Video of the Week: "Why Perfect Grades Don't Matter"

I've been thinking a lot about perfectionism lately. Partly because I try really hard to be perfect, and partly because I see students striving for this perfectionism everyday. When I came across this video, then, last week, it really struck a cord with me.

Here's what I'm thinking: 

  • Do you communicate to the students in your life that good grades are the key to success later in life? How do you do so? Or, how do you fight against that?
  • How do we fight against students putting their self-worth in their grades? 
  • How can we balance accountability with the need for perfection? 
  • Adults, how did your high school grades compare to your university achievement? 
  • Do the grades in your class measure hard work, creativity, or mastered skills? 
  • Do you have a better approach for grades?

Job-Life Balance: A weight-loss plan

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I lost 20 pounds between August 1 and February 1 this year. Without a diet. Without a gym membership. Without a pyramid scheme. And it's been fun. It's made me happier. It's deepened my relationships. Although it started as a plan to get healthy and fit, it has become so much more than that to me. Now, it's about having a balance between my job and the rest of my life and being intentional in both. 

Scheduling Time to Run

The time I spend running is the time in my life where I feel accountable to no one. For 30-90 minutes, I'm able to shut off my brain and its struggle for perfection and just be. This summer we moved a half-mile from a county park with mountains on three sides; the trail within it reminds me to focus on the beauty around me. This August I started putting time on my calendar to run three to four days a week. This appointment forces me to leave school and come home and run. This time, it turns out, is way more restful for me than shopping or Twittering or cleaning my house. 

Taking Time to Cook

Check out Imperfect Produce!

When I first started teaching I ate pasta with marinara almost every night because it was cheap and easy, and I liked it. My love of food and cooking has greatly increased over the past seven years, and I've learned to eat much more nutritious food. And is it turns out, when you do so, you actually need to eat a lot less of it. When we decided to get healthy back in August we counted calories for about two weeks. In that time, we discovered that most Americans eat at least twice as much food for every meal as they should, and even more when going out.  Therefore, I started being even more intentional with my meal planning. I switched to a half sandwich (with lots of avocado... yum) instead of a whole. We started sharing a chicken breast instead of having our own. When going out, we always split. And we use a lot of good ingredients. I swear by my produce box, cookbook for two, and I'm now a huge fan of Epicurious after trying their #cook90. And all of that doesn't even mention all of the joy and depth of relationships in gathering around the table together each night

Being Outside Together

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I've almost completely given up working on the weekends in favor of adventuring. Living in San Jose makes this pretty easy. We have an amazing county park system and bike routes galore. Oh, and it's 75 degrees and sunny in the middle of February. Last January we started hiking with the Santa Clara County #pixinparks challenge, and it's now just become a part of who we are. On Saturday and Sunday we generally spend three hours outside together hiking or biking and chatting. We've found adventurous friends who love doing these things with us, and it fills my quality time bucket so much (not to mention the endorphins and vitamin D). Getting outside and away from our devices and work has been so freeing and life-giving as individuals and in community. 

Our focus is no longer on weight loss or "getting healthy." This has become who we are, and it's so fun and life-giving. Although I love working hard at my job, the balance and pursuit of life-giving activities has made me a healthier and happier person. I don't think I'll ever go back. 


As a side note, I have found some products in which I believe greatly. Check them out: 

Video of the Week: "Family Greatly"

In the name of celebrating not being perfect, it's Tuesday, but I still want to send out this important video for parents (and students) to remember: 

Here's what I'm wondering: 

  • Do you think harm is done in trying too hard? 
  • Parents, how do you think trying to be perfect impacts your child? 
  • Students, when was the last time you told your parent(s) that you appreciate him/her/them? 
  • How would you live life differently if you didn't feel like you needed to be perfect? 

Video of the Week: "The Picture Perfect Life"

Things are not always as they seem, especially on Instagram. I love the honesty from this new video from Made by Google: 

Here's what this video has me thinking about: 

  • Does your social media paint a picture perfect life? 
  • How do you think viewing these picture perfect life impacts your own life? 
  • Do you "question your lens"? What does this look like? 
  • Did you know there was a suicide prevention hotline? 

3 Ways to Improve Your Classroom

Last week our school ran J-Term, an opportunity for students to take a 3-hour elective every afternoon. I led a course on business marketing, where students spent the week designing marketing materials for a small business. One of my students, Ethan, designed for Amplified EDU, and I'm honored to share this blog post he wrote. 


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If you want to improve your classroom, here are three ways you can go about doing that. 

1. Give Freedom

First, you're going want to have a little bit more laid back classroom than a super up-tight classroom. Obviously, still have rules, and don’t just let your students run wild, but having less rules is definitely a good thing. Most of your rules should just be unspoken ones, but it’s totally okay to have some extra if you need them.  You also want to let students raise their hands and ask as many question as they need. In projects, having not too many rules is great; letting students be creative is awesome. 

2. Desk Groups 

Another way to improve your classroom is in the actual classroom itself. You should have the desks in groups, letting students collaborate with each other to answer questions and discuss topics. This is good for the students and the teacher. One really great thing to do is to have a random seating order every day or every week. This keeps things fresh for the students, and with a new seating order every day, the students easily get to know each other. Keeping the desks in groups should leave a open area in the middle of the class and more space between desk will make the class feel more laid back and make it easier for you to talk to groups of students. When you give lectures have them in the middle of the class. This should keep your students' attention longer and allow you to see all your students at a equal distance. 

3. Variation of Activities 

One last way to improve you class is to have a lot of variety in your activities. This gives some more variation in your classes, and that’s a good thing. Different activities keep your students engaged, and they can look forward to the next new activity. Of course, your students may not seem like they like the activities, but they're not going to seem like they like anything. But trust me, they will definitely like the variation. 

There are three ways to improve your classroom. These few ways should make your class a lot me enjoyable for you and your students.