Take Your Goals Seriously, But Keep Your Sense Of Humor

Good morning, and Happy Weekend! I hope you had an amazing week. I think I did. 😂 I was really busy this week, and will be again next week. I think it was a good week, but looking back on it, it kind of all runs together. 😂

Someone asked me this week how I could do so many things and not have burn out. That was an easy question to answer. 🙂 You have to keep yourself looking for the humor in all situations. If you are guessing that I have a story to tell you about keeping your sense of humor, you are right!

A couple summers ago, my family went on an European vacation. We had some good friends that were stationed in Stuttgart Germany, and we went to visit them. With our friends, we decided that we would rent a car and drive from Stuttgart Germany down through Switzerland, to Milan Italy to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting “The Last Supper”. My family had never been to Germany or Switzerland. While driving is driving, and that is not too different than in America, the street signs are different, the roadways are different, and when you travel in between countries there are different rules that you need to follow. So for my dad, this excursion was a new learning experience.

Well, we reserved our rental car and when we went to pick it up, we were quite shocked. Instead of the smallish Volvo we reserved, we were presented with a van (definitely not a mini van) that was the same size as the vans, hotels use as a shuttle to and from the airport. The rental car company explained they ran out of the smaller cars, and that is all that they had to offer us.

Bock, J. (2016). Airport Shuttle. [digital image] CC BY-EU

Now, it might not sound too bad to have a car where you can taxi 14 of your closest friends with you, wherever you go. However, have you ever tried to park a car in Europe? The parking spots are not too much bigger than my lunchbox. Plus, the roads in Europe are really little, so driving was challenging too.

My family had a choice. We could be nervous and unhappy about this car situation, or we could try to see the humor in it. We decided to see the humor in driving the airport shuttle van everywhere. I mean we were on vacation, and we decided to not let challenges with a car ruin that. We had all kinds of problems with this car, but you know what? Looking back at this trip, my family laughs so hard about this situation. We don’t have bad feelings about it because we MADE A DECISION, to approach the situation with humor.

I have blogged in the past about the importance of attitude. Attitude makes such a difference in everything that you do. Attitude can cause you to feel excited about learning and have a lot of energy for it, or it makes you feel stressed out, and burned out. Attitude can take you from an “I get to do this, Yay!” to “I have to do this, Sigh!”. The really awesome thing about attitude is, YOU GET TO DECIDE what kind of attitude you are going to have.

So just like my family decided driving a cruise liner sized vehicle was not going to ruin our trip, I decided that all of my rehearsals until 9 p.m., club meetings, homework, and music lessons were not going to stress me out. I decided to look for the humorous events instead. Finding the “funny” in my week, makes busy weeks easy to take. Looking for humor is not always an easy choice to make, but trust me, the more you do it, the easier it will become.🙂

Have a great week! Go play Acalympics

Oh! We did make it to see Da Vinci’s Last Supper, and it was incredible because it took up the entire wall.

Bock, J. (2016). Last Supper. [digital image] CC BY-EU

Sometimes You Win, and Sometimes You Win In A Completely Different And Unexpected Way ðŸ˜œ

Good morning and Happy Weekend! I hope you had an amazing week. I did, and it wasn’t too busy. Hah! I surprised you didn’t I? 😂 I always say that my week was amazing, but busy. The next couple of weeks will be busy again, but this one wasn’t too bad. However, I do have a piano event tomorrow, and my brother has a talent show, so I decided I better go ahead and get this posted.

I had an idea for a blog post, from a quote that I read on Twitter. That quote said “Sometimes You Win, and Sometimes you learn”. In order to set this blog up, I have to give you a little background information, so bear with me.

I have an older brother named Kaden. Kaden is one of those people that seem to be good at everything. I know he works hard, but he handles stress so well, he makes everything he does look effortless. Do you know anyone annoying like this? 😂

Anyway, before Kaden was in high school and became too busy, he used to build robots for the STEM Competition. He was really good at it! In the 5 years he competed, he placed 3 times. He took 2nd place twice, and 1st place, the last year he entered. For 1st place, Kaden was awarded a trophy that, I am quite certain, was as tall as he is. He is 6’4! That trophy was HUGE! I remember watching him receiving that and wondering how that must feel, to be awarded a trophy the size of Texas. I decided I wanted to have the experience of being awarded a massive trophy too, so the next year, I joined the Cyber Team.

The Cyber Team, was different than the robots that Kaden did (because I am my own person and do my own thing 😊). Anyway, I signed up for Cyber and found out the challenge to was to meet an unmet or undermet need in Education. By doing a lot of research, I realized math was a subject a lot of people felt uncomfortable with. I knew I could help! I worked hard to come up with the Acalympics idea. I made digital story to sell the idea. I made a trifold for the competition to explain it. I even printed up brochures to pass out before and during the competition. Most of all, I really thought I had a great idea that could help people. I was super excited about it.

Everyone I told about my idea, liked it. I even got to talk to the Superintendent of my school district. He told me he loved it and asked how to get it in his schools. I was so encouraged. Finally, the award ceremony came for the Cyber Competition and I could not wait to hold that big trophy. However, that didn’t happen.

I was awarded 3rd place and I received the smallest trophy ever. Honestly, look at the pictures!

Bock, J. (2017). Karstan’s Trophy. [ digital image ] CC BY-NC

Can you even see my trophy? Be honest you had to make the picture much bigger and squint didn’t you? Now, look at Kaden’s trophy.

Bock, J. (2016). Kaden’s Trophy. [ digital image ] CC BY-NC

Is there anyway you can miss Kaden’s trophy?

I was pretty disappointed and to be perfectly honest, I felt kinda sorry for myself. I mean I did all that work, just to earn a trophy the size of a golf ball (okay maybe it is a little bigger than a golf ball, but not much). I was not satisfied with how the Cyber Competition turned out, at all.

However, something funny happened. In the midst of my sulking, I remembered why I wanted to make Acalympics in the first place. I wanted to help people. Also, I remembered my conversation with the Superintendent. He loved my idea and wanted to know how to get it in his classrooms. I decided that instead of feeling sorry for myself, I was going to focus my energy on bringing Acalympics into the classrooms. That is when I started working on making a website.

Now making a website certainly has not been easy, nor has it always been fun, but I got it published. 🙂 You know what? Looking back on the Cyber experience I realized something pretty surprising. I DID win that day. I mean I have a dinky trophy to show for it. Hahahahahaha! I am teasing. Seriously, I did win, it was just in such a unexpected different manner, that I didn’t recognize the win.

Here’s the thing, if I would have won the BIG TROPHY, I would have carried it back to my school, and locked it in the trophy case for the next year. I probably would have put my Acalympics idea up there with it. I would have been content with the big trophy, and most likely I never would have worked to make and publish a website.

Since, I didn’t win that big trophy, I was left feeling disappointed, which reminded me what I really wanted to accomplish with Acalympics, and motivated me to do something about it. So you see, I might not know how it feels to be awarded a gargantuan trophy. However, because of that setback, I now do know how it feels to publish a website that students all over the world, are using. That feeling is pretty awesome. 🙂

Next time you find yourself dissatisfied, disappointed, reaching a set back, in the “sometimes you learn” category, I want you to remember this story! Keep your chin and spirits up. The only time, you truly lose, is when you quit trying. Otherwise, “sometimes you win, and sometimes you win in a completely unexpected and different way”. 😜 It just might take some time to recognize that win.😉

Have a great day! Go play Acalympics

The Real Truth about Practice

Good morning and happy weekend! I hope that you had an amazing week! I know I did, but it was busy. Do you notice a trend, here? 😂 I am pretty sure, I say I had a busy week, every week.

One of the events that took place for me this week, was a big band assessment. Now for those of you that don’t know how band assessments work, I will explain it to you. Basically, your band is given a performance time. You need to arrive at the location about 1 1/2 -2 hours before you perform, to warm up. Once it is your time, you go into the auditorium. There are 3 judges in the auditorium. You perform 3 pieces for them, and the judges critique every measure that you play. Following, this performance, your band goes into another room for the sight reading assessment. Your band is given an original piece of music and you have no more than 7 minutes to look at it. At the end of the 7 minutes, you play the piece and are assessed on how well you played it.

In Virginia, we have tests, Standards of Learning, known as SoL’s, to measure our learning in each grade or subject. This band assessment that I participated in, is basically a SoL for music.

Yunje5054 Saxophone [Digital Image] Retrieved from Pixabay https://pixabay.com/en/saxophone-played-instrument-music-619253/

I have to honestly say, that even though the band assessment is a high stakes event, I wasn’t very nervous. Don’t get me wrong, there was pressure. However, my band performed beautifully. We were 100% prepared for our pieces that we played for the judges, and sight reading assessment, both. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for every band at this assessment. I could see fear and dread in the faces of some of the students as they lined up to go perform. Want to know why I think my band had an easier time than other bands? It wasn’t because we chose easier music to be graded on. It wasn’t because the judges liked us better, I mean we are awesome 😉, but truthfully we didn’t know any of the judges. In all honesty, the reason for our outstanding performance comes down to one 8 letter word. PRACTICE.

Our band practiced A LOT for this event. We had a standard weekly practice, in addition to the daily work we did in class, for this assessment. We had multiple guest conductors come in to give us feedback on what we did well, and what we could improve on. We were given assignments to record all of our songs for our band director, so he could hear our performance individually, and give us feedback. We even had a practice concert, with practice judges assessing our performance.

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali, once said “I hated every minute of training. But I said don’t quit. Suffer now, and live the rest of your life as a champion.” If I am completely honest with you, I didn’t really like all of the time I spent rehearsing for the band assessment. I mean I had homework I needed to do. I had games I wanted to play. 😂 I will tell you what though, I was really thankful I spent all of the time practicing for the band assessment, when the event took place.

Aristotle said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore is not an act, but a habit.” So, this week, when you are practicing math, soccer, piano, saxophone, baseball, whatever you are practicing, remember that. Excellence is a habit, and make your practice amazing. I guarantee, you will be thankful for it someday! 😉

Have a great week! Go play Acalympics

Attitude, the little thing that makes a big difference

Good morning and happy weekend. I hope that you had an incredible week. I did, but like I say every week, it was amazing, but busy. 😂

I read an article this week, that was astonishing, and I thought about it all week. New Stanford Study: A Positive Attitude Literally Makes Your Brain Work Better . In this article, the author explains that researchers separated kids into 2 groups, students that loved math, and students that did not like math, before teaching them math lessons and having them perform tasks. Then, using MRI’s they analyzed the kids brain activity. They found that the hippocampus was significantly more active in the brains of the students that liked math, meaning the kids that had a positive attitude were learning and memorizing at a significantly higher rate than the other group. I believe this study because I have seen this thesis proven by my dog Bella. (I have written about my cat Chena, you didn’t think I would leave my dog out did you?)

When we first got Bella, we noticed that she had a funny limp. We took her to the vet, and he found out that she had a torn ACL and a completely separated knee cap. Bella needed surgery badly, to repair her leg. The vet explained it was going to be a difficult rehabilitation process for her because the damage was so serious.

Bock, J. (2014). Bella in Cast. [digital image] CC BY-NC

However, Bella had a different opinion. Everyday, after her surgery, Bella worked at getting stronger. She tried to practice walking, even when it hurt her. Bella was persistent and never let her setbacks get in the way of making progress. Plus, Bella never compared herself with the dog across the street. Most importantly Bella never gave up! Finally one day, Bella was able to chase a ball. She was so proud of herself, that I had to take her picture.

Bock, K. (2015). Bella in Proud. [digital image] CC BY-NC

In my opinion, Bella is the perfect example of the research study by Stanford, and I try to be like Bella. From Bella, I learned to not quit, even when it is hard. I learned to quit comparing myself to others, my learning is my journey and has nothing to do with how fast other people master a concept. I learned a positive mindset will get you through your struggles because your attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.

This week, go and approach challenges with a positive mindset, and see how far you can go! Have a great week! Go play Acalympics

Gotta know your Y’s

Hello and happy Friday! I know what you are thinking. You are just so excited that this blog is a day early, right? 😂 I have big plans all day tomorrow, so I decided I had better write my blog tonight.

I am going to leadership workshop tomorrow. I am so excited! I know leadership will be awesome for 2 reasons: 1. Leadership workshop is put together and run by high school students. They start working on it the summer before it happens, and spend at least one evening a week working on making sure it is awesome. Those guys aren’t getting a grade for all of their efforts. They just do it because they believe in helping younger kids develop great leadership skills. How cool is that? 2. This is my 4th leadership workshop. It is always 1of the best days of my life.

If you don’t have leadership workshop in your school, and want to know more about it you can visit workshopco.org or @workshopstories on Twitter. Lindsey Miller and Reed Howard have created a company to bring leadership workshops into schools. Lindsey and Reed are perfect for this because they know exactly how to build an incredible workshop day. My brother attended one of the workshops they put on, and has never forgotten it. Leadership Workshop is an amazing experience that I wish all students could have!

This week, I got my inspiration for my blog where I get a lot of my ideas from, school. 😉 A friend asked me the most important question in the world. Okay, maybe not the most important question in the world, but a very good very important question. He asked me why I do everything I do, with the Acalympics. He wasn’t being snarky, he was genuinely curious. In trying to come up with an answer, I realized that his question was something everyone has to answer for themselves when they come up with a goal. I think it is absolutely essential that you know why you are doing something, because that is what will keep you going. Also, I found out if your why is something that you are passionate about, work no longer feels like work.

The best example, I have for this concept comes from an amazing teacher I follow on Twitter. (If you don’t follow @marietculver, you should go look for her!) Ms. Culver is a teacher at a school in my district. She and her students have put together and work to upkeep an amazing garden. Almost daily, she has really amazing pictures of the garden and her students working in it. Trust me a garden the size of the one that they keep, has got to take a lot of work. Yet, in the pictures, both she and her students look happy. My guess is that gardening and teaching her students about gardening is Ms. Culver’s passion, and she no longer thinks of it as work. It is obvious she is passing that passion down to her students.

I have noticed that when I start to get frustrated with what I am doing, if I can remember why I am doing it in the first place, it helps! In the case of Acalympics, I am not really passionate about math. I like math, but it is not my passion. I am not passionate about creating websites, and I am certainly not passionate about blogging. It took me a whole week to publish my first blog. I kept alternating between being worried that no one would want to read it, to be worried that everyone would read it, and think it was dumb. I couldn’t decide which was worse! True Story! But, then I remembered why I wanted to make a website in the first place. I realized that I really just wanted to help people. That was my passion!

I wanted to help people feel more comfortable with math so I tried to think of a way they could practice and it would be fun. The reason I made a blog was again, I wanted to help people. I feel like there are so many negatives and convenient excuses for people to not do something. So, I wanted to have a voice, even if it was just a small voice, that said “yes you can do it!” Realizing my desire to help people, was what made me finally publish my first blog. So, that is my advice for the week. Knowing why you are doing something is crucial.

Okay, I am going to eat some dinner and play with my dog for awhile. Have a terrific weekend! Go play acalympics.com😉

The Secret to Being Lucky (Warning this post contains spoilers)

Good morning and happy weekend. I hope that you had a fabulous week, I know I did. I have been thinking about a conversation I overheard in the hallway a few weeks ago. I overheard one kid talk to another kid about the Acalympics Leaderboard. He said that the Loggerhead team was lucky, because they scored so many points. I had to kind of giggle at that, because I bet luck had nothing to do with it. But then it dawned on me, maybe people don’t know the secret of how to be lucky. So, WARNING, if you want to believe that luck happens randomly to random people, quit reading this post now! However, if you want to discover the secret to being lucky, and are up for a challenge, keep reading. 😉

I have to be honest with you, I used to agree with Obi Wan Kenobi. Remember when he said “In my experience there is no such thing as luck?

Geralt. (2018). iPad. [digital image]. Retrieved from http://www.jimijjemel.com/2016/11/in-my-experience-theres-no-such-thing.html#.Wn7wz_9Omf1 . CC 0

I always thought that, what people perceived as luck, was in all honesty, the effort of work that had been done just in case an opportunity came up. So, that is why I giggled when that kid said the Loggerhead Team was lucky to score so many points. Luck had nothing to do with it, they just worked hard! A personal experience with this is, people told me that I was lucky to have a website. I can not begin to tell you how many hours, I have worked on putting it together. I will tell you I worked on it for over a year, before I got it running. I ran into all kinds of problems, and felt like quitting several times.

However, I came across a quote from our 3rd president, Thomas Jefferson. He said “I am a great believer in luck. I find the harder I work, the luckier I am”. I realized, I just discovered the secret to being lucky!

Geralt. (2018). iPad. [digital image]. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/get/e830b20a2efc1c22d2524518a33219c8b66ae3d018b913479df4c27a/thomas-jefferson-153568_1280.png?attachment . CC 0

The harder you work to be prepared, the luckier you are! I don’t want you just believe me though, I want you to prove this to yourself. Remember when I asked you if you were up for a challenge? Here it is.

Think of goal that you want to accomplish. It can be something small like reading Treasure Island or mastering 5 scales on the clarinet 🙄. Or you can go big, with a big goal. Write down where you are starting and where you want to go with the goal. Talk about your goals (talking about your goals seem to make them more real), and set aside time every day to work towards your goals. Even if it is only 10 minutes, do something everyday to get closer to it. At the end of 1 month, write about how much progress you have made towards your goal. I bet you will surprise yourself. Even a series of small steps get you further to succeeding than no steps at all. I bet when you tell people how much progress you made, they might say that you are lucky. 😉

Okay, I have to run. I have a concert today. Wish me luck (hahaha I couldn’t resist that.) 😂 I am ready for this concert, I have practiced a lot for it.

Have a great day! Go play http://acalympics.com/

Not a blog, but an important announcement!

Guys, I think you are going to need to sit down for what I am about to tell you. The Sea Stars team has done something no other team has ever done in the history of the Acalympics! The Sea Stars broke the 100,000 point threshold! Way to go guys! As the designer of this game, I never would have thought that a team could surpass 100,000 points in a single week. Also, it was done primarily by second graders. If this can’t show you how limitless human potential can be, I do not know what can! I am so proud of this team! Keep up the great work! And guess what? The Oysters team is right behind, I am betting they surpass 100,000 points next.

(Full Disclosure- I am not inappropriately using my device in school. I typed this up this message, last night before bed, and had it on standby to be sent out, by one of my unpaid employees, as soon as the moment hit. 😉).