Monthly Archives: January 2014

Pyramids of Awesome

This one is for where the venn diagram of Basketball and the TV Show Parks and Recreation overlap.

Pyramid of Success

I will admit, as a non-sports person, but a fan of Parks and Rec, I did not know that the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness was a direct Parody of Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.

Supporting the Youngsters

I love how he says, “Youngsters.”  How he wants the best for the youngsters.

“No written word nor spoken plea can teach young minds what they should be, not all the books on all the shelves but what the teachers are themselves.” -Elbert Hubbard

Married Around the World

I like this idea.  A couple got married in 2011, and then traveled the world to do it all over again everywhere they went.  Most of them in South America.

From the 22 Words Blog.

The Learner-Teacher Relationship

A continuation of True, But Useless.

Bobby’s story is not unique.  The fact that he got along with one teacher better than the others happens all the time.  We all have our favorites, our least favorites, and those we can hardly remember their names.

As my old mentor used to tell me, “10% of the kids I had loved me as teacher.  10% hated me.  The other 80% . . . I was just another teacher.”  In a profession that isolates its practitioners, where we have little time to interact or collaborate, it is hard to hold onto this statement, be confident in our abilities, and also open to support from others.  I am most impressed with the teachers who accepted the counselor’s support.  Who understood that his objective was not meant to diminish them in favor of the one teacher that Bobby did like, but to share the idiosyncrasy of a particular kid, and how it matched the practices of a specific teacher.

At this point, to all the non-teachers out there, I want you to think about your favorite teacher or teachers.  I would encourage you to think about how you view the other kids in that class.  You loved that teacher and because you did, you also make that assumption for everyone else in the class.  The same can be true of the ones you loathed.  You hated that teacher, your friends may have hated that teacher, so you assume that everyone did.  I challenge you to give that assumption a second look.  Is it possible that another student, with different priorities, dreams, and interests may have liked your most loathed teacher or who may have loathed your most beloved teacher?

A Teacher Almost as Nerdy as Me

I found him.  He’s out there.  A teacher almost as nerdy as me.  I wonder if there are more?  Actually, I know there are.

True, But Useless

A rather cold phrase to describe an important part of working with at-risk kids. If I were to sit down with any kids who has checked out of school, who is starting down the path to dropping out, I will find out many things that will wrench my heart apart. I will learn about poverty, neglectful parents, indifferent teachers, possibly some drugs and physical abuse. Not all at-risk kids have such stories to tell, some just find a mismatch between what they want in life and what school has to offer. Many, however, will tell me these stories, and most, for me at least, are true, but useless (TBU).

I’m going to summarize a story told in Switch, a book by Dan and Chip Heath. They tell the story of “Bobby,” a troubled teen who terrorizes his teachers and threatening to other students. When Bobby went to a counselor, he told about a life in and out of different foster homes and a strained relationship with his father. Bobby was one of maybe 50 or more kids the counselor was working with on a weekly basis. As the Heath Brothers put it, “He [the counselor] didn’t dig into Bobby’s trouble childhood, and he didn’t try to excavate the sources of his anger and willfulness. For [the counselor], all that information would have been TBU.”

The counselor instead focuses on the parts of the day that Bobby liked, the teacher he got along with, and found specific things that that teacher did which worked for Bobby. He shared that with the rest of the teaching team. Together, the teachers implemented what worked, and all saw improvement. Once again, as the Heath Brothers make certain to tell us, “Bobby is not a model student. But he’s a lot better.”

The purpose of this story is not to say how great that one teacher was who connected with Bobby, but how the team used that “Bright Spot” in Bobby’s life and tried to replicate it throughout the day.

St. Nick Fan Club

My wife has made me love Christmas.  I wasn’t always the biggest fan, but recently, I’ve joined the St. Nick fan club.  She convinced me for three reasons, and all of them selfish.  She gave me great presents this year.  She was able to tie 2 of my favorite things together with her thoughtfulness.

First, she got me a camp cot.  I like camping, but I never sleep well.  Air mattresses always hurt my back and I always wake up laying on the ground.  The mattress ravaged by cold nights and small leaks.  The cot is long enough for my 6’3″ frame.  It can also hold up to 600 lbs.  I think it has me covered.

Second, she got me a chef coat.  For the past 6 months I have been cooking up a storm.  I love food.  My increasing girth is evidence of that fact.

Finally, a cook book for campers.  Written by a couple who traveled around the world on their bicycles.  The aforementioned girth is probably going to preclude me from circumnavigating the globe on a bike, but the cooking tips, the stories, will inspire our next road trip.

Thanks Em.



I love baking bread.  To date I have baked the following breads.

White Sandwich Bread
Buttermilk Sandwich Bread
Cinnamon Roll Bread
Rustic Wheat Bread
French Baguette

I love baking bread.  Today we are going to eat my homemade French Onion Soup with my homemade French Baguette for lunch.  Tomorrow, its French Toast, made with my Cinnamon Bread, and Bacon.  All I need to learn now is how to raise chickens and pigs for the eggs and  bacon, how to grow wheat for the bread, etc, etc.  Never mind.  I don’t want to be a farmer.


A Bit On Google

I use Google Everything.  I have an Android phone.  I have Gmail.  I use Google Drive to store all my documents.  I browse using Google.  I can’t remember the last day in which Google and I didn’t communicate in some way.

Just a little something about Google.

Spring I Shall Never See

I’ve got a bit of a morbid one here.  I’ve been watching the Hobbit recently (both 1 and 2) and was reminded of a poem that Tolkien put in the Lord of the Rings, “I Sit Beside the Fire and Think.”  This poem is all about looking towards the future and of the next generation,

I sit beside the fire and think
of people long ago,
and people who will see a world
that I shall never know.

As a teacher, I think about that world.  I see my former students, my nieces and nephews,  as they are graduating from high school, going on to college, work, and independent lives.  They are beginning to take a hand in creating that world.  I find it terrifying, exciting, and fascinating.

I always told my students that the best part of being a teacher was watching them as they decide to stop being children, and start become adults.  It doesn’t all happen at once, and, as we all do, they tend to relapse back to childhood every now and then.  But, when you teach high school freshman you get not only that one year they are in your classroom, but the three years that follow until that day they walk across the stage.

That world that they are creating, the choices I would never make, some that I would, but all leading to

when winter comes without a spring
that I shall ever see. 

Just a side note, I’m 34, I know my parents, my former teachers, feel the same way about me.