Monday, April 26, 2010

The Importance of Energy

Energy. You don't realize how important it is until you don't have it. I've come to realize that energy and enthusiasm are key to teaching. How can you expect your students to be excited about something if you aren't?

I'm still recovering from my angioplasty and stent implant, and, which the operation itself is a marvel of medical science, the recovery is taking its time. I shouldn't be is heart surgery after all, but the nature of the beast is that there is no immediate penalty for overextending yourself, but the next day you pay for it in lack of energy.

I had a bit of a scare today, after overextending myself the last weekend. I started having chest pains, so I called the doctor and went over, and, after doing this and that, he concluded that "You're fine. I don't know what is causing the pain, but it isn't your heart." I don't think I ever been so cheered by a negative result.

So, I rest, and trust that my energy will return.

Picture: 'Sun Bible' by Denis Collette used under a Creative Commons license.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Change or die!

Needlessly dramatic? Actually, not. I went to the emergency room last Monday for some tightness and pressure on my chest, and finally was released from the hospital last Thursday after an angioplasty and stent implant on an artery to my heart. How did this happen? The most likely villain is a cholesterol count that is not extremely bad, but clearly could stand some improvement.

So now, despite the fact that I eat a reasonably healthy diet, exercise some, and am only overweight by some 20 pounds or so, I'm confronted with the reality of coronary artery disease, and the fact that what I'm doing is not quite good enough. I'm now looking at my diet, my weight, my exercise routine, and (toughest of all) my overall level of stress. I'm going to have to learn some new vocabulary, such as 'partially hydrogenated vegetable oils' (these are bad), HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol). The choices won't be easy, but I've got some time and, if I start now, I should put myself in a much better position in the future.

This episode strikes me as a metaphor for my professional life as well. I am a reasonably well-respected teacher at my private school, and I have taken some steps, as you can see in earlier posts of this blog, towards incorporating Web 2.0 technologies and other innovations in my teaching. I'm glad I have, and my teaching has definitely improved as a result. But is a visit to the 'emergency room' of teaching careers in my future? Do I need to do more? How do I strike a balance between incorporating the truly useful in a timely fashion and wasting my time, and, more importantly, my students' time, in chasing 'the latest thing' that turns out to be a dead end?

These are the questions I'm going to be struggling with in this newly re-titled blog. I was trying for something a bit more attractive than the 'label' I had previously (Bob's Middle School Web 2.0 Journey). Maybe you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but, hopefully, this fox is a bit smarter than that.

(fox picture by arudhio, used under Creative Commons license.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Brain Rules

I'm a bit behind in my professional reading, to put it mildly, but I'm almost finished John Medina's Brain Rules and I highly recommend it. Although not written specifically for teachers and not specifically about chidrens' or teenage brains, the book has a number of recommendations ('rules') that specifically apply to teaching. I especially appreciate rule #4: We don't pay attention to boring things, and rule #7: Sleep well, think well. If you've read some of the other literature on teenage brains, such as Barbara Strauch's The Primal Teen, you'll see some familiar territory, but what I like about Brain Rules is that it is a good but fairly easy read, with enough documentation to assure you that John Medina knows what he is talking about.