Let’s go ahead and talk about this 2014-2015 school year

This school year’s body isn’t cold yet and I’m ready to start an autopsy. So much to say about this year!

  1.  Off the bat, this year was very, very challenging. There were the usual challenges, yes. There were a lot of others as well that no one saw coming. There were some unique behaviors that really left my gobsmacked. Wow, didn’t see that coming at all.
  2. The Common Core isn’t exactly what I want and I can understand the concerns about it. That being said CCSS makes it very simple to collaborate with teachers all over the country. Couldn’t do that before.
  3. Teachers can be some of the easiest people to work with. They understand the “struggle”. No one is trying to get over on another. We all see the importance of our role. I love my co-workers and my teamies. #MissMrsJonesAlready!
  4. Routines. Routines. Routines.
  5. Complaining about students not following the routines, isn’t teaching the routine.
  6. The more you talk about reviewing the routines as a punishment the more you’re going to have to teach the routines.
  7. Sometimes seeking and getting parents involved is a bad thing. The Helicopter Parent is REAL. But to that point when you have concerned, engaged, useful parents you’ve hit a gold mine.
  8. Turning water into wine was a major miracle.
  9. Do not assume that because you’re doing right/good/going above that people notice.  People will ignore them.
  10. CrossFit saved my sanity more times than I can count. I can not say how thankful I am to be coaching now. I get to fully decompress from the teaching day in a creative and tough way. Thanks Team CFSC!
  11. I need a classroom theme next year. Stay tunded.
  12. My anchor chart system worked like a charm. It’s just that next year I may have a lot less space. So back to the drawing board.
  13. Everyone without a book bag is not unprepared and everyone with book bag is prepared.
  14. A classroom of 17 that sees 9 students come and through the year is going to have a tough time building team.
  15. Meal prep also was spot on. It helped so much with keeping me fed so I didn’t start gnawing on chalk.
  16. Oh, Promethean boards are amazing!
  17. The more kids read on their own the more they understand. Grade level is good, but if they can’t read on grade get them reading in the area of focus on the grade level they can digest.
  18. Read the standards. Know the standards.
  19. Small meaningful projects have a lot of use and give you a lot more bang for your buck.
  20. Paperwork can be managed. I’m not certain I did a perfect job. I know I didn’t do a perfect job with paper work, but I can say I didn’t have a mountain to pass back on the last day either.
  21. Using Journals to capture all the in class work was a great idea. It also worked like charm for homework!  Now to fine tune it.
  22. There is zero reason for me to have a classroom desk what so ever. Not like I ever did, but you get my point.
  23. Get data, use data, get more data.
  24. Class Dojo is still the best thing cooking! I know there are other programs out there, but as a fore runner to those CD is still out pacing them all.
  25. Teachers should become scientists. So much can be done by applying the scientific method to teaching.
  26. People say things to male teachers that, I am confident, they don’t mean.
  27. I have so much fun with my bowtie game. I can’t really explain WHY as much as it just makes me feel like I’m on point. Given that most of the time I’m huddled up in the fetal position wondering why I do this. I need as much confidence as I can muster.
  28. The most challenging student needs love. They need to know that even at the basic level “this person cares about me”. They are going to make it tough, but they need to you to care about them.
  29. They also need some degree of respect. Even when they behavior in the most vile, disrespectful manners. “Going there” with them doesn’t do anything, but solidify that they have to act a certain way to “demand” respect.
  30. I AM STILL WINNING THE PENCIL WAR!

I do have some news I want to post about my teaching career. Most of my family, friends and co-workers know. I am taking a position in another school district closer to my house. I’ve never been apart of my school community. I will NEVER run into my students at the market or out with my children. So to get closer to home and my own kids I’m moving from APS in August. It’s been an enjoyable adventure. Besides all the tissue I’m going to use up on our last teacher day I’m taking some fond, fond memories. Thanks to everyone!

 

Am I on the wrong side of the War?

 

This video sincerely voices my concerns for the boys in my class. I’ve always said that “school wasn’t made by a boy”. The very structure of MY class doesn’t encourage boys and really restricts them. That’s right I include myself. I’m just as guilty of trying to get my students to do exactly what I couldn’t do when I was 7-8 years old.

The part that struck home more than anything in this video was helping boys become readers. Every week we go to the media center and grab a new book to read. And just like following a script my girls get fiction feeling books while my boys get non-fiction books about snakes, cars or records. I didn’t think about how much they’re telling me with their book selections. Even when they’re allowed to go online with little direction most of them find material that’s about animals, cars, and the such. I have to do a better job of letting my male students be, boys.

The way school is organized it almost requires that I (a big boy) have to require these 10 boys do what they’re not even wired to do. However, the 6 girls in my room are almost perfect according to my classroom set up. I’m an accomplice!

My one area of concern is a missing cog in this machine. Parenting. The video didn’t seem to address any of the parenting methods that add, subtract or create some of the battlegrounds that boys must compete. We certainly need to discuss all our roles in helping boys be boys along with being functional parts of society.

I have to research and read more on how to organize my class to be more Boy Friendly. What do you think about this? Do you notice any differences in our society in regards to boys? Let’s talk about it.

 

FOOD FIGHT!

Most of you know I’m all about eating as healthy as possible. I’m 100% for home made meals over all other kinds. (Thinking about getting a T shirt with that on it.)

Imagine my disgust with an article that basically said that home lunches aren’t safe? I got the vibe that since they’re not staying cool enough, school lunches are a better choice. I’m a child of the 80’s. My mom packed my lunch nearly 5 hours before I enjoyed my lunch. We’re well aware that the bag didn’t stay cool indefinitely.

There are a couple of things this article didn’t address.

  • I make my lunches the night before and put the entire lunchbox in the fridge. The entire box is very cold come departure time.
  • Many, many a student have had lunch that would be considered “unsafe” and haven’t had any kind of ill effects.
  • The alternative is for kids to eat overly processed “lunchables” or school lunch. I’ll take gamble with food poisoning.
  • Did the temp of the room play any role in the temp of the lunch bag?
  • *An open minded teacher wouldn’t mind putting a lunch box in the teacher’s lounge fridge every now and then

The solution was that a parent should pack multiple ice packs, cold or frozen foods and if possible dry goods that don’t need cooling. Call me a conspiracy theory guy, but I saw another angle to this article. Let the schools feed your kids. It wasn’t said out right, but you can certainly see where I got that from.

So let’s look at some of the yumminess that’s called school lunch.

One of the last bastions of choice in school is what our kids eat for lunch. I don’t judge anyone who chooses to let their kids eat school fair. That’s on you. I let me kids get the school lunch most of the time. Usually two times a week I fix my 2nd grader’s lunch. I fix my own lunch everyday and some days the Queen graces me to fix her lunch. It’s my choice and I relish the opportunity to do this for my family.

* I will NOT EVER heat kids lunch up. Please don’t send them to school with hot wings or pizza. Also if your student is a handful during the regular school day please pack them a lunchable, cause I’m not going out of my way.

What happened last year

The new school semester has started off so strong I haven’t had time to blog or to recount what happened last semester. Thankfully, I have a day off to think about it. Here’s what happened last semester in no particular order.

  • I don’t have a filing system. However, my crazy paper mess makes sense to me. I don’t LIKE it, but I can usually find things within a matter of minutes.

  • BOWTIES! What else is there if not bowties? wpid-20150109_175519.jpg

  • My charts are ROCKING! I’ve found them so useful this year. I do have them hanging in a system. System is to easy to understand! I think my co-workers have been poaching my charts!wpid-20140513_110035.jpg

  • My progress monitoring of struggling students is working. I can see where each student is and a have a plan for each one. I’ve even got a shout out a couple times for having my paper work on point.

  • When I saw that something didn’t work I didn’t try to make it work. I just dropped it and kept it moving.

  • My centers are so/so. I overhauled my Centers chart and now it just doesn’t make sense. Should have left it well enough alone. That being said the kids have great center time. They like it and they’re learning. I simply have to have a better rotation schedule.

  • I didn’t do a great job laying down the rules/procedures of the class. Some have picked them up, but the vast majority aren’t trying to do right.

  • We don’t go outside AT ALL!

  • I find myself busy most of the day. Not a lot of down time. That’s good. That’s bad.

  • MEAL PREP! Excellent idea. I don’t know who I picked it up from, but I’m glad I did.wpid-20141007_095025.jpg

  • My class isn’t on auto-pilot. I think this is a goal that I should let go of. My students more than likely aren’t going to be the kinds that will follow a schedule without someone pointing out to them to do it.

  • Keeping all homework in a spiral notebook was a great idea! Keeping all classwork in 1 spiral wasn’t as good an idea.

  • I’m so glad that they started the 4 week lesson plan. It makes it so much easier to plan.

  • Speaking of planning, I’m doing a pretty good job planning. I could always do better.

  • Class Dojo is perfect! So glad I didn’t give up on this.

  • I stopped asking dumb questions. Here are a few.

    • Did that make sense to you? (Of course it made sense to a 7 year old!)

    • Why didn’t you do ABC? (Because I didn’t want to!)

    • Do I need to call your mother/father? (Just call ’em don’t prime the pump)

2015 has started off perfect. I realize that last semester I spend a lot of time trying to get 4-6 students to do while the other suffered. This semester the 4-6 are going to have to get in where they fit cause I’m focusing my energy on those who want to be prepared. We only have 80 days of school left! No time to patty cake with those who aren’t trying to do what needs to be done.

No matter what I have just about 640 school hours to get as much info into the minds of these students. 3,2,1…go!

Since I’m not talking about ties and lesson plans

I might as well talk about one of my favorites, Meal Prep.

Let me tell you what meal prep isn’t for me. I’m not that guy hoarding a metric ton of food in the basement. I’m also not the huge, superhero sized guy with a bunch of supplements who eats only chicken breasts and broccoli (though, nothing is wrong with that basic easy to prepare meal).

There aren’t a lot of healthy fast food options near my school. Matter of fact that term is an oxymoron, healthy fast food . I can’t eat school lunch. Therefore, I always bring my lunch. Early along in the school year I realized that I wasn’t fixing a lunch a few times a week. I was so busy at night that I would forget to make lunch. Couple that with a missed breakfast a couple of days and I was in bad shape. I’d raid my co-workers snack stashes, hit the kids up for junk food and the such.

wpid-20140817_132749.jpgwpid-20140831_122802.jpgwpid-20140823_162645.jpg

Most of you know that I endear cooking on my Big Green Egg. One weekend, while enjoying cooking, I got this crazy idea. Why don’t I cook myself something to eat on Sunday for the week? That started my journey into meal prep. Here’s how my journey started and has grown.

  • I started out meal prepping my own lunch and a few snacks. Whatever I had in the fridge/freeze would do.
  • My wife wanted lunch, too. I started planning out the meals. She doesn’t like eating the same thing so I had to be very intentional.
  • I started looking for sales and coupons to drive my meal prep. If it was on sale, it was going on the grill.
  • This is the time that I started the transition from plastic ware to glassware. wpid-20140830_180811.jpgwpid-20140912_191558.jpg
  • By preparing for the next day the night before, I find that I’m looking forward to work and getting out the door in the morning was much easier.
  • I started weighing and measuring my food, but not serious. I still was overeating, just over eating good foods.
  • Soon I started preparing breakfast as well. Now my favorite is an omelet bowl. Wife and kids still eat cereal for breakfast.
  • I FEEL amazing. I’m not sluggish at work and I have energy to hit the gym after work. Something certainly is happening!
  • Started incorporating slow cooker. It started making less and less sense to NOT prepare dinner this way.
  • I notice that I’m getting pretty good at this whole thing. It’s not work as much as it’s a total release to be creative and express myself outside of the classroom. Besides, I LOVE when my co-workers comment on my lunch.
  • My time spent in the kitchen during the week is cut by 1/2. More time for family and other stuff.
  • It becames obvious to me that I am not eating enough. I started making bigger breakfasts, and more calorie dense snacks. I don’t weigh myself. I’m not sure how much I weigh, but my clothes do fit a little better.
  • Last week I started counting macros, Fats, Carbs and Proteins. I also have started shooting for a daily calorie intake based upon the macros I want to consume. This is a step up from just counting calories. This is certainly more labor intensive, but I like it. I did some fancy math to figure out my resting calorie usage and broke down my usage into Carbs, Fats, and Protein. In order for me to get down to sub 200 lbs AND remain strong I need to take in these amounts per day, Protein 277, Fats 64 and Carbs 84. That looks like a lot, but it really is reasonable. Currently I’m taking in P 200 Fats 125 and Carbs 190. 
  • One meal prep rule I’ve violated from the start is that I’ve never had the same meal all week. Starting next year I’m going to keep the meals super simple. I don’t mind mixing it up, but it should make it easier for me to count and weigh if I keep the meals the same. We’ll see this works out.

So that’s how I got on the Meal Prep train. If nothing else it’s very helpful in keeping me from having to eat bad food. I will also say it’s done a great job keeping me from eating out. I don’t have the desire or get the pleasure from eating out like I used to. If I do it’s 100% because I’m giving myself a break. I’m going into 2015 ready for some great things.

What about you? How did you get started meal prepping? Do you meal prep?

A wonderful Christmas time

This Christmas break has been so restful.  Getting a lot done. I’ve single handedly cleared an entire section of RedBox.  I’ve slept more than I thought possible.  The girls and I have done some cool things. Thankfully this break has been slow and I expect it to be slower. My BGE hasn’t lit up once, but next week will be different. 

Happy Topics

We’re in the midst of Thanksgiving break. I’ve unplugged in a major way. I didn’t bring any work home. I’ve only been on Pinterest a few times for school stuff and I’ve been to the gym more times than I’ve even thought about work. I’m on vacation and enjoying it big time.

This time around I’m preparing a pretty nice Thanksgiving spread. We have a lot to be thankful for this year. My big challenge is spacing out the cooks. I’m going to use the BGE as well as the oven and slow cooker. Turkey and pork shoulder will get the Green Egg treatment. Roast will be treated to several hours in the slow cooker. Everything else is going in the oven. I have it mapped out in my mind. We’ll see if that’s a good place tomorrow when I fire up the egg.

Crossfit has been excellent. I’ve been in there a lot. I feel stronger. Actually, I am stronger. My numbers are going up. If I can stay on task I should be able to get my body to show the improvements. I’ve been getting adjustments from our in house chiropractor. That was a great investment. Over all I’m very excited about my results.

Speaking of results. I need to see more with my eating. I’m doing great with the meal prep. This coming epic meal prep I’m going to make sure my portions are right as well as my basic nutrients. I ended the last meal prep by having a much bigger breakfast. That certainly made me feel full longer than when I had a small breakfast and relied on a snack to take the edge off. I’m getting all the water I’m supposed to. That’s strong.

I’m going also do a better job of preparing meals for dinner. No reason to save time making lunch everyday and squander that time having to make dinner when I get home. Might even look into crock pot meals or freezer meals.

Returning to work doing a much better job counting my macros so I have what I need and am not feeding what I don’t want. I should enter 2015 with a slightly smaller waist line.

How’s everyone’s break going?

 

 

The Dip started early this year

If you’ve ever read the book “The Dip” by Godin you know I mean. The dip is the drop, dead space, the slog that happens in every venture. For runners it’s the 20th mile of a marathon. For med school students it’s Organic Chemistry. Every field, every venture has a dip and those that master their craft all over come the dip. For me it seems like every year I get into a dip. It usually happens right after MLK Day. There aren’t any more holidays coming up and we have 6 long weeks of heavy teaching before Spring Break. It’s a grind.

Just the other day I was getting myself in the mind set to press through the Dip. I know the kids are getting antsy. Hey, I’m getting kinda antsy, too. Yeah, I’m about the take this thing like a boss. Then I looked up, IT’S ONLY NOVEMBER! I’m in trouble!

The lessons aren’t popping. The talking isn’t stopping. I’m not sure if I’m coming or going most days. This year has really been odd. I’m pulling out my pre Spring break tricks and some of those aren’t working. The weather is blah so being outside isn’t nearly as rewarding. Calling home isn’t resulting in what I expected. I can’t say it enough this year is very peculiar. Another bi product of being in the dip to long is it’s draining. My ideas have been flat and I haven’t had the desire to blog. I’m going to keep pushing on through and maybe that will mean that my post MLK Day slog will be much less “sloggy”.

Meal prep has been excellent. I’m starting to see results in eating better. I’m starting to do bigger breakfasts, nice sized lunches, but a much smaller dinner. This has resulted in me going to be really early rather than being up late, tempted to eat. We’ll see.

How’s your school year going? Is it strange for you as well?