Umbrellas, Auto-Pilot, and Top Takeaways from Blended Learning Courses
On Tuesday evenings in June, course instructor Lance Raabe and I facilitated two Blended Learning courses, one on mindfulness and one on teacher wellness. Using Zoom as our platform, we virtually connected with teachers from Florida to France (yes, a teacher who logged in from France!). C’est la vie!
Because these Blended Learning courses were so engaging (for teachers and for us!) we wanted to share our Top Takeaways!
Blended Learning Course: Teacher Wellness with Passion and Practice
Takeaway 1: Umbrellas.
In the course book Reclaiming Our Calling: Hold on to the Heart, Mind, and Hope of Education, the author, Brad Gustafson, talks about the need to Let. Things. Go. Gustafson tells the story about the resentment he carried when he set his biggest, best umbrella down in the parking lot to help a student tie her shoes. When he turned around, his favorite umbrella was gone. Two umbrellas later (a Star Wars lightsaber umbrella, and one large enough to keep you dry in a tsunami) he was still hanging on to his resentment. His advice? Try writing down the thing you want to let go of—and follow through with letting it go. Gustafson coaxes, “it will “create space for your heart to grow.”
Takeaway 2: Find your jelly.
Bite into the middle of a delicious donut, and if you’ve selected wisely, you might discover this “confectionary treasure.” Think of finding your jelly as identifying your teacher gifts then include those gifts into every lesson you teach. As the saying goes, “find what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Takeaway 3: Sticky notes.
If you’re like most, you have lists of things you need to accomplish each day. Sit in the driver seat of my Honda and you’ll find a sticky note on the dashboard. To reclaim your calling, the author encourages us to write down one thing we want to “stand firm on” each day. In our virtual discussion, teachers from across the nation agreed that writing down what we stand firm on increases the likelihood that we will.
Takeaway 4: Tell your story.
Using Zoom to connect and converse, we asked teachers to respond to questions using the Question & Answer panel on their screens. It was invigorating to find out how teachers were feeling about their careers, what challenged them, how to reignite their passion for teaching, and sharing their best lessons. Each teacher “told their story,”—and why they became teachers. WE. WERE. WOWED. Tell your story to your students and see what happens! According to the book’s author, what happens is better relationships, more connections, and loads of laughter.
Blended Learning Course: The Mindful Approach
Takeaway 5: Breathe.
Sounds simple, but if you’re like the teachers we talked to during this Blended Learning course (and like us) you hold your breath when stressed. Purposefully taking deep breaths sends a signal to the brain to slow down and to attend to one’s surroundings. Show your students how you stop and breathe when you are stressed.
Takeaway 6: Take a Color Walk.
Laugh if you must, we sure did when trying this out for the first time, at least until we realized IT WORKS! A color walk means a mindful walk, and mindfulness keeps us in the present and connects us with nature. According to this study from Harvard.edu, spending time in nature relieves stress and makes us happier humans! To feel the effects, go outside, and as you walk, pick a color and look for it. Teachers in the course were amazed how much this color walk created greater awareness in their daily lives.
Takeaway 7: Chew.
Have you ever been in the teachers’ lounge and the person ahead of you to use the microwave has a frozen meal? With only minutes to eat your lunch, the microwave can create angst. But, even when short on time, a tried and true mindfulness practice it to chew your food. In this class, teachers were asked to do the “Raisin Routine.” That is, to get a raisin and to mindfully, slowly, and purposefully savor every chew. Conversely, teachers were asked to watch the video featuring Joey Chestnut in the Nathan’s Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest. Think of Joey the next time you’re eating in a hurry.
Takeaway 8: Disengage auto-pilot.
The best way to disengage our teaching autopilot is to be fully present. Begin by challenging yourself to freshen-up one lesson that needs it and see the ways in which your students respond to your new energy and fully present aura.
Takeaway 9: Connect.
This video went viral and teachers know why. Watch as the students and teacher perform each individually choreographed handshake—and pay close attention to the looks on their faces. What a stellar way to connect and create a classroom that is fun, personal, and energizing.
Takeaway 10: Take a Blended Learning course with Learners Edge!
Our Blended Learning courses combine the best of both worlds! Work at your own pace to complete the online course requirements then connect virtually with teachers from across the United States (and beyond!) to share, listen, and learn.
If you missed out on our Blended Learning courses this time around, chin up! We are planning our blended course offerings for Fall, Spring and Summer Sessions.
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