A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Friday, August 31, 2012

Licking my wounds

Disappointment and failure can be the mother of change and invention, or it can slowly destroy a person. I choose to work on perfecting myself, rather than allowing these temporary setbacks destroy me. I choose not to allow my God-given talent to be buried under the current of life. Even though my unique skills are not being recognized, even though I have utterly failed to persuade interviewers that I am light years ahead of where I was when I launched my first classroom in 2007, with no student teaching experience, I will acknowledge my failure and seek to get better, because that's what winners do.

Having made the decision to be brutally honest with the world, I have finally come to terms with the fact that I have utterly failed to get a teaching position and am not afraid of sharing my failure with the world. Despite a Master's Degree, despite a license to teach K-12 Special Education (General Curriculum), as well as Elementary Education (PreK-6), despite a degree from Georgetown University, my skills and experience are not valued sufficiently to earn a position. My performance during the interview process was not been sufficiently focused, and the opportunities were scarce. I have nobody to blame but myself.

Having decided to use the sting of failure to motivate me to become better as a teacher, instead of allowing my insecurity to destroy me, today I immersed myself in I See What You Mean: Visual Literacy, K-8, 2nd Ed. I decided to use OneNote to prepare a visual literacy toolkit which I can use to plan Bloom correlated activities. The process is like eating crabs -- painstaking, but the rewards are worth the trouble. Since time management is, frankly a challenge for me, having a comprehensive visual literacy toolkit at my fingertips, should provide the cognitive leverage I need to make the lesson planning process highly efficient.

During one of my interviews, I picked up a generalization that visual literacy is a great way to teach oral learners, which sounds totally counter-intuitive. Having failed in the interview, I lost motivation to read the book, and this powerful book sat in my book bag unread, like an unfulfilled wish. The comment was like a planted seed, however, and just needed the right conditions to germinate. I thought I might use the SQ3R reading strategy to get me to skim first, before digging in, then I discovered something that hooked me in a way I could not let go. The author, Steve Moline, visually organized the tools in a summary organizer. Click on the link, you will be as amazed as I was. I immediately realized that I had stumbled upon probably the most useful tool I have ever discovered in my search for better teaching and learning methods! Since I am using OneNote to take notes, I will be able to retrieve the precisely the right thinking tool any time I need to plan a unit or a lesson. If I like you, I might share my notes with you, using OneNote's powerful collaboration features. Ha!

One of my great joys this summer has been explicitly teaching my son Joe how to do a deep read and how to write a proper sentence, which he has had to to in order to respond to the high level thinking questions for Paul Coehlo's The Alchemist, required for his 9th grade Honors English class. One of central concepts in the book involves the way, when you have a dream, the universe conspires to help make it happen.

If I am fortunate enough to find a job, something that I need desperately, I might be the most highly educated customer service representative, or evening shift worker at a home center. But I will continue to work on perfecting my craft.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cicadas sputter

Cicadas sputter.
Last gasps rev from the motor,
Last drops squeezed from dust.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Congratulations NASA!

New Haiku: Curiosity!

Graceful, precise! Art? Science?

Beautiful girl

New Haiku: Doggy Chemistry

Dogs are litmus tests.
They sniff true feelings, react
Without delay. Pass or fail.

Thanks to my niece Julia for sharing this picture of my little sweetheart, Mabel.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Mike Wise's article on a female Afghani runner

Sometimes, Mike Wise just gets it. His article on Tahmina Kohistani gets to the heart of what it means to be an Olympian. Sometimes the important thing is the journey, not the destination.

Reality Check

With Dad recovering from a lung operation, I am reminded once again to be thankful for all of the good health I have enjoyed. Yesterday, I stopped by my parents' home and Mom hooked me up to the blood pressure machine. My blood pressure was 168 / 91. Yikes!

Despite just coming from a job interview, I did not feel particularly nervous because of the interview. For the past two days my blood pressure has been consistently high, but I'm not ready to correlate the spike in blood pressure with job interview stress.

Mom told me to call Dr. Prinz. She said to tell Dr. Prinz about my family history. She insisted that I tell him that my grandfather, Yunosuke Tsuchitani, had a massive stroke at 54. I had always associated my grandfather's stroke to stress related to World War II, the loss of his businesses, the burning of his boats, his imprisonment, his repatriation to Japan. Next week, after I have checked my blood pressure a few more times, I will call Dr. Prinz.

Today I Googled symptoms, wondering about the troubling loss of sensation that I've noticed in the fingers of my left hand and lingering joint pain. Looking at the Mayo Clinic website. Nerve damage and joint pain are symptoms of diabetes.

Given the subtle changes I am noticing, I need to reassess the intensity of my workouts and probably should avoid getting my heart rate up too high again at the gym until I figure out what is happening. It would be ironic if my efforts to get healthier killed me.

A couple of changes to my diet and exercise routine are necessary. Definitely, my sodium intake is too high. Possibly, my peak intensity levels are too high. Certainly, I need to work with my doctor. The last thing I want to let happen is have a minor setback derail my workout plans. Until we get this sorted out, though, I'm going to take my intensity down a notch.

Meanwhile, the job search continues. A lot less blogging, a lot more job hunting is in order.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Wow! Joe actually pushed me out the door!

After one of the most grueling years of my life, in which I earned my Master's Degree through Marymount University's Professional Development School, my son Joe desperately needed his dad back. Joe was playing way too much Halo, giving way too much backtalk, not accepting personal responsibility, not setting SMART goals. This morning, he literally pushed me out the door so that he would be on time to his Science Camp at Thomas Jefferson High School. He was ready 20 minutes early. Huge! It represents a defining moment in his life, a demonstration that he is finally "getting it." And I was an important part of that moment. Wow! Respect!

I find the "disappointment" about silver medal performances by Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps to be disturbing because of the message it sends to children like Joe, who developed the bad habit of blaming his bat for strikeouts last season. How we evaluate what constitutes success or failure as a society requires careful consideration. The important thing when we reflect upon the awarding of medals for winning and the assigning of blame and criticism for failure is to consider what is happening to us as we move forward. At the gym, every day I have been listening to Jim Rohn's The Art of Exceptional Living on my ASUS A626 every day, and he explains:
"The important thing to think about when we go to work is not what we are getting; the important thing to think about is who we are becoming."
Last weekend, Chuck Hoyle, who will be Joe's hitting coach, gave Joe his first assignment: develop a fitness regimen. He also instilled in Joe his first goal: get to a bat speed of 70 mph before tryouts in September. Next week, at the Audrey Moore Recreation Center, Joe will start working with Jerod, a personal trainer, for six one-hour sessions. Joe's going to learn how to train the right way. On Tuesday, Julie set him up with his own Fitlinxx routine. The way of hitting is not about earning a coveted spot on a high school baseball team, the way of hitting is more a way of life.

During the discussion about Michael Phelps, there are a number of numskulls who want to denigrate the performance of a great champion in this Olympics by referring to his "pot smoking." Tee, hee. Of course, Michael's decision to smoke pot was a mistake, but should it define him more than the 19 medals he has won during three Olympics? Should we forget about the lessons Phelps learned along the way, as someone with ADHD, from a Coach who loved finding diabolical ways to throw Phelps off his game, to prepare him for gauntlet he faced in Beijing?

Mistakes are a fact of life. Anyone who steps into the batters box enough times will strike out, but should that stop someone who loves to play baseball from getting back into the batter's box?

After his "disappointing" silver medal winning performance in the 200m butterfly, Phelps revealed the mind of a champion more in defeat than perhaps more than he revealed in any of his more Olympian performances. Phelps acknowledged shortcomings in his preparation, then said he needed to focus on his next performance. As I concluded in my response to Mike Wise yesterday, a true champion understands the words inscribed at the Oracle of Delphi: "Know thyself!"

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Michael Phelps: a true American Hero

Mike Wise wrote a great article about Michael Phelps that made the cover of today's Washington Post. Ever since I read about how the sports writer pulled his dog from the icy C&O Canal and nearly died, I have been a fan. Mike Wise is a gifted writer, but occasionally he writes some really dumb things. This week, his use of the word "disappointment" to describe performances of Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps rubbed me the wrong way, so I posted a response that several people have liked. Click on the link above or this one http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/michael-phelps-leaves-room-for-mom-while-on-top-of-the-world/2012/07/31/gJQA9zVwNX_allComments.html#comments to read the article and look for my response, which has my Poetic License Logo.

If you agree with my reasoning that "disappointment" is the wrong way to describe the silver medal performances of Lochte and Phelps, please "like" my response. Hopefully, Mike Wise will get the message that he needs to stop describing silver medals as "disappointments." Doing so, sends the wrong message to our children. It would be fun if my response to Mike Wise went viral and started to trend on Twitter, Google +, or whatever.

Teaching my teen the right way to train

Here are a few don'ts:

  • never assume someone new to the gym knows how to train the right way
  • never teach someone new to the gym improper technique, because they will only injure themselves, or fail to achieve optimal results
  • never create unrealistic expectations or celebrate false victories, because the goal is to create a "way of life," a learning discipline, not to achieve short-term fitness targets
I have learned these lessons the hard way, having injured my shoulder over 15 years ago using improper techniques while lifting heavy weights. That is not why I stopped working out every day -- I would have kept going doing it the wrong way until my shoulder fell off. What knocked me out of the daily workout routine, every morning at 5 am, was that my job moved. My long-term Olympus Gym membership in Manassas was non-transferable, and I was unable to find gyms in my area that opened early enough to meet my habitual 5 am workout needs. However, incurring an injury early in an exercise program can discourage a teen like Joe who needs to develop new habits and is new to the gym.

Last night, after having Joe listen to Yoda, he decided that he wanted to come with me to workout at the Audrey Moore Recreation Center instead of playing Halo. A Tuesday night, I knew that Julie, who set me up on Fitlinxx, would be there. For $20, I purchased an unlimited one month pass for Joe. We dropped by Julie's office, and since she did not have anyone on her schedule, Julie was able to set Joe up on a Fitlinxx program. She also recommended that we set Joe up with six lessons with Jerod, a personal trainer who is attending George Mason University.

Although it would be great if Joe makes his high school's baseball team, the main thing I hope that he learns from becoming an athlete is that "it is not the bat's fault." Having taken advantage of Julie's coaching, I notice people using the equipment improperly all the time. Joe's is learning how to workout the right way. According to Jim Rohn, the formula for failure is "a few errors in judgment repeated every day," which leads to "accumulated disaster," while the secret of success is a few disciplines "practiced every day."

Tonight, while I work the rowing machine, maybe Joe will also do cardio, or maybe not. The choice is his alone. Before then, I will have already done my strength training. I'm not sure how I will sustain my workout schedule once school starts, but staying fit has to remain a priority.