Sunday, September 10, 2017

Book Review: From Leading to Succeeding by Douglas Reeves

This was not a book of choice, but I am on the leadership team at school and we were are doing a book study on it so I may as well use it as my September book. Its had some good key points in it so far, but just as many dull parts that I don't give two hoots about.

I was chosen to give a review of chapter two, on Trust.

Here are my take away points from the entire book:

Introduction: Consider reflecting on one element each day of the weekending your wek with a reflcion on sustainability. What will endure after you are gone? Stephen Covey (1989) suggests that we write our own eulogies. What endures? I doubt you want someone to utter at your memorial service, 'She completed more than 80% of the goals of her strategic plan.'"
- pg 10

CH1: Purpose- "There is a difference between a score and an emotional engagement that ignites a passion of educators, students, parents, and communities. For example, a gain in scores may or may not be proficient, but a reduction in the drop out rate has a profound impact on a community. For every high school drop out avoided, communities gain in revenue- sales and property taxes, income taxes, housing and automobile sales, and so on- and avoid costs in social services, medical care, community policing, and incarceration."
- pg 14

CH3- Focus- "For a full week, keep a detailed record of how you spend your time. Many apps are available that can help you do this quickly and easily and create a pie chart showing your actual time allocation."
-Pg. 31




Sunday, August 27, 2017

Book Review: Bossypants by Tina Fey

As as testament to how much I enjoyed this book, I finished all 277 pages in 7 days. This is a record time for me. Tina Fey's book is equally as hilarious as David Spade's bio that I read earlier this year. It was another glimpse of behind the scenes at SNL which is very entertaining.

Here's a blurb from one of my favorite parts:

Tina describing what its like when you are shooting a magazine cover:

"The photographer will ask you what kind of music you want to play during the shoot. Remember that whatever you choose will be blasted through the loft and heard by an entire crew of people who are all so cool that the Board of Education officially closed school. Just murmur, " Hip-hop," or make up the name of a hipster sounding band and then act superior when they've never heard of it. " Do you guys have any Asphalt of Pinking?"[disappointed] Really? [shrug] Whatever you want, then?" Sometimes they ask if you want to hook up your Ipod for background music. Do not do this. It's a trap. They'll put it on shuffle , and no matter how much Beastie Boys or Velvet Underground you have on there, the following four tracks will play in a row: "We'd Like to Thank You Herbert Hoover," from Annie, " Hold on" by Wilson Phillips, " That's What Friend Are For," Various Artists, and "We'd Like to Thank You Herbert Hoover" from Annie."

I laughed out loud because this is exactly what would happen to me!!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Book Review: The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

  I've learned that I am fascinated by true-crime stories! This one definitely kept me intrigued. Reading about Ted Bundy's double life was so fascinating and then learning in detail about the murders was like a bad car wreck. You hate it but you can't look away. While reading about him, I couldn't understand how he fooled so many girls into getting into his car. The his lures sounded phony to  me, but after watching You-Tube interviews with him, I can understand because he was so incredibly charming. I now have much more stranger danger after this book and I realize that just because someone is good looking and charismatic, it doesn't mean they can be trusted. I always think the best of people, but I will keep the Ted Bundy story in the back of my mind from here on out.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Book Review: The Pelican Brief by John Grisham

I've had this book on my list for a few years. I happened to run across it at Goodwill so I decided to snag it. For as thick as it was, I went through it pretty quickly. I'm all about murder mystery's lately!  It had just enough romance in it to keep me interested because I sure had a hard time following all the different characters and who they were in relation to one another.   I've never been good at keeping track of characters when there are many to follow within one storyline. Somehow, I made it through and I think I understand the gist of what was happening. There were a few slow parts, as to be expected, but as a whole I would say it kept me engaged and was a page turner!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Book Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

My second book of the month! Yay! I read this one to my 6th graders and I cannot recommend it enough! There were parts that had us laughing, parts that had us sitting on the edge of our seat, shocking parts, and also parts that I had to try really hard not to cry through while reading it aloud. Its about a boy whose face is, for lack of a better word, deformed. Each section is written by a different character in the book so that we get a glimpse inside of everyone's world, everyone's perspective. Its a great way to lead into those tough class discussions about people who appear to be "different." It teaches us that we really are not that different at all.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Book Review: Jerusalem Gap by T. R. Pearson

This one was recommended by my Grama. She tends to know the kinds of books I enjoy. Jerusalem Gap was an easy read about a man and an abandoned dog that he unwillingly took in. The simplistic life of the main character was what I loved. In the story, he spoke to his animals as if they were fellow humans. No high pitched squeaky voices or silly doting. It reminded me that I am drawn to those who take pleasure in the day to day of life and march to the beat of their own drum.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Book Review: Rebels Like Us by Liz Reinhardt

This is the first book I haven't finished in one month, but I am very close! I'm on pg. 394 out of 490. I got it at a book signing because the author is a fellow teacher AT MY SCHOOL! I'm a little bit star stuck by her now. Every time we pass in the hall I find it necessary to tell her which page I'm on....as if she's keeping tabs. I really do love the book though! Being that its somewhat of a teen romance novel, I would never normally pick it up, but in this case, I'm so glad I did. Its been a nice escape. Also, Liz uses lots of big words that I am going to look up when I've finished the book. I'll come back and use this post as my own personal glossary and we can learn together....

antiquated- old fashioned or outdated

miscreants- One who behaves badly; often by breaking rules

mylar (balloons)- foil balloons

festoon- a decorative chain or strip hanging between two points

impasse- a predicament affording no obvious escape

bastion- a stronghold; a fortified area or position

bachata- a genre of popular song and dance of the Dominican Republic performed with guitars and percussion

faction- a party spirit especially when marked by dissension

curmudgeon- a crusty, ill-tempered and usually old man

vestiges- a trace, mark, or visible sign left by something; the smallest quantity or trace

Finally, there was a part when the two main characters were going to prom together & when they saw each other for the first time, the boy says to the girl:
"My grandaddy'd say you look prettier than a speckled pup." I think I would melt if someone said that to me! It just tugs at my heartstrings in the best way.



Thursday, March 30, 2017

Book Review: Food Freedom Forever by Melissa Hartwig

When I first started this book, I'll admit it, I was a little annoyed at Melissa Hartwig's valley girl tone coming though in her writing. I think its because I was just coming off my David Spade book and that's the very thing he made fun of all the time. She introduced her book by writing, "First I want to say, like, Thank you...." It rubbed me the wrong way. Sorry. But as I read, I put those trivial thoughts aside and learned a good bit from her advice. Below are the nuggets of wisdom I've taken away from the book:

Ask yourself, "Is it worth it?" Its going to feel like hard work at first. You may not even remember to switch gears until after the first bite. You will probably still find yourself automatically accepting the offer of rewarding foods out of sheer habit. This is okay. They key is not to panic, or think you've blown it and beat yourself up over it. And I certainly don't want you to think, "Oh, well" and eat your way through the rest of the pantry. You don't do that anymore. This is a new skill, and you're not going to be good at it right away.
-pg 84

"You are not good or bad based on your choices. They are simply choices. You do not cheat; you make a choice. You do not fail; you make a choice. Your choices do not define you as a person. There is no shame, guilt, or punishment, only consequences. "
- pg 96

Strategy to cope with tempting situations: Create temporal distance (Ex: I can have this in 15 min/one hour/one day)
-pg 100

"Develop routines: Choose a few situations where you feel your willpower getting shaky or times of day when a routine would help you feel self confident and in control. Then create a cue to drive you toward healthy behaviors. A common practice is coming home from work and immediately snacking, even if you are not hungry. In this case, the cue is arriving at home. So, design a new routine to follow that cue, to prevent you from ruining dinner with less-healthy foods. Your new routine could be changing into workout clothes, brew a cup of herbal tea, everyday when you get home- a soothing ritual that allows you to shift from "work mode" to "home mode"
- pg 107

"Researchers agree that your willpower "bank" (the amount of energy available in the brain to exercise self regulation and resist temptation) is a limited resource, like having $100 in your bank. Each time you exert willpower, you withdraw a dollar- or a few. 
-When the account is down to $0, well...you know the kind of decisions you make then. The problem is that in today's world, you are constantly bombarded with temptation and the promise of reward. If you start spending your will power dollars before you are out the door, what do you think your balance will be by the time you get home from a tough day at work. 
- Improving your will power for the day starts the night before. Take as many decisions out of tomorrow as possible- especially ones involving food. Lay out your clothes the night before, prep your coffee, breakfast, and lunch; pre-pack your work bag. Try to predict ahead of time whether you'll be feeling rested enough to hit the gym , or whether you will need an extra hour of sleep. This way, your brain won't be forced to make trivial decisions early in the morning, and you will have more willpower bucks to spend later in the day. Also, get your butt to bed earlier. Sleep makes ample deposits into your willpower bank, while fatigue creates stress,  which compromises willpower."
- pg 110

"Technology has a vampiresque impact on willpower, sucking the life out of our capacity to say no to temptation. Research shows that resisting the lure of technology- the PING of an e-mail notification, the text message alert on your phone, all those shows you have lined up on NetFlix- are especially taxing to your willpower reserve. Think about how many apps you have on your smartphone, all the various methods friends can use to connect with you, and how many times you've used technology to procrastinate. The smartest move is to reduce the sheer volume of temptations that come from your Internet connected devices"
- pg 112

"Turn off notifications on your smartphone and computer. The result: No more pop up when someone hearts your instagram, no more message indicator on your e-mail icon, no more posts when someone posts a new story on Snapchat. Remove these cues and you'll cut way down on the RIGHT THIS MINUTE WHAT IF I'M MISSING SOMETHING mentality. In addition, move your most frequent ed social media apps off your home screen, so every time you make a business call or consult your calendar, you're not reminded that you haven't checked Twitter in four whole minutes."
- pg 113

One thing I learned which has helped me on the willpower front is realizing that "the buzz of a new text, email, or social media notification actually is addictive is because of dopamine. The same neurotransmitter responsible for "wanting" and "seeking" rewarding food also really loves the promise of a new notification. Your brain associates that little ping with validation (someone liked my comment!), belonging (I'm part of this social connection!) , and seeking (discovering new music, articles, and dog photos).... Given how fast social rewards pile up thanks to technology, you can get stuck in an endless loop of wanting-> reward- >wanting more->  more reward. Plus there is that ever present cue: that little chirp or notification that precipitates you picking up your phone. No wonder its hard to ignore"
-pg 113

Smart supplementation may help support everyday stress reducing practices. Stress at the cellular level drives down magnesium levels, which make it hard to relax (especially at bedtime) and harder for your body to utilize glucose as energy. You can take a patented magnesium form called Magtein, which is designed to cross the blood brain barrier more effectively, or a supplement with a powdered magnesium citrate like Natural Calm. Split your dose up throughout the day, taking some midday and the rest just before bedtime. If sleep is your biggest issue, try an all-natural supplement like Dr. Kirk Parsley's Sleep Remedy (docparsley.com) which contains magnesium and other micro nutrients designed to promote deep, natural sleep. 
-pg122

"During your stressful time, prioritize three things that are the most important given your context (work, exercise, sleep, friends, family) and accept that the rest will be sacrificed for the greater good until you can catch your breath"
-pg 145

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Book Review: Almost Interesting by David Spade


Ah, this book was a welcomed change after January's book. Whew. I trudged my way through that one but there were many large, confusing words and some heavy material.

Now on to February's book...in the introduction alone, I found myself laughing out loud multiple times. A literal, "el-oh-el." David Spade is at the top of my "funniest people in the world" list with his dry wit. He reminds me of my very dear friend, Jonathan, who passed away about 6 months ago. Reading this memoir has helped me feel a connection to Jonathan though the pages of sarcasm and witty charm.

Spade has such a way with these subtle jokes. For instance...referring to his '83 hatchback Honda Accord, as his"pimp sled." Or when he talked about finally having the chance to write a piece for SNL with Tom Hanks. He goes on to say how excited he was to have the writers list the piece as written by HANKS/SPADE in the top corner and "if I had a camera phone back then, I certainly would've snapped a sneaky pic and posted it on Instabrag."

Interesting tidbit: David's brother Andy and his friend Katy, worked in a clothing store where Andy ran the men's side and Katy ran the women's. Later they started dating and created KATE SPADE handbags and became rich and famous.

I found out where Chris Farley's "LAY OFF ME I'M STARVING" line came from. Spade says "it was inspired by the fact that Chris always ate the fries off my plate whenever we were in a restaurant together."

Spade on being high-maintenance during filming : "I'm only good for one thing and that's throwing away jokes in a movie like Tommy Boy. So, the plan was to shove some Vicodins in my pocket and a protein bar down by throat, then say some funny shit you little clown."

Describing one of my favorite scenes from Tommy Boy: "One of my script ideas was the scene when Chris and I are driving along after a long day of sales. We are both burned and tired and this really fruity song comes on the radio. I pitched the idea to Fred that the song should be one by The Carpenters (This comes from my REAL LIFE because I had The Best of the Carpenters CD in my car, and once a girl got in and turned on the radio to find that disc blaring "Rainy Days and Mondays." I played it off like, 'What is this shit?' and then acted like I didn't even know it was in there. I may have even tried to blame it on her.)"

More on behind the scenes with Tommy Boy: "Props can also help a scene. I love that exchange when Chris tells me he's wearing a clip on and I go, 'Are you sure?' Throw away jokes like that are important. They don't get huge laughs but they're nice texture and they carry the style of your humor across."

On of my favorite parts of the book is David's response when he thinks he is talking to a model on twitter. He is so excited and can barely contain himself, but he tries to play it cool. It goes like this: "The day of the event she messaged me again and asked,  'So are you definitely coming tonight?' And I was like, 'RELAX babe, don't be so thirsty. F*cking Needy Gonzalez. Take it easy, I might pop in.' I didn't really say that [but it was pretty ridiculous how excited I was about the party.]" Turns out he was being catfished and he was in reality NOT talking to a model- but his cool cat response was the best part of the story.

On marriage: "I heard a quote once that has been attributed to George Clooney but I'm not sure he said it. Supposedly when someone asked him, 'Why aren't you married? Aren't you afraid of being lonely?' He replied, 'The loneliest I've ever been was when I was married.' Its a great quote whether GC said it or not, and probably hits home with a lot of married men and women out there. I'm not totally against a trip down the aisle, but I don't think I've found a situation where I could nail it perfectly. I've dated great girls. Especially in the last few years so its more my problem. I'm not anti-marriage. I'm anti-bad-marriage."

What a great, easy read. I had a dream last night that I met David Spade and he was just as cool as I thought he would be. So sad to see this book end! It lived up to all my expectations.




Sunday, January 29, 2017

Book Review: Teaching with Purpose by James D. Kirylo

My 2017 goal is to read one book per month, more if possible, but bare bones- 12 books this year. I am going to keep my notes and musings here instead of in a paper journal this time. Save some space.


This was my first book of the year,  a Christmas present from Josh. Here are my notes...

"Humility means staying close to the ground (humus), to people, to everyday life, to what is happening with all its down-to-earthnesss. It is the virtue that opens our eyes for the presence of God on earth."- Nouwen (1983)

"First, when teachers begin to embrace the concept, 'I can't save them all," they are opening the proverbial crack in the door toward pedagogical shut-down, which only adds to the intensity of the conflict, simply because this view point offers no direction, no movement toward solutions." (p. 22)

"Awareness leads to revelation, which leads to deeper examination, which leads to action, leading to change." (p.56)

"As leadership guru John C. Maxwell succinctly puts it, ultimately, "leadership is influence- nothing more, nothing less." (p. 145)

"In hierarchical school systems or top-down management school organizational schemes, the connection between 'leader' and 'teacher' is not a concept that has been historically linked or necessarily even encouraged. At the state level, this type of structure generally moves spirally downward beginning with a state board of education, to a state superintendent of education, to the local school board of education, to the local superintendent, to central office coordinators, to local school principals, and finally to teachers at the school.
     In this paradigm, while teachers may be tacitly acknowledged as leaders within their classroom practice, their authority and influence outside the classroom when it comes to policy- state, system, and school-wide decisions, have been shortchanged, perpetuating a system that maintains the subordinate or dependent nature of the role of the teacher. 
    This kind of system troublingly cultivates an, 'I am JUST a teacher,' attitude among many teachers themselves, and disturbingly fosters a patronizing, 'You are JUST a teacher,' (ie: know your place) unsaid viewpoint... which disempowers teachers from being involved, speaking out, or challenging questionable policy decisions." (p. 146)

"Moreover, in such hierarchical systems, if individual teachers desire to 'move up' into a leadership position, they must move out of the classroom. The implication of such language as 'moving up' or actions that necessitate one to move out of the classroom to assume a leadership position suggests that teachers are, in fact, down and must understand their place as underlings." (p. 147)

"Teaching is a flat profession. In most professions, as the practitioner gains experience, he or she has the opportunity to exercise greater responsibility and assume more significant challenges. This is not true of teaching. The 20 year veteran's responsibilities are essentially the same as those of the newly licensed novice. In many settings, the only way for a teacher to extend his or her influence is to become and administrator. Many teachers recognize that this is not the right avenue for them. The job of an administrator entails work that does not interest them, but they still have to urge to exercise wider influence in their schools and in the profession." -Danielson (p. 147)