Updated: Apr 25
I’ve twice had the privilege this year of working with a wonderful group of new friends in the beautiful landscapes of Westwood, Texas. Within this post, I’d like to focus on our first meeting together and what we were able to accomplish.
As with any of my Teach4Endurance consultations, nothing is truly linear and easy. We’re going to dig deep, reflect, work, share, laugh (and sometimes even cry) with the goal of growing personally and professionally together.
Just as in my own classes (when teaching), I have a simple pedagogical approach: work as one synergistically. When working as one familial unit, greatness can be accomplished.
HAVE A GAME PLAN! Whether teaching, consulting, presenting, parenting, coaching (you get the idea), getting caught on your heels is never optimal. Why? Because if so, you’re forced to act in a reactive manner (and poor choices often coincide with such an approach). When possible, I prefer to prepare/act in a proactive manner and “attack” if you will, rather than “be attacked”. By doing so, you’re able to dictate more of the terms of a scenario, rather than be dictated to.
So with the logistics out of the way, what do we do? Well, we rock of course! More often than not, I begin any consulting session with music. Music is the pathway to the soul and brings people together in a wonderful way. We live to a beat do we not? Case closed. So, I usually pick a song that has a thematic connection to our goals together. In our first meeting, my new Westwood friends and I performed the first verse and course of “More Than a Feeling” by Boston. The notion being that I wanted everyone in attendance to strive for more: More in life; more in the classroom; more in relationships; more in caring for yourself, etc. Basically, strive to truly live and not to simply exist. There’s a big difference!
I Have a Secret!
Throughout the day, we all play a Breakout EDU game I’ve created for the occasion to earn tickets for some free swag at the culmination of our time together.
This Breakout is based around a secret I use for success (no I’m not always successful; that’s not reality); but more often than not, this “secret” helps me greatly.
So the notion is . . . whether I’m teaching, racing an Ironman, training, mowing the lawn, shopping at the grocery store, etc., these four steps help the experience be more meaningful and productive. You’ll notice, however, the 4th step is the “secret”! Why? Because it’s the most important of the four! That answer comes at day’s end.
Make It Meaningful - whatever the “it” is, it must be intrinsically important to you in some capacity. Extrinsic motivation (wave the bright, orange carrot to do something to then receive something) may work at times, but you’ll rarely achieve greatness with such an approach. When intrinsically motivated, whatever you’re doing becomes far more meaningful and important, yielding more optimal results.
Be Willing to Evolve - you have to be ready and willing to “flip on a dime” when the situation calls for a change in course. If something is not working optimally, why would you continue on the same course of action? Or at times, things come up you hadn’t planned for, but it doesn’t mean they’re going away. Basically . . . swim with the current, not against it. I’ve tried swimming against it in the past; it’s far more difficult and energy consuming. Plus, the water (literally and metaphorically) is far stronger!
Make It Sustainable - this is a tough one. Essentially, whatever I’m striving to achieve, have I created an environment that will function without me or when I’m not at my best? A simple example is my classroom. I try really hard to teach my students what I expect of them behaviorally and academically whether I’m there physically or not. Our class is expected to function at a high level no matter who is there instructing.
???? - we’ll get to this one at the end of the article; remember . . . it’s the most important component of the “secret”!
Now that we’ve laid the foundation for our time together, we can get to work on whatever the key goals may be for the day. In this instance, the goal was to leverage existing and available technologies as a “tool” to enhance the educational process within the SAMR framework model.
Note: I made it very clear that NO technology is an end-all cure for thriving students, struggling students and/or educators. They are an application that, when used properly to enhance learning, can be wonderful. But, these technologies CANNOT and WILL NOT create an optimal learning environment on their own. This comes from the educator who has poured their heart and soul into developing RELATIONSHIPS with their students. When a student knows their teacher understands them, cares about them and truly wants the best for them, then (and only then) will true learning take place.
Activity 1 - The Brain
For many, trying something new can be daunting. Often, as humans, when we are intimidated or lack confidence in our abilities to perform or learn a certain task, we change direction to where we’re more comfortable. Our ego HATES failing. But failing can be a beautiful thing and is also one of the greatest learning experiences life can provide.
Throughout our time together, we take a couple minutes to physically/mentally rejuvenate. Body Boosters are some of my favorite, simple routines I’ve used in training for multiple Ironman events. No, I don’t have us go for a 3-mile swim (although that would be fun); we do simple exercises that ignite our Central Nervous System, allowing us to move forward and thrive throughout our day.
Body Booster 1
Activity 2 - Canva
Canva is a powerful design tool that can be used in education to create projects that not only look great but also help teach students the basics of digital design.
This is a free tool that allows students and teachers to work with photo editing, design layout, and more, all within an easy-to-use platform.
While this can be used by students to submit projects, it can also teach them how to work more creatively when laying out work. Teachers can also use the platform to create guidance, posters, and more for the classroom and beyond.
Activity 2 - Work Examples
Reflection - Canva
After each key element, I find it imperative to reflect on what we’ve accomplished, or what could go better, etc. In this case, we did my “Storm of Stickies”.
Body Booster 2
Activity 3 - Kahoot
Kahoot! is a digital learning platform that uses quiz-style games to help students learn by making the information engaging in a fun way.
As one of the biggest names in quiz-based learning, it's impressive that Kahoot! still offers a free-to-use platform, which makes it highly accessible for teachers and students alike. It's also a helpful tool for a hybrid class that uses both digital and classroom-based learning.
As Kahoot is a massive platform (from a gamification standpoint), I simply set everyone loose to explore and play. While I’m paraphrasing here, Mr. Rogers noted that play is not only work, it is essential.
Reflection - Kahoot
After each key element, I find it imperative to reflect on what we’ve accomplished, or what could go better, etc. In this case, we did my “Sherlock Share”.
Body Booster 3
Activity 4 - Teach4Endurance (The Present Is a Gift)
Our next activity was taken from one of my core Teach4Endurance presentations. This activity/workout had the attendees truly reflecting on the NOW, while recognizing that most of the “chatter” in our heads takes away from the beauty that is in front of us. Moreover, we looked to some things we never want to regret, by allowing ourselves to be dictated by the “chatter”.
Reflection - The Present Is a Gift
After each key element, I find it imperative to reflect on what we’ve accomplished, or what could go better, etc. In this case, we did my activity, the “Noise In Your Head”.
Activity 5 - Teach4Endurance (The Murky Depths)
Our final activity was taken from another of my core Teach4Endurance presentations. This activity/workout had the attendees truly reflecting what they are allowing to pull them down in life. More importantly, after identifying such “zappers”, it is completely within our power to set them free from our existence.
Reflection - The Murky Depths
After each key element, I find it imperative to reflect on what we’ve accomplished, or what could go better, etc. In this case, since this activity is truly personal, my new friends found a quiet place to talk to themselves with the reflection activity, “The Heart of the Matter”.
Body Booster 4
Closing - Return to the “Secret”
Upon completing all of the Breakout EDU locks, the answer revealed is someone looking into a mirror.
The point is this: NOTHING in my “secret” for success; NOTHING in terms of implementing technologies within the classroom; NOTHING in any capacity is going to be fulfilled or have an opportunity to flourish if YOU’RE NOT GOOD WITH YOU! Your heart, mind and soul need to be in a good place for greatness to occur. So in reality, before . . .
Making It Meaningful
Being Willing to Evolve
Making It Sustainable
YOU MUST BE IN A GOOD PLACE YOURSELF! TAKE CARE OF YOU TO ENDURE ALL THAT LIFE BRINGS.
And that, my friends, was our one afternoon together! That is a day in the life of a Teach4Endurance developmental consultation. It’s not work . . . it’s a show to experience, to learn and enjoy; and I am so grateful for the new relationships I’ve cultivated in the beautiful, serene town of Westwood, Texas.