14
Aug
17

Children are Watching

I had other things I was going to blog about this week but with the events in Virginia this weekend I was reminded of something very basic regarding children. Many of their attitudes are learned. I’ve taught psychology and I feel that there is a very good mix of nature and nurture that help shape a child’s behavior but their opinions and attitudes are often learned. How else would a child decide that a certain political party is better than another? How can a child really decide for themselves whether a particular set of religious beliefs and practices are valuable? They can’t and they don’t. Parents set those things in children through their own practices and opinions. Most children will back the political party of their parents, most will practice the same faith and even back the same sports teams. We learn much from our parents.

That means that young people standing for hate and racism and extremism learned those attitudes. That breaks my heart. It means that at one point there were little boys and girls, innocent, who wanted the same things all little boys and girls want: to play, Mac n cheese, cartoons and coloring books. Their parents instead, chose to fill their innocent minds with hatred. They did their own children a tremendous disservice and in many ways handicapped their lives by teaching them hate. Now these young people will be defined by those attitudes of hate. People will not want to associate with them. It will limit their friends, their job opportunities, their lives.

We don’t think of it sometimes but our children are always watching and always learning. I’ve come a long way in how I react to my children and what I say and do around them but I admit, when I was younger, I would sometimes lose my temper and get angry in front of them. Frustrated with all of life’s pressures I would break and lose my patience with them and I regret it. They were watching. They were learning.

Since then I’ve made a conscious effort to model what I want my children to be. I communicate with them openly and honestly about how I’m feeling and what my thoughts are. I try to foster love, patience, kindness and thoughtfulness. I try to model those attributes as their father. I want them to be good, healthy successful adults so it is necessary to show them how.

Those poor young people in Charlottesville have been taught to hate. I feel for them even while I denounce their hateful message. In some ways, they never had a chance. Our children are watching and learning. They will usually follow in our footsteps no matter where they lead. It is important to lead them to success.

11
Aug
17

Teen Students and Smart Phone Distractions

I was reflecting this week, as school started, on the way young people develop value systems in their lives. We all have a value system whether we are aware of it or not and it helps us to make decisions. Students have value systems that they are completely unaware of, and as I have grown as a teacher, I’ve become more aware of those systems. This year I am going to challenge my students to examine what it is they really value.

Many students (and plenty of adults) will make choices to spend time on something that does not necessarily improve their life or benefit them in the long term. I’m thinking about video games, binge watching Netflix, and any of the many activities that we (myself definitely included) do on a regular basis. None of things are inherently bad. In fact, if we are very busy and very productive, it is often a wonderful way to relax and rest our minds and bodies before leaping back into the busy world. The issue is when we do those things at the expense of other responsibilities and obligations. If we choose to watch TV instead of wash clothes we are expressing that we value one activity over another responsibility. Adults, more often than not, take care of our responsibilities. If we don’t, we often don’t do well.

Teenagers however, can go long neglecting their growing responsibilities. I have many many students put off completing school work. Even more choosing their phone and friends over preparing for a test. Many will use the hour and half class time in my room to socialize or even play with their phones and pretend to work, accomplishing nothing and learning nothing. Those are value decisions. They do not value learning or working towards a higher grade, therefore choose something else. This year I am going to challenge them to examine their values. If they decide, “You know what? I actually don’t value this class or learning. Snapchat is more important,” fine. There is nothing I can do with that but encourage them to alter their values. But our values are expressed in the decisions we make and I am going to try to show students that in my class.

08
Aug
17

5 Things I promise as a Teacher

It’s a new school year and I just finished a decade of teaching. I’ve learned a lot about the profession, students, parents and myself in those ten years. At this point, here are five things I promise as we begin classes on Wednesday.

1) I promise to care. This is a no-brainer for me, but is probably the most important thing a teacher can do. High school students are especially savvy and they can tell if you care or not. Believe me, even if they don’t seem to care, they want their teacher to. After all, how can the students be expected to care if their own teacher doesn’t? They can’t and they won’t. So I promise I will care. I will care about my students’ success, I will care about the subjects I teach, I will care about safety and I will care about the school. I promise I will care.

2) I promise to know my subjects. Another thing high school students can sniff out easily is whether their teacher knows what they’re talking about. Sometimes a teacher gets put in a situation where they are not experts. In that case, I find it best to admit to not knowing everything but trying like hell to make sure you can still competently teach the subject. Again, if the teacher doesn’t even know what they are talking about, how can the students learn? They can’t and they won’t. I promise I will know the subjects I teach.

3) I promise to be fair. I know that is a subjective term, but I still use it. I want all of my students to succeed, and while I admit there are some that really upset me because of their lack of effort or when they waste their time and mine, but I promise that if they put in effort, learn and achieve, I will grade their work and give them the same marks I would any other student. In fact, I’ll probably celebrate with them. I want them all to learn and grow, I will treat them all fairly so that they may do so in my classroom.

4) I promise I will challenge my students. I will ensure that my class pushes the students to grow. We do not grow by doing things that come easily to us. We grow by pushing ourselves to try something more difficult. It causes some stress, yes, but it is necessary for growth. Athletes build more muscle mass by pushing themselves to their physical limits. Athletes stress their bodies and as a result, their bodies get stronger. In a classroom, if a student is going to get stronger, they have to be pushed to their limits. They need to be challenged and stressed in order to grow. It will happen again this year, but I am tired of parents telling me that their child is an A student and they don’t understand why she has a C or a D. The answer is simple. They haven’t been pushed. And in order to grow, they need that stress. Too often parents and students merely want the result they expect; an A. They aren’t interested in the process or growth. I am not interested in the result. I am interested in the process; in growth. I promise I will challenge my students.

5) Lastly, I promise to answer all of their questions honestly. I have fantastic lessons. My goodness, come on the day I’m teaching World War 1 poetry, or the three basic economic systems. Those are fantastic lessons. The only problem is that if a student doesn’t find the subject interesting, if they aren’t curious, they won’t learn. They won’t learn long term at least. They may learn it for the test, but not really learn it the way I would like them to. You know when learning happens best? When they are curious and want to know. So if a student asks a question, about anything, I will answer it as openly and honestly as I can. It may take us off topic, but that’s ok. If they asked the question, they are ready for the answer; they are ready to learn. And my desire for them to learn is greater than my love of my lesson plans. So I promise I will answer their questions.

There are other things of course but these are my top five. Perhaps in another decade I will have an entirely different set of promises. For now, these things I promise for my students, as their teacher. I look forward to our academic journey together this year.

03
Aug
17

Coors Light, Not Just Cold Anymore

slide-1

Obviously we’ve all joked about how bad Coors Light really is, and how hilarious it is that their ad campaign is based around their beer being cold, which of course is up to us. It’s nothing new. As a self proclaimed beer snob, I don’t choose to drink Coors Light. The only time I will drink one is when I’m over at someone’s place and they offer me one. It would be rude after all to decline a beer from someone so I don’t. I smile, thank them, drink that lightly flavored mountain water and enjoy the conversation with my new beer buddy. But the beer is bad. Cold and the water used to make it are hardly the stuff of legend when it comes to beer. But now they have a new ad campaign!

Yes! Coors Light has a new marketing strategy to sell beer. It’s called “Push Forward.” Well, it’s pretty much the old strategy, namely, don’t try to sell the beer, sell other things. This time they proclaim they “pioneered the recyclable can.” Also, their breweries are “landfill free.”  Lastly they claim to have built the largest solar array at any brewery in the country. They even turned their classic mountain symbol into a recycling symbol for a moment with red arrows making the Rockies. Very cool.

As wonderful as it is that Coors is committed to sustainable beer making, they still make a below average beer. Like, significantly below average. But, if you hand me one while we’re hanging out, just make sure it’s cold! Then let’s Push Forward and get some good beers.

Here’s the ad:

01
Aug
17

Goodbye July

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

July was a great month for me as a writer. I finished the final draft of The Sureshot and managed to blog at least twice a week, every week, for the entire month on each of my three blogs. Both were goals and I am proud to announce that I accomplished them. I racked up some impressive “stats” for me at least and so I’m celebrating and thanking everyone who read my posts, my poems, my work and even more so those of you who “liked” or commented along the way. I’m looking forward to more months of writing and blogging and one day doing this full time. Cheers!

If you liked one of them, you may like others I post.

Writing: https://thesureshot.wordpress.com/

Poems: https://poemsnoonecaresabout.wordpress.com/

Parenting: https://1superdad.wordpress.com/

31
Jul
17

Super Sub

 

Just another day with the kids. Decided to make a giant submarine sandwich for lunch. Nailed it.

28
Jul
17

Dad Hack: Video Games and Working out

30278927270_1512860f42_b

I love playing video games. While that may have been something shameful to admit 20 years ago, I believe that nowadays it isn’t surprising. It is a massive industry with total revenue hitting $91 billion in  2016. I am part of the generation that was young when NES hit the market then came of age when Playstation and Xbox were new on the scene and competed for our entertainment dollars.

While I can no longer play for hours on end, I still love picking up my PS4 controllers as often as I can. Sadly, there only are so many hours in a day and for a dad with six kids, a wife, oh yeah, and a career, there just aren’t many hours left for video games. Besides, at 37 I can no longer just eat as much as I want and maintain a slim physique so exercise should find some time so that I can look good and feel good.

That’s when I decided to combine two activities to save on time. I figured out that I can work out and also play video games! Here’s how I do it:

I pick a game that has regular intervals in it, sports games are best for this,  and I establish what I want to work on. My main focus has been arms and chest, but I have also included legs and abs and honestly you could even work in light cardio. I then play my game while completing sets of exercises during the intervals. Brilliant I know!

My favorite game for this is MLB the Show. Obviously baseball has 9 set innings which allow for quick breaks. I began with 10 repetitions of push-ups in the middle of every inning and 10 repetitions of triceps dips at the bottom of every inning. That meant I was completing 90 push-ups and 90 dips during one game. It was a struggle at first and my arms burned, but I got stronger and upped my repetitions to 12 and now 15. So now, I am completing 135 repetitions of push-ups and dips during one game which takes about 45 minutes. Honestly, this has been enough to show some actual results. My arms, chest and shoulders are larger now than they have been since I served in the army more than ten years ago. My wife notices. If you don’t believe me ask her.

But that is just my system. I have incorporated squats and sit-ups into my routine and alternated days like one should if going to the gym daily. It really does work. Any exercise is helpful so don’t mock it if you aren’t doing any push-ups, you little weakling! JK.

I even figured out it is easy to do if you’re a TV guy and not a video game guy. Every commercial complete a set of something to give your body some exercise while enjoying your favorite entertainment! You don’t even have to get off the couch to do crunches! You’ll be surprised at the results, honestly. I know it seems silly, but if you’re having trouble finding time to work out and also play your favorite video game or watch your favorite show, try it. My kids know I do this and sometimes while I’m doing “Dad’s Workout” they drop down and do little kid push-ups, it’s adorable.

Well that’s my tip for the day: video game work outs brought to you by this Super Dad! Have a fantastic weekend and let’s get swoll!