I teach 8th grade and sometimes I feel like I am the ringleader in a circus.
“There’s a sucker born every minute.” P. T. Barnum
In January, when the I first heard the news that the Ringing Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus would be ceasing operations in May, I did a quick search to find out where the circus would be before it ended it’s 146-year run. I discovered it was in Cincinnati, Ohio – a short five-hour drive away. 317 miles, give or take. I did a quick search of tickets and found they were available. I mentioned it to B and we remembered the summer we met and when went to the circus with a large group. We laughed about the memory and then, I forgot about it and the idea shifted to the bottom of the pile.
Last weekend the memory came back and Monday night and I sent O a short text, ‘Circus?’ and another six minutes later, Circus?’ No response.
The next morning, I mentioned the circus before I left for school and left it that. No response.
This past Friday night we went to watch the movie, A Dog’s Purpose. I cried and O noticed, and she pointed it out to B, who admitted she cried, too. O was perplexed, why did we think the movie was sad? O didn’t like the movie and had spent the entire movie trying to figure out why the movie didn’t follow the book. The critics didn’t like it either. O read the book and was disappointed, I reminded her that the book is almost always better.
I enjoyed the movie, not because it was a wonderfully crafted story, but because it made me thankful for the unconditional love of our dog, Ivy.
The movie made me wonder what really is the purpose of many things. I think the purpose of dogs is to remind us to be better people; and some days I don’t measure up.
Ivy joined our family almost seven years ago, in April 2010. The day before Easter, how we got Ivy is a strange story in itself. In the time, she’s been with us, she’s done all the things a dog should do:
She’s caught a bunny
She’s caught a squirrel
She’s been blasted by a skunk – more than once
She’s run away – well, not really run away, more of gotten loose and taken off
She’s destroyed every one of her stuffed animals
And, she’s made a place in our hearts
and, i am sure I am missing something.. O or W will remind me, or even B.
When we got Ivy, O and W both promised they’d feed her and pick up the poop. They promised they’d walk her and take care of her. They promised they’d brush her and take care of her. Sometimes they actually do those things, but most of the time I feed her in the morning and let her out when I get up in the morning.
This morning, I went downstairs and she stayed upstairs asleep. I was pouring my first cup of coffee when I heard her come down the stairs, clip, clop, clip. She came into the kitchen, then walked over the back door and looked at me, as if to say, ‘hurry up, I gotta go.’ I opened the backdoor and she pawed at the screen door and sat down. It’s her routine and I let her out. She walked across the deck to the first patch of ivy, which is how she got her name, and did her thing. Then she patrolled the yard for several minutes before she came to the back door, barked to let me know she was ready to come inside. Once inside, she checked her dish, then sat down beside the couch, placed her head on the seat cushion, as if to ask, ‘may, I please join you?’ Then she jumped up and lay beside me and went back to sleep.
We (we Americans) are in the midst of a contentious presidential election. I’ve been blogging since 2010 and, so far, I’ve successfully avoided talking politics. AND, I am not going to break with tradition, I’ll keep my opinion on the presidential election to myself.
But, “all politics is local,” former Congressman and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil is credited with the phrase, bit it’s a moot point.
I vote, or should vote, for the candidate that most closely aligns with my political, and economic, interests. That is what makes the election for a national leader local.
I teach 8th graders US History (and science) and my students are itching to know who I am voting for or planning to vote for this year. I am not telling them who I am planning to vote for, either.
Sunday morning, October 2 – it’s fall. Fall means cooler nights, shorter days, pumpkins, apples, Halloween, and Friday Night Lights – high school football.
B and I have been going to high school football games since we were kids. We started taking W when he was young, then O came along. B and I would watch from the end zone along the fence and the kids would watch until they were old enough to hang out with their friends, then we ‘graduated’ to the stands when W reached high school. In ’14 and ’15, W was on the sidelines. He’d getting his playing time on Saturday, but he hung in there for four years as a high school football player. I admire him and have great respect for his stick-it-to-ed-ness. W graduated in May and is off testing his wings at the next step at the local community college, but we still go Friday night to watch and root on the Tigers.
Friday night, we were in the stands. It was the final home game of the season, and it was Homecoming. Tigers were winless in five starts. It’s been a tough couple of years for the Tigers – last year ended 2-7 after making it to the quarter-finals of the state playoffs in ’14.
Watching the game brought back memories from when the kids were younger. I remembered back to ’09. W was in sixth grade, his first year at middle school, and O was in first grade. The Tigers had made the playoffs and the first game was Friday, October 31 – Halloween. Continue reading Nostalgia – a photo challenge→
Yesterday was my first day back to school. Summer break was great, but it’s time to get back to school\work and a regular schedule. I’ve been busy all summer getting ready for today.
I know it looked like I was having fun at the lake, but I was really thinking and planning about how to begin the new year with my brand new 8th graders. AND, this year I have a bonus, I have my very own 8th grader at home – so I can experience 8th grade 24/7 without interruption.
I vaguely remember my own 8th grade experience. I struggled all year, and if it weren’t for an amazing teacher – Mrs. Atlee in RWS (reading, writing, and spelling) reaching out and giving me a hand when I needed it – the year might have turned out differently. I am grateful for her help and continually try to pay back her assistance by paying it forward to my students.
The key to getting a great start to a school year is how the first few days of school are organized and set up. My most successful years have been the years when I spent the first few days creating a climate in the classroom that fostered learning and curiosity.
In the 41 years since I was in 8th grade (the first time), the classroom has changed significantly. It’s changed because as educators, we better understand how students learn and grow, and technology has had a hand in changing how students learn as well.
I am going to sound old, but let’s face it, I AM old – relative to my students. When I was in 8th grade, television had seven or eight channels, tops. Television, books, and movies – that was it for media, oh and radio. We had the major networks CBS, ABC, NBC, and PBS as well as three or four independent channels. Today, television has hundreds of channels and comes in all sorts of flavors, and then there is the internet and the media programming available online. What is available to my students is overwhelming, but the reality is my 8th graders are still 8th graders with 13-14 year-old’s brains still developing like my brain was developing 41 years ago. Today’s students are exposed to more content, but in reality, they learn it differently. Continue reading the one hundred most→
Last night was a full moon and the skies were clear. B, O, and I were headed to dinner and the moon was up, yes it was late. The sun sets after 9 PM at this time of the year and we were working and playing late. Dinner was late, but its summer and we’re on a different schedule.
I stopped the car in the lane, climbed out, and captured the moon with my camera. The I got back in the car and pointed out that 47 years ago, man walked on the moon.
Except, I was wrong. The anniversary is today – July 20.
I recall the day forty-seven years ago clearly, or rather the evening. We were in Venezuela and it was a late summer night. My dad had taken a job working for Creole, an American Oil Company and we had moved to Venezuela in June 1969.
It’s cool this morning outside on the deck. The sun is slowly creeping across the yard toward my ‘office,’ the birds are singing, and the wind is gently rustling the leaves above me. It’s quiet and peaceful outside.
Yesterday morning, W took off on an adventure of a lifetime – kayaking the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior with his Boy Scout Troop. Saturday night was a late one for all of us packing and final details for his kayaking trip after dropping him off and waving goodbye, we went home and back to sleep.
I felt mildly guilty waking when I did, but feeling much more refreshed than I would have been had I stayed awake. We spent the afternoon talking, planning, and laundry – doing, folding, and putting away. B wanted to get outside to her garden and I suggested we wait until the evening, when it was cooler.
It was much cooler and the beds where we were working were shaded. Ivy joined us but spent most of her time scanning for bunnies and squirrels. B needed me to help plant and spread mulch, but it was a wonderful way to decompress from a busy hectic weekend and plan for the week ahead. I am not usually a good gardening partner, but I can tell a weed from a plant – most of the time – and I am quite handy with a shovel and a wheelbarrow. I am the strong back in the operation and B’s the strong mind. It’s a good partnership. Continue reading Monday morning awakening→
Yesterday was our 32nd anniversary. Actually, it was 32 plus 1, but after eleven thousand six hundred eighty-eight days, what is another day? It all depends on how you count it. I mentioned it to B and I got a smile, I think.
I’ve known my wife a few more days longer than 11,688 days, but yesterday was the anniversary of our first date. We went to the zoo and it was a blazing hot day as most days in Houston, Texas are in June, or late May, July, and August. The night before we had gone out with a group and had fun dancing, listening to music, and talking and sharing a beer or two, it’s what twenty somethings do. At the end of the night we exchanged phone numbers and the rest is history, of sorts. Continue reading Partners – a photo challenge→
I was young, very young when Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali. And, I remember kids calling me Cassius, but I didn’t understand until later that it should have been taken as a compliment, even if that wasn’t the intent. Kids.
I began using the quote, “Don’t count the days, make the days count” long before I began blogging and even longer before I knew it is attributed to Muhammad Ali. It is likely that Ali is not the origin of the saying either, but Muhammad Ali is the one gets the credit. It doesn’t matter who, or when, or how, he was the Greatest.
I can imagine how he said it, though. It was days before a big fight, could’ve been Frazier, or Foreman, or a lesser known fighter and Ali was asked by a reporter if he was ready for the fight with only days away. His response was classic Ali,
“Only a fool counts days. I am the Greatest, I don’t count the days, I make the days count. And when I step into the ring the only countin’ that’s gonna be goin’ on is the referee counting to ten when I knock that sucker on his back. I am the Greatest.” Muhammad Ali
It’s the first day of summer, again. I’ve been looking forward to this day, I always do. This year is different, this day has been marked on the calendar for four years, maybe even longer.
Today, W graduates from high school. He’ll cross the stage and think this is it. Yet, it is only the beginning of a long journey.
Summer is like that. It marks an end, and a beginning. They, the ends and beginnings, tend to blur and meld over time. It’s a reboot, of sorts.
Each year, I have my own reboot. A time to reflect on what I’ve learned and where I’ve been, adjust my bearings, and chart a new course. And, for the last six years I’ve gone back and re-read what I blogged the year before at Making the Days Count dot org.
It had been six years since I began the journey at MtDC.org.
I re-read those posts this morning and as I usually do when I read an old post, I edited a couple of them correcting misspellings, updating bad links, and a finding a new video to replace one which had gone private and was no longer viewable; and I remembered writing the words with uncanny clarity. Continue reading First day, again…→