Jul
02

If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you.

Hi! In my first blog, I suggested that you commit to taking care of you. Staying healthy mentally, physically and emotionally are all important. Today’s message relates to a quote I saw in the background of silly video. “If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you.” In the video, the man experiments and has several attempts. It seems like he finds his FLOW at 17 seconds in. How many times have your tried until you “got it?”

Of course, we need to improve in our professional areas, but we also need to challenge ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally, AND we need to challenge ourselves to improve and CHANGE how we help/support our students (Ss). It can be easy to get swallowed up in the day to day needs and distractions from home and feel overwhelmed, but we have to work through it as best we can.

We need to challenge ourselves in most areas of our lives if we want to grow, learn, and remain effective. We need to challenge ourselves to do as much as we can to support Ss and families. As the chart below shows, we can fall into neutral (Apathy and Boredom) if we aren’t challenged or don’t work to improve our skills.

Graphic with 8 descriptive words in pie slices. The x-axis is labeled Challenge Level. The range is from Low to High. The y-axis is labeled Skill Level.  The range is from Low to High. Starting from the bottom left corner and following the graphic clockwise Apathy, Worry, Anxiety, Arousal, FLOW, Control, Relaxation, Boredom

I have challenged myself to keep reading (Since November, I’ve completed 44 books): professional books/journals (the Four Disciplines of Execution), informative books (Being Heumman), listen to podcasts (Talking with Tech AAC Podcast, Invisibilia, Radiolab), attend webinars (AAC in the Cloud), and catch a few documentaries (Crip Camp) on Netflix (okay…mostly binge watch lots of Sci-Fi shows). I have watched and attend SO MANY webinars and trainings in the last few months, my brain is overflowing with new and exciting ideas that I have acted on, shared and explored in more detail. The internet can be a deep rabbit hole when clicking on link after link but there is SO MUCH GREAT INFORMATION out there!

I continue to challenge myself physically through running. Running makes me a happier and healthier person. Long runs, hill work, track work…sometimes I push (challenge myself) to an anerobic threshold (e.g., nearly all out effort for 3 ½ minutes), then it’s over. Rest and repeat. Half a mile up a big hill definitely hurts but only for about 4 minutes…this makes me stronger. I am completing most of these workouts safely distanced with my running buddies. Together we get through it. I complete all runs, one step at a time. What’s your challenge that makes you stronger?  Remember, small steps (struggles) will get you through…a distance, a new skill, getting that dang technology to work…

iPhone Screenshot from Garmin.  Elevation chart on top shows 5 hill climbs of approximately 100' gain over 1/2 mile and Time in Heart Rate Zones.  Zone 5  for 8 mins 12 seconds, Zone 4 fir 8 minutes 48 seconds, Zone 3 for 15 minutes 2 seconds, Zone 2 for 14 minutes 57 seconds and Zone 1 for 7 minutes 55 seconds
Change in itself can be stressful. The entire world has been challenged with the changes caused but COVID-19. Students and Teachers went on spring break and then poof! 

Shelter in place

Work from home

Distance learning

Continuous learning 

No-one was truly prepared for this challenge and the change was HUGE. It has been tough for most of us. I am a people person. I like to talk rather than text. I prefer to meet face to face over video. While working from home has definitely reduced my windshield time (commuting), it has caused me to actually spend more time seated at my home workstation. I miss seeing students, teachers and my co-workers! I can only imagine the struggles for students of any age. The challenge for me has been to find the work/home balance AND to connect with people. Support you and keep healthy work boundaries, so you can support your students.

Students across the United States most likely identify all over the various descriptors shown in the graph. This has been a challenging 3+ months for them and according to most data and news accounts, students have not been engaged anywhere near what was expected. They have missed out educationally, socially, and emotionally. Educators and leaders must work together to support Ss. We have to challenge not only ourselves, but our leaders to plan for and support ALL learners but especially Ss in special education and Ss with high needs (medical, behavioral, complex communicators, etc.).

As Educators, we need to get in the FLOW so that we can use our highly developed skills in this highly challenging time. The PATINS Project is here to help you. Here are some things we can do:

  1. Be flexible and willing to try. A lot these changes are challenges for ALL of us!
  2. Continue to improve your video presentation/telepresence. The PATINS project offers trainings and support for Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams. Check our calendar for offerings or contact a PATINS Specialist.
  3. Check out materials (e.g., equipment, iPads, Apps, books, etc.) from the PATINS Project Lending Library.
  4. Check out GCF Global Learning (It’s FREE)
  5. Literacy ideas – Book Creator, TarHeel Reader, Unite for Literacy, there are MANY more!
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Jul
18

Death By Paperwork

"Death By Paperwork" in a creepy font and a blood splatter
First: I made it out alive. You will too.

This year I messed something up in my back, and by April it was hard to sit for more than twenty minutes at a time. Every drive, conference or meeting I was engaged for a bit and then the rest of the day was spent imitating your favorite wiggly child, trying to ease the pain. I felt terrible.

Sometimes it got better, and then it got worse. I complained. I ignored it. I tried what I knew to fix it, I asked friends for ideas. Nothing really worked.

I had enough and went to a specialist, definitely not something I was looking forward to. I hate going to the doctor. But within a few sessions, my life had changed.

It was like getting glasses in the correct prescription or wearing good shoes after years of wearing Old Navy flip flops. I didn’t know how bad it was until I experienced how my spine was meant to be.

About three years into my career I had another issue that was a major pain: paperwork.

Paperwork is like back pain. Everyone gets some, some people get more than they can handle. It comes when it’s least convenient and it will not go away if you ignore it. By the end of my third-year the IEPs, evaluations, and caseload documents piled up to my ears. It was affecting my ability to do my job and my family life. I felt terrible. If death by paperwork was a thing, it felt imminent.

I complained. I ignored it. I tried what I knew to fix it, I asked friends for ideas. Nothing really worked.

An administrator gently suggested I see some “specialists.” I did not want to admit that I was struggling to anyone, but after meeting with others who were amazing at keeping on top of it all, they gave me some ideas. They pointed out some of my mistakes, the weight that was causing the paperwork pain, and they helped me develop my paperwork treatment plan.

In less than two months, I started to feel better. My files were in order and I felt in control. By the next year, I was rocking a weekly paperwork schedule and found tools to help me streamline and automate. I was spending even more time working with kids than I was before! It was career changing. I didn’t know how good it could be.

You, dear reader, might be dealing with some pain in your career. Maybe it’s paperwork or a student on your mind who you don’t know how to reach. Maybe it’s a new tool or expectation that’s pain in your neck, and doing your job effectively seems out of reach. Maybe you complained or ignored it. You tried what you knew to fix it, you asked friends for ideas. Nothing may have worked.

If it’s related to supporting student’s access to education, we’ve got a team of specialists here to help.

It might just change your life.


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