Bye for now!

Over the weekend, I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life. I had to take the step and euthanize my dog, Lola.

Lola was a rescue from Puerto Rico, being 1 of 13. When we were researching adoption options, we saw this and traveled about 2 hours to pick her up. She came right up to us, nestled into our arms, and fell asleep.

From there, she never left our side. Through the good times and bad, Lola was next to me, no matter what. She woke up with me every morning, she slept right next to me in my bed. Nothing could be compared to her glowing eyes, her hatred for the UPS truck & school bus, and her unconditional love. I can’t recall crying as hard as I did when I brought her in the vet’s office and laid next to her during the entire process. She never left my side, and I promised to never leave hers. 


Always on my mind, I am constantly trying to correlate my experiences outside of the education world to what we as educators do everyday. The first thing that comes to mind is the need for empathy for not only our students, but for our staff as well. I’ve heard one of my former bosses use the phrase “we dont know what happens outside of school — maybe they didn’t eat breakfast, maybe Mom & Dad had a fight, maybe their hamster died.” After this weekend, that phrase has a whole new meaning for me. I couldn’t think straight in the past 48 hours. Coming home and not having Lola meet me at the door was heartbreaking. If I had to go into work right after putting my dog down, how could I possibly get anything productive done except eat through boxes of tissues? The same goes for every student and staff member. We need to understand those around us to enhance learning.

The next thing that comes to mind is reflection. As sad is at it is when I’m looking at an empty dog food & water bowl, I can’t help but to think of all of the wonderful moments and happiness she gave me. Like all grief, we need to reflect and transcend back into our daily lives. The next time a student fails a test or a teacher bombs a lesson (we’ve all been there) – dig deeper. What happened? Was it an external force that occurred? Was something not quite right? How can we as teachers and administrators help?

Finally,  I’m thinking about the big picture. How can we make Lola’s life a teachable moment? Sure, we can go into euthanasia, families, and grief, but what else? I feel that this whole experience belongs in the two books I am penning now, but showing more of how to turn lemons into the best glass of lemonade one can drink.

So until we meet again, Lola-bears, bye for now! Thanks for being the best dog in the world. You will be missed in so many ways, and will always have a piece of my heart. I hope there’s plenty of socks, snacks, and buddies to keep you happy. We will be together again, but until then, mwah!

Believe in Magic

When people talk about childhood idols & heroes, I always say David Copperfield.  No, not the character from Dickens.  The other character:

 

davidcopperfield0608
image credit: vegas.com

If you don’t know of the man above, David Copperfield is an international illusionist who has performed all over the world.  He did a series of specials in the 80’s and 90’s on television and currently performs daily in Las Vegas.

David Copperfield wasn’t just simple magic. There was spectacle; there were music and lights; there was a story; there was the attractive girl; there was the impossible becoming possible in a few minutes.  Illusions were almost performed like MTV music videos.  I was obsessed.

My love for illusions and magic was instantaneous. There was a magic shop in town that I was stopping in every day after school to either learn a trick or save up lunch money (sorry Mom) and buy a new trick each week.  At one point, I had a duffle bag full of all sorts of tricks.

AsI got older, I tried to break out into the entertainment scene.  I had  a clown costume and a mime outfit.  I tried rocking out some tricks and entertainment at street fairs and local township events.  I thought I had something really special in 6th-grade until I bombed two magic tricks on stage. I didn’t really generate much business in 7th and 8th grade, but I did manage to start a clown ministry program at my church. It was cool, but high school came along, and my bag of tricks retired to the attic.

Fast forward about 14 years to my first administrative position as an Assistant Principal in a middle school.  Truly a job where you will never know what will happen, I came across a special 6th-grade student named Max. Max had school phobia to the worst degree.  On many days in the beginning of the year, Max refused to leave the car. On the days he did, he was so reluctant to come in, he would be crying and sometimes even screaming. I was determined to find a way to get Max into school in a safe and quiet manner.

And then it happened. Like magic.

I went home that day and searched all over for my bag of magic tricks. I found it. Like riding a bike, the magic tricks came back after a few tries. I practiced on my wife and my dog.  I was determined to get the patter (a magic term for story) down and if there were any movements as well.  The next day that Max was refusing to get out of the car, I had my magic bag. While some Child Study Team members looked at me oddly for performing the vanishing coloring book trick to a 6th-grader who was kicking the door so I couldn;t open it, he was hooked.  Eventually, he asked how I did it.  That’s when I broke the magician’s code. I told Max I would show him how the trick works IF he came in. Just like that…magic.

Once a week, I would teach Max a new trick that he could try on his classmates and family members at home, but only if he could come in without fuss and go right to class. WE did this for about 2 months, and then he didn’t want the magic anymore; he just wanted to come into class.

I got to use the bag of tricks with a few more students in LAC, and even where I am now. The same deal is reached; if you {come to school} or {behave} or {get all of your homework done}, you can learn a new trick. Believe in the power of magic; it works wonders in lives of all ages.

 

Limit Distractions now.

 

This dude is my hero. Yet I made this list… I am big on returning texts and emails back quickly. But hey, everyone needs improvement, right?

Everyone has priorities. For ineffective managers, it’s the next email, text, phone call, or person who walks through the door. Meaningful work requires a closed door. The person who always respond…

Source: How to Limit Distraction and Feel in Control of Your Day

To The Moon

I always go into a school looking to see what our future is creating. Seeing students show their progress and intellect is, by far, one of the best parts of my job. Much student work I get to see is the result of class projects. I was introduced to a class project that was a bit different last year; out of the box is an understatement. I was approached by a science teacher who said we can send a science project to space. For real; we can send a science project to SPACE!

It took me a good three days to process that statement. Upon doing some research, we found out it would cost quite a bit. $23,000.00. That’s quite a bit.

After further reviewing the project, there is an opportunity within the program that partners us with a national foundation who does a great deal of soliciting on a national level. Out of $23,000.00, national companies have allocated $11,000.00. National companies, who don’t me, my schools, or my district, have allocated thousands to a project that has nothing to do with them. I find that to be amazing in itself. However, we still have $11,000.00 to raise.

The teacher and I began collaborating immediately. This was going to be more than a bake sale and selling some magazines. While we have been fortunate enough to have a dedicated Home & School Association and a community that is constantly being solicited, they keep responding. We are going to do some unique fundraisers, including collecting lightly worn shoes, selling poinsettias and fruitcakes, and some tricks up our sleeve. All in the name of science. All I’m the name of space!

We  are also seeking crowd funding. Over the years, crowdfunding has contributed to some wonderful projects. While there are many websites, we went with GoFundMe. Feel free to donate to our cause by clicking this link.

Any and all donations would be appreciated!

Thanks for reading, and thanks for helping us get to space!

How to Limit Distraction and Feel in Control of Your Day

Bullseye. Are you looking to be a leader? Read this…

 

Everyone has priorities. For ineffective managers, it’s the next email, text, phone call, or person who walks through the door. Meaningful work requires a closed door. The person who always respond…

Source: How to Limit Distraction and Feel in Control of Your Day