An Alternate Reality

There’s a greater reality that technology will never surpass or achieve...

Our perception is everything. How we interpret the world around us and our engagement with it greatly determines our lives in both quality and creation. Check out an Amazon review for almost any product and you’ll discover five star and one-star reviews—for the very same item! Listen to couples—happily married, on the brink of divorce and every state in between—and you’ll hear two different tales regarding the same relationship.

Technology is in the midst of creating an ever-evolving AR (Augmented Reality), where you can simulate life in an alternate world (i.e., bungee jumping in Costa Rica, skiing in Aspen, playing tennis at Wimbledon).  The pandemic has caused us to gravitate to this screen-laden world where attendance is taken virtually or noted in the clever acronym, IRL (In Real Life). Our life lessons are growing more comprised of chats, texts, emojis and screenshares, where an icon is considered sufficient (albeit online) presence.

I’m not knocking the myriad of gifts that arrive as a by-product of our tech-savvy world. I’ll be the first to admit that I love knowing my lessons can be found easily on a universal learning platform that our school uses, lessons that I create and decide when to share with a convenient click of a button. Children with underlying health issues are no longer prevented from engaging in learning now that we offer a streamlined learning program; students can learn at their own pace, replaying a lesson for greater understanding, translating into their first language where necessary.

But there’s a greater reality that technology will never surpass or achieve: the ability of humans to alter their perceptions and by extension, create their own reality. As the late Dr. Wayne Dyer said (author of The Shift

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

The other day, one of my 6th graders sounded palpably upset when I announced an assignment to read a few chapters independently that week. His icon glowed as he spoke:

“I feel so much pressure. My head hurts. This book is hard for me to enjoy.”

The boy is a voracious reader and extremely bright. His voice was tight with unshed tears. The stress he was feeling was his reality, his perceived reality.

I reminded him of how much he loved to read. I asked him what was different this time.

“I like to read at night, under a blanket with my favorite stuffed animal beside me.”

“Then that’s what you’ll do,” I said.

Oh, how he let out an audible sigh. Gone was the shaky, holding-back-tears in his voice. Gone was his perception that the world was closing in on him.

We are no different from my sweet 6th grader. We all possess the power to perceive the best and worst at every moment. My student had perceived me as “safe” to articulate his anxiety, which in turn, created an alternate reality for him. 

Consider your own life and how you perceive it. If there’s an area you aren’t happy with, how might you alter your understanding of it? Each moment is a gift for you to interpret and manifest a different reality.

Feeding Our Minds

Remain curious and open to learning new things!

A colleague reached out to me over the summer and let me know about a teaching opportunity that involved working on camera for our school district. I jumped at the chance.

The audition involved creating a mini lesson, replete with standards and curriculum that followed the state’s guidelines. It required a specific rubric to follow. 

Did I know what I was doing? Absolutely not. With content as a teacher, I shine, but with technology…well, that wasn’t in my wheelhouse. But I wasn’t going to allow a lack of experience using technology to impede me from doing something I love: teaching AND teaching on camera!

Creating the material for the lesson didn’t take me long, nor did the Power Point itself. Uploading my video with me on camera simultaneously…well, let’s just say, I didn’t eat for the entire day and it was dark outside by the time I was ready to hit submit to the district with my uploaded lesson.

Playing around with the unknown of the technology was frustrating but by the end of the full day, I had accomplished a new skill.

When I inquired whether or not my fellow teachers were auditioning as well, they looked at me as if I had acquired several heads. Their responses ran the gamut of:

“I don’t want to give myself anymore work.”

“That sounds too hard—no thanks.”

“Uh—no.”

In the end, over one-hundred teachers submitted their audition (I’m part of a large district), so there were plenty of teachers, eager for the exciting opportunity. 

I am grateful to note that I was one of the 25 fortunate teachers to get “cast” for the TV virtual teaching. And when we met for the first time this past week, I was not at all surprised by their positive energy. I felt like we all felt we had earned a “Golden Ticket” like something out of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Our lessons will air on local TV weekly for 30 minutes. Since it’s only local to our state and city, I want to share the lessons I’ll be creating here for any potential parents or students out there, hungry to feed their minds. To that end, I’m my first episode at the close of today’s blog post. Feel free to use the lesson as a starting point or follow along directly and participate in the activities.

I encourage you to consider an area of your life where you find yourself reluctant to try something new and go for it anyway. When we push ourselves past our comfort zones, real growth takes place.

Happy learning–for all of us!

Students can bolster their reading comprehension skills through this 10 minute video, connecting text to reader.