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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Robbery Eye-witness Sample

An eyewitness account of the armed robbery in King's Lynn

Strolling along Norfolk Street just before 10am to go to the Post Office to pay my road tax, I never in a million years could have predicted the situation I was about to find myself in. Just as I reached the Post Office, I noticed a silver Mercedes pull up outside Francis Wain jewellery shop and the driver put on his hazard lights. "That's strange," I thought. "This is a pedestrianised road, surely the shop gets deliveries at night or through a back door?"

Then in the blink of an eye, a gang of men in white hooded tops raced out of the vehicle and started smashing glass with sledgehammers before stealing items from the shop. For about 10 seconds, I was quite literally frozen to the spot as the usually busy shopping street began to empty with people either running away screaming or diving into the closest shop to hide. As people continued to brush past me to get away, I noticed a few people were already on their mobile phones and talking to the emergency services. The driver of the silver Mercedes then started pumping smoke out of the vehicle to block CCTV footage and shouted at anyone still stood watching the robbery unfold.

The next thing I knew, the men were clambering back into the vehicle with their pockets loaded with jewellery, the driver put his foot down on the gas and headed straight towards me. Thankfully, I managed to dive for cover as the vehicle sped off towards Austin Street. The silver Mercedes was later found in nearby North Lynn. I was absolutely stunned and just looked around in utter disbelief as people slowly emerged from the shops they had raced into moments earlier. I then heard police sirens in the distance as the shop's shutters kicked into life and came down and Norfolk Street returned to its normal busy self.

When a lone Norfolk Police car pulled up outside the shop a few moments later, I heard one woman shout: "You took your time". The officer responded by saying they had been "rather busy" trying to catch the armed robbers, which seemed to satisfy the lady as she walked towards Waterstones. After checking my phone to see what pictures I had taken, I walked up to one of the members of staff to give her the registration plate of the silver Mercedes before walking into the Post Office to sort out my road tax and thinking to myself: "Did that really just happen?!"

Overall it was an extraordinary couple of minutes. One minute Norfolk Street was packed, the next minute people were running, screaming and diving into shops and then moments later everything returned to normal. Thinking back to this morning now, I know the raid only took a matter of moments but in my mind everything has now slowed down and it feels like it went on for more than an hour. It is not everyday you see something as horrific as this and I'm sure I will remember what happened today for a long time to come.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

responding to bad behavior

How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
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Responding to bad behavior

Disciplines > Teaching > Classroom management > Responding to bad behavior
Basic rules | Inattention | Side conversations | | See also

Bad behavior is not a good thing at all in a classroom and you cannot ignore it -- otherwise it will get worse. The problem is that it is easy for your response to be ineffective or even make the situation worse.
There are many ways of responding to bad behavior. Here are just a few.
Basic rules
Bad behavior, not bad person
Adopt an attitude that behavior can be bad and unacceptable, but this does not mean the person is bad. A bad person is unredeemable and cannot be changed. A basically good person can be separated from bad behavior, especially if you act as if this is what they really want.
Act, but do not react
Reacting means acting instinctively, without thought. Unfortunately, our instincts were largely sharpened in the relatively recent ecological past of the primate jungle, where aggression is an appropriate response. A natural response to bad behavior is anger, but unfortunately this only creates more problems, if not today then certainly in the future.
Acting means thinking first, and then acting in a way that will achieve a good result for the student, for you and for the school. This may not mean an immediate response, and giving a little time to cool down (and let them cool down) can be very productive. An effective approach is to hold back disruptive students at the end of the lesson.
Analyze, then respond
Seek first to understand the real reason why they are naughty, then design your actions to address the deeper motivations. Done well, this can be very effective.
Be consistent and fair
When you are responding to bad behavior, always be clearly fair. Treat each incident separately and be equal-handed with all. If you make rules then you must always follow them up. If you use a punishment with one child, you must be prepared to use it with others.
However, do remember that different responses work differently with different students. Customise what you do to have the appropriate effect. And always keep your cool, of course.
When they are not paying attention you can:
  Use silence, just standing and looking at them. When they pay attention, thank them and continue.
  Remove the source of distraction, for example confiscating magazines and toys.
  Call them back after class and keep them waiting for a while as you ignore them whilst clearing up. Then talk about paying attention to one another.
Side conversations
Some students often prefer to chat with their friends rather than join in the lesson. It is generally a bad idea to try and talk over side conversations.
  Ask one of the talkers a question about the work, or just a general question, such as 'So, Michael, what would you have done in this situation?'
  Ask the rest of the class what you should do about the people involved. When they hear their name, and especially when they realize everyone else is talking about them, they will stop talking.
   Interpose your body between the talkers (easily done if they are quite distant from one another).
  Separate the talkers, moving them near people with who they are unlikely to converse.
When their jibes are directed at you, then you can defuse their comments in many ways.
  Ask them to explain what they mean. Keep questioning them until they get a bit embarrassed.
  Ask them why they made the comment. If they make another smart response, reject it and return to the original question. Force them to think more deeply.
  Reframe their comment, reinterpreting it as if it were positive.
  Ask the class if that was a smart comment.
  If the comments are inappropriate, call them out immediately. Say that the comment was inappropriate and give them a chance to apologize. If they do not, then take them to the next stage, for example holding them back after class or sending them to the head teacher.
When students threaten one another or otherwise cause fear or anger within the classroom,
  Ask them directly what they are doing.
  Ask the class what they think. Ask if the behavior is appropriate.
  Separate the parties.
  If necessary, send the aggressor out of the classroom. Tell them to cool down (and only then reason with them).
  Follow up separately with aggressor, victim and observers. Get the whole story.
  If the behavior is a repeat, then move the aggressor to the next stage of the school discipline system.
Sometimes fights break out in the classroom. These can be of two very different sorts. One is due to bullying (and can be initiated by the victim 'snapping'), the other is pecking-order disputes. Neither is acceptable, of course, and must be dealt with carefully.
  Do not put yourself between the fighters unless you are very certain you can separate them little harm and within legal constraints.
  Use a clear, commanding voice, tell them to stop, now.
  Get other children away from harm's way.
  If feasible, dousing them with water can be effective.
  Send one of other children to get help as appropriate.
  Put both of them through the school system for fights.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

autobiography (reflective thoughts and feelings)

Jessica Ennis: My story from beating the school bullies to becoming a golden girl

Here, in an exclusive extract from her new autobiography Jessica Ennis: Unbelievable – From My Childhood Dreams to Winning Olympic Gold, she describes how she beat the bullies.
I am crying. I am a Sheffield schoolgirl writing in her diary about the bullies awaiting me tomorrow.
They stand menacingly by the gates and lurk unseen in my head, mocking my size and status.
They make a small girl shrink, and I feel insecure and frightened.
I pour the feelings out into words on the page, as if exposing them in some way will help, but nobody sees my diary.
It is kept in my room as a hidden tale of hurt.
Fast forward two decades and I am crying again. I am standing in a cavernous arena in London.
Suddenly, the pain and suffering and frustration give way to a flood of overwhelming emotion.
In the middle of this enormous arena I feel smaller than ever, but I puff out my chest, look to the flag and stand tall.
It has been a long and winding road from the streets of Sheffield to the tunnel that feeds into the Olympic Stadium like an artery.
I am Jessica Ennis. I have been called many things, from tadpole to poster girl, but I have had to fight to make that progression.
I smile and am polite and so people think it comes easily, but it doesn’t.
I am not one of those athletes who slap their thighs and snarl before a competition, but there is a competitive animal inside, waiting to get out and fight for survival and recognition.
Cover shoots and billboards are nice, but they are nothing without the work and I have left blood, sweat and tears on tracks all over the world.
It is an age where young people are fed ideas of quick-fix fame and instant celebrity, but the tears mean more if the journey is hard.
So I don’t cry crocodile tears; I cry the real stuff.
In 1993 my parents sent me to Sharrow Junior School.
In terms of academic results it was not the best, but Mum was keen for me to go somewhere that had a rich mix of races and cultures.
I was the smallest in the class and I became more self-conscious about it as the years went by.
Swimming was a particular ordeal, and in my mind now, I can still see this young, timid wisp standing by the side of a pool in her red swimming costume quaking with anxiety.
I was small and scraggy and that was when the bullying started.
There were two girls who were really nasty to me. They did not hit me, but bullying can take on many forms and the abuse and name-calling hurt.
The saying about sticks and stones breaking bones but words never hurting falls on deaf ears when you are a schoolkid in the throes of a verbal beating.
At that age, girls can be almost paralysed by their self-consciousness, so each nasty little word cut deep wounds.
I went home, cried and wrote in my diary. Perhaps it would be nice to say that one day I fought back and beat the bullies, but I didn’t.
It festered away and became a big thing in my life, leaving me wracked with fear about what they would say or do next.
It got to the point that I dreaded seeing them at school.
And then we moved on to secondary school and I found out that they were going there too. The dread got deeper.
Later, I did tell my mum. ‘They are only jealous of you,’ she replied. But jealous of what? I could not understand it.
I tried to deal with it myself, but that was impossible.
I would rely on my diary and hope for the best, but that was not much of a defence against these scary girls who were dominating my thoughts.
And then, around that time, my mum saw an advert for a summer sports camp at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield.
It was my first taste of sport and it would be the first tentative step towards fighting back and getting my own quiet revenge on the bullies.
I started at King Ecgbert’s School in the little village of Dore in South Sheffield in September 1997. I was still terrified on the first day.
I was not a confident child and almost froze when my dad asked me to go and get the paper from the corner shop one day.
‘On my own?’
Dad barely looked at me. ‘Yes, here’s the money.’
He knew I needed to shed some of my inhibitions, but I still remember going to big school and being frightened.
There were two buildings, Wessex and Mercia, separated by a changeover path, and as I was edging along it one day, I heard an older girl say: ‘Oh, look at her, she’s so tiny and cute.’ That made me feel 10 times worse.
Sport, though, was becoming an outlet for the insecurities and I found I was good at it. Gradually, I became more popular.
The two bullies were still there, but if I was talking to anyone going through something similar I would stress things change quickly.
It does not seem like it at the time, of course, with every week an endless agony of groundhog days, but it soon fades.
I slowly made friends and the tide turned. The same girls who had bullied me now wanted to be friends.
It was all part of that whirlpool of hormones and petty jealousies that is part of being a young girl.
Now I do not think they were inherently nasty people, but I know what I have done with my life and I think I am in a better position.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

2nd Sample Reflective Essay

Failing Forward: Stories behind every success story through failure

My friend Maria and I got our degrees at the same time - hers in Engineering, mine in Mathematics. These subjects, in case you aren't aware, are tough! There were classes we really had to struggle with, fight to get through, and survived only by digging our fingers in with everything we had. Along the way, many of the people who started at the same time we did dropped out, changed majors, etc. They quit. Maria and I didn't and we have degrees to show for it.

Maria and I came up with a saying, "We're not quitters, we're failures!" We'd rather fail a class three times and eventually pass it than quit and resign ourselves to the idea that we "just can't get it." That kind of sob-story defeatism has to be expunged from your mind. While there are things that you can't do - like flying via pixie dust - most of the things you want in life you can have, but only if you treat failure as a part of the learning process. If you see failure as an end, that makes you a quitter.

You can't succeed at anything if you quit. Don't be a quitter, be a failure. 

Fitness goals are interesting in their abstractness, they can be quite oddball (who really needs to squat double bodyweight?), and they can take a very long time and a lot of energy to accomplish. Without a willingness to endure failure you'll never reach your goals.

Here are a few examples of failures that made good to keep you inspired to keep failing and never quit.

1. J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter novels was waitressing and on public assistance when she was writing the first installment of what would become one of the best selling series in history. The book was rejected by a dozen publishers. The only reason it got published at all was because the CEO's eight year old daughter begged him to publish it.

“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential.” - J.K. Rowling

Now, if that isn't a great Zen line, I don't know what is!

2. Michael Jordan

It might come as a shock, but the man who became what many would call the best basketball player of all time didn't make his high school basketball team.

“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” - Michael Jordan

3. Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison was both hearing impaired and fidgety. He only lasted three months in school where his teachers said he was "too stupid to learn anything." He eventually was home schooled by his mom. In talking about his invention of the light bulb, he said:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that do not work.” - Thomas Edison

4. James Carville

When I was a kid I was obsessed with political campaigns the way other kids were obsessed with sports. During the 1992 Presidential campaign there was no greater superstar-whacko than Clinton's political operative, James Carville. With his shaved bald head, snake-like facial features, and his deep Louisiana accent he seemed like a man out of the Twilight Zone!

He's now considered to be one of the greatest political operatives of a generation. But, before he ended up on that fateful campaign in his early 40's he was dead broke, had won only a handful of elections, and had never even been approved for a credit card. On paper, he looked like a complete failure. By not giving up he ended up in the White House. 

"No one will ever accuse James Carville of taking himself seriously." - James Carville

5. Ludwig van Beethoven

His early skills at music and the violin were decidedly less than impressive. His teachers thought him hopeless. It was his father who saw the potential in him and took over his education. Beethoven slowly lost his hearing throughout his life and yet, four of his greatest works were composed when he was completely deaf.

"Beethoven can write music, thank God, because he can't do anything else!" - Ludwig van Beethoven

6. Christopher Reeve

The man who played Superman becoming a quadriplegic was more than ironic - it was tragic. He never learned to be happy about his situation - who could? But, he did learn to live with it.

“In the morning, I need twenty minutes to cry. To wake up and make that shift, you know, and to just say, 'This is really bad,' to really allow yourself the feeling of loss. It still needs to be acknowledged.” - Christopher Reeve

Then, he'd say, "And now...forward!"

He had to take a moment everyday to acknowledge where he was, what the reality of the situation was. But, he didn't allow that to stop him. He traveled widely doing public speaking on behalf of people with spinal injuries, tirelessly raised money for his own and other foundations, and even became a movie director. He took what he had and tried to help others in the best way he could.

7. Oprah Winfrey

Her childhood was frightful and filled with horrible abuse and abject poverty. But, like most successful people, Oprah doesn't dwell on stuff like that. 

"I don’t think of myself as a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good. I think of myself as somebody who from an early age knew I was responsible for myself, and I had to make good." - Oprah Winfrey


Oh, anyway, I'll give you a few more! You can never have enough inspirational stories to keep you going.

Vincent Van Gogh

The man was a manic depressive. He could barely function half the time. He never saw success in his lifetime, but his work is often regarded as the greatest painting ever done by any human on earth. Because of this, his name has become a war cry for artists around the world who have been repeatedly rejected and sidelined.

"Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again." - Vincent van Gogh

"Life is too important a thing ever to talk seriously about." - Oscar Wilde

I'll close with another quote by Michael Jordan.

"Some want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen." - Michael Jordan

Now go make something happen.