A Season of Hope. Cherish our Differences 

Our strength is in out differences. 

Have you ever heard the story behind this highest selling Christmas carol? Robert May was an advertising executive that first wrote the poem “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” in 1939 as an ad gimmick for a local department store. 10 years later, May’s brother wrote the music. The song was turned down by Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, but Gene Autry recorded it. Today “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is the highest-selling Christmas carol, at more than 25 million units.

Do you know why the carol is so loved? You might say that it’s the courage and fortitude of Rudolph, the apparent hero of the story. But the real charm of the carol is found at the heart of what the carol is really about—grace! Despite that Rudolph was clearly an outsider and an apparent reject due to the glowing flaw of his shiny red nose, Santa chose him. When the fog rolled in and the moment became critical, Santa called on Rudolph, the reject reindeer with the big, weird, red nose to lead the pack. What everyone else saw as weakness, Santa saw as the vital component of strength to accomplish his purposes.

We each have things that make us unique. Instead of trying to hide those things and viewing them as a weakness, lets view them as a strength. Not just in ourselves but in others. 

I was the weird kids growing up. I was the gymnast in a town full of football players. Look at me now! If I had listened to those who wanted me to blend in and conform I would not have be contributing to the lives of thousands of children. 

As an employer, I am looking for people who are individuals but share our same passion. It is those differences that add spice to life and make Atlantic Gymnastics an exciting place. 

Cherish the differences in those around you. Appreciate each indivual. 

A Season of Hope. Chaos Theory

A season of hope.

As the days get shorter and we are facing  long dark and cold nights. The solstice is just weeks away and the days will become longer. This time of year even the smallest gesture can change the world.

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. The name, coined by Edward Lorenz for the effect which had been known long before, is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a hurricane (exact time of formation, exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier.

The idea, that small causes may have large effects in general and in weather specifically, was used from Henri Poincaré to Norbert Wiener.

 

In The Vocation of Man (1800), Fichte says that “you could not remove a single grain of sand from its place without thereby … changing something throughout all parts of the immeasurable whole”.

 

Yes, one small act you do today can change the world tomorrow. In the 2000 movie Pay It Forward A young boy attempts to make the world a better place after his teacher gives him that chance.  The assignment: think of something to change the world and put it into action. Trevor conjures the notion of paying a favor not back, but forward–repaying good deeds not with payback, but with new good deeds done to three new people.

 

 

Today, Tomorrow, whenever, Slow down! Hold a door open for someone. Buy someone a coffee. Heck, buy EVERYONE a coffee!

There are so many opportunities to make the world better. Do it.

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A Season of Hope

In April, on my other blog Vacilando, I posted 30 days of peace. It was at a time when I think we, as a country, needed to focus on peace.

Now, 7 months later, let’s focus on HOPE. From now until the New Year I will (hopefully) be  giving you a reason to be hopeful and to share that hope. Because with out HOPE, what’s the point?

As a 50 year old, I have faith in our next generation. They are largely engaged, environmentally conscious and see that they can change the world. They still have HOPE in their eyes and their hope gives me hope.

This holiday season these young consumers want to give—and to give back. Speaking to my children I’ve learned they plan to spend more than they did last year on gifts for family and friends. I found statistics for their generation and learned that a substantial majority plans to donate to a favorite cause or to spend time volunteering. Retailers will get in the spirit, too: nearly 75 percent say they will make charitable contributions to celebrate the season. And the good cheer doesn’t end there. Giving back inspires more giving back. Consumers prefer to buy from retailers who translate their values into action, whether it’s in the form of cash donations, commitments to sustainable practices, or community involvement, and many shoppers say they will actually spend more with these brands. It’s clear that giving back is good for business.

This is exciting news and a happy blurring of the lines between what we care about and how and what we buy and sell. Companies can engage consumers with their brands and products by demonstrating a clear sense of social purpose. Consumers have the opportunity to choose companies or products that support the causes they champion. At a time when consumers are increasingly demanding not only great products but companies with values that match their own, the holiday season is an ideal time to bring humanity to buying and selling.

While shoppers of all ages say they will open their hearts and their wallets this year for causes that matter to them, we can expect to see some generational differences. It’s the most digital time of the year, more millennial parents than consumers overall plan to make donations to their favorite charities. And millennials (young, college-educated, upwardly mobile), will increase the size of their charitable donations this year by a larger amount than shoppers in other age groups. But younger consumers won’t be far behind when it comes to spending to support causes they believe in. Gen Z shoppers (ages 16-20) are both brand loyal and loyal to brands that show social impact through their actions.

Younger millennials and members of Gen Z, perhaps because they have grown up in the era of B (benefit) Corporations, for example, when they buy a pair of shoes a pair goes to a child in need, and they expect business to be a force for good.

Make a difference this year by shopping local, shopping with a conscience, giving back to the community. Can’t think of what to get that weird cousin on your dad’s side? Make a donation in their name. Buy them a membership to a historical theater or museum.

 

I am NOT an alarmist

I keep telling myself this.

Then I make the mistake of reading a newspaper or watching the news. REAL news, not FOX or any of the fringe news sites.

After watching the news this weekend I have realized that as a country-

við erum svo ruglaður

siamo così fregati

ne jemi të dehur aq

ይህን ስናደርግ ሰጋቴ ናቸው

نحن ثمل حتى

մենք այնքան պտուտակված

biz belə berbat olunur

beraz izorratu ari gara

мы так ўшрубоўваецца

আমরা ফেঁসে হয়

mi smo tako sjebani

ние сме толкова прецакани

estem tan fotuts

我们是如此拧紧

jsme tak šroubované

vi er så skruet

we zijn zo geschroefd

olemme niin ruuvattu

Nous sommes tellement vissés

Wir sind so verschraubt

είμαστε τόσο βιδώνονται

हम इतने खराब कर रहे हैं

vagyunk annyira csavarni

私たちはとてもうんざりしています

vi er så ødelagt

Estamos tão fodidos

suntem terminați

You Don’t Need Me…You Got This: Teach your Athlete to Rescue Themselves.

Get Psyched!

I know it is difficult and heartbreaking to watch our kids suffer. When we watch our kids fall at a competition, we feel their sorrow. When we watch our kids suffer through a mental block, we feel their helplessness. When we see our kids watch their teammates more up a level without them, we feel their pain.

As sports parents, we would do anything to protect our athletes. We want to take away their sorrow, we want to give them the answers they need, we want to protect them from pain. We want to ride in our our white horses and be their saviors. We want to fight their battles, remove their enemies, and provide a life a happiness. For if they are happy, then we parents must be doing our jobs.

When we rescue them, what are we really teaching them? If we always come to their rescue when they…

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Schools CAN Keep Teachers Happy. If they try

It’s a nightmare workplace scenario: Your boss puts you in charge of training a new hire, but you don’t have adequate training materials, there’s no coordination or vision, and you get blamed when the trainee isn’t prepared.

That’s the situation America’s teachers often find themselves in as they prepare students to move to the next grade level. Thanks to underfunded reform mandates and the pressure of being blamed for the problems plaguing public education, teachers in the United States are stressed out—and they’re missing class or changing careers at high rates because of it. Now a new study provides some commonsense answers to the question of how to keep effective educators on the job.
The study, published in the October issue of the American Educational Research Journal, found that four main factors reduce high teacher turnover rates:

  • administrators who are committed to teachers’ professional development,
  • a safe school environment,
  • high expectations for students,
  • a sense of collaboration among teachers.

“We’ve been sort of consumed by the importance of the individual teacher’s role, either by strengthening their skills through professional development or exiting them and potentially hiring a better teacher,” Matthew Kraft, a professor at Brown University and the lead researcher on the study. “That has caused us to lose sight of the larger context in which the schooling takes place and the degree to which all teachers are holding students to high expectations.”

The researchers based their findings on results from the NYC School Survey from the 2008–2009 through 2012–13 school years, which was given to teachers, students, and parents in the district, as well as the city’s student assessment and administrative data. As opposed to more common one-school, onetime surveys, the five years of data covered middle schools representing a variety of socioeconomic situations, enabling the researchers to analyze why some schools improved while others got worse.

“What that allows us to do is compare this school to itself over time, with all the things that stay the same about the school: location, general student body, many other factors,” Kraft said. “Schools that experience improvement, as perceived by students and teachers in the school climate, also have corresponding decreases in turnover and increases in achievement.”

A working environment with effective leadership that fosters professional development opportunities for teachers to advance their careers was found to be among the more important factors for teachers remaining in positions. In the United States 200,000 educators, or 8 percent of the total workforce, leave the profession every year, according to the Learning Policy Institute. Kraft and his team found that quality management alone is associated with an 11 percent reduction of turnover. Schools with a strong sense of collaboration among teachers saw higher student achievement as well.

“A component of this is the quality of the professional development that the administration provides to teachers,” Kraft said. “When they have challenges or they’re looking for a unified approach across the school, do they perceive that the principal or the administration is capable of generating support across the workforce?”

Beyond the teachers and the administration, high academic expectations for students also play a major role in teacher retention. Maintaining a safe school environment for both students and teachers is also vital.
“Regardless of who’s teaching, if you’re in a school where a student is more focused on looking over their shoulder rather than the lesson, that’s a direct impact on the students,” Kraft said. “If the teachers are more consumed with managing behavior than they are in delivering instruction, then teachers are also less effective.”

Overall, the study suggests that teachers and students function best when the entire school acts as an ecosystem in which safety, collaboration, and high expectations are actively encouraged, as opposed to focusing on what may be wrong with one individual within the school.

“What we’re arguing here is that alone, improving these factors will help. It’s not a silver bullet, but the status quo is to sort of neglect these things,” Kraft said. “If we can help teachers to better support each other and their peers, that support may help them to feel more successful in the classroom, and it can impact student achievement by helping them to be more effective and reducing turnover.”

Why I am looking forward to the Holidays!

The first thing I want to get out there is YES, I say, “Happy Holidays!” in public. I do not want to risk offending anyone PLUS between now and New Years there are probably 15 recognized holidays throughout the western world. By the way, it is totally OK to wish me Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or what ever.

The biggest thing I am looking forward to is the end of the election. Truthfully, I hardly care anymore. Just get it over. This has gone on for too long and cost too much. (but that’s another story).

Growing up in upstate New York I had a pretty big family. From Halloween to New Years there were always people stopping by with wine, cheese, fruit baskets, or baked goods. When I was home from college not only were relatives stopping by but also friends from high school. I also, when out, would stop by friends and relatives house bringing small gifts.

The holidays are meant to spend with friends and family. It still brings a smile to my face remembering a full house on any given night.

As an adult with a family of my own  and we don’t have a lot of family near by. We make up for this with having some great friends. I can’t wait for the kids to get home college. I can’t wait for friends to stop by. I am looking forward to friends of my kids stopping by.

If you are driving by and the lights are on please stop for a glass of wine and some cookies.

Just wanted to put that out there.

Bonus if you know what this is! A bottle of wine if you bring me some