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Archive for July, 2010

For the second time in my life, I’m sitting in beautiful Castine, Maine, but not as a vacationer sitting down near the water nor cruising on one of the boats moored in the harbor. I’m inside at the Maine Maritime Academy attending a four-day conference relative to the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI for short), the one-to-one laptop program that has been in existence since 2002. My first training conference must have been in 2003. Now, like then, I am among peers and experts in the field and have much to learn.

For those unfamiliar with the program, MLTI transformed middle level education in the State of Maine by giving each 7th and 8th grader an Apple laptop, installing a wireless network in each building, and providing some exceptional professional development.

Shapleigh Middle School, where I used to work, was selected as one of the nine exploratory sites around the State and received two class sets of laptops a semester before the full rollout in September 2002. In fact, Governor Angus King (the visionary leader who came up with this plan) used Shapleigh for the kickoff of the program. Its location in Kittery (referred to as the “Gateway to Maine”) seemed the logical spot for telling students, “The world will be watching you,” as this was the largest technological implementation ever. I consider my involvement with the program one of the major highlights of my long educational career.

Over the years, Shapleigh played host to educators from other states, a town in Quebec and a delegation from France. Between laptops, a culture of high standards for kids and cooperation and sharing among staff, along with the leadership of Principal, Greg Goodness, the school was given Blue Ribbon status and its administrator was Maine Principal of the Year.

But that’s history. So why is Diana here when her technology job was eliminated two years ago?

It’s simple:

I’ve got a new/old job!

“What’s a ‘new/old’ job?” you ask. The district Advisory Committee for Information Literacy recommended the creation of an integrator position for fall. After two years of providing support with a coordinator, an ed tech, and a technician, the reality that technology was falling behind without someone to facilitate integration. Originally proposed as a K-12 position, funding was authorized at the 60% level. It will be similar to my old job but will not include all the hardware and network responsibilities.

I’ve been away from this world of technology, so I’m feeling a bit rusty. I’ve been away from the conversations in District as well, so I’m not sure what the teacher needs are. I’ve been away from the jargon, so have definitions to learn.

As always, I am not only learning new things but also having to think about how they will be used in the future after I teach them to others. Being learner and integrator is not always easy but is just part of the game. I’m in sponge mode trying to absorb as much as I can to bring back to my colleagues.

Two summers ago, I was 100% unemployed. As summer 2010 comes to a close, that percentage will reduce, though not be completely eradicated.

In some ways I have come full circle.

The long journey ends as a new one begins.

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… and on the 7th day, He rested.

Right back there in Genesis, after the creation of the world, even God rested. Now I am not going to get into a theological discussion about whether or not this really happened nor if it did how long it actually took. I’m merely reacting to the fact that even the Creator of the Universe paused from working.

That being said, if it’s good enough for Him, then it’s certainly good enough for me.

Well, one might say, “Diana, you’ve been resting from working for over two years now. Don’t you think that’s about enough?” I’m not really talking about the absence of working but rather engaging in something different in a restorative act, something that brings wholeness to you and enables you to get back into the foray again.

Restoration is something needed for all of us, and maybe more so for the job seeker because there is little affirmation or success happening … For me, I have felt it especially necessary in 2010 as added to the frustrations of the job search, the heart heaviness of worrying about those close to me who are also unemployed, and recent health issues, my mind and spirit were definitely in need of a clearing. (See Coming through the darkness and And the winner is … The Virus.) Fortunately, there has been progress on all fronts with residuals of the virus finally being gone.

Webster’s tells us that restoring is bringing back to a former position or condition; a renewing!

It’s funny the myriad of things that can cause restoration to take place, many being very simple acts, indeed. That simplicity is truly a gift.

For me, summer itself is one of the biggest. I enjoy being able to be barefoot (I’m guilty of it inside all year round) and jacketless, especially in the evening. Since celebrating our 25th anniversary in Florida in 1992, Bob and I have enjoyed a number of February breaks there. Lying on my back on a winter evening, feeling the warm, moist breeze across my face always makes, especially when it’s snowing at home.

Curling up with a good book, sharing Saturday breakfast or Sunday dinner with my little family, having a tears-running-down-your-face laugh with a bunch of friends, being wrapped up in Bob’s arms after a particularly tough day – all of these work their magic to restore my spirit.

Four years ago I added another restorative experience to my list –what has become the annual family vacation week at Bob’s cousin’s house on the Cape. We have spent many Thanksgivings there with the Schuman cousins over the years and finally took Joan and Strat up on their offer to spend a week at the house overlooking the marsh and Cape Cod Bay. This year, it was even more eagerly anticipated.

So last week, Bob, Kim, Kirt, Britt, grandbeagle Reggie and I made our voyage to this magical place with its many restorative powers: Being away from home with the people most important in my life, sleeping with the windows open to the sea breeze, savoring the uninterrupted marsh view, reading lots of books, watching the sunset over Cape Cod Bay from the upper deck and later lying on our backs searching for shooting stars while we try to discern the constellations, and perhaps the most refreshing of all, using the outdoor shower!

ADDENDUM: After posting this blog entry last evening I was reading the current Guideposts magazine this morning and share this quote with you from Catherine Fenwick, Canadian motivational speaker and author of Love and Laughter–A Healing Journey which I may just have to read:

Your body cannot heal without play. Your mind cannot heal without laughter. Your soul cannot heal without joy.

Our days from July 13 to 21 went too quickly – but my body, mind and soul have been restored. I’m ready to take on my world!

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I have been thinking the last couple of days about friendship and the juxtaposition of words from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and a chant learned at a women’s retreat.

Bradbury’s book was the book group selection for September 2008, the first meeting after my job loss when emotions were still quite raw and the realization that I would no longer be with folks who had gone beyond colleague and become friends. While the book seems an unlikely source, Bradbury’s words resonated in my spirit. Of course, I am blessed to have others in my life for whom the words are just as a propos; but I felt driven to share my thoughts with a few folks.

Of the hundreds of emails I send and receive each week, I saved this one dated September 8, 2008, and quote it for you here:

“Good Morning

I have been reading Fahrenheit 451 for my church book club and have found it most interesting and pertinent to today.

One paragraph seemed a bit out of context with its depth but struck a chord within my spirit that I wanted to share with you …

We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over.

We may reach a point in our relationship where because we don’t share the same experiences any longer that things to chat about may be a bit more difficult; but yet, I know for each of you, that magical piece has happened that makes my heart run over.

Enjoy the beauty of this day.

Love to you, my friends”

Fast forward to retreat 2009, led by Jean Shula, who spoke to us about how the 3 Mary’s impact us as women (Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary of Mary and Martha and Mary Magdalene). It was a fascinating discussion and is the subject of an upcoming book.

As part of our closing worship service she taught us a chant which we sang while standing in a circle touching hands with the person next to us. We repeated its words to each other as we moved around the circle. WOW, what impact! What a realization then and now of the blessings of people to whom you can say,

Listen, listen, listen to my heart’s song,

Listen, listen, listen to my heart’s song:

I will never forget you; I will never forsake you;

I will never forget you; I will never forsake you.

As I was researching this evening for an audio copy of the chant, I discovered that it was written by an Indian Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda, and has often been used as a lullaby by Indian mothers for their children – Makes me wish I had a young ‘un to rock and makes me realize yet again that LOVE goes beyond politics, economics, and theology – love goes to the soul and is beyond our comprehension in its vastness.

I think of my friends from Shapleigh, my sisters and brothers from St. John’s UMC, those in my life dealing with major illness whom I may not get to see again, friends from other times and places in my life, family who have passed from me in body, family who are friends, friends who are as close as family, my son, daughter and daughter-in-law, my husband of 43 years (without whom I’d be less than I am), and feel so small on the one hand but so large on the inside with the love in my heart.

Shh, listen, listen, listen. Can you hear it? It’s my heart’s song.

Shh, listen again. Is that yours joining in the chant?

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From your resident blogging educator, a light-hearted posting today.

You may have seen these already as they have been circulating in various forms around the Internet. I received a copy today in an email and thought I would share with you.

Summer Classes at
THE ADULT LEARNING CENTER

REGISTRATION MUST BE COMPLETED
By Sat., July 17, 2010

NOTE: DUE TO THE COMPLEXITY AND DIFFICULTY LEVEL
OF THEIR CONTENTS, CLASS SIZES WILL BE LIMITED TO 8 PARTICIPANTS MAXIMUM.

Classes for Women

Classes for Men

Class 1

Up in Winter, Down in Summer – How to Adjust a Thermostat

Step by Step, with Slide Presentation.
4 weeks, Monday and Wednesday for 2 hrs beginning at 7:00 PM.

Class 1

How To Fill Up The Ice Cube Trays

Step by Step, with Slide Presentation.
4 weeks, Monday and Wednesday for 2 hours beginning at 7:00 PM.

Class 2

Which Takes More Energy – Putting the Toilet Seat Down, or Bitching About It for 3 Hours?

Round Table Discussion.
2 weeks, Saturday 12:00 for 2 hours.

Class 2

The Toilet Paper Roll–Does It Change Itself?

Round Table Discussion.
2 weeks, Saturday 12:00 for 2 hours.

Class 3

Is It Possible To Drive Past a Mall Without Stopping?

Group Debate.

4 weeks, Saturday 10:00 PM for 2 hours.

Class 3

Is It Possible To Urinate Using The Technique Of Lifting The Seat and Avoiding The Floor, Walls and Nearby Bathtub?

Group Practice.
4 weeks, Saturday 10:00 PM for 2 hours.

Class 4

Fundamental Differences between a Purse and a Suitcase

Pictures and Explanatory Graphics.
Saturdays at 2:00 PM for 3 weeks.

Class 4

Fundamental Differences between The Laundry Hamper and The Floor.

Pictures and Explanatory Graphics.
Meets Saturdays at 2:00 PM for 3 weeks.

Class 5

Curling Irons– Can They Levitate into The Bathroom Cabinet?

Examples on Video.
4 weeks, Tuesday and Thursday for 2 hours beginning at 7:00 PM

Class 5

Dinner Dishes–Can They Levitate and Fly into The Kitchen Sink?

Examples on Video.
4 weeks, Tuesday and Thursday for 2 hours beginning at 7:00 PM

Class 6

How to Ask Questions During Commercials and Be Quiet During the Program

Help Line Support and Support Groups.
4 Weeks, Friday and Sunday 7:00 PM

Class 6

Loss Of Identity–Losing The Remote To Your Significant Other.

Help Line Support and Support Groups.
4 Weeks, Friday and Sunday 7:00 PM

Class 7

Can a Bath Be Taken Without 14 Different Kinds of Soaps and Shampoos?

Open Forum.
Monday at 8:00 PM, 2 hours.

Class 7

Learning How To Find Things–Starting With Looking In The Right Places And Not Turning The House Upside Down While Screaming.

Open Forum, Monday at 8:00 PM, 2 hours.

Class 8

Health Watch–They Make Medicine for PMS – USE IT!

3 nights; Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 7:00 PM for 2 hours.

Class 8

Health Watch–Bringing Her Flowers Is Not Harmful To Your Health.

Graphics and Audio Tapes.
3 nights; Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 7:00 PM for 2 hours.

Class 9

I Was Wrong and He Was Right!

Real Life Testimonials.
Tuesdays at 6:00 PM Location to be determined.

Class 9

Real Men Ask For Directions When Lost.

Real Life Testimonials.
Tuesdays at 6:00 PM Location to be determined

Class 10

How to Parallel Park In Less Than 20 Minutes Without an Insurance Claim.

Driving Simulations.
4 weeks, Saturday’s noon, 2 hours.

Class 10

Is It Genetically Impossible To Sit Quietly While She Parallel Parks?

Driving Simulations.
4 weeks, Saturday’s noon, 2 hours.

Class 11

Learning to Live–How to Apply Brakes without Throwing Passengers through the Windshield.

2 weeks, Tuesdays at 7:00 PM, location to be determined.

Class 11

Learning to Live–Basic Differences Between Mother and Wife.

Online Classes and role-playing
Tuesdays at 7:00 PM, location to be determined

Class 12

Going It Alone—Class will be taught how to be able to go in to a public bathroom without an escort or friend.

4 weeks, Tuesday and Thursday for 2 hours beginning at 7:00 PM.

Class 12

How to be the Ideal Shopping Companion
Relaxation Exercises, Meditation and Breathing Techniques.

4 weeks, Tuesday and Thursday for 2 hours beginning at 7:00 PM.

Class 13

Restaurant Tipping Course—Members will lean the proper use of a calculator to figure out and divide the guest check, and to determine the correct tip to the waitress.

2 Weeks, three hours each plus free calculator (because all of them have misplaced theirs’)—at local Hardees.

Class 13

How to Fight Cerebral Atrophy–Remembering Birthdays, Anniversaries and Other Important Dates and Calling When You’re Going To Be Late.

Cerebral Shock Therapy Sessions and Full Lobotomies Offered.
3 nights; Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 7:00 PM for 2 hours.

Class 14

The Recycling Bin—Teaches class which garbage items can be recycled and which cannot.

8 weeks, five hours each week complete with garbologist (garbage scientist).

Class 14

The Stove/Oven–What It Is and How It Is Used.
Live Demonstration.

Tuesdays at 6:00 PM, location to be determined.

Class 15

Handling the bank drive-up ­Teaches the fastest way to put money into the drive up, getting it back, rearranging purse so keys, lipstick, drivers license and other items can quickly be put away before proceeding without delaying the twenty people in line behind you.

10 weeks. Special purse provided, 3 hours per class.

Class 15

Getting Over It: Learning How to Live with Being Wrong All the Time.

Individual counselors available.
3 weeks, Fridays at 5 PM.

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By Laura Knoy on Thursday, July 8, 2010.

Defined as being out of work for more than six months, today they comprise almost half of jobless Americans. It’s the highest percentage since the government started tracking them a half century ago. We’ll find out who’s in this group and why, and we’ll look at how a recent vote in Congress against extending jobless benefits will affect the long-term unemployed in New Hampshire.

Guests

  • Jon Greenberg, NHPR’s Executive Editor and curator of NHPR’s Working it Out series
  • Tara Reardon, Commissioner of Employment Security

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Spring 2010 found me at Thompson School for Applied Sciences at UNH teaching a course called “Communication within Community” for the CoLead Program which dealt with news releases, proposals, community presentations, etc., that would be part of a communication plan for a nonprofit organization. The course culminated with the production of the yearly newsletter The Leading Edge. Especially note the articles entitled “Beam me up, Scotty, Non-profits: The next generation” and “A leader, a survivor, a teacher.”

While I had experience creating these documents, this was the first time I was teaching them at the college level. I was frequently a bit nervous but thoroughly enjoyed my weeks on campus.

The class was a combination of lecture, opportunities to practice during class, and lots of interaction with the students. The highlight of each week, however, was “The Dialogue.” On Thursdays, a student would pick a subject (usually a bit controversial) that he/she would facilitate. We would spend the next hour or so sharing our thoughts. This was not a discussion or a debate but an exchange where our goal was to listen to each other’s views rather than prove our own points.  We based a lot of the process on an out-of-print book called The Magic of Dialogue: Transforming Conflict into Cooperation by Daniel Yankelovich. It was about the absence of coercive influences and listening with empathy. I have included a chart from the book that shows the difference between debate (where we usually are) and dialogue.

DEBATE VERSUS DIALOGUE1

Debate Dialogue
Assuming that there is a right answer and you have it Assuming that many people have pieces of the answer and that together they can craft a solution
Combative: Participants attempt to prove the other side wrong Collaborative: participants work together toward common understanding
About winning About exploring common ground
Listening to find flaws and make counterarguments Listening to understand, find meaning and agreement
Defending assumptions as truth Revealing assumptions for reevaluation
Critiquing the other side’s position Reexamining all positions
Defending one’s own views against those of others Admitting that others’ thinking can improve one’s own
Searching for flaws and weaknesses in other positions Searching for strengths and value in other’s positions
Seeking a conclusion or vote that ratifies your position Discovering new options, not seeking closure
1Synthesized and adapted from the work of the Public Conversations Project, National Study Circles Resources, The Common Enterprise, Educators for Social Responsibility and Choice Point Consulting. Prepared for the Bipartisan Congressional Retreat by Mark Gerzon.

Rather than focusing on what we are going to say next, Yankelovich tells us that we each need to “take in” the other viewpoint, engage with it in the deepest sense of the word. Its purpose is to seek mutual understanding. It was a fascinating experience. I think I have learned to listen better.

This was yet another example reinforcing the quote from The King and I which is at the beginning of my cover letters:

It’s a very ancient saying, but a true and honest thought, that if you become a teacher, by your students you’ll be taught.

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