Reflections of life, leadership, and the pursuit of excellence.
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Day 5 (21 Days of Gratitude)
I am not going to go too deep on my gratitude today; quite simply, I am grateful for college football. There is not much that I enjoy more than sitting in my living room and watching games on Saturdays throughout the fall. There is something about the atmosphere of a college campus during football Saturdays that I love including tailgaiting activities, crisp fall weather, and an unbelievable amount of excitement and pride. I have been very fortunate to attend a couple of games this season, as I traveled to State College, Pennsylvania and Iowa City in consecutive weeks. Whether I am watching a game with 107,000 people in Beaver Stadium or taking in USC vs. UCLA in the cozy confines of my living room, I love everything about the game of college football.
When I was a little boy and first learned how to ride my bike, I had all kinds of difficulties. I would struggle with balance, fall down often, and accumulate my fair share of scraped knees. This was not an easy task, as it took several hours, days, and weeks of guided practice before I mastered the proper technique. I don't remember a great deal about the process other than my mother and father pushing me to stick with it while providing me with a great deal of feedback and encouragement. I bring up this memory not only because I am in the process of unsuccessfully teaching my six year-old how to ride a bike, but also because I think it is applicable to our work with students.
Many years ago I was teaching fifth grade and the students were given an open response problem to solve independently as part of their first math assessment of the year. These types of problems are based on real-world scenarios and require deep thought. There are infinite ways of coming up with an answ…
More than 25 years ago, I was finishing up my last day of fourth grade and walked out of school with one of my all time favorite teachers, Mrs. Lammers. As we were heading to the walker line, she asked me about my plans for summer, how excited I was for the upcoming baseball season, and what I was most looking forward to in 5th grade.
I loved Mrs. Lammers for many reasons: her passion for baseball, the way that she brought characters to life when she read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and most importantly how she made an intentional effort to connect with me while pushing toward higher levels than I thought possible. I was not the highest achieving student, nor was I the hardest worker. School was just not my thing; I really struggled with reading and did not put forth the effort to get better. However, it was different with Mrs. Lammers, as she held this incredible belief in me and made me want to learn more each and every day. She showed me that mistakes are not fatal, readi…
I’ll never forget one day when I was an eighth grader in junior high school and walking down the hallway with one of my best friends, Michael. I was a pretty good student from a behavioral standpoint (for the most part) and the staff liked and trusted me. However, my friend, Michael, was seen as a behavioral issue and was scowled at often by teachers and administrators. Michael was not a bad kid by any stretch of the imagination, but he would often ask a lot of questions which was viewed as a bad thing. We were two minutes late to study hall in the library when the librarian greeted Michael with a frown and immediately asked, “WHERE WERE YOU AND WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG!?” He started to explain himself and she immediately cut him off and said, “I DON’T EVEN WANT TO HEAR IT!” Even though I was late as well, not a word was said to me.
What the librarian didn’t know was we were late because Michael saw one of our classmates fall down the stairs going to the first floor while spilling the …