Smart Solutions to and Possible Reasons for Behavior Issues in School

So much can be changed by our reaction as adults to the students’ actions. Please review and follow this very important entry and blog by ACES too High. If you have never heard of the ACE Study, I invite you to read more about it at http://www.cdc.gov/ace or send me an email or leave a comment and I can fill you in on this important work.

ACEs Too High

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Two kindergarteners at Cherokee Point Elementary School in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood get into a fight on the playground. Their teacher sends them to the principal’s office. 

Instead of suspending or expelling the six-year-olds, as happens in many schools, Principal Godwin Higa ushers them to his side of the desk. He sits down so that he can talk with them eye-to-eye and quietly asks: “What happened?” He points to one of the boys. “You go first.” 

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Unrealistic Expectations?

My lack of blogging is due to taking a six week course that felt like being beaten with a bag full of railroad spikes. On top of working full time, which includes traveling every other week at this point, I also took a 6 week course about United States history between 1920 and 1945. The class was a lower level graduate course so I figured it wouldn’t be that difficult.  Apparently my perception of a lower level course and the professor’s perception were completely different.  Our assignments included reading 9 books in 6 weeks, writing two 12 page papers on two books each, one 16-20 page paper on three books, and presenting a 15 minute lecture.  I felt like all of my work was rushed and below my average quality- or at least what I consider quality but they let me stay here so it must not be too bad!  I barely had time to think about one thing before I had to get onto the next.

So now I pose the question, at what point do we assign too much in a class?  There is a fine line, no doubt, between too little and too much.  However, when do we allow for time for the student to absorb the information they are reading and process the knowledge, taking the time to apply it to other information in their mind before we usher them off onto the next assignment?  Undoubtedly, I am not the only student in the class that has a full time job since the class was offered in the evening.  I was fortunate though to be one of the only students enrolled in the class to not have other classes for which I had responsibilities as well.  One, a social studies education student, had a panic attack during break on the first day of class because of the load of work from her education program every night with lesson plans, portfolios and such that were due at the end of the week every week on top of the assignments and reading for this class and two others.

Stress is manifested differently in each person and everyone has their various stress levels.  I panicked but I looked at the class as a challenge with my work and unavoidable travel schedule.  I walked out of the first class thinking, “Challenge Accepted.”  But in less than a year, these are the kinds of problems I will be running into as a teacher.  How do I manage my courseloads in the classes I teach so that I can challenge everyone but not overdo it?  Likewise, what will I be capable of handling with 4-6 classes?  I’ve talked a little bit before about time management, stress management, and migraines.  This seems to be a recurring theme, though not only in grad students (and history students!) but life in general.

Today I ordered a Yoga for Stress DVD through my subscription at Yoga Journal.  I will let you all know how that works out.  Until then, contemplate, what’s my toxic stress level?  At what point in the past have I wanted to just throw in the towel and what’s made me get there?  How did I get out of that dark place?

This weekend, I will be updating with some book reviews that I’ve owed people for months now and possibly a bit more on the levels of stress.

Until then, enjoy life my friends 😉

Power of Music

In a historical sense, music can tell the story of an era, an event, as well as portraying emotion.  Music reminds us of our own personal history, bringing up memories, either fond or ones that we wish we could forget.  Please watch this video below regarding the healing power of music.  It touched my heart.  I hope it touches yours enough to pass on:

Things I’ve Learned in Grad School: Stress Migraines

Graduate school has a profound impact on a person, not the least of which involves an added level of stress.  Intense weight gain or loss, irritability, isolation from friends, depression, sleep deprivation- these are all effects that I expected as I signed up for my first course.  However, there was one sneaky little stress ninja that had snuck under my radar – migraines.  As a full time employee at a strictly grant funded department at the University and a part time history graduate student, to say I was stressed was an understatement at first.  Time management skills became crucial elements to the maintenance of my sanity.

Just as I thought I had it under control, my body disagreed and decided to go on the offensive.  Searing pain ripped through my head, down my neck, and into my shoulders one morning as my alarm went off.  The noise alone made me want to burst my eardrums because surely the pain from that could not have been as bad as the one that was pounding its way through some kind of offbeat anthem in my brain.  My eyes were swollen to the point where I felt like I could barely open them.  I knew what was going on, I had experienced minor migraines in high school that had similar effects though nowhere near this degree.  Those were more to the degree of tension headaches.  Time, strong coffee, and a hot bath helped me through the day but once I could stand bright lights and sound, I opened my laptop and dug around on the internet for more information like the good little researcher I am.

I went through all the different elements that could be triggering it: household pollutants (dust, mold, new items brought in), weather changes, diet changes.  None of those seemed to have an effect on either the intensity or frequency that these monster migraines were coming at me at this point.  As the semester wore on, they were coming every week.  Having portions of my brain removed was starting to sound like a fantastic idea, just to relieve some pressure I’d tell myself.

Finally, I broke down and made a doctor appointment who prescribed me a medication and gave me a referral to a neurologist.  The magical little pills worked wonders and put me in a very happy, but full functional, place for about four hours, just enough time to be on the other side of the migraine.  Yet I was interested, if not apprehensive to hear what the neurologist had to say.  My great grandmother had passed a few years back because of brain cancer, so with that in the back of my mind I sat in his office explaining my family history as well as my current situation.  He asked me what I was responsible for at work and then what type of classes I had been taking and what my grades were as well as the papers I had written and outside activities I was involved in.  When I had finished, he told me that I was understandably having migraines and he was surprised they hadn’t started sooner.  The culprit was stress.  The age old adage “this too shall pass” was tossed around as we discussed my looming graduation date, but he did not give me much hope for the future.  However, those time management skills will last me a lifetime, especially now that they are paired with my newfound discernment in “outside” activities.  Walking out of his office, my mind drifted back to my great grandmother, the same who had battled brain cancer, bent over the tomato plants in her backyard teaching me how to tell the good from the bad.  She taught me then to “do what you’re able” as she put it “not much more but certainly no less.”

Now, I have the migraines under control and have found exercise to be a fantastic stress reducer for any of you who may be in my same position.  Below are some helpful links regarding migraines, their types, and how to deal with them. If you have any questions or just want to share your story, please post below!

HHS Women’s Health.gov: Migraine Fact Sheet for Women: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/migraine.cfm#e

Migraine.com: Stress Migraines http://migraine.com/migraine-types/stress-migraine/

HeadWise Magazine: 7 Ways to Manage Stress and Reduce Migraine Pain: http://www.headachemag.org/Articles/FitnessAndNutrition/7-Ways-to-Manage-Stress-and-Reduce-Migraine-Pain

WebMD: Preventing Migraines and Headaches by Managing Stress: http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/guide/migraines-headaches-managing-stress