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

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Dog Walk at Pimmit Run at Chain Bridge

With all of the NFL coaches keeling over on the sidelines, e.g., Gary Kubiak, John Fox, etc., my ability to handle the stress of managing a  "winning campaign, i.e., success of students on state testing, has become a concern to me. Just like an NFL coach, I have the same obsessive tendency to not take care of me. I too have a tendency to fall into a pattern of poor dietary habits, sleep deprivation, not keeping up with my exercise routine. I constantly chronic worry about leaks in my procedures, students not motivated to win. Not feeling great physically, need to change.

In The Art of Exceptional Living, Jim Rohn expresses a dictum that I need to remember to follow: "I'll take care of me for you." Dogwalks with Mabel get me out exploring on weekends, sometimes even during the week, although not during the week recently. While walking, I try to do the 4-4 deep breathing exercises recommended by Tony Robbins in Lessons in Mastery (4 seconds breathing in, 4 seconds exhaling). Sometimes deep breathing helps re-energize me, but not today. I need to do a better job of taking care of myself. My brain isn't functioning properly.

This week, I was overheard by an instructional coach from out in the hall telling students to "shut up and listen." She came into my room and observed that I had the class under control, but I was teaching angry because students were not turning in homework, and I was overly focused on students not having enough of a sense of urgency about learning strategies for computing and estimating, poor performance by most students on the end of Quarter 1 Exam, and students who were overly accepting of academic failure.

My instructional coach paused to look at my board then helped me reflect about how the sloppy appearance of the front affected students with special needs. We had a helpful conversation about best practices. She reminded me that I needed to turn my focus back on what I needed to do to help students become engaged in their learning.

Afterwords when I apologized to the class, I told students that I hate losing more than I enjoy winning. I reminded the class about Jim Rohn's formula for failure: "a few errors in judgment repeated every day," and secret of success, "a few simple disciplines practiced every day."

Mabel has come to expect me to drive her to exotic locations. When we leave the house, she generally tugs towards my truck or car. My dogwalks are as much for her sanity as they are for mine.

At the onset of our walk today, we followed a path towards the mouth of Pimmit Run to where it joins the Potomac River. On the right, Palisade cliffs channeled us along a too rocky terrain. We attempted to scale a dirt covered hill on about an 80 degree incline. I was trying to get to the path along the top of the cliffs, because I wanted pictures. About a third of the way up, Mabel gave up, wisely, so I slid on all fours, slowly backwards, and avoided getting us both into a situation that we could not back out of. Sometimes, it makes sense to listen to your dog.

We went the other way. As I walked along the timeworn Native American stream bed, I noticed dappled sunlight filtering through hardwoods. With Mabel, I paused to wonder about who else had pondered about who else had taken a momentary rest on the boulder in the sunlight, and enjoyed the sound of the stream.

Yesterday, Dr. P warned me about not swiping my card to enter the building before 7 am. He told me that the only reason I was able to get in at 6:15 am yesterday was because the alarms had not been reset with the time change. We would not want the police to arrive and point their guns at me, he reminded.

We are at a point in the curriculum where we are teaching explicit strategies for solving word problems involving fractions and decimals. I need to be creative. To do so, I need to find a way to feel better.