and have tough-to-reach goals. 

As these three pieces of the story weave together, the message comes through loud and clear...

It's time to rise up. 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

How to beat decision fatigue and avoid burnout

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting

You had to make 10 decisions before lunch, then after lunch you had 15 more to make before dinner. 

Have you been there? 

Educators frequently experience decision fatigue. There are literally hundreds of decisions that are made during a week, and decision fatigue is a real thing.

What is the best lesson design for this topic on this day?

Since yesterday’s results weren’t where you thought they should be, what’s next?

What is the best seating chart for my students?

What do I do now that this student has disrupted the class?

Should you allow a student to leave the room to run the errand he’s asked about?

Will my students be able to rise to the occasion when we do ______ (another decision) in class?

The student is using his cell phone during class. How do I address it? Do I address it?

Can I get my copies run before the IEP meeting?

What do I want students to do as they finish their test while others are still testing?

When is the best time to get by the bookkeeper’s office?

What is the best way to approach this issue with this person?

Can you relate?

We often overlook the amount of fatigue and stress that making continuous decisions puts on our emotional as well as physical health. 

I want to offer a few suggestions on how to combat the fatigue by decreasing some of the decisions that have to be made each day. 

We don’t call our plants selfish when they need water. Let’s be okay with the idea of taking care of ourselves when we need it. 

Use Classroom Systems

Systems work when they are more than words on a paper or an idea in our heads. Think of classroom systems as practices that support students by predicting outcomes and increasing efficiency.

For example, what is your system of collecting papers? Returning papers? 
What system is used for times when students want to leave the room to go to the restroom or run an errand?

Having systems in place reduces the number of decisions that have to be made because students understand “how things operate” in the classroom and procedures can be followed. 

Does this mean that students won’t ask to do something that’s outside the boundary of the system? Absolutely not. But it gives the teacher the opportunity to say, “This is how we do _____ in this room,” without having to spend time deciding to allow or not allow a certain action. 

Make decisions on the weekend when your mind is fresh

There are some decisions about the work week that can be made on the weekend. The first has to do with food and nourishment. I’ve always been a fan of planning a weekly menu for my family, and on the weekend, I do meal prep for my weekday lunches. 

Last year for my birthday, I purchased for myself the RP Strength Diet Template, which limited my food choices even more. Now, I grocery shop at Aldi. How does this help me? While the number of food items that I choose to purchase is lower because of my diet template, the number of food choices that I have to ignore in Aldi is considerably smaller in the smaller grocery store. It reduces the number of decisions I have to make about my lunch menu for the week. 

How many times after a long day of making decisions did you go home and NOT want to decide what to have for dinner? Or maybe instead of making a decision, ou drove through the fast food restaurant and picked up dinner for the family. Your body craves good food and nutrients, and it's easy to forget this component of being at our best mentally and emotionally by feeding our body nutritious foods. 

What if you made your lunches and snacks for the week, then all you had to do each morning was to pack your lunch? 

What if your dinner menu for the week was already decided, so all you had to do when you got home from work was to prepare it? 

Wardrobe is another decision that can be made on the weekend. Go ahead and decide which outfit you will wear each day of the workweek, so that you won’t have to make that decision in the morning before you go to work. 

If you’ve got Netflix, there’s a wildly popular show called Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, which is about decluttering our homes and only keeping the items that spark joy for us.  (You may remember Marie's book called, The Life-Changing magic of Tidyup Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, that she wrote back in 2014, and it was a #1 New York Times bestseller.) 

Try going through your closet and keeping only the items that spark joy, and you will lessen the decisions you have to make in terms of what you wear to work, and as a bonus, all of your choices are sure to bring you joy!

Let technology work for you

On my desktop, there are three tabs that I keep open each day. The first is email, the second is my calendar, and the third is my Google Drive. I know exactly where those three tabs will be during the day, and those are the ones I access the most. 

I put everything on my calendar so that I can forget it. With the number of decisions that I have to make each day, I don't want to use up brainpower trying to remember details that my calendar can remember for me. 

Have a morning and evening ritual

Your routine will be personal to you, and one person's ritual will not be the same for another person. 

Do you like yoga? Maybe you stretch in the morning. 

Are you a coffee drinker who loves to birdwatch? Maybe you have a cup of coffee and watch birds for ___ minutes. (Yes, setting a time limit is an important constraint of a ritual.) 

Are you a blogger/writer/journaler? Spend ____ minutes writing before your day of work gets started. 

While there are many recommendations for morning rituals, I also believe firmly in evening rituals, especially during the work week. My husband and I have a ritual we do each evening just as it is getting dusk. We like to "walk the estate," which simply means that we walk from one end of our driveway to the other (our driveway goes all the way around our house) and sometimes through our backyard. We talk about our dreams for the house and yard, recap events of the day, and talk about upcoming events. It's a time that we look forward to, especially during the long, warm, summer days. 

Having an evening ritual helps to close out the day, reduce stress, and relax in order to get a good night's sleep. 

Here are some ideas for evening rituals:
  • Have a cup of hot herbal tea and read for pleasure
  • Journal for 5 minutes, writing down all the things you are grateful for from the day
  • Try this exercise from Jim Rohn: Review your day and close it out. Tomorrow, you can't bring back anything from today, so you must be mentally at your best to bring your best to your day.

“At the end of each day, you should play back the tapes of your performance. The results should either applaud you or prod you.”  
-Jim Rohn

I hope these ideas will help you to recalibrate and stay energized. We need educators who are compelled to bring their very best to each and every day, which means finding ways to combat the decision fatigue that we all experience. 

If I can provide personal coaching or assistance to you to help you increase your personal productivity, please don't hesitate to reach out to me via email.