Extended Metaphor

I’m teaching a lesson on metaphors on Thursday. I am going to teach the students to write an extended metaphor. I build up to it in the lesson and break it down step by step. 2 weeks in the school year have been allotted for poetry and I intend to make the most of it. Here is the example I crafted for the lesson.

I am a hurricane, an unpredictable tempest. ​

A deluge,​

All consuming, inundating, churning.​

Awash with ambition, weary, always learning.

-Nobody

Expository Lessons

It’s only find it fair that I attempt the same writing assignments as my students. Not only does it model a good example, but it supports the notion that we are learning together. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed completing this assignment. I intend to share it with the students so that I can demonstrate the importance of hitting deadlines. Thus, my post this weekend will be the expository essay that I just wrote. Perhaps you can learn something by reading it, as I hope my students do:

Takes Notes

Historically, humans have been taking notes to record information for thousands of years. Note-taking is a complex human behavior that organizes, and restructures input into referential symbols. Academics and students have been taking notes since the days of the Ancient Greeks; it is ingrained in education. Note-taking is a beneficial skill that can help students recall and retain information for academic and practical purposes.

First, it is essential to explain the cognitive functions that occur when someone is taking notes. First, the note-taker receives information through an encoded channel such as language or symbols. Next, the note-taker decodes that message as they interpret it. Then, the note-taker encodes a message through symbols through inscribing. Finally, the note-taker can recall that message by decoding their recorded message. External factors such as psychological noise play a massive role in disrupting the encoding process. Provided is an image to visualize the concept:

Next, it is vital to assess the effectiveness of note-taking. There have been several psychological studies that have investigated the effectiveness of note-taking. The results so far have been mixed and inconclusive. There was little data to support that note-taking will improve test scores. However, there were significant implications that note-taking did increase overall retention. According to a 2016 article by NPR, “The first idea is called the encoding hypothesis, which says that when a person is taking notes, “the processing that occurs” will improve “learning and retention.” The study in the article concluded that hand taking notes was more conducive to learning retention than notes taken on electronic devices.

Lastly, it is necessary to dive deeper into the encoding hypothesis according to a psychological study conducted on college students who were assessed on a short reading passage. According to the hypothesis, “The students took notes on 31% of the passage sentences, and such notes were of high structural importance value. Most importantly, note-taking seemed to serve as both an encoding device and an external storage mechanism, with the latter being the more important function. The external storage function not only led to enhanced recall of the notes but also facilitated the reconstruction of other parts of the passage.”

This hypothesis is a demonstration of the encoding specificity principle, which suggests that encoding information such as writing, speaking, or gesturing relates to memory and the ability to recall that information. Evidence suggests that this principle plays a significant role in context and concept-oriented memory.

In summation, note-taking is a skill that humans have used for centuries to record and recall information. The cognitive process that occurs when recording information requires a decoding-encoding cycle that is stated by the encoding specificity principle to aid memory retention and recall. Finally, it is essential to acknowledge that many of the psychological studies on the effectiveness of note-taking, including studies that were refuting the encoding specificity principle, yielded inconclusive or mixed results. Perhaps this concept is particularly challenging to analyze and quantify scientifically.

Note-taking requires focus and keeps the note-taker engaged with the lesson that is being taught. One more thing needs to be factored in; If the alternative to note-taking is being subjected to a range of distractions and external stimuli that tear the student away from the lesson. Then the students who take notes and remains engaged will retain more information and perform better academically. 

I hope this was informative.

-Nobody

Recycling the Writing Cycle

Sunday, October 27, 2019

I’m teaching a lesson on the writing cycle tomorrow. Having to layout the process in a specific order made me think about the sequence that I follow. I do most of the brainstorming in my head at this point and collect my thoughts and ideas about a topic before I sit down to write. Sometimes, I just start typing. Those drafts typically remain unfinished and uninteresting. To express my thoughts or feelings about a topic, I need to ruminate on the subject for some time. Fortunately, I spend a lot of time in my own head. This is the process that works for me, but I need to differentiate for all my students. They all learn differently and appealing to their individual learning styles is a challenge for me. The fact is, some of my students will never become expressive writers. At least I can teach them how to write coherently.

Writing fiction is more difficult for me. Although I have an active imagination, structuring dialogue, and developing characters is not my forte. Over the summer, I intend to work on my creative writing through roleplaying games. I have listened to several sessions of D&D through podcasts and even sat in on a few games. The thing that seems so appealing about roleplaying games is the world-building. Crafting unique characters and intricate settings, with some improvisation, sprinkled over the top looks like an exciting way to learn how to write fiction. I hope that the time I spend practicing and playing D&D this summer will enhance my creative writing and improve a few skills that I have neglected.

Becoming a better writer is only one thing that I am trying to improve on. I also am interested in developing skills with video editing software so that I can create short documentaries. It may seem like a dull field of interest for most people, but I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate documentaries. The thing that is so appealing to me about curating documentaries is the variety of subjects that I can focus my attention on. Not only do I get to research and learn about something that I am interested in, but I also get to create something informative and share that knowledge with the world. Maybe my experience with teaching will aid me in my efforts. Reading and recoding scripts sound tedious but extremely rewarding when the finished product is something that I can be proud of.

Learning to edit and orchestrate videos is going to be a complicated process. I need to familiarize myself with the software and the tools that will be necessary to produce something coherent. This skill may seem unremarkable, but it is essential to create meaningful, quality content. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this project and learn more about the process. The only way to learn the craft is to start doing it. I’m planning on purchasing some editing software and around Christmas. I will learn to navigate the software and expedite my editing time by the summer so that I can spend my time creating content and growing my network. I already have several topics in mind that I can begin to research and collect ideas for. If I follow through on this plan, I can start working on a portfolio that is marketable for my passion. The big dream would be to do this professionally, but I will need to take baby steps to reach my goals.  

I want to build a career around compelling work. I can see documentary curation as an amalgamation of all of my current skills and interests. For me, it is quite literally a dream job. I’m not expecting to make much money pursuing this career. Monetization is the last thing on my mind, I may never see a cent for my efforts, but that’s not what this is all about. It is about my personal growth and development. Something that people neglect when they find a secure job or get tied down by their obligations. Perhaps my tendency to shy away from relationships and long-term commitments have a silver lining. I am free to make mistakes and fail, I am open to taking necessary risks, and I am free to dream big. 

In the meantime, I will have to stay focused on my current occupation. Teaching is more than a full-time job; it is an all-consuming lifestyle. I need to be spending time honing the skills necessary for this job, as well. Becoming a better teacher will also help me become a better documentary maker and ultimately help me become a better person. After all, If I can teach a bunch of apathetic teenagers about a writing cycle, I will be able to inform curious people about the subjects that I indent to discuss. I can be a journalist, a writer, an editor, a filmmaker, and a teacher. Hopefully, that will translate into a career that I can be proud of. Mostly, I want to do it for myself, so that I can become somebody that I can be proud of. 

-Nobody

Curricular Commitments

Struggling with the demands of a fulfilling career.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

The rush of the cold October air has brought some challenges along with it. Getting up in the morning seems more difficult when I am sleeping comfortably in my cozy sheets. My mind is struggling to adapt to the shorter days and longer nights, leaving me feeling exhausted after work and restless in the evenings. I have fallen into a routine that accommodates most of my desires and needs.

Unfortunately, that meant that I didn’t have much time to dedicate to writing last week. The attraction was there, the words were dancing around in my skull, but my energy could not match my ambitions.

I am beginning to feel the full weight of my job, the responsibilities, and expectations that come along with it. I feel like there is little room for deviation, and failure would be catastrophic. Having dozens of colleagues and over a hundred young minds depending on me means that retreating is not an option. I bit off more than I can chew. I can either keep grinding my teeth, swallowing small portions of my responsibilities piece by piece, or thrash around choking on my own commitments. 

I’d prefer the former.

My motivation has sunk over the last few weeks. I am required to balance out my demanding career with my own mental health and dwindling social life. Companies always talk about a work-life balance but do very little to support it. My depression has been resurfacing, and I am finding myself disillusioned with my work. I compare myself to my colleagues and feel inadequate. This is a self-inflected critique, and I should probably lower my expectations for myself. I am resolved to dedicating this year to learning and growing to uphold the demands of this critical job. At the very least, if I fail, I will have developed some experience and a greater understanding of my own capabilities and limitations. 

I can still be a better version of myself.

I have done some reflecting on previous career choices and personal interests. Anyone who knows me can attest to my sporadic aspirations. When I wanted to learn to play an instrument, I changed paths frequently. Starting with drums, then moving to guitar, bass, and piano. I have developed some useful skills with each but mastered none. My career choices mirror my musical ambitions, scattered and independent. I have learned several skills but changed my focus so many times that I have mastered very few. I suppose that’s fitting for my personality. I keep taking on new projects in hopes that my passion will propel me through the tedium and steep learning curves, opting to switch careers or hobbies when they become dull or challenging. This may be one of my most significant flaws. With the contract that I signed, shifting my focus onto another career would be a great disservice to my colleagues and students. I should find a way to cope with my necessary routine and focus on mastering the skills that are required to progress in my field. 

Easier said than done.

Other teachers have consoled me that these feelings are not exclusive to my own plight. They mention how the first year of teaching is all about survival. The conventional explanation is that things do improve significantly throughout the year. Teachers hit rough patches in the long months with seldom breaks from the environment and routine. However, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. A massive chunk of leisure time is waiting for me around the holiday season and summer vacation. The demanding atmosphere, coupled with high expectations and a personal commitment, leaves many people feeling drained and inefficient. I can only hope that my own incompetence is not damaging the future of some of these developing minds, but that unnecessary guilt seems familiar amongst educators.

The students don’t spend nearly as much time thinking about me as I do about them.

My anxiety has started to interfere with my productivity. Working a job that requires so much preparation is also a contributing factor to my current mental decline. I often find myself spending several hours working outside of school to maintain some semblance of organization and structure. These efforts are not in vain, I’m sure there have been many other potential educators who have collapsed under the weight of the professional demands. I refuse to let my apprehension guide my decision making, and I am now personally invested in this cause. I have formed some genuine relationships with some of these students and would feel immense guilt if I were somehow unable to contribute to their education and development. I’ve reached the point where I feel like these are my kids now, and I am feeling the responsibility and frustration that every parent must experience at some point. I am resolved to complete this year, I will do my best for these students because they deserve so much more than I can begin to offer. I will sacrifice my comfort and sanity for the betterment of this small group of human beings.

Because I said, I would…

Lastly, I feel like one of my greatest strengths is also one of my largest foils. I empathize with these children too much. I am so dedicated to their development and struggles that I am draining all my social energy into engaging with them. This could yield remarkable results in the long term but currently leaves me feeling weary and depleted. This, combined with my artistic endeavors, leaves very little room for deviation from my routine. I am not fond of living according to this routine, but I am also not fond of thrashing around, choking on my own commitments.

-Nobody

INFP-Dreamer

A glimpse into the behavioral psychology of a dreamer.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

To me, the 16 personality types always seemed like a contemporary horoscope. The science behind analyzing the 16 personality types seems inexact, some conflation of intuition, and cold reading. I have always been skeptical of these personality designations; I remember first taking the test early in college and finding the result of Mediator to seem insignificant and negligible. Last night, however, I found myself taking the personality test on a whim, out of some spontaneous curiosity about my own behavior. I was looking for insight into myself, and I think that I may have manifested it. Surprisingly, my results were the same as they were years before. I was the Mediator, INFP, (Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, Perception) . Not really knowing what to do with that acronym, I spent a few hours reading and doing research on this personality type and found it to be eerily similar to my own.

I’m not suggesting that a personality test will relay the complexities of the spectrum of human emotion. However, this designation seems congruent with who I know myself to be. Some favorable aspects of this personality include unrelenting ambitions, resilience to criticism, and a heightened capacity for empathy. Negative traits include being overly self-reflective, disorganized, disconnected, and having a low tolerance for overexposure to draining social engagements. While I was learning about the personality type, I found myself reflecting on my previous posts, especially the ones that I have published on this blog. You see, INFP’s are also known as the dreamers. We are the kind of people that are content with spending hours within our own imagination, daydreaming and fantasizing about an ideal future. Productivity often falls behind creativity in terms of significance for INFP’s. We subsist on our individual principals and lofty dreams. Regularly spending time drifting in and out of reality.

If I’m being honest with myself, this describes me all too well. Family members and friends have grown frustrated in the past with my lackadaisical attachment to reality. Often commenting that I live in a fantasy world, far too concerned with idealism, rather than a pragmatic approach to reality. This criticism has resurfaced repetitively throughout my relationships with others. I often hear this about myself and concur to some degree. For me, the outlandish possibilities provide me with a sense of purpose. Dream fulfillment seems to be my only long-term goal that I have given enough attention to justify thorough planning.

Frequent career changes are also a personality trait of INFP individuals. In my young adult life, I worked over 10 different jobs with varying degrees of required engagement and knowledge. The following is a list of part-time jobs or careers that I have attempted or mastered in the past:

  • Kitchen Cook
  • Bus Boy
  • Server
  • Bartender
  • Barista
  • Shift Manager
  • Garden Center Vendor
  • Emergency Medical Technician
  • Tutor
  • Courier
  • Student (yes, it is a job)
  • Teacher

I am still struggling to determine what career path to take in the future. Teaching is fulfilling and rewarding, but I am prone to fantasize about what careers would be most suitable for my personality and creative endeavors. Expressing my philosophy is of the utmost importance to me. The following is a list of occupations that I would love to experience and master in the future:

  • Copy Writer
  • Journalist
  • Adjunct Professor
  • Musician
  • Author
  • Politician
  • Critic
  • Podcaster
  • Content Producer
  • Multimedia Analyst
  • Documentary Producer
  • Museum Curator 
  • Librarian
  • Biographer
  • Actor/Comedian

It is safe to say that some of these jobs are inaccessible without a considerable amount of dedication and education. Even with my degree, some of these job requirements just seem unachievable within the context of my short life. However, some of these jobs are only a few years away from being actualized. It is essential for me to find time to dedicate to these passions, they may be the only path forward to a fulfilling career and life. There is no way that I could possibly achieve all these dreams, but I sure as hell can try. I think the overarching theme of my aspirations is that I need room for creativity in my work. I used to joke with my mother that I never wanted to end up in a cubicle. My practical father would laugh it off, saying that I should just look for stability, even if that came with 4 short walls and a desk. My mother would actively encourage my ambitious outlook and support even my wildest dreams. This balance would tilt the scales back and forth but leave me with enough wiggle room to think creatively about my future.

I’d think that this assessment of myself sounds like I’ve drunk the proverbial Kool-Aid of behavioral psychology. I am fascinated by it, but still skeptical. However, I am willing to embrace this personality designation because it is suitable for me. I don’t intend to become a behavioral psychologist, but I have always been interested in human interactions. I remember purchasing a book on body-language so that I could read a room better. Looking for clusters of subtle behavior that may indicate confidence, reluctance, deception, or authenticity. The book didn’t change my life, but it did offer some unique perspectives when analyzing social and unconscious behavior. The utility of understanding these interactions has proven useful in several careers. Trusting my intuition and expanding my knowledge of human behavior will continue to shape my interactions with others in the world and promote better communication and understanding.

As for the future, I need to stay focused on my long-term goals. Getting trapped in an unhappy career is one of my greatest fears. Developing an exit plan and acquiring all of the necessary components to advance is a top priority for me. Conventional retirement is not something that I see happening in my lifetime. I do appreciate the concept of maturing through a career to earn recognition and some sort of fixed income. However, I cannot ever see myself sticking with one job, working for one company for long enough to ever meet the ever-increasing term requirements for a pension. I will likely work for the rest of my adult life, and I am okay with that. As long as the work that I’m doing is fulfilling and compelling, I will be content. Acquiring the discipline to shift from one career to another will take a great deal of dedication and practice, but fulfilling my dreams is my prerogative, and must remain a priority.

-Nobody

Imagination Contemplation

What is responsible for the gap in imagination?

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Well, it’s been an eventful week. I conducted a wedding ceremony over the weekend, it was my first time doing something like that and the stakes were high. I was marrying off two of my oldest friends and I couldn’t have been more delighted in the experience. I intended to write another blog post over the weekend, but celebrations and reunions took precedent. Now I am experiencing true exhaustion. The ceremony required a lot of mental focus and the reception drained all of my social energy. Drudging my way back into school reminded me that I need to maintain that focus and energy for the rest of the week. I feel like a 4-year-old phone battery.


I found myself in a discussion about imagination and contemplated the thought that the most boring and tedious moments of my life fostered an active imagination. I expressed that a large portion of students I encounter have difficulty imaging things. Maybe it was those moments I had running around in the woods unsupervised as a child that cultivated creativity. Maybe it was the offensively uninteresting moments that I sat staring at blank walls or desks, completely in my head. Somewhere within that catalog of desk-drooling and textbook staring, I learned how to envision things and immerse myself in different worlds. I must have looked strange as a student.


This conversation sparked a chain of thoughts. It seems too easy to blame technology for this unimaginative generation. To be fair, these children were born with I-Phones and YouTube. They have had more access to information than any previous generation on this earth. They are constantly bombarded with stimulation from every facet of life. They hold a device that connects them to everyone and everything in the world. These kids are utterly plugged in.


I can’t definitively say that the boom of technology is responsible for this anomaly, but it is certainly a factor. I thought about daydreams. Daydreams are where I spent most of the mundane moments of my childhood. I would imagine full conversations, relationships, and entire lives. If I wasn’t engaging with somebody or something in the outside world, I was actively engaging with myself in my head. I wonder how long the human brain can sustain that level of exertion. Daydreams were pleasant, I could escape from a boring lecture and disappear into my mind. I’m curious to see how many of these students can also retreat into their own worlds. I can’t define the barrier, but I’m searching for a key to open these students up to their imaginations.

Is clinically induced boredom a thing?


I suppose that these children need exposure to all forms of creativity to unlock that imagination that they assuredly have. We call it differentiation, but really, it is just bird-shot. Sometimes we hit our target and inspire young minds and sometimes we whiff. I intend to open the robotic minds of this portion of the youth and install new hardware. Without the foundation of imagination, critical thinking is far out of reach.

Is it even possible to teach someone to daydream?

Would that be the biggest mistake of my career?

I don’t have answers to these questions. I can only hedge my bets that I can find some way to connect to these goblins and clear a path to creativity.


I spent my commute silently contemplating these thoughts. Having the same conversation in my head, that I’m typing up now. Perhaps you do the same thing, imagine conversations in your head, stare off into space, fantasize about a life you could never live, drool on your desk; Keep daydreaming.


-Nobody