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Posted by on in General

Whether you are a first-year teacher or one who has been in the profession a while, a new school year is always a promise of a new beginning.  You are given a chance to reinvent yourself and the things you do for your students.  You are given the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many. 

As a veteran now embarking on year thirty-six, I have learned a thing or two about being successful and being happy in the profession.  I have certainly realized that there will be many days that are difficult - so overbearing that you just don’t know how you can ever return the next morning.  But I have also learned that these moments are there to teach us about ourselves, our craft, and our students. 

Griping in the teachers’ lounge can be cathartic, but carrying the anger, despair and frustration beyond its doors will surely be detrimental to your well-being and that of your students as well. 

A few years ago, I decided that I was going to start a “Fresh Start Journal.”  I vowed that, no matter how difficult my day happened to be, I would write about something from each day that made me smile or laugh or stop and ponder about the life of one of my kids.  Some days it was very difficult – but not impossible - to find that ray of sunshine.  Other days, I had several stories to record.  The point is – for the past five years – I’ve never gone a day without finding a moment that made me grateful for being a teacher. 

After a while, I found myself actively looking for those moments – listening for the funny things kids said, watching for the kind or goofy things kids did.  I didn’t have to think so hard at night when I would turn to my journal because I was purposefully watching for “moments” during my actual time interacting with the kids.  The net result was that I was now looking for the good in my students more than for their faults. 

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

Since January 23, 2017 up until now, I have been busier than I ever have before. New job beginning on January 23, 2017 (interim elementary principal), my wife and I celebrating the birth of our third child on January 24, 2017, back to my old job on March 13, 2017 (6th grade teacher), back to my old-new job on June 2, 2017 (being an interim elementary principal), becoming a Google for Education Certified Trainer in July 2017, starting my new-new job on January 22, 2018 (instructional technology coach), and becoming an Instant Pot believer after many failed attempts in February 2018. 

Along the way I did try to keep up on my blogging, as I had several different drafts going, but I never made time to finish a lot of them. So below are my unfinished drafts, starting with the oldest to the most recent, that I feel I just need to "post" so I can start fresh and keep moving forward. At the end of each, I have added what I was trying to get across in the post. 

"You're not the teacher you were before."

"You are not the same teacher you were before." How would you feel if you were told that? Would you feel upset, or would feel proud? Would you consider it disrepctful or a compliment?

A few weeks ago, my principal told me that statement, and that statement has been ringing in my head ever since. The more I have thought about that statement, the more and more a consider it one of the highest compliments a teacher can receive. Why? Because that means one is a teacher that is actively seeking out change to improve one's practice and learning experience for one's students. It means one is not opening up last year's lesson planner, erasing, and changing the dates. If a teacher is not willing to change to from year to year, then how can a teacher expect their students to be engaged in their learning if there is little thought to lesson design with the students' personalities in mind?

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Posted by on in General

red thread

Doris and Carl Malone sat at their usual table in The Forgotten Crumb enjoying the performances of slightly inebriated patrons searching for their fifteen minutes of fame at the karaoke microphone. The couple had met here nearly twenty-eight years before, fallen in love, and married on the very stage that was now a platform for a middle-aged woman trying her best to sound like Barbra Streisand. She was followed by a young construction worker channeling his inner Barry Manilow and then by an elderly couple singing “I Got You Babe,” expertly and comedically nailing the mannerisms of Sonny and Cher.

Doris relaxed, enjoying the music, but enjoying her time with the love of her life more so. When Carl impulsively rose and moved toward the stage though, she gasped and blushed. This was something she would never consider doing in public despite the fact that she was in front of a demanding crowd of third graders every Monday through Friday. Carl, on the other hand, had no inhibitions, and moved confidently toward the microphone.

With the first few notes of “Song Sung Blue,” Doris felt happy tears rolling down her cheeks. Our song, she mused. Better even than Neil Diamond himself.

“Song sung blue, weeping like a willow,
Song sung blue, sleeping on my pillow...”

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Last modified on

Posted by on in Education Leadership

Here’s a recent conversation between my wife and me:

Danielle: “Don, it’s freezing outside, wear a coat.’ 

Me:   It’s not that cold. 

Danielle: It's windy? Do you know how strong the wind is? Don, the wind is blowing 50 miles an hour.

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Posted by on in General

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He woke up crazy-early. 5 am to be exact. That in my opinion is too early for a little kid to be awake. And it was apparent by the way he behaved. Or didn’t, to be more exact. I brought a blanket and a pillow downstairs, hoping he would lie down and maybe–just maybe–fall asleep. Or at the very least, rest.

That wasn’t going to happen. At least not yet. He fussed. He complained. He acted as any kid would that was awake an hour and half earlier than normal.

But then something happened. His sister came down. That was what who he needed. You can see the pillow at his feet and the blanket behind his back. They were warm and comfortable. They couldn’t provide the warmth and comfort that he needed. But his sister could.

And she did.

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