It’s Been an Emotional Week..

I have been away from the blog lately.  It is starting my really busy time at school.  We are starting a new year of Washington D.C. work, the film festival is about to pick up with the student films due in three weeks and I had the flu B, which kicked me in the rear end!

This was the week before spring break and if you are a student reading this or a teacher reading this, you know that this week is full of excitement and unrestfullness (Is that a word?) The weather this week stunk, it was cold, snowy, then windy and rainy and it was just plain awful.  That never helps when you are coming up to “spring break” right?

It’s Friday and we all made it but I wanted to talk about running into old students from previous years.  On Thursday night, I took Adam to his Ninja World class and as he ran off to do his ninja thing, I ran into an old student of mine from Eagle News last year, Brad and his mom.  Brad was finishing up his pole vault practice. My plan was to drop off Adam and run to the gym to get a quick workout in, but Brad was happy to sit down and talk to me for that hour.

We talked about everything over the past year including some stuff from last year.  I was going to just say hi and move on with my night, but I am so happy that I didn’t.  I learned so much and recollected about last year’s Eagle News class.  I found out what has happened in his life the past nine months and I enjoyed hearing his journey to so many new things in his life.  What I also loved about my time with Brad was the fact that he was still interested in making my program better, he asked about my family and cared about what was going on with me.  That lifted my spirit.  I appreciated my time with Brad and his mom.

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It took me back and made me realize how my time with these kids, all kids, are so precious and so valuable.  It made me realize that I am down to eight weeks with the kids that I have in Eagle News.  After these eight weeks, it will NEVER be the same.  I sat there today with the kids that were at school and I watched them laugh, collaborate, edit video, film video, plan projects, critique final video, dance to “Just Dance”, study for a test, etc.

I love my job and I love the passion that the kids have for their work.  I appreciate all the work that these students, my students, have for the work that I assign them and for the work that I don’t assign them, but they do!  I care about the work that we all do together.

Yes, I am writing this at one of my late night blogs, but we are on spring break…..and this is my first official tear for my students of 2016-17.  Every year I dread the last day of school, it’s the day that makes it real that I will no longer be their teacher.

Enjoy your spring break everyone, it’s officially my 20th and I am going to enjoy it.

 

When it’s a Good Day…

Our school is having “Learning Walks” and one of my colleagues came into my room last week to see exactly how Eagle News works.  I told him that it would be my pleasure to have him visit and I look forward to hear what he thought about how the classroom works.

The Eagle News classroom works like this:

  • Kids come in
  • We have a meeting to go over the previous broadcast
  • Then we look over the next couple of days and make sure that all work is ready to go.
    • This includes the class’ next assignment
    • Who is doing what for next broadcast
    • Schedule out jobs and
    • Go over a short 5-8 minute mini lesson
  • Then process what all groups are doing and then the kids go work.

img_3058This gives the kids about 25 minutes to work on many things going on in class.  There are their big projects for the 6-week period (4 Projects), their deadline projects(One group has to do the “daily” project and the “opening” video for their broadcast, social media to publish and the weekly podcast to publish.

There is a lot going on.  It is a very active classroom. I walk around the room, the school etc to keep up with what is going on in all groups.  Sometimes I get caught up in what is going on in one specific group. There is a lot of observation going on during the time too.  While walking around the room, I always keep an eye out for what all members of the groups are doing.

At the end of the visit, I showed the teacher our new podcasting equipment.  I showed the teacher that this work could be used in the world language classes to record students speaking so that they could evaluate how they are doing with their speaking.  We also talked about how some media tools could be used in class that could be a better alternative to PowerPoint or Google Slides.

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Katie and Megan took a selfie with my phone….HAHA!

Push forward a week or two later, I was sitting in a staff meeting and our boss told the staff that it was cool to have the student centered work and student driven work in my class.

That was good to hear.

I have worked with the librarian at our school for nine years and for about the past seven or eight years, she has been telling me that the work that I have been doing in the Eagle News classroom is the right thing to do with these kids.  She has told me these things and I haven’t shrugged them off, but I thought that she was just trying to make me feel better. I believe that what I am doing in my classroom is the right thing to do.

It is amazing hearing good things from colleagues in your building. I love what I do.

img_3063I finished my day interviewing one of my students of the year from 4 years ago in my new podcast or section of our Eagle News podcast called, “A Look Back.” I have interviewed 4 alumni from Hyatts and each one has been a pure joy to have.  It is amazing to sit down for 30 minutes with old students and have them give advice to the middle school kids and to look back at their time at Hyatts.

What a day, I didn’t include the projects that we are doing in 6th grade, the Minecraft that is now missing in 7th grade and the possible changes to how we do Eagle News that was discussed today, which, I am ok with, if it means things will be better for kids at Hyatts.

We also had a Hyatts Film Festival meeting today after school.  Only two kids came.  I wasn’t too happy about it, but about 10 kids told me that they couldn’t come to the meeting. I know that there will be plenty of involvement in the show this year.

Oh yeah, the Eagle News kids discussed the two topics of this year’s lip dub.  I am PUMPED for this!  More to come.  Have I told you that I love what I do…..

It was truly a busy day but a great day altogether.

Being Sick…..I need NORMAL

I know it is flu season and “bug” season, but I have always said that this stuff doesn’t happen to our family.  We have been so very blessed, knock on wood, that our kids haven’t been very sick when it comes to the flu or virus issues.

Well that all came to a complete halt last weekend as Adam’s teachers at Y-Club called and said that he wasn’t feeling well and that I was to get him ASAP.  So I did and he kept saying he wasn’t feeling well, I kept reassuring him that all would be good.  No worries, until we pulled up to our house, he opened the door and, yep, projectile on the open door of my car, on his way out the car.  This was the first time as a parent that one of my kids didn’t make it out of the car to let loose with puke!

Adam had a not so fun next 24 hours, but as he started to come back to life, what happened to me and Beth was pure brutal.  That is all I have to say.  Sunday was a complete waste.  I felt bad for my kids, in fact we relied on my sister-in-law to go get some groceries so that we had bread products to eat to slowly come back to the living.

Beth laid at the toilet for 15 hours and I was on the couch making sure not to spread it to the kids again.  The windows were open, the house was cold, Emme never left her pjs and Adam was a rockstar.  He got us anything that we needed, prepared Emme’s lunch and made sure everything was done.

I have to say, although its nice to lay around for a day and sleep and recover, but wow, when you miss a day of life, everything piles up, projects to be graded, laundry to be done, dishes pile up, etc.  A complete mess.  It is now Monday night, I missed a day of school and now I don’t feel like feeding the kids or getting them ready for bed.  In fact I’m getting to bed early too so that I am ready for work tomorrow morning.

Back to normal, I hope.

#HereWeGo….

#HereWeGo….

18 hours until my Steelers, yes, my Steelers take the field against the New England Patriots and, although you who read this will laugh, I am trying to take my mind off this game!

I can’t.  Although I am trying to watch a movie, I decide to revisit this game in my head by writing this blog entry.  I react the same way to all Steelers’ playoff football games!  When the game is announced, whether it’s the Wild Card round or the Super Bowl, I spend most of the weekend breaking down the game in my head.  I imagine what will happen, I have dreams about how the game will play out and I try to envision all the good that will happen for my team.

So on Friday, I come home from school, do my parenting thing and then when the family goes to bed, I look back upon good and bad Steelers’ playoff games and I don’t know, watch more football than I need to in preparation for the upcoming real game. On Saturday, I do the same, except I now listen to all the talk shows, sportscenters, nfl podcasts and read whatever I can to see how all the so called experts are picking the game.  Then I stay up late on Saturday night and I watch lots of football as I fight sleep, hoping to have all good dreams about my favorite team winning the next day.

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My GameDay Outfit.
So Sunday arrives and I put on the clothes that I will wear on each game that the Steelers have during the current playoff run. This year is my jeans, ripped and torn, with my “Got Rings” long-sleeve black Steelers t-shirt with my new Cameron Heyward jersey over top.  This is the outfit that I have worn every Friday to work and every Sunday during the game.  They have not been washed.  Thank goodness they don’t allow people to smoke in bar/restaurants anymore.

I know I am crazy about Steelers’ playoff football, but I will never change the way I am about it.  It’s all about the Steelers.  I love the Pirates (Baseball is fun again) and the Penguins (That Stanley Cup run was a blast last season) and even my University of Dayton basketball team. (That run in 2014 was a lot of fun)

Nothing tops the Steelers.  16 games a year are so precious for a fan.  The one game that I get to attend in person in gold. Any playoff run in the NFL is such an unbelieveable ride. I know there are so many people that live around me (Columbus, Ohio) that are Browns or Bengals fans and these people, good people, have not been able to feel the ride that I have been on so many times since 1993.

My wife puts up with it, she is so good about it.  She readjusts our schedule so that I can watch the games with family and friends whom also love the Steelers.  They may not be as crazy as I am, but they are close to my craziness.  I get my sunday outfit on and start my day.  

On this AFC Championship, I need to get a workout in, get to Emme’s soccer practice and then get Adam to his third Pinewood Derby.  When that all ends, my boy, Paul will pick me, we will arrive at our spot for the game, one hour prior to the game, wait for our other fans to show up and then watch the game.

With the Steelers and their run through every season, here is how I handle the NFL playoffs….if the Steelers are alive, I expect a Steelers win and hopeful for a blowout win.  When the Steelers aren’t a part of the playoffs, I POUT through the games and hope that they are competitive.

Here are the AFC Championship games that I lived through as a Steelers fan:

1984 Miami 45 Steelers 28 — Mark Malone did his best to hang with Dan Marino and the Dolphins, but I remember seeing Mark Duper going deep for a touchdown and my dreams as a 9 year old Steelers fan crushed.  My mom still says I cried for a week.

1994 San Diego 17 Steelers 13 –The Steelers were heavily favorite in this game and there are three things that stick out about this game. I remember a long touchdown pass to Tony Martin from Stan Humphries and then Neil O’Donnell’s 3 yard pass at the goal line being knocked down on a 4th and 3 that would be the last chance for my boys.  My roommates at the University of Dayton, tore down my decorations and threw them on top of me as the game ended.

1995 Steelers 20 Colts 16 — All I have to say is Ernie Mills at the 3, Bam Morris for the TD and then the Hail Mary that Jim Harbaugh threw that ALMOST was caught.  The Steelers went on to lose the Super Bowl to the Cowboys, 27-17.

1997 Broncos 24 Steelers 21 — Kordell Stewart threw too many interceptions on this day and Shannon Sharpe caught a crucial 3rd down conversion in the 4th quarter that broke my heart.

2001 Patriots 24 Steelers 17 — The Patriots scored a touchdown on a blocked field goal and Drew Bledsoe came into the game for an injured TOM BRADY to lead the Pats over my Steelers.

2004 Patriots 41 Steelers 27 — This game was just too much for Big Ben.  He threw a couple early interceptions and the Bus got jammed up on a 4th and 1 and too much went New England’s way early that the Steelers couldn’t come back.  I also remember Plaxico Burress missing a TD pass that I thought at the time would have changed how the final 15 minutes would have been played.

2005 Steelers 34 Broncos 17 — This is still said to be Big Ben’s best playoff performance, minus the final drive in Super Bowl 43.  The Steelers dominated the Broncos from the opening drive.  I remember the pass to the back of the endzone to Hines and Ben ran over to the sideline and did the gunslinger motion.  I also remember hearing a fan screaming in the stands who must have been close to CBS’ microphones.  This was a fun game to watch at the Steelers club in Columbus.

2008 Steelers 23 Ravens 14 — Troy’s Interception is one of my favorite all time plays as a Steelers fan.  The hair on my arm still rises when I see that play and her Bill Hilgrove’s play by play of that play.

2010 Steelers 24 Jets 19 — This game was one that the Steelers needed to hold on to.  We scored 24 points really fast and then we held on for the win as Ben threw for a first down to Antoino Brown to seal the win.

So now we come to the 2016 version of my AFC Championship run.  Can the Steelers beat the Patriots?  I really think they can, but I really hope its a good game. Obviously I want to win and I want to win big.  Here is my take.  The Steelers have better talent at every position except for the QB.  Brady is probably the best QB that I have every watched.  But everywhere else the Steelers have the advantage.  If they can pressure Brady and not let Gilette Stadium bother them, we should win.

Why not this team, now?  I believe. #HereWeGo!

Above are all the staff and students at my school that had Steelers gear on!  I make a point to recognize them as a part of #SteelersNation while at school!

Reflection is a wonderful thing. 

I received an email at the end of my day, from a respected parent/colleague and he said to me, “Thanks for the awesome blog, teachers’ voices need to be honored.”

As I read that, I was wrapping up my work for the day at home, checking our broadcast for tomorrow and making sure I was ready for tomorrow’s events. Also at the same time, I finished the Thanksgiving episode of NBC’s “This is Us” and all of a sudden I missed my mom and dad.
Also tonight, I got the designs back for the Film Festival. I’m pumped for them! This year there are three posters, yep THREE!! I’m so proud of them and I’m so proud of the new theme. I decided to send the files to my mom and dad so that they could be the first to see the posters. I also told them that I love them more than the world.

Each and everyday, teachers reflect back on their days. I should do more of this reflecting on this blog, but looking back on today, it’s been a good day!

I spent an amazing day at school with wonderful students working so hard to make great products for Eagle News.
I ran into an old 3rd grade parent of mine whose younger daughter now goes to Hyatts and when I saw her I gave her a big hug.

I sat down at then dinner table and talked, simply talked to my wife and THIS ONE HOUR, was my favorite part of the day. It seems we never get that hour to sit and chill, discuss our day and watch our kids play together. Today, we watched our children play together, it was simple, yet amazing.

I got a good workout in at the gym, my Penguins lost, but that’s ok, they can’t win them all and watched two episodes of “This is Us”, spurning me to blog at 1:00 AM.

I had a great day…I laughed, I cried and when I went to bed and say goodnight to my sleeping family, I arrived at Adam, sleeping like this and I started laughing again.


I had a good day. See “yinz” tomorrow.

Life Means So Much

A short post tonight, another reflection of life.

As a teacher, I have taught to my best abilities so many students.  For 11 years I taught 3rd grade students how to read better, write a story, play #MathFootball and #MathBaseball which was math facts and so much more.  Then I continued my career as a middle school technology teacher where I teach Google Drive, computer programming and Media Production and I love every minute of it.

I am not supposed to out live these students of mine.

I’m having a really hard time wrapping my head around the tragedy that has affected our community again this past week.  6 people in a plane leaving Cleveland lost their lives as the plane crashed somewhere in Lake Erie.  2 of those people, were former students of mine at Scioto Ridge Elementary and Hyatts Middle School.

I am so shocked and don’t know how to really accept what has happened. I knew Megan really well and her family even better. Megan was an amazing kid, such a respectful kid and was destined to have a successful life.  She was doing well at the University of Wisconsin.

I can’t imagine what is going on with the people close to her and her family.  God Bless them, give them all strength.

I will be strong tomorrow as we go back to school, but everything that happens around you, value it, take it in and breathe, reflect, smile, cry and embrace everything.

I was eating lunch at Chipotle today and for the 45 minutes we were sitting there, I ran into 5 former students of mine from “Eagle News” and I let them tell me all about them.  I was so happy to hear about their lives and how it all is going. Then I thought of my family.

I loved coming home and making dinner for my family. I enjoyed hearing about my wife’s day at school. I valued working with EmmeClaire and her HotDots, I loved my time playing with BattleShip with Adam and then watching him read to me “Captain Underpants.”

I am reminded of so many things that make me happy and make me think about what might change at a moments notice.  I called my mom. I needed to hear her voice.

It’s life and it’s tough and I am learning to cope with all that it throws at me.

I am tired, it’s been a long day.  I am sorry for the horrible writing, I really am, I just want to reflect, it helps.

Until there’s more…..