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Posted by on in Education Policy

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These words were bellowed to the crowd by Russell Crowe’s character in Gladiator after he graphically destroyed every opponent that was put before him in the arena. His words, aimed at the audience, were meant to show his disgust at what was sacrificed at the expense of their entertainment.

I can’t help but think that if I close my eyes, and imagine a voice with a little less bass, that these same words could be spoken by many educators across the country. You see, I feel like many educators feel as if they are jumping through hoops simply to entertain those that hold the purse strings and make the rules. This is the time of year when many educators are preparing their students for a test, administering a test, or simply trying to get their students back into a routine since testing has taken up so much of their valuable time.

Like Russell Crowe’s character in Gladiator, educators do not really have a choice. They must put on a show. Preparing their students for states tests is not an option for them. While their lives don’t depend on the results, their jobs often do. And unfortunately, so does their self-esteem.

This is not to imply that teachers aren’t successfully preparing their students for the tests that they must take each year. Because they are. In fact, many teachers have become quite skilled at this art. But at what cost? Does a high test score mean that a student is ready and prepared for the world they are about to encounter? Or is a high test score often nothing more than just a number? I submit that oftentimes it is the latter. I truly believe that life’s most important tests do not require a pencil.

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Posted by on in General

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I was standing right there!

Jordan had to have known that I was going to see him. That I was going to bust him. Maybe he didn't care. Maybe he had already made up his mind. Maybe there was more to the story.

Like an Avenger or Marvel superhero, he jumped off the bus and roundhouse punched another kid all one motion. But I was right there. And he wasn't getting away with such random violence while I was in charge. Not on my watch!

I grabbed him by the wrist, probably tighter than I should have, and marched him and his victim into my office. Once we were in my office, with the door shut, I laid into him. I mean I let him have it. 

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Posted by on in General

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From that moment on I have done everything in my power to stay close. It is my responsibility to keep her safe and protect her from the world for she is not yet prepared. But she is getting older each day. And it scares me.

What I once could hold with one hand,  I can now barely carry down the stairs. She is growing up and it is beautiful to have a front row seat to such an amazing metamorphosis. I am well aware of the fact that she won’t be mine forever. That I must begin to pull back. Give her space that will soon be hers to create. But it is difficult.

Two years ago we took a family vacation to Disney World. And that is when I, without planning it, allowed for a bit of space to be created. My son and I were leaving the pool in a hurry because he had to use the restroom. I knew she wasn’t far behind us. But she wasn’t with us. Yet, I wasn’t worried. I knew she was capable of gathering her things and meeting us back in the room.

This was space I had never given before. Allowing my daughter to be out of my sight. Away from home. Amongst strangers. But it felt right.

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Posted by on in General

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A knock on my door (Yes, my door is closed — this is the real world — not the fairytale world that is often portrayed in social media). I get up, open the door and am greeted by a teacher who apologizes for being sick. She asks if I have someone that can cover her class for the remainder of the day. Clearly, she is sick. I can hear it in her voice and I can see it in her eyes. I think to myself, I wouldn't have lasted half as long as she did. Then again during my 20 years in education and 47 years on Earth, I have learned that women are much tougher than men.

I have witnessed this scenario, or one very similar to it, many times. 

Too many times!

What is my point?

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Posted by on in General

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My wife and kids leave for school about an hour before I do. Which means I have a good chunk of time to spend how I choose. Sometimes I use it well and sometimes I waste it. Don't get me wrong, by wasting it I don't mean that I am lying on the couch throwing down bacon while watching SportsCenter. And by using it well I don't mean that I am editing the final draft of my magnum opus. Probably somewhere in between both scenarios lies the truth.

But one day last week I was feeling anxious. Jittery even. And it wasn't the coffee. It was nothing in particular. For those of you that have anxiety, like I do, you can probably relate. Those of you that don't are probably wondering WTH I am talking about. I mean why was I feeling anxious if I had nothing to be anxious about?

That's precisely the point.

Anxiety is often out of my control.

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