On a Career of Two Halves

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Everyone evolves in their job or career. It’s different for everyone; however, not only do each of us change, different reasons initiate each bit of change. Do you have a single moment that changed your career life? If so, do remember the key components as place, date, time, and situation?

I can’t imagine a teacher getting it right on Day 1 of their career. After all, one enters their classroom from the protective confines of observations, experiences, and student teaching – but now that new teacher is all alone with the elements.

To me, my teaching career involved two halves. Content and discipline dominated the first half. After all, two of my strengths were organizing and explaining information.

I recall a story of student who came to my defense when a peer complained that I was so hard. She explained that I was easy because I presented the information well, laid it out in front them, but the content was hard – not me. Oh my, is biology ever heavy in terminology. On the other hand, I later determined that didn’t mean I was a good teacher.

The labs were OK, but not my strength. Like most science teachers, labs were done to support/verify the already-presented content.

I don’t know how it happened, but professional development was very important to me. State, regional, and national conferences were always on my radar. I tried to attend those within a reasonable distance, plus I didn’t mind providing some of my own expenses because (the way I saw it) that’s what professionals do. These conferences were learning experiences – although a side of me (like most teachers) was looking for ideas to fit into my system – after all, I (like most teachers) know what is best for my students.

Toward the end of my career’s first half, the school district hired a math-science curriculum coordinator. Although primarily a math person, I processed her thoughts because she was good at stimulating my thinking. Besides – I had already heard this information before at the conferences; but I didn’t put my knowledge into action.

I wish I would have recorded the date, time, exact setting, and circumstances of the next event. I recall being in a session at a National Science Teachers Association regional conference in Louisville, Kentucky when the light bulb became bright – causing me to proclaimed, “I’ve done a great job of doing it wrong all these years.”

Reflections can be powerful, and I wonder how many people would admit what I did – especially one with 13 or so years of experience. From that moment in Louisville, I committed myself to change. During the rest of the school year, our coordinator encouraged me to try some things – similar to test driving a car – which I did. I also identified areas where I needed training – plus where to get it – and I eagerly attended several intense classes and workshops for 6 months.

As the next school year started, my teaching approach and philosophy changed 180 degrees. I shifted from a lecture-based to activity-based – from teacher centered to student centered – from content driven to application based – from textbook driven to the textbook being an aid – from the sage on the stage to the guide on the side – from dispensing informing to students to having students learn for themselves – from me telling what they needed to know to me guiding their learning as they figure it out – from me tweaking prepared activities to me designing my own lessons that had a clearly defined instructional strategy.

There is no question that the last half of my career was more rewarding than the first half. I loved the challenge of developing and implementing a lesson. My most rewarding moments would be standing and looking at a classroom of every student engaged without me. I wrote my own lessons and was very good at it. My first-half strengths of organizing information and controlling the classroom helped immensely. After all, I had been there and done that.

The last half of my career taught me how to teach. It taught me how people learn. It taught me that change can occur – especially when driven from within. Yes, it made me stubborn with teachers I encountered who held onto the past of teaching how they were taught.

I later had some years in training development for businesses. I cringed when hearing someone say, “Anyone can teach” – well, in business it’s “anyone can train!” I knew I had arrived in my new endeavor when I was disagreeing with the majority of others in the field around me. After all, I had the advantage of knowing that telling isn’t teaching, and telling isn’t training.

On a Beach Walk: No. 36

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

I walked thinking about my early morning experience that we call dawn.

I awakened early today. The sky was dark and clear, the moon set, the stars still shining, and the sun providing a very faint glimmer in the eastern sky.

Everything I could see was a shade of gray – essentially the darkness was responsible for eliminating colors. I’m reminded of Nights in White Satin (Moody Blues)

Cold hearted orb that rules the night, Removes the colours from our sight, Red is gray and yellow white, but we decide which is right. And which is an illusion?”

I stood on the balcony high above the sand watching the colors of the predawn light slowly unfold in the eastern sky. The narrow red stripe at the dark’s sky edge is what caught my attention. A distant light source was proclaiming the nearing end of night.

 

I think about dawn.

Dawn – a time when deeply inhale to capture the freshest air.

Dawn – a moment in time when we can open our minds without future fears.

Dawn – a feeling that is a moment that can flow into the new day that lies ahead.

 

 

Dawn – the seeing of the light to lead us out of the darkness of tomorrow into today.

Dawn – a time for renewal, rebirth, a fresh start, a chance to make amends.

Dawn – a time of hope, a chance to move forward, a change for the better

Dawn – something that we can’t control that marks the transition from an end to a beginning.

 

Dawn – a time for the conductor to drop the baton for the cacophony of nature music by the aviary chorus.

Dawn – a beginning of the golden shower from above that rains upon life.

Dawn – a free magical moment that too many miss.

 

This was my morning experience – Thinking about dawn – and simply another reason that walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 372

 

Pronouns: The Musical is continue its trek this weekend featuring songs with Him in the title. Curtain time is Saturday at 1:00 am (Eastern US). Similar to the last act (He), Him is challenging.

As fires ravage the western US and flood waters run rampant in the east, a reminder to all who are able and willing to donate to a disaster relief fund of your choice. Charity Navigator rates charity based on performance, financial health, accountability, and transparency.

We were in downtown Cincinnati last weekend with friends, and I like this black and white picture that I captured.

Because I was off work at 2 pm and rained damped much of Thursday, we went to the movie theater to see Crazy Rich Asians. A sit-back-and enjoy type of movie. There is plenty of fun, interesting characters, beautiful scenery of Singapore, and opulence.

This was strange. I am prone to motion sickness, especially when spinning – therefore I avoid fast-turning dances like Viennese Waltz. My wife read a strange factoid that placing an earplug in one ear suppresses motion sickness – so we tried it at a dance lesson. Oddly enough, it seemed to work.

College football season is not far away. I foresee a long season for my teams (Oh how they’ve fallen). Meanwhile, I wish Texas and Oklahoma would leave the Big 12 for whoever wants them.

Congratulations John Howell for being the 80,000th comment! The next milestone will be August 28th – celebrating 10 years for my little corner of the world!

 

Democratic senators who meet with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and then give me a fair hearing – therefore saving the fight for another day.

The Left and the Right have more in common than they realize – especially when it comes about carrying to those in their party that are more to the center. Other than wanting money and votes, the Left and the Right want nothing to do with their respective moderates – so I provide this article written by a disgruntled Democrat.

I watched and listened to Omarosa’s interview on Meet the Press. I didn’t give Omarosa much credence when she was a member of the Trump administration, and my view hasn’t changed just because she’s written a tell-all book that criticizes President Trump. I’m not saying there are no truths in her story, I still question her credibility; therefore will not automatically embrace her thoughts just because I don’t support President Trump.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides a historical timeline regarding studies on the effects of coffee.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Christian pornographer refuses to film sex tape for gay couple
Caterpillar in pupal stage for past 3 months going to be pissed if it turns out to be moth
Unhinged man with jackhammer slips into construction site undetected
Surgeon pretty bummed about losing patient, but it’s not like they were good friends or anything
Orca mother carries around dead calf for two weeks as warning to all who would defy her
Elderly woman spends day in park feeding pigeons dismembered husband

Interesting Reads

14 words defining the present
America’s “nones” and religion
Elephant’s way fighting cancer
What Americans want via reform
A transformation face transplant
Beer in Mesopotamia?
(Photos) Abandoned Russia

To send you into the weekend and continuing the summer theme, here’s a rocker from the past that also serves as a shout out to my Canadian friends. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Multiple Connections

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In November 2014 I posted this collaboration with a photographer around the word connection. Below are a few thoughts from that post.

Connection: A correspondence between two partially ordered sets
Connection: Causal or logical relation or sequence
Connection: A relation of personal intimacy
Connection: A means of communication or transportation
Connection: synonyms including coherence, continuity, link, affinity, association, kinship, liaison, linkage, relation, relationship, union

This past April I wrote a ballroom post about Lead and Follow. Since that post, I continued thinking about the role of connection in ballroom – especially in a social ballroom dance setting. After all, our instructor preaches it! The Lead and Follow post included the following paragraph:

Lead and Follow requires a connection between the partners because that connection is the communication line transmitting signals through a strong frame. With the goal of moving together as one, signals travel through any of the following (or combination of): whole body, core, shoulders, hips, back, elbows, arms, hands, legs, and feet, plus extensions and compressions.

In ballroom there are other connections beyond the physical connection between the dancers:

  • the physical connection between two dancers
  • the connection between dancers and the craft
  • the connection between the dancers and the music
  • the mental connection that some partners have with each other
  • the connections between friends
  • the connection between instructor and students
  • the connection between the feet and the floor – and I imagine a few more.

The music is part of the setting. The music can be traditional ballroom, contemporary, and from a variety of genre. In general, I see three key factors from the music affecting ballroom dance: timing, tempo, and rhythm.

Timing: Whereas waltz music is in 3-4 time (3 beats per measure), the other ballroom dance are in 4-4 time (4 beats per measure.

Tempo: How fast/slow is the music? For instance, Rumba and Bolero music are similar, but Bolero is slower. Viennese Waltz is faster than Ballroom Waltz. Three-count Hustle music is slower than Four-count Hustle. East Coast Swing is faster than West Coast Swing, but not as fast as Lindy.

Rhythm: The background rhythms supporting the music provide the musicality and the feel for the dance. Whereas a friend would say one can dance Tango to Foxtrot music (and vise versa), I say that would be a mismatch between the music and the dance because the background rhythms supporting the music are vastly different – therefore not even close.

Regardless of the place, the music sets a tone – a mood for the dancers to explore. Therefore, different dances provide different moods: Cha cha is playful and sharp. Foxtrot is smooth and classy. Waltz is grace and elegance. Rumba is rhythmic and sultry. Bolero is fluid and romantic. Salsa is lively and party-time. Quickstep is exuberant and glamorous. East Coast Swing is fun and energetic, but West Coast Swing is bluesy and slinky. Tango is strong and edgy, but Argentine Tango is personal and intricate.

Different songs provide different moods. For instance, the elegance of waltz serves to transport the mind to a beautiful place. The beauty of the dance fits with the beauty the music provides. Music comes from many sources – including popular songs. However, not all danceable waltzes set the same mood. Yes, I’m picky on that count – for instance, many country waltzes are for a bar or a barn – not a ballroom.

So to put the two thoughts together. Two dancers with a strong physical connection in their frame and contact points in the presence of the right music, the dance can be special. The dance can be a moment that one may never forget. At the end, the dancers may look into each other’s eyes with special admiration and gratitude for the moment. Now that’s what connection can do in a social ballroom setting.

“Laughter, song, and dance create emotional and spiritual connection; they remind us of the one thing that truly matters when we are searching for comfort, celebration, inspiration, or healing: We are not alone.” (Brené Brown, author)

Below are two scenes from popular movies that you may have seen … and these scenes are about important aspects of connection – well, at least to me. Enjoy, and thanks for reading. Does this make any sense?