Let’s retie last week


Last week was busy. Lots of fun activities, but at the end of the day this stuff has to stick. Somehow I need to cover each lesson in gobs & gobs of honey so it sticks. Maybe peanut butter. Whatever the analogy, I got to get as much info to stick in these little minds as I can.

Doing great with my daily filing and grading. I’m a little slack writing my plans for the next week, though.


Meal prep has been on point. It really has transformed my daily routine for the better.  My portions are good and I’m not starving all day.

The wife is liking the selections. I’m slowly getting rid of all plasticware for our warm meals. Glass just seems to be a much better choice. Holds up in the microwave and dishwasher better.

A very busy week


Skip counting line. Anyone have any other good outside methods to practice skip counting?




We went out this week to practice moving along with our skip counting. There are a lot of parts to skip counting that I believe as we get it we just take for granted. These babies are really trying their best. I just have to keep it engaging for them. There’s so much that needs to be done. So much that must be caught up on. So much to lay at the feet of Christ and just let Him deal with. All I can do is clock in and give it my best every second.




They’ve started to process of replacing my “faux” smart board with a legit smart board. I’m going to keep my faith out there they’ll be able to do it over the weekend so Monday I will have a real smart board up. It will really give me a lot more room. Since, I’m supposed to get 3 more students room is a premium. No matter what teaching must and will continue.



I enjoy meal preping so much. It does add a little normalcy to my lunch routine. Now as I get my portions in line I hope to get better and better at selecting the right kinds of food. I’m making the switch from plastic to glass containers. I’m going to do a little video about some of the issues I’ve found, but the most obvious is that microwaving plastic can be rather nasty. I found these at Kroger for $3 a piece. Can’t be that with a bat!



If you get the hint, I got the charcoal!

Yeah, about this no classroom theme thing

Setting up my classroom was much easier when I used a classroom theme. I still didn’t prepare one for this year. Please know that next year I will. Collecting donations now. So far this year has started off just right. (Planning always does) I guess things might change when 13 little faces meet me next Monday. Stay tuned. Be ready cause the revolution will be bowtied. 


Why the “Bowtie Teacher”


The Adidas Teacher– Naw, I can’t get away with wearing gym shoes everyday.

The Crossfit Teacher – Ummm, my Fran time would prove that I’m not worthy.

The Reading Teacher– We all do this. That’s not going to stand out.

The Bowtie Teacher– Now that’s something that may stick.

So I chose to run with the bowtie angle for a couple of reasons. The biggest is that I really like bowties and this would be a perfect excuse to increase my wardrobe. When I was moved to a new school a few years ago I thought that  starting off with a new look would separate me as a new teacher.

“You, know Mr. Whitaker. That guy wearing a bowtie”.

My thought also was that a bowtie would force me to always have a sharp dress. You can never wear a bowtie except tied. Unlike a long tie you can’t loosen the knot and “relax”. It’s either tied or it’s not.  I am one of  THOSE people who believe that small things can make a big impact. Kind of like a rudder on a ship. Small, but it can move an entire ship with very little effort. It is my sincere belief that what you expect from kids you’ll eventually get. If I keep a unique, set apart look maybe my students will take more pride in their dress. So far so good.  I don’t have any 7 years old rocking a bowtie, but hey. They do tuck their shirts in.

Besides you have to be on your game to tie a bowtie. You can fool around and tie a long tie. You might even start a new trend. However, there’s only one way to tie a bow tie and it’s not for the faint of heart. I still make mistakes (Be quiet Stephan!) Even after nearly 200 tyings. (I don’t wear clip on ties. Except for my wooden tie and a tie given to my by a student for my birthday) Tie your tie is my motto.

I do admit that I’m not as Bowtie literate as I’d like to be. My next effort is to better understand the 3 prominent styles of ties, their history as well as patterns. I’ve been able to “fake til I make it” on patterns and colors, but I want to know more. I’m not a suit guy so I don’t suspect I’ll ever really step into that realm. I do like vests so I may expand that option one day.

Summer has been outstanding. I’m not doing exactly what I want to be doing. I’ve been given a chance to teach Summer academy  expand my influence in the district. Though I don’t get to do nearly as much as I would like I’m having a great time. Meeting some fantastic teachers/students.

How’s your Summer going?

2013-14 School year. The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

Is there a  school out there that does an end of the year survey of what worked, what didn’t and what certainly doesn’t need to happen again? There has to be some value to hearing what the staff thought about the last 170 or so days. Deep down inside I fear it would become a gripe session for some and the most constructive comments won’t be shared for fear of reprisal. So this year I’m going to talk about what happened in my little slice of  APS. Room 157.

The Good

  • More times than not, I kept my cool. Once I made a slight change in my perspective it really became easy.
  • Everyone is moving on to 3rd grade. Except me, Thank You Jesus!
  • I started with good systems in place.
  • Homework and classroom journals, ROCKED!
  • Time management.
  • College road trip
  • I stuck to my AM schedule like a champ.
  • I stayed true to Jason. I didn’t let anyone impress me to be someone else.
  • Lesson plans in general were on point.
  • I was able to roll with most of the changes that come with working in a school.
  • I remained true to a lot of my physical goals. All be it they hit a deep pot hole.

The Bad

  • Paperwork management.
  • My “7 Habits of Happy Kids” theme didn’t help with good habits.
  • Still think I talk to much. I repeat myself a lot!
  • Paperwork.
  • Sad face for science.
  • I didn’t vocally encourage my student’s as much as I mentally thought it.
  • I relied on copies a lot more than I intended.
  • Some of my systems fell apart by year’s end.
  • Drumming up parental buy in.
  • Waste
  • I didn’t start one new project in the building. I have nice ideas, but I didn’t stick my neck out there once.

The Ugly

  • The system of identifying struggling students didn’t work well.
  • Creating plans for struggling students just became blah. Nothing exciting. Nothing that pulled them into the lesson.
  • I wore a horrible bowtie/shirt combo once and my coworkers still dog me out about it.
  • There are a few days where I know I didn’t even remotely make the sale. I didn’t get the kids to WANT to learn.
  • I don’t hug my students. They probably needed a hug more than I realized.
  • I left Crossfit. Major sad face.

Please feel free to give your feedback on your year in the comments and take my “scientific” poll.

30 random thoughts during the standardized testing

I’ve been tasked with administering the standardized test to 5th grade. Let’s just say I get A LOT of time to think. Here’s 30 things I’ve thought and questions I’ve had while walking around a class in total silence.

  1. Why do they make student desks look like this?
  2. Is it possible to test for growth without doing the standardized tests?
  3. What would happen if every student at this school had access to clean clothes and grooming everyday?
  4. Why can’t Christians usually argue a point from a secular angle?
  5. Does it matter if a child has both parents in the home?
  6. Why do so many students wear Nike?
  7. Could a school have it’s school uniforms sponsored by a shoe manufacture? Would that be some kind of conflict?
  8. What would happen to the Black community if everyone stopped buying hair extensions for 1 year?
  9. If everyone could save 10% of their income for 1 year what would happen to the banking industry?
  10. Is it possible to get an entire school to compost all compost trash?
  11. So if God wants to reproduce Himself in our lives, what does that look like on a grand scale?
  12. What would it take to get all non-essential staff people in the school district to help with classroom school work?
  13. Could I bike to work?
  14. What am I going to sell at the yard sale tomorrow?
  15. Hey I haven’t been Crossfitting in sometime. I can feel it.
  16. What if I got a part time job? How would I balance it?
  17. Am I doing to much? Am I just to busy, doing stuff?
  18. Why is it so hard to do and stay on a budget, but easy to complain about the lack of funds?
  19. Can I get my Level 1 cert and Crossfit Kids in 1 year?
  20. Could I sell my “Super Learners” and “Workshop” classroom themes at my yard sale? How much?
  21. Will we get to see how our lives could have been or will we even care?
  22. How much would I pay to join a van pool that dropped me off and picked me up from work?
  23. What’s the best mobility complex to teach 5th graders before during and after sitting doing this test?
  24. Would I accept any additional responsibilities at work that would take my time from home?
  25. If we get 80% of our growth from 20% of our work is it the same that we get 80% of our struggles from 20% work?
  26. How much could I make during the yard sale this weekend?
  27. Where am I going to put all the stuff I accumulated this school year over the Summer?
  28. What’s the best home workout program for heavy lifting even if you only have 400 lbs?
  29. What does 100% paleo look like for me?
  30.  What’s the best way for me to build my skills without doing a lot outside of work? Is that even possible?

How was your week? Did you have to do any standardized tests? How did you fair?

A new tie style


It’s a work in progress

I’ve been playing around with the idea of converting a long tie into a bow tie. It’s such a cool idea.

The Good:  It’s fun. The process is neat. Almost instantaneously I had 20+ new bow tie options. Since I try to not wear the same time over and over again this is HUGE. When you tie a long tie into a bow tie it kind of becomes a clip on so you don’t have to worry about tying the tie again. You only need to slip it around your neck.

The Bad: I haven’t found anything BAD about this. My wife’s not super fond of them so I could call that bad.

The Ugly: The knots are gigantic! A normal bow tie is hardly noticeable to the wearer. However these new ties are certainly big. This leads into another possible issue. The conversion works better with skinny/thin ties. Well if you go out and buy skinny ties it kind of defeats the purpose of recycling your long ties. It’s also kind of difficult to affix the tie around your neck. It’s not a game changing issue, but it can be difficult.

Over all it’s a neat twist to the tie game. I planned to wear one everyday this week, but I chose to spend more time getting some of the fine details in line. I certainly need to get the knot smaller and work on getting it to stay around my neck.