Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Caught or Taught?

Here, our students have assembled their thumbprints in an expression of support to one of our staff members. 

It all began in the hallway during a chat about the impending assembly.  A MATH teacher mentioned in front of the ART teacher an idea about all of us contributing something together.  All we needed was a winterized tree on canvas.  The ART teacher addressed that situation and brought in the tree, painted on a canvas, 22x28 inches framed, the very next day!
The students were next!  During their health and PE classes, they traveled to the ART Room where palettes of various shades of purple were ready to sample.  Each student's thumb was moistened with paint, then blotted on a page, then imprinted in any location on the tree.  Care was taken to have all the leaves attached and successfully filling out every branch.  (Parenthetic note:  Every student acted on their best behavior while they had a potentially messy hand!  Well done, students!)
In addition to all the staff in the current building, other district staff were invited to participate by sharing their thumb print as well.  The final project was presented at a school wide assembly. 
The middle school setting can be a place of great extremes.  Emotions can run high or low, peeks and valleys, all before breakfast.  The adventure of the middle school makes it so exciting.  Yet alone with the adventure is the drama that sometimes follows.  Our intent in a school-wide project like this was to broaden students' perspective.  This collaborative piece shows how we can altogether become bigger than just ourselves individually.  By looking at others, we take the focus off ourselves.   Watching how others battle situations, working through stress and displaying healthy choices shows how many things are caught and not taught!
The lessons range from narcissism and self-centeredness to the differences between empathy and sympathy; not to take advantage of a situation but to learn life lessons in every situation.
Working through the little distractions at school is preparation for the real challenges of life.  At school, there are supportive adults to guide and offer coaching.  After school, many begin playing without the safety net of their teachers and parents.  At our middle school, we strive to guide them towards success, one issue at a time!

Friday, February 7, 2014

#TBT Once a champion, always a champion!

 Proving things to others! Proving things to self!

This patch serves as a concrete reminder of a prior championship. 
Once a champion, always a champion?
Being Throw Back Thursday, #TBT, a friend of mine posted a picture of his highly successful high school cross country team.  They were holding the over sized trophy of a Missouri State Title!  The day was a culmination of days, weeks, months and in some cases, years of training in preparation for this day.  Each of them had run mile after mile, spend hours in mental contemplation, practiced both anaerobic and aerobic workout routines, sprints, miles and carb loading.  All of this is in part, due to their focus on building a championship.
Champions:  Built or Born?
Interesting things about the formulation of champions.  It is often a process, driven by doing things differently.  Talent is only a contributing factor.  The real process happens in the crucible of stress, practice and preparation.  For these young men, establishing this high bar was the expectation.  Winning became the norm.  Winning was habit!
Accentuate the Positive! Opponents, Teammates, Self!
Aligning their thinking began the process.  Coach prompted them to leave the trash talk about and to other teams out of the situation.  The only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore winner.  Respect and honor were actions words describing the opinion of other contestants. Well, if negative talk was not allowed to reach other teams, would it be allowed within the circle?  A resounding NO!  Team mates were not to talk trash to each other as well.  Spending so much time together mandated they behave like gentlemen and in a sportsmanship like manner. Even if they did not yet believe it, they were to behave like it!  Finally, and the hardest to break was the mental self talk.  The runners actively reprogrammed themselves to eliminate the negative self talk and replace it with affirmations, positive mental images and encouragement!  This reprogramming is not unique to this situation.  Substantial anecdotal and scientific evidence support the need for a positive mental attitude.
Physical or Mental?
The physical aspect actually followed the mental aspect.  Of course, athletic interviews are always more interesting when the athlete talks about the mental aspect of the game.  Exercise routines never make prime time sound bites.  Instead, the talk reported more often addresses the internal battle going on inside the contestant's mind!
Once a Champion, Always a Champion!
Finally, the #TBT posts of times in the past endorse the idea of sustaining championships.  Lindbergh won that meet and those runners all contributed to the success.  Yes, Bryan won that race. But together, they achieved more than any other team prior!  Their success hinged on each of them maintaining peak mental and physical conditioning.  Each of them became a champion and that would never be stripped, pulled or taken from them.  History documented their influence on the record books and it will not be reproduced, ever.
In the story, The Velveteen Rabbit, the rabbit wants to become real!  Once he achieves that status, it is permanent.  Once a champion, always a champion.  It is permanent!
Well done, Lindbergh Cross Country Team
Watching the teachers at Winfield Middle School work with their students prompts further questions about champions.  Since these teachers act like champions, are they champions?  They unknowingly model and emulate winners, so are they winnders?  Do they act that way because they believe that way, or do they believe like that and act accordingly?  Do their actions influence the outcomes?  Do they act that way because their jobs require it?  Regardless, there are champions throughout WMS!

Photo credit to: Bryan Blackford.