Q and A With Amaka Imani Nkosazana

1. Ma’am please introduce yourself?

Amaka Imani Nkosazana, Author of Sweet Destiny and Release The Ink by Bernadette Watkins

2. Why do you write?

I write because it gives me the ability to express myself to the world. Often times, I share information that inspires myself and others. It might be about life in general or something specific. I write because people need to read positive uplifting stories. There is so much negativity in the world. We need to be able to read something good every once in a while.

3. What inspires you?

I am inspired by God. I am also inspired by like-minded individuals who share words of wisdom.

4. There are billions of women living in the world today, what are the selling points that distinguishes you from this great number?

Well, I write fiction and poetry. I would say what distinguishes me from other authors is my ability to interpret exactly what the reader would enjoy. For example, when I write, I know how to perceive the next best information to share. Also, I am reliable, honest, and capable of doing the necessary research to engage the readers. I have the capacity to reach many people through the information that I share by focusing on the characters in the story and being specific. When I write, I do so from the heart. And, my poetry is designed to inspire others. I feel that I am distinguished from others by the passion that put into my works.

5. As a teacher and lover of children how do you think we can create a better world and what are you doing to make this happen?

I think we can create a better world by enhancing the minds of the children to change the world. Children need positive role models. There are so many adults who are not training their children in the proper ways to be upright citizens today. They allow them to access unhealthy videos and pictures online, doing rude and vulgar things and using foul language. The parents think that is cool. But, I tell you this is in no way cool. I think it has something to do with the children being born and not having a good role model to look up to. I believe in order to help someone else you must first be able to help yourself. So, It starts in the home by raising your children to have respect and integrity. This causes children to grow up and have their minds shaped and formed to to do great things in the world. If the children can be transformed to the person that God created them to be, the entire world can be transformed. They become our future leaders, inventors, and visionaries, etc.

6. Do you have any role model?

I would say that Maya Angelou is my role model. I am inspired by her wisdom and poetic expression. I could never forget when she said if you have but one smile in you give it to the ones you love. Also, If you don’t like something change it, if you can’t change it,then change your attitude.

7. In three words describe your family?
Hmm, describe my family in three words, I would say Faithful, Truthful, and Courageous.

8. Divorce is an evil wind that is tearing marriages apart today, what advice do you have for singles and married that can help them enjoy blissful and successful matrimony?

My advice would be to never allow your love to be with material things because they can easily be gone. There are too many people who get married based on what someone can do for them. Make sure you are financially stable an able to carry your own weight before you join in unity with another person. Don’t look for them to carry the load. A marriage is 100/100 each person doing all they can to manage the family, finances, and the household. There is no room for selfishness in a marriage because all it does is destroy the union. Be grounded in your connection to God because he is the ultimate inspiration that will nourish the marriage through your prayers.

9. What goal do you have that you believe when it comes alive will impact lives positively?

I have a goal to write more books and inspire children positively. I believe when it comes alive people will be impacted to change for the better by choosing to live healthier, happier lives. By empowering the children, the crimes in our world can be decreased. By reading my uplifting books and inspirational stories, people will decide to make a difference in the world by helping in their communities with awareness and poverty.

10. What is your view about Africa?

I do know right now 2014 there is a crisis in Nigeria, Africa that needs to be resolved. A terrorist group called Boko Haram is terrorizing the country and killing many innocent lives. I do know that Africa is a land of many valuable resources. If the politicians in Africa would help the people by creating more jobs, the businesses would be more productive and the economy would be better in Africa. It seems that people in high places and positions are not doing everything in their power to help Africa.

11. We are living in an ever-changing world where people encounter different kinds of challenges daily, what words of encouragement do you have for your fans and the general public?

Yes, People have many different kinds of challenges everyday. I have written some information about achieving your goals in life and I will share it here. If you have that burning desire to accomplish a goal, go for it! There is nothing in your way except your thoughts. When you believe that you are capable of achieving success, it happens. Sometimes you are ready and sometimes you must take small steps. Either way, you are bound to reach your destination. The road may seem rocky at first, but it will eventually become smooth. Take the route that you feel most comfortable. Use the resources that you have and don’t let pride convince you to stay there in one place. Seek guidance along the way. Many people will doubt you and some may tell you that it’s not a good decision. Stick with your gut feelings because you know exactly what you want to do. There is no one in this world who could know better than you. It takes time to develop a skill that is worthwhile. Don’t be discouraged if at first you do not succeed. Pick yourself up and try again, and again.

A Quick-Start Incubator Model for Hybrid Math and Science Programs in Kentucky’s School Systems

Abstract

An educational program “incubator” is comparable to a business incubator in that it is a start-up program that may be implemented on a larger scale if it is deemed successful. “Success” may be measured by a number of parameters: the participating students’ standardized test scores, end of course exam scores, ACT/SAT scores, number of students meeting college acceptance criteria, and/or the general perception of the program within the school district/community. A more subjective measure of success, but no less important, is the sustained interest of students (with a focus on young women) in the sciences throughout their primary/middle/and high school years. It is this subjective measure of success that led to the development of this particular “incubator” model’s concepts and strategies.

Introduction

The “incubator” model that I present is not from the perspective of a life-long educator, but from the perspective of a career scientist, an application specialist, an operations manager, and a middle school/high school science teacher for only the past seven (7) years. I readily admit that I am not an expert on pedagogy. However, I believe I have mastered thinking out-of-the-box and applying those revelations to systems that may require a different approach to achieve mandated outcomes. I do not believe the system of education in Kentucky is broken, far from it; there are many great minds and passionate, dedicated people in all levels of Kentucky’s educational system. Nevertheless, I do believe that any company/industry/system that does not embrace an investment in research and development is destined to stagnate. As we have seen with the United States’ status in math & science education in comparison to say that of Finland’s, I believe an evaluation of alternative concepts is in order.

Target Audience

This three (3) year incubator targets a student population from 8th grade through 10th grade – providing accelerated online curriculum, college affiliated dual-credit coursework, water quality and biodiversity fieldwork, science-themed monthly public presentations, and student mentoring at local elementary schools. Students would have the option at the end of year three (3) to start taking college courses full-time in year four (4), having earned enough credits to graduate from high school. The other options available to students in Kentucky would be attending the Gatton Academy at Western Kentucky University, or returning to their home school and take AP level coursework plus electives (ideal for athletes with 2 years of eligibility remaining).

Student Selection Reasoning: The eighth grade student population selection is based on the following reasoning: in Kentucky, an eighth grade student’s science exposure is minimal at best. Since science is not tested in Kentucky’s middle schools at the eighth grade level, some middle schools do not offer science classes in order to double up on social studies which is tested in eighth grade. By incorporating these students into an incubator, it provides greater continuity for science students and a focus on retaining young women’s enthusiasm for the sciences.

Budget

The initial funding required for this incubator model is dependent upon the availability of resources: classroom access, classroom amenities (calculators, chairs, computer workstations, lab workstations, SMART Boards or tablets, tables, white boards), curriculum, laboratory supplies, teacher salaries, and transportation. If existing teachers are used to staff the model and a location for the program already exists then initial start-up cost may be 50-75K dollars. Annual costs, if just for resupply of used equipment and materials, are approximately 25k-40k per year.

Staffing

Full-time teaching positions: This incubator uses a POD concept. The POD concept is a middle school team model using four (4) Highly Qualified designated instructors (these are the strongest in Language Arts/Math/Science/Social Studies pedagogy and content knowledge available, regardless of certification (high school/middle school)). Project SCALE-UP is designed to support ninety (90) students within a classroom, in this model a cohort, therefore each of the four (4) facilitators will mentor fifteen (15) students per session during the school day.

Location

Location(s) for this incubator could be: an Alternative school campus, or one (or more) of the existing high schools. The selected location(s) should have sufficient space for two large classrooms with multiple electrical outlets and internet access (wireless or LAN). The classroom need to have multiple large-volume printer/scan/fax devices to support student work. One of the classrooms will be used for laboratory activities, so extra water/gas access points will be needed as well.

Transportation

Transportation to and from Incubator Site: Transportation of students will be defined by the decision for the location of the incubator site. If the site selected is on the campus of the district’s alternative school program(s) or a separate magnet school facility, then consider the transportation plan 1.

Transportation Plan 1: In the morning, students are taken to their home high school, where they are transferred to the incubator site in a second bus – arriving at the incubator site prior to the incubator school day starting time. In the afternoon, students will need to end their school day early, in order to catch the transfer bus back to their home high schools prior to the end of the normal high school day. Students will then take the normal bus route home from each high school. Depending on the number of high schools in the district, additional transportation costs will be the costs for running the transfers to and from each site. School day hours for the incubator site will need to be adjusted to allow transportation of students to and from their home high schools.

Incubator located within the High school locations: If the incubator site(s) are located in the existing high schools, then consider transportation plan 2.

Transportation Plan 2: Students will follow the normal transportation routes to their home high schools in the mornings and in the afternoon. There are no additional transportation costs and no changes to the hours for the incubator’s school day required in this model.

i. Program Transportation Needs

Depending upon the size of the school district, and the number of students included in the program, there are a number of options for program transportation.

Option 1 – Dedicated School Buses (Eminence Independent School District Model): The model employed by the Eminence Independent School District is ideal for a Project SCALE-UP design program with cohort sizes of up to 90 students. In this model, two (2) school buses equipped with A/C and WiFi capability are dedicated to transport program students to all activities during the school day; the buses are used in normal district transportation be- fore school and after school. This concept provides flexibility in transporting program students to field work activities, on-campus college courses, and student mentoring activities, with WiFi access for coursework and research during transportation and on-site. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the vision of the leaders in this district; the simplicity and versatility of their program is exemplary.

Option 2 – Using School Vans (Bullitt County Model): The model employed by Bullitt County’s Advanced Math and Science Program is ideal for cohort sizes of 24 or less students. School vans, in this case 8 passenger vans, where used to transport students to research sites, other schools for mentoring, and to local museums/college campuses for presentations. Use of vans requires that one or all of the instructor’s undergoes driver certification every two (2) years, and there is competition for the use of the van with fall/winter/spring sports and other school groups. If all 24 students where to attend an offsite program or event, then a school bus would be required.

ii. Other Considerations

School programs, student testing and extracurricular activities: It is necessary to plan to transport students to their home schools for events such as concerts, pep rallies, and state exams. This may be as simple as transporting the students one-way, either to home school from the program site or from the home school to the program site. School buses will be required for this transportation.

Sports/Band: Students who participate in sports and/or band require special consideration. It is extremely important that these students do not feel like they must decide between participation in the program vs. participation in sports or band. Although, these students may find as they continue in the program that academic success may be inversely proportional to participation in extracurricular activities. Participation in marching band will require some creativity in scheduling, however since most high achieving students participate in band, I would address that reality early.

Curriculum

Online Curriculum: My teaching experience in the disciplines on math and science have left one indelible impression, printed curriculum is the weakest link in our system of education. From that point in time which it is printed and then distributed to the classrooms, it is out of date. Our foundation of knowledge changes too rapidly during the three to five year textbook selection cycle for the curriculum to ever be relevant. Online curriculum, with yearly cycles of content review is the best option we have at this point.

I readily admit I am not an expert in textbook funding, so I apologize for any wrong assumptions in this treatise. However, I am expert at the scientific analysis of issues and implementation of solutions, so it is from this perspective that I present the following for your consideration:

Research into textbook adoption for the students in Kentucky, yielded the following information: The budget, according to the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), for FY2015 textbooks is $21,700,00.00; the number of high school students in the public schools in KY is approximately 400,000 – this number works well in this incubator model. This yields approximately $54.25 per student for FY2015 available to purchase curriculum. Based on my experience and relationships with the online curriculum vendors (Apex Learning, Edgenuity primarily) at a volume of 400,000 licenses the $54.25 per license is very reasonable. I feel very comfortable that a contract could be negotiated without issue. Please keep in mind that online curriculum would be for ALL disciplines – not just math and science.

Flexibility for course selection is a topic that requires a mention in this discussion. I personally found that an online offering of languages (Spanish, German, French, etc.) offered without dedicated instructors to be difficult for students to master. A district may consider offering the language component to the college/university partner to facilitate; also increasing the number of languages available as well.

An additional positive for the implementation of online curriculum, an A.P. certified teacher may not be required to teach their A.P. level courses. This is very beneficial, especially during the program design stage, when addressing the needs of Gifted and Talented students.

A final point for consideration is this: as school districts invest in technology for student use (iPads, laptops, and such) is the use of online curriculum not the next logical step in the evolution of our classrooms?

Project SCALE-UP: Project SCALE-UP [1, 2], initially introduced by Dr. Robert J. Beichner (North Carolina State University) as “Student-Centered Active Learning Environment for Undergraduate Programs” and now renamed as “Student-Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Programs”[1, 2], is the foundational model for this incubator program. Utilizing a cafeteria-style classroom, round tables seating anywhere from 6-9 students, up to 10 tables per classroom, upwards of 90 students can be accommodated at one time. Project SCALE-UP introduces the use of tangibles, ponderables, and concept inventories in the classroom along with large classrooms (in square footage) that accommodate lab activities and classroom activities in the same physical space. Combined with the aforementioned POD teaching concept, a unique synthesis in hands-on learning plus online curriculum and facilitation by the teachers can occur, and be very successful. And, may be easily adapted to fit the facility, even within an existing space at a high school.

“Flipped Classrooms”: Isn’t this just a model of a “Flipped Classroom”? The short answer is “no”; an explanation is required however. The “flipped classroom” concept revolves around the implementation and use of online curriculum in a standard classroom, usually with a student population equipped with iPads or laptops. Project SCALE-UP and in-turn this incubator takes the “flipped classroom” to the next level by surrounding the students with purposeful, targeted activities that exponentially increase the rigor and inquiry-based learning opportunities.

Suggested Curriculum Themes: As a vocal critic of too many disciplines (Astronomy, Astrobiology, Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, etc., etc., etc.), I continue to seek thematic units that require students to master the Liberal Arts (Language Arts +Mathematics + Sciences + Social Sciences) to successfully complete the unit. There are three (3) that I have used (I’m sure there are others), that I offer for your consideration: Astronomy (recognized as a super-science), Pond/Stream Water Quality & Biodiversity studies, and Sustainability. These three (3) thematic units may be used individually as the subject for one school year’s study; incorporated into public speaking opportunities, science fair concepts, student fieldwork, and student mentoring activities.

Concept Inventories, Ponderables, and Tangibles: How to implement each in the classroom, I remember their implementation sequence in alphabetical order.

Concept Inventories [3], alphabetically leads the list and should lead-off the school year as a pre-assessment (an inventory) of a student’s prior knowledge of common sense concepts and ideas. For example: why are there four (4) seasons? – draw the relationship between the Earth and Sun to support your answer. It is through the implementation of concept inventories and the data obtained that I chose to redesign my incubator to include 8th grade students. Do not fret, one does not need to reinvent the wheel, there are a multitude of research-based concept inventories that may be accessed on the Internet. Concept inventories are traditionally multiple-choice format.

Ponderables [1, 2], teachers may be familiar with the term bell ringers or openers, however these two “concepts” do not meet the rigor of a “ponderable”. A “ponderable” is a pencil and paper thought exercise for students, no guidance for a solution is given and the rigor of the question is such that student-research is required to complete the activity. The timeframe for a “ponderable” may be 10-15 minutes, it measures a student’s ability to research, conceptual knowledge, creativity, and organizational skills. I’ve had success in the past creating “ponderable” questions by taking “missed” questions from a concept inventory and deleting the multiple-choice answers. “Ponderables” are more subjective than objective measurements of student abilities.

Tangibles [1, 2], consider a “ponderable” that is not a pencil and paper tool but a measurement tool for a student’s hands-on abilities and understanding of concepts. For example: using a single sheet of notebook paper, fashion the tallest, free-standing object possible. “Tangibles” gauge a student’s creativity, and application of concepts to a hands-on activity.

Suggestions – Student Laboratory Activities: Think college-level and career-oriented activities. The implementation of online curriculum in the classroom, specifically the science disciplines, comes complete with a set of “dry lab activities”. These activities are useful for the most part, however given the amount of lab time available, these were the first thing I scrapped. I am a firm believer that for students to be successful in college labs and in careers where lab proficiency is a necessity, you can never start too early. When developing start-up and operating budgets for your program, this is not the area to be conservative or short-sighted. Consider the industries in your area, possible collaborations, college/university special- ties, and latest trends in employment. My suggestion – think biotechnology (electrophoresis/PCR/DNA analysis), think instrumental chemistry (gas chromatography/polarimetry/melting point apparatus), think electronics (circuit boards/programming), and think robotics. Select lab benches and tables that give you the most flexibility and bang-for-your-buck. Consider electricity, gas, and water requirements; safety needs; and ventilation requirements. If you have funds left over, purchase a high quality reflecting telescope, a remote data transmitting weather station for the roof of the school, and lots of plasticware and consumables for the labs. Consider purchasing pre-packaged lab activities to avoid storage of large volumes of solvents and acids/bases, and they have readymade student activity outlines. Do not forget to research activities at NASA to incorporate as lab exercises as well, especially in your Astronomy unit. I am an experimentalist at heart so this is my passion.

Student Fieldwork – Collaborations and Topics: Arguably, students take-in and retain more information and master more skillsets outside the classroom than inside. I find that I can teach more, across all disciplines, in the field – especially “observation”. And, if those skillsets are applied to a curriculum that captures their attention and imagination then it is a no-brainer. I can provide two examples that were a tremendous success for our program in Bullitt County; I am sure that these can be replicated elsewhere.

During year one of our program, we established a collaborative partnership with Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest (Dr. Mark Woorms, Claude Stephens, and Andrew Berry ) in Clermont, KY. The students in our program performed biodiversity studies, GPS mapping, and water monitoring studies (pH, temperature, conductivity, BOD, fecal coliforms, flow rate analysis) on a multitude of streams and ponds throughout the forest. Student’s developed databases for the information interfaced with GPS mapping software, and presented their data to parent and professional groups in our area. Students monitored the streams and ponds Fall, Winter, and Spring – it was never too cold or too wet to discourage participation.

During year three of our program, we established a collaborative partnership with the Kentucky Science Center (Andrew Spence) to allow our students to present science topic demonstrations to visitors at the Center. Our first experience with the students was “DNA Day” at the Kentucky Science Center where students from our program facilitated electrophoresis analysis of “pseudo-DNA” for 900 elementary, middle, and high school students. The student attendees inoculated their own gels, followed the migration patterns in the electrophoresis baths, and then made an educated interpretation of the results. Our students enjoyed themselves more than the attendees.

Scheduling

Hybrid school week plus hybrid school year: I am truly an advocate for changing how we look at the school week and the school year; having the tools mentioned in this article just allows for implementation of the changes more efficiently.

Hybrid School Week: Is there an advantage to mirroring a college weekly schedule? A resounding “YES”. Students leave the comfort of their homes and the familiarity they have with high school classes and curriculum to participate in an alien and at times overwhelming environment called college. If students are not prepared, armed with the study and coping skills necessary to succeed – I believe we are setting them up for failure. I encourage you to design your incubator in such a fashion as to gradually push students outside their comfort zone while they still have the support structure around them.

For example: establish class schedules that are Monday-Thursday, Tuesday- Friday with Wednesdays open for labs, fieldwork, and study halls. Assign work on Mondays that is due the following Thursday; Tuesday’s work to be submit- ted the next Friday. And, most importantly keep an updated syllabus for every class online and do NOT accept late work unless due to an excused absence. For labs, prepare a lab exercise manual listing all the labs to be completed that semester requiring completion and preparation of lab reports in the appropriate, documented format. Prepare your lab stations prior to the start of the semester, allow students to organize their time and efforts to complete all labs by the established deadline. Hold the students accountable for the submission of their work on time. You are in the classroom to facilitate their success, not to spoon-feed them knowledge.

Hybrid School Calendar: The advantage to using an online curriculum is the ability to prepare a syllabus that implements year-round school scheduling. An instructor can use the summer months to reinforce student weaknesses: reading and writing techniques, study skills, and the preparation research papers. Instructors may also schedule refresher courses to keep students on top of their games prior to returning in the Fall, especially math skills. I am also an advocate for utilizing discussion boards and cloud technology for students to submit commentaries on books in the reading lists I assign for the summer. This keeps students from writing the dreaded book reports that they procrastinate writing and I wish to avoid grading. The discussion boards’ generate conversations that I can monitor and contribute to in real-time.

Conclusion

This article addresses just the tip of the iceberg when considering the establishment of an “incubator” for a hybrid education program in your district or within a single school. Without a tremendous initial capital outlay and using existing teaching resources, an “incubator” could be established within an existing high school to determine the viability of such a program with your student demographic. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of faculty selection; the teachers must be facilitators of knowledge not merely instructors. Having access to online curriculum does not minimize the role of the teacher in the classroom, it enhances it. And, finally, always remember “transparency” is critical in the success of your program incubator. Your administration, parents, students, and teachers must have input. And by soliciting input you can, in the best of all world, ensure that you have buy-in from all groups. Establishing ownership at all levels of the program contributes to the success.

References

[1] “Beichner, R., Saul, J., Abbott, D., Morse, J., Deardorff, D., Al- lain, R., Bonham, S., Dancy, M., and Risley, J. (2006). Student- Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Pro- grams (SCALE-UP) project. In E. F. Redish and P. J. Cooney (Eds.), PER-Based Reform in University Physics. College Park, MD: American Association of Physics Teachers

[2] “R. Beichner, and J. Saul, Introduction to the SCALE-UP (Student-Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Programs) Project. In Invention and Impact: Building Excellence in Undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education, proceedings of a conference by the Am. Assoc. for the Advancement of Science, April 2004, Washington DC, 2005.

[3] “Development and Validation of Instruments to Measure Learning of Expert-Like Thinking.” W. K. Adams & C. E. Wieman, 2010. International Journal of Science Education, 1-24. iFirst, doi:10.1080/09500693.2010.512369

Kelly Cleavinger, Eruditio-Demutare.com

April 25, 2014

Serious Self-Fulfillment – How to Intelligently Empower Yourself Towards a Wonderful Life!

Ask anyone what they truly want out of life, and most will say happiness. It may come masked in the form of things such as more money, more time, less stress, etc. But what they’re all really saying is “I just want to be happier” – or more accurately – “I just want to achieve self-fulfillment”.

Self-fulfillment is directly responsible for our ability to achieve true, sustained long-term happiness and joy in our daily lives. It’s the overarching and guiding principle present in our reasoning for taking on certain tasks. We do things because we sense we will benefit from them in some way, shape, or form – or else we wouldn’t even bother.

At some point in our lives we will feel inspired and motivated to go after something we consider big, worthy, or challenging. Even if this isn’t something immediately attainable through a traditional college education or apprenticeship, it will still exist in our imagination and mind’s eye as a possibility amongst a set of other less-impressive options.

That imaginative calling is your intuition displaying to you what represents the core-essence of your true passion. It is then up to you – and you only – to figure out exciting and creative solutions for bringing that core-essence of passion into the real world so you can experience it.

If you can manage to do this, you will achieve serious self-fulfillment. I don’t mean temporary fulfillment like reaching your goal weight or dropping a bad habit or two. I mean SERIOUS self-fulfillment. The kind that fills every waking hour with a sense of higher purpose, calling, service, and an abundance of blissful feelings. Many people strive for this in their lifetime, but very view effectively achieve it, because very few actually understand how to intelligently approach it.

What Self-Fulfillment is NOT

Most people will attempt to shoehorn the concept around doing unfulfilling work for people they’d rather not be helping, or living in habitual cycles of what I like to call “assume, consume, resume”. Doing things for the sake of doing things, getting a reward (typically a paycheck) which is then most often used to anesthetize one to their real roadblocks, all while resuming business as usual.

This is highly unfulfilling and unsustainable in the long run. It’s no wonder why so many people turn to things like alcohol, drug experimentation, and excessive habitual escapist behavior such as gambling and even stealing.

Notice how regardless of the path you choose to take in life, your mind, body, and spirit are going to seek fulfillment through one endeavor or another. It’s like the law, only swap out lawyer with fulfillment: “If you can’t provide fulfillment on some level, fulfillment will be provided for you”. It’s going to be sought out one way or another. You’re probably engaging in a variety of escapist behaviors right now that you’re not even aware of.

However, there is a much more intelligent approach to living, and it revolves around becoming progressively more conscious of your true desires.

You deliberately choose which behaviors to engage in, thereby enabling yourself to move towards things which for you personally represent true, genuine, authentic fulfillment.

You become self-fulfilling.

It’s Not You v.s. The World: It’s You v.s. You

The important thing to understand is that absolutely NOTHING is stopping you from choosing more proactive and fulfilling actions and behaviors other than your self-limiting beliefs about your own capabilities.

You’re never not choosing. When you avoid making choices which initially appear overwhelming and challenging, you’re choosing. Avoiding difficult choices is to choose the lesser challenging option of the two.

The true challenge isn’t in taking the actions necessary to secure your goals and ideals, but learning how to intelligently navigate the illusory web of self-limitation you place upon yourself.

This is partially due to the conditioning you’ve been hammered over the head with since you could even begin formulating your own thoughts.

You’ve observed parents, relatives, friends, teachers, etc all doing the same things and getting the same types of results. Logically, you will assume that since everyone else is doing these things, that this is the correct way to live life. You never thought to question these things or to see if there’s possibly another way of solving problems like generating income for yourself, or actualizing your highest goals and aspirations.

From Timidness to Self-Actualization

When you can muster up enough courage to begin saying “This isn’t what I want, and I’m okay with that. I may not yet know exactly what I do want, but I know this isn’t what I want”, you move into a place of honest acceptance. This is an infinitely more powerful position to be in than denial. Acceptance is the starting point from which all true progress can be made, because now you’re finally dealing with all the game pieces at your disposal.

How can you play and master the game if you refuse to acknowledge all of the game pieces?

Dwelling in denial is like tying your hands behind your back and trying to do everything with your feet. Courage is the gateway to all personal progress. Once you can accept where you are, you immediately empower yourself to begin choosing more congruent choices. One of the greatest benefits of acceptance is the heightened awareness that you’re indeed choosing, and that you’ve always been choosing. To rise to acceptance is to raise your consciousness.

Once you reach this point, you’re in a very good position to begin self-actualizing your goals and ambitions, because you’ll have a very realistic and rational grip on what you’re working with. You’re finally grounded. If you can begin applying this same process of self-empowerment towards taking the actions required to secure goals, it’s virtually a done deal that you’ll succeed.

It’s then only a matter of time before you achieve personal success, because you’ll allow yourself to simply keep taking the actions required until you get there. You’re no longer tying your own shoelaces together via unnecessary fear, worry, and doubt. You finally get out of your own way.

Real Life Begins

Then – and only then – can real life begin. Suddenly, you’ll see that most people you interact with are living very timidly. They’re afraid to come out of their shells and express who they truly are. They live in fear of consequence, rather than valuing the empowering growth lessons awarded to anyone and everyone with enough courage to embrace living and choosing more consciously. They refuse to grow due to fear of failure and rejection, so ironically – that remains their present reality.

Suddenly your world becomes an ecstatic explosion of synchronistic opportunity. It’s as if the universe has aligned and gotten all the unnecessary fluff out of the way so that you can prioritize growing. It’s like you’re now part of a VIP club, because you’ve passed the initiation test. This happens by consciously moving towards activities, projects, and endeavors which genuinely resonate with your highest excitements and passions.

This doesn’t even need to be expressed as a career in the traditional sense, although your ability to generate an abundance of income and support yourself via things which genuinely inspire and excite you is amongst the highest forms of self-fulfillment. This website and all of the information products found here are one such example of incredible self-fulfillment for me. It’s my passion to write, talk, and share this information with others. I can’t see myself doing anything else in terms of career.

Finally Achieving True Happiness

One of the best overall side-effects of achieving self-fulfillment is the pervasive and more or less permanent sense of happiness and bliss. You’ll finally obtain those feelings you’ve been foolishly chasing through things like excessive socialization and escapist behavior. In general we know that those things aren’t what we really want, but we do them anyway because we don’t yet truly understand that there are better options and choices. That path is self-fulfillment for fools, and many get stuck there for life.

Another thing that becomes apparent is that you no longer view things as habits, but rather choices. You become more conscious as a result of accepting your path and striving towards it, and thus you raise your consciousness as a result. You can see and understand more than you could before. I like to use the example of standing on a mountain top and being able to see the entire forest, versus merely being down in the forest and locked onto one of the paths weaving through it. It’s like your mental bandwidth increases.

My life has improved immensely in all dimensions since I passed that point of self-acceptance. I’m no longer wasting time contemplating higher ideals for myself – I’m now putting them into action. When things don’t work, I keep moving, testing, and learning. This website is perhaps the epitome of example of this process. It will change and grow right alongside me.

Your personal self-fulfillment may not involve creating a website and writing posts and books, but I assure you it IS within you right now. All you need to do is begin asking yourself the honest questions required to unleash your true power. I’m here to help you reach that point for yourself, so you can begin experiencing life as it was truly meant to be lived.

Deep down, you know this is what you truly want. It’s time to stop hiding behind excuses such as a lack of resources, time, or whatever else you can come up with as a reason to deny yourself expression of the fullness of your being. The only way you’re ever going to achieve permanent, long-term, all-pervasive happiness is to begin accepting where you are and embracing the path before you.

Copyright 2014 Jason Demakis. All Rights Reserved.

Best Accredited Sonography Schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

If you are looking for an accredited sonography school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this is the right place for you. Located in the central Midwest, Milwaukee is known for the warm hospitality extended to residents and visitors alike. There is plenty to see and do thanks to venues like the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts and professional sports arenas that include Miller Park and the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Milwaukee is located along the shores of Lake Michigan, so Diagnostic Medical Sonography students can take a break from their studies by enjoying sailing excursions without leaving the city.

Sonography Education in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

With three CAAHEP accredited sonography schools in Milwaukee WI as of 2014, students have a great choice of educational opportunities. Ultrasound students can choose to complete their studies at a medical center, major state university, or high quality healthcare facility. Some schools offer accredited online sonography degree programs. Choosing the educational setting that best fits the student’s needs is important, and sonography scholarships can help with expenses. However, all CAAHEP accredited ultrasound technician programs in Milwaukee WI include instructional and clinical components, critical for passing ARDMS certification exams.

Milwaukee is home to outstanding colleges and universities like the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with over 23,500 students and Marquette University with close to 10,000 students. A total city-wide college and university student enrollment of approximately 55,000 students creates a supportive environment for anyone working towards a certificate or degree in sonography.

What is the Job Outlook for Sonographers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin?

The Milwaukee area is one of the highest employment areas in the state. In addition, the education and health services sector has by far the highest employment rate in the metropolitan area of Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wisconsin. This indicates excellent opportunities for the Diagnostic Medical Sonographer interested in an ultrasound job requiring hands-on patient care or who would prefer working in an administrative or faculty position. Ultrasound technicians will appreciate the fact that the local health care system is a leader in developing quality programs for managed care that keeps medical costs down. There is a choice of employers ranging from the large Milwaukee Regional Medical Center to one of the smaller clinics in the four-county healthcare system. There are also positions available in physician offices, medical laboratories, and extended care facilities. | See Job Openings

Do Sonographers Earn Well in Milwaukee, Wisconsin?

Ultrasound technicians are paid well for performing their professional duties, earning an average annual salary of $82,020 or $39.43 per hour. Salaries are determined by the type of employer, job experience, and areas of specialization. However, sonographers all along the average salary scale are earning high wages with the bottom 10 percent salaries at $65,680 and the top 10 percent at $96,850. It is crucial to earn registration with the ARDMS to have the best job opportunities.

A List of Best Schools for Diagnostic Medical Sonography Study in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

School Name: University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
Address: 2200 E Kenwood Blvd, Milwaukee, WI – 53201
Contact Person: Amanda Smith, Carol Mitchell
Contact Phone: (414)229-6286 (414)229-2230
Program: Bachelors Degree Program
Accreditation: CAAHEP

School Name: Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare-St Francis Hospital
Address: 3237 South 16th Street, Milwaukee, WI – 53215
Contact Person: Marc Wojciechowski
Contact Phone: (414)647-5711
Program: Certificate Program
Accreditation: CAAHEP Accredited and ARRT Recognized

School Name: Aurora St Luke’s Medical Center
Address: 180 W Grange Avenue, Milwaukee, WI – 53207
Contact Person: Laura Sorenson, Christopher Kramer
Contact Phone: (414)747-4352 (414)385-7172
Program Certificate Program
Accreditation: CAAHEP

Infant Massage for Spina Bifida

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the majority of babies born in the United States are healthy but roughly 3% or about one in thirty-three are born with a birth defect. While some of these defects are treatable with surgery or medications, getting a second or third opinion is just as important as being educated on them. I plan to cover nine of the most commonly seen birth defects in the United States and how they may impact you and your baby.

Fragile X Syndrome is a chromosomal birth defect with an occurrence of 1 in 1,500 males, with 1 in 1,000 females as carriers and only 1 in 3 showing signs of the defect. The symptoms of Fragile X include a combination of physical characteristics such as larger sized ears, elongated face, poor muscle tone, flat feet, as well as, intellectual issues such as lack of language development, heart problems, “autistic-like” tendencies and many can suffer from seizures. Similar to children with Down Syndrome, children with Fragile X syndrome can do most things children their age can by utilizing early intervention programs which help catch symptoms early.

Sickle Cell Disease is a biochemical birth defect and affects 1 in 625 births, mainly of African-American and Hispanics of Caribbean ancestry. Thirty states currently require newborns to be tested after birth. Causing debilitating bouts of pain and damage to vital organs, the disease itself can be fatal.

Congenital heart defects occur in about 1 in 110 births, some are mild with no visible symptoms while others are more complicated. The defects can stem from genetic abnormalities or a mistake during fetal development. While in utero, heart murmurs can call attention to a defect with more serious defects display themselves obviously and if untreated lead to congestive heart failure. Symptoms of a heart defect usually include rapid heartbeat, breathing difficulties, feeding problems, swelling in legs, abdomen or eyes and pale or bluish skin. Most heart defects are able to be corrected or managed through surgery, drugs or mechanical aids (such as a pacemaker.)

One anatomical abnormality is the clubfoot, which occurs in about 1 in 400 newborns and affects twice many boys as girls. Club foot includes many kinds of ankle and foot deformities and while we still don’t know the exact cause of Clubfoot, it is probably a combination of heredity and environmental factors that affect fetal growth. Clubfoot can be mild to severe and affect one or both feet and is not painful until the child begins to walk. Several treatment approaches are common including casting, splints, surgery and special shoes for more severe cases while physical therapy with special exercises work in more mild cases.

Spina Bifida is another anatomical abnormality which is more frequently seen in Caucasians of European descent, happening in roughly 1 in 2,000 births. The abnormality comes from the malformation of a neural tube that prevents the backbone from closing completely during fetal development. Severity ranges from nearly harmless to limb paralysis and bladder/bowel- control problems. Treatment is vast with more severe cases having surgery directly after birth to simple leg and feet exercises to even the use of a wheelchair.

While new treatments are being researched every day, one Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) option is gaining notoriety; Pediatric Massage. With many studies showing benefits to both pre-natal massage for prevention of birth problems to pediatric massage as a treatment option to all of birth defects listed here, it is easy to see why the use of touch is gaining popularity in the medical world. As with any new healthcare program, always check with your doctor before starting, and follow their guidance. They are usually able to refer you to a certified pediatric massage therapist in your area that is experienced in providing therapeutic care to children with birth defects.

Copyright (c) 2014 Liddle Kidz Foundation Infant and Children’s Pediatric Massage

Type 2 Diabetes – Using Exercise Capacity to Predict Diabetic Heart and Blood Vessel Disease

Exercise does place healthy but mild stress on a Type 2 diabetic’s body, so it is recommended people with diabetes take a little extra care when exercising. It is also important you discuss your activity plans with your doctor who may want to review your diabetes management before you start.

Exercise capacity is defined as the greatest amount of physical activity an individual can sustain. The simplest, least expensive way to measure exercise capacity is to note what a diabetic can do in ordinary life, such as the number of minutes he or she can walk briskly or the number of stairs the Type 2 diabetic can climb before having to stop and rest.

A more precise way to measure exercise capacity is with the use of a treadmill. Predicted capacity is calculated with the use of a formula that takes into account… body mass index, age, and gender. The amount of treadmill walking the Type 2 diabetic can sustain is then compared with the predicted value to get some idea of his or her fitness.

Heart attacks, blood vessel disease, and strokes are all serious complications of Type 2 diabetes. Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, USA, set out to determine whether exercise capacity could be used to predict the probability of heart and blood vessel disease.

Their study, reported in the Archives of Medicine in February 2014, included…

  • 404 participants with diabetes, and
  • 490 healthy controls,

whose exercise capacity was measured by way of a standardized treadmill test. It was found both diabetics and nondiabetics with measurements below 85 percent of predicted, were at a higher risk for…

  • heart attacks,
  • blocked arteries carrying blood to the heart muscle, and
  • strokes

than individuals with 85 per cent capacity or higher.

Forty-eight percent of diabetics whose measurement was below…

  • 85 percent had heart attacks within 53 months,

compared with…

  • 32 percent of those with an exercise capacity of at least 85 percent of predicted.

Those with poorer exercise capacity suffered blockages in arteries carrying blood to heart muscles in…

  • 54 percent of cases, versus
  • 32 percent of those with better measurements of their capacity.

Among diabetics with an exercise measurement below 85 percent…

  • 22 percent had strokes, compared with
  • 6 percent of those with better measurements

Exercise capacity is something that develops gradually with physical activity. Simple activities such as a walk around the block every day help to build up capacity much better than trying to do too much at one time. A sensible plan for steady, tolerable exercise can be worked out with the help of your doctor. If heart disease is suspected, a treadmill test and EKG might be in order. Once an exercise plan is developed, then following it faithfully could be a great way to help a person with Type diabetes prevent having a heart attack, blocked blood vessels, or stroke.

Do NFL Teams Draft Players Randomly?

I don’t usually need to put a spoiler alert at the top of this column, but be warned: If you plan to see the film “Draft Day” and don’t want the ending ruined for you, skip down to paragraph five.

For the rest of you, “Draft Day,” which stars Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner, struck me as a better movie than its box office numbers might indicate. In the film, a quarterback who is surefire top pick in the NFL draft does not end up getting taken first. Or second. Or third, for that matter. Once the team with the first pick decides to use it on somebody else, other teams start thinking they might have overlooked something negative about the golden boy with the golden arm. Or they began to think that maybe they just didn’t need a rookie quarterback as much as they needed help at another position.

Was there really anything wrong with the no-longer-number-one quarterback, or was it all a matter of unfair and mistaken impression? You’ll have to see the film; my spoilers don’t extend as far as telling you the final score.

Of course I am talking about fiction, film and football. For most of us, real life bears little resemblance to any of these things. But being passed over by prospective employers who, you are certain, ought to desire your services is very real and can happen to anyone.

Nearly five years of economic expansion has still left millions of Americans among the long-term unemployed. Not all of them show up in the official statistics. Some have managed to qualify for disability benefits, even though they are in pretty much the same condition as when they were working. Others have gone back to school, or they have just dropped out of the labor market. But they are out there, and the economists who are studying the causes and consequences of long-term unemployment seem to suffer from a striking lack of familiarity with the way employers go about choosing which workers to hire, which ones to keep and which to lay off.

A case in point: research cited in a recent article in The Washington Post. (1) The article and the research upon which it was based treat employment as almost a statistically random event, like the probability of snow falling on the National Mall on Christmas Day. Someone who is out of work for an extended period of time faces daunting odds of getting a new job, as economists have long understood. The newly examined data shows, however, that a worker who actually gets a new job after a long period of unemployment has a significant likelihood of losing that new job as well, typically not too long after getting it.

Bad luck? Bad skills induced by the extended period of unemployment? Bad behavior on the part of employers?

It could be any of those things. In some cases, inevitably, it will be one of them. But the article in the Post, and the economists themselves, seem to give short shrift to the idea that employment decisions are typically not random events.

In the government and some unionized private sector workplaces – a tiny share of the private sector these days – layoffs frequently occur in reverse order of seniority. This practice probably boosts the re-employment prospects of the group who are cut loose, since those workers will tend to skew younger, lower-paid and, unless the employer’s hiring standards have recently slipped, at least as well-qualified as the employer’s average employee.

In academia, home to a disproportionate share of economists conducting ill-informed research, layoffs generally occur first among part-time adjunct instructors, then among non-tenured faculty, and finally among tenured professors, who sometimes cannot be laid off unless entire departments are downgraded or eliminated. Again, not a terrible harbinger for those who are let go. Being part-time anyway, the adjuncts will often have other employment to fall back on, not to mention marketable skills. Non-tenured faculty at least have a chance of finding employment at another institution, with their age and lower salaries again working in their favor. It’s the tenured faculty who truly have reason to dread the loss of a job. In an era of shrinking enrollments and increasingly price- and debt-conscious students, faculty in many disciplines have good reason to worry that they’ll never get such a good gig again.

But the majority of workers are employed by enterprises seeking to make a profit. When such businesses need to lay off staff, they don’t cut randomly, and they don’t cut their best people. All else being equal, they try to let their least productive employees go. These workers are not necessarily the ones who generate the least output; they are the ones who generate the least output relative to what they cost in salary or to what it would cost to replace what they do by other means. They can have stellar histories and excellent work habits, but their skills and training may have become outmoded. Picture an experienced marketing executive who has only a thin understanding of social media. This type of executive is easy to cut. Once cut, that executive is also liable to have a tough time finding a similar job elsewhere.

Sometimes, of course, first-rate workers lose their jobs because of company downsizing, bankruptcies, mergers and other events that are completely outside their control. These people, who can communicate their skills to prospective employers – and who often have professional acquaintances who know how good they are – are the ones most likely to land a new job quickly. It isn’t the stars who tend to stay unemployed. It’s the bench-riders and journeymen.

Workers older than 40 also carry the handicap of a law that was intended to help them, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. It is illegal to discriminate against most workers ages 40 to 70 in hiring, promotion, firing and other decisions. That’s the law’s language and its theory. In practice, the ADEA makes it harder for protected workers to get hired in the first place, because nobody has to give a reason for not hiring someone. Once hired, however, a protected worker is a lawsuit waiting to happen if the new employer decides, for whatever reason, to let the worker go. Some employers will take the chance, but many others won’t.

Some workers keep getting fired for the same reason that some drivers keep getting into accidents and some quarterbacks keep getting intercepted: They just aren’t terribly good at what they do.

Yes, unemployment carries its own stigma among prospective employers, made worse when the unemployment is extended and the worker begins to be seen as damaged goods, fairly or not. On average, however, the long-term unemployed are not the cream of the crop. As a group, they probably are not even average. They are more likely to be inferior workers, a fact that does not escape the attention of people who, unlike most economists, actually make hiring decisions and have to live with them. They might lose a good worker who is unfairly passed by, a golden boy who simply wasn’t snatched up for one reason or another – but those are long odds for an employer to play in a process already filled with uncertainty.

Employers want the best workers they can get. That’s a fact, not a criticism. Treating unemployment as a random event that just happens to people mischaracterizes the condition. We should not be surprised when it leads us to misunderstand the consequences.

Source:

1) The Washington Post, “Long-term unemployed struggle to find – and keep – jobs”

Don’t Let Issues Fester – Keep It Small and Timely

Here’s a riddle for you – what do Pope Francis and Dr. Phil have in common?

Answer: They’ve both been quoted recently talking about the importance of couples in relationships addressing and resolving problematic issues at the time that they arise. Both men encouraged couples to deal quickly with the problems and frictions that inevitably arise in relationships.

Pope Francis advises, “… never let a day go by without restoring peace to your home.” (from his 2014 Valentine’s Day speech to engaged couples)

Dr. Phil (Phil McGraw, Ph.D., in an article for USA Weekend, 2/9/14) says that he and his wife agreed, even while dating, that they would, “… handle things as they came up before they got big… We’ve never let problems build up and then had a big blow-up.”

People have many different reasons for not addressing things as they occur. Sometimes it’s a (misguided) belief that the incident is too small to be worth talking about. While it can be useful “not to sweat the small stuff”, lots of “small stuff” tends to accumulate and become big stuff. You don’t have to be mortally wounded by something your partner did or said, or failed to do or say, for it to be worthy of discussion. If you talk about it while it’s small, it can be addressed, resolved, and disposed of with a minimum of fuss and emotion. If it sits and festers, or if it accumulates with multiple repetitions, it becomes big and painful. Now the emotion will be high and the relationship impact greater. What started out as a paper cut has now become a deep laceration requiring a lot more repair work to be healed.

Sometimes people hold off bringing up an issue because it feels TOO important. There may be a fear that you and your partner can’t come to a satisfactory resolution of something you consider really important. A partner can be so anxious that this could happen and that it could destabilize the relationship that it feels safer not to talk about it. The problem here of course is that problems of this importance won’t just go away and never return. Not talking about it is a short term way of avoiding a long term issue that is bound to show up again. Talking about it while it’s here and now can keep it from becoming a bigger issue later, when emotions may run much higher because of the delay. Trust your partner to join you in working to find a resolution that serves both of you and the relationship.

Sometimes people refrain from addressing things in the hope that the partner will mystically intuit the need for something to be talked about or fixed. This is a way to effectively double your disappointment. First was the disappointment of the problematic issue that occurred. And now you’ve added on the disappointment of your partner failing to be a mind-reader. It’s disrespectful of your partner and of your relationship to play with this kind of fantasy. Act like a responsible adult and be the one to initiate the necessary conversation. Wouldn’t you want to be treated with the same kind of respect?

Sometimes people don’t address things in a timely way because they’re afraid that they’ll look like complainers, fault-finders, or whiners. So they just keep sucking up the offense, anxiety, wound, or outrage. At the outset they may look easygoing and chill. As time goes by things tend to evolve in one of two ways – either the silent person eventually erupts in rage fueled by many accumulated events or that person eventually grows cold and hard toward the partner and the relationship. Neither outcome is a winner. Don’t believe that the only way to address an issue is negatively. The best and most effective way to address a problematic issue is to use “I statements” that express YOUR feeling or need without the accusatory attitude of a “you statement”. For example, a good “I statement” would be something like, “I get worried when I don’t hear from you and you’re much later than usual getting home.” This is in contrast to an accusatory “you statement” like, “You are so inconsiderate. Why can’t you call?!”

So, follow Dr. Phil’s and Pope Francis’s advice – bring peace to your home by dealing with things right away while they’re small and manageable. Let each day come to a peaceful close after open and meaningful communication that has shown respect, trust, and affection.

How To Write A High-Impact Strategic Plan In Three Simple Steps

This week I had an intense call with a friend/client of mine who is in the process of re-branding his nonprofit organization and is working through his ideas of what he feels is the next best step for his cause. To give him credit, branding and strategic planning are exhausting, mentally wearing experiences. I joke with my coach sometimes that it was a miracle I survived the torture he put me through when it came time to writing my own strategic plan. Not so fun.

Writing a high-impact strategic plan comes down to three core areas. You have to build out these 3 areas if you really want to build a meaningful, helpful, marketable organization.

1. Who. Who are you planning to help? There is a resistance in the nonprofit sector to creating an ideal client profile because we want to help everyone and don’t want to leave anyone out; however, that is not working smart. To gain any ground in growing your organization you need to identify a very specific demographic and psychographic that you exist to serve. Trying to reach anyone in a general, vanilla way will get you nowhere because your message is so watered down. People feel compelled to work with you when they trust you and trust comes from showing that you really understand your audience (a result of appealing to their specific wants and needs).

2. What. After you know WHO your organization is going to help, you figure out what problem they have that is currently not being served well. This is where competitor analysis and viability studies come in. Are there 25 other orgs solving the exact problem you have a passion to solve? Maybe you need to change your idea. What other problem does your market have that you could be a part of solving? Before you start program planning, take a few months to research whether your clients really like your idea and if they would work with you. If you’re the only one who thinks your idea is a good idea then you’ve got a problem.

3. How. You know who you’re helping, you’ve identified a unique problem you can realistically be a part of solving..now time to plan out your first idea of how you’re going to help them overcome said challenge. Your “how” is developed through talking to your WHO about their WHAT. When you get data from them about what they’ve tried already to solve their problem. what they’d like to try instead etc you craft all those ideas into your Plan A concept and run it to test it. I teach my client to expect that they may need to run 20 (or even 200) ideas before you find one that really sticks with your clients. There is no “final” destination, it’s constantly going to be a work in progress.

Once you have your who, what and how you craft your mission statement. I will use mine for an example:

To help passionate start-up nonprofit leaders (who) develop the foundational leadership and management skills they need to enjoy successful, sustainable and satisfying careers (what)through courses, community building and coaching (how).

I know this is a lot of info to throw into one coaching letter but hope it helps simplify your planning process. As always, feel free to post a note below with your comments or questions, I look forward to hearing from you!

Tips for Aerial Video Production

The Aerial Video shot is a new trend emerging for creating low-altitude imagery through the use of lightweight, remote-controlled helicopter drones. This technology allows for stunning aerial shots that can be used for various kinds of videos including real estate videos, construction videos, action-sports and films. There are many more uses for aerial filming, but these industries are early adopters of this new trend. Transparency Market Research finds that the aerial photography market is expected to reach $1993.3 million by 2019, with most of the income coming from the U.S. market. Most of the demand will arrive from the real estate, construction and the natural resource management sectors. Increased demand is also expected from urban planning and insurance fields.

There are many factors to consider when choosing to perform aerial filming. Here are some tips for successful aerial video production:

Weather

The most important factor is the weather. It is advisable to film on a day when the winds are less than 10 mph and usually the optimum conditions are in the morning. I’ve watched a lot of aerial videos and in almost all of them there are some shaky shots. I think it’s the nature of this type of videography since sometimes the drone can encounter a sudden gust of wind.

Type of Drone to Use

The next most important factor is the type of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) or drone to use. The least expensive ones are quadcopters which are small and lightweight but suffer from lack of stabilization controls like a gimbal. A gimbal is a support system that can control the camera on the roll and pitch axes. It also compensates for the movement of the drone the better gimbals can also pan and tilt the camera. A properly adjust gimbal can stabilize the camera well enough to yield “movie” quality shots. A hexacopter with a steady gimbal is the best choice for a flawless video shoot and. The extra propeller and weight of the hexacopter provide a much more stable experience than with a quadcopter.

Type of Camera to Use

You should also choose the lightest camera possible for your desired results. Most hexacopters can only fly 8-10 minutes with a DSLR due to the limitations of the batteries. If you fly a Go-Pro then expect 20-25 minutes. Your choice of camera depends on your final use, if you want high quality, beautiful shots then I suggest using a lightweight DSLR like the GH-3, or a Canon 5D series. Go-Pros can look great, but they just don’t have the image quality of a DSLR. It’s advisable to have several extra battery packs on hand, especially if you intend to be filming all day.

Have a Monitor System.

You have to see what the drone is filming in order to get the best shots, so a good wireless monitor system is a requirement. The terminology in the UAS world is FPV which stands for First Person View. Our aerial video system has two monitors, one for each remote control. The ideal filming situation is to have 2 drone operators. One just pilot’s the drone, and the other operator uses the second remote-control to adjust the camera tilt and pan.

Safety

Lastly, you must take safety into consideration. You can’t fly within 5 miles of airports and nor can you fly above a crowded place. Also, you have to stay under 400 feet and within a line of sight to the UAS. Currently, the legislation covering small drones is murky. The are legally classified as “Model Aircraft” and subject to the laws governing model or hobby aircraft. Recently a FAA court case was settled in favor of the defendant when a judge dismissed all charges against a drone pilot who had been aerial filming over a college campus last year. This led drone enthusiasts to celebrate but the FAA quickly appealed the decision. According to Inman news, the FAA is currently drafting a rule for small drones expected to be released in late 2014.

Have Fun!

Flying helicopter drones is a lot of fun and the cinematic beauty of the footage is very rewarding. I’m sure the government will come to their senses and realize this is a profitable and needed resource which needs to be regulated fairly. In the meantime keep getting amazing aerial footage and have fun practicing and experimenting with different maneuvers. Surely engineers will keep inventing smaller and more stable drones and lighter video cameras. I can’t wait to see what new advancements will arrive this year!