Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Mrs. Sherry you?

I was reading a blog today by Eric Sheninger (@E_Sheninger) about his awesome Science Teacher, Mr. S, and this really hit me: Caring. Is it that hard for some? Should it be part of our job description? Why can't we give kiddos positive lasting impressions, memories and connections that stay with them forever?
Or, would we rather them remember standardized testing and having to sit out of recess? (that is another topic all in of itself).
I hated school. There, I said it. Growing up in the highly educational and educated small town of Davis, CA in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, one might think this would be THE place to go to school. Well, for me, it wasn’t. I was then what today one would call ADD, ADHD and inattentive. Depending on the day, I may have been cleaning erasers during lunch, (yes, we had chalkboards my friends) sitting in the principal’s office, going to school with my mom (she taught HS at Vanden HS in Vacaville, CA) because I was suspended, or having my head slammed against the classroom wall by my 5th Grade teacher! (really, I kid you not). This wasn’t all the school’s fault for sure. I do take responsibility for mooning my PE Teacher and pantsing some kids, maybe even putting wood chips in someone’s mouth, but come on, I was bored and when I didn’t understand something, I felt plain STUPID and wanted to run, run, run!
Then came 6th Grade…(breakout the Angel music) and Mrs. Paula Sherry to the scene. For the first time, someone got it! Yes, she would still find me annoying at times, but I got to move, have fun, try new things, but most importantly of all, Mrs. Sherry cared...and it showed. She would listen, laugh, read to us all the time, and best of all, she would let us be kids. Yes! Learning was fun for the first time since...ever! I finally had some confidence in my learning. Mrs. S even helped me to enjoy Math and Spelling! Yes, Jeff was in the Spelling Bee and made it through a few rounds. Wow! Mrs. S cared.
Yes, Mrs. S cared. Shouldn’t all educators do that? Maybe throw in a side of empathy, gratitude, tolerance and faith? Mrs. S became my hero and she is primarily (shared with my mother of course) the reason that I am an educator today. Mrs. S cared.
Over the next several years, I would go by WDI (my school, now named after Mr. Willett) and visit Mrs. S to say hi, let her know how I was doing, and just hang out. She had such a positive influence on me that I would go by Sherry’s Pipe and Tobacco Shop, downtown to say hello to her and Mr. Sherry. How many High School boys go and visit their 6th Grade teachers? Mrs. S cared.
Over the college and early adult years, I lost track of Mrs. S. But a few years ago, I tracked her down on Facebook, where we re-connected, and have since shared several posts, stories, pictures and memories. Mrs. S cared.
I was recently invited to the graduation of a former student, Michael York, who graduated from the amazing Military Academy in West Point, NY. His mother tracked me down and sent me an invite. Unfortunately, I could not go, but the point is, maybe to Michael, I cared.
Do you care? I challenge you!
So, today I challenge you to do this: Write a card, make a phone call home, tell a joke, take a kiddo to lunch, play hoops/hopscotch/4 square, listen, color with, or just watch a kiddo that is quiet. If you can do this daily, to one or two kids in class, or at your school, you will become the Mrs. S and Mr. S of your generation. You will get kiddos coming back to visit, chat, pour their souls out and even invite you to HS or College graduation. Mrs. S cared.

Monday, March 20, 2017

ONE SHOT...My Ode to Eminem

One Shot

The other night, while having a family dance party, I shouted to Alexa, “Alexa, play Lose Yourself by Eminem”. As my wife, two kids, and I were busting moves, it hit me, especially the first few lines:
If you had
One shot
Or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
In one moment
Would you capture it
Or just let it slip?
We really only have ONE SHOT. To make a difference, to apologize, to get it right, to be who we are. We raise our kids with ONE SHOT. We don’t get a do over. Take what you have, right now and go.
ONE SHOT. To do whatever we can to help kids succeed. No excuses, no waiting, no nothing. Just get it going and DO. Try something don’t wait around. As my friend and #edudhero @adamwelcome reminds us in his recent blog: Just. Start. Doing.
ONE SHOT. For you to be a learner. A leader. A failer. A hero. This is the here and now my friends, time is of the essence. We have a new government, a new view on education. What are you going to do to change? Wait until tomorrow? No, that is too late.
ONE SHOT. To show others what you can do. The most impressive innovation is failure. Too many amazing people have shown us this over and over again. It begins with a thought, a scribble, a note, but then a push, no a jump into what most times leads to failure and then another iteration. Keep going. Keep trying. Keep pushing. Others will see this and say “Whoa, that dude’s got it”. He/she goes for it.
ONE SHOT. How many times have you thought to yourself “Darn, I wish I could do it over.” Or, “I wish I would have done it this way.” OK. Now. Go for it. This is your time, your opportunity to seize it!
ONE SHOT. Maybe now you should go for that new job, or try out that new experiment, or show the students in your class you are willing to put it out there, on the line. This. Is. The. Time. This is your “Liner” in 4 square, your mulligan in golf. Laugh hard and often, like my friend Lindsy Stumpenhorst, @lmstump says. And. Then. Just. Do.
ONE SHOT. So many times as an educator I have driven home and reflected on my day. “Gosh, I wish”, or “Darn, I shoulda, coulda, woulda”. OK. Put it into action now and don’t hesitate. What will happen? You fail, mess up, or better yet, you kill it! How about that! Imagine that you actually kill it and succeed and find some amazing coolness from what you thought you could not do!
You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime you better…”

Eminem said it, and I challenge you to this:
Try. Right now. Go for it. Risk something today.

We cannot produce leaders and resilient students with GRIT, if we don’t ourselves get after it and go for it. Innovation is only as good as our next failure my friends, because really, we only get ONE SHOT. To do it now.