Grit

Fall and get up

With over ten years of back-yard observation, I have witnessed scores of children “wipe out” a gazillion times. There is the simple trip-and-fall, the oh-that’s-gotta-hurt, and the paranormal tumble, with its subsequent ride to the ER. What has impressed me most throughout my years of observation is the one kid–no matter the classification of wipeout or injury—who stands up, brushes himself or herself off, and keeps on going. That is the kid who has “grit.”

Parents and teachers easily spot grit in a child. It’s the “thing” that gives you some assurance that this kid will be all right in life, because he or she can take the hard knocks and persevere.

How important is grit? Some researchers claim grit is a better predictor of success than I.Q. A 2013 report from the Department of Education claims that kids are learning to “do school,” but aren’t learning the skills they need in life– skills like critical thinking and positive-choice making, which are crucial to every area of life.

However, schools across the nation are becoming more proactive in recognizing the value of determination, effort, and hard work and are providing additional resources for the development of critical thinking skills, which improve self-confidence. One can argue that grit is just a byproduct of confidence, but, although we may see grit as a natural way for some, and not for others, researchers are hopeful that the qualities that define grit, like persistence, tenacity, and resilience, are teachable. The difficulty is trying to quantify the unquantifiable.

How can we develop grit? As parents and teachers, we can simply back off and let the struggles and natural consequences of life occur. Think of a butterfly working its way out of the cocoon. Without the struggle to free itself from the cocoon, the butterfly cannot develop the wing strength to fly, and it will die. It is a test of personal restraint, not to rescue students by giving hints to questions that may prove to be challenging or to take over tasks at home with which kids may struggle. Through every struggle, our children will develop persistence, resilience, and, finally, grit.

What are your “gritty” experiences as parents and teachers? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

For more information about our programs for parents and educators please follow http://www.turningstonechoice.com

Sammy@TURNING STONEchoice

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Teacher: The Real Four-Leaf-Clover

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Teacher, I know you have those marvelous kids in your class who struggle against unfathomable life circumstances, the ones you see trying to survive and attempting to get an education, but, at every turn, something or someone is blocking their efforts. And, you think, these kids deserve a break. It’s not their fault. They just need a little luck. At least, that is what has been on my mind and heart recently, with St. Patrick’s Day inching closer—Luck. However, I learned recently that the four-leaf clover, a symbol of good luck, actually represents much more, including Faith, Hope, and Love.

I can’t even begin to advise, in a quick article, on the way to reach and help those kids for whom our hearts ache. Circumstances can be tragically different from one student to the next. And, I know this can be depressing and discouraging, with a tinge of guilt in between.

This much I can tell you, teacher-friend. You are their good luck, Monday through Friday. You show up in their lives and present them with opportunity, encouragement, knowledge, care, and, for many of you, a whole lot of love. You are the symbol of the four-leaf clover, having faith in their abilities, hope for their futures, love for the unique individuals that they are, and crossed fingers for luck to come their way.

Good fortune may or may not chance upon them, but, because you show faith, perhaps they believe in themselves a little more; because you dare to hope for them, they begin to dream; and because you love them as they are, hurting and broken, they begin to love themselves. Perhaps, learning about themselves in this way empowers them to create their own luck.

Remember: You are someone’s good fortune. Thank you for being that teacher! Pass this along to your fellow four-leaf clovers.

Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

image from http://getbarmax.com/bar-exam-luc/

Selfie – An Empowering Choice

photo 1I confess to taking my first selfie this past week. Yep! That girl is me. I had mixed feelings about the process, since, to be honest, I was a total hater of the selfie. There seemed to be a tone of self-absorbed behavior that rubbed me the wrong way, when it came to selfies. I mean, consider the word, itself, which, by the way, is the word of the year 2013 for Oxford Dictionary.

Most of the selfies that I have seen, unfortunately, have been produced by teens making poor choices, searching for something beyond that which their audiences can give–perhaps a bit too much showing of self or a controversial setting that requires some adult intervention.

The primary reason I decided to click my pic was because I really didn’t want to! Looking at pictures of myself makes me want to sneeze. Even though I consider myself to be confident and comfortable with my physical image, I’m just like the millions of women around the world who can be self-conscious of the way I look, at times, wanting to measure up to the airbrushed faces that are stalking me everywhere I go. I thought, well my hair is a mess, I’m wearing no makeup, the lighting is horrible, and . . . girl, push through that fear , be brave and just take the picture.

My first attempt was comical. I giggled at myself, trying to figure out if I should stare at the little hole or the crazy twin looking back at me. I laughed hard and thought of the artistic details someone like Vincent Van Gough considered when he painted his own selfie. Trying to capture myself was equivalent to a dog trying to catch its tail. Sometimes you get a piece, but never the whole thing.

Yet, there is something empowering about being the artist and the subject matter, all in one. There is something of self to share that isn’t preoccupied with vanity; a self-acceptance in sharing the message, “I’m here, and I’m cool with who I am.” I came across a Dove You Tube that embraces the empowering component a selfie can have on mothers and daughters in regard to seeing oneself as beautiful. The video encouraged me with my newfound appreciation for the nuances of this art form.

I sent a trail of selfies to my husband, who replied, “Looks like you are having fun.” I was. Then, I realized, this was not my first selfie. A lost memory appeared, a time with a girlfriend, making silly faces at a Polaroid camera that spat out pictures of two girls enjoying their friendship.

Sometimes, we forget the innocence of a good time and over-analyze all the negative aspects and pitfalls of a new technology. I know it is our responsibility to be on guard as parents and teachers, but we should consider being less critical, remember the joy of our own youth and lead the way in initiating fun with empowering choices.

Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

Does racism still exist in America?

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During the winter break, our family watched the movie 42, the story of Jackie Robinson and his rise to the Brooklyn Dodgers as the first African-American to make it to professional baseball. I had mixed feelings about this movie prior to watching. I want my boys to understand meaningful moments in African-American history, but I want to protect them from the ills of racism, and I knew they would witness the raw racism of that time, and, sadly, I know they will encounter it at some point in their lives. Maybe not the boiling hatred that my father coped with or the obnoxious comments I endured, but the subtle slights or perceived judgments passed down to them because people are clueless to their own biases. One of the burdens in sending my children to school was wondering when someone was going to call them a nigger and how I was going to explain the meaning of a word steeped in hatred, oppression, and other adjectives that can never truly define it. Today, I witness racism fading with diverse groups of friends playing together and families of every race and culture coexisting in love. I see it losing its grip with each generation. With more than eight years in the school system, I have not had to console any of my boys because of scenarios similar to those of my own childhood. I can only hope that our conversations about the beauty of their skin, the blessing of their intelligence, and the incredible value of their worth, because they are unique, will give them the confidence to speak up for themselves, stand up for others, and respect all. As I was writing this last night, I hesitated to continue, because, well, there are some that feel this is a moot point; that either racism no longer exists or that people will not change. And then I was reminded of a young man that divided a nation again on this very issue, Trayvon Martin.
Michael McAuliff, a writer for the Huffington post shares and questions also if racism in America still exists, given past and current examples, with Trayvon Martin in the center of this question. See the link below to this article.
So, do you feel racism still exists? How do you address this issue with your students and children? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below. Your time and insight on this issue can benefit others.

~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/01/2013-racism_n_4525622.html

A TRULY PRICELESS GIFT – TIME

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School is out! Well, not yet. But, the buzz of a winter break is sublime to anticipate. Put down the lesson plans and the virtual chalk (does anyone use chalk anymore?). Your school district is giving you a priceless gift – time off. So, what are you going to do with that precious gift? Please do not pass over this reward. Imagine for a moment, you didn’t get it this year. What would that mean to you? Would rest and relaxation be more wonderful? Would spending that time with family and friends be sweeter? However you spend your winter break, we hope it is filled with great joy. Happy Holidays!

~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

photo credit – istock

The Intangible Wish List

I wish

The content Thanksgiving spirit in November has officially been thrown out with the leftover turkey and gravy, and the height of consumerism has taken over. Wish lists have been distributed. Anxiety- filled shoppers are buying everything in their paths before the clock strikes. I wish. . . has taken over the beginning of many conversations. My oldest son’s list is completely above his current socio-economic status, but then again, it is a wish list. Amusing longings pop up on Google when typing in – I wish, like I wish to lease a Subaru, I wish I could get rid of this cough and my fav, I wish I had curly hair. Through a search, I came across the Urban Art Project,” I Wish This Was. . .” by Candy Chang. Noticing an abundant number of abandoned buildings in her hometown of New Orleans, she created bright-red, fill-in-the-blank stickers with the words, “I WISH THIS WAS. . . ,” and the community would share their hopes for a particular building, like I wish this was a grocery store or a laundromat. Reading about the community response made me think of our children and how they are like empty buildings with potential. As parents and teachers, we place our red stickers of I wish on them and I wonder if they have the time to think about what they wish for. Not the laundry list of things, but the intangible wishes of their hearts. The intangible wishes could include I wish I had a friend, I wish I had more confidence, or I wish I was happy. The tricky thing about an intangible wish list is we can’t run out and buy it and stick a red bow on top of it. How priceless would it be to hear their intangible wishes and let them know they have the ability to make self-empowering choices to grant their own wishes?
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

http://candychang.com/i-wish-this-was/

Wonderful Kids – How Do We Get There?

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While enjoying an article on best practices for teaching, I immediately correlated some of the questions teachers were asked to contemplate to parents also. One question stood out to me: Are my actions bringing a child closer or farther away from educational opportunity? Now how about parents? This question is unique in that there is no single goal set in stone for us to consider. Teachers, your job is crazy tough, but the goal is as clear as glass even when it has children’s smudges all over it – educate. Aside from keeping my children alive, you may laugh but they often make this difficult, there are lists of goals that continue to grow and change and change again. We may want to help our children develop respect for others or self-discipline. But, can you remember when the goal was to get them to roll over or conquer potty training? So, the question is, are my actions bringing my child(ren) closer or father away from (insert goal)? An even greater question to chew on is, have we even considered goals for our children and shared those destinations with our kids? I have a good friend who takes an entire weekend away from the normal distractions of work and family life and develops plans for each of her children and reviews the plan from last year. Never looking to create the “perfect child” but to take time to really think and help that child in the way they are bent. Initially, I thought this was a wonderful but not entirely necessary idea. Until it became clear that she and her husband were being intentional parents, not willing to risk raising their children to chance. I know every parent wants to raise children who are all wonderful inside and out but have we examined how to get there?

We all need a little help in becoming the parent we want to be. TURNING STONEchoice is sponsoring a parent workshop series beginning October 16th in Mt. Laurel, NJ. For additional information and registration please follow this link http://www.turningstonechoice.com and hope to see you there.

~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com