Pics or it didn’t happen

Aside

Did you see my photos (and videos!) from IML? Find me on Instagram @Writingwolf2010.

Also…now that I’ve graduated from grad school, I intend to photoblog more frequently. And did I mention I’m getting a puppy soon? She’ll be there too.

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On the Cusp of Past and Future

It’s been 126 days since I blogged last. In that time, I have…

Taught approximately 360 lessons
Graded nearly 800 exams and quizzes
Used four of my five allotted sick days
Attended at least 40 hours of professional development
Spent about 60 hours preparing and submitting my edTPA
Written a 42-page, single-spaced, original research paper
Backed 23 new campaigns on Kickstarter (while not funding my own)
Listened to “Sky Full of Song” and “Hunger” over a hundred times, and
Worked out a lot less than I wanted to.

But all of that is merely the minutia of being a grad student-math teacher-advisor-TFA corps member-writer. Except half of that is suddenly behind me.

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When It Hits the Fan

Today starts our mini-unit on self-compassion in the mindfulness class I’m teaching. It’s a hard unit, even as a teacher, because so much of our culture says we need to be hard on ourselves–and probably much harder than we already are. It’s almost painful to be self-compassionate, and it’s about as awkward to talk about it to kids.

And on top of that, I’m still feeling sick. I got to bed a few hours earlier than usual last night, and I woke up feeling so much better–but my throat is so dry it’s raw, and I can barely open my mouth to talk without feeling the pain of it. I was talking to myself last night, and I know when I’m feeling sick I have the least amount of willpower, so all my normal challenges look like massive mountains right now.

So it’s the perfect time to talk about self-compassion.

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Role Models and Adversaries

I’ve been down all weekend. Despite some fun outings with friends, an itch in my throat slowly spread until it erupted Sunday into an all-out cold. My plans to do a big weekend social media push for my Kickstarter instead ended up with me napping on the couch.

Now that the school week has begun, it’s time for me to turn my attention back toward willpower in my mindfulness class. Today’s multifaceted prompt begins by asking us to think about our willpower role models. Who inspires us most to meet our goal?

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The “Add” in Adversity

I love it when I get to use puns in my titles–it’s not quite clickbait, but it’s almost just as good. Anyways, stress. We often feel defeated by stress. We think stress is a sign of failure and inadequacy (and then we get stressed out for failing and being inadequate), but according to Kelly McGonigal, that perspective on stress is incorrect.

Instead, she says, stress makes us stronger.

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Bigger Than Me

One of the hidden stress responses Kelly McGonigal talks about in her book The Upside of Stress is the “tend and befriend” response: Stress physiologically compels us to help others and strengthen relationships. We can tap into this stress response, she says, whenever we’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed simply by answering one question:

What is my bigger-than-self goal?

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I Want

In Kelly McGonigal’s book The Willpower Instinct, she talks about how tapping into our want power–the drive we have towards the things we desire–can help us draw forth our willpower reserves when we’re feeling low or defeated.

This week also happens to be the longest week of the school year: Over thirty hours of teaching, plus zero prep time while at school. In a typical week I teach only twenty hours and have about ten hours of planning meetings and prep time, so this shift is intense and can be quite exhausting. There’s no better time than right now to find my want power.

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I Will or I Won’t

In an age of primetime scandals and uncertain politics, there are four things I like to watch: fun TV shows like Steven Universe and the Punisher, fun YouTube videos from creators like Lockstin & Gnoggin or Bird Keeper Toby, satirical news commentary from personalities such as Seth Meyers (if only he were single) and John Oliver, and TED Talks.

TED Talks, as it happens, also form the basis of the mindfulness elective I’m currently teaching. Inspired by the works of Kelly McGonigal and Brene Brown especially (my self-help gurus), this course strives to provide my students with a stress mindset intervention as well as strategies they can employ to conquer stress and shame and boost willpower.

Rather than a large number of quizzes and exams, most of the course is driven by self-reflective journals, and throughout this month, I’m committing myself to reflecting on each of these journals alongside my kids. Practice what you preach, right?

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2018 to life

Here’s a fact about gematria, the alphanumeric philosophy that relates words with numbers: In Hebrew, the word “life” and the number 18 are synonymous.

And here’s a random thought: 0, representing nothingness, is like a blank space.

So here’s a play on words: 2018 literally means “to life”!

Okay, okay, you’re right, it should be “two life,” but that’s not as much fun. And it raises significantly many more psychological concerns than “to life,” which is not only reminiscent of Fiddler on the Roof, but also a sign that this year is a year for living.

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