Flip teaching on it’s ear

I like, no I really LIKE this poster. It sums up what I do everyday and puts a nice CrossFit bow on it. This isn’t from some high brow teaching conference, this is from a CrossFit meme. It’s something our head coach sent out. Most of you know that I now coach on the side and many of you know that endear this opportunity to help people reach their fitness goals.

There are some rich parallels to coaching and teaching. There are goods and bad, mind you.  My two greatest take aways this year are that this is the most important class I have, right now. Also that I need to be more intentional about how I mix up and vary my teaching without changing the overall outcome. There are so many ways I can enhance my lessons, flip the time, change the environment and even toss the lesson totally to make sure each student gets what they need. When break is over I will have just a little more than a 30 days left in this school year. I’m going to work on coaching these students and mixing up a lot of variables. Let’s see what the last 30 days bring.

Next year I will certainly start the year with pushing for more engagement. As in CF there are people who have to scale a workout in order to get any benefit. This year I focused so much on those students and not the over all lesson and that each student was getting better. Going to spend this Summer coaching learning how to scale so much better. Next year is my break out year.

How did your school year unfold for you this year?

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.


Working wounded

Anyone who’s worked 15 minutes knows what it’s like to work wounded. Maybe your physically sick, but you can’t take a day. You might really not “feel” like work today, but you also know you need to be there. You may have 1000 other things you’d rather do than go to work, but you go.

Many people also know what it’s like to still go workout because you love your sport, your committed to the challenge or someone is going to be looking for you. You’ve worked wounded.

Here’s a little kick in the pants to keep going after your goals and keep adapting.

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?

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.

Got a new “student” Friday


I got a smart board and it was a breath of fresh air to a tough week. Watching the kids get amped up about all the new things we can do was cool. It’s touch screen so just know that we’re going to go all kinds of crazy with it.

Yeah,  that’s Kool and the Gang playing “Celebration” .

Lots of other really neat things happening, too.


I don’t have to wonder where my smartboard is any longer.  Owwww!

Great CrossFit experiences this week. Excellent meal prep. My portions have been almost spot on. Now the cut my snacking. I can truly see my overall health improving, less stress and more energy. I think it’s also helping me get ready for the day. No stress in the morning cause I have a lunch prep routine. When I pack my lunch I usually go and lay out my clothes for the next day. Not hours, but both of them shave a few minutes off my morning run around.

I promise I’ll talk about teaching, I promise.


I truly appreciate my CrossFit experience. I particularly LOVE our coaches at CrossFit South Cobb. For whatever reason I’ve been blessed with very, very poor mobility in my shoulders. This tends for my elbows to not move fast enough in Cleans. If you don’t fully know what that means put it like this. Slam 200 lbs on your up right wrists 2 or 3 times and you’re now in my world. I’ve done a lot to improve and I’m getting there. The winds aren’t in my favor. I’m 40 years old, I don’t have hours to work on this particular skill (I could take hours to stretch)

This week we had a guy come in and do some shots of us working out. Very nice guy. Took some amazing shots. Everyone talks about how this picture is great of me cause I look intense. My wife even said I look “Hot”. For me this makes me kind of tear up. MY ELBOWS ARE UP! I can’t get them up any other time, but thank God I got them up in this pic. I 100% attribute this to my coach team and friends in the gym. So many people have given me ideas to stretch my bear yoke shoulders to get them limber. So many ideas has been shared to free up my hands so that the weight will land in my open hand rather than crash down on my wrists.  I can’t even count how many demonstrations, practices and encouraging words have been shared while I’m killing myself to get my “elbows up”.

As a teacher we need this kind of support just as much. Our jobs are lovely. We are able to shape future, doctors, lawyers, business execs and countless other professions. Future generations are in our classrooms and we’re about to touch each and every one. But this job is equally hard. Day in and day out we have to make sure our technique is sharp and we follow through with every move. There’s room for error, but not much. We have to be on our game a whole lot more than we’re off.

When we as teachers supported by great coaching staff, we can do amazing things. It’s almost like someone is taking the weight of this job and lightening out load. Our community is strengthened when we’re supported by piers who see us struggling even when we don’t know we are in bad shape.

This year I made it my personal goal to show the CFSC level of support to my co-workers that I get from my coach team. I’ve been able to help a few people “get their elbows up” in my own little part of the world. Not sure if it’s a BIG deal. They may not even realize it. I do see the impact and I’m thankful that I’m able to do this. Can you imagine how this fellow feels? What kind of coaching do you think he gets?

Day 2 of Operation Write, Grade and File.

Meal Prepping has been amazing. This coming week will be all about weighing and measuring. No over eating. Even good food.

Write, Grade, File

Everyday,  I’m going to write a day’s worth of lessons, grade a set of work and file a stack of graded work. That’s the final piece of the puzzle for my classroom. It’s flowing so much better this year. I hope that if I can get this in order I’ll really be moving along.

Week in review

imageHow was your week? Well, week 3 is in the books. I wore black today in honor of putting another week out to pasture. 33 more to go. Do I need to say that this week had bow ties? Well, that goes without saying. No theme ties this week.


image  We mixed some CrossFit in with our math drills. The kids are getting so much better at the basics. Ready for something tougher? Surprised how much they liked Tabata Math Drills.


I am going to be known as the Centers Teacher. I’ve been having great success with centers this year. I feel that I’m managing centers time well and the kids are getting some good practice as well as remediation time.




We’re jumping off on science. We haven’t started doing any experiments. Maybe we’ll do an ALS ice challenge. No.



imageWe are doing our own Flat Stanley projects. We’re going to be sending our Flat Stans off to friends and/or pen pals soon. The kids do like the writing process. More are working on the basics than I thought would. I’m making a much better effort on my social studies. Let’s see how we do throughout the year.


Week 1 has been great

1st of many great weeks is in the books. I had a fantastic time getting to know my students. I feel they understand me and what I want them to know by the end of the year. Every parent I met raves that I’m what their child needs. I always counter that they are what they’re child needs, but that’s another story.  Here’s my week in pictures.



Days 1- 5 have been outstanding. I made a major mental shift that I think has helped me not be so frustrated, but I’ll talk about it as the year wears on.


I’m not sure, but this is a real game changing drink. Take a cup of fresh watermelon. Crush is up pretty good and top it off with a can of Kill Cliff. Again, I’m not sure, but I’m sure this is a game changer for sure. Fantastic mid day pick me up. Might try other mixes one day, too.


I had a debate with two good teachers. The discussion was around me putting up pre-made charts in my class. I was obviously pro-charts and they were con. Both made really good points. Here’s my issue.

  • With no class theme my room would be REALLY bare sans my charts.
  • I like my charts and made them for the purpose of using them again as decor.
  • I don’t like making them on the fly, because often they’re not as neat as when I take my time and make them.
  • Most of the charts I put up for Day 1 are really there for the kids to glean from right off the bat. It would take a few weeks to teach ALL the subjects that I have charts for.

Anyway, it’s always good to hear opposing ideas and thoughts.



These little magnet people came from my 2nd grade yard sale angel this Summer. I haven’t moved my students to legitimately doing centers in groups, but I think this will work perfectly. I pinned the chart to the AC unit. The magnet people have each kid’s name on them. I can easily discuss the plan for the day and what group each student is in. This will make it super easy to change groups, condense groups or just not have a team. I was thinking of moving the names round so they’ll be color coded, but either way will be good for my use.

  • IR- Independent reading/work
  • PR- Partner Reading/Work
  • GR- Guided Reading/Work
  • LC- Listening Center
  • Skill- Independent work time working on specific skill




The mailboxes have started off excellent. I did take for granted that each student understood where I wanted each book to go. Just a little fine tuning and I think  they’ll be right on the button.

Other little things that have started out better than I planned

Table caddies– last year’s group was just special. A lot of the drama that happened in years past was just drama. (Haven’t sharpened a pencil yet.)

Time management-I seem to be on pace. I will know more perfectly as I start breaking them up into groups and running centers like a boss.

Class size– I can’t and won’t complain. I have a very nice sized group. Even if they level the 2nd grade I’ll be thankful.


The next couple of posts maybe all about CrossFit since I’m going to get my Level 1 certification this weekend.


I sense that this year is going to be unique for a lot of great reasons.  Ready to see how I can change the world. One bowtie at a time.