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My Naptime Mistake

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What was I thinking?

Obviously I wasn’t when I allowed my son to choose our pre-nap reading material.

A toy catalog? Seriously? What parent that wants their child to nap makes this type of error in judgement? My son’s mind was now hyper-stimulated!

We did eventually segue to Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, but by then I think it was too late. He next had to find his Spiderman toys and engage in some pretend play for a little while. AIl the while I laid as motionless and as silently as I could, hoping that his brain would eventually quiet itself. And it did. He is three and he was tired.

But then it hit me!

Is this what we are doing to our students every day? They have the catalogs. They know what is out there. So at home, in between classes, or maybe even during class, our students are thinking about their catalogs. They are circling what they want and they are making their wish lists. Their brains are activated and they are coming to us primed and ready to go.

And then what we do?

We put them to sleep. Figuratively and sometimes literally. Just like I did with my son earlier today. I showed him everything that was possible and then I took it away. Expecting him to be able to slow his brain down. Just like that. Impossible for a three-year old and impossible for our students.

It is too late. The cat is out of the bag. Our students know what is out there and they know how to use it. Oftentimes better than us. They have already seen the catalogs.

So when we show up with the same lesson plan as last year’s teacher, they start to yawn.

And when we pass out the practice worksheets that require filling in a blank, they begin to drift.

Finally, by the time they have to show us what they have learned it’s too late. They saw us passing out the same exact thing to everybody and they fell fast asleep.

Because I am writing this does that mean that I have not been guilty of all of the above? Absolutely not! In fact, I am certain that I am still guilty of not pushing myself enough. I need to spend more time figuring out how to make school work better for the kids that I serve and less time thinking of ways to make it work better for me. This point was made eloquently and passionately by Eric Sheninger in his TEDx BurnsvilleED talk below titled Schools That Work For Kids. If you have not already watched it I suggest that you do as soon as possible.

And a word of advice to parents of toddlers.

If you need some good pre-nap reading material I highly recommend Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

Save the toy catalog for when they wake up. You’ll be glad you did!


The sooner we start sharing our imperfections with the people we serve and the people we love, the sooner they will stop expecting to be perfect.


Click the link below to hear more mistakes made by educators you know and love.






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Jon is currently the assistant principal in Dorchester County, Maryland. This is his seventh year serving as an assistant principal at the elementary level. Prior to becoming an administrator he served as a Math Coach and an elementary school teacher. During his ten years as a classroom teacher he taught first, second, fourth and fifth grades. During his sixth year teaching he earned Nationally Board Certification, which he held for ten years. For seven years he ran a Young Gentleman's Club that was aimed at helping young men reach their full potential.  

Jon received a B.A. from Furman University while majoring in Philosophy. He later went on to earn his B.S from Salisbury University while majoring in Elementary Education. Jon was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to student teach in New Zealand. He eventually received his M.A. degree from Salisbury University in Public School Administration.

Jon lives in Cambridge, Maryland with his amazing wife and two awesome children.

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Guest Saturday, 23 February 2019