Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Zen Story

A Zen Master had a disciple who was perpetually unhappy and dissatisfied. One day the disciple approached the Master and said, "Master, bless me too with your wisdom and help me find happiness."

The old Master instructed the unhappy young man to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and drink it. "How does it taste?" the Master asked.
"Awful", spat the young man.

The Master chuckled and then asked the young man to take another handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake and when the young man swirled his handful of salt into the lake, the Master said, "Now drink from the lake."

As the water dripped down the young man's chin, the Master asked, "How does it taste?"
"Good!" remarked the young man.
"Do you taste the salt?" asked the Master.
"No", said the young man.

The Master sat beside this troubled young man, took his hands, and said, "The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount we taste the 'pain' depends on the container we put it into. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Be a lake!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wk4 Publishing/Presentation Project

After 11 months of studying it has finally come down to this. It's good that we can condense such a large amount of experience and share it so easily. It has been an amazing journey that has lifted a veil to reveal such amazing possibilities for myself and those who have been a part of this journey. Below is just the beginning of the end, I'm not sure it will sink in as the end until well after I'm done.
I will be submitting my presention to a conference taking place in the UK. As mentioned before I wanted to give back to where I started this journey.
Only time and application can tell if Web 2.0 tools can do the job, but it looks as if they can help.

Wk 2 Think Out Loud Post – Publication and Presentation

Wk 3 Think Out Loud Post – Publication and Presentation

Link to my Presentation

Wk 4 Peer Comments: Marc Hunt

MAC: Week #4 - Reaction to Reading
This book for this course in previous weeks was a real quick read however, this week it seemed a bit drawn out with the examples the author used. I agree with him that they were necessary but I found myself hoping the concert with the young students would come and also end.

On a positive note, I thought the idea of avoiding the "downward spiral" by the use of enrollment was really quite good and also relatable. My job depends on how many students want to take the video/sound production course so this chapter gave me a sense of urgency for sure. I try to find the spark in the students and also those who come by to either shadow the class or even just drop in for a visit. I also try to look back at what my curriculum map has and be sure to update that each year in order to keep current with industry trends and also try to point those trends into the students interests. I can see how easy it is for people, teachers, and students can get into that downward spiral by saying no and not having a solution or even asking for a solution like the author did when he asked for the two quarters.

The other take away from the reading I had was "becoming the board." This was very interesting. Imagine how many of us could take some stress out of projects and life if we take ourselves out of the equations and figure out what the "player" was looking for. Cool idea and way of thinking. First I was a bit confused and list but when the conversation between yourself on how to get your boss to hear the ideas you have then made sense. For educators I am sure we are told too many times "no" on certain classroom ideas, but, if we find a way to bring up those ideas where we can show how it relates to the current school agenda or even state's changing standards then those conversation might actually gain more approvals.
Posted by Mr. Marc Hunt at 12:56 PM

Meesh Capeesh said...
Marc, I agree with you, it's imperative that we keep up with trends so as to relate to our learners. Imagine populating a course full of films from the 50's and asking a group of 18 year olds to write a review about them. What's the probability of success in that scenario as opposed to movies from the 00's. Becoming the board and being mindful of the players on the board. Great take away.
November 19, 2011 2:40 PM

Wk 4 Peer Comments: Rosetta Cash

MAC Week 4-BP1: Art of Possibility Chpts. 9-12
Zander and Zander stated, “Certain things are better done in person.” I love this line! I agree with its premise. There are times when a face-to-face is the best method to convey your true sentiment. “Enrollment,” that spark of possibility that you generate with your passion and being in the present. I am a firm believer in never being afraid to ask for what you want. The “worst” response you can get is a “no” but there is always that possibility of getting a “yes.” I know that this is the age of technology and that we have email, Skype, iChat, a variety of ways to communicate. But the turning point can be achieved in the way you present yourself in person. This can persuade and get a person to agree to do something that they had not even considered until you raised the point. A “no” may be an invitation to enrollment if new possibilities can be introduced that will spark a different way of doing things. Zander asking for the two quarters when they did not have change for the $10 bill. Turned the “no” into a “yes.”

Cover: The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional
and Personal Life by Zander & Zander 2000.
Zander and Zander also stated, “…the practice of enrollment is about giving yourself as a possibility to others and being ready, in turn, to catch their spark.” I really like this quote as well.
On a trip to New Jersey for a conference we checked into the hotel in the late afternoon. The hotel manager checked me into the hotel. He was visibly a bit irritated and a little weary. I chatted with him, got him to smile, and eventually laugh. I thanked him for his very courteous service and how welcoming he had been. The next morning in the hotel restaurant I was seated at the table about five of my friends, one of whom was short on funds so he was only having coffee. Well, the manager stopped by the table and greeted us. I smiled and asked why he was still working since he worked so late the evening before. He smiled and said he wanted to make sure our group was well taken care of before he went home. (He had been on duty all night.) I thanked him for his consideration. He then asked if there was anything he could do for me and I jokingly responded, “You can buy breakfast.” Much to our surprise, he smiled called our waitress over and told her that there would be no bill for our table. We all thanked him for his generosity. My friend who only had coffee was overjoyed and got to eat a full meal.

The story of “Anthony” the ten-year old who energetically conducted the orchestra bought tears to my eyes. I love it when we can give our children the opportunity to operate outside of the boxes in which society has placed them. They quite often exceed even their own the expectations if given positive encouragement.

The concept of “being the board” was interesting in that you can change your circumstances by changing your perspective and the way you handle the situation. Not taking the blame or assigning blame to someone else but looking within to change yourself and how you view things. Developing the “vision” that opens up the “sparks for possibilities” results in creating the environments that generate certain conversations. And of course relinquishing the “I” mentality and incorporating the “WE” mentality that looks at what is best for the whole and not just the individual.
Posted by Rosetta Cash at 9:26 PM
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Meesh Capeesh said...
Thank you for your reflections Rosetta. How interesting that the art of face to face is still so touching even in this age of symbianism. I loved your story of the Jersey trip, a great example of fueling that spark. You also inherently employed being 'we' instead of I. Had you just been an 'I' you wouldn't have concerned yourself so much about your friends. What a gift. Also, the story of Anthony you point out here. He not only has the chance to fully express himself but also reminds us be in tune with our inner child.
November 19, 2011 3:04 PM

Wk 4 Reading: The Art of Possibility Chapters 9-12

So here is the last blog post for the Art of Possibility (Zander & Zander 2000) and I must say that it has been a very good read. It’s definitely going to be in a few Christmas stockings this year. I was particularly inspired in chapter 9 when the author spoke about working in the inner city schools. Newham is actually the first local authority I worked for and where I got started on the road of education. As a teacher it is almost a per-requisite to inspire, not only those we instruct but also those I work with. Empowering those around us in life to allow them to find their inner flame, facilitating a safe space to radiate their gift to the world, which is their individuality! How poignant, we are all co-creating the reality we experience around us! It’s never really just you or me. Just think about how dependent we are on electricity. Could we harness that power without someone turning that switch on? Another point to be mindful of is the choice we have over the quality of our experience. Once we take responsibility for our lives in this manner, we are then master of circumstance rather than victim. One thing I try to remember is this; imagine you start your life as a cup filled with water. After a while you need change the water. Putting in what you choose, dirty water or clean water. All of these fundamental truths have so nicely been put together in this book. It is easy to read, not too abstract and can strike a chord with so many different people. A Wonderful song for life.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wk 3 Peer Comments: Shawn McKeown

Week 3 Reading Reflection

The reading this week, once again, was a big reinforcement for me on some quality issues. As a teacher, I love the idea of students teaching other students, as was explained during the anecdote about the student symphony orchestra that visited Cuba. It’s not only “teachers” who can teach, and sometimes the message gets lost when the connection is not there. Lessons can be more valuable from peers who are viewed to be in the same situation.

I must say, though ,that Rule #6 – Don’t take yourself so goddamn seriously, is so simple it’s brilliant. On a daily basis, I need to remind myself of this. I need to hang this sign on my front door, my office door, and my classroom door. There’s so many ways to go with this, but I’ll use my personal life. I have two sons, and 8 year old and a 5 year old. After dealing with the stresses of work all day, I come home to my family, and forget that it’s not always about the structure of a daily routine, that sometimes we just need to laugh and have fun. After the homework is done, the dinner is over, and dishes are cleaned, there is little time left to have fun. Some of the most amazing nights are when we, as a family, just say “forget it”, and figure out how to let go and have fun. Eat a simple meal, leave the dishes go, and have some fun.

In the seventh chapter entitled “The Way”, the authors tell us to “Include mistakes in our definition of performance.” As a lighting designer for live productions, I can only think back on a few memorable productions over my years that have been A+. In my mind, for a production to be flawless, it has to include everyone and everything- The artist performance, the sound, lights, even the audience enthusiasm plays a role. Many times I’ve finished a show, and out of the thousands of lighting cues that I triggered that night, I walk away thinking “I was late on cue 5 in the verse of the third song”. It amazes me that one bad cue can ruin my night, and the view of the production that night in my mind, but it does. While I strive for perfection on a nightly basis, I must also realize that one missed cue did not destroy the show for the thousands of people in attendance that night. It’s tough, because we want to be perfect, but it is such an unattainable goal, that we must not make that the only criteria for success.

"House Lights...Go"

Meesh Capeesh said...

Shawn I totally understand that feeling of wanting to get it perfect. It can be very challenging to be able to let go of that ideal. The funny thing is that I'm sure the audience didn't even notice. Being part of the performing arts I remember countless times of trying to get something right over and over again and it was only in that moment of throwing caution to the wind, of being able to transcend the mind and we allow ourselves to get lost in the feeling does that magic happen. That's a lot easier said than done though ;p

Wk 3 Peer Comments: Jeff's Learning Blog

Think Out-Loud - Part 2

Okay, so now that I have had much more time to think about this and do some more research, I have realized that I need to apply to present at a conference that is much more suited for my specialty - foreign languages and technology. I found a fantastic conference that is actually located near me in Austin, TX at the University of Texas. It is the Texas Foreign Language Education Conference. The theme is the classroom of tomorrow....using technology in the classroom. I am pleased to have found this conference as I think I will have a much better chance of being accepted and it is exactly based around the subject of foreign languages and technology -- two of my favorite subjects.

In preparation for a proposal, I reviewed the submission requirements. Two things that I saw really pleased me. First, there are two types of presentations that they like to see: one is discussion based with the presenter leading the discussion. But, the other is project based (my CBR project came readily to mind). First I would present for 20 minutes about the research, then steps of and conclusion of the project. Later, a Q/A session would take place. I like this format and it fits in well with what I hoped to do. Secondly, part of the submission process includes an abstract! The information they want in the abstract is exactly what will be due for the abstract to be completed this week for this month's class. Killing two birds with one stone is always wonderful. :)

Meesh Capeesh said...
Jeff, isn't it wonderful to find these conferences for language teachers. This field is so broad and abstract as with other field it deserves its own space. It seems you have a real sense of self accomplishment with all the wonderful work you have done thus far. Keep it up!

Wk 3 Reading: The Art of Possibility Chapters 5-8

In this blog post I will be talking about some of the key points that were stimulated in me whilst ready these chapters. What I would like to share first is this wonderful bit of wisdom I got from a friend over the weekend.
“Always see the good in people first. . . Because if you don’t, you’ll always see the bad and the opportunity of that moment will be lost.”
This had been playing on my mind I a totally felt it more due to the reading. Remembering the chapters, which talk about the calculating self and the central self. How the balance of action and reaction are so delicate. When we are faced with a situation oftentimes our (re) actions are based from the calculating self who is trying to avoid pain, thus making fear based decisions from pride and ego etc. One way to connect with the central being of not only yourself and others is through acting from a place of love and compassion. Seeing the good in every interaction we have before marring the picture with judgments and should, seeing things the way they are. It is challenging to BE in the present moment and remain objective especially in such an abstract world.

But by being able to stay present and take things in following rule number 6 opens up so many possibilities! At a recent rehearsal I noticed how band members were talking about what the drummer 'should' do in 4rd person without addressing the drummer himself. Upon noticing this I was instantly reminded of the ‘Leading from any chair’ chapter of the book. I was instantly inspired to ask the drummer what he thought about what should be done. This instantly allowed us to carry on with the practice. As a teacher I try my best to be mindful of getting the learners involved in the process. I have experienced being in a classroom and not once asked for my thought process and being rather un-stimulated. I also hold on to a truth that if I’m bored as a teacher, so are my learners. We must be able to break down the strife of perfection and remember to play and find the passion in just the experience itself. Allowing ‘it’ to be ‘its’ own natural expression, and allowing us to be the instrument we play to life.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Wk 3 Think Out Loud Post – Publication and Presentation

Following on from week 2 I have been researching ESL conferences in the UK and other locations. I have been very interested in what the British Council offers as they are a forerunner in British English instruction. Unfortunately They aren’t taking submissions. Upon further research I found 4th UK Cognitive Linguistics Conference at King’s College London, UK. This conference is about developing and promoting multidisciplinary practices in the field of Cognitive Linguistics. I am also excited about this opportunity back in the UK because I really want to make a contribution to my home. In the days of globalization I feel it only natural.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Wk 2 Peer Comments: Marc Hunt

MAC wk. #2: Reading Reaction

As I read the book, "The Art of Possibility," the second chapter of giving an "A" really spoke to me and also let me know that I actually am on the right track. The chapter begins with the story of Michelangelo talking about how a sculpture is hidden in a piece of rock, and you need to chip away the excess parts to reveal the art. The author compares this in education where the student needs to drop the "excess" to gain mastery and self-expression.
I have an assignment at the beginning ofd the year where my students study themselves and really think about who they want to be and what their Artistic Identity is. I have found that giving this assignment to the students helps them to let go of barriers and also gets to feel more comfortable to their self-expression in my class. They really respond positively to the assignment and I think it helps to set the tone for the year and also get them excited about who they are as an artist. I wanted to share my assignment and also give you all permission to use it if you would like.

Meesh Capeesh said...
Ooo I really like this! How wonderful. I had little moment with my students during the week when we did an improve exercise in creating a mini-movie. As the students started the activity, one pair was completely stoic, void of any creativity. I always wonder how that can be. I have always had such a vivid imagination that I find it hard to understand when students say, "I have no imagination." So maybe something like this can help them find their inner creator.

Wk 2 Peer Comments: Lara Large

MAC blog post #5: week 2 reading
The book The Art of Possibility is an interesting approach to changing one's thinking to create positivity in one's life. So far, I am most struck by the chapter on the "invented-ness" of our reality. I enjoy the idea that by understanding the nature of our perception, we can change it to be free from the limitations we impose and the judgements of others. Several very simple analogies and illustrations are given on these points. I am interested to discover how one frees oneself from some of the more concrete pressures associated with limitations, such as inadequate income. The idea of "contributing" rather than "achieving" is liberating in and of itself.

Meesh Capeesh said...

How interesting it is that the concept of reprogramming our mind is so abstract. When in reality that is exactly what we have been doing form day dot. We can if we really want, do anything we want and believe anything we want. This reminds me of something my father told me. His first wife was German and she was taught in school that Hitler was a good man that he did good by his country . . . Yet to us on the outside our programming of reality paints a very different picture.

Wk 2 Think Out Loud Post – Publication and Presentation

So here I am the big decider, do I want to publish my work or present my work? I think I would like to do a presentation. After all I have been spending the last year talking about blended learning styles and Multiple Intelligence theory, so why not put it to use. Plus I have never really enjoyed writing that much. The words go blurry and the lines move around on the page after a while. In fact I am rather excited at the prospect of doing a presentation. I would have loved to have applied to SxSW but the deadline has passed so maybe next year. I also think a presentation would be more accessible to a more global audience. Things such as language barriers and accessibility may not be so prominent. Now I just have to choose were I want to present my work. I wonder if I can apply to a conference back in England? That would be ideal as it’s home I guess and I would love to share and blend perspectives between UK and US. Let’s see how it unfolds.

Wk 2 Reading: The Art of Possibility Chapters 1-4

The Art of Possibility (Zander & Zander 2000) has so far been a very inspirational book. The first chapter asks us to look at our selves and our perspectives. One part was about the two shoe salesman. How one saw a business opportunity and the other didn’t, when on a trip to Africa. I’m sure we can all relate to that. This reminded me of something my Reiki teacher spoke about. Think of a time when you were listening to someone talk or moan about an issue they have and in an effort to turn their thinking around we start the sentence with “no but.” This in itself just goes to reinforce the polarity of the situation. The words we choose can seem so meaningless yet can shape our whole world. In times when I may not agree I try my best to say nothing, even if the person I’m speaking with is fishing for more. A great quote that I try to live by is:

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

I find this quote extremely powerful, since far to often we say things like “I am angry” and so be it, angry you are, as opposed to just having a feeling of anger in that moment. Once we can see past the anger, frustration and pain and see how beautiful life is. How everything we have been through, the good, the bad, the ugly, has led us to this very moment in time. Here and now, and how magical is that. We could not be here, a simple twist of fate and poof all change. That it is about being thankful for the challenges as well as the blessings in our lives. Also reflecting on the impact we have had on other’s lives. One of the most memorable moments in my education career was when one of my co-workers, who used to be a student, was telling me about their studies at University. I was really happy to hear that she was doing so well. She responded that she was just following me, doing what I did. I was completely taken a back. I had never thought about it that way. Since then I have been mindful of the impact I have and we have on each other. We are all co-creators in this beautiful musical score of life.