The Long School Year

This has been my best year teaching. I have to say that it out shined my expectations greatly. That being said, I still can’t believe this year isn’t over. Seems as if it took a long time to get going. We reached cruising altitude, but the year never seemed to be slipping away. Now we’re in the home stretch and we seem to be slowing down. There’s a lot to do in the next 18 days and I’d be just the same doing it all in 5 and calling this a wrap.

CrossFit Level 2 certification class

wp-1460569688949.jpgThis past weekend I was able to sit in and take the CF Level 2 certification course. I enjoyed my Level 1 course, but this one was so much more hands on and instructional. It really explained HOW to coach a class effectively and see results from the elements discussed in the Level 1. I could see this being a class one would take again, because it really addresses the questions, problems and concerns we see on the floor everyday.

  • The seminar staff was amazing. Huge shout out to Chuck, Jenni, Bobbi and Leah! Hands down well worth the investment.
  • I want more hands on instruction. Once I started seeing ALL the holes in my game I wanted to spend MORE time ironing them out.  Really, they did such a good job I could have set up shop going over the fine details of what I need in my toolbox.
  • The pressure of coaching in from of really well trained eyes wasn’t nearly as bad I thought it would be. Everyone was supportive. Everyone had something wrong and whenever you botched something up really bad you could just say “I wanted to see if John would catch that. Good job.”
  • Not everything I do is bad. Yeah, there are some areas that need tightening, but overall I’m not that bad.
  • The cues and helps I learned were amazing! I filled by toolbox with quite a few visual, verbal and tactile helps I could use to help athletes along the way. This session was chocked full of great coaches and owners. I picked up a lot from the participants as well.
  • This is a shared skill. The more I share it and practice it the more I retain and grow.

Something was said about my coaching that went right back to my own struggles in the classroom. Let me set it up for you .

During my demo coaching session it was pointed out that I was TALKING a lot. I talked so much that my demo was really short changed and not as effective.  It’s what I do. But Bobbi made a comment, because she’s seen other teachers in this same situation. She said, “You have to give the kids time to make a draft”.

Clearly she didn’t mean my CF athletes she was really speaking to my lovey 1st graders. I have to get out of the circle, take the focus off me and let the kiddos do their work. If it needs help or isn’t on par that’s just their draft. We’ll fix it and edit it and do it again.

So this week I’ve been working on giving instructions, assignments and going to sit down next to a kid or work in my group. No more stand in front being the focus of attention. Let them focus on their work and create their draft. So far so good.

Back on the floor tonight. Got quite a few new ideas I’d like to implement.

 

 

#KeepWhitaker1st

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Shenanigans from the Faculty vs Student bball game Friday. I made 45 signs of this nature and passed them out to the audience. Totally insane! Didn’t get any pics! Augh!

No, I am not self absorbed and want you to put me first in your life. I was sadly, made aware that I will be moving to a different grade next year. This year has been a wonderful footnote to my hectic often castaway teaching career. I have an outstanding team. I’m “getting” the process of teaching a diverse class and group of students. This year has brought so much good to my outlook on teaching. And just like that…rug is pulled out from under me.

So in an effort to “get over it” I have made my own hashtag to help me laugh at this and try to move on…#KeepWhitaker1st or #KeepWhit1st.  You’ll see it on my IG posts and other random places.

I am going to do the an analysis of this change using Pros and Cons

Pros and Cons of going to 4th grade

  • I must learn new content areas. My teaching cert is K-5. There’s 0 wrong with knowing 1-2 grade levels. Standards and programs change so often that being in one grade for a long time is just as fluid as moving every single year.

  • My personality could be better used with older students. There are some very serious challenges coming out of 3rd grade next year. There are also some very challenges rising to 1st grade next year.

  • My structure and ideas are better suited for older students. And it works with little ones, too.

  • I may like the older grades. I do. From afar!

  • The discipline needs at 4th grade are huge. I am not interested in older students with poor behavior. I’d much rather curtail the younger students than try to fix those who’ve already established poor habits.

Pros and Cons to staying on 1st grade

  • I am learning the content, standards and procedures. Most of the mistakes I made this year have already been resolved. Next year is going to be even better. Besides

  • Remaining on a grade level isn’t a bad thing. The more comfortable you are with the content the more reflective, insightful and creative you can be.

  • I am way more comfortable with the younger students. It isn’t about like as much as it is about being familiar with the children. I’ve worked many of the “high flyers” on Kindergarten already. They know just like I do that we’ll be toughing it out together next year.

  • There are some very serious challenges coming to 1st grade next year. Not to make myself the savior, but I do want to point out something. If no one lovingly exhorts and puts clear boundaries around the rising 1st grade next year, what kind of student will they be by 4th grade?

  • I have the support structure in place already. No need to Storm, Norm and Form with the 1st grade team. We all know each other and endear one another highly. This has been a very supportive grade level. Diverse and as mixed as a bag of nuts. But a common thread we share is we all care for our students, we love and enjoy one another and we like to laugh…A LOT!

I don’t want to move to 4th grade. I think that’s pretty clear. However, I am very clear of this. (*Warning I am going to make a lot of spiritual statements. If you’re offended, please log off now…)

This life is simple. We are here to glorify Christ. Though I have the pleasure of working for MCS, I serve Jesus Christ. And that being said I am resting that He will have me exactly where He wants me to be. I am positioning myself to go where ever I am assigned next year. I have a preference and I believe that the final result will be different. But even if, I will do what I’m tasked to do with joy in my heart that I have another opportunity to glorify my Lord and Savior.

Because though #KeepWhitaker1st is tongue and cheek Glorifying Christ is my reality.

 

Now I’m a movie critic

batman-supermanYes, I went to see the movie. Yes, I am aware that the reviews were less than stellar. So here’s what I thought of Batman v. Superman.

The Good

  • Bruce Wayne was perfect. I didn’t know what to expect with Ben, but I was greatly impressed with his Bruce Wayne.

  • Wonder Woman was outstanding. She certainly needed more screen time. A Wonder Woman stand alone movie may need to be moved up.

  • The Fight couldn’t have been better. Very solid and enjoyable.

  • The supporting actors were enjoyable.

  • The point of Doomsday was ok. But since we all know Darkseid’s coming it may have been better to start with his intro as the cause for the trio to work together. Oh, wait that happens in the comics. My bad.

The Bad

  • Superman didn’t seem to have a grasp of his emotions. He was very blah. The part where he’s talking to Pa Kent, What?!

  • Lois Lane was put in the movie for no good reason. No good reason.

  • No one needs another back story on Bruce Wayne. We all know about his mom and dad and we all know about him discovering the bat cave. Stop it! Oh, and that goes for Superman and Spider-man as well! Stop it.

  • There were times when the plot literally wandered. The gent next to me kept asking out loud “why did that happen?”

  • I say this a lot, but these movies get so dark that it becomes difficult to see the action. The Doomsday scenes were so dark I had a hard time really sorting out what was happening.

  • Lex knows every Justice League member’s identity and LOGOS already, huh?

  • The Bruce Wayne foreshadow dreams, what the heck?

  • There is an obvious question about Bruce and living quarters that just didn’t make sense. If you see the movie I think you’ll see the “huh, what happened to…” moments a swell.

  • Doomsday could’ve been saved for another stand a lone Superman movie. Even hinted in this movie, but not brought out until later. Plus it would’ve allowed for Dooms to develop properly and look like the horrible monster we all know.

The Ugly

  • Lex Luthor was horrible. I couldn’t help but wish that he’d just go away. He was so joking and silly that I thought he was trying to be Jim Carey’s Riddler than Superman’s arch enemy.

  • They painted themselves into a corner with the “Anti-Superman” angle. There were some serious super hero hate in this movie. Not sure that angle was ever cleared up since it was a great deal of the movie.

  • The civilian deaths were way out of range. We all know that you can’t have wide level destruction without causalities. We all just assume that people die in these events. That being said Bats and Supes both kill people openly. Kind of made their characters more dark than previous.

  • The ending. What in the world?! That leads me into my last complaint.

  • The “god” references were WAY over the top. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a super hero movie that tried so hard to bring religion into the fine details of the story. There was so much of it I could see that a parent would have to explain a lot to their child. (Cause the movie was full of kids!)

Overall I give it a 2.5 bowties. I certainly is a “go see”. If you’re a comic book fan you’ll enjoy seeing the three main DC characters on screen together. They work well and there’s lots that can be done with future movies. If they change up their writing team I think DC will be just fine in the new Cinematic Universe.

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”.

A look back at 2015

The 1st part of this school year is almost wrapped up like a present under the tree. I can’t say just how excited I am about getting away and recharging, but I am sure you understand my current state.

Also this marks the end of 2015 a pretty good year over all. As with all years it seems to have just flown by, but a lot happened this year.  I am going to just highlight a few mostly centered around the shaping of young minds.

The Good

  • I have a fantastic group of students.
    • Lots and lots of good kids here. Most want to do well and just need direction and guidance.
  • My co-workers are the BEST!
  • Most of my systems have worked out well…albeit I need some more. Next year I need to have a system for systems.
  • My centers have been on point all year long.
  • The ESOL students have been “getting it”.
  • I’ve had a blast teaching science and social studies this year.
  • I had some awesome student teacher observers. Hope they get a great classroom one day.
  • GROUPME!
  • The support team here is out of this world! Real troopers
  • I am enjoying Marietta City Schools. It’s different from APS and it’s ok.
  • I’ve had some FANTASTIC class visitors this year. Not sure how I can top the Docs coming in to talk about good back health and getting my babies moving.
  • MEAL PREP!
  • BOWTIES!

The Bad

  • I haven’t seen as much progress as I thought we’d have by close of 2015.
  • Cracking the code and helping them WANT to learn has proven to be a much more tricky task than I first thought.
  • I don’t honestly think I get the guided reading/math portion of my day.

The Down Right Silly

I’ve had the best time teaching 1st grade! I’ve had some adventures for sure…

  • The student that didn’t like me because I was “brown”. Oh he was brown as well.
  • My ESOL student that corrects me every time I try to speak Spanish.
  • When I was having a emotional break down over a student leaving my student that consoled me by telling me she’ll do good work, too.
  • The kindergartner who told me she’ll behave in class because she loved me.
  • The student who gave my co-worker a recycled day card that had been given to her, but it was in Spanish.
  • The student that told me that “decomposing numbers” is like when is daddy took the rims off the car.
  • My little guy who refuses to put his shoes on correctly. He even will change them back if I have him change them.

On the non-school related front I had such a great year. Many, many new things happened.

  • I became a better dad and a pretty good husband
  • Started Olympic Lifting and have found a real desire
  • Finally got to my goal body fat
  • Financially, Team Whitaker got on track this year.
  • We’re taking our first REAL vacation this year!  Won’t be our last.
  • I had so much fun with my BGE!
  • I cleaned out my friend stable. Now I feel lighter not carrying around so many extra folk.

I’ll post a pictorial collage later.

 

 

 

 

My second Oly Lifting Meet

This past weekend I competed in my second Olympic Lifting meet in Savannah, GA. I do believe that I’ve found a niche’ outside of CrossFit that fits me. This is pretty exciting. Let’s do a SWOT.wpid-img_20151115_135945.jpg

Strengths

  • I increased my lifting weight in every area.
  • I was able to complete all three of my snatches.
  • Overall I was relaxed and I didn’t feel rushed.
  • I was able to keep my nutrition on track. The time from the last time you lifted up to the time you lift can be my nemesis. I find myself stressing about it. I didn’t do that this time at all.
  • My coaches are very understanding, supportive and on their game.
  • I hit 4 out of 6 lifts.

Weakness

  • I missed two of my clean and jerks. I have no idea what I was thinking, but I missed them none the less.
  • I didn’t qualify for the Pan Am games in June.
  • Though no one every gets all 6 lifts, I feel I let myself down by missing those two lifts.

Opportunities

  • I am more hungry to train than I’ve ever been. I’m focused on my eating even though I can legitimately relax. I’ve incorporated lots more mobility work into my everyday routine and I feel the results.
  • There’s a lot to learn from failure and I’ve looked over the video of those missed lifts just as much as I did the successful lifts.
  • There are a lot of Olympic lifting meets coming up that will allow me to qualify for the Pan Am Games in June.

Threats

  • Doing to much.
  • Not taking the time to get better. Expecting improvements overnight.
  • Taking a little time off during Christmas/New Years can be a go

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I now know why I teach

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Today I said good bye to the most precious student I’ve had in my career.  This little guy came to my class two months ago.  He was from Mexico.  He didn’t read, speak English and had some issues with reading Spanish.  What worked in his favor is he had a super supportive family and he worked hard in class.

He immediately stole my heart with his polite demeanor and his will to work.  He got lots of support and help from our ESOL staff. In one month with all kinds of help he started speaking basic English, answering questions in both languages. He was a superstar. Because of his willingness to learn I started using Google Translate to relay messages to him and my other ESOL students. They all love it!

As you can see he has a handsome smile. When he walked in the room you couldn’t help but smile, laugh or both.

A few weeks ago his mom came in to tell me, with tears in her eyes that the family would be returning to Mexico in November. To say that I was heart broken isn’t the full story.  Then a few days later mom told me that everything had been moved up to October 15th. What?

Every day he walked in class he’d hug me and most of the time we’d cry.

Then this past week happened. I had kind of forgot that the day was coming until I got this text.

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This was the week! I knew that I had a workshop Wednesday, a field trip Thursday, so this would be a short week. I told him we’d have a going away party Friday. Whenever he could he’d grab my hand and walk down the hall. He’d hug me and most of the time we’d openly just cry. It got so bad that another student told me that she’d be a good student, too since I was losing Angel.  This was a special kid and I knew I wasn’t ok with losing him.

We went on a field trip Thursday. I feel sorry for the rest of my class. All I did was walk around with Angel and try to get some good pics for his mom. She wanted me to get some good memories for him.

And this wouldn’t be a story if I didn’t have one more twist. Thursday was his last day. Due to all the things his family had going on he wouldn’t be able to come to school Friday.

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There have been many a day that I wonder why I teach. If you know me off line you know I asked this question a lot. However, this past weekend I realized that this is why I teach. I teach so that I can feel alive. So that I can have authentic connections with another generation and one day know that this connection will net life change.

For the last time today Angel stopped by my class and it was hard to say good bye for the very last time. His family was beginning to make their journey south and eventually out of the country. He and I hugged for our last time When he let me go he whispered. “I love you”. This is why I teach.

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Good bye my dear friend. Many, many blessings on you and your family. Thanks for making me a better teacher

This is becoming a trend

Another great week. I got a lot done. I still have a ton to do, but this week was productive for sure.
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Our math coach stopped by to teach a Math Workshop Lesson. Wow, she’s good. My kids learned a lot.
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This was a part of the lesson. Thank you, Coach O’Connel!
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Combined our two classes so Mrs. Smallwood and I could drive home the point of using tally makes to capture information then using that information in a graph. Once again, my students learned a lot.
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We learned so much we took our learning to the streets. We went out in the hall and tallied up the students we saw wearing certain color shirts. Then we took it to class and made a simple graph using the data.
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This week we started working on our AR tests. We’re focusing in on reading the book a couple of times then jumping on line to take the test. Teaching the students to stay with the book and make sure they understand it is a real task.
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I wouldn’t be me if there weren’t bowties this week. Got a new Batman as well as Marvel comics bowtie. Let’s just call this Superhero week.
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Good friend needed a reminded. Hey, I need this reminder, too.
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Startbucks cookie straw and Kill Cliff iced coffee. This wasn’t a good idea. I’ll talk about this a little more on Thursday on a special Whole30 blog posting.
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Let’s crack open the sparkling apple cider! My grade level won the best yard (hallway) decoration contest. We have full intentions of this starting a trend. We already started the plan for the next design in a few months.
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And as always there were heavy weights lifted. Some didn’t fare to well, however. RIP.

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Do I have to say that there was meal prep this week? My dinner swap made this fantastic breakfast bowl. It wasn’t 100% whole30, but it was all the way tasty and nutrient dense.