Maya Angelou – “That’s Me”

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I got the call late in the afternoon.  My literary role model had moved on from this earth.  I blinked hard, and my throat was sand dry, for Maya Angelou had shaped not only how I thought about the written word but how I perceived struggle and being a woman of color–phenomenally of course!

She was a brilliant word ninja, transparent in thought and feeling, and bold to tell the world her life stories.  And it was with comfort and in lore that I felt connected to her experiences and reflected on her example.

There are people in this world who lovingly shape and encourage wholeness and empowerment in others, as did Maya Angelou.  Her confidence and strength was dignified and appealing, and I had the feeling she wanted the same for every person who read her works.

Her “Phenomenal Woman” is, perhaps, the most solidly written anthem for a woman’s self-image.  Every girl should read and believe.

Personally, I lapped up every single phrase of “Phenomenal Woman,” reading it like a mantra, wanting to believe I was, and could proudly say, “That’s me!”

In honor of Maya Angelou, enjoy the following excerpt from “Phenomenal Woman,” and please share and pass it on to all of the women in your life:

“Now you understand

Just why my head’s not bowed.

I don’t shout or jump about

Or have to talk real loud.

When you see me passing,

It ought to make you proud.

I say,

It’s in the click of my heels,

The bend of my hair,

The palm of my hand,

The need for my care.

‘Cause I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.” – Maya Angelou

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and our programs please visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com.

Sammy@TSC

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5 Ways to Help You Deal with Negative Child Behavior More Positively

 

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Ten-year-old Jonny is having an out-of-body-experience melt down, and you are his #1 target, absorbing the full impact of all his emotion.  Sometimes, being a parent stinks (and not just when you change diapers).  How do you deal with the negative behavior positively without being sucked into having your own tantrum or lashing out at your child?  Here are 5 ways to engage more positively.

1.  Trigger Awareness –There are certain triggers that may set off a child like hunger, a lack of sleep, overstimulation (think video-game gorging), feeling lonely or frustrated.  Now, add a parent’s trigger– let’s say whining–to the interpersonal-communication mix, and the exchange could be quite negative.  Knowledge of both self and child equips us with the ability to think through negative behavior and potential resolutions.  A basic understanding of triggers allows a logical connection to the cause of a negative behavior.

2.  Prevention – Now that there is an understanding of the cause for negative behavior, like a lack of sleep–which is the case for two children and one parent in my house–we need to adopt practices that will either evade triggers or build critical thinking skills to work through triggers that are unavoidable.  This may mean adjusting bedtime hours.  An earlier bedtime for the child (or parent) may be the difference between a pleasant day or one filled with outbursts, defiance, and the inability to focus.  If there is complete knowledge of a trigger, yet, as parents, we do not take preventive measures, then we should brace ourselves with empathy for what will come.  If we continue to ignore preventive measures then we have set up the child for negative behavior.

3.  Discipline – This, of course, is always a prickly subject, but let us define discipline as loving correction, in that children need to be directed and corrected in order to be equipped for their adult lives.  I’m not advocating control or micromanagement, or worse, nagging.  When we, as parents, take time to let Jonny know the way to behave appropriately or to take care of himself, then we have shown an interest in our child.  A child lacking parental discipline will present with issues of self-control and personal discipline, in both childhood and adulthood.

4.  Reinforcements –– Know when you may need some help understanding and dealing with your child’s behavior.  Relatives, good friends, teachers, or, if needed, professional counselors, can be worth their weight in gold if they help make your job as a parent easier.  I remember taking a parenting workshop with a friend entitled, “How to make your child mind, without losing yours.”  The information and practical tips I picked up then, I still use today.  I would have otherwise been unaware of these techniques, had I not attended that workshop.  There is no shame in seeking guidance.  None of us have all of the answers, but as a collective group of parents and professionals, solid advice and counseling can allow us to parent in a more positive and joyful way.

5.  Consistency –– In order for #1 through #4 to work, we need to adhere to the same course of action. Regularly evaluating what may elicit certain behaviors.  The triggers of today will not necessarily be the ones of tomorrow, and the moment we bend or break the rules of discipline, is the moment we will have to start from scratch.

Give some thought to at least one strategy  that you can reap the benefits from.  Remember, we all stumble as parents but we need to encourage ourselves and each other often.  We will never regret the effort nor time we dedicate to our children.

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice please visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

Sammy@TSC

The Five-Second Rule

 

lollipopHave you ever had those incredible moments of frustration that make you want to run, screaming, down the street?  Sure, you have, if you are a teacher, parent or both.  Your role is typically challenged by moments that require every ounce of maturity and wisdom to get you through the day.  Sometimes, it takes a sweet treat to help work through that frustration.

I am reminded of a sticky lollipop falling to the floor and tiny hands rescuing it from the grimy kitchen surface.   With a resounding pitch, my seven-year-old claimed it: “Five-second rule!”  Then, he quickly popped it into his mouth and went about his business.

Yes, the “five-second rule” still lives on, my friends.  I hadn’t heard it in some time, and, at that moment, I thought: What if I took five seconds not to react to people or circumstance? It takes mental awareness and self-control not to lash out when people, places, or life irritates me.   What if I stopped and took five seconds to breathe, or five seconds to be still or five seconds to think about my next course of action?

It’s a simple technique to engage our critical thinking skill set and bring us to a place of interaction vs. reaction.   Modeling this behavior reinforces the developing process that we teach our charges.  When we “walk the talk” our actions carry a stronger message over the words pouring out of our lips.

Sometimes taking five seconds is the difference between enjoying the lollipop or crushing it mercilessly, so the next time you find yourself on the brink, think: Five-second rule!

For more information on the TURNING STONEchoice process please visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

Sammy@TSC

 

 

Teacher Appreciation

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“When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” ~ Maya Angelou

It’s time to thank the dedicated teachers for all their sacrifices and support for children throughout the year.  Teachers play a key role in student success and feeling valued lets teachers know their efforts are not going unnoticed.

“Ideal teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross, then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own.” ~ Nikos Kazantzakis

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School – No Books Allowed

21st+Century+Word+CloudA technological tidal wave has taken over schools and the future of text books is slowly morphing to their electronic cousins.  With the majority of advocates toting technology as the skill of the future, it may be hard to defend the paper back.  Educators, parents and IT gurus have all chimed in on the pros and cons of moving to digital text books. Deliberation over a complete integration is not taken lightly and some concerns linger.

Do students have the capacity to carrying the burden of such a responsibility?  When everything is said and done, an ipad or similar tablet is a very thin, portable computer.  Our children will be responsible for the physical safety of a computer. When kids are notorious for losing items like text books or even the shoes off their feet, is it a reasonable expectation to think that they can keep a tablet safe and secure?  Consider, some school districts struggle with theft and vandalism of their technological resources.

Yes, students embrace technology, yet, struggle with responsible use.  Students currently are using Smart boards, ipads, and desktops during the school day and will then utilize cell phones to interact with family and friends, bring their electronic text books home, do research for school projects on the internet, type up their homework assignments on chat boards and then blow off some steam to play video games, watch some TV or surf the web.

This amount of “screen time” is not maintaining a healthy balance.  Students struggle with unplugging.  There are actual cases of addiction to video games and internet surfing.   Evidence also supports too much screen time can cause a medical condition called computer vision syndrome which causes eye strain and damage.  Additionally, any screen time leading up to bedtime has been proven to effect melatonin levels in the body causing sleep deprivation.

Students need to understand how their overall health is affected by their time spent using digital gadgets, so they can make positive choices.   Equipping students with strategies to balance their leisure screen time with academic responsibilities may prove to be an eye and sleep saver.

Striking a balance with amount of use is second to the ways students have misused technology.  The media is filled with sick and sad stories of social media harassment, bullying and individuals that stalk and prey on children. Cell phones are used to take pictures without permission or record a crime.   Developing the critical thinking skills of the 21st century student is crucial to making safe and smart choices with technology.

Jennifer Patrick, a 7th grade social studies teacher shares her experience and perspective, “My school supplies us with a Social Studies textbook for every student. Our department has not transitioned to digital books, yet.  I used to give each kid a textbook to keep at home. Now I make the offer optional.  I can probably count on my hands the number of times we use the textbook in class each year.  It serves mainly as a supplement.  The wealth of text rich resources available online makes learning meaningful and promotes deeper thinking . . . experiences that traditional textbooks rarely offer.  Given my content area, I think digital books make exploring history more appealing to 21st century learners than the “dusty old textbooks”.  I recognize the concerns about the cost and access to technology for digital books to be feasible.  However, considering our tech savvy audience and the fact that these resources will never be outdated, I would fully support a move to digital books.”

Michael Rubright from EIRC (Educational Information & Resource Center) is responsible for technology rollouts schools are currently using like web based text books and tablet integration in the classroom. He believes educators should be partnering with businesses that understand the role of technology in schools and rely on the experts to help provide technology policies that address issues and concerns.  Rubright suggests an upfront tutorial for teachers, staff and students, on how to use the technology appropriately, “This is key to setting expectations for usage.”

Guidance and training on how to use digital textbooks or any technology is not necessarily the challenge. The challenge lies with the level of responsibility for the resource, an understanding of how to best balance technology and the appropriate use.  Without the continued effort to foster a student’s ability to make positive choices, students will not only struggle with technology, but with life in general.

For more information on the TURNING STONEchoice process please visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

Sammy@TSC