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Showing posts with label change. Show all posts
Showing posts with label change. Show all posts

Routine and Novelty: How Can We Keep a Balance?

It's important to keep routine in our daily life, especially when it comes to children. Routine brings a sense of security and builds confidence in children. Knowing what to expect in their day makes them feel in control of their surroundings. It helps them build the courage to take risks.

But routine can also become boring.

Routine and Novelty: How Can We Keep a Balance? This blog post explores why we need both routine and novelty, and how we know when to "shake it up."

Brain research tells us that brains need both routine and novelty to grow. Yes, these words are antonyms, but both are necessary for learning to happen. Too much routine can become tedious and dull. Too much novelty becomes confusing and chaotic. How can we find a balance?

The best way to find that balance? Pay attention to your students! This is probably the most important part of being a teacher or a parent: know your students! Watch for signs that they are happy, bored, confused, or content. This is how you know they should continue with a routine, or are ready for a "shake up." 

The beginning of the school year, or right after a break, sticking to a routine is essential. They find comfort in that routine, and are happier and more content. 

But after a while, that same routine becomes the enemy! They need something different. A change. But as we all know, many people fear change. It's a rocky road, so proceed with caution.

Start with something simple. I always love to change the seating arrangement when boredom starts to set in. They get to come into a classroom that's familiar, but there's something different. When they find their new spot, there are loads of smiles! Plus, I love the giggles when they start to walk to their old spot, then realize they don't sit there anymore!

A few other ideas for an easy change from the routine: 

  • change the schedule (be careful, this could cause a domino effect with children who receive services)  
  • bring in a special snack to go with your lesson
  • speak with a funny voice, or use an accent
  • take a break from what you're teaching and have a special lesson
  • take your lesson to a different spot... outside, in the hall, cafeteria, or any extra space
  • wear something unique that will spark their attention
  • introduce some new team building games See these blog posts: Space Balls, Paper Bag Dramatics, Team Building Activities  (these games can often be altered to fit academics)
  • have them wear something to go with a theme
  • bring in a guest teacher or guest reader
  • do some Reader's Theater in the classroom See this blog post: Dramatics in the Classroom
  • plan a craft or art project to go with your lesson
  • get some new books for your classroom library
 
Once the children are able to handle small changes, it's time for a BIG change in routine!

Here in New England, the winters are long, dark and cold! By mid-January, we always need something big to shake things up! By this time, the children are quite secure in their routine, and basically dealing with "cabin fever" and are absolutely sick of everything! (No matter where you live, I'm sure the children get to this point!)

These are some things I do to help shake them from this state:
For more information about Routine and Novelty, see this blog post: Predictability and Novelty
 
 
Routine and Novelty: How Can We Keep a Balance? This blog post explores why we need both routine and novelty, and how we know when to "shake it up."

 

Still Trying to be Super Woman

Five years ago today my life changed. Five years ago today I had a stroke. Most people can't tell by looking at me, but I feel the effects of the stroke all day, every day.

When it happened, I didn't even realize it was a stroke. I didn't know what was causing the tingling on my left side. You know that tingling feeling when an arm or leg falls asleep? Yes, that's what I was feeling. At first, I noticed it in my arm.  After a while I realized it wasn't just my arm, it was my whole left side. I felt the tingling in my leg, my face and the left side of my abdomen. Some of it went away after a couple of weeks, but most of it is still there. All day. Every day.

The only other symptom I felt was tired, but I thought that was just because I'd worked another hard week and needed to rest on the holiday weekend.  I had no idea how the stroke affected my muscles. I really thought I was fine. It wasn't until a couple of weeks later when the doctor recommended physical and occupational therapy, that I realized some parts weren't really working anymore. 

I went to therapy as long as insurance allowed, and got back limited use of some of the muscles, but it's clear after 5 years that I'll never get back full use of my left side.  

My left shoulder really took the brunt of it. I can no longer lift heavy objects, or aim my left arm. (Drive through s are no longer an option!) grasping things with my left hand is possible, but painful, as it puts quite a strain on those muscles.

When people touch my left arm, it's so uncomfortable that it's tough not to scream. This is tough, since most people are right handed, and I interact with a lot of caring people. It happens all the time. Most people close to me know not to touch my left side, but people forget. When it happens, I try to be polite and not make people feel uncomfortable, but all I can really do is concentrate on not screaming.

Because I lost most of the core muscles on my left side, I have trouble with balance. Stairs are difficult. Walking across softer surfaces, like grass, are tough. Uneven surfaces can be tricky. 

This was a big focus of my physical therapy, but unfortunately there's a deficit that can't be fixed. Before the stroke, I could easily do a hundred crunches, switch positions, then do a hundred more. Right now I can do ten. That's taken 5 years of work.

The hardest part for me has been the fatigue. Before the stroke, I was heavily involved in local theatre, and would often go to a 3-4 hour rehearsal on most school nights. Now, I come home from school and look forward to bedtime. 

Sometimes I have a hard time accepting that part of my life is over.

Sometimes I get discouraged because people don't understand.

Sometimes I get discouraged because I want to do so much more, like I used to. 

THIS post (The Spoon Theory) from a website called "But You Don't Look Sick," helped me explain the fatigue to others. It's worth a read to understand what many different people go through day to day.

Why am I writing this post that has absolutely nothing to do with teaching?

For a couple of reasons:
1. I hope people will be more understanding of those "invisible illnesses" that many of us struggle with. Count your blessings every time you go down a flight of stairs without holding on. Count your blessings when you have the energy to go home and cook dinner after work. 

2. Because, despite it all, I still have plenty to be grateful for:
  • I am still able to teach. I love being a teacher. I plan to continue teaching for many years.
  • If I hadn't had more "sitting time", I wouldn't have discovered the joys of blogging.
  • There are a lot of wonderful, compassionate people out there who understand and care about my struggles... and try to help where they can!
  • I have a  beautiful daughter. 

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