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Voices from the BAM Radio Community sharing their thoughts, insights and teaching strategies.

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Steven Weber’s Twitter handle is @curriculumblog and I get it. He blogs well and often about various aspects of curriculum and instruction. Steven is one of those rare bloggers that includes footnotes in his pieces. In other words, he knows his stuff and he backs it up with actual research. And if you’ve ever read one of his pieces you know exactly what I mean.

When see I Steven, I see a father, a husband and a devoted servant-leader who, as John Maxwell preaches, constantly adds value to others. The title of this piece were words spoken by Steven when he was discussing his mistake on My Bad. And while I don’t doubt for a moment that it happened, I do doubt that it will ever happen again. You see, this was a mistake that Steven made when he was young and in his first years of teaching. We’ve all been there. We’ve all been guilty. But I will return to his mistake in a bit. For now, I would like to discuss Steven Weber as I know him today. And the best way to do this is tell you a brief story.

As I am writing this chapter I am presently an assistant principal and have been for over seven years. Several times in recent years I have unsuccessfully applied for principal positions. Most recently, I applied for a principal position and was given an interview. While I felt relatively comfortable about my interviewing skills, I knew that I could always improve. This is where Steven enters the picture.

Steven is in a Voxer group (IBA) of which I am fortunate to be a member. I love Voxer because you get to learn from and share with others in a way that you can’t quite do in 140 characters or on a Facebook post. The beauty of this group, to which I am forever indebted, is that they are a constant source of support and encouragement. As you can imagine, once they heard that I would be interviewing for a principal position they became excited and besides my wife, were my number one cheerleaders.

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witness stand

The Orlando-Vincente fight during lunch recess began with loud name-calling and pushing and shoving. It quickly escalated to shouting profanities and throwing fists. The whole thing lasted only a few minutes but left both boys sniffling and bleeding.

Then both second-graders were brought to my office for their trial and sentencing.

“Thank you, Ana,” I said in greeting the playground aide. “Another fun day, huh?”

“Nothing I can’t handle,” she replied with a grin. “But they’re all yours now. I need to get back out there. The third graders are coming.”

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What do you see when you look at the photo above?

I think after reading this piece I will know your answer. At least that is my hope.

In the past week both my daughter and my son have gotten very angry with me. My son is five and my daughter is eleven and so their anger take different forms.

Sometimes my son will whine and cry if he doesn’t get what he wants. We usually ignore him so that he realizes that that is not how life works. Oftentimes this makes it worse and the result can often be quite embarrassing. Especially if we are out in public.

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Educators everywhere immerse themselves into the work of impacting young lives because they love kids! Teaching is no ordinary job, and it takes an extraordinary teacher to overcome the many obstacles that children face. It takes an exceptional school leader to create a culture where children and adults have high expectations and can learn in a positive, safe, environment. I believe, like many others, that teaching and working with kids is a calling. We are called to serve the youngest population, to provide an education where young people are taught to rise above mediocrity and to think for themselves, to collaboratively problem solve and make the world better. We are called upon to teach students how to be leaders, readers, learners for a lifetime and changers of the status quo. The challenge is great, and the responsibility is immense, but educators everywhere accept the challenge and in the words of Marva Collins, “Make the poor student good and the good student great with no excuses in between.” Teaching is not for the faint of heart. It requires hard work, dedication, and unceasingly love.     

It is not uncommon for school administrators and teachers to work long hours, weekends, and holidays preparing their lessons and learning how to improve their practice. It’s not uncommon for teachers to have sleepless nights worrying about students, to purchase granola bars so kids can have something on their stomach, or to spend extra hours away from their own families to attend extracurricular activities. It’s not uncommon because those who enter the teaching field know that “the pay” is knowing they can have a positive impact. Administrators and teachers know the negative public perception of schools, and yet they dig in and serve their students and communities day in and day out. They know that their talents are gifts to be shared with their students. Educators not only believe but know that they can make a difference!     

Great educators refuse to let students fail! They teach children that difficult doesn’t mean impossible. Mistakes are opportunities to learn and stepping stones to success. Children learn about having a growth mindset and how to overcome challenges. Teachers give students hope and a belief in themselves. Michelangelo said, “Inside is an angel trying to get out” about a piece of marble. Teachers know that every child has something wonderful and special inside. They know that every child can learn. And they know that they cannot meet every child’s needs alone. The challenge is too great! Great educators know that it takes collaboration and a commitment to action that will ensure that every child succeeds. Their focus is the learning of each student. They roll up their sleeves and delve into the work!     

In those rare moments of disappointment and despair, great educators are inspired to further the work. They know that just one more time, one more attempt might make a connection and difference for a child. First, it’s the work and then the inspiration. Thomas Edison did not give up on his vision. He learned hundreds of ways not to make a lightbulb. It was only after hours of focused work that his team was inspired and found a way. And the “miracle” was light.   

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Ironically if you look up my bad in the dictionary there’s a picture of me waving.


Todd Whitaker

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