So much to do

I have been in a Phonics training for the last few months. It’s been very insightful. I didn’t KNOW how to teach phonics and with the ebbs and flows in education it was hard to see where this would fit into the daily grind. Thankfully my district has invested a lot into teaching phonics and I believe it was money well spent.

My class has several struggling readers, ESOL as well as kids that aren’t motivated. What I found out is that that the more time I spend in helping them in this area the better their behavior has become. I’m not saying it’s a fix all, but helping them to read has helped a lot.

I have a few powerful stories to tell when I get a chance, but I will just say that knowing that they can read and have the skills to tackle tough words has made an impact that I hope lasts well past our time in 1st grade.

Catching up

I’ve been really giving this class my best and I haven’t blogged like I wanted to. It’s funny how just a few minute changes make teaching so much different.

wpid-20151002_111731.jpgOne of my babies thought they’d bribe me by putting my name in their noun search. Well, it worked. Here’s a cookie! I love this group.

We have a SUPER transient population. I knew this going in, but I didn’t realize just how much. I’ve already had 7 new kids come in post Day 1. I’ve already had 3 kids move and I have 4 more about to leave in the next few weeks. I had a student come in on 9/15 and withdraw 9/28. Since we had 2 work days that means she was only in my class for 7 days! This is pretty interesting.


My absolute favorite student (yes, I have a favorite student and I tell him all the time) is about to leave due to immigration issues. The day he found out he was on his way to school. He literally hugged me and cried for most of the morning. I will also say I cried, too. He’s a fantastic ESOL kid. He’s making strides. He’s putting in effort and his family is very supportive. Needless to say whenever he wants to laugh or wants to talk to me I stop what I’m doing and listen.

I even asked his mom if I could adopt him so he could stay.


He knew very little if any English when he got to room D44. Now he can speak in some very well thought out sentences. This page right here is the page we were working on when he said “Mr.Whitaker, that says red”. #Ialmostfainted

I don’t need to say how much I adore my team. This is a special group of professionals. We all understand our craft differently, but we all want the exact same thing…longer Summers and more money!  Oh and we want to produce the best students MCS has ever seen, too. I need to do a collaborative lesson with Ms. Mills’ class and Ms. Butler’s class. Since Whitaker’s book worms have been in just about everyone else’s room it’s only fair to corrupt these classes as well. See, you soon Mills and Butler!

Not sure why, but I have 4 Kennesaw State University students observing me. Talk about a fun adventure. They’re getting a full dose of what it’s like and I think they’re going to do great.  I have the best job!

I’m going to be competing in two lifting comps in the next 60 days. I’m very amped. Two  lifts. One I’m going to crush and one is going to be there to keep me humble. Thanks to my coaches I think I have a great chance of making a run at doing this for a while. I’ve also returned to running to keep my cardio strong. I had given up on running when I became a CrossFitter. Now, I’m looking at balancing the two. I’ve been coaching at yet another box. I think the only thing that would seriously make me consider giving up teaching is coaching. I love these athletes. I’m super humble that Miles, Jake and Cathy trust me with their people. Top that with all that I get from them and it’s like awesome wrapped in bacon sprinkled with a hefty dose of Heck yeah!

You already know that I’ve been meal prepping. Not going to give that up for the world. My little dinner party has been a super success. So many great stories and so much great food. Still seeing the results of my Whole130. It’s been very, very easy to maintain my overall fitness now that I’m eating pretty normal. Let’s see how it translates into my comps and results moving into 2016.

More pictures soon.

My Whole30 adventure

Today I wrapped up my Whole30 adventure. I started on May 4th and concluded today. That makes it not Whole30, but Whole130 days. Here are some of my numbers.

Starting weight May 4, 2015 224

Ending weight September 10, 2015 199

Starting waist size 38

Ending waist size 36

Starting neck size 16 1/2

Ending neck size 15

During the last 6 weeks I went from:

Body Fat 16% to 12.5%

Lean Muscle 169 to 174

Fat lbs 33 to 25

I should have done the full body fat/lean muscle composition test on the top end when I started this so I can see how well I progressed. So let’s talk about what I experienced.

The Good

  • A fellow athlete from CrossFit South Cobb chose to take this venture with me. This was probably the single best decision I made. We were able to do a short book study, keep each other encouraged and find a way to enjoy this journey. So huge props to Dana my CrossFit Angel!
  • I fully understand why Jason eats. I am someone who’s really thirsty most of the time. I fully realize that most of the time when I’m “hungry” I’m really just thirsty. By carrying a jug of water with me I found it much easier to remain hydrated rather than reaching for a sugary, salty, sweet snack.
  • I am well rested. I get to bed at a really good time.  Later I’ll explain why that’s a big deal.
  • I feel strong. My performance in the gym has been on point.  I’d certainly like to do more, but life often gets in the way. I do feel I’m on par with my goals.
  • My mind feel clearer. But…I’ll tell you about that later, too.
  • Meal prep has just become so beneficial to me. I cut down on a lot of prep time, cook time and the such through the week. Adding in that we now have a great meal prep dinner party and it’s just wonderful. It’s been so easy to make Whole30 meal prep that this honestly is going to be a habit that’s hard to break.
  • Because my meal prep has been on point, my  body has gotten on a very nice eating schedule. I know when I’m hungry and I can tell much more clearly when I’m just thirsty.
  • Cravings have been few and far between. If I want something off plan I may or may not, but if I do I’m not destroying an entire pizza.
  • All my clothes fit great. Nothing is snug. I did give away everything that was to big so now I have a well fitted closet.

The Bad

  • I did’t remain on plan every meal for the entire 130 days. Whenever I did eat bad I found out something quickly. I get sick. I didn’t tell anyone, but I found myself sick whenever I scarfed down some of my kids fries or anything greasy or sugary.
  • I’m not sure why, but my sleep pattern has been trashed for a while. It’s a given that every single night I am going to wake up around 2:30-330 am. I don’t have to use the restroom or anything I just wake up. I don’t know what it is and I can’t seem to figure out a remedy. It’s been going on since before my journey and hasn’t cleared up. I still feel rested, but I know that I’m not getting quality 8 hours even though I often make every effort to do so.
  • When I get brain fog, it’s CLOUDY. I have found myself totally lost in thought mid day. I’m usually pretty clear minded, but when I get that brain fog, it’s London Fog like nobody’s business.
  • I don’t think I convinced my family to join me. Oh well.

The Ugly

  • I can’t imagine going back to eating exactly like I did before. I made such progress in understanding WHY I eat that I can’t imagine putting aside that realization for an entire pizza.
  • I don’t want to get off the Whole30. I know it’s not something to live on, but I don’t want to. I’ve more than likely had my last cheap, greasy slice of pizza.
  • I developed dry patches of skin on my legs during the start of Whole30. It lasted about a month. I’m not sure it’s because of Whole30, but it’s cleared up since.

I’d sum it all up with these three things really helped me stay faithful to Whole30 and see results. I would like to hear how you stay committed to your eating plan and what your long term results have been.

Portion control-I used to eat a lot of food good/bad just because. No restraint.

Meal Prep-Knowing exactly what I’m going to eat has been HUGE for me staying on course. I don’t need to say that it’s a budget fixer as well as a time saver.

Water-I’m all about water now. I’ve found it so helpful in the so many ways. Even though I still drink coffee and tea, I get my body weight + 10% of water pretty much everyday without question.

Let’s talk about a great week

This week I made LOTS of head way with  both my English as well as Spanish students.  They all need help, but in different scales to say the least. I had two readers come in this week. (Had to catch up on the fact that I didn’t have one last week)


So you need to hear your native language as well as English? Well, why don't I bring in an expert to read to you all?

So you need to hear your native language as well as English? Well, why don’t I bring in an expert to read to you all.

Shout out to my mom for coming to read this week!

Shout out to my mom for coming to read this week!

I re designed a color chart to add Spanish and English. Next the Alphabet chart.

I re designed a color chart to add Spanish and English. Next the Alphabet chart.

Welcome to 1st grade's weather wonderland

Welcome to 1st grade’s weather wonderland

Grade level chose Weather as our hallway decoration. I think we did a fantastic job. The kids pitched in a lot and most of all they all loved it.

Yeah, those are

Yeah, those are “almost” real clouds

Please note the rain drops coming down. Get your umbrellas!

That's right. There's a blizzard of vocab words on 1st grade hall.

That’s right. There’s a blizzard of vocab words on 1st grade hall.

Have no fear, we end it all with a rainbow. (There are bowties on the rainbow. Get it...)

Have no fear, we end it all with a rainbow. (There are bowties on the rainbow. Get it…)

What do you do with 100s of paper bowties? Well...

What do you do with 100s of paper bowties? Well…

I think for my birthday I’m going to cover the building in bow ties, just because it’s wrong.


I wanted to  decorate my “class sign” with a little something special.


I also spruced up my team’s signs. I wonder how long it will take them to notice this little update.


We’re spotlighting our math skills this week. We pick a strategy to focus on and try to use it as much as we can. We write  about it, talk about it, use it and most of all learn it.

Many schools use Accelerated Reader, but my school  takes it to another level. We had a kick off to get the kids excited about  AR and earning as many points as possible. The school puts  out a goal a long with a prize. This year they’re having a school wide picnic with all kinds of fun and games. Let’s see how the kids do.

wpid-20150828_133225.jpg Note that Marietta Reads is wearing adidas. This school ROCKS!

The goal is 35,000 points. My class has to earn 1000

The goal is 35,000 points. My class has to earn 1000

The goal is 35,000 each grade/class has a part to contribute. I have to get my students to each earn 66 points. That’s a lofty goal considering everything. We read tons of books each  week, but getting them to stick is going to be tricky. I’ll keep you posted.


And yes, there were bowties this week as well.

Week 3 is in the books. If this was your 1st or 3rd week, how did it go?

I’m looking for a few guest bloggers. If you’re interested, please let me know.

First full week in review.

This week was OUTSTANDING!

I love this group of kids! I’m so very happy to have come aboard. Now let’s review this week in pics.


 The 5th grade team thought it would be nice to start everyone’s week with a special card. They were right. That was kinda cool.


My neighbor who’s a 1st year (Shout out to The Most Beautiful 1st Years in the World, Perry and Davis) and I combined classes to help all our kiddos get the grip on how Number Talks work. Ms. Storie is a great teacher! We had so much fun doing this.


I like centers a lot. I did an inventory and I found that I have almost 65 handmade centers for 2nd grade. Since I’m in 1st grade and I can’t use 65% of the things I have from last year I guess all I can do is…make more! So expect an explosions of charts soon.

After Centers time I asked my dear, precious ones what kind of educational experience they’d make for a classmate using these random bags of manipulatives. They might only be a few weeks out of Kindergarten, but they’re pretty bight. They had some neat ideas. I will showcase these new centers when we put it together.


The lunchbox saga has been solved. I scored a great Norchill cooler bag that can hold almost 2 days worth of food along with a 64 ounce growler (The Tank)! That’s a lot of space. Most importantly it keeps stuff cold sitting in my classroom.


We set some reading goals this week. I know they’re afraid to read, but I am going to get them out of that real quick. I’m looking for a creative way to post these around the class so the kids can check off as they read. Maybe to a class total chart as well. That would be cool. Of course having them read to me, write a book report or read to a Book Buddy.


Oh, yeah I wore a few bow  ties this week. I think I’m going to give in to the Jeans Friday. Thought I’d be stanch stickler for my tie, but I find myself moving around on the floor, running and doing more now. The tie was to restrictive.

How was your first full week of school?

And so it begins

This school year started off with very little fan fair. That’s a good thing, trust me. I’m OK with easing into gear and a slow take off to cruising altitude. Let’s look at the current state of affairs.


The Exciting

  • I have 15 students. Most are of Hispanic descent.

  • I have more boys than girls in my class. I like my class theme. Whitaker’s Bookstore. The kids seem to like it as well.


    Day 1 room configuration


Another shot of Day 1 room set up


Now that we know how to do let’s change the room around to allow you to move better.

  • Reading and getting everyone to read on level is HUGE and at this very moment almost the only thing that matters.

    Got to give this guy credit for being a snazzy dresser

    Got to give this guy credit for being a snazzy dresser

  • I have some spirited students, but everyone else knows why they come to school and are ready to work.

  • My new school is SUPER supportive. Lots of support staff ready to help in any way.

  • I’ve met almost all my parents. Some don’t speak English, but I have me them.


    Thanks for all the great supplies to stock our class for learning!

  • That being said EVERY parent has brought me a huge bag of classroom supplies. Yahtzee!

  • My team is six deep. Never had that many co-workers on a grade level. Lots of good ideas and mind share.

  • The ethnic mix of teachers/students and staff is cool. Not all one ethnic group or even gender. Lots of males in my school.


Aren’t we adorable?

  • 1st grade is GREAT! They’re so small and funny. Kinda remind me of my own DD2 in size.

The Kinda Big Deal


My lunch box and water bottle take up my entire rolling cart. Sup wit dat?

  •  I don’t feel l have a full grasp on my daily schedule. Praying every second no one does a “walk through” on me.

  • It’s a LONG school day. 6:25 – 3:45 is a thing for sure. Add in Coaching or Training at CFSC and I’m wore out by days end.

  • I am not eating enough and sometimes I find myself going  long stretches of time sans food. Not a good idea at all.

  • Though my school is considerably closer to my house. I still have a lot of turns to make so it ends up being 15-20 minutes.

  • I get paid once a month. That’s odd. But let’s just praise God that I GET PAID!

  •  I can’t use most of the charts I made in my previous school. Can I sell ’em?

OMG! It’s time to freak out!

I can’t have a fridge in my class! I’ve spent 30000 man hours trying to find a reasonable cooler I can bring with my everyday. (It’s really that big a deal, trust me.)


Yeah, my lunch box is big. What’s it to ya!?

This year is off to a great start. I know there will be some hiccups along the way, but I’m very pleased with the start. Now, if I could find a Yeti cooler for sale.

 How’s your year starting off?


No more 2nd grade for me. 1st grade has stolen my heart.

A community tour


Our staff went on a tour of the community that feeds our school.  The local police guided our tour to give us background of the apartments, complexes and housing areas.

It was well thought out and meaningful.  We were able to ask questions and give feedback.  Lots of storied were shared.

This was very powerful.  Since I moved to this school district for its proximity to my house, I was taken aback how little I knew about this area.  Most of us had never done something like this before. We all left with a greater appreciation for our students and where they’re coming from.


Oh, and the bus driver wasn’t playing with us. She had us sitting quiet like the students.

This isn’t about teaching, but it is about learning

Today I hosted my 1st Epic Meal Prep Swap Dinner Party. (I have NO idea what that is, I just liked the name and the Hashtag.) Every Sunday I do I huge cook to prepare my meals for the week. My wife sometimes gets in on it and gets her lunches made. I make all my meals 3 meals, 2 snacks for 5 days. I sometimes do freezer meals for my family, too.


Over the summer somehow my Sunday cooks evolved into a cookout. On any given Sunday we’d have 5-8 friends over for food, fun and meal prep. Just a house full of love, noise and me getting my meals ready for the week.


The past couple of weeks my weekly cook turned into a time where I’d cook other people’s food, they’d box it up and go home and do their meal prep. Spreading the good news of meal prep I guess. The only thing is some of the food I was cooking looked so yummy and smelled so good. My guests started sharing their meals with one another. No prodding, just good old sharing.


Then I got this idea. What if we all brought a set amount of food (proteins and veggies) and cooked them here? We could set it out like a buffet and everyone just mix and match their meal prep? It would solve a fundamental issue some people have with meal prep, the same meal everyday.  It would also allow like minded people to share ideas, have fun and most of all stay true to their goals of meal prepping. No one loses.

This week we pulled it off. It was mostly people from the gym and a few nearest and dearest. All I can say is WOW. We over did it. So much good food. So many great meals made. I attempted to capture a pic of some of our best, but it wasn’t possible. They all looked so good. The best part of it is knowing that we call have great choices for lunch/dinner this week. Actually, we have so much left over this week that next week we all agreed just to bring some new veggies and we’ll be fine!

The final results were 6 people. Each brought varying amounts of meats and veggies. But we ended up making 64 meals consisting of proteins, veggies, some carbs and salads. It was my intention to weigh and measure all my food, but that good intention was derailed quickly. Not enough counter space. I don’t know how much we spent in all, but I am sure that we made out better than each of us going out to eat everyday this week. We also probably did better than each of trying to make a lunch/dinner everyday from scratch this week. Yeah, we’re going to make this a regular happening.

Do I need to say that I’m starting my school year off with a great plan and fantastic food. Now if I could just get those standards down.

This Summer right here

You all know that I enjoy my Summer break. You know I get a lot in to the 8 weeks we teachers cherish. But this Summer has already proven to be a little much for me.

  • I started Crossfit coaching A LOT. I enjoy it so much that I don’t think about it when I’m doing it, but it’s exhausting. My hat goes off to every owner who runs multiple classes, day after day.
  • Trying to do family Bible Study every week.
  • I’ve been playing trough some mentally challenging stuff. This has really wore my creative mind out.
  • My girls were in a movie shoot this past week. Almost was the complete mental down fall of your favorite bowtie teacher.
  • Dr. Whitaker has a new job and with that a ton of new responsibilities. Do I need to say more?
  • Daddy Day Camp starts Monday! Augh!
  • I want to study/read over the 1st grade learning standards, but I’m so busy I can’t settle my mind enough to digest them.

What came to me today was that I’m not meditating on God’s Word nor replenishing my mind and thoughts. I’ve allowed myself to not think on Him, but more on my surroundings. What’s the use of scripture if I’m not fully utilizing it as 2 Timothy 3:16 says? It’s to common to make light of a prayer less or Bible less life, but it’s very true. Next couple of weeks I think I’m going to unplug more, I can’t promise complete  un tethering, but certainly will make it more deliberate attempt.