#991 The Fun is in the Process!



It’s been quite a while since I’ve been in the classroom as a teacher. After starting my career as an English teacher back in 2000, my career took me in many fun and exciting directions. After just 5 years in the classroom, I made the move into school administration. I spent 7 total years in school administration and I must say, I really enjoyed every minute of my experience! However, after my school principal and district administrator experiences, my calling came calling again. Missing the classroom and the daily interactions with amazing young people, I decided to venture back into the realm of the sacred place. The classroom has always been my sanctuary; even when I served as a school administrator, I always modeled best instructional practices while serving as the instructional leader. Thus, my transition back into the classroom has not been quite the rewarding experience. 

What I have discovered or rediscovered for that matter is the energy and attention to detail it takes to serve as an effective classroom teacher. Every minute of my day is spent working to enhance the learning experiences of young people, while also working to help each of them realize the genius that rests within. 

For the last two weeks I have engaged students in writing conferences. During this time, I meet with each student individually to discuss their writing pieces and their chosen crafting process. These meetings last about 15-20 minutes each. It is a fantastic experience to hear their thinking process and crafting practices; I share advice with them to help along with the process, but I learn so much more from them as a collective group. In addition, they really enjoy the personal attention I give to each of them during these conferences. One student said, “I will never throw this paper away because it actually means something to me now.” She was able to identify the value of the process; the back in forth with words, the edits, the rethinking, the metacognition, the stretching, the reaching, and the joy it brings when the piece is finally published. 

I am very proud to be a teacher. 

#992 Happy Birthday Zora Neale Hurston!



Hey there Zora, remember me? We met about 20 years ago when I was just a young college kid trying to find my place in the universe. Back then, I was like you, always wondering how to get from here-to-there. You may not remember but we fell in love with each other when we met under that fig tree. You were sitting there agelessly under that tree, and I came over to you and asked for your permission to sit next to you. Back then I didn’t know how to talk to you, nonetheless carry on a meaningful conversation with your sheer brilliance. I mean, I was young…just about between the horizon of a teenager and a young man. Needless to say, you were gentle with me. You walked me through the beauties of lily fields, telling me so many tales along the way. We encountered so much together; so much so, after our shared time I began introducing others to you. That’s right, I introduced you to high school students, middle school students, and anyone else who would listen. Still today, the two of us share the promising horizon of a better tomorrow together. Please promise to never leave my side. Happy Birthday Zora Neale Hurston! 

#995 Building Positive Relationships with Students


One of the greatest challenges faced by educators, especially those working with at-risk students, is developing quality relationships. I try not to use the term “at-risk” to describe youth but we must realize that some of our youth are subjected to greater risk due to their inherit social economic status, negative peer-group pressures, poor living conditions, and sometimes race/culture.

With this said, it is imperative that educators realize the true value in developing positive relationships with those students who may encounter some of the challenges mentioned above. In order to truly establish meaningful relationships, there are several things educators must be willing to do in order to gain the trust of the student. In the culturally responsive teaching literature, methods are shared to enable educators the opportunity to develop healthy youth-adult relations. One method I would like to bring to light in this piece is minimizing relational distance (Gee, 1996). Irregardless of age, an adult has the ability to engage in dialogue with youth that proves to be responsive and aligned with the social experiences of the child. This involves the adult sharing personal narratives with the youth, demonstrating familiarity with the youths’ culture, and engaging in dialogue involving mutual interests. 

As a teacher, principal, and district level administrator, I utilized this approach with children, parents, and community. My honest connections proved to be beneficial to my ability to create partnerships with parents and strong age-appropriate bonds with students. I urge teachers and other adults working with youth to utilize the above approach to relationship building. 

#997 “Daddy, I’m Going to Miss You So Much!”




One morning, not too long ago, I woke up about 5:30am to go to work as I do every morning. But this time, Laila, my 5 year old daughter managed to wiggle out of her bed at about the same time. We spent the morning together before I headed off to work. As I headed out of the door, she said something that I will never forget. She said: “Daddy, I hope you have fun at work! What time will you be home because I’m going to miss you so much.”I knelt down and kissed her on the forehead and wished her a great day at school. I didn’t answer her question because I knew I didn’t have an answer as to what time I would get home; for I knew the daily life of a school administrator is one that is unpredictable and just LONG! On that drive to work, i thought of the countless hours I have spent away from my children since their birth. I have worked as a school administrator for the last 7 years and my duties have often caused me to miss many hours of quality time with both my children and my wife. Laila’s words reminded me of the story of the Mexican Fisherman. This is a story I have read before but Laila’s words moved me to reflect…


An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.  Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna.  The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos.  I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part.  When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire.  Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”