Monday, March 17, 2014

Teach Like A PIRATE Day..The Sequel

Well, today I just dropped the bomb on my staff.  Teach Like A PIRATE Day is happening at Big Walnut Intermediate.  For those of you who followed the journey last year, you know what I am talking about.  For those of you who did not, here's a link that will get you caught up.

Coincidentally, the date will be May 22, 2014.  The original #tlapexperiment took place at Utica Jr. High on May 22, 2013.

This adventure will be a little different, but hopefully just as exciting.  For starters, I know it is possible to pull off, because I lived it a year ago.  Last year, I had no clue what would happen when we set 250 kids loose in the school.  My new school contains twice as many students and staff members.  The kids are a little younger as well.  Our school contains 500 5th and 6th grade students.  I am predicting there will need to be a little more "guiding" in the halls.

I gave my staff a little more time to prepare (9 weeks) than I did at Utica (I think they had three weeks).  I also gave the staff the guidebook students received last year to help facilitate the creative process in designing their "experiences."

The goals of the day remain the same.

1.  If kids did not have to be there, would you be teaching to an empty room?

2.  Teachers will step up their game and create experiences in which students learn AND have fun doing it.

3.  Kids will get excited about coming to school in May.

I will post updates on this blog as we approach the big day, and I am sure I will need some help from my connections on the internet.  You all helped me last year.  You can follow along on Twitter as well. The hashtag will be #tlapDay2.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Principal For the Day

Today we did something that enhanced the positive culture of our school.  Kids continued to learn and it was another opportunity for some of them to have some fun as well.

About a month ago, a parent from our PTO came in to see me about creating an incentive for our students to bring in Box Tops For Education.  If you are affiliated with an elementary or middle school, you are all too familiar with this program and doing crazy things to promote it. Two years ago I took a pie in the face.  This past fall, I took four.  We were all looking for something different this time around.  So this parent asked, what about making a student Principal for the Day?  Done.  Contest on.

Today was the day that one of our 5th graders was the honorary principal.  She did the morning announcements, decided the temperature was right for outdoor recess, ate lunch at my desk, sat in my chair in all of her classes, did afternoon announcements, and took my place in our weekly Video Newsletter.

There were so many positives that came from this day.  One, I am sure she will remember it forever.  Secondly, it was another positive, fun thing we were doing in our school.  Finally, it cost us nothing.  The highlight for me was when I asked her, "What is one thing you would change about our school?" Her response:  nothing.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Sometimes You Have To Quit

I just got home from the Ohio High School State Wrestling Championships, and realized that a decision I made four years ago paid off for a young man.

I used to be a wrestling coach. I did it for 13 years and those kids are still to this day an important part of my life. As a matter of fact, I attended tonight's event with a former wrestler.

As a coach, it was pretty much a year round commitment.  Wrestling season begins in November and ends in the first week of March, but that is just the season.  The off-season consisted of workouts, training, and traveling all over the eastern U.S. to wrestle the best competition.  I loved doing it, I believe most of my kids did as well, and they benefitted from that commitment.  In 2005 I had the opportunity to coach my first state champion, and it was a feeling like no other.  All of the time and hard work that kid put in paid off.  It was almost as if I was just along for the ride.  I thought this would be the first of many that I would be a part of in my career.

A month later our first daughter was born, and four years after that, our second daughter.  I have a very understanding wife, and when it was just the two of us, she understood and supported the amount of time I put in with my wresters.  Add two children to the mix, and I would not say she was less understanding, but I began regretting the amount of time I was away from them.

I had some very talented wrestlers coming up through our youth program, some that I was very confident in their potential to stand atop the podium at the state tournament.  However I had come to a realization.  I was not going to be able to be as committed to these wrestlers as I was to my previous wrestlers.

So I made a decision, and it was both selfish and selfless.  I quit.  Selfishly I wanted to spend more time with my family.  Selflessly, the kids I coached deserved to have a coach who would be committed to them the way I no longer would.  My biggest fear, was not being committed and actually becoming a detriment to their dreams of glory.

Tonight I watched one of those kids win a state title.  The coach that replaced me reminded me a great deal of myself in my early years.  He was going to be able to provide those kids with the opportunities that I no longer was willing to provide.  Four years later, I realized quitting probably enabled that kid to win a state championship because I feared I was only going to get in his way.

I had so many people ask me tonight if I regretted quitting because I passed up an opportunity to coach another state champ?  Deep down in my heart, I believe that quitting helped his path in getting there, and I could not have been more proud of that kid tonight.