(#382) We All Live Downstream


Does your community resemble a collection of isolated islands?
Maybe you can be the bridge builder for a movement to unite.

Hurricane Irma reminded us again of the power of community.  Times of emergency bring people together. Whether by reaching out on social media, sending emails, knocking on the neighbor’s door, or helping with post-storm cleanup, such times remind us of the importance of connection.

As I walked around Atlantic Beach after the storm I thought of a sign I spied will visiting Boulder, Colorado earlier this year.

Keep it clean ‘cause we’re all downstream.

While the sign references the need for stewardship over our waterways, I find it a poignant metaphor for community.  What we do affects our neighbors. We all live “downstream” in one way or another.

If one house’s drainage culvert is not kept clear of debris, it will have an impact on the neighbors’ property. If I don’t trim and properly maintain a tree in my yard, it may have an impact (literally) on a neighbor’s house.  When you help a neighbor scoop up some yard debris, you assist the entire block in getting back to normal.

Earlier this summer, I created an email and phone contact list/group for the neighbors on our street. Not a particularly big deal. But one did not exist.  Three months later, it allowed us to stay in contact during and after the hurricane.

Another reminder that there is no need to be an island.

Think of your community. Maybe it’s a high-rise condo or a sprawling suburban neighborhood. How do people act to improve the lives of others? How do you wish they would act? Same questions for you.  The individual fingers are more powerful when acting in concert as a fist.

Does your community resemble a collection of isolated islands? Maybe you can be the bridge builder for a movement to unite. Start small. Maybe a neighborhood brunch or happy hour.


Video recommendation of the week.

Derek Sivers reminds us of the power of a movement—and how to start a movement. As he tells us, sometimes it just takes a lone nut to create the movement.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in collaboration, Communication, Community, community development, resilience | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

(#381) Before and After the Conversation


Conversation presupposes an interaction between two or more people.
Synergy can develop with due consideration.
Collaboration can result in movement for improvement.

Ever notice how what passes for conversation usually is anything but conversation.  Look around and you will observe lots of monologues.  Everyone talks, few listen. And fewer seem to appreciate what others have to say. Rather than listen, we formulate our response before the person finishes her thought.

Digital connection is not the same as conversation.  “Mansplaining” does not count either.

If you want to build community, you need true conversation.  But do we know how to converse anymore?


Video recommendation for the week.

In this TED Talk, you will hear ten simple suggestions (yet often ignored or forgotten) for true conversation. Sad, isn’t it, that these basic practices of civility have been lost. Maybe they are no longer taught.


Think of The Three Cs

Conversation benefits if we focus on what comes before and what follows.

  • Consideration. Before we start talking, stop and think.  Reflect on the issue at hand. Don’t immediately put your opinions on the table. Listen. Be present and respectful.
  • Conversation. Once you have been able to consider the issue, the facts, the opinions, the options, and the unanswered questions, you can begin to have a respectful and meaningful dialogue. No collective monologues or harangues allowed. You and your team can work on the vision. This creates to pathways and builds bridges.
  • Collaboration. With the thought and talk given their due, you can now engage in the work of doing what needs to be done.

Conversation presupposes an interaction between two or more people. Synergy can develop with due consideration. Collaboration can result in movement for improvement.

Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in collaboration, Communication, Community, consideration, conversation, Life lessons | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

(#380) The Sun Rises Each Morning. Sometimes We Cannot Recognize It.


The sun will shine on the thousands of people
who helped thousands of others survive the catastrophe.
The storm saw strangers not acting as strangers.

The loss and devastation due to Hurricane Harvey defies words. The images bring us some of the story.   Those of us not directly involved– as in not personally feeling the battering of the storm–may never know what these people have experienced. Or will continue to experience in the aftermath/cleanup of the storm.

There are countless ways to help. Some have traveled to Texas to offer assistance. Others donate to organizations who in turn get the resources to the boots on the ground. A few of the many ways to help include:

Which leads me to this week’s post.


Each morning the sun rises over the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the time you will find Roxie, B.D.E. (Best Dog Ever) and me sitting on the sand watching the glory.

Every day brings different textures and hues. All magnificent.

On occasion, clouds or a torrential rain storm will block the scene. Invariably, someone will observe, “No sunrise today.”

I thought about those words when I captured the image below on a recent morning.

True, we did not see the sun.  But, it still did rise. Like it does every day. Given the recent events in Houston and surrounding areas it seems hollow and trite to say “the sun will rise.”  It will rise on the devastation and loss. No way to ignore that.

The sun will rise on and for the people who have had experienced and survived the challenges placed in front of them.  The sun will also continue to shine on the thousands of people who helped thousands of others survive the catastrophe. Communities do that.  The storm saw strangers not acting as strangers. They came to help. No agendas other than they wanted to do something, anything. I doubt the rescuers and the rescued paused to ask one another about their political leanings. At that point in time it did not matter.

The sun rises each morning. Sometimes we just cannot recognize it. At times it comes from the hand of a stranger.  Or as to paraphrase a song lyric I heard years ago, “A stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet.”


Video Recommendation for the Week:

The Cajun Navy helped with relief and rescue efforts. In the midst of the deluge, they delivered some sunshine to the area.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.


For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in action, Community, core values, empathy, fortitude, Grit, Integrity, Life lessons, Making a Difference | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

(#379) Accommodations For My Students Made Me A Better Teacher


Being a teacher is more than knowing one’s content and “covering” the material. Effective teachers do what they can to connect with each student
and build a community of learners who connect with one another.

The Individuals with Educational Disabilities Act (IDEA) provides for accommodations—that is, services to assist students with documented disabilities so they can access appropriate educational opportunities.

When people talk of classroom “accommodations” they generally examine them from the perspective of the student with the disability. Services like note-taking, extra-time on tests, assignment due date adjustments, use of recording devices, seating arrangements and the like often appear on letters classroom teachers receive from the coordinator for disability services. I received many such notices during my teaching career.

And while the accommodations were for the benefit of my students with disabilities, they made me a better teacher. Much better.

They stretched my pedagogical comfort zone. My teaching became more empathic and focused. And, in the end all of my students benefited—not just those with documented disabilities.

I vividly recall three (of many) teaching and learning instances over my 33 years in the classroom that reinforced the value of accommodations. I am forever grateful to these students. They taught me a great deal.

Lesson #1. One day I noticed a young man in the hallway.  He appeared to be standing in a corner beside a classroom door. I then saw him back up a step and move forward directly into the wall. He did it again.  I said hello and asked if he needed assistance. It was then that I discovered he was blind (I had not seen his cane).  He turned toward me and with a slight smile said he was just trying to get into the classroom door but had gotten lost. My heart melted.  I helped him to the room. He said thank you. I had an empathetic experience.  How could I be a part of this brief encounter and not be changed in some manner? My respect for the challenge this young man—and others like him—faced, along with the courage he had, moved me to want to learn more and to do what I could to assist in their educational aspirations.

Lesson #1.1.   Tim eventually enrolled in one of my history classes. One day we had a power outage and the room went black. As students gasped, he said from the back of the room with a wry sense of humor, “Welcome to my world.”  Indeed. He always had a sense of humor no matter what he faced.

Lesson #2.  I depend on visuals when I teach a class or speak to an audience. I take pride in putting time and effort into finding the right image to create the appropriate setting and message. One day as I was going through my slide deck in class, I looked over to my right. There in the front row was Joe, a blind student with a service dog beside him. It hit me like cold water. No matter how beautiful my images, they would do Joe no good at all. I stopped, turned to my sighted students, and asked them to describe graphically the images before them.  Make them come alive!  This helped Joe see the images in his mind’s eye.

Lesson #2.1. My sighted students benefited from my change in methodology. Verbal descriptions forced them to articulate what they saw.  They could not just sit passively and observe the images. They had to take a more active part in their educational process and at the same time help a classmate with his.  Community building one image and interaction at a time.

Lesson #3. Krista helped me to reach another level of the teacher-student relationship.  She brought both visual and hearing impairments to our class. The first thing she did was to reach out and visit me in my office before the semester started. I had already received the accommodation notice. Her proactive visit, though, set a positive and interactive tone for our teacher-student relationship. Even though she had a note-taker in class, I learned quickly that her hearing impairment created challenges I did not anticipate. While she had some hearing, Krista had to wear hearing aids.  And that created clarity issues when I played video for the class.  What we discovered through trial and error was that if I placed her microphone (the one I wore each class that was connected to her device) close to the classroom wall mounted speaker, clarity improved dramatically for her.  The joke became that I would jump on chairs for Krista—as every time a video came on, I got up on a chair and held the mic close to the speaker. The accommodation (developed by Krista and me working in concert) worked. For more information see the recommended video of the week below.

Lesson #3.1. Yes, I had to wear a microphone. Yes, I choose to jump up on chairs. And, yes, the class as a community became part of Krista’s educational journey.

Accommodations help the identified students. And they go far beyond that. Each accommodation becomes a step in the choreography of the classroom, in the educational dance. Being a teacher is more than knowing one’s content and “covering” the material.  Teachers do what they can to connect with each student and build a community of learners who connect with one another.  Tim, Joe, and Krista (and many others) became my teachers.


Video recommendation for the week:

Listen and learn about resilience. My student Krista Waters “taught” me a few things. Let her teach you a few things about proactivity, discipline, and fortitude.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.


For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 

Posted in accountability, awareness, Being REMARKABLE, Choice, coaching, Community, Discipline, emotional intelligence, faculty development, fortitude, Gratitude, growth, Integrity, intentionality, resilience, teaching and learning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

(#378) If Something Happens and No One Sees It, Does Anything Happen?


Quietly reaching out and forging a connection and creating change.

On a recent visit to Cedar Key, Florida, my wife I stumbled upon a rusted sign nailed to the front of a dilapidated wood bungalow.

On this site in 1897 nothing happened.

I have used the image often in talks about collaboration and community sustainability.

Is it possible for “nothing to happen”?  If nothing happens, doesn’t something happen because of what did not take place? Or if something does happen and it is not visible, then did anything happen?

Social media allows us to state our opinions and address the views of others. Network and cable news allow followers to opine. This provides multiple forums for us to take a stand and publicly declare our core values and condemn others when they cross the line in the sand we have drawn. And, likewise, others do the same.

If you choose not to join the crowd with a “me-too” post, does that mean you have done nothing? Does it mean you do not have an opinion or hesitate to take a side? Does it mean you have chosen neutrality or to fly under the radar?  Or worse, does it mean you condone the questionable behavior?

Not necessarily.

Our history is replete with brave souls who took courageous action for good at grave risk to themselves. They stood and acted in a public way. For that, we have a great deal to be thankful. A great deal.

A person, as well, can fight discrimination and bigotry one simple, quiet act at a time.  She doesn’t need to “post” the action to be proactive and take a stand.

Quietly reaching out and forging a connection and creating change.

Few may see or hear of the act.

But it makes a difference to that person and the lives that person will then touch.

And, you make a difference.

Video Recommendation for the Week:

One simple act of kindness at a time.

Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.


For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in amplifying, Appreciation, assumptions, Being REMARKABLE, change, Choice, collaboration, Community, community development, core values, ethics, mindset | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

(#377) Your Future Self


These strategies can help students (and, after all, aren’t we all students?)
stay the course, continue their journey, and enjoy growth and resilience.

Last week, on a local TV morning show, I shared strategies to help college students adjust to their schedules and demands on and beyond campus.  If you or someone you know will be walking on to campus soon, consider these four suggestions for success.

  • Meaningful and authentic relationships provide a foundation. You probably have heard of P.A.C.s—Political Action Committees. I encourage students to form an educational P.A.C. of sorts. Not the kind that raises money for political candidates. Rather, one that helps them adjust and thrive in their school community. As soon as possible (first week), reach out to at least one person in each of the following groups:
    • Professors. Send an email. Stop by their offices. Quickly and politely introduce yourself. Ask a pertinent question or offer a comment that shows you have done a bit of research about the course. This allows the professor to put a face and name together. This ice-breaking/community–building strategy can work for graduate assistants you may have, as well. Be proactive in establishing an authentic relationship.
    • Advisers. These folks know the system. They can help students navigate financial aid and scholarship availability. They know the ins and outs of scheduling and core curriculum requirements. An adviser can connect students with both academic resources (like tutoring and study groups) and non-academic resources (like counseling and transportation issues). Some schools may assign a specific adviser or counselor. In other situations the student may be able to choose her own. Get to know this person as soon as practical.
    • Classmates. Audition your classmates. In this context, to “audition” means to “observe.”  During the semester you may be asked to join a study group or form a team for a semester project for one or more classes.  When possible, choose wisely. During the first few weeks of class notice which of classmates come to class late or leave early, come to class on time and stay through the entire class.  Who participates and who seems distracted by technology?  Who is sleeping in the back of the classroom?  Simple and poignant question: “Who do I want to depend upon in a group setting?” This may be a great workplace skill to cultivate in your future.
  • Disconnections. Identify your top five personal priorities for the semester. Write them down. They could be tied to health, a college major, roommates, or something else of importance and relevance to life. At the end of your week, write down the top five activities that took most of the time that week. Compare them to the priorities list.  Connected or disconnected?  The priorities list represents the stories you tell ourselves. The action list represents the stories you live.  Maybe your P.A.C. (above) can help sort things out.

  • Your Future Self. You may or may not know with specificity where you are headed. You might be a bit (a lot) confused. To help your future self, I encourage you to stay curious. You want to find a major—a career—to pursue? Rather than force yourself to “find your passion” why not find what you are curious about? Stay curious about your courses—even those that seem totally remote from what you find interesting. Stay curious about events and issues around campus. Once you discover that curiosity start to develop that area of your life. Who knows where it may lead?  Your priorities may change.  Pay attention to “weak signals” of what may be in the future.

  • Seven Core Values for Success. All of the above tie into seven key interlocking and guiding principles for life success. At the least, they provide a compass to help in times of difficulties and challenge.
    • Surround yourself with relationships that will help you grow as a person. Find and use resources that have relevance for your journey toward your rainbows—your dreams and aspirations. You will have a lot of stuff (how’s that for a technical term—stuff?) coming your way.  Set aside time for frequent reflection about what you are doing, why you are doing it, an adjustments you need to make. Remain curious! Finally, act with responsibility toward others as well as your own self-care and resilience.

Success is the product of small yet consistent choices we all make and do (or don’t do) each day. The four suggestions above can help students (and, after all, aren’t we all students?) stay the course, continue their journey, and enjoy growth and resilience.

Video Recommendation for the Week:

Here is the link to my TV interview in which I discuss the above points.  One key takeaway: Be proactive in creating community–whether it is on a college campus, in your workplace, or in the neighborhood.

Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.


For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in authenticity, awareness, core values, creating your future, curiosity, Dreams, Education, emotional intelligence, engagement, Goals, Life lessons, priorities, Reflection, Relationship, relevance, resilience, responsibility, self-efficacy | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

(#376) The Lesson of the Bunny and the Deer


We can walk a pathway and never see it at all.

Walking along a street in Boulder, Colorado last week, I almost missed the bunny rabbit sitting three feet in front of me.

The same happened a few days later when we passed a wild deer munching on grass behind the University of Colorado practice football field alongside the Boulder Creek.

Each time, I was following the path. And each time I almost missed the journey.

Thomas Cleary in No Barrier: Unlocking the Zen Koan, shares two simple yet eloquent truisms about life.

Just reading a map is not making the journey,
but without reading the map there is no direction.”

and

“Those in a hurry do not arrive.”

There can be a lot of distractions along the daily paths we trod.  We can become so caught up in the external and/or internal distractions that we miss the signs and beauty right in front, beside, behind, above, or beneath us. Like the bunny and the deer. Or a beautiful sunrise.

We can be consumed by habit, patterns of thought, routines, and perseveration that we miss signs and guideposts. Yes, we need to read the map but just because we read it does not a journey make.

We can walk a pathway and never see it at all.

Video Recommendation for the Week:

Close your eyes and envision nature.

Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.



For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network™ (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

Posted in awareness, curiosity, growth, habits, health, little pleasures, Mindfulness, Personal growth, Personal Wellbeing, resilience | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments