Week in Review: Connecting phrases, Reading in context, and Passion

This week (February 16 – 23, 2018) I am thinking about connecting phrases, reading in context, and passion. Join me!


I truly feel like starting this off by saying “I’m back.”

“Fell off the planet” is dramatic, but I did spend five months in Russia and focused on other projects.

Now I am back and ready to write.

I am starting a new series.

I want to take you along with me each week.

You can see what I discover and am thinking about.

If something sparks your interest, then don’t be shy!

Leave a comment or write me an email.

Here we go!

This week I thought about

1.Connecting phrases

Sometimes, we take things for granted.

Make that, we often take things for granted.

Since we tend to communicate through conversations, the essay style can be jarring.

When we talk in a conversation, the other person can follow our train of thought.

However, when my student faces the blank page, he is forced to play both sides and write understandably.

With my young students, I find they put two thoughts beside each other without any glue.

Consider, two best friends sit beside each other.

In the first scenario, they do not interact or even look at each other.

You know they are friends, but there is no visible proof.

In the second scenario, they laugh together and lean in on each other, blurring the line between them.

Which is better?

The same is true for thoughts.

We want to see their connection.

I have always known this, but I was encouraged to see the mechanics behind it this week.

Example:

I hate writing. I took a course, and I am now a writer.

Initially, I hated writing. After I took a course in it, I fell in love. Now, I am a writer.

Read about how to write descriptive scenes with your Middle Schooler here!

2. Context while reading

As a Latin teacher, I read with my students every session.

The reading always goes better the more they engage with the passage.

If they are following what Quintus is doing, then they read effortlessly.

They become superheroes and even read words they have never seen before.

How?

They read in context.

When they reach a new word, they consider everything around it.

Cheesy example in 3…2…1…

I am so [apple] to see you today.

Wait, I think I put the wrong word in, but I am sure a student of mine could correct that. 😉

My students that actively consider cognates and context always read amazingly.

Remember this, if you find yourself reading in a foreign language this week.

For more on Latin for beginners read: How to Understand Latin Through the Eyes of English Speakers

3. Passion

You will soon learn that I am a huge fan of Mel Robbins and self-improvement books.

For this last slot, I wanted to put the spotlight on passion.

We all believe that “our passion” is a thing inside of us.

It is something we can lose or gain.

We could take it on a walk even.

However, Mel Robbins shatters that.

She recasts passion as energy and excitement.

Our greatest interests give us excitement.

When I sit down to write in Russian, I am energized.

Russian is my passion, but that passion is not a thing, it’s a force.

I cannot lose it.

If I get discouraged about Russian, for example, I feel I lost my “passion.”

In actuality, I lost my energy.

Energy can be refilled or repositioned.

My power is my passion.

However, my passion is formless energy projected onto what excites us most at the moment.

I offer you all my passion.

Not because I dreamed my entire life of doing this, but because I am energized.

I am eager to bring you new strategies and tips to help you or your child succeed.

If you enjoyed this and want more, be sure to subscribe!

Perfectionism

You arrive at the airport.

Your ticket says you will take off at 3:30pm.

At the gate, you hear the announcement, “The pilot does not feel it is the absolute perfect time to fly. Since he is still waiting for the best conditions ever known to man and the perfect frame of mind, we are forced to cancel the flight.”

Now, would it not have been better for the flight to have taken off nearly perfectly rather than not at all?

Well, students find themselves in the pilot’s seat of their own life, struggling with perfection.

Here I want to discuss perfectionism and how to work past unhealthy perfectionism.

Students find themselves in the pilot’s seat of their own life, struggling with perfection. Click To Tweet

The thirst for perfection comes from a number of different causes: fear, desire for good grades, obsessiveness, and a high standard of knowledge.

There is both a good and bad side to it.

Healthy Perfectionism

On the one hand, perfectionism gives you an incentive to aim higher and work harder.

Obsessively comparing yourself to others is unhealthy, but you can always compete with who you were yesterday.

Obsessively comparing yourself to others is unhealthy, but you can always compete with who you were yesterday. Click To Tweet

Striving to get the mark closer to perfect can awaken strengths and problem solving abilities you didn’t know you had!

Furthermore, while striving to get closer to perfect, you maintain high academic standards and perform well.

“Aim for the stars and, even if you fail, you will land on the moon” rings true at this moment.

The act of earnest striving for perfectionism, can lead to achieving sufficiently high marks before the illusive 100% comes.

Unhealthy Perfectionism

On the other hand, perfectionism can be taken too far.

I have seen many of my friends and classmates lose their health and joy through uncompromising ambition towards 100%.

It is always important to keep things in perspective and see how one grade does not impact you 5 or 10 years down the line.

Unwavering ambition can lead to burnout and regret.

Jade, a recent high school graduate in England, made a controversial video about regretting her perfect exam scores. This regret does not come from ingratitude but from an awareness of the price paid for those grades.

What do you gain, if you get perfect grades, but lose your health and passion?

You can watch the whole video here:

That said, I read an interesting article recently, which discussed the perfectionism of gifted students.

If school takes no effort whatsoever for some students, then what would perfectionism for them look like?

If school takes no effort whatsoever for some students, then what would perfectionism for them look like? Click To Tweet

The writer, Paula Prober, showcases the internal struggle of a student to know “everything,” since it takes no effort to know just something.

Read the article here.

In my experience, the number one place unhealthy perfectionism rears its ugly head is in “procrastination perfectionism.”

I myself have a life sentence, unfortunately. Linda Sapadin of Reed University defines this as: “You’re overly concerned with not meeting high expectations; you work so hard you never finish (or, sometimes, never start)” (read the full article here).

While at university, I was in the Honors College. Despite being surrounded by the “best and brightest,” we all waited to start our major projects.

In my case, I needed to see how each step would go.

I wanted to mentally foresee finding the resources, having the main points of the outline, and then writing the final draft, before I began anything.

This goes back to fear or feeling unprepared.

Though for some, like our pilot in the introduction, we may hunger for that perfect state of mind without fatigue or worry. Regardless, the allure of perfectionism can stop us from even starting.

Ways to Combat It

There are many ways to work through the negative effects of perfectionism. Here I will list four:

1.Make sure you schedule your project well.

Do not write down: “write essay,” but instead breakdown the project into manageable pieces.

You can focus your perfectionism on each step, rather than being overwhelmed by the whole.

I discuss this further in 3 Do’s and Don’ts, which you can read here.

2. Zoom out in time.

Will this essay matter in three months?

Will this test haunt me in five years? Most likely it will not even be on your mind in five days; therefore, relax.

3. Focus on what you are writing and building.

Forget about the grades for a second.

If you make something wonderful, then the grade you deserve will follow.

If you make something wonderful, then the grade you deserve will follow. Click To Tweet

Aim your perfectionism into the content and not the numerical mark at the end.

4. Consider stoicism.

What grades you will get and whether it will be raining tomorrow are entirely out of your control.

Your actions and mindset are in your control.

Criticism and imperfect grades do not define you, but your attitude and performance are in your control.

Letting things go and focusing on knowledge rather than grades will endlessly help you.

Ali Abdaal, a medical school graduate, discusses his stoic outlook and how beneficial it is during school and life.

You can watch the video here (just watch from 02:55 – 11:15)

Conclusion

Perfect yourself but don’t be perfect.

Like a pearl, you can continue to improve and become more radiant, but don’t strive to be perfect.

Perfect yourself but don’t be perfect. Like a pearl, you can continue to improve and become more radiant, but don’t strive to be perfect. Click To Tweet

Teaching English in Russia

По-русски

When I was planning my trip to Russia, I knew immediately that I wanted to teach English in some way or another.

A treasure was mine to give, that is English.

Regardless of me and my background, I could correct and share.

Touching young lives through language is very rewarding.

Touching young lives through language is very rewarding. Click To Tweet

The decision was a no brainer.

Read about my journey through my difficulties and successes.

I taught English to high school students twice a week after school hours for the entire Fall semester of 2018.

I stayed in the heartwarming town Svetlograd.

My experience was wonderful.

I loved the kids and the town.

Each session was a delight.

I was humbled and privileged to be apart of their lives for one semester.

Difficulties

The difficulties I faced were those universally felt in Russia and the world at large.

Firstly, the teachers spoke too much in Russian.

The students feel they know English, but they really understand the immediate translation into Russian.

The students feel they know English, but they really understand the immediate translation into Russian. Click To Tweet

When I came, most could not follow my speech or reply back to questions.

They giggled and looked to the nearest translator — another student or Google Translate.

Even for the younger children everything is related back to Russian. This is very counterproductive.

Secondly, as is true everywhere, the students did not have enough time.

I would ask them to write something or prepare for a small quiz, but very few were ready.

They had all the desire in the world, but time was not enough.

Lastly, the number one difficulty I faced was that the students could not feel the language.

I would sternly ask them to stand up, but they would remain seated.

Dramatic displays of happiness or anger did not make sense to them, aside from my facial expressions.

In Svetlograd, I was living with relations. If she said in Russian, “The tea is very hot!” or “Come here, Masha!”

I reacted because I felt the words.

I wanted my students to also feel the words.

One day we pretended to be a train.

We all lined up.

I was the leader and said, “We are going straight… Now we are turning left… Then we cross the book… Right again…”

As I did the action, everyone followed in a snake motion. Then the next person behind me would reenact the whole thing.

This proved very effective and helped awaken them to how English felt inside the body itself.

Successes

Successes from my point of view were innumerable because I was so pleased to be with them.

Here I will note just three.

First, I had the chance to visit several English classes.

At the beginning of the year, I was invited to visit many English classes of every age.

I would tell them about myself and then take questions.

Of course, most of the questions were about life in America and everyone always asks, “Which do you like better? America or Russia?”

That said, I loved the questions from the youngest of students, such as, “Are there kittens in America too?”

So many tried to ask me in English, even employing Google Translate occasionally.

I was thrilled to hear everyone trying.

These interviews in the classroom were one of my favorite parts of my trip on the whole.

Secondly, music was the best form of communication.

When grammar explanations became overwhelming, music proved the best way to communicate with my young students.

We listened to songs and then went over the lyrics.

My favorite was when they said they understand it all, then I asked one question….well, that popped that balloon.

We chose only songs they loved so it really helped them to open up and start working to understand better.

Games helped the Russian students relax and it helped them to talk more in English. Click To Tweet

Thirdly, by far the most success…and laughter…I had came from games!

I got into the rut where I did all the talking.

Then the potato arrived, well the potato in the form of a plush pumpkin.

We all remember the game «hot potato», growing up.

Well, I played with my students.

I did it in different ways with the students.

We started off nice and slow, passing the “potato” to one another and saying in turn, “1…2…3..”

Then the number would change and then next student would have to say the next number, “23…24…87…88…”

Lastly, we tried some math, “1+1=2, 35+2=37.”

When they loosened up, I would let them use both English and Russian numbers to help the English ones feel more real.

There was always the one student that gave me: “563(Russian)-8(English)=?” It was a laugh.

After numbers we focused on names of food and animals in the same game pattern.

This helped the students relax and it helped them to talk.

Hot potato along with other games were a huge success.

We truly had fun.

I am so grateful to have met these students and to have had this opportunity to teach English in Russia.

At the end of the day, English is a living language that should be enlivened for the student.

I hope my students will love English more now and will use it from the heart and not just out of necessity.

At the end of the day, English is a living language that should be enlivened for the student. Click To Tweet