January 29, 2012

December 11, 2011
Lights at night. Downtown.

Lights at night. Downtown.

December 9, 2011
An Apropos Quote

So we are clear.  I did not write this quote or the reference. I stumbled upon this tonight and thought it might work well as a rhetorical analysis piece for my AP Language class.

“Don’t be deceived when they tell you things are better now. Even if there’s no poverty to be seen because the poverty’s been hidden. Even if you ever got more wages and could afford to buy more of these new and useless goods which industries foist on you and even if it seems to you that you never had so much, that is only the slogan of those who still have much more than you. Don’t be taken in when they paternally pat you on the shoulder and say that there’s no inequality worth speaking of and no more reason to fight because if you believe them they will be completely in charge in their marble homes and granite banks from which they rob the people of the world under the pretence of bringing them culture. Watch out, for as soon as it pleases them they’ll send you out to protect their gold in wars whose weapons, rapidly developed by servile scientists, will become more and more deadly until they can with a flick of the finger tear a million of you to pieces.”

Those words were written by Jean-Paul Marat in the latter part of the 18th century, but they are still so true that they could have been written today. Marat (1743-1793) was a physician, political scientist, journalist and one of the more radical leaders of the French Revolution.

Original post found here.

October 14, 2011
As of Late

Grading has consumed my mind and my time as of late. 

My M.S. is  exhausting me. I’m not a spring chicken any more. 

I’m wondering if the classroom is where I am supposed to be, but haven’t had the courage to pray about it. (It has to do with being “careful what you pray for.”)

So while having my cup of coffee this morning, I came across this. 

It fit this week.

October 7, 2011
Limited Time

Read this quote on Dr. Scott McLeod’s  blog called "Mind Dump". Definitely worth reflecting on.

"Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become."

Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford University commencement address

October 5, 2011

Henry David Thoreau spent two years living near Waldon pond (just two miles from town).  There he pondered life, grew vegetables, built a cabin, wrote and wrote and wrote. He had time for pondering. He had time for conversation. He had time to watch nature.

As a teacher, I’m finding less and less time to peal away from work to think and write.

But tonight finds me thinking not about teaching but about fatherhood.  What does it take to be a good father? How will I know if I’m any good?  There are no re-dos, I know, and that is the most frightening thought.

So I’m a pessimist.  I suppose.

October 4, 2011
99-Inspired by the Uninspired Teacher

I read this post this morning by Tom at “Stop Trying to Inspire Me” blog.  I’ve come to appreciate his candor, passion and his genuine desire to help and teach.

If you teach, this is an important post to read.  Consider the students in front of you. Consider their stories.

Our district is implementing Marzano’s teacher evaluation tool. One of it’s components asks administrators to evaluate the rapport between teacher and student. 

How will the evaluators do that in a 15 minute “walk through”? a 45 minute evaluation?

Does a teacher’s knowledge about students’ personal lives change the way a lesson runs or the way a discussion progresses or affect a change in which topics or pieces of literature to cover or writing assignments given? 

I’m thinking about change this season. This is a good place to begin.

6:29am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/Zm3_HxAGh9vn
Filed under: Marzano change students 
October 3, 2011
Goal So Far

I’d set a goal for myself to write for 30 minutes a day, every day, for a month.  I’ve already missed two days.

Either my life is boring or I just don’t have much to say.

Regardless, I’m thinking I do have things to say, but more importantly, I have things to do.  Like taking care of my 6 month old. Like taking care of my 7 year old.  Like spending sweet, quiet time with my wife having an intense conversation over sushi and wine while the 7 year old plays outside and the 6 month old naps. Like going for a walk on the beach with my family. Like grading the never-ending pile of papers. Like planning for the upcoming school week that’s guaranteed to feature unexpected interruptions and expected but nonsensical meetings. Like thinking about meeting with my principal to talk about my professional goals for the year. Like helping my wife get ready for her first week back at work in six months.  Like cleaning the house.  Like watching the Gators lose their star quarterback and the game this weekend.

Maybe I just have to find a different time to write.

I’ve been writing more this past week than I have in the past year. I’m pleased with that.

Time to make breakfast and get the girls ready for the day.


6:29am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/Zm3_HxAEF09g
Filed under: goals 
September 30, 2011
Staying in Touch

I started teaching in the fall of 1997 and with the exception of taking five months away from teaching (a drive around the country for 3 months, a night stock man job at an office supply store) it’s the only job I’ve had post-college. 

A few things I love about teaching: Nothing is ever the same. I’m constantly thinking on my feet. Students. Students. Students.

Which brings me to today.  Eric Steckle, a popular blues guitarist, will be guest speaking to my AVID students.  Eric was a student in my class a number of years ago and is now a student at the local college. 

Yesterday, Desiree, another former student, stopped by to bring me a picture of a popular actress she had saved from her work.  She knew I liked the actress and thought I’d appreciate the picture.  I do.  And I appreciated the gesture.

So today, I’m reminded of all the kind, gentle, thoughtful students I’ve taught. Of the ones that come back to say ‘hello’. Of the ones I haven’t spoken to in years but still think about.  Of the ones who return to give back to the young students in my room.  Of the ones who befriended me on Facebook and who now have careers and children of their own. 

They are never far from my mind, and I am thankful for their willingness to stay in touch with an old teacher.

6:35am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/Zm3_HxA6KqOM
Filed under: students teaching AVID 
September 29, 2011
Prize Box

Maybe it was this way when I went to school.  I don’t remember. But every ‘school’ my daughter has gone to/attends (day care, elementary school, Sunday school) uses the trick of the “prize box.”

One would be hard pressed these days to find a school that doesn’t utilize a Reward and Punishment system. 

Imagine my surprise last night when I pick up my daughter from Sunday school, a place to learn about Jesus and being kind…wait a minute…is he the ultimate prize box?…let’s not go there right now… and she tells me she “can’t wait until next week since she’ll have 5 stickers for bringing her folder each week and she’ll be able to go to the prize box and it’s a much better prize box than the one at her [regular] school because it has better prizes.”

A visit to her day care/elementary school prize boxes was/is predicated on her behavior that particular week.  Good behavior all week=visit to a box filled with worthless, trivial plastic crap on Friday.  One day of bad behavior (step out of line…, step on a crack…, etc.) and, in the vein of the Soup Nazi, “No prize box for you!” 

What is school’s fascination with the prize box?  By the time the kids get to me as 9th graders, they are so conditioned to expect a prize box that some are startled to find there is no such thing in high school…at lest not a ‘prize box’ filled with worthless, trivial plastic crap.

Instead, in high school, we reward them with permission to go to formal dances or laptops or gift cards if they’ve been to all classes on-time for a month. Students who drive can get discounted parking passes for having good (C average) grades.  And, of course, we give grades. Don’t let’s go there right now.  

Does it ever end?

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