Monthly Archives: May 2014

Simple CHARACTERISTICS of an EFFECTIVE Classroom

TEXTBOOK RESPONSES

-Promotes collaboration among the students because the teacher recognizes he/she is NOT the only educator in the room. Therefore, students sitting in groups be it homogeneously and/or heterogeneously depending on the needs of the students.

-Celebrating student success helps to create a culture that is conducive to learning. As a result, I would also expect to see authentic student work throughout the classroom exhibiting meaningful feedback.

-An effective classroom is lead by an educator who is willing to do whatever it takes to provide his/her students with the supports needed for them to experience success. BECAUSE failure is not an option.

-Feedback is warranted, appreciated and happening regularly in an effective classroom.

-A community of people sharing a space that are learning and growing with and from one another.

-Creating meaningful relationships with your students so that a culture of love, respect, learning and success is instituted within the four walls of the classroom.

-Ultimately, creating a culture of SMILES. Smiles indicate happiness. Happiness promotes an environment conducive to learning where guards come down and challenges are revealed and now viewed as opportunities for growth.

 

HOWEVER…….myTRUTHmyCLARITY of an effective teacher is that they must have a LOVE and PASSION for the education profession. Educators who HEART teaching possess the drive to MASTER their craft. This cannot be taught……:0)

An effective teacher will ALWAYS create an effective classroom because they are willing to do the work. The secret to success isn’t rocket science…just lots of hard work.

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my TRUTH my CLARITY

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my TRUTH my CLARITY

 

I am so thankful for each day I get to open my eyes and take in a breath of fresh air.

 

As I reflect on my 31 years of living……I sip on this satisfying glass of Chardonnay, take in a deep breath of air, kick up my feet…throw my head back and let the following words, “thank you”……. dance down the walkway of my tongue, and through the tunnel of my lips………..

 

Out into the physical space of my villa these two words dance around the room and then propel up towards the infinite space that envelopes our global community………

 

I sit comfortably on my couch grinning at my reflection in my living room window because I know the alcohol is beginning to invade my blood stream….

 

But suddenly life stops for a split second and ALL becomes clearer. I receive a thought of knowing that I am EXACTLY where I’m supposed to be.

 

I put my glass of wine onto the table, stand up and suddenly feel the urge to dance with life …….because today is a celebration!

 

As I embrace my thirty first year of living……I invite life to lead this next dance into year thirty two.

 

Raise your glasses folks!…..CHEERS!

 

Here’s to letting our individual journeys unfold.

 

#LIVEonPURPOSE

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Birthday Realness….

As thirty two approaches, I have been thinking a lot about a birthday wish for myself. It doesn’t look like I’ll have a cake, presents or birthday cards this year but I’m okay with that. Living in a very remote location doesn’t make it easy for people to send me things and I’m not expecting anything from the few friends I’ve made here because we cool…but we ain’t cool cool.

Honestly, I really do not need any THING. As I physically get older and my spirit gets wiser, I find myself becoming less attached to STUFF. One of my favorite authors (Wayne Dyer) talks about how he keeps a suit with no pockets in the back of his closet. People often ask him why, and he simply says that when he transitions into the afterlife…the suit in which they bury him needs no pockets because it’s not like he will be taking any THING with him. Lol. Now that’s keeping it one hundred (REAL)!

So I come back to my birthday wish. What is it that I want or need? It’s actually quite simple. I WANT for my family, friends, and myself to live our best lives without any regrets. I NEED for each of us to take care of ourselves thus affording us good health. Lastly, I affirm that we will continue to support and love one another (UNCONDITIONALLY) as we move along our unique life experiences. And so it is!

:0)

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Thirty years of curiosity…..

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Thirty years of curiosity

One day a teenage boy decides to take a walk along Third Street in a small town known as Newport, RI…..why? Well…..he was feeling lost and confused.

He feels very alone and struggles with fitting into a social group and has no strong sense of self-identity. He ponders many thoughts including: “Who am I? Why am I here? Why don’t I fit in? What’s next? Why don’t I like myself? Why am I so different?” He becomes overwhelmed by negative thoughts….. that target everything he perceives to be wrong in his life.

He distracts his mind by immersing himself into his academic studies and extracurricular activities. He recognizes that the love he receives from his mother, family and friends help saturate the internal struggle that festers deep beneath the smile that is painted onto his face. He feels lost. He feels confined. He feels like a big city boy craving to break free of the small town mentality. He begins to surround himself with other unique individuals who just don’t quite fit into the social normalcies that are spoon fed into our mouths by the world. He draws from each of their unique qualities and begins to celebrate his own differences. He finds the courage to begin walking the unconventional path to which many would and still do not understand. He begins to learn how to stand WITH and FOR himself. He works on proceeding confidently through life with a sound faith system that will continue (30 years later) to serve as his internal GPS system.

Throughout his youth……..he has wanted to sing……shout and scream until the words cried out. However, he never knew how to articulate his struggle. You see when your mind is filled with so much chatter…..EVERYTHING is wrong? He couldn’t name it…let alone ask someone for support. All he could do was BE with his emotions and work through them. And that is EXACTLY what he did!

What made this possible is the unconditional love and support he had received from his mom, family and friends. They are a reflection of him….as He is of them. To this day…without any of them…..he doesn’t know where he would be.

I am that teenager and 31 years later I am finally able to articulate the war that was raging within me. If I could go back in time and have a conversation with that 15-year-old boy….I would drive up to him on Third Street in my current Chevy, Cruz. I would point to the Dubai plates…… just so he could affirm his curiosity and witness the fruits of his hard labor to come…………and I’d say these words:

“Start loving yourself……until then you will remain stagnant…….life is waiting for you!”

I would drive off, make a U-Turn and as I slowly pass by my 15-year-old self for a second time….I’d scream out the window:

“You are special Anthony………Continue to be curious and start believing in yourself my friend. I love you…now start loving yourself!”

As the Chevy would drive away…..that 15 year old teenager would pull his shoulders back, raise his chin up and wrap his arms around himself. He would stare off into the sky…..and for the first time see beyond the clouds….. thinking to himself…Dubai? Where the heck is that?…..Wow!….. :0). He runs home…..(flat feet and all) grabs a sheet of paper and draws a big cloud.

He cuts out the cloud and with a marker writes the following phrase: THE SKY IS NOT THE LIMIT….DREAM BIG and LOVE YOURSELF!

He’d tape the cloud onto his mirror and for a split second he catches a glimpse of his 30-year-old face looking back at him in the mirror mouthing “I love you.” For the first time he begins to see things CLEARLY….The internal battle of love would finally cease!

 

*********
If there’s one lesson I have learned in thirty years…it is taking the time to really love yourself. And I’m not talking about your physical self and how good you look in them jeans! Lol. I’m talking about internal and unconditional love of your spirit self.

SELF………I love you and your unique qualities are what make you so special. Continue to inspire and continue to live on purpose! Happy early birthday. ;0)

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Gentle Reminder…… ;0)

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Wake up and live on purpose!

 

How? Well…….Change your fears into curiosity and walk confidently into the direction of the unknown.

 

Trust that your SOURCE will lead you on a JOURNEY filled with purposeful opportunities.

 

Remember, we are here for TWO reasons: To GROW and to SERVE.

 

At the end of our lives all the other STUFF will not matter.

 

GROWTH and SERVICE will afford you authentic LOVE and true HAPPINESS. :0)

 

This in myTRUTHmyCLARITY

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One WORLD One COMMUNITY

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I believe that I am a child of source, energy, being, god, universe and all the above. I prefer not naming IT because I believe whatever IT is….is indescribable. There are no words (in my opinion) to describe the force that has created all that we know and beyond. Take a moment to think about the BEYOND and what that entails. Think about the planet on which we live and the solar system in which we share with other neighboring planets. Okay, now think BEYOND our solar system. I’m talking about the infinite space that exists outside of the atmosphere and makes up the universe. Can you imagine it? Heck…I can’t!

 

This is why I believe I am not THIS body, I am not what I have, and I most certainly am not what people think of me. I am an energy, spirit, source….whatever you want to call IT that resides within this temple (my body).

 

My temples feet are flat.
My temples head of hair refuses to grow back around the forehead area.
My temple has black skin.
My temple is six feet tall.
My temple has brown eyes, black hair and a unibrow! Lol

 

I am sure you get the picture. I say this because as I get older….I find myself becoming more and more disconnected to the THINGS and STUFF around me. Living in a remote space has afforded me lots of time to get in touch with my source and I often think about what happens when we pass on. A close friend of mine recently lost his younger sister and it was such a huge shock and reality check. It was the first time I really began to question the validity of my belief system. Naturally, I began thinking about my loved ones and the thought of losing any friend or family member would seemingly shatter my world.

 

However, this is where having a faith in something greater than you becomes so important. I’ve never been able to identify with any specific religion….but I do believe we all speak to, listen to, and follow the SAME source. We just all have different names for it and take different pathways to develop and maintain a relationship with our source.

 

I say all of this because living overseas…particularly in the Middle East keeps me abreast of international affairs. I am so taken aback by all of the violence that surrounds me. Folks….people are losing their lives. And I feel as a global community we are becoming desensitized as it refers to the loss of life. Call me crazy….but we are one community of people living together on a planet called Earth. With the array on conflicts happening around the world, I’m just very disappointed by it all.

 

I don’t want to be around on the day that something outside of our planet poses a threat to what we know as human life. But I will say this……it would probably take something of that magnitude for all of us to come together as ONE Global Community. Why can’t we all just get along?

 

We are all here for a purpose greater than the EGO and the temple in which is resides. I challenge you to start living your best life. Start thinking beyond yourself…and GIVING, SERVING and LOVING. Our time here on earth is so short…so when you wake up every morning simply say, “Thank You”.

 

I leave you with this thought…..

“As you take your final breath on this physical earth…..will you have any regrets and what will be your legacy?”

This is myTRUTHmyCLARITY ;8)

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Tourists vs. Adventurers (Travelers)

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I have come to notice that there are two types of travelers. The first traveler is the one who simply needs to see and do EVERYTHING. Also known as the TOURIST. They are content with being able to simply say, “I’ve been there and I did that!” They are all about the destination. They have their map, guide-book and long list of things to DO and SEE.

 

The second kind of traveler is the one who is seeking an experience that is different from what they are used to in their normal lives. They want to meet the locals, go to a local grocery store, people watch, hit up the local gym, go to a local pub, and visit sites off the beaten track. These travelers want to challenge their own thinking, values and beliefs. I often refer to these travelers as adventurers because getting lost in the experience is the best part.

 

When you travel alone, you are afforded a lot of time to reflect. I am no tourist. I do not enjoy running around a city, town, and/or country checking things off of my must see/do list. I want to be in the space and allow myself to experience local life, culture and entertainment. I find it to be so much more meaningful and memorable. During my three-week stay in Chiang Mai, Thailand I noticed many tourists zipping through the city and leaving after 1 or 2 days having NO idea how much they did not truly see.

 

Chiang Mai, Thailand was such a wonderful experience.  At one point in time, I played with the idea of living there for a year. However, the pay isn’t very good in the local/private schools. You have to get into an international school in order to get paid the higher salaries. Therefore, I was headed back to Abu Dhabi. Honestly, I was not excited about returning to the Middle East and/or dealing with Muslim rules/laws after spending so much time in Thailand. It reminded me of how much I missed my freedoms! Lol. But a second year in Abu Dhabi allowed me to build up the savings account. For that I am thankful. Thailand, you are such a wonderful place. I still miss you and will be back again one day soon.

 

Message to Tourists: SLOW DOWN and allow yourself the time to take in the experience. Oh….and if you’re going to take a million pictures……move outa my way! Lol. :0)

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food for THOUGHT

Food for thought:

 

I truly believe we are placed here on this earth for two reasons.

 

1- The first reason is to grow and actively find ways to be better than you were on yesterday.

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2- The second reason is to serve on purpose and with love. Anytime you are putting the needs of others before your own…….you are living on purpose.

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This simple recipe will lead you to a place of true and  authentic happiness…which is what we all desire. Pay it forward folks and continue to grow. :0)

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…..consider this myTRUTHmyCLARITY. :8)

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When the UNIVERSE speaks….LISTEN

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When the universe speaks….listen

Where does the time go? Had it really been two weeks already? I was on the plane headed back to Abu Dhabi (as I typed this entry). ****A look back in time****

 

I am flying Saudi Airlines. :0/ I don’t know how I feel about that but it’s to late now. Their airline had the lowest fare! Lol. I have a connection in Saudi Arabia and then I land in Dubai. And then 24 hours later I’ll be back on a plane headed to Sri Lanka. Lol. Poor planning on my part, but I’m gonna just go with it.

 

Interestingly enough while waiting to board the plane (in NYC), I was randomly approached by this black guy (Ramon) around my age who currently works in Saudi Arabia. He said he worked for the US military and that he’s been living and working there for about a year. I asked him, “How is that? ” (with a crooked look on my face). But as soon as the words left my mouth I realized my reaction was the same reaction I get when I tell people that I work in Abu Dhabi. Lol. Most folks still think I’m teaching in Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, or Afghanistan. Needless to say I let go of my preconceived notions and opened my eyes, ears and mind to his experience. Oddly enough his experience sounded a lot like my experience. Only difference is that he’s making a heck of a lot more money than me! He mentioned retirement in a year and I promise he’s about 35 or so.

 

It’s interesting how the universe works because right before he approached me I was sitting alone and waiting patiently to board the plane. And while I was waiting I was THINKING. I’m sure you all know about the mind chatter. It’s the conversation we have with ourselves in our heads. I try my best not to do this because some thoughts can literally drive me crazy! So I’m sitting there and I was just thinking about my trip home, my upcoming travels and teaching for a second year in Abu Dhabi. Right before Ramon approached me I was going back and forth (THINKING) about completing a second year of teaching overseas or finding a way to leave the program early. I was thinking about whether I’m doing the right thing or not. I was thinking about how much I’m going to miss my mom, family, and friends. I was thinking about what’s next after teaching overseas. I was basically thinking about my life choices. Just a lot of stuff! I started to get sad, overwhelmed, and just began feeling off. Of course when you are emotional it’s never a good time to make decisions. But as usual ……..my EGO won the debate in my head. I was literally planning my escape from the two-year commitment I made to teach in Abu Dhabi. Lol.

 

This is when Ramon approached me and I’m so glad that he did because my mind was in overdrive. Talking with him really reminded me as to why I needed to complete my second year. Save, save, save money! And opportunities like this don’t come often. Ramon is set and I really appreciated how focused he is on his goal. He was adamant about setting him and his family up financially so that eventually he could return home, retire and live comfortably. And he seemed so okay with being away from his wife and new-born baby. I really envied how at PEACE he was with the decision he made to work overseas. He explained how its hard being away from his family but a sacrifice he chose considering the economy and lack of jobs. We both agreed that Americans have to work so hard to get minimal pay. He referred to the middle east as the best kept secret to making good money. Touché! lol The conversation really helped put my emotions back in check because I’ve learned no matter what you decide to do in life, your EGO will ALWAYS convince you that the other choice would have been the better choice. As we parted ways (his seat was further back on the plane) we exchanged email addresses and I encouraged him to reach out if he ever found himself in the United Arab Emirates. Technically speaking Saudi Arabia is Abu Dhabi’s neighbor. Lol. But seriously I really needed that conversation with a complete stranger. No judgment, just simple rhyme and reason. I truly felt better about getting onto the plane because I was so close to running home to mommy. Lol.

 

Life is so hard folks! But ultimately you’ve got to listen to your SOURCE (god, the one, higher power) which speaks directly to your heart, have no fear, and just surrender. That moment truly was the universe (GOD) speaking to me through Ramon. It is always on time! :0) BTW did I mention Ramon is also a Pastor and owns a church in Texas. Crazy Right!? When the universe speaks, I listen!

 

So I board the plane feeling better after having received a clear message from GOD. And then I notice another message being sent my way. Guess who I’m sitting next to during this 12 hour flight? No not Ramon. But a boy, who is about 9 years old. And I was instantly reminded of my purpose. Often times our egos are constantly thinking about me, me, me, me. And we lose sight of the purpose we are destined to fulfill while we are here on earth. For me, it’s always been to inspire youth and the classroom is the platform in which I fulfill my purpose. I’m sitting next to this boy whose name is something I have no idea how to spell. I’m not even gonna try. Lol. He is traveling with his mother. I believe his english is minimal because he constantly stares and just smiles at me. I smile back. He began playing with the entertainment module but had no headphones so I let him use mine (I had a second pair). Needless to say, just being next to him warmed my heart and reminded me of why I have chosen to serve youth. I reach out to shake his hand, he reaches out to shake mine. I tell him thank you and he says why? I say……”because you’re a cool kid”. He grins at me and throws himself back into the seat. His mom smiles. I sit back and enjoy the peace of mind!

 

The universe speaks and I listen! You’ve got my attention. My mind is finally at peace…… :0)

 
SIDE NOTE: It’s a year later and I’m so thankful I hung and there and saw my two  year commitment through. :8)

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International Teaching Advice

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I have been teaching and living in a foreign country for just about two years and the end of my contract is near. Therefore, I feel compelled to give future international teachers some much-needed advice. Where do I begin? Where do I end? There’s so much I can reflect on as a ‘veteran teacher’ in a middle eastern country. Yeap, that’s right! Lol. You are considered a veteran teacher if you made it through a year of teaching and return to do additional years. You become the ‘go to’ person for many of the new teachers. I believe they have hired over 500 additional teachers……probably more than that for the upcoming school year! Naturally, these teachers have many questions and seek veteran teachers via Facebook.

 

I figured I’d post a few of the most popular questions I have received from teachers who are planning to relocate overseas and teach in The Middle East.

 

1) Do you have any regrets?

– Absolutely not! This experience has afforded me opportunities I never would have experienced had I not taken this leap of faith. I have grown on so many levels; spiritually, emotionally, physically, intellectually, professionally. More importantly, I now view the world through a global lens. This shift (in how I view the world) has motivated me to continue living and serving on purpose.

 

2) What was your biggest challenge?

– I had two really big challenges that I had to deal with on a daily basis. The first challenge was surrendering to the culture of this country. Culture shock is very real and there are stages you will go through over a period of time. Get familiar with these stages so that you are prepared to respond appropriately to the roller-coaster of emotions. Over time you will gain a better understanding of the cultural norms and how things work, but you must be patient with the process and simply let go and surrender to the way things are!

 

The second challenge was my biggest challenge. The challenge of being so far away from everything and everyone that I know and love. I genuinely missed my family and friends to death. As a result, I have and still experience a whole new type of loneliness. But I’m grateful for it because it has forced me to really appreciate the company of myself. This new and enriching relationship I have with myself has afforded me a newfound spiritual connection with my source. I needed this time alone to really get to know me and the one above. Point to ponder: They say a person begins to feel lonely when they no longer enjoy the company of themselves. Ways I dealt with this challenge included Facebook, Skype, Magic Jack, Voxer, and Text Now which all kept me in constant communication with everyone. Additionally, I made an effort to create new friendships. However, be VERY careful about who you surround yourself with. It’ll make or break your experience. Needless to say, it helps to chat and hang out with people who can relate to what you are feeling. Also, I have come to realize that our thoughts are just thoughts. And when you are feeling a particularly way it is simply a thought in motion. If you change the way you think, you change the way you feel. I have found a few ways to dismiss the negative thoughts. However, sometimes I simply allow for them to just pass. It takes a lot of practice, but after 2 years I’m managing my negative thoughts a lot better than I used to in the past. Lastly, I constantly remind myself that I am serving for a purpose greater than myself. I am living a dream that is dreamt by many. I tell myself to be in the moment and embrace it……why? Because this too shall pass…so live on purpose!

 

3) What is your best advice for an incoming teacher?

– Expect nothing and everything all at once. Lol. It doesn’t make sense right? Lol. Welcome to life overseas! A person who can keep an open mind and exercise infinite patience, flexibility, and tolerance will be able to embrace the foreign experience.

 

4) What’s your most memorable moment over this past year?

A) My mom taking her first trip overseas to visit my new normal.
B) When the plane landed in this foreign country, it symbolized the start of my journey.
C) The first day I met my students and they looked at me like I had five heads.
D) Being able to afford trips to places like Sri Lanka, Paris, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Qatar, ect….
E) The first payday. No taxes taken out of my check! Incredible!
F) The day I met Abdullah (Emirate) and he introduced me to his family.
G) The day I walked into my free two bedroom, 2 bathroom villa.
H) The day I realized I was making an impact globally.
I) The moment when I realized how blessed I am to be an American.
J) Immersing myself in the many cultural activities in the this foreign country.

There are so many memorable moments! I could go on forever but I think you get the picture. :0)

 

5) What was your teaching experience like?

– I felt like a first year teacher all over again. Why? Because my students didn’t understand much of what I was saying. I had never taught English as a second language and was shocked that the school didn’t provide me with an Arabic translator. I had to exercise humility and be willing to ask for ideas, strategies and resources. A teacher who is truly reflective and open to stepping outside of their comfort zone will exhibit success in the classroom. Point to ponder: your number one priority is to find some way to develop a relationship with your students. Without that, you will fail. You do whatever it takes to win the kids over and then keep doing it! Trust me, it’s the only reason I had a successful 2 years in the classroom. The kids liked and respected me as their teacher and friend. More importantly, they knew I cared.
6) Do you think I’m making the right choice by going to a middle eastern country? I’m so scared!

-Relax! Your feelings are normal. We all were feeling what you’re feeling and it’s okay. You’re making a big move in your life so naturally you will begin to experience every possible emotion. I will leave you with this thought; they say a person doesn’t truly start living on purpose until they begin stepping outside of their comfort zone. The choice is ultimately yours and I invite you to change your fears into curiosity. Only then will you afford yourself life changing experiences.

This is myTRUTHmyClarity…. ;8)

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