I am leaving today for two weeks on the road for work (to my homeland of Texas and then on to Bogota', Colombia) for two weeks (yes, packing was a bear) then home for one day then back on the road for another week. At the airport in Tucson, as we were waiting to board, the sun was coming up and directly shining in the eyes of those lining up for the boarding process. All of a sudden, I noticed I was not blinded any longer. I looked up to see a gentleman smiling at me (not in a creepy way, mind you). He said, "I'm tall, I'm fat and I make a good block from the sun". I laughed, told him "thank you" and told him that he had done his good deed for the day so he could take it easy the rest of the day. He said, "Oh Lawd" (yes, he did), "I have a lot of making up to do. One a day won't do it." We both laughed.
On the plane, I started thinking (and napping, but mostly thinking) about the times the little things have mattered---to me, to others around me, etc. The first one that came to mind was about post-it notes. Yep, you read it correctly.
Now, first of all, my colleagues can attest that, for teaching, post-it notes might be one of the best inventions ever known to man. In fact, I should have invested in post-it notes early on. But that's beside the point (kind of). I was getting ready to teach a group of adult participants a couple of years ago, and I was making sure all the supplies were ready in the center of each table (those who don't teach, hang in there. This is just we teachers do) before the day began. One early participant saw me struggling to open the post-it note packages and heard me remark how my nails don't love post-it note packages. She came over, took the post it notes from me, bent the pack and the plastic popped open (and off). I think I started singing "It's a miracle" (I would appreciate it if you do not judge my inner Barry Manilow. ) Wait, what? I have been picking those silly square packages open for years and pop! she opened it with one squeeze and bend. Fast forward to this week when I was teaching a phenomenal group of teachers in Tucson. One participant was stroking my ego (unprovoked, I might add) by saying, "This is so great---I am sick of going to workshops where I learn nothing!!" I told them that old chestnut about always being able to pick up one new trick, even if it is tiny. I took a minute to tell them about the post-it note scenario, and a collective "Wow!" and "Ahh!" went up in the crowd. I warned them that I would track them down if they wrote on the evaluation "The best thing I learned today was about how to open post-it notes!". We all enjoyed a laugh before getting back to work.
Another seemingly little thing I have learned in traveling so much was from Laura Lipton, one of my dear mentors in Learning Focused Supervision. She has taught me so much, but one of the tricks of the trade from just simply traveling so much has saved my packing (and therefore my back). She suggested, for a three-day training, I pack one color of outfits (I do all black, all gray, or all brown) and then add scarves, jewelry, etc. to dress up the outfits with a bundle of color. Love it!!!
Her partner-in-crime (not really crime, please don't start any fake news), Bruce Wellman, also taught me a pretty cool move that works for students and participants of all ages. When I am in front of the room, about to give directions, I ring my chime (or raise my hand, or whatever other signal I use to get attention), and I begin my directions once everyone is listening (or at least acting like they are). :) I have done that for years. But, what do you do when someone begins talking while you are in the middle of your directions, thereby distracting people around them and you, as well? (and that takes very little for a presenter like me who can get distracted easily) Bruce said to begin another sentence and simply interrupt yourself during a multi-syllabic word. For example, I want to say, "Many of you addressed the issue of constructivism in your depictions of engagement" but Talky McTalkster begins saying something right after I start my sentence. I then do this, "Many of you addressed the issue of construc....." -stop talking altogether, pause, and look down (to avoid the very tempting action of staring at Talky)...the talking stops and I begin that word again and finish the sentence. I have tested this out a few times and every time, it works like Harry Houdini magic (well, I don't disappear but you get the reference).
What are the little things that work for you or make your life better/easier? Please share them with me!! I am going to be busy cracking open a few post-it note packages but can't wait to hear your responses!!