Believing You Are Great Leaves Very Little Room for Improvement.

The idea for this blog came to me after reading a comment left on an entry called “Perception”.

It got me thinking why educators and schools are sometimes the last to know they may not be as perfect as they want to believe.I Need This Poster.

I’m not judging, I’m just saying. 

This is an easy trap.

It can happen to administrators, teachers, custodians, cooks, school boards, parents, athletes, students and entire school districts (is there anyone I didn’t insult???).

Most of us like to believe we are self-motivated (if this was true, I wouldn’t need an alarm clock… or a scale).

And most of us are motivated.

Up to a point.

Then not so much.

The point our self-motivation fails us is when things get really hard.

It’s difficult to do things that are uncomfortable (or new).

I think this is one of the reasons it’s taken so long for technology to be taught by classroom teachers.

It can be hard (ie: new).  And confusing.  Even worse, it opens up the possibility the teacher may not be the smartest person in the classroom.

Many of us also believe the organization in which we are members is far greater than it actually is.

If you are involved with a group of people who are consistently telling each other they are great, you start to believe it.

None of us want to think we need to continually improve, but we do.

We all need help to accomplish great things.  To do our best.  To do things we could have never imagined.

It’s impossible to push ourselves to our limits (if that was the case the Marines wouldn’t need Sergeants).

Most of us think we are working as hard as possible.

We believe we are improving on a daily basis and giving at least a 110% effort (except on Fridays and days before holidays… those don’t count).

The truth is we probably aren’t.

That’s where we need help.

Other people (or outsiders) can recognize areas in which we need to improve.

That’s why we need coaches, bosses, mentors, and professional development.

We may not want people telling us we aren’t as great as we think we are, but it’s definitely what we need.

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Not Fat Enough to Float.

People continue to ask me about 2 things:  how’s Buddy the Dog and have I learned to swim?

My answers:  spoiled/sleepy and no.

The dog needs his own fan club and I still sink like a rock

If you are scoring at home, I’ve completed 4 swim lessons.The Hungrier I Am, the Better I Will Float.  In Theory.

That’s 4 straight weeks in a pool.  This smashes my old record by… well, by 4 weeks.

The good news is my coach/teacher no longer has the mortified look on her face like she did the first time we met.

I wasn’t exactly what she was expecting when I came out of the locker room.

She seems to have moved past the fact that I’m approximately 4 decades older than most of her students.

And I don’t wear a diaper.

At least not yet.

The look on her face has transitioned from disturbed to disappointed.

She’s done her best to teach me how to swim.

Sadly, her best hasn’t been good enough.

I went into this thinking swimming would be easy.

You jump in the pool, you float, you flop around, and you swim.

How hard could it be?

Turns out it’s kinda hard.

Maybe it’s easy for most people.

Sadly, I’m not most people.

She does her best to coach me up before I take off for the bottom of the pool.

She tells me exactly what my head, hands, arms, stomach, hips, legs, and feet should be doing.

She’s very specific on what I should be doing with every part of my body.

Then she says just relax and sends me off (turns out drowning isn’t that peaceful of an act). 

I get about 10 feet away and I think… “I’m tired… time to sink.”

And I do.

But just to the bottom of the pool.

I always stop there.

She thinks I need to practice between lessons.

I would, but I don’t actually own a pool.

Since all I can do in a pool is sink, it’s never really seemed like that great of an investment.

She said it would also help if I was bigger.

I said “Taller people float easier?”

She responded “No, fat people do.”

I think I’ve found my sport.  My calling if you will.

Evidently, I will be able to swim if I get fatter.

Seems odd.  One would think that fat people would sink more quickly.

But she’s the coach.  Whatever she says goes.

Time to go practice by taking a couple laps past the refrigerator.

If I want to be a great swimmer, I’m going to have to pay the price.

And the price seems to be ice cream.

This blog is in no way making fun of people who have weight problems.  It is completely making fun of my inability to do what every small child in America (or the world) can… which is swim.

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Good Coach/Bad Father.

It’s possible I’m not going to win the Father of the Year Award anytime soon.

Or ever.

Actually it’s not just possible, it’s pretty much a mortal lock.

It’s not because I call my daughter “The Evil Spawn” in a moderately well-read blog (although that certainly doesn’t help my cause).

It’s because I coach her basketball team.I've Never Read This Book, But I Need To.

One would think this would put me in the finals for the Father of the Year competition.

Actually coaching 3rd grade girls in anything should at least get me in the Fast Past line to Heaven (this would be a Walt Disney World/Religious reference… so it’s painfully obvious I’m so not a good person).

I’m trying to do the right thing.  I spend time with the Spawn.  I’ve taught her how to dribble.  I’ve taught her how to shoot.  She’s even scored several baskets (always followed by a slightly creepy celebratory dance she evidently learned from her mother’s side of the family).

I don’t mean to brag, but we’ve won most of our games (4-1 baby!!!).

It seems to me things are going pretty well.

Except there’s one small problem.

Or maybe it’s a big problem.  I’m really not fit to decide at this point.

When I coach her, I only see her mistakes.

And there are lots of them.

Again, I’m not really fit to decide this either (in fact, I really shouldn’t be around children).

I could write an entire blog about her inability to fight through a screen or be in good rebounding position, but then I would really look like an idiot (if you’ve never coached basketball please disregard this sentence as it probably makes absolute no sense… other than I’m an idiot part).

I expect her to play basketball like she’s taking a spelling test (stay with me… I have a point here).  I expect her to play an entire game and not make any mistakes.  None.  Zip.  Nadda.  And whatever the Spanish word for Zero is.

In my mind she should get everything correct just like I want her to do on a spelling test (I didn’t say it was a good point, I just said I had a point).

On the other hand, I recognize when her teammates make mistakes.  And that’s okay because they are trying.

As long as they try and do their best, what more can I ask?

Her?  Different story.

I’m not sure, but this may be a little something I like to call a “Double-Standard”.

By now, you are probably on board with my theory about not winning Father of the Year.

That’s okay because you would be right.  And just so my readers feel good about themselves, I’m about to reinforce this theory.

At our last game, we started the 4th quarter down by 6 points.  That’s not a big deficit unless you’ve seen 3rd grade girls play basketball.  Then you would realize it’s like being behind by 427 points.

Occasionally, our team struggles with “scoring” (as all 3rd graders do).

Basically the game was over.

But as luck would have it, our team battled back (in spite of my daughter… again, I only see her mistakes… I may have some issues and be in dire need of counseling).

With 37 seconds left we were down by 2 points, but we got the ball back.

I called a timeout.

This was the perfect opportunity to put all of my years of coaching knowledge to work.

I could diagram a play and we would win the game.

Too bad the girls were so excited they wanted to talk instead of listen.  Turns out during a timeout with 3rd grade girls, everybody has a story.  Or they are thirsty.  Or they need their shoes tied.  Or ponytails fixed.  Or they want to wave at mom and dad.  Or they need to use the restroom (who can’t hold it for 37 seconds???).

They want to do anything but listen to my ingenious explanation of the play that will win the game.

But this didn’t stop me.  I set up a play (or at least some controlled mayhem…). 

There were two girls I was comfortable taking the last shot.  Both are not related to me (the Evil Spawn is so writing a paper in high school titled “Bad Dad”). 

So what happens?

The play doesn’t work (who’s surprised?… not me).

But something odd happened.

The Evil Spawn evidently stay calmed and used her head (maybe we aren’t related???).

The Spawn scored to tie the game and send it to overtime (which we win!!!).

The crowd goes crazy.

A creepy dance ensues.

And I don’t remember any of it.

I didn’t even know she hit the last shot.  I have no recollection of it.  I thought another girl made the basket.

I was so focused on her not making a mistake.

It was only after the game when I realized she did something wonderful.  It occurred to me when other parents (no doubt better people than me) where high-fiving and congratulating her on the big shot at the buzzer.

Oh, it gets worse.

I not only missed the game-tying shot, I missed all of the shots she made.

Evidently, she was our leading scorer.  I had no idea.

I guess I don’t remember anything.  Except her mistakes.


I haven’t read the book “Good Dad/Bad Dad” (pictured above), but I probably should.

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10 Years Ago: I Was Younger and an Idiot.

A single meeting can drag on for hours.  Days last forever.  And weeks seem like they will never end.

How is it that a decade can fly by so quickly?

By my estimation decades are about 10 years long (feel free to double-check my math).  That means the last ten years accounts for approximately 1/8 of my life (if all goes well).

I’m starting to get the feeling that I’m living on borrowed time (my life is half over… I hope it wasn’t the good half).Time Flies.

Before the inevitable happens (I’m crossing my fingers that my Evil Spawn doesn’t put me in a nursing home… or a crate), I want to acknowledge how things have changed for me since the good old days (the year 2000).

Back then:

I was a punk teacher who thought I had all the answers.  Now I’m a punk school administrator who realizes that I don’t have any answers (and barely know all of the questions).

I coached a high school varsity boys basketball team.  Now, I coach 3rd and 4th grade girls.

In 2000, I didn’t own my house, truck, a suit, or have any investments.

I believed athletes were honest (steroids), hard-working, and good people (sorry Tiger, but I’m still heart broken).

I trusted politicians.

Buddy the Dog didn’t rule my house (that I didn’t own).

I was a year away from meeting the Evil Spawn.

And hearing my wife curse like a sailor during childbirth.

I didn’t have a Master’s or Specialist’s Degree.

I had never been to Florida, Texas, California, Colorado or basically anywhere.  Mainly because I had never been on an airplane, in a cab, or on a train.

I didn’t have a passport.

Or a cell phone.

We had a computer (that was huge), but it was slower than the phone I now carry around in my pocket.

I used to read the newspaper and look forward to the mail arriving.

Google, Twitter, Posterous, and thousands of other technology things were yet to be discovered.

I was newly-married (and yet my wife hasn’t aged a day in the last 10 years… yes, she reads the blog).

I hadn’t written a blog, read a blog, or heard of a blog.

My big concern back then was Y2K, not the Swine Flu.

Gas was cheap, but I never thought about it.

I spent my evenings watching TV, not working on a laptop.

I had a credit card, but no money to pay it off (because every cent went to student loans).

Any maybe the biggest thing… in 2000 I had absolutely no concept of time.  I didn’t think about the future.  I didn’t think about anything. 

Oh, how life has changed.  So quickly, in such a short time.

It makes me wonder what I’m about to face in the next decade.  What we are all going to face.

In the world.  At school.  In our personal lives.

For me, the next 10 years means I will celebrate my 50th birthday (how is that possible?), my 25th anniversary (what was she thinking?), and my daughter’s high school graduation.

My biggest hope for the next decade is it goes a little slower than the last one.

And I don’t end it in a crate.

Note from wife… Newly married?  We got married in 1995.  A half a decade prior to 2000.  Does that still qualify as “newly married”?

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Helicopter Parents: Leave Your Kids Alone.

Too many of us overparent. 


We all want our kids to crawl first, walk first, speak first, read first, be the best athlete, finish first in everything, play a musical instrument, have the lead in the school play, win a pageant, be named the best-looking and funniest, finish in the top 1 in their class, and have 857 trophies (none that say “Participation”) in their bedroom.

Our society has come to believe we can control our children’s futures by controlling every aspect of their childhood.

Raising a child isn’t a competition.  It isn’t about winning and losing.  It’s about preparing kids who have the ability to make their own decisions when they enter adulthood.

To learn how to make good decisions, they have to experience what happens when they make a bad one.

A high number of activities, tutors, traveling teams, does not indicate future success in life.

We are failing our kids.

Not by failing to provide them opportunities, but by providing them far too many.

To be a good parent we need to give our children the gift of failure.

It’s okay to strike out.

The world won’t end if you’re cut from the basketball team.

You don’t have to play 75 summer softball games as a 3rd grader to be successful in life.

Eating school lunch is fine.  Mom doesn’t have to bring fast food to school.

C’s on your report card aren’t the end of the world (if you did your best).

Not being the most popular person in high school isn’t a bad thing.  It’s probably a good thing.

Being first isn’t nearly as important as being a gracious winner.  And even more importantly, a gracious loser.

We do everything in our power to keep our kids from feeling badly.

We try to protect them from:  teachers, illnesses, bad grades, tap water, demanding coaches, criticism, and high expectations.

If they fail, we feel like we’ve failed.

Except that’s not true.

We are holding them back by pushing them forward too quickly.

Parents want 3 year olds to act 5.  And 5 year olds to act 10.  And 10 year olds to act 16.

It’s too much, too fast.

They need a childhood.

They need some free time.

Kids should ride their bikes, eat dirt, drink out of a garden hose, get yelled at by coaches, pick their own teams, and solve their own disagreements.

They need mom, dad, their stepparents, and grandparents to allow them to find out what happens when you turn in a late assignment.

And it’s not having mom call and blame the teacher.

And it’s not the end of the world.


This TIME Magazine article explains this concept much better than I can.  The Growing Backlash Against Overparenting.

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The Best Job in Education?

It’s time we get to the bottom of this age-old question that has been hashed and rehashed in teachers’ lounges for the last 100 years (or it’s just something I think about… hard to tell).

Who has the best job in education?The Mystery of the Best Job in Education.

I’m talking about K-12 education, so college professors who “work” 3 hours a day twice a week don’t count (let the emails begin… please include “Don’t Forget We Have Office Hours” in the subject line… ).  I can almost hear my readership on college campuses plummeting.

Who has the best job is a very difficult question.

An easier question is who has the worst job.  I could get to the bottom of this in a matter of minutes (by minutes I mean seconds).

I can ask anyone who works for a school who has the worst job, and they will all say the same thing. 

“I do.”  

Everyone thinks their job is the most difficult and demanding in education.  And the world.  And universe.  And whatever is bigger than the universe.

Since this question is easily answered, we can focus on who has the best job.

Personally, I think a job where you sit at home and blog about nothing (not in a tie, unshaven, and holding a certain unnamed handsome beagle) would be the absolutely best job in education.

Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be an economic possibility (since this unnamed beagle eats a LOT… which is understandable because he needs his strength to… well, nap all day… and sleep all night).

To understand who has the best job in education (which isn’t easy because it’s an enigma wrapped in a riddle tucked in a conundrum), I’ve decided to break it down by position.

First up are Athletic Directors.  This can’t be the best job because fans get angry when the AD hires a bad referee.  Of course, this statement assumes there are good referees (sorry, coaching flashback).  Plus they spend way too much time in a gymnasium.  You can only lean on a wall or sit in the bleachers for so long before your back hurts.

Bookkeepers can’t have the best job because there is far too much responsibility with way too much money (hopefully they have money to worry about…).  Plus employees of the district get SO upset when their paychecks are a few weeks late.

Coaches get fired.  A lot.  And if they don’t get fired this year, it’s very likely they will be fired next year.  So they can’t have the best job because they may not have a job by the time they are done reading this.

Custodians.  Vomit and toilets (individually not too bad, but together they make a horrific partnership).  Enough said on this subject (until a few sentences from now).

Dean of Students.  This job is similar to being a principal, but without any of the good parts (this assumes there are good parts).

Lunch Ladies have to feed hundreds of children who don’t like what they are serving.  This is especially true when the food is green.  Plus, you have to wear a hair net.  Not a good look.

Maintenance Man.  No chance.  Kids break things and while that provides a certain amount of job security, it happens so frequently this job is work.

Principal.  No way.  People yell at the principal and then threaten to sue.  Vomit and/or toilets would be a step up. 

The School Nurse is out because vomit is the least of their troubles.  Illness (Hello, Swine Flu) and huge amounts of responsibility takes them out of the running.

Secretaries are in charge of… well everything.  Definitely not the best job but certainly a candidate for the most challenging job.

Superintendent.  Nope.  You can throw this job in the same category as bookkeepers.  Lots of money (if all is going well) and a ton of responsibility.  Plus, they get paid a lot, so people don’t like them.

Teachers have students in their classrooms all day.  Enough said.  I don’t think I even need to talk about the shear number of papers they have to grade.

Technology People.  I don’t think so.  If a staff member has a computer/printer/SmartBoard/projector/anything electric and it’s not working… they want the Tech Person driven out to the middle of nowhere and left for dead.  If people want you killed, this officially takes you out of the running for the best job.

Substitute teachers.  Get serious.  Students who hate school get excited when there is a sub.  Not a good sign.  It’s hard enough controlling kids when you know their names.

All of these positions have issues that disqualifies them from receiving the title of Best Job in Education.

So if not these, which job is the Best in Education?


It’s a no brainer.

Assistant Superintendent.

This is without a doubt (like I have a clue) the absolute Best Job in Education.


Two reasons.  One, who knows what this person looks like?  And two, who knows what this person does?

They are ghosts.

Enigmas if you will.

They work for the school… or do they?

They are seldom seen or heard (again, let the emails begin… please include “You Have No Idea How Hard I Work” in the subject line).

You know who hates this person?


Absolutely nobody.

This qualifies them (easily) as the winner of the Best Job in Education.

No matter what job you hold… Have a Happy Thanksgiving and a Great Holiday Season!

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The Golden Rule: Scream at Others and They Will Scream at You.

I can neither confirm nor deny any or all of the following is true.

Parents are crazy.

I’m not talking about all parents, just the ones who are insane.

The actual percentage of parents who suffer from this disease runs from 32.4% to 99.9%.

The parent in this story is not affiliated with my school in any way, shape, or form (and if my luck continues they will never purchase a house, rent, or visit a town where I work or reside). The Woman in Question is Not Nearly This Nice.  Or So I Heard.

In fact, as far as you know this story was told to me by a complete stranger who I inadvertently bumped into on a busy street in a city that I’ve never visited.

As the story goes, the woman gave birth to a young man who I don’t even know.

If I did know him, I can promise you I would want to thump him right upside his little head in the hope of closing that mouth which is constantly running but has yet to say anything worth hearing.

The woman, who may be the loudest most obnoxious person I have never been in contact with, is roughly 25 years old.

Did I mention she was loud?

And obnoxious?

I’m not being mean (after all I’ve never seen her… as far as you know), I’m simply passing on a story.

You might wonder how I know she’s loud if I’ve never been around her. That’s a fair question.

The answer is… trust me, she’s loud.

At least that’s what I’ve been told.

The first time I didn’t meet her she was screaming at her son. The second time I didn’t meet her, she was screaming at her son.

The third time he was standing on the hood of her car and yes… you guessed it… she was screaming at him.

In fact, every single time I haven’t seen her she has been screaming. At her son.

If you’re like me, you are starting to notice a pattern.

I’m no parenting expert, but sooner or later even the worst kids have a day when they don’t deserve to get yelled at.

I was almost starting to feel sorry for the young man (if I knew him) and then it happened.

He started screaming at her.

You might think I would experience some sort of joy from watching (or not) him stand up for himself, but that’s not the case.

It just made me want to thump them both upside their heads.

The latest screaming match took place (allegedly) during an 8 year olds soccer game.

While I had gotten used to the mother screaming at her son (if I had been present at this soccer game that didn’t take place), I was dumbfounded to hear him scream at her.

As he was playing in the game.

As he was dribbling the ball up the field.

Right in front of all the parents. Of both teams.

Right in front of all the players. On both teams.

The horror.

The language.

The decibel level.

At that very moment (if I was there), I thought the referee should have thrown them both out of the game.

Then I came to my senses.

He should have thrown them both out of society.

In her defense, I don’t think she has any idea that she is treating him in a way that isn’t productive. In fact, I’m willing to bet she thinks her actions are those of a strong disciplinarian.

On the other hand (if I knew him), he is an idiot.

He treats his mom worse than she treats him. The sad part is, his attitude will undoubtedly get worse as he gets older.

I’m afraid her troubles will be compounded (times 47) by the time he makes it to high school.

Neither one of them has any idea how to treat one another.

I’m far from perfect, but I feel pretty confident in the following statement. My daughter has never cursed me during the course of a soccer game as she was dribbling the ball up the field in front of 75 spectators, 4 coaches, 3 referees, 2 old ladies walking, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Now behind closed doors… in her room… who knows? .

Maybe I’m wrong about these two.

Maybe they have a great relationship and they will both thrive as they grow older.

Maybe she won’t be in a high school principal’s office asking for help in controlling his behaviors when he’s a sophomore.

Maybe he won’t have kids of his own and treat them just as badly as he is getting treated.


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Teach Your Kid How to Lose.

We need to stop.

Far too many of us spend way too much time teaching our kids to be “winners”? (for the record… I’m a big fan of the “air quotes”).

Everyone likes a winner, but I’m not everyone. I like losers.

As parents, we spend hours teaching our kids how to win. I’m starting to think we have it backwards.

I think we need to teach them how to lose.Life Was So Simple... And Then I Lost.

Winners are put on a pedestal, but I think losers are the ones who deserve our admiration.

This wasn’t the case when I was kid (back in the early 1800’s). I didn’t really have any interest in losing.

In fact, my first 4 years of youth baseball resulted in 4 undefeated championship seasons (if my memory hasn’t failed me… again).

Yes, that’s right. 4 seasons. 4 championships.

At that point in my life I was pretty sure I had it figured out. While I felt badly (a little) for the other teams we were crushing… actually, never mind… I didn’t feel badly at all.

What I felt was “I’m a Baseball God and You Losers are My Subjects and Should Bow Before Me.”

Some might take this as cockiness… and they would be correct.

As you can see, I had put little thought into the fact that I had teammates.

In my mind it was me and all me.

Life was good.

Show up. Go to practice. Win every game. Collect trophy. See you next year. Thanks for coming everybody and don’t forget to tip your waitress!

I’m not going to lie. It was sweet.

I was living the dream. At least as much of a dream that an 11 year old can live.

Things were going along quite nicely until year 5. Then we had a problem.

We didn’t win (notice when we won… all me… when we lost it was all “we”).

I don’t remember the exact details, but I wasn’t prepared to lose. Losing is what the other kids and teams did.

I’ve tried to erase the exact details from my mind, but I’m sure there was crying involved.

And possibly the sad attempt at trying to catch my breath while talking and trying to nonchalantly wipe the tears out of my eyes.

Turns out winning is easy. Losing is hard.

Especially when you’re not prepared for it.

Losing isn’t nice. It sneaks up and punches you right in the throat (maybe that’s what caused the man tears…).

This disastrous year 5 mega loss has haunted me for over 30 years. It has also resulted in my theory that we need to prepare our kids for losing not winning.

Winning is pretty self-explanatory. Not a lot of preparation goes into being a successful winner.

Losing is far more complicated.

And takes practice.

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Listen More Than You Talk.

This is NOT the Actual Bus.Newsflash.

Turns out there have been times in my life where I wasn’t as smart as I thought.

2nd Newsflash. This happens more than I would like to admit (some may even say daily…).

I was reminded of this a few nights ago when a former student/player stopped by to visit.

Personally, I wish all former students/players would leave me alone. Haven’t I done enough for them (oh, I haven’t… alright then…)?

They make me feel old with their college degrees, careers, marriages, kids, and the fact they have aged so much in the last 15 years (I’m glad I don’t look any older…).

This concept of former students is not working for me. The fact that their lives are moving forward is an ever so subtle hint that I may be getting older (lucky for me… I don’t respond to subtle hints…).

It’s really quite uncomfortable for me.

They not only make me wonder why life is moving so quickly, but they also have better memories than me.

They can recall things I said or did over a decade ago when I can barely remember which tie I wore yesterday.

This student asked me if I remembered a certain bus ride when I was his basketball coach.

My only thought was… I was a basketball coach?

But as he told the story it all came crashing back to me (and crashing is the key word here).

As we traveled to a game about 30 miles away, I required the players to be quiet. Completely quiet.

I told them it was so they could focus on the game. The real reason was I didn’t want to listen to them.

As we got about halfway to the game and came to a stop sign this player screamed something out from the very back of the bus. I wasn’t sure what he said, so I gave him my standard coaching response.

“Be quiet!”

Then he yelled again. I said “Be quiet!”

He then had the gall to yell something about a car. This really caught my attention.

I remember thinking how dare he talk after being told to be quiet. So of course, I screamed “For the last time, be quiet and don’t make me come back there!” I didn’t even bother to look back.

He knew I meant business.

Mainly because I yelled in my Don’t Push Your Luck Unless You Want to Run the Entire Next Practice Coaching Voice.

He got quiet.

Everyone got quiet.

The entire bus was quiet for the rest of the trip. But I did notice they were strangely restless.

When we finally arrived at the game all the players and cheerleaders rushed off the bus. I figured they were excited about the game.


They were excited to get off the bus to see the damage.

What damage you ask?

The damage where a car hit us when the bus stopped at the stop sign.

And when the player yelled.

Turns out the first two times he was trying to tell me a car hit the bus.

The third time, he was trying to tell me…

…the car was on fire.

When I first started teaching and coaching, I had all the answers. Turns out I just didn’t know all of the questions.

Or that a car hit our bus and burst into flames.

There is a lesson here somewhere but for the life of me I don’t know what it is… oh yeah… other people may have knowledge that you don’t even know you need.

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Educators, Don’t Forget Our Goal: Teach Students to Mow Their Yards.

Mowing Your Yard is One Thing.  Being This Happy is Another.School is about to start.

If you are a follower of this blog (now numbering more people than I can count one hand), you are probably starting to sense a theme.

Did I mention school is about to start?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike the beginning of school.

I hate the end of summer.

At least my version of summer.

The version in which my school district continues to pay me regardless of the fact that there aren’t any students or teachers in the buildings.

And I get to wear shorts.

Every day.

Shorts at work.

It’s a little piece of heaven.

Technically I’m not even sure if I can call it work since all of the people that I am responsible for aren’t there.

But this will soon change.

On goes the tie which is the official sign that I’m open for business. And by open for business I mean bring me your troubles, concerns, and complaints.

I’m going to miss the shorts.

But it’s time to focus on the job at hand. Educating students.

The question is what’s the definition of educating students?

Is it grades? Test scores? College bound seniors?

I think all of these are important, but there are other factors we need to consider when deciding if a school has been successful.

Like, do your students graduate and get/hold jobs? Do they pay their taxes? And the ever important… do they mow their yards?

The mowing is especially important if they grow up and buy the house next to me.

Basically, are they productive citizens?

Once a student is out of high school there are only two options. They either make society better or they make it worse.

That’s why I think the definition of educating kids is helping produce good citizens.

Young people need the guidance and discipline that will allow them to grow up and do the right thing.

This is a big job and one that schools can’t accomplish alone.

Schools need the help of parents, families, churches, communities, coaches, and all kinds of other organizations.

I have a feeling there may be some people who disagree with me. People who think the school’s job is to teach addition, make students memorize state capitals, and convince kids they will use algebra later on in life. (Let the emails from math teachers begin!!)

All of this while still making AYP.

So to prove my point, let’s use me as an example.

I can’t remember the last time anyone asked or cared what I scored on my ACT test (by the way the science section was HARD!).

No one ever asks me for a copy of my high school transcript (or permanent record as it was known when I was a kid… just the thought of the information contained in that manila file folder falling into the wrong hands scares me).

I’m never quizzed on the capital of Vermont (no it’s not Burlington).

I seldom get in trouble when I don’t keep both feet on the floor while typing.

And last but not least… I have no idea what X is in X + Y – 14 = 2 trains left the station at 2:00 am and one was traveling at a speed of 42 miles an hour.

Yet, my neighbors can tell you I mowed my yard on Thursday.

So there you have it.

As educators we are not just producing test scores.

We are producing citizens.

People who grow up and do the right thing. Pay their taxes, volunteer, raise their kids, and hold jobs.

As a teacher or administrator you know you’ve done your job when a former student walks up and talks about his or her spouse, job, new house, or children’s accomplishments.

Odds are they won’t mention that Montpelier is the capital of Vermont.

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.