Sunday, October 14, 2018

If you are not continuously learning your passions or practicing them... shame on you.

As an educator we strive to create students that fall in love with learning and pushing themselves.  We strive to try and find what motivates them.  This is certainly easier said than done in a classroom of 25-30 students. 

One thing you can do is continuously strive to push your own interests.  Take care of you, and you will understand your students and their needs more.  I have 2 interests.  Music, in particular DJing and exercising.  I love both equally.  Maybe music a little more, but a good run or lifting session does make me feel better than sitting at turntables for an hour. 

One is creation and one is stress relief.  I would push you to find at least 2 hobbies that satisfy these needs.  Reading, knitting, drawing, walking, adult team sports, etc.  There are many options. 

Just find yours.  It keeps me going and I promise it will keep you going too. 

My writing is just here to document and keep my other 2 hobbies honest.

My number 1 passion is children and their growth, so I have that covered.  Thank goodness my 9-5, satisfies my number #1 need.  I can only imagine if I worked at a bank and I had to have 10-12 hobbies to keep me happy.....

I also know that if my number #1 passion of school pushes more than 50% for too long, I need to push back and be okay with it.  It is always in flux, there are weeks that school hits 75% and that is okay, it just can't be a forever thing. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Today was Today

I am referring to all interactions here as "they" and "them" just to keep it confidential.  This is not about a kid, but our assumed role as educator.  Not what you learn in college, but what you learn in the work. It is inevitable to all of us, and I felt this today more than usual.

It was 8:50, a parent came in.  No big deal, they always come in at this time. They walk back after my dedicated secretary gives me a heads up.  Never had a secretary before CD, but I appreciate her for this, more than she understands. 

They come in as parents to speak to me about an issue or in this case to "make me aware" of a situation.  I love my community and my school.  I love how they want to share with me the inner most "issues" they are having.  I am not going to share that or anything more, but this is more about what all of us as educators need to feel at this moment. 

We are not all counselors, we are not psychiatrists, we are not psychologists, therapists, or doctors!!!

And this is exactly the point.....

******pause*******

We are educators, because our mission is to educate their most prized possession, we are open to everything.  Think about it, no parent sends their most prize possession to a place for extended periods without a great amount of trust and faith. 

With that faith and trust comes an unwritten contract that you are allowed to learn things about their family and their children that their grandparents, mom mom's, sometimes biological parents, uncles, and neighbors don't know. 

This is a great responsibility, but one you sign up for the day you sign the contract to educate.  This is not the reality colleges teach, the reality that reaches, the reason you stay in from season to season. 

I would argue the story I heard today, although hurt, I felt for them, made me want to love my job more than ever.  I don't want hardship, I want success, but I also want to be the rock, the reason they have faith, the reason they reach, the reason they strive to bring them to us, our school, our community, our number 1 on many levels, a beacon of caring, a place of safety, and place for them to learn.  We have more coming to us than others for a reason. I am proud of that with my staff.  It is hard at times, but worth it to see the successes! #cddolphins

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Just an Idea we are going to call "Learning Days"

Over the summer I try to meet with staff a few times in a relaxed workshop setting to generate ideas, discuss visions, and try to create some focuses for the upcoming year.  Over the past 3 years we have done a lot of work with Instructional Rounds (Season 3 linked there for context).  I think we were all feeling like we need to modify and tweak what we were doing.  It was good work, very proud of what we did, and a great learning experience.  I think the sentiment was that we wanted to keep the idea of observing each other, learning together, and growing as a group.

Could we just modify how we did this to give it a new life?


So we began with these question: "How do we best learn?" and "How can we best learn from each other?" or something to that affect, I have since lost the poster that displayed our original questions.  We used a protocol and shared ideas on both these ideas.  Conversation was good, everyone had a voice thanks to our protocol and we paused......

Then we each wrote down some ideas on what this might look like?  We started throwing out ideas based on the following constraints:

  • Because of time and money, I could only give coverage to teachers for 3 half days.
  • There needed to be an "observation" component.
  • There needed to be a debriefing component.
  • We needed to learn from each other.  To respectfully borrow from the clothing line, FUBU mentality.
That was about it, that I can currently remember.  The rest was an open piece of paper or poster to generate ideas.  I heard more than once, "what is your vision Doug, what are you looking for?" More than once I repeated something like, "I don't know, it is a blank piece of paper."  

Truth be told, my staff know me pretty well, and sometimes when I say, "I have no idea," I actually have an idea, I just want input.  Honestly in this scenario, I had no idea, it was a little scary to be honest.  We needed to satisfy the 4 bullets above, but that was about it.

So we created 3 posters of notes and a rough plan.  If at the time, I thought I was going to write this, I would have taken pictures of our posters.  I have to remember to do this in the future.  As a group we have generated some pretty awesome ideas and I need to do a better job documenting them.  I have some pretty talented and creative people!



Pre-Work (graph above shows an even break down of what people want to share. interesting)
  • Fill out “Teacher Best” survey - Doug's job Here is the Form I used.
  • Organize groups - Doug and Michelle's job (Math and literacy coach) - Emphasis on combining similar ideas.
  • Fill out "Teacher Interest" survey - Doug's job - Not created as of this blog post. It will be generated after all the "Teacher Best" survey's are done. This will create the menu to organize people into observation groups.
  • Organize groups - Doug and Michelle's job - Once both survey's are done, the participants (observers) will be matched up with a "Teacher Best" teacher to observe their lesson. Groups of 3-4 teachers. We have approximately 25 teachers total. Substitutes will be utilized for coverages.

Real Work

Day 1 Plan - Observation Day 
  • Observe lesson with concentration on what questions you would ask the teacher being observed. (30 - 45) minute lesson observation. We are only writing questions we need answered. This is not to give the teacher being observed feedback, but to "learn" from what they did, choices they made, etc. 
  • The “observed teacher” joins the group for the debrief (not feedback) to answer questions and provide more context for later planning. (45 min - 1 hour)
  • The “observed teacher” goes back to their classroom.
  • The rest of the group begins planning a lesson/activity based on what they observed. (rest of the day)
  • Role Play/Practice with the group (rest of the day)
Pause - Take a deep breath



Each participant in the observing cohort does this on their own. Recording will be assisted by Doug or Michelle for set-up.

  • After the observation and planning on day 1, the group of teachers record a lesson teaching based on what they observed and were modeled. This recording holds you accountable for trying what you wanted to try after seeing a model lesson.  
    • This should be accomplished within 3 weeks of day 1. As a group we decided there needed to be a quick "jump in" and turn around. We know if you don't practice what you observe or learn quickly, it goes away faster. 
    • The participant or observing group from day 1 selects 5-7 minutes of the video they want to share with their cohort and then get feedback.

Final Meeting Day

  • Day 2 - half a day - Hopefully 4th week, or as soon as we can. The teacher guides us through their video and gets non-inferential feedback.



After all of this we hope to accomplish a few things:(This is the most important part!)
  • Gaining a new perspective on something. A new way to teach, manage, or guide a lesson.
  • Push the idea that we are all continuous learners and we can not stop practicing the skill of learning.
  • Push community by opening up our classrooms and trusting that we will observe and provide feedback to each other that is beneficial in a way that keeps inferences out.
  • Model to students that teachers are learners too.
  • Continue to promote an atmosphere of collaboration and sharing.
  • Maybe have a little fun, we often joke around a bit when we are working together.
I think if I added more to that list above I would be stretching. I also think if we can accomplish all of those things in a day and a half, we would have accomplished a whole heck of a lot!

Disclaimer - I really look forward to these days as they are a true break from "principal things" and allow me to be a learner right along with other educators.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Yeah... Whatever

Been a while, no post to think
Not because the thoughts didn't sink
No apprehension, season, allergies, no reason
Hip Hop grabbed a minute, not apprehension
Comprehension, Got so far off the rational mark
The blog, a start
Always for me, but here it is my cognition
Inducing a notion, a motion, an emotion
I rhyme way too much with I.O.N

Pharoahe Monch may be the...
Say my name... Say my name...
That was the game... Oh No
The point it is only the grind
The everyday, the greatest times
Too many forget the reason
Change in season, treason
Induction meaning, without definition
Not understanding, vox me in the morning

I realize 40 is the journey
This is the time, experience date
History delivered
Finally, always felt a kid
A wait till your time ...ager
Maybe what I do, what I did
Reading now, a definite page tuner

This one for me, need to do
For me equals for them
If I am worthy, repeat no jury
Forever up at night, mind fury
2:23 am last, maybe 3:00 tonight

Want to amp it up
Not rest it down nope
Privilege is my rope
Use it to believe it
Rest is not acceptable
Strive for regular
Never gone achieve legitimate
For that I leave
Hoping to exit legit







Monday, August 27, 2018

Don't forget the one that does not connect right away - My Daughter's story

So today was the first day of school for my students and for my kids.  My middle child, my daughter sometimes has a difficult time in situations.  She is my creative, my attitude, my go the other way child.  She is the generally the best behaved and I think in most situations my introvert.

She came home today and reported that she sat by herself at lunch.  She did not know anyone.  She is in 4th grade.  She seemed fine with it (her attitude), by I know she wasn't.  She has always had friends in her class to start the year, but not this year.

She did not want myself or her mother to intervene (her attitude).  So I am putting my faith in her teachers that I know are wonderful, to recognize and do the subtle things that teachers do to make sure she starts to make connections and friends naturally.

So this is my call to all teachers.  Recognize those kids, the one's that seem to walk alone at recess, sit alone at lunch, and maybe can't find a friend at group work time.  Intentionally make opportunities for them, be strategic, not overt in helping them make connections.  Allow them to share their interests in non-embarrassing ways.  Allow them to find others with similar interests naturally.  Do all those wonderful teacher things.  I know my daughter counts on it and so do thousands if not millions of other kids.

Even more than the kids, the parents of those kids that start every year with this anxiety are counting on you.  It is hard being a parent and trusting all this with a total stranger, but someone you know has your child's best interest at heart.  It is a trust thing, and acceptance thing, but certainly not an easy thing.  It's got me stressed out, although I know it will all work out.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Doubling Down



To double down is not what you think
It is the contest within, the acceptance of your worth
Work on what you struggle, but live on what you don't
Accept that you are only mighty in time spent
It is okay to capitalize on your good
It is acceptable to achieve based on your mood
If that is your double down, your inner zen
This is not about every level being a ten
Your value is based on what you excel
Not based on how many times you fell
Remember failure leads to advance
But success is ultimately your stance
Confidence is different then perserverance
To persevere is a struggle, needing a break
Double down on that which you succeed
Teach to work, teach to perservere
But also teach to push to that we hold near
Push the passion, the undying driven drive
That which we strive, no matter what is contrived
Double down on what you flourish with attack
4 steps forward, 1 step back is a better math fact
Don't forget to double down when you can
It helps when your feeling down, face in the ground


Monday, August 20, 2018

Short Term Goals - Coming back from injury

About 7 weeks ago I bruised some ribs on my left side and had a pretty deep cut in my back.  I was trying to climb a tree with my children, playing on a Saturday afternoon.  Not a long story... I fell straight on my back, hurt myself.  I was injured.  I couldn't run or workout for about 6 weeks.  It was hard to breath and I was sore.  I did nothing really physical over that time.  My fitness suffered.

So about 7 days ago, I decided I would try to jog.  It was hard to breath, but I manage about 1.5 miles at a slow pace.

I was frustrated, but also felt a little sense of relief and excitement.  When you are starting from what seems like scratch, or your own personal scratch, there is only improvement.  I am lucky, I am usually always in pretty good shape, so my scratch is relative.

I committed that day to running for 7 straight days.  I set a goal of 10 miles for the week. Definitely manageable.  On the 8th day, which was Sunday I decided to go for 5 miles.  I did not quite make it before my breathing hurt a little and my legs got a little weak, but I was happy with where I got.


There is a sense of failing when you lose all the fitness you have in such a short period of time.  There is also an equally enjoyable feeling when you hit a short term goal you put in front of yourself.  I am no where near where I was, or where I want to be.  I may never get it back, but I reached my achievable short term goal.  This week is 15 miles.  I am off to a good start, one short term goal at a time.