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Posts Tagged ‘observation’

LiLTweeks: How to derail unhealthy living?



The lesson I learned this week [LiLTweeks] marinated over a few days. During that time I revisited how valuable exercise combined with outdoor exploration is for rebuilding muscle and renewing the spirit man in all of us. I also learned the challenges of getting back in shape can be more difficult than jumping onto the track designed for healthy living.


Time for recovery

Last month I traveled four hours by car to visit my mother after a long winter hibernation. After making the rounds visiting family and friends I was ready to pick back up the exercise routine started weeks earlier. I set out to explore a few miles of her suburban neighborhood. Within minutes I noticed bicyclist and joggers crossing the street and heading down a path, I came to find out was named the Monon Rail Trail. This course of exercise routes stretches from the north end of the city over more than ten miles between backyard residential communities to downtown Indianapolis.

A culture of pleasantries

For an entire week I walked 2 – 4 miles every morning amongst the other peaceful exercisers on the rail. The Monon has its own culture and rules of courtesy. There’s the smile and head nod as you approach a passerby. Dogs have manners and walk on a short leash. Then there’s the friendly, “On your left,” bicyclist use to warn pedestrians they’re about to whisk by. The asphalt trail is maintenanced daily by the city, but its natural beauty of trees and bushes are left to appear uninhabited. The perfect conditions for mental and physical rehabilitation I desperately needed.

Fitting into others space

New lessons in life are more rare as I get older, but those repeat lessons are reinforced daily as in that first Sunday’s late afternoon walk. It just wasn’t the same. There were literally ten times as many users bustling the rail. Hardly anyone used the rules I had come accustomed to. And the friendly smiles and eye contact from earlier in the week were nowhere to be found. This was clearly a different breed of which I didn’t fit in. Or was it that they didn’t fit.

iShape the world I live in

The experience made me think about how others affect my world. Yeah, I wondered why that bicyclist with more than 100 meters of space between the two of us and the person ahead felt it was a good time to spit in my direction after passing by. And I must admit it was a challenge to keep smiling when others didn’t smile back. I was tempted to give up and close into my own little space like everyone else. After all there was plenty of stuff going on in my head that I was using the Monon Rail to get away from. When the world doesn’t acknowledge my role as equal I realized that as an individual I still contribute to shaping the world as it tries to shape me.

I’m reminded of an adage my mother mailed over seas to me more than 30 years ago, “Use your head to get along. To get along use your head.” Words to live by. Thank you mother.

Stay focused. Stay confident and believe you shape our world.

LiLTweeks (Lessons I Learned This Week) is a weekly observation of some problems I’ve encountered and possible actions for resolve. If you have been inspired from this article please leave a comment and consider subscribing to the RSS (top right column) to have future post delivered to your feed reader [look for Weekend Post].

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LiLTweeks: Faith, move that mountain!


The lesson I learned this week [LiLTweeks] brings humility in knowing that God is no respecter of man, it is that man’s faith that moves mountains.

Rejoice. Rejoice.

Just a quick message of what it means to know that if you don’t give up and expect that all things are possible to him that believes, you will win.

Being a businessman for more than half of my life makes it both extremely important to have grace in my conduct and to respect that which is owed for products and service. Somewhere on the road I began holding myself extremely accountable for meeting my part of the bargain in transactions. However, from time to time we all need help getting out of the mess we create for ourselves. Say, Amen.

That’s where this story begins. I was not able to pay for services from a vendor that resulted in costing me more for being late on payment in full than from the original bill. I think you get the idea. So, I went to the service provider and let him know that I was financially challenged at the moment and wanted him to know I would make good on the deal, it was just going to take a little longer than expected.

You should know the first time I met with the vendor months earlier he reduced my rather large bill by 25% for no other reason I can imagine than having received favor from him. That’s grace. Now here I am again seeking a solution in faith for settling my debt with dignity and once again that same vendor reduced my balance due by more than 60%. That’s knocking a mountain down to the size of a hill.

I never requested a payment reduction. I continued to stand in faith. I was confident in the results being what I believed instead of what it looked like. What I learned again is that God is no respecter of man. He is a respecter of faith and integrity. That’s perfecting. In the words of My Total Money Makeover author, Dave Ramsey, “I’m doing better than I deserve.”

Stay focused. Stay confident and replace your fears with faith.

LiLTweeks (Lessons I Learned This Week) is a weekly observation of some problems I’ve encountered and possible actions for resolve. If you have been inspired from this article please leave a comment and consider subscribing to the RSS (top right column) to have future post delivered to your feed reader [look for Weekend Post].

Teaching Basics | Observation Teaching Power

Photo Credit by Cherice

Photo Credit by Cherice

“The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.” George Bernard Shaw

Stressed Out K – 12 Education Series 1.3

Yesterday I wrote about using basic visual observations to collect important information. In Stressed Out K – 12 Education Series 1.2, I suggested caution about over analyzing what you see, you just want to collect data. Once accurate observations have been gathered of those you have been assigned to engage you can begin developing a cool power teaching classroom environment.

What the Family Sees
Lets pick up from yesterday’s blog post. The student’s home environment may be the same healthy stimulus as in your classroom or it may be totally different. Whichever the case plays a critical factor in how you are able to connect with that student. For that matter your home experience plays into this issue, but I digress for now. Interviewing the parents and guardians and making allies can make or break your ability to effectively manage student behaviors. Are you talking to the parents? Don’t be shy about contacting them.

Remember my rant on customer service in 1.1 of this series? Talking to those that know the student best can be interesting. I’ve had families that said, “Oh not my kid” and not have a clue what that rascal was up to behind their back. And I’ve had others say, “Terrence has the worst behavior of all my kids” and he was my model student. Whatever information you get out of servicing the customer is valuable when collected bias free. Your goal is to be an excellent service provider when wearing the hat of civil servant.

How the Student Sees It
One of the things that will frustrate you the most about this crazy game of teaching is how “the experts” often fail to silicate the ideas of those we serve. Sometimes I walk away from meetings think can we at least take a poll or survey. That’s what world class company’s do isn’t it? Customer feedback seems to works for them. If you’re reading this in real time it’s mid-year and you may have had a few blow ups already. Have you been able to stay on top of student feedback while trying to learn new curriculum, grade papers, and have a life of your own?

Sometimes priorities bump task like interviews and recording observations off our to-do-list and understandably so. But trust me on this, if you allow customer service to fall short of your priorities you will get your head bashed by that not so friendly stress-myster guy. Find your confidence to eliminate classroom behavioral challenges by collecting accurate intelligence from observation, observation, observation. See it happening not how to get it done. Keep breathing.

This is a new series called Stressed Out K – 12 Education. Over the next several weeks we will explore classroom issues surrounding special needs, at-risk behaviors, student – teacher and teacher – parent relationships, and much more as it relates to reducing stress created from educational systems, narrow minded thinking of difficult colleagues, and the headaches of some one else’s undisciplined kids.

Copyright © 2009 | LaRon A. Carter “The Guest Teacher

Best Year Teaching: If you have been inspired from this article please consider leaving a comment and subscribing to the RSS feed (top right column) to have future post delivered to your feed reader. Please send your friends to http://laroncarter.com to connect with me or @laroncarter on Twitter.

Teaching Basics | Who’s Following Who

Photo Credit by Nelson Lauren

Photo Credit by Nelson Lauren

“Consider your origins: you were not made that you might live as brutes, but so as to follow virtue and knowledge.” Dante Alighieri


Stressed Out K – 12 Education Series 1.2

Before we get into the stink of smelly issues wrapped around your sanity and peace of mind during your first years of school, take a deep breath. If you are like most new teachers, even though it may be mid school year, you are probably feeling like you just want it all to be over right now. In the rare event of this is not being the case; this message is not for you at this time. Read on anyway and prepare for a rough forecast ahead. Don’t twist my message. Life is still good. I’m here to inspire you to assist your students (the younger the better) to become better problem solvers for themselves.

Birds of the Feather
Remember when mom and dad would monitor your relationships saying things like, “I don’t like that kid.” or “She’s not good for you.” But now that you’re older you understand that birds of the feather do really flock together even though you may have a friend or two that aren’t exactly good for you. Thank God you are older and wiser now. Keeping friends at a safe distance is easier these days. But kids haven’t developed that skill set yet. They’re still flying blindly. Here’s where you come in – But not so quick, Newbie. You’re a Semi-Pro now, a New Leader of little soon to be leaders. Fly in like the military in a Stealth aircraft.

Recon Intel Rules
One of the most valuable methods of collecting intelligence on your students is observation, observation, observation. Now you may need to implement several resources in order to accomplish this mission. I will cover observation methods from my high level Intel military perspective in later post. For now however, I want you to keep it basic. Consider using these three types of intelligence collecting methods.

• Visual (what you see)
• Visual (what the family sees)
• Visual (how the student sees it)

What You See
Be careful not to over analyze the observations you make, particularly with who your students follow. That’s a sure way to stress your self out quick. Because what you think you see may not really be what you think you see. Trust your intuition. Does that make since? Even the Secret Service didn’t fully understand what was behind the President’s social media network following when the Obama’s demanded to keep their Blackberry phones.

He built a historic and award winning political campaign from making social observations and implementing connecting systems. Systems that collected intelligence that told a hidden story (and hidden dollars) his competition wasn’t able to collect in time for a win. I’m sure they were constantly stressing over it as well. You school may come down hard on the use of new media technology in your district. They may not understand what’s going on. You know what time it is.

Document observation notes in a separate journal, voice mail, or iPod if you have to. Just make sure it’s as it happens. You want to record accurate Intel in real time, but you don’t want to be distracted to the point of being knocked off task. Take time to develop a method that works for you. The results will prove to be priceless. Record micro notes of things like: moods, behaviors, patterns, and habits; who students are connected with, customer service phone calls/visits home; and interviews with students.

To be continued . . .
I will write more about the basics of observations tomorrow. Until then, stay focused. And stay confident that you will successfully make it through this marking period even though you wish it were over. There are more than twelve weeks left. You will win!

This is a new series called Stressed Out K – 12 Education. Over the next several weeks we will explore classroom issues surrounding special needs, at-risk behaviors, student – teacher and teacher – parent relationships, and much more as it relates to reducing stress created from educational systems, narrow minded thinking of difficult colleagues, and the headaches of some one else’s undisciplined kids.

Copyright © 2009 | LaRon A. Carter “The Guest Teacher

Best Year Teaching: If you have been inspired from this article please consider leaving a comment and subscribing to the RSS feed (top right column) to have future post delivered to your feed reader. Please send your friends to http://laroncarter.com to connect with me or @laroncarter on Twitter.