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Keep On Truckin’

Season is ending here in Southwest Florida.  The tourists and snowbirds are leaving.  I am no longer sitting in half hour traffic jams.  The Lee County Sheriffs Department squad cars are out ticketing again.  They won’t go after our visitors.  They make their money off the permanent residents.  Just being good hosts, one might say.

So what does this mean for a crafts person who sells jewelry or a Tennis Pro that owns a club or a restaurant owner that has had a record season. … Quiet Time… New Idea Time…. Time to reflect …. or Maybe just Time to Keep On Truckin‘.

For me, Keep On Truckin means time to get working on the web-end of my business.  I started this new old endeavor a week ago with my niece, Laura Pennisi.  Laura just graduated with an Art Education major.  Not only is she an artist, but she is good with computers and lucky me, she hadn’t found a job yet.  It was March 30 and I knew I had exactly one day left to make my new Facebook banner before my Heaven Lane Creations page got changed over to the new format.  I was frantic.  I could not figure out how to make a collage of pictures that would fit into the new banner size.  Laura patiently showed me how to do it.  Like a good teacher, she modeled how to do it several times, assisted me and then let me demonstrate my understanding.  Look what we came up with

With my mentor next to me, it only took an hour.  Today, I tried to shoot more pictures of my latest creations to post on my store which I am hoping will be ready very soon.  But the shooting of the pictures and the editing took me three hours.  Not very efficient use of a jeweler’s time and I am still not satisfied with the photo results.  I will share with you my new creations.

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Here is my latest idea.  I want to find a person who lives really close by who is a great photographer.  Once a week they will shoot pictures of my jewelry and help me post.  Until I start making money off my business, I will pay them with lovely jewelry.  Any takers?

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One is silver and the others gold

Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the others gold.  This was a favorite camp song from my childhood.  I have had this little song in my head this week as I have learned how to solder silver and create a pendant… my new silver friend…

Soldering opens up a whole new world for me. My new best friend will require some new equipment including a torch. Don't tell Mark.

and as I went back to a dear old friend, a golden beading technique which allowed me to complete my Bead Soup Blog Challenge in time hosted by Lori Anderson

I will not reveal what I made from the products that were sent to me by  Amanda Tibbetts until Challenge Reveal Day, which is March 3rd, but I will tell you that I  would never have finished this project without my trusty old friend, the floating bead necklace, which I learned ten years ago at Studio Baboo in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Back then I was a full-time teacher.  One unbelievably snowy winter, I was sitting around the house on a three-week forced vacation called snow days with my three antsy sons, when I realized that I needed desperately to calm my mind and pour my enormous creative energy into a new hobby.  I discovered beading.  For the next year and half,  I learned several dozen techniques, but non as useful and versatile as the floating bead necklace.  It is my old stand-by.  It is by far, my most consistent seller and it has bailed me out of quite a few creative dilemmas.  Just a sampling of some of the jewelry I have made in the past few years using this technique.

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Jewelry makers, teachers, mothers, tennis pros… we all have our favorite tricks of the trade… the ones we know work and we can fall back on when we need an old friend.

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Private Universe

I was teaching tonight. I showed my students, who are training to be science teachers a movie about student’s misconceptions. The premise of this fascinating film is that all of us form private theories about nearly everything (based on our experiences) and often those private theories are full of misconceptions and misinformation.  As a teacher, it is our job first to uncover this misconceptions and then help the students discover for themselves the truth.

It seems to me the classroom problem is in fact,  not just a dilemma for teachers, but for all of us who struggle to conduct our lives and businesses in a  meaningful  way.  I often think I am communicating clearly to my friends or my family, my clients and employers.  I see the world one way and I am sure that my perceptions are shared by these other people.  But they don’t agree, in fact, I am not even sure they hear me.  The techniques I use in a classroom to remedy this situation don’t often translate to the outside world.  Here is how it might look:

Teaching Scenario 1: Jewelry Business

Show them the necklace. Ask them the following question.  “What do you think this necklace is worth?”

They might answer, “I could buy on ebay for $25.00”

Follow up with a question to challenge their private theory.  “What if i told you I spent four hours making it and the cost of my materials were $10.00. Do you think I should charge only $25.00?” Let them feel the necklace.  Show them the technique used for making it.

Allow them to try making it to see how difficult the technique really is?

Teaching Scenario 2:  The value of eating healthy and practicing preventative medicine

I have been preaching healthy eating to my children ever since they were old enough to eat solid food. Two of my three kids get it.  In fact, my youngest son completely gave up all sodas, limits his snacks to one a day and reaches for bananas, peanut butter, carrots and yogurt when he is hungry and my husband and I are not available to cook. My middle son, on the other hand, flat out rejects all my preaching and teaching.  He has to learn everything through personal experience.  His private universe has recently intersected with his little brothers and mine in fact.  In the past two years, I have lost a great deal of weight and in general have been experiencing very good health.  In the meantime, his 13 year old brother is getting far more buff than he is.  I have watched my son start investigating healthier eating habits.

Tonight the teaching went like this?

Mom, I have got a really bad cold?  What can I do?

I start rubbing the bridge of my nose.  He gets on the internet and researches head colds and it shows a person rubbing the bridge of their nose.  He starts rubbing his.  Then he looks at me and says” You do that all the time.  I just thought you were crazy.  By the way Mom, can I borrow your Neti pot as well. ”

You get the picture.  Teaching and learning take time.  Human interactions are very complex and fraught with dangers. Do any of us take the time to interact in this fashion with our friends, partners, business associates? My friends and family think I am too pedantic as it is.  They will never let me get away with this behavior.  They will roll their eyes in their head as they hold on tight to their private theories on jewelry, health and life.

 

 

 

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Risk versus Reward

I currently have two teenager boys  living at home, so I am constantly reminded of the risk taking behaviors of adolescents.  But now it seems,  according to new research on the teenage brain, that this risk taking behavior is actually an evolutionarily developed advantage for helping the teen transition from the safe home life to the “big, bad world” out there. In fact, according to author David Dobbs in the October 2011 National Geographic, the teen risk-loving behaviors are not the result of the “puny brain” or “work in progress”  brain, but rather the “result of teens weighing risk versus reward differently than adults. ” (pg. 54) Reward can often involve the elevation of status among their friends.  So today, I am looking at my two sons differently. I am figuring out more rewards that I can offer them for “smart decisions.”  I am also pondering why so many middle and high school teachers use punishment rather than reward to motivate teens.   Even on days like today, where I spent most of my time in my studio creating jewelry, I am also thinking about education.  I am as passionate about the right way of teaching as I am about creating jewelry.

Here are my designs today and here are my wishes for teachers of teenagers.

1) Please don’t belittle teens (especially not in front of their peers)

2)Please don’t automatically assume they are lying, cheating or stealing.

3) Please allow them to explain why they are not cooperating, not completing the work or not paying attention to you.

4) Please try to motivate the teens with interesting and relevant assignments

5) Please learn about the teenage brain so you understand what motivates them and what doesn’t

6) Please take a risk and try to be different than most teachers of teenagers and I guarantee the rewards will be great.  Believe me, I know.  I am still in touch with many of my former students who rewarded me with their love and attention while I was teaching them and continue to reward me by staying in touch.