Summertime & the Livin’ Is…

The Gershwins would have said “And the Livin’ is Easy” and I am going to second that line! For those of us who teach, summer has always been a time to kick back and relax and reenergize. Even for those who have a summer job, the change in venue or hours or responsibilities usually provides an opportunity to refresh.

Harking advice gleaned from many Learning and the Brain conferences, this summer I am tapping four basic tips for maintaining the health of my aging brain.

There has been much written about the positive impact of exercise on the human body and the human brain. No surprises here, as the brain and body are very closely intertwined. Like every summer past, my husband and I are back in the pool logging our laps, swimming side-by-side and matching one another stroke-for-stroke. Being a foot taller than me, he usually sets the pace! And of course, we continue to kayak.

Novelty – something that is different or out of the ordinary. Exposing ourselves to novel circumstances is one sure fire way to keep our brains stimulated. I have avidly been practicing yoga for five years, and in the fall will be teaching yoga to 7th and 8th graders as part of their phys ed options. This is going to be quite a novel endeavor for me (and one I requested!) Yes, I have been teaching for 28 years, but I’ve been teaching the subject of computers. And practicing yoga does not a yoga teacher make 😉 I will be taking the one week 40-hour intensive YogaEd program offered by Always-At-Aum.

Exercise, novelty and learning will mesh in my upcoming yoga class; computers and learning mesh in my current online class offered by The Online School for Girls. Twenty-five independent school educators from most of the disciplines including the arts, as well as a number of division heads, have come together online to learn about the whys and hows of blended learning. Here is how one of the OSG’s organizers announced the course, PD: Creating Great Blended Learning.

This course is designed for the secondary-level teacher who is comfortable posting assignments on the web, is interested in the concept of blended instruction, but needs guidance or exposure to the online tools and methods that exist, literally, at their fingertips.

We will spend time exploring current research and theories to answer the question: Why is blended learning so powerful? Once we have established a solid understanding of blended learning, we will shift our focus to practical matters to answer the question: How do I create a great blended learning experience for my students?

Participants will connect and collaborate with each other through a variety of online activities, averaging 2-4 hours a week, as we explore best practices and practical tools available for blended learning instruction. By the end of this four week experience, teachers will have concrete ideas about how to apply blended learning methods to their own teaching.

Week one will conclude this weekend, and so far I am loving this class! I am excited and energized by the possibilities, and looking forward to applying them to Presentation Communication, a new course I am teaching this fall in the upper school.

And then there is the importance of a social community. My community of two for swimming, kayaking, walking, hiking and just plain hanging out with is my husband. The Yoga Sanctuary is my community of local yogis, many whom I’ve practiced with these past five years, and my new community of yogis with whom I will be learning to teach yoga. And there is the vibrant, active online community around which my online class revolves.

Toss in a slew of books, lots of conversations, vegetarian cooking, my other online communities, seeing some friends I haven’t seen in awhile, exploring of new places, and continuing with Marian Diamond’s UC Berkeley Human Anatomy course lectures, and I think the Gershwins got it right!

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