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”.

2016 has started off…

This year has really been a mind bender. I’m SO used to resolution/goal setting/Daniel fasting/starting off with the end in mind/blah-blah-blah. This year however, I didn’t do any of the usual. I am sticking to what worked as I ended 2015 and not doing what didn’t work. That just seemed easy enough. Coming off our epic Christmas I have had ZERO interest in over stressing myself. So I’ve kept it all very low key. Let’s talk about it.

Family

  • We’re spending a lot more time together. The girls have so much going on that our little moments together are pretty special.
  • Family planning time. We have so much going on that we need to spend some time looking at and planning our calendars.
  • Um…yeah. We all are going to have to pitch in on household stuff. No reason to fake that any longer.

School

  • I love my little class. We’re struggling to make the gains that we need, but we can do it.
  • Each student has a chart of their place on our “gains train”. They all know just about what they need to do each week to get to the end with success.
  • I also LOVE my school. I can’t say enough about them. That being said I would like to just stay there, learn how to address the needs of this community and help DES become the school it’s supposed to be.

Crossfit

  • I am going to go get my Level 2 certification soon. Why not? I enjoy CF and I want to be better as a coach as well as a Crossfitter. The next certification will help me with the coaching aspect.
  • I want to find more ways to meal prep! I know that’s crazy cause I already to every meal and snack that I eat, but there’s some more that I’d like to do.
  • I can’t express how much I get out of Olympic lifting. I feel better and I feel amazing going at it on the platform.

Finances

  • Team Whitaker is in a good spot. That being said there are some areas that we’re not addressing. We’ve skipped them for YEARS and truth be told we just don’t know enough to be good in these areas. So…we’re going to fix that.
  • Sometime this year Team Whitaker will increase our streams of income times 2. More later.

Faith

  • I want my family to be able to properly sort and discuss matters of faith without feeling they’re not properly equipped. No need to wait for someone else to “defend them” they’re able to discuss these matters on their own.

I will expand on all of these more and more as the year moves on. Can you believe that we’re half way through January? Amazing how time flies.

Christmas 2015

This Christmas Team Whitaker did something totally off the reservation. We went on a cruise rather than the usual Christmas adventures. Love the extended family and all the Christmas fa-la-la-la, but I am sure we’re going to make this an every other year event for sure.

The skinny:

  • 7 night Western Caribbean Cruise on Royal Caribbean
  • Booked way back in July so the trip was paid for and ready back in October
  • Drove to Florida rather than fly so we could enjoy the ship a little more

 

My thoughts over all. I am going to start with the bad, cause I had to think the hardest to find something that wasn’t great.

Bad:

  • No wi-fi (Later on this is going to be a good thing)
  • I left our chargers in the car. Thankfully a lady loaned me one and that kept the party rolling.
  • The beverage package, I enjoy my Starbucks daily, were out of line!
  • I had to make a concerted effort to drink enough water and I didn’t do a good job at that.
  • The Wind Jammer cafe wasn’t jamming.

So-so:

  • There were some super windy days.
  • I didn’t schedule a regular dinner reservations ahead of time. I won’t make that mistake again.
  • The RC cruise cup is a real bonfide hustle! $22 dollars a day for adults and $15 for kids PER DAY! That was going to break down to something like $200+ for these cups to get unlimited drinks.  I did break down and get a cup for myself and shared it with the family. If I had brought my own travel cup I would’ve been A-OK. (It did get my free Starbucks, but we’ll talk about that later, too)
  • The 1st night the ship was rocky! I think it had something to do with how windy it was. Both just seemed really odd.
  • It was my choice to travel during Christmas, but if you’re someone who likes the snowy, wintery feel of Christmas time-this isn’t your trip. The ship was decorated perfectly. However, it still didn’t feel Christmasy. This might be what it’s like for other parts of the world who don’t have the winters we have in the States.
  • Though it’s “off season”, the ship was still full. Lots of fun people watching.

The Good/Great/Awesome:

  • I hope this blog gets seen my RC higher ups. I want to give big props to the staff of the Freedom of the Seas. They were outstanding.
    • Stateroom attendant-AMAZING!
    • Main Dinning room Staff-Spectacular. They remembered my girls names and their drinks. They were kind and listened to Taylor ramble on about being Bat Girl.
    • The Espresso on the Promenade-may have stole the entire cruise for me. The Starbucks team was amazing. And I can be super picky about my SB, but Janet, John and that team were outstanding. I only regret that I didn’t stop by Sunday on my way off ship to say good bye.
    • The entire staff were very kind and always looked the part. I know you can’t always be on your A-game, but every time I met someone they were smiling and had a cheery voice. Good on your Royal C!
    • Assata, a member of the entertainment staff, appointed Trina the BINGO Mascot.  Trina was able to assist with raffles and even was included in game.
  • No wifi! I spent the 1st two days getting used to my phone not getting notifications and me feelings as if I “had” to check in. We did find a few wifi cafes at port, but if I hadn’t found them it would’ve been ok. It was a forced detox from technology.
  • Reading books isn’t a lost art. Sitting on the deck people watching, I noticed a lot of people with thick novels reading. Not a lot of e-readers or tablets. Lots of reading going on. Now when we all got to port and had access to cell networks it was life as normal.
  • Cabin size was perfect for Team Whitaker. Next time though, the girls are getting their own room. Or next time I am going to spring for a suite. Those things are HUGE!
  • The food was amazing! I wasn’t impressed with the open buffet, The Wind Jammer. However, the restaurants on ship made up for it in spades. Great service and excellent food. Each night my girls got to try out a new food. From escargot to lobster tail. They tried it all.
  • I am not the guy who has to swim every time I see a pool. My girls do want to swim all the time. So relaxing by the pool wasn’t happening all the time.
  • The on-board TV programming is fun. My kids discovered old 1960-70’s cartoons on ToonCast. Couldn’t get them to turn it off.
  • Our cabin was located close to the forward and it was PERFECT. The spray from the ocean didn’t reach us and it was high enough to see for miles and miles.
  • I know everyone wants to go on a Disney Cruise. I am not a big Disney fan. Royal Caribbean has partnered with  DreamWorks. I’d suggest that if you’re saving your money to pay a premium for a Disney cruise that you look into a Royal Caribbean as well.
    • Top tier kids activities
    • Very kid/family friendly activities for all
    • Movies, games and shows directly for the kids
    • Everyday the kids could meet DW characters
    • All this was free, no up charge or premium
  • The Ship’s compass (on board news paper) is the best. There’s so much to do on the ship. You would have to try to be bored on this cruise.
  • The ports of call Labadee, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel were amazing. Lots to see, do and experience. You can tell that a lot of time went into making each one of these memorable.
  • 7 days were perfect. Actually, I would be open to a longer cruise. If a shorter one is what’s in the budget, do it! If you can spare the change go for a 7 day cruise. The “at sea” days are a precious gift. You don’t feel compelled to go ashore and you know that from Aft to Forward there’s stuff for the family to do. So if you decided to sit o the balcony for 4 hours and think it’s ok.
  • I did a great job packing for the trip. Two formal nights almost got me, but I was ready.  Be sure to check your dress code registry for the main dining room.

A few more ideas:

  • Bring a water bottle or canister. You’re going to want water far more than the beverages on the ship.  Though the readied availability of soda, tea and coffee is amazing, I needed water.
  • If you have kids or a lot of family, get some walkie talkies! You won’t regret it.
  • The earlier the better the later the greater. If you don’t have a scheduled dinning time go to breakfast early and dinner late. The dinning rooms aren’t nearly as full early and late. Most people are on vacation and want to sleep in.
  • You can make your own dinner reservations and it’s just like having a scheduled time. We even had the same table 5 out of the 7 nights.
  • Get a room with a balcony! Nuf said.
  • The ship will give you Dramamine patch if you suffer from motion sickness.
  • If you’re going to the ports of call with the intention of chilling and relaxing, soaking up some rays, I suggest that you get off the ship as soon as you can find a spot on the beach and start soaking. By the time I got to the beach, I was ready to nap and head back. Should’ve stayed longer.
  • Pack early so you have time to change out or add stuff as needed.
  • RC encourages you to not pack your medications, but put them in a carry-on.  I thought no need for that, but my wife thought differently.  I am glad she did.  A little bag of trusty go-to’s such as Aleve, Mucinex, Pepto, and Ricola were all appreciated by someone in our stateroom at least once.
  • Get your passports early. The stress of traveling would only be increased by not having all your passport info in place.

This is the most relaxed I’ve ever been heading into New Year’s. My mind is clear and I’m looking forward with great expectations. Now, if I can find a set of walkie talkies, I can book our next trip!