A New Found Respect For Single Parents @teachthought #reflectiveteacher Day 1

This post is dedicated to Janna

I recently had the opportunity to spend five nights and six days with my daughters. This was the longest stretch of parenting alone I had done. On Day 3, I started to realize how much I depended on my wife for every phase of my life. For the past year and half, I’ve enjoyed being an early morning runner. I was unable to leave the house to run. This is something small, yet, something big. I rely on my wife to watch the house while I run. 

We had a blast. We went to the gym. We went to the “Dinosaur Museum” and a half dozen other free outings. I found my behaviors were changing. My thoughts certainly were. I have gotten good, if not very good, at saying, “No.” However, as the week progressed, I found myself breaking the family budget a dollar here or five dollars there. Ice cream from A&W, donuts from Dunkin’. I found myself wanting to provide treats to my kids, it was almost as if I was trying to make up for a presence I knew I could not fill. 

On Day 4, I was struck by a statistic I used to rattle off frequently. In my first four years of teaching At-risk youth, only one of my male students had their biological mother and father living in the same house. As the last few weeks have passed, and I’ve gotten to know my students through Infinite Campus, and hold the occasional pre-season IEP roundtable, I have been humbled. I have questioned my past judgements. 

How many times did I judge a single-mom in a meeting? 

On how many occasions did I critique the smell of cigarettes and energy drink in hand?

On Day 3, the kids were at daycare because I had training all day at work. Over lunch, I went home and got in a quick run. I had to rearrange my entire schedule and at the same time go with the opportunity. 

At the end of each day, I was spent.

I thought of my mother every day.

I thought of my sister every day.

I thought of my students in the past I had that were teenage mothers and going to school. 

When my wife drove into the driveway on Saturday, August, 16; I was grateful.

I won’t be so quick to book a weekend conference or coaches clinic. I’ll first think deeply about the impact of leaving a void in my house (one that has been left vacant on many weekends for earning licensures and attending workshops).

I have been wanting to blog for quite some time. An email went out from @jhenze44 a few days ago. She was encouraging anyone and everyone from the District to participate in the #reflectiveteacher 30 Day Blog Challenge put on by @teacherthought <http://www.teachthought.com/teaching/reflective-teaching-30-day-blogging-challenge-teachers/>&#8230;When opportunity presents itself…

I am in.

Today’s post: Our suggested topic for today is post about your goals for this year. Be as specific or as vague as you like…

My goal for this year is to build community wherever I go. Not pseudo-community of hey, isn’t everything awesome…! But real community. 

I want to examine poverty and build inroads to combat hunger and over spending on perceived needs.

I want to combat drugs and alcohol use among teens, and ask: why use? I want to a supportive and engaging community that provides teens with many reasons to not use.

I want to dive into issues facing my program, my school, my District, my community and my family. 

I want to be a part of a dynamic PLN. One that exists outside of the realm of Twitter, but even further outside the world of mass email. This means, I will do a better job of supporting the fine arts in my District (I will be my wife’s biggest cheerleader, GO ART LEAGUE!). I will do a better job of attending girl’s sporting events. I will to a better job of nagging my colleagues to Tweet, collab on Docs, and innovate. I want to help @BaldRandy become a teacher. I want to learn from @corey_livieri. I want to enjoy the journey more. 

I want to listen better. For the third year in a row, I am trying to become a better listener. I hope to blog more about this over the next thirty days.

Be real. Be me. Treat humans like people. Do the next right thing, and do it to the best of my ability with full integrity. 

Here’s what I am doing to address my “want to’s”:

1) No desk, work among the kids
2) Every student has a Personal Learning Plan by the end of September. Allow for maximum student voice & student choice, while also setting SMART goals and tracking with weekly meetings.
3) Our GED program called Option 2 will transition away from a worksheet model and to a Project-Based Learning (PBL) model. 

Practices I must continue in order to be successful:
1) Continue to rise at 4:30am and aim for a 10pm bedtime (goodbye until next summer Tony Soprano, McNulty, and Nucky Thompson)
2) I need to make my kids lunch every evening, and not run into morning stress with packing lunches. A little thing, but a big thing that led to too many 5-minute late days last school year.
3) Trust the learner, trust the process

Finally, a goal I have is to stay plugged into the classroom. My father once told me, “You are cursed for administration.” As I enter my eighth year as a teacher, I am struck by the fact that I am probably closer to my first day as an administrator, than my first day as a teacher. I love teaching, but I am starting to feel the tug of the heart to a place where I can better design programs, impact colleagues practice, and utilize my skill set. I really hope I have another dozen years in the classroom and another two dozen on the bench because a single day engaged in learning with youth is worth a culmination of hoop jumping to get to.

[Enter Parker J Outro]

As Parker J. Palmer states, 

Teaching, like any truly human activity, emerges from one’s inwardness, for better or worse. As I teach, I project the condition of my soul onto my students, my subject, and our way of being together. The entanglements I experience in the classroom are often no more or less than the convolutions of my inner life. Viewed from this angle, teaching holds a mirror to the soul. If I am willing to look in that mirror, and not run from what I see, I have a chance to gain self-knowledge—and knowing myself is as crucial to good teaching as knowing my students and my subject.


I want to thank my students and colleagues for helping me to see me better. I love getting better on the daily with all of you! 

Time to enjoy the journey and love the grind! DoWork.

About Michael

Do Work!
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