Tired in My Bones

Yesterday was the first day of school. I was ready. It went very well. My students had a good time. Even though it was good, I’m tired. So tired.

I even had quite a bit of coffee. It didn’t matter. I’m. Just. Tired.

I wanted to have something more profound to say. Something insightful. Something inspiring.

All that comes to mind is, “I’m tired in my bones.”

How about you? How did the first day of school in Fall 2017 go? Share in the comment section below.

Let’s Do This!

It’s time to start. Today is the first day I report back to the school site for the 2017-2018 school year. And I am pumped!

At the same time, I am a bit of a mess. I am writing this post with no where to sit because my wife and I decided that the first day I report back to work was a great time to get the flooring done for the entire downstairs of our house. Okay, I decided. She said, “Are you sure,” many times. My response was, “It’s already going to be chaotic starting back up, we might as well add another layer.”

I don’t know if that bring-it-on kind of thinking is healthy, but I do know that it causes me to look at circumstances differently. I know that I will have students this year that live inside of chaos. They have true hardships that go way beyond my circumstances, and so me adding a pinch of the chaotic to my week is a reminder of that.

Also, I find that when the pressure is dialed up a little bit more, I get a little better. I get more focused. In my head, I have to cut out anything that is less than essential. This helps me keep my eyes on what matters most. And at the start of the school year, that’s what I need.

It’s also a drill for when things get really tough. I don’t know what surprises lie in wait for me, but I want to be ready. I want to be in shape. This brings to mind one of my favorite films from the 90s, Crimson Tide. The movie takes place on a nuclear powered submarine and is a battle of the wills between the captain, played by Gene Hackman, and the first officer, played by Denzel Washington. Early on in the film, a kitchen fire erupts, which you could imagine is pretty frightening when your stuck inside a traveling underwater tube that recirculates all its air, even the smoky kind. As soon as the report of the fire reaches the bridge, Hackman’s character decides that it’s the time to take his crew through an Emergency Action Message drill.

Eventually, the crew makes it through the drill and gets the fire out, but it was hectic and costly. Washington’s character was befuddled: why would you run a drill when there was fire!? Hackman explains that it better simulates the conditions of war, and that’s what they’re training for. Drills by themselves can be carried out without requiring a lot of focus or energy because they aren’t real. But add in a little chaos and it will cause you to choose, to focus.

Rather than lament friction and a little chaos, I try to embrace it, learn from it. There is opportunity in it. I want to practice, right now, how to find my strength in the midst uncertain circumstances. I want to be able to plod on when things are tough. I need to take every opportunity to prepare for hard times because there is no guarantee I will avoid them. But most importantly, I want to be strong enough to find the joy amidst the chaos because good things are happening. Even when its confusing and painful, good things can come out the other side.

In that spirit, let the school year begin! Bring on the hard work begin. I am looking forward to it.

Let’s do this!


Public Speaking: 10 Video Presentation Don’ts

These days, tech is cheap, and getting cheaper. Things we couldn’t do just a few years ago are not only possible today, but we have gone even farther. For instance, sending a video message to a friend. Now, with the tap of a screen, we can create a short video, then tap the screen again and it is off to its destination.

Technology has enhanced my instruction, especially when it comes to public speaking. I am fortunate enough to teach in a school where just about every student has access to mobile technology that can shoot, store, and ship video through the internet. I have turned more and more to the use of video for instruction, practice, and evaluation of public speaking. If a student gives speech, and no one is around to record it, then your evaluation of what happened is can be questioned. But when it’s recorded, the student can see for him- or herself what was good and what needs improvement.

As I have asked students to submit more video presentations, I have developed a list of don’ts. These are elements of filming that students unintentionally let into their videos. They distract the audience from the message the student is intending to deliver.  Continue reading “Public Speaking: 10 Video Presentation Don’ts”

Which Stream Do You Frequent?

When I am grading student work or writing engaging content, I need a little help. I need something that keeps me energized and takes up just a little of my attention. So I turn to music.

During my grading and writing sessions, I steam the upbeat jazz station. It has a tempo that keeps me going, but I don’t get distracted by lyrics.

My stream is at Amazon Music Unlimited, mainly because I am a satisfied Prime customer.

What about you? When work needs to get done, what do you listen to? Which stream do you frequent?

All suggestions are welcome.

Summer Reads

Summer is here, and for most teachers that means getting to the books they have put aside for months. I have a growing list, but let’s keep it simple here.

These are my top five titles that I want to complete this summer, in no particular order:

  • Write Short Kindle Books: A Self-Publishing Manifest for Non-Fiction Authors by Nathan Meunier
  • Visible Learning for Literacy: Implementing the Practices That Work Best to Accelerate Student Learning by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie
  • Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris
  • Well Spoken: Teaching Speaking to All Students by Erik Palmer
  • All These Shiny Worlds: The 2016 ImmerseOrDie Anthology by Jefferson Smith et al.

What are you reading?

Connect with me over at Goodreads.