No goals left behind

I like this time of year, December-February. I enjoy planning, thinking and setting goals for the year. I always set aside time during this season to just think, dream and plan. 5 out of 7 years I set and accomplish the goals I set. This year I'm going BIG. I'm going to accomplish 100% of my goals. And, I'm not going to set only 2 goals so I can get it done. I have 9 good, strong, SMART, life changing goals set out with a plan to get each of them done. There are 2 elusive goals, however that have evaded me for YEARS. This year the year I turn 40 I will see them accomplished. No goals left behind. Here we go. Want to know what my goals are for 2014? Just watch…you'll see them soon enough. 

Here's my plan. I will share my goals at the end of January. 

1. Research my goals. I like to know what I'm getting myself into. I'm not GREAT at research, but I'm pretty good. 

2. I Decided that either I'm going to obsess over this or not. If I'm not going to obsess over it, then I'm not going to do it. 

3. Reduce the picture. Small bite sized pieces, daily steps, weekly steps, monthly steps you get the point. 

4. Make it public. I chose to blog about it. You can ask me questions about my goals. I'll gladly share where I am. 

5. Seek accountability. I LOVE to surround myself with people doing stuff. I want them to intentionally and unintentionally prod me on. 

6. I now expect it to be hard, but along with the struggle I expect, seek, look for the strength to get this thing done! 

7. Encourage and seek encouragement. 

8. Visualize the goal completion. I spend a little time daily thinking what it will be like to be as fit as I can at 40, to be debt free, to make my job the career I never hat to work at ever again, to be a multi book author. I like the picture now I need do it so you can see it, too.  

9. Learn from failures. If the goal is worthy of my time then failure isn't a STOP sign. It's a This ain't the way sign. 

10. Focus on 1 goal at one time. I need help on this. I tend to keep my goals in a family so I can do more than 1 in at a time cause they're related. 

11. Practice walking goal out every single day. I have to obsess about being the man God wants me to go. It has to consume my thoughts, words, actions and deeds. Then it will become easy.

12. Take responsibility for all of it. It's all mine. The success, the failures, the set backs the set ups. They are all mine. 

Lucky Number 13. Celebrate cause the journey was well worth it. 

The Longest days

The Longest days are those that the kids tend to grasp the least information. But also I'm teaching, grouping and talking a lot. I did not expect after this amount of time and practice my students would still be struggling with double digit addition with regrouping. It's tough. I just didn't think I wasn't reaching them that much! Wow! Got to moved on and start other skills, though. 

I'm amped up that we're doing a College and Career day in a few weeks. I've been gathering various college banners from friends. I'm decking out my classroom door to look like a huge Morehouse College application. I'm getting my Cricut ready for some grade A cutting. Got a lot to do in a few days. Pictures will follow. 

My foray into the 7 habits has been hit and miss. I'm not getting the students excited about anything. I've tried to review the 1st four habits a lot to no avail. I'm looking at me and my style to see why I'm not getting them on par. There are a ton of good, high quality excuses, but I have to find a better solution. We're just in November. 

How are you keeping the motovation high in your class? Are you? I'm putting up the SOS for new ideas and plans. 

Teachers UNITE!

So now the October stretch has started. This is the time when teachers (ME) question: 

  • Am I making a difference? 
  • Am I in the profession?
  • What the HECK am I doing? 

This week has been a trip. Just a lot of off task-ness and refocusing. I even had a kid steal one of my fidget bands from off the bottom of a chair. #WhoDoesThat!? 

The super frustrating thing is that this week's lessons/content weren't very hard. It was more of a stretch week than a new subject. So there was a lot of room for the kids to grow and feel successful. Can't honestly say that it panned out like that. 

The feeling that I'm getting from the group is "Mr. Whitaker, you're cool and all and I'm going to let you finish this lesson. But you ain't speakin' my language and I don't care to learn yours." I'm starting to get a sense of what it's like for a person from another country to come to America. Total immersion. Is there a Rosetta Stone for teaching in the inner city? 

This week I knew thoughtI was killin' it on my imagery and word pictures. I thought I was breaking it down to the very last compound. I thought I was making my case for them to desire to learn like Johnny Cochran.  What I saw was my words fall flat like a tire. I'm just not speaking their language. Now we can certainly debate culture, but that's another blog post for sure. These babies just don't know how or want to learn. 

All Therosist need not apply. I don't care what a book says or some gal on Oprah. I want trench dwelling teachers to tell me what they do to motivate the unmotivated. Help!

I know a lot of my teacher friends read, but don't comment on blogs. I'd love to hear you thoughts. Pass this question on to others in your circle, cause I cherish the feedback. 

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I might be Teacher of the Year!

That kind of week

Every teacher can feel my when I say it was "that kind of week". Having a challenging time reaching my students. I just haven't found the combination to unlock an appreciation of learning for them. I have a list of things that worked pretty well. Some that surprised me and a lot that just about smashed me into the floor. Needless to say I'm clocking in tomorrow with nothing less than the high expectation that this day I will make it THAT kind of week! 

How are you doing? What's your first 8 weeks of school been like? 


Don’t play the game…play the man.

Everyday we play a game. Sometimes we're up. Sometimes we're down. No matter what we're in a game and we need to win. You have to know the defense and the offense, that's a given. But do you know the players better than they know themselves? 


A person once said "Don't play the game, play the man." In my case it's "play the children". I need to really, really dig down into the fine details of each of my students to raise them up to where they need to be. If I play the "class", I'm only going to reach 60% of them at best. Some way I'm going to do a better job of dealing with each student and each of their abilities so I can help raise up 100% of them. Like I've said this is an All Star class. They have a lot of talent and they're sharp. It's going to be tough, but so is getting beat down everyday. I just choose what hard job I'm going to do, cause I'M playing the children not the class. 

As a recap, my time frame analogy was spot on! For literacy, it worked like a charm. Now I need to improve my content. Thankfully, I do have the times down. Looking for a timer that I can set multiple times for, if anyone wants to suggest one. Next I'm going all in on my math times. Haven't had any feedback on it, but I'll get myself on a better schedule and time this week. By end of 1st 9 weeks I have the SuperLearner Central running like a well-oiled machine. 

I already have my lessons done and sent off for next week. I have my emergency sub plans done. I have my new BBoard ready. Just need the kiddos to work on their work to put up.  Not sure what I need to do to get the "authentic" student work quality up. I do models and I have them follow me, but they're just not that creative and imaginative. Wonder how to teach that. 

Crossfit South cobb will see my carcass tomorrow. Can't wait. Today's WOD was fun looking. I didn't get in there. No excuse will be given. I will be there tomorrow and I will have down that gallon of water to keep me hydrated. 

The Entertainment Train has been derailed

Attention all passengers! This is your Conductor. I want to let you know that this train has jumped the tracks. Be not afraid. You're in no immediate danger. However, you will need to exit the train in an orderly fashion. You will be directed to the nearest manual rail car for you to operate to get to your new destination. I repeat the Entertainment Train has jumped the tracks!

These kids are going to learn something this year! I don't care if they write nasty notes about how ugly my shoes are. They are going to learn. They are going to be engaged in their learning. They're going to be able to show it in some meaningful way and most importantly they're going to get out of my room and go to 5th grade as a blessing. I refuse to hang my head when I see the 5th grade teachers because I know I sent them some do nothings. 

We have 12 days before Christmas, I feel a song coming on but I'll spare you. We have 12 days and we have a ton of good, solid reasons to not have quality instruction. My students deserve better than me making excuses. They need me to press in and help them as much as I can and even more.

Not sure if I'll do Wordless Wednesday tomorrow, but I think we'll do No Repeat Wednesday or Listen the 1st time I give directions Wednesday. 

Entertaining Vs. Engaging

This week I'm working on getting my students excited about learning. Sounds pretty easy, but it's not. Most of the time I get caught up in entertaining the kids aka Teacher focused learning. What needs, has to happen is that I get the kids to find discover their own learning, engaging. To often the students watch me like a TV or a sports event. What needs to happen is they are the actors or athlete's participating in the show or event. The teacher is the director or even the coach, but the kids are doing the work. 

I'm not 100% sure HOW as much as I am sure I HAVE to get these babies excited about their learning. Even if it flies counter to what they see/hear/know all around them. Got a hefty task, but nothing else really matters. I see it, that the World we live in is a hard and often horrible place. I need to help them see it as well and know that the more well prepared they are the better it will be for them in the long run. I'd love to Skype with a class same age, background that's really making different choices to show my class that they can do it, but they have to be willing to fight the gravitational pull in order to soar as high as we all know they can. 

Last week was a bear getting ready for the math assessment. Let's just say that the bear wasn't a cute cuddily teddy. We got beat up by a big huge grizzly. So today I have my homeroom all day and we're going to slice, dice, and review what happened. I have some great student focused activities for them to do to hopefully discover their own mistakes on the test. Besides drilling and killing we need to also to plow our way through geometric shapes since last week we talked about flat shapes. 

My trick is learning to keep maintaining the class while we're moving forward into new content. I see it like an engineer on a self contained vessel. Somehow they keep the current systems on line while adding new and doing new things. All that while keeping x amount of people provided for.  I have a set amount of kids who have to get to a destination. While we travel we drop off bad habits, pick up new ones, learn tons of information, prove that we've learned it, sometimes double back and pick up some more all while still moving ahead. What I need to do is meet some people in the cruise industry or navy who can explain how they keep that juggling act going. 

I'm collecting stuff for some good remediation centers. The basics will NEVER get old. I also am doing some extension activities to keep what we learned a live. This is going to be a strong push until the end of the month. Hope the kids can hold on. 

Got a great CrossFit WOD planned today. I feel much better. Once my eating gets back on track I should be back fully. 

Asking better questions in class

It's so easy to blame everything under the sun for why kids don't learn. I caught myself the other day in faculty meeting realizing that I was blaming the kids for their not getting a concept. But truly the power is mine. I have the power to not blame, but to take responsibility for the kids learning or not. So rather than asking "Why won't these kids get this?" I started asking "What can I do to help these children learn this concept?" The first question made me a victim while the second question put all the strength in my hands to deal with the issue. 

When I swapped from finger pointing to looking for solutions I gave myself permission to find an answer not wait for someone to fix the problem for me. Now in all honestly, I'm still trying to find how to reach each of the 64 kids I have to work with. Some are ready to learn and are rocking and rolling. The others…not so much. But I take responsibility for that and I also know that I can find a solution.  I know that I can find the way to teach each of them and that I will. It's just a matter of time. 

Let's see how the kiddos respond.