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Changing Education One Post At A Time


Sincerely, Me

Posted by Tim under Personal

Dear Colin Kaepernick,

Well, your decision to sit out the National Anthem at the beginning of your last game certainly garnered media and national attention. I understand that you are frustrated with what you see happening to people of color in our country. Many of us are outraged right there with you.

I’m afraid, however, your protest was ill-conceived. Let me explain.

First, it took a total of 3 games before anyone even noticed that you were protesting.  You sat out the National Anthem in two other events as well, but because you weren’t dressed to play people either didn’t notice you, or they thought you were sitting down because you are a spoiled brat who didn’t get his way.  It seems it was the first, and that leads to the bigger problem. People didn’t notice.

Its not much of a protest if no one knows you are protesting.  So, thank you for suiting up and continuing on.  We finally saw you.  Well, some did.  I haven’t watched the 49ers since Montana retired. And I haven’t cared about a California football team of any level since Lane Kiffin went to coach college ball there. So, I didn’t see you.  But others did, and thanks to social media, they let me know about it.

After looking at Twitter, it seems there are lot of people letting others know about it.

First, let me tell you that I wholeheartedly support your right to protest peacefully in any way you see fit, for any cause you feel is worthy, at any time, anywhere. That’s what makes this country great.  If you had refused to stand for the Egyptian or Russian anthems, you might be in jail right now. They kind of have that going on at the moment. If you were protesting how minorities are treated in some other countries, you might be dead already.

It appears that this flag you cannot respect is the very thing that protects you to protest it.

You see, it doesn’t matter that individuals on Twitter are calling you every bad name they can muster. Their small mindedness is irrelevant. After all, you were expecting that. They don’t represent the flag you cannot respect. They are just protected by it like you. And it doesn’t matter if endorsement contracts disappear (they probably won’t) or if you get fired from football (you definitely won’t). If you go out there on the field and show us the spark of your rookie year, your place in football is secure.

And I understand that this year is different from last year, or the year before.  We have much more injustice being played out before our eyes in the media. Sometimes that injustice is aimed at a person of color who has been arrested, detained, or even killed for no apparent reason whatsoever.  And sometimes that injustice is aimed at the men and women in blue who acted appropriately under the split-second circumstances of their lives, but early reporting tried to paint it as something different, and even after all the facts are out people still live in the early days of half-truths or untruths. You see, the injustice sometimes floats both ways.

And neither of them are represented by our flag.  A country song that still brings tears to my eyes at times says, “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.” I realize some interpret that as “I’m proud to be a white American.” And sometimes, that may be the truth of the song in day to day living.

The song also says, “And I’ll gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.” And you know what? That’s not just white Americans feeling that way.  It isn’t just white Americans who died in the many wars, both just and unjust, in which our country has engaged over the years. People of color have gladly stepped up and given their lives in defense of this country, at least the concept of this country, where “all men are created equal.” Yes, I realize when that line was written, not all men were treated as equal.  And women.  Well, let’s just not discuss how women are being treated in this country right now.  And religion.  OK, I won’t talk about religion either.

The great thing about this country is that we wrote things about it as a vision statement. It is a statement of what we visualize our country to be.  It is a future statement written in the present. We aren’t there yet. Even after electing an African American president, we aren’t there. Some have seen his presidency as a way forward for all people of color.  Others have silently, or not so silently, said to themselves, “OK, we did that. Now we never have to do it again.”

We aren’t there yet. But as a nation, I have to believe that we are slowly (too slowly for certain) working our way toward equality for all.  We’ve passed laws to try to make that happen.  In recent days we’ve expanded those laws to include others that weren’t allowed to be included the first time. Not everyone agrees with them. Not everyone obeys them. We’ve got laws about how to drive that are not followed. And laws about gun control that aren’t followed. And laws about…well, you get the idea. We are a nation of laws, and our laws are constantly trying to make this country better and safer and stronger. But we aren’t there.


So, Colin, its ok if I call you Colin, right?  So, Colin we are the grand experiment of personal freedoms living in the not yet. Every day we inch our way closer. Every day the light becomes a little brighter. Every day more people become educated and find their way out of intellectual poverty.

There is a lot wrong with this country, Colin. Our political system is in shambles and quickly becoming the laughing stock of the world. Our best and bravest are dying on foreign soil even while we are not at war with anyone. Big corporations and the one-tenth of one percenters have too much clout and control over our lives. We have greedy people sucking the very existence out of some who struggle to eat from day to day.

And none of that can be laid at the feet of the American Flag. That’s on individuals who don’t believe as you and I do, Colin, that all men (and women and others) are created equal and deserve equal treatment.

Protest, Colin. You have the stage. You are privileged to have both the money and the spotlight. Make it count. Make a difference. I’ll even join you if you’ll have me. I don’t like how people of color are treated by others either. I don’t like how the LGBTQ community is treated either. We need change. There is no doubt about that.

But understand this. Refusing to stand for the National Anthem because you can’t respect the flag does not equate to a raised fist on the gold medal stand of the Olympics. Different times require different actions, Colin.

The nation is watching you, Colin. And right now, most of what I see is that the majority of people don’t care about your protest. You’ve made the protest about something its not.  Find a way to make a difference, Colin. Find a way to matter to the world. I, for one, would be a fan again if you do.

Sincerely, Me.


Practice What We Preach

Posted by Tim under Personal

Yesterday, in the midst of working on Genius Hour schedules, Digital Lab changes, and tutorial videos for the MacAirs our students are using this year, I decided to go back to the nondescript room behind my bedroom to work on my “recording studio” (of sorts).

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 6.57.26 AMIt’s a cinder block walled room with little light and less space, but I’m making it work for some close-up photography projects and green screen video.  I bought 2 umbrella lights and 2 soft lights along with the stand and assorted curtains for green screen.  When lit, it doesn’t do a half-bad job.

I set up my Swivl on a tri-pod and placed my iPhone on to do the video recording.  I plugged in the audio jack to use the Swivl remote as my microphone and set about recording a 5-minute video on the process and why we use it at our school.  Its part of a project I’m doing for parents this year.

I uploaded the video to Google Drive and pulled it into Camtasia.  The video didn’t look too bad, but the audio.  Ouch! The Swivl microphone was spiking with packets of really loud sections that sounded like I started yelling for some reason.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 6.57.15 AMI decided perhaps I had hung incorrectly, so I went back to the studio.  This time I set my Canon DSLR up to record. I talked my way through the entire thing. Ported the video back into Camtasia. I forgot to turn the Swivl on.  No sound at all.

I did it again. The same audio problem occurred, so I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to get this video done that day.

My next step was to go to Amazon and order a lavalier lapel mic to plug into my phone.  I can record the video with the DSLR and the audio on my phone, then edit them together in Camtasia.  The mic will be here on Tuesday.  That gives me time to actually iron the green screen (the wrinkles will cause me problems) and reset the lights.

The irony of this situation hit me while I was on my 3rd iteration.  Here I was trying to tell parents that our PBLs, marinated in the process encourage failure. As kids go through the 5 steps of empathy, definition, ideation, prototyping, and testing, we tell them up front that nothing works as planned the first time. Or the second time. Or even the third, fourth, or fifth time.

It didn’t make it feel any better, but these iterations of failure certainly gave me a chance to practice what we preach.


Culture Trumps All

Posted by Tim under Personal

By now you have probably seen the picture of the little boy wounded in Aleppo, sitting the back of an ambulance after another brutal round of air strikes in this Syrian city.  It is heartbreaking. Captivating. And totally unconscionable.

It is war.

I listened to an NPR article a couple of days ago (I seem to be saying that a lot these days) that really caught my attention.  You can find it here.  It was an interview with the last remaining female OB-GYN in the city.  A particular question stood out to me.

MONTAGNE (NPR): Are fewer women getting pregnant now, there in Aleppo? Or are fewer women looking to have children, given that things are so difficult and even deadly in Aleppo?

FARIDA: (Through interpreter) Despite the siege, you will find that almost every day in the neighborhood, there’s a wedding, and women are getting pregnant. Today, maybe, I treated 10 to 15 women because they want to have kids. In Aleppo, in our culture, we love children. If a woman has seven or eight kids, it’s as if she doesn’t have any kids.

I have one daughter. And people are surprised and ask, do you really only have one daughter? And there’s a percentage of women that are afraid that their husband will remarry. And so it is very important to have kids so that they can prevent a second marriage from happening.

Did you catch that? “There’s a percentage of women that are afraid their husband will remarry” if they don’t have several children.  “If a woman has seven or eight kids, it’s as if she doesn’t have any kids.”

As an American onlooker it is easy to be an armchair marriage counselor.  It is easy to say, “That’s nuts.” It is easy to say, “But you are in a war, do something different!” It is easy to blame a religion that isn’t ours.

But this misses a larger, necessary piece that social media has helped eliminate from our worldview: empathy.

News can show us the what, but they rarely delve into the why.  Religion is not a why. Fear is not a why. Third-world country is not a why. War is not a why.

These are the bandaids of why that cover up the depth of why.

Culture is the why.  Culture is deep veined.  It is the limitless cavern that scares us. It is a room with a door in each wall where every door opens into a new room with a door in each wall.  It is undiscoverable.  It is misunderstood.

The only way to make any sense of any of this is to come alongside someone and attempt to understand their worldview based on their cultural heritage.  You simply cannot overlay your own system of beliefs on top.  You have to set them aside.  Suspend your own thoughts and ideas and well-this-is-what-I-would-do’s.

And that’s hard.  It’s incredibly hard.

And scary.

Thankfully, as part of our own school’s culture at the L&N STEM Academy, empathy is built into many of our lessons through the process. The understanding of why will take you much farther in life than the knowledge of what or how or when. You can memorize facts until your eyes bleed.  You can write essays that score 5’s until the cows come home. But if you can’t figure out how to find the why you are lost.

  • Your family has a culture all its own
  • Your office has a culture all its own
  • Your school has a culture all its own
  • Your classroom has a culture all its own
  • Your country has a culture all its own
  • Your state, town, and neighborhood…

Need I go on?

You can’t win at Rook or Spades without a trump card.  And in the game of life, culture trumps all.


There are many reasons why we do what we do.  The way we do them. When we do them.  When we started, it all made sense.  There was a need, sometimes an urgent need, that caused us to change what we were doing and do this new thing.

  • We’ve established expectations for behavior in our classrooms
    • Sit down
    • Stay quiet
    • Put your phones away
    • Get out your textbook
    • Sharpen your pencil
    • Buy a 3″ wide 3-ring notebook
  • We’ve established expectations for our faculty meetings
    • Be on time
    • Take notes
    • Listen. To everything. I mean everything.
  • We’ve established expectations for teacher observations
    • Here is the 12-point rubric with 128 separate things that have to be observed.  Every day.  Every period. In 45 minutes. Or 90 minutes.
    • Unpack the standards
    • Do the deep dive
    • Make sure every single student grows. Here, we’ll use this totally arbitrary number that has been shown to be false and misleading, but we’re going to keep using it anyway.

All of this made sense when we started.  Tech wasn’t much in the classroom at the time.  But now, nearly every student from 6th grade on up, has a miniature computer in their pocket that can search the Internet, take pictures for evidence in a science experiment, or run an app that will calculate the velocity of a coconut-laden swallow. It doesn’t make sense to put them away any longer.

All of this made sense when we started. Faculty meetings couldn’t be placed online.  Meetings couldn’t be honed down to an email. Video wasn’t readily available. And you’ve created a PPT, a PDF, and an email with all the stuff you were going to say anyway.  It doesn’t make sense that everyone has to listen to everything any longer.

All of this made sense when we started. OK, no, it didn’t. Teacher observations are not the salvation of education. Growth scores are arbitrary and capricious. Even harmful and debilitating. Expecting teachers to “do it all” all the time is an impossible standard that no teacher evaluator can do for themselves. Expecting teachers to take the blame for poverty, lack of parent involvement, abuse in the home, hunger, the fact that you arbitrarily raise the mark for what is deemed proficient, or the fact that your standards are just no longer interesting or necessary at times, is criminal.

Some of it never made sense.


What We See Matters

Posted by Tim under Personalized Learning

Last night, after our school’s very successful Open House, I went to the Preservation Pub on Market Square.  A friend of mine had mentioned it was open mic night.  I hadn’t been to an open mic night in years, so it seemed like a good way to relax after a very long day.

Open Mic at Preservation Pub

My first impressions of the four acts I saw went something like this:

  • The first guy had a nice Amos Lee feel with a Harry Chapin tone to his lyrics.  But his three songs all sounded very much alike, and one impression I got was that he wrote 8 minute songs in order to stay on the stage longer.
  • The second guy was a song writer that couldn’t sing.  There are plenty of them.  Willie Nelson. Kris Kristofferson. The lyrics were nice.  They told sad stories.  But the feel was overshadowed by the vocal.
  • The third guy seemed to sling his guitar really low, like Slash for instance, for the sole purpose of looking cool.  It seemed like it made it harder for him to play.  He had what looked like a blanket on his shoulder where the guitar strap was located.  It looked silly. His songs were bluesy. Not much vocals. A lot of guitar riffs. Not bad. But very unpolished.
  • The fourth guy didn’t play anything. He sang a cappella.  Not a good choice for him. His man bun, rolled up capri pants, scruffy Millennial beard, and a 3 foot walking cane that wasn’t really long enough to use as a walking cane so it looked like a really silly accessory, made me cringe from the outset. But when he sang, it only got worse.

Somewhere in the middle of the second act, that guy who wrote good songs but really couldn’t sing, made me realize that I was being horribly unfair.  After all, they all were on stage. I wasn’t. It was about then I decided to look at the performances through an educational lens rather than the “I’m attending a concert” lens.

The first thing that came to mind looking through my educational lens was that I had an entirely wrong rubric. My rubric was based on the scale of: plays guitar (how well), sings (how well), writes songs (how well), performs to the audience (how well).  Do you see the common denominator?  Nearly all our rubrics gauge our students on the “how well” aspect of what they are doing.

I tried to think of other ways to judge these men (no women when I was there, but there was at least one waiting to perform) and their performances.  I started thinking about these:

  • How much courage did it take this individual to get up in front of his peers and perform?
  • What kind of story do the lyrics tell me? Do they engage me on a personal level? Are they about real life?
  • How much of the performer’s life is wrapped up in these songs? Do they appear to be intentional? Do the feel “real” to me?
  • What has this person sacrificed to be on this stage?  What is his personal investment in his art?
  • Is he a one-and-done performer, or does he have the grit, determination, and drive to get back up here again tomorrow?  And the next day?  And the days after that?
  • What does this performance reveal about the performer?

If I rated these guys on the “how well” scale and asked myself, “Would I pay money to see them perform?” the answer is a resounding no. But if I look through my educational lens and ask, “Would I come back to open mic night to hear them again?” the answer is most definitely yes.

And that leads me to assessing the work of our students.  At our school, we expect our kids to get up in front of their peers and give oral presentations from nearly the first day.  We know they may not have a natural talent for it. They may be brand new at it. We don’t expect as much from our freshmen as we might from our seniors. And yet, we are still using a “how well” rubric.

And I’m not saying we need to abandon it.  But perhaps, just perhaps, we need to expand it.

  • Do we know enough about this student to assess the courage it took to do this presentation?
  • Do we know enough about this student’s home life to understand what obstacles have been overcome to do this presentation?
  • Did the personal investment of the student in the topic seem “real” to me? Or was it just rote memorization of facts regurgitated on all his classmates?
  • Did the student know enough about this material that she did not have to read her bulleted slides to the class? Was she able to create meaningful slides that included no words, but help tell her story?
  • What was my level of engagement with this presentation?   Did it win me over? Did I walk away wanting to learn more?

If we are going to emphasize personalized learning, we also need to emphasize personalized assessment.  No two students share the same path to their work. What are we looking for when we assess student performance?

Like open mic nights at a local pub, when it comes to assessing the work of our students, what we see matters.


I have a routine.  I follow it pretty closely 5 days a week. I get up around 4:50 and shower. I get dressed and catch up on things like email, Twitter, Facebook, and my Feedly feed.  Around 5:30 or 5:45 I make breakfast.  Then I leave the house at 6 and go to the Starbucks just 3 minutes from my house.  I sometimes write blog posts (like today), or just troll Facebook, but I drink coffee and let my soul be still for a while before I head to work.

It’s great.

imageMy routine is routine enough that the baristas at Starbucks, although they don’t know me by name, anticipate my arrival.  It isn’t busy at 6 AM.  When they see my car in the parking lot, they go ahead and pour a Tall Pike Place and have it ready for me to place my Strabucks app in front of their infra red scanner.  We exchange good mornings, and I find a place by the window at a small table to work.

It’s great. Until it Isn’t.

Occasionally, I’ve been trying some of their Reserve Roast.  It’s a little more expensive, so I often wait until the weekend for a treat, or until I’ve earned a star reward to get it free.  On a few routine mornings, I’ve stepped out of the car thinking I’ll splurge on a Reserve East Timor Peaberry (a favorite) only to find my Tall Pike Place sitting on the counter in front of a smiling, well-meaning barista who has just helped me out by anticipating my desire. Out of respect for their generosity and kindness, I settle back with my Tall Pike and enjoy my quiet time. But I am slightly dissatisfied with the morning.

And then there are the total disasters.  I came in Sunday and decided to use my reward points to get a Grande Reserve coffee.  A flavor I had not yet tried.  I gave my order to a new girl behind the counter, and before she could ring it up, one of my regulars stepped in front of her and rang up my order, including charging it to my reward stars.  What did I get? A Tall Pike Place.

Personalized service is great, until it become rote standardization.

And this is the trap we risk in personalizing learning.  To personalize means to allow the student the autonomy to choose for every single assignment.  The moment we limit the choices a student has, we take personalization away.

Billy Bob, here are three ways you can show me what you know.  You can write a paper.  You can create a video. You can make a podcast.  You get to choose!

Compare that to the following:

Billy Bob, here are the things I need to see in order to know that you fully understand this material. If you could choose any way in the world to demonstrate that knowledge to me, what you choose?  Why that? Can you show me a plan on how you could get that finished by the due date? Can you do this alone, or would you like to work on it with a partner or small group? What will you need from me in order to help you? What technology do you need? Would it help if I gave you a couple of extra days?

In the first scenario, we are still concentrating on making things easiest for the teacher.  We’ve given some choices, but limited it enough to make grading as simple and easy as possible.

In the second, the concentration is on the student.  She gets to figure it out.  He gets to struggle.  They both get to take ownership.  True ownership.

Standardizing personal choice is great.  Until it isn’t.


Celebrate Cezanne

Posted by Tim under Personal

If you haven’t listened to Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History  podcast, you are definitely missing out on a breath of fresh air.  Every new episode is my listening choice for the drive to, or from, work.

Yesterday, I was catching up and listened to the episode titled, “Hallelujah.”  In it, he was discussing creative genius, and how it looks differently depending on which end of the creative spectrum you are on.

On the one end is Picasso.  Picasso’s creative genius is immediate. He puts pen or brush to paper, and within minutes (or hours) he has created a masterpiece unlike any other.  Bob Dylan says it took 15 minutes to write “I and I,” one of his signature hits. Paul Simon says “Bridge Over Troubled Water” came out completely formed.  One take.  And one of the most iconic songs in the history of songs was created.

Paul Cezanne

At the other end of the spectrum is Cezanne.  Cezanne would create multiple canvases of the same image. He is, arguably, one of the greatest painters to ever live.  And yet, his multiple canvases aren’t improving on a them every time.  They are each seeking out the truth of his subject in different ways.  He is constantly searching for something that continually eludes him (no, not like a Pokemon).  And yet, it is in this long, arduous, laborious struggle, that we see his genius.  No one and done for Cezanne.

Gladwell takes us on a long journey of how Leonard Cohen’s song, “Hallelujah,” became a worldwide sensation.  I won’t spoil the podcast any more with details.  You should listen.  It is so fascinating that an entire book has been written about the journey this song has taken over the years, and I’m about to download it after I finish this blog post.

But here’s the thing. Our students are on the Picasso to Cezanne spectrum.  And yet, standardizing instruction, standardizing testing, standardizing expectations and curriculum and teacher evaluations means that we expect all our students to be Picassos.

  • You have one test to show me what you know.  That grade goes in the grade book.
  • You have one standardized high stakes test to prove you understand a year’s worth of material.
  • You each have the same assignment with the same expected assessment of your work.
  • You have one way to show me what you know.  The way that is easiest for me.  Because I have 25 others just like you (elementary).  Because I have 125 just like you (middle).  Because I have 175 just like you (high school).

Now.  Be Picasso and show me your genius.

In reality, most of our students are more like Cezanne.  Cezanne was a plodder.  A perfectionist that never quite lived up to his own perfectionism.  He was always seeking to do the same thing better.  In fact, he got so upset with himself at times that he literally destroyed his own canvases out of frustration.

Sound like any students you might have?

As we start a new year, I encourage my teacher friends to be on the lookout for ways you can pull the creative genius out of your Cezannes.  If you have a one-and-done testing format, consider allowing retakes for some students.  Or all students.  If you have a my-way-or-the-highway approach to assigning the kinds of work students will turn in, consider broadening your palette and letting your students paint in different colors.  And be gracious in how you assess the work. Cezanne was a Post-impressionist painter whose works were largely scorned for years.  And yet, he helped pave the way for much of our 21st Century modern art movement.

Different doesn’t mean do it over.

At the L&N STEM Academy, we take our 9th graders through an introductory class in the process.  It is all about finding the Cezanne in all of them.  Lessons are designed to create failure on the first try.  They are designed to create failure if you don’t work with others.  Some kids really struggle in this environment.  They  are the A-listers who do it all on their own.  But the vast majority of students heave a huge sigh of relief at finding out their first attempts are only stepping stones to understanding, and their failures are not posted in the grade book.

You’ve got plenty of time to celebrate and heap adulation on your Picassos.  This year, celebrate Cezanne.


Be Quiet For a Few Minutes…

Posted by Tim under Personal

Monday was my birthday.  Sunday was my celebration day with family.  I had a great time watching the grandkids play (I’m now too old to get in the floor, I think).  And the time spent watching everyone on their iPads, laptops, and phones was amazing. LOL  Just my cup of tea!

Monday was my birthday.  And Monday was my celebration day with Facebook.  Over 300 friends and family wished me a Happy Birthday. Some sent pictures of flowers, or cards, or cake with a bazillion candles on it.  It was epic!

That number may not sound like much to some people.  But it amazes me.  I have over 1,100 friends on Facebook.  About a year ago, I went through that friends list and decided to delete a few.  The criteria was simple:  A) If I don’t know them personally, they go on the “maybe unfriend” pile.  B) If I  haven’t had a meaningful conversation with them on Facebook in the last 6 months, they would be unfriended).

I think I unfriended 13 people.  I’m sure there’s more back now, so I need to do it again soon.  But that low number surprised me.  I thought it would be a couple hundred people.

I am an introvert.  I can be social.  Heck, I can even be in charge.  But I need my downtime to recharge, and that downtime means I either need to be alone, or you need to be quiet.  I didn’t have a lot of friends in high school, and far fewer that I would call “close.”  The same was true in college.  And when I divorced (both times), I realized how many of my friends weren’t really my friends.  They just all sort of disappeared.

But education has opened a very different door for me. Through the Discovery Education Network; attending events like ISTE, FETC, MACUL, and others; and being a part of online communities through Twitter and Facebook, I have found a multitude of friends that reach out to me on a regular basis to let me know I’m in their thoughts, ask for my opinion on a topic, or just make me laugh.  I’ve even reconnected with high school friends and found family I never knew I had!  Those connections are all precious to me.

And believe me, there are days when those connections are sorely needed.

So, thank you for the 300 Birthday wishes!  Now if you could all just be quiet for a few minutes….


What’s Your Super Power?

Posted by Tim under Personal

I’ve had the wonderful privilege of traveling around the sun 58 times now.  When you put it in those terms, it doesn’t sound quite as bad as being 58 years old.  But that’s me.  Older.  Probably not any wiser.

Its been an interesting 58 years.  I’ve written before of my early years, so I won’t elaborate (much) here.  Most of them I simply don’t remember.

I spent my elementary years in Richmond, IN.  We lived across the street from the neighborhood school.  Directly across the street.  The crosswalk came up to my front yard.  I only remember the name of one teacher, but I’m not sure I can spell it.  I remember friends living around me named Tom, Pat, Debbie, John, and Mark, but I only remember one of their last names.  And these days, I try not to utter if I don’t have to.  I remember my first “true love” from second grade.  Her name was Ellen T.  I found her on LinkedIn a couple of years ago, but I never reached out to her to catch up.  I guess I was afraid she wouldn’t remember me.

I moved to Marion, IN during the semester break of my 7th grade year.  So, that was 2 junior highs in one year.  Then they opened a new junior high in Marion, and I changed schools again in 8th grade.   So, technically, three junior highs in two years. I only lived in Marion 2 years.  They were not fun years.  I had a friend named Steve. I had a couple of others, but I don’t remember their names. We played ping pong at lunch.  I took up smoking in the 7th grade. Then realized it was just kind of stupid and quit. And I played some par 3 golf not far from my house. And I found the music of Jim Croce during those times, but he was already dead, so there wasn’t a lot coming after that. I picked up an affinity for Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young; Grand Funk Railroad. Electric Light Orchestra, Black Oak Arkansas, Santana, Three Dog Night, Deep Purple, The Association, and George Carlin, to name a few.

Its funny I can remember the names of music groups, but not the friends I spent time with.

We moved to Bennettsville, SC for a year; well, 10 months.  Then on to Wynne, AR, where I basically went to 2 totally separate high schools in the same building for 11th and 12th grade.  Students were tracked then. I was in the middle group during 11th grade.  Then I got bumped up to the high group in the 12th grade. I had a few friends in high school, but not many. I’m an introvert and a loner, so friendships don’t come easily for me. I got engaged toward the end of my senior year, and then I broke her heart by being a jerk. We’re still friends today. So, here’s a shout out to Donna.

My first two years at Lee College (later Lee University) were pretty much a bust. I didn’t have to work at school in high school.  I thought I wouldn’t have to work at college either. I was horribly wrong. After two years I went home. By that time I was married with my first born on the way.  The second came a short time later.  We bought a house. Life was wonderful.

The next few years I worked for my family at Childers Mixing Service, or CMS. My dad passed away before he turned 50, and we sold the business. I decided to use my inheritance to go back to school, and I returned to Lee University.  What a difference having a family and responsibilities (and paying your own way) makes when you are going to school!

The rest of the years went by far too quickly.  Florida.  Scotland.  England. And back to Cleveland, TN. Divorced.  Remarried. Adopted a wonderful third daughter giving me Brittany, Alycce, and Sarah. Divorced again. Life has its quirks and curve balls it loves to throw at us.

What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger is a lie.  It makes us tired. Very, very tired.

And here I am at 58. I’m in a job I absolutely love. I have more friends than I ever though possible.  Friends locally and, literally, around the globe.  And five grandchildren.  Five gloriously wonderful, beautiful, funny, and lovable grandkids.

And now I am starting my 59th tour around the sun. Who knows what it will bring?  Where it will take me? What new friends I will make?

I’m 58 and counting.  I’m still here.  What’s your super power?


Realize Your Bias When Discussing Bias

Posted by Tim under Personal

Yesterday I ran across an article online that was obviously created to stir emotions and get people fired up against a particular candidate in the presidential race.  I added it to my BufferApp, and it appeared in Twitter today.

And that’s when the troll showed up.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 4.44.24 PMI posted the article, and the pictures, without comment except to say that it was a great way to bring the discussion of bias into the classroom.  The picture to the left is what I got back.

Even as I’m writing this post, the trolling continues.  I’ve tried to explain that good teaching involves getting students to think rather than just downloading facts.

I could have used the article I posted and said, “See, this is how bias distorts things.  The picture on the right/left is clearly wrong.”  Or I could have not posted the article at all (my troll responded that “posting that article was irresponsible.”)  But that negates the opportunity for my students to be involved in real-life examples of how bias is used to distort facts.

That may be considered teaching.  But it certainly isn’t remotely associated with learning.

Discussion comes from not giving students all the facts up front.  Let them work through it together.  Let them talk about it.  Argue over it.  Research it themselves.  Let them own the learning.  Get out of the way.  Let it be messy. Even loud at times (as long as the discussion is fair).  They will find the truth.

And now I have an entirely new lesson to offer to students.  Before you start trolling the Internet in an attempt to “make the truth known,” realize your own bias when discussing bias.

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