#DBCBookBlogs: Sanctuaries

Book 60. Let’s just take a minute. Be still. Silent. Slow down and appreciate the fact that this organic publishing company, born from a single book, has revolutionized educational professional development to its core. SIXTY books, y’all. And they’re not obscure books. They’re best-sellers. They are inspirational. Many are being used similar to textbooks in preservice teaching courses! And they are real books, about real educators, doing real things… so yeah, just take a minute. Respect. Dave & Shelley, I am blown away. Congratulations on book 60! I’m betting we’ll see book 100 in 2019! I can’t wait to see who will have that honor!!!

So let’s get down to it! Who had the honor of being book 60? The same amazingly relaxed, zen-like educator who authored book 8 The Zen Teacher! Dan Tricarico brings us book 60 and it dropped at the perfect time of year; a time when most teachers are on break! Sanctuaries is a stunningly beautiful book and is full of incredible strategies to give ourselves the same kind of care we’d give others.

Sanctuaries

I’m always up for a dose of irony. Are you? So, I received this book before Christmas. It is now a week later and I’m just getting to sit down and read the book. Holidays. Whew! What a crazy hectic time of year! In fact, we were on our way down to my in-laws to celebrate Christmas and I used the commute time to read (I was a passenger; no worries about I-77 travel in NC, other than the usual). It didn’t take long to start laughing out loud; I love Dan’s sense of humor.

When we got home, I was dying to finish reading it, so I holed up in my bed, opened up to the last page I was on before it got too dark to read in the van (we’re Sienna people – if you’ve read Teach Like A Pirate, you know that the Burgess clan and I disagree here), I got out my blue highlighter and dug in. As I’m reading, trying to be as immersed as I can, my daughters are playing with some (insanely loud) robots/cars/toys they got for Christmas, my husband is “watching” Mythbusters while really watching Facebook videos at the highest volume possible (maybe not, but it seemed that way), the dog is snoring, and the whir of the ceiling fan somehow started echoing in my ears… Guess which chapter I was reading at that very moment…

Y’all… I can’t make that up. I even tried to get the audio for you so you could get the full effect, but the 7,168 images and the apps saved on my phone caused my recording to not save.

So here’s the deal. When I read & blogged about The Zen Teacher back in early July, I was a bit hard on Dan. “I was not excited. Period. I tried to be… really, I tried so hard! I gave myself a big pep talk before I even opened it.” – yeah, I said that… that was me. This was not the case with Sanctuaries! (Also, I ended up LOVING every minute of that book once I started it. So I knew that Sanctuaries would be just as epic!) Dan has been such an amazing asset since reading his first book! I have taken two of his online courses and have had several fantastic conversations with him. I was chomping at the bits to get Sanctuaries started! As he states in the introduction,

“If The Zen Teacher reminds you to take care of yourself, Sanctuaries shows you how.”

I love the practicality of Sanctuaries! There are so many implementations possible from my reading! My highlighter was working overtime! Dan even leaves space in the book to work out your own Sanctuary Plan and that got filled up quick in my book! You’ll definitely want to buy your own copy and not borrow this one from a friend. (Truly, friends likely won’t even loan this one because they will have written their own self-care plan in it.)

By the time I was on page 100, I was just itching to grab my computer and blog! I’m glad I didn’t though, because I came across more goodness in the next 68 pages!

I could write for hours about how great this book was and how timely the message is, but then I’d essentially rewrite his book and he does a MUCH better job than I ever could at telling this story. Just trust me when I say it’s worth your time! Make your first act of self-care to be purchasing this book for yourself. If you don’t believe self-care is important, I challenge you to purchase The Zen Teacher (Pro Tip: Go ahead and purchase both at the same time so you can have Sanctuaries ready to go because then you’ll realize how important self-care really is. Just sayin’)

My implementation is directly from the book. Sometimes I choose something totally off the wall based on what meaning I found from the book, but this one – it’s pretty much taken straight from the words of Dan himself. Dan talks about the Five S’s – these are imperative to our self-care. I need each of these in my life, intentionally and radically (he talks about this early on, too).

Silence

Mama needs silence, y’all. I’ve got to find time in my day, those fast breaks, where I can relish in the silence. These moments are rare, but I will find ways to purposefully seek out silence more often – even if it means silencing headphones. No lie.

Stillness

One of my very favorite Bible verses is Psalm 46:10: Be still and know that I am God. There is so much power in just being still. Being still requires trust and reverence for the moment. So many people revel in busyness – constantly running here or there, but Dan urges us just to stop. Be still. Take it all in. Use our senses to appreciate the stillness.

Subtraction

This is the big time y’all. It’s the end of 2018. What have you not used this year? Why is it still in your home? I’m obviously talking to myself too. If you could see my daughters’ playroom right now… I’m legitimately looking right at it and it looks like I could have self-funded ToysRUs before they went out of business. Tomorrow, they’ll be figuring out what they can subtract from that room. I’ll be going onto my bookshelves and determining what I can subtract from it (don’t worry; the DBC books are safe, y’all). I need to open my fridge and figure out what can be subtracted there. My closet. The pantry. Our [outdated] movie collection. The bathroom vanity drawers. Medicine cabinet. I’ll be subtracting like a wild woman.

I also need to subtract from our calendar. We need to free up some space there, too. Over this holiday break, my family has watched three movies. This isn’t anything new; we watch movies all the time. What’s new is that we watched them …(wait for it)… as a family. On the TV. In the living room. Not Bailey watching one on her new Chromebook, Sophie watching one on her iPad, Chris watching one on his iPad, and me binge-watching The Office on Netflix (yes, I read that part, Danny). We watched each of them together. It was wonderful.

Space

It’s important to clear mental, physical, spiritual space and I need to do more of that. Once I’ve subtracted, I believe the space will abound. I am a minimalist by nature. I only have curtains and pictures on the walls because my husband picked them out and hung the frames – seriously. In the media center, there are no books on display atop the shelves. I know that’s a cardinal sin of libraries and there are amazing media friends of mine who will likely be trying to hold an intervention, but I don’t like it. I feel like it looks cluttered. I like artwork on our shelves.

Slowing Down

I need to do this. In my car. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of being a passenger while I drive, you likely suffer from white knuckle syndrome. I have a bit of a lead foot. I need to single-task as Dan discusses in the book. Devote myself to one task at a time, finish it, then move to the next one. It seems counter-productive at first, but now I won’t need to go back and fix my errors that I likely made while multi-tasking.

I loved this book. You will, too. Well done, Dan Tricarico. The 60th book from the DBC, Inc line continues to uphold the tradition of excellence. Go now and grab your copy and prepare to take care of yourself. We are in a profession that is about giving and giving and giving. Take some time to give to yourself. Give yourself the gift of self-care. You deserve it!

The flipgrid is available! You’ll definitely want to check this one out! Thanks to Andrea Paulakovich for this tremendous idea & offering to allow me to copilot the space with her when #DBC50Summer first started!

Oh, and in case you were wondering… there is an acronym. It’s solid stuff.

Stained Glass and Snowflakes

Stations. The best unkept secret in education.

Snowflakes are hexagonal… perhaps the best kept secret in advertising.

macro photography of snowflake

Photo by Egor Kamelev on Pexels.com

During #DBC50Summer, I followed every author from Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc on Twitter and love being connected to them! One of the funniest authors is easily Denis Sheeran, author of Instant Relevance. His sense of humor pulled me into his book and now I get to enjoy his wit through social media. He created a hashtag to serve as a Public Service Announcement. Snowflakes are hexagons. Really! #Snowflakesarehexagons

The poetry written to the companies along with the photos of his own version of “false advertisement” cracks me up! With those posts, do you know what he did? He made me stop and count the dang sides of every. single. snowflake. in every. single. ad. I see.

Our amazing 8th grade math teachers, Ms. Luce & Mrs. Hawks, and I had already planned to do an extension of a PBL in MinecraftEDU. The students had learned about how linear functions are used to create stained glass windows. They had a guest speaker a few weeks ago who actually showed them how she creates stained glass and students have been creating their own stained glass (by coloring) and figuring out the linear function in slope-intercept form of each line. In MinecraftEDU, students could create a stained glass of their choosing. This could be done by modifying the one they created with linear functions to be “blocky” so it could be built in the game, they could create anything from scratch, or they could look up pixel art and use stained glass blocks or wool to create it.

This gave us two stations in our classes, but we needed a third. I had just discovered that Sprite had six-pointed snowflakes on their product (thanks to Denis’s Twitter PSA) and thought students might have fun discovering which products had “the right snowflakes” on them.

Our third station was a huge hit!

First, students searched for snowflakes in advertising and shared an image they found on a Padlet. Bonus for me: I get to talk about digital citizenship next week and have students determine if this was best practice for using images! (Hint: No, no it was not.)

After finding an image, they read one of the three articles referenced in Denis’s blog post Snowflakes are Hexagons. They were to secretly tell me how many sides every snowflake has and why it has that many sides based on their research.

Upon giving me the correct answer, the students did exactly as Denis suggests in his blog… they created paper snowflakes. There were a lot of octagons, decagons, quadrilaterals, and circles, until finally someone used their resources and googled “How to make a six-sided snowflake.” HA! My principal suggested taking it up a notch further. These paper snowflakes (with the correct number of sides, of course) will be used as decorations for their Winter Dance in December.

Check out a few of their creations that I tweeted out! There are dozens and dozens of hexagonal snowflakes in our media center now!

 

Then, this morning, this kid blew me away!

The MinecraftEDU station turned out pretty fantastic, too! I am currently working to upload the file on my YouTube channel and will embed here when finished, but for now, check out this link to a walkthrough on my Google Drive. (There is no sound.) I was so impressed with what they built in the 25-30 minutes they had available to create. Several came before and after school as well as during their lunch to finish their stained glass pixel art and more have asked to return this week. Students showed one another how to “light up” their windows using glowstone, so when the world turns to night it glows in the most beautiful colors!

I am so proud of the students I serve, and the teachers were blown away by both their stained glass creations and their unique snowflakes. This was one of those times that we got it right. Thank you, Denis for inspiring a way to make learning relevant for our students! This definitely serves as one implementation (I’m sure there will be many more to come) for my #DBC50Summer post on Instant Relevance! I am honored that our 8th grade math teachers trusted me to help create this PBL extension and spur-of-the-moment lesson on snowflakes. I’m looking forward to more lessons like this!

Where Everybody Knows Your Name?

My family and I just returned from a week of luxury aboard the Disney Fantasy, a cruise ship with the Disney Cruise Line. We were thrilled to be able to spend time as a family, completely removed from work, social media, and the stress of day-to-day life.

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Disney Fantasy in port in Cozumel, Mexico

From the moment we stepped off the airplane and into the Disney transportation portion of Orlando International Airport, we were treated to the Disney experience. Because it’s just the way I am, I couldn’t ignore the connections between the Disney experience and the experience I try to give students at school each day.

Of course, the customer service was superb and the amenities were outstanding. Disney pulled out all the stops; they went all out to ensure that our experience made our family feel special and made us want to come back. Our schools should be like Disney for our students. Every child, yes, even those children, should feel special, cared for, and like we want them to come back.

What stood out the most to me was the relationships formed while on the ship. In just seven nights, we formed bonds with other families that will last a lifetime. My children were devastated to leave the characters and the fun, but they were also sad to leave our stateroom host and servers! How does Disney form these relationships so quickly?! Two big things stood out to me!

§- The Power of A Name -§

It started from the moment we embarked on the ship. We were greeted instantly and were asked our family name. Upon entering the ship’s atrium for the first time, we were introduced to the cast members and crew of the Disney Fantasy and were met with applause. A crew member took us to the side and gave us a quick rundown of logistical information and invited us to the Sail Away Party later that afternoon. After asking if we had any questions (we did not), she encouraged us to explore the ship and shared where to go if questions should arise later. What a greeting!

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Our amazing stateroom host, Narciso

If you ever doubt the power of learning names, let me share this short story…

Narciso was our stateroom host. Every time we ran into him in the hallway, our conversation went something like this:

Narciso: Good morning, Alicia! How did you sleep?

Alicia: Great, thank you! How was your evening?

N: It was good! Are you planning to visit the island today?

A: We’re hoping to. We didn’t plan an excursion but we hope to check out the shops nearby.

N: Sounds great! I hope you and your family have a great day. Is there anything I can do to make your stay more comfortable?

A: No, thank you.

N: Will Bailey or Sophie be on the top bunk tonight? (He placed the stuffed animals they sleep with on the bed when he turned them down each night.)

And the conversation would continue. He was exceptional! On a ship full of strangers, it felt like home because someone knew our name, and greeted us by name. It had a calming effect that I wasn’t expecting. I realize that if I feel more comfortable in a space upon hearing my name, our students likely do as well.

§- Likes and Dislikes -§

At our first dinner our server and assistant server introduced themselves and called us by name, asking what we preferred to be called. They already knew our names because they had taken the time to view our information before we joined them. Our servers had between 24-30 people to attend to throughout the cruise during our seating, with another 24-30 at the other dinner seating. They had our names memorized and quickly learned what we liked and disliked in meal preferences.

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Danijel (server), the Faulkners, the Rays, and Clifton (assistant server)

Now I don’t, for even a second, believe Clifton just remembered that my oldest daughter wanted Sprite and my youngest daughter wanted water with extra ice nor do I believe that Danijel remembered that I like my sirloin cooked medium and my husband is an adventurous eater. They took the time to write it down, jotting a note in their record so they could refer to it the next night. How often do we do that with our students? If you are a classroom teacher, I encourage you to make a list of your students and write as much as you can about each one from memory, and add to it as the year progresses. Because I fully believe Dave Burgess‘s quote “Inspiration without implementation is a waste,” I will use a <large> notebook (I serve approximately 400 students and 30 educators) and create a page for each one, adding notes about their likes and dislikes as our relationships continue to form. Is that going to take time? Of course! Will it be worth it? I believe so.

Why do I think it’ll be worth it? I just experienced 7 nights with people I’ve never met before who took the time to pay attention to the little things and get to know me as a person. I never felt like just another family on vacation. I never want my students to feel as if they’re “just another student.” I want each one to feel special. That starts with knowing their name, pronouncing it correctly, and taking the time to learn their likes and dislikes to make a genuine connection as quickly as possible.