LOOKIT, this would've been posted about an hour ago, but sometimes our computer/wifi gets moody. You ever spend entirely too much time waiting for a page to load? Anywho, I'm here now.
I'm feeling pretty sleepy because after school, the kids and I went swimming. It's been forever since it was even close enough to consider getting in a pool. My kids are fishes. We took them into the pool long before their first birthdays, and both have always loved the water. Of course, I'm the same way. The water is my true home if for no other reason, you can't feel joint pain in a pool.
When the Boy was tiny, he'd love to get in the pool with me, but then he'd keep pushing away from me; he was convinced he could swim. I'd finally let the stubborn kid float, and of course he would sink, looking up at me with perplexed brown eyes. I'd pull him up, and start pushing away all over again. I think every single time, that tiny kid was shocked that he couldn't quite swim yet. He was never afraid though, his little brain was trying to figure out the mechanics. Maybe this time it will work!
I was falling asleep on the couch playing one of those STUPID, MIND-SUCKING, phone games where you switch gems around or match up candies, or deal with angry farm animals. The human brain is a funny thing -- you keep telling yourself, "That's enough," but there is ALWAYS another level.
I did a presentation on this book I've been reading for my Master's program, Brain Rules. Its pretty interesting and a REALLY easy read -- surprising! The chapter I had to present was on STRESS and its effect on the brain. One of my classmates had to do her presentation on sleep -- and man, I probably should get more sleep — if I want my brain to work right!
Anywho, back to stress. So, it turns out that stress is pretty bad for the brain. I mean our brains were designed to deal with about 30 seconds of stress — you know basically the time it takes to escape a saber-tooth tiger, (or get eaten by one), but modern life has us enduring long-term stress. It effects every cognitive function we have. (I bet you knew that though.) There was one part I found really profound, which is pretty dumb because it is very obvious.
You've only got one brain.
You are probably thinking, "Well, duh!" But if you are like me, and I know I am, I live my life with all these little boxes. I survive by compartmentalizing my days. From now until 3 I am doing this, and then later I will teach this night class, and later I will work on that homework assignment. I deal with one thing at a time, and then move on to the next. I makes it easier for me to not get overwhelmed by all I have to do. But your brain doesn't really deal in boxes. It KNOWS all the stuff I have to do. And more than that, if I experience any kind of stress inside one of those boxes, I carry it with me to the next box, even if I am telling myself the boxes are separate.
And of course, I was thinking of my students who bring their stress with them wherever they go. If they are worried about where they sleep at night, or if their Mom and Dad will still be fighting, or if their cousin or brother will go to jail, or if their father will be deported — all of that, they bring with them to the classroom. It's a lot to carry around, and it might make learning long-division twice as hard — and learning long-division is hard enough already.
GREAT, JEN. THANKS FOR THE PEP TALK.
Listen, I haven't got my heart set on being a bummer. Actually, I was thinking that all of this proves that we've got to makes sure we are teaching our children and our selves, ways to cope with stress. It is there with us -- we need to learn to manage it not pretend it doesn't exist. Which is why I force my students to participate in our daily Mindful Minute. We follow along with a great website: gonoodle.com. In our first few session, they could sit still or even be quiet — it made them too uncomfortable — it was too foreign to them. Now, after about a month, I am amazed to see my students participating — partly because I force them, but partly because we do feel better after our exercises.
"I feel like I can pay attention better." One of my 5th grade girls told me just the other day. "I'm, like, settled down, you know?"
You've got to love the meandering sentences of a preteen.
"Its like, you know, we are turning our brains to think about, you know, reading." One of the boys agreed.
Maybe the website will use their quotes in their next ad.
As for me, I am most definitely in need of some serious sleep, so now that I've battled the computer into submission, I'll crawl into bed. I am sending you all the hope in my heart, and all my good wishes, too.
Keep moving forward,