Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Who knew?

Each of us has ups and downs in life. That is what makes life, life. You know that the time will come for your kids to grow up and leave you. It is what should be and something that in my heart I wanted for them. This does not mean that I was looking forward to the day that they would leave. I love being a mom. I like the caretaking role and sharing in what makes them who they are. Our sons left together for college more than 4 years ago and our daughter, only 4 months ago. It was a big adjustment for me personally. I had the gamut of emotions. I don't think that I really ever got depressed or sad but I did miss the every day contact that had been a part of our family life for so many years. The contact is still there, but it has changed.
I had other interests beyond my children of course. I did not have something though that I had put off doing or wanting to do until they moved out. An activity or hobby of sorts has changed my life in a good way. Who knew?? I did not expect this nor did anyone else that knows me think that I would become a runner. I am however, excited and passionate about running.  If you don't run, you don't want to hear about it. I can understand that.
I have signed up for a Stevens Point Frostbite 10 mile race December 3rd and I am training, running and planning on finishing strong at the La Crosse Fitness Festival - Marathon on the Mississippi on May 6th, 2012. There is something about running that makes me feel strong and I also like the mental and physical challenge of it. If you knew me before this whole running thing took over my life, you never would have guessed that I would be the person who would go for a long(for me) 8 mile run on a cool Saturday morning  and have the drive to be training for a marathon. Running was for other people- crazy people, people that looked great in shorts and leggings,  people who ate healthy, people that wanted to punish themselves, people that were not me. Who knew??

Monday, October 10, 2011

Educational Race

Each and every one of us has the chance to embrace new things or not. This past weekend I was in a 5k race. It was a fabulous experience. I don't know exactly what I had expected but as with anything new there is always some anxiety about what might happen.
I had done my first run on September 11th and had run at least 3 or 4 days a week for the past month. I was prepared and consequently hoped that I would run a time that would be respectable. I was not worried about finishing because I had been running this distance for 3 weeks.
This experience for me has a certain relevance to being an educator. Challenges that we bring upon ourselves are good for us. They may have the intended consequence and they may not. We need to prepare ourselves (or the students) for the challenge and then, let the chips fall where they may. We might get sick, have an injury, lack motivation due to a sleepless night or have something that is beyond our control that stops us from reaching the challenge. This is a part of life and not a reason to give up or think that our efforts were for naught. All of have days or moments that it is hard to focus and get it done. Why should we beat ourselves up about it?
How we face the challenge, rise to it and then learn from it are more important than whether the goal was achieved or not. In my particular case, I am raising the bar even higher for my next race :D (this from a woman who was not a runner just a month ago).
I had a good race time - 28:19, was in 23rd place out of 85 women and 82nd out of 160 total runners. I felt surrounded by encouragement from fellow runners as well as the volunteer cheerleaders on the side of the roads. I met the race coordinator and it was her that was my inspiration to run in the first place. She is the same age as me and had run the Leadville Colorodo 100 mile trail race this past summer. If she could run that, I could run a measly 5k!! As I sat listening to the race results I would humbled and inspired by the man who was in the over 70 age bracket. If he can run, I can run :) I had a 10 (almost 11) year old run ahead of me the entire race. I think I knew my limits and decided that however he did, that was his business and I needed to take care of me.
This is another relevant tie into education. We are all at different places in our lives. We can set realistic challenges and then go for it. What I did, worked for me but it will not work necessarily for you. Yes, I did well on this race, however, I know I can do better and with encouragement, further instruction and desire I will be a faster and longer distance runner. If we as educators and students get the same from the system in which we learn, we will be life long learners.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I read with much interest this week articles that ask about evaluating technology use in schools and whether the use of technology is valuable and worth the investment. I have a few things to speak to on this subject. I am of course biased and will be the first to admit this.
In the same way that you would evaluate anything that you would use in your daily life, education and the teaching environment must be scrutinized. I would hope that you would use the tools in your life to their utmost potential and for what they are intended for. I know that we don't always do this and there are lots of reasons why. I use tools as they benefit me, in my life, with the training and experiences that I have. You would not think it wise (energy or time) to scramble an egg with a KitchenAid Mixer when a fork would do just fine.
Power tools used to scare me. I was afraid that I would cut off my finger, hand or something worse. With someone showing me the safety rules and techniques, I am proud to say that power tools of many kinds are  at my disposal. This does not mean that I will use them if they are not the right tool for the job.  Technology in education works in a similar vein. A pencil and paper, ruler, calculator or physical book used by classes, can and will continue to have, profound learning that does not necessarily have to have more modern technological tools integrated into the lesson.
Some of the best software that I have ever come across is unable to be used because the operating systems of the computers do not support the programs. Perfectly usable digital cameras, scanners, computers, programs and other older equipment is not trash, nor should it be overlooked by educators for use in the school. This being said, of course, new servers, updated computers with matching software, high speed internet, cloud based sharing...are going to be the tools that schools do deem worth the investment for their students. If teachers are trained and then utilize the technology tools, then by all means, the investment is worth the costs.
The old is not necessarily outdated or bad and the new is not necessarily needed or great. It is my desire that each of us can decide what will be a good investment of our resources for the students that we teach. If we scrutinize and evaluate independently the technology resources, then our students will have learning potential that is boundless.