What are we to do? 

2016 has been already made itself a doozie of a year. What’s sad, shocking and sobering is that we still have 5 months to go. What do we do? 

Lots of folk are just raw. They’re emotions are exposed.  They’re at a slow boil and they’re scared. They’re at their What’s End.  The future doesn’t look sunshine and rainbows.  

And I have to say that I fully and completely understand.  However, I want to add perspective and hopefully be helpful to those very passionate, upset, angry who may come across this post. 

No matter what we’ve come to accept, mankind is wicked.  That includes the most precious infant born today all the way to the most vile and blatantly wicked person who ever lived.  We’re messed up. 

That being said, we do wicked, evil and depraved things to one another, the world and even to God.  The passage I posted before was penned by one who knew his own state, but wanted to do differently.  He knew just how wretched he was and that if God didn’t guard his mouth he’d only foul up the situation more. He also knew just how deceptive wicked actions were.  He called them delicacies (I’m thinking of some kind of baked goodie topped with goodness and filled with splendor) Just like that cake, pie or whatever he wanted to stay away from it. 

Maybe, I need to take that into account before my slacks don’t fit anymore.  ūüėā

The actions seem good for a while, but they never satisfy and sadly we need more and more to get us there and they never will.  We’ll just keep going and going gobbling down these tastiest only to regret it.  Then we start over again! 

It’s quite clear that whatever the author wanted to say wasn’t on par with his new life going after righteousness.  It can also be seen that the relationship between what’s in the heart and what’s spoken can’t be denied. Our words and deeds follow our hearts. 

So our hearts are the problem.  All the external things, though horrible and wicked are just outcroppings of our desperately wicked hearts.  Badge, t-shirt, expensive pant suit, uniform or just a pair of jeans, we all are dastardly wicked and it’s only a matter of time until we show out. 

There isn’t anything we can do. We’re lost. 

Unless…. 

A chance to sit down and think

Everyone knows what it’s like to be busy. To be at it all the time and not really have time to sit down and think about what’s going on, how life is effecting you and what our response should be. You’re just doing well to keep up with the routine. While that’s been true I’ve been pondering somethings.

A¬†thought I’ve been going back and forth over¬†has zero to do with teaching or bow ties. How am I growing and developing as a disciple of Christ? How am I being changed by Christ compared to me trying to change Christ? Most of the time, if I’m honest I spend a great deal of time trying to coax¬†Christ into co-signing things I’m doing rather than surrendering my life in order to glorify Him. Just think about it. How often do we violate principles and commands that He gave with little or no thought that we’re off base.

Being challenged to examine what I’m putting in my life as truth. Recently, ¬†I was really digging this motivational speaker. Very positive and upbeat. Lots of good, solid non-churchy content. However, I started examining closely¬†what he was saying in light of scripture, which has to be our measure. I started wondering did God want this for me or was it just a good sounding, positive man-made idea? Then some of the glaring contrasts to solid teaching began to show up. Some of it is just flat out new age. Not my cup of tea at all. I’ve kind of eased off this guys channel for that reason.

As you can guess my TV watching has taken a hit as well. I haven’t been settled enough to really sit down anyway. But like most people I’d make time for my favorite shows. Been wondering if what I’m watching is pushing me away from Christ or drawing me in? If it’s drawing me in, how? Needless to say now I have a DVR full of shows and no scheduled time to watch ’em.

Within all this I’ve also been¬†thinking closely about who I surround myself with.¬†Had to do some cutting and trimming. Even the best of people aren’t always the best for us at this time. Tough choices now yield better results in the long run.

If it’s any consolation meal prep still makes the cut every week.

Not my usual classroom hi-jinx blog post. I will make sure soon to discuss the wonders and joys of “conference week”.

Do you blog? Why not?

I am all about blogging. I may not be the most consistent and I certainly don’t have the most page views. Most of the time I sit down and type out some thoughts and hit post. That being said I think everyone to should blog or get their ideas out in an electronic format.

Here’s a couple of reasons why I feel this way.

  • Blogging allows you to get your ideas out of your head. Most people aren’t going to journal or write in a diary. But if you have a regular way to clear all the clutter out of your mind it can’t be a bad thing at all.

  • You have a story. Even if you think your thoughts are “foolish” or even trivial, someone may find your story interesting. I mean seriously, I write about how great a job I have, CrossFit, meal prep and bowties. If someone reads this blog, someone will read your blog about sea snails. But even it no one reads it, it’s your story and you’ll have somewhere to go back and look at…

  • Your ¬†journey needs to be captured. If you lost a lot of weight. Discovered a new talent. Build something from ground up. Slowly watched something you thought that would last forever dissolve. No matter what it is your journey should be written down. Your story has to be told.

Blogging, CrossFit and Meal Prep came to me because someone else shared their stories and it clicked in my life. Now I can’t imagine how my life would be different without these. So your story is valuable to someone. Even if you want to guess blog here I will gladly post your story until you feel comfortable with your own writing. Let me know and if I can help you start your journey in writing I’ll do all I can.

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.

 

Snow Jam 2014 the Refreeze

I appreciate the rest and relaxation, but my over Winter.  If it was a misbehaving friend I would have politely thrown it out my house. It’s time for you to go.

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There were some great pics, but I’m over it. Two more days of rest then back to changing the world’s of the students in room 157.

How did you make it through this crazy winter? My mainstay was my family and my grill.

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What about you?

Bullying

It's been all over the news. It's been everywhere and it seems like it's getting worse and worse, bullying. When I was a kid it was called being a kid, but what's happening today is pretty rough. 

A parent came to me today to tell me her child was being bullied. I told her to have him stop by my room tomorrow and we'd talk about it. I chose to write out my thoughts cause I think this speaks to a much deeper issue in the Bully and those being Bullied. Here we go. 

    You are not going to like what I have to say. You're going to be mad and you're going to maybe cry, but I'm only telling you this because someone told me this same thing multi-decades ago. 

    You're a man. You may not like it and you may not feel like it right now. If the Lord allows, you're going to know that you are a man one day. And the only thing more sure than that is that Life is going to do her very best to kick your butt every day from this until the end. 

    You're going to have to resolve one day and it better be soon that you're going to stick in there and keep getting up and keep moving forward every time she knocks you down. Oh and she will. She's going to knock the wind out of you more time than you can count. You're just going to have to keep getting back up. 

    One day you'll have a family, kids, job and all those wonderful things that come with being "grown". Along with that you'll have scars, a lot of them. The thicker your skin the more surface those scars and the less deep wounds they'll be.

Some will hurt and some will cut you pretty bad. You're welcome to come to my class when they get real bad and we'll talk, heck we'll even cry about them. What you're also going to do is walk out of here, stand up and fight another day. 

People tend to want to delittle those they see as a threats to the norm or just "too big for their britches". You have a choice to let them drag you down into the small space they fill or to rise above them and shine like a star. I think you know what I want you to do. 

You're going to have to look many a person in the face and let them know who you are and who you're not. You're not defined by anyone, but yourself and your God. If you allow every person you meet to validate and define you, you're in for a life of struggle and pain with no growth or end. That would be hopeless and sad.

But if you know who you are then anyone else's definition of you can only be to small. You're so much more than what people see and because of that they have to try to box you, define you…contain you. 

Bullies are only powerful if we cheris their words. Actually, they're crying out for the same attention they want to give you. They need somone to validate, define, honor their words. You don't realize just how much power you have and your bullies DO! 

You're going to have to walk away from a lot of folk and stand up to some as well. You're going to ball your fist up and want to scream.  But this will still be true. You're a man. You're going to have to rise above this and whatever else comes at you. 

I hope I didn't undersell this. I hope I didn't make you think that this was a walk in the park. Lady Life has taken many a better man then me out. She does do her job well. You're better than you know and you're stronger than you figure. Stand up to her and her attack dogs. Let them know that you aren't some soft serve on a hot day. You're here and you plan to remain well after their words have faded. 

An open letter to all “Bad Parents”

    Before I get to my letter. Have you seen the article over at Slate.  It contends that parents who send their children to private schools are bad. Wait…stop laughing. Wipe that coffee of your computer screen…she's serious.
 
    So a parent's desire (free will and choice, mind you) to offer their child an education that reflects their values shouldn't out weigh another parents desire for the same if money, ability are the only things that separate the two. Not sure where I've heard that needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few before. Let me check up on that. 

    I'm not writing this because I send my girls to a private school. As a public school teacher and a parent I find this article simply absurd. As a parent my primary concern is to provide my children with the best that I can. That may look different for every family and that's just fine with me. As a teacher I give my very best to my students and my school. However, at the end of the day my responsibility is to my kids. I have said it before and believe it in my deepest being; parents are the 1st teachers. I only strengthen what you value and teach at home. 

Here are just a few points the author is missing:
  •  Parents are responsible for their kids not everyone else's child. In the same vain where I send my kids is my business not yours. 
  •  She assumes that parents would be lined up at the local school board meeting advocating for better schools. That's not the case at all.  
  • She mistakenly assumes that they only reason schools fail is because of the educators and admin of said school or school system. Nope. You can't get race horses from mules. 
  •  Public schools get a great deal of money as it is right now. Most private schools run on a very tight budget. Yes, there is excess and over indulgence, but most are very modest. That being said why don't public school systems feel it necessary to court the private school parents who pay taxes and yet send their kids to a private school? Seems like the pressure would be on the government school rather than the parents.  
  •  A parent's values aren't being considered at all. It's more than my child learning Bible verses or this being an extension of Sunday School. For many parents religious education is a strong point of their family tradition. That's their perogative. 
  • Teachers on both sides of the argument generally want the same thing; a better future for our kids. Why not celebrate and collaborate with Private and Public schools rather than assume they're keeping all the good toys in their sand box? I'm actually trying to glean from all teachers just to get new ideas and insights. 
  • Not all private school classes are smaller or have the latest and greatest. My classroom right now has fewer kids than either of my girl's private school classes. They also have less tech than I do in my public school. 
  • I don't look sideways at my co-workers who send their children to private or to public school. I certainly don't call them noble for sending their kids to public or less noble for not. I don't ask why because it's none of my business. And I appreciate them respecting my decision the with the same care. 
  • Competition causes everyone to step their game up. I feel the pressure everyday. If I don't give my all and do my best me and my bow ties might be on the outside looking in. Every teacher who wants the best for their students knows that they have to do their best with the cards their dealt. 

    I do wonder if the author would feel the same way if the argument was centered around say, cars? Would I be a bad person because I didn't buy an American made car? Or maybe a Foreign car built in America since it supports the local economy. Seems pretty silly to me. 

Dear Bad Parents, 

    You keep doing what you feel is in the best interest for your kids. I think you're pretty cool. I'm going to keep plugging away making a difference in the life of my students. No name calling or finger wagging. I'll keep doing my best to show you that we're all in this together.

Signed, 

    Public School Teacher

    Not to call the sincerity of the author in question, but I don't believe she believes we're bad parents. I mean why else would you resort to name calling? 

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If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person
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Let’s talk about prayer in school

Let's get a few things straight:

  • I'm a Christian.
  • I'm a father of elementary school age kids.
  • I'm a public school teacher. 
  • My kids go to a private school.
  • I'm a conservative.
  • I'm heart broken for the parents, communities and children of CT. 
  • I'm not interested in prayer in schools. 

    What?! Every Christian with a bible is ranting "God has been removed from schools and that's why we're…." Yes, I've heard that argument and I've even made it a couple of times. However it's wrong and it's not very smart. There is a talk show host who went as far as to say the reason this horrible event happened is because God has been taken out of schools. 

    What most people are asking for is a teacher-lead, school-lead time of prayer during a time of the day. 30 seconds during announcements, before lunch or something like that. 

    Putting prayer in school is opening a box to so many other things that teachers will have to tend to. I'm surprised no one has said it. We're already, Parents, Coaches, Advisers, Counselors, Teachers, Nurses and Referees. Now you want us to be Pastors, Priests and Rabbis?

    Let me just wave a magic wand and "put prayer in school". Can't you see/hear all the howls from some parents because "you prayed in Jesus' name, we pray in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit".

    …or You prayed in the NIV, but we only accept the KJV.

How about this one, …We're Southern Baptist and you're  a Mormon teacher, What Jesus are you talking about?  

    These are just a few, a very small few complaints out of the bag of insane complaints we'd hear. Let's not even talk about the fact that now America is a sort of kind of Christian. So many assume we're talking about praying to the Judeo-Christian God. Ok, but what about when America becomes a majority non-Christian nation? Think you'll be ok with us praying to another god that you don't think is God? 

    Ok, people, we're tasked with such a weighty chore that adding one more layer is going to only add more strain to the profession. I challenge that there isn't one profession that has so much heaped on it from all sides as teaching. If you know of one, please let me know.

    For quite some time teaching has been the surrogate parent of the community. I know a lot of folk aren't going to like this, but you're welcome to comment. We've become EVERYTHING to these kids and it's made really, seriously…LAZY PARENTS. Yes, I did call most of us lazy. We drop our children off at school with very little and want a college bound, scholar in return. This might be shocking, but it's not going to happen. Neither is prayer in school. 

    If you want prayer in school send Prayers to school. Send kids who cherish the honor of speaking to an ever loving, God. Drop off a child who are confident in themselves, because they know that no matter what they're accepted by God and that He thinks they're pretty neat. Send students who much rather quote Be Attitudes than cop and attitude. We'd welcome students who rather than pick on each other and name call understand that everybody needs love and acceptance and they've found that in God. How do we get that, Jason?

    This is going to REALLY make some people mad, so feel free to log off. In order to get the kind of student I'm talking about many parents need to parent and pastor their OWN kids. You're going to have to put prayer, God and all that in your home. Put it in your heart and in your kids hearts. I can tell you that the Love of God is absent from my community. I can see it in the words my kids use with each other and adults. It's obvious in the MIA status of support at home. I as a teacher am not going to do it for you. Sorry, but it ain't going to happen. What I will do is pray silently that you get a clue that these are your kids, your future and that you need to make the most of it. 

    I choose to make my wife and my faith a center of our girls' growth. If you don't that's on you. I simply believe it's much easier for you to raise your child than for your child's teacher or school to do it for you. 

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I’m pushing the envelope

My school isn't the most affluent. My kids don't come to class with the latest and greatest gadgets, cell phones and wads of disposable income. So why did I just roll out on-line homework that can only be done from the class website? Because I don't embrace excuses, only solutions.

Each kid has to go to a particular website and complete 3 10 question math assignments by Friday. All assignments are within the kids abilities and just reinforce what they've learned last week. 

I did a non-scientific survey of the class and about 40% of my students have readied access to the internet. The others did the deer in the headlights when I told them "so what are you going to do, because your homework all needs to be turned in Friday." In all fairness I did give them the option of doing their homework in class or in the computer lab during the week. I have set up time for all kids to go to the media center to complete it during class time and on Wednesday during after school tutorial. I'm certainly interested in how many will go to the library, which is 2 blocks from our school and get it done. And even though I want to not have paper to grade, I made a few copies of the assignments to pass out on Thursday if I see that some kids aren't making the effort. Each week I hope to get fewer and fewer excuses and more solutions. I'm also interested in seeing how many parents call, write or visit me about my new project. Pretty sure they're going to find this a hoot. 

I have some "Go Getters" in class and I know they'll find a way and not come to be with reasons why they can't. I want those kids to rub off on those who are already thinking of reasons why they can't get the work done. I'm going to keep highlighting the solution finders rather than invest time in the excuses. 

The grade level is doing a two week project as well. Each kid is going to have to spend $1,000,000 in their community helping others and making their area better. The assignment ties in Social Studies, Math and it has to be written/typed out. We're giving them 2 weeks to complete, but the students have benchmarks everyday/week. This project doesn't get class time, but when we go to the library I'll certainly encourage them to use their time checking on various parts of their project.