Tag Archives: teaching

Tuesday’s Tune – The Lion Sleeps Tonight

As a kid I never gave thought to what teachers did over summer break. I was free. I could sleep late, stay up late, and read what and when I wanted.

I am finishing my twenty-third summer break as a teacher. That first summer, 1999, really wasn’t a break at all. It was spent applying for jobs, and interviews, and finally landing a teaching job in the middle of July.

photo courtesy of the Express – click to read the article – King of the jungle: Dramatic moment ferocious lion kills wildebeest in just 60 SECONDS

I remember that interview well, it was more a conversation than an interview. I remember walking out of the principal’s office and seeing the eleven o’clock interviewee waiting and thinking that I had nailed the interview. Actually, we both did. Both of us were hired that year and will still teach at the same school, today.

Now twenty-three year later, I know teachers are busy but I can still do those things I did as a kid. But school is coming and it’s like a lion.

In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle the quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight

The end of summer is like the lion, it sleeps and then roars. School begins next week, and I’ve spent summer doing those things I said I’d do when school was out, and I had more time. I’ve also spent time thinking and re-thinking how I am going to approach this year. I took a class, and I taught a class and though it all, I am ready to get back to school next Monday.

Last week, I taught a class. It was a one-day teacher’s camp, and it was optional for all of us – teachers and learners, though only teachers came. The class I taught was titled, Lions and Wildebeest – using Puzzles to Engage 21st Century Learners.

The class was based on a lesson that I taught last spring. It was a Monday lesson before spring break. My science classes had finished a major unit the previous Friday and taken the test. We had five days before spring break with three days of state-mandated testing set for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Experience taught me not much beyond testing would be done that week and I needed a lesson to encourage my students to be curious and full of wonder and be ready for the fourth quarter which would begin the Monday after break.

at my summer office… the tools needed to solve the puzzle

So, I introduced Lions and Wildebeest. It’s a riddle. The riddle challenges students to think and collaborate. Exactly what was needed for our students. The premise is simple, Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune – The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Tipping point

It is Sunday morning and my last day at the lake for this trip. I’ll be heading home tomorrow morning to focus on my summer to dos. I enjoy my time by the lake, and it serves its purpose: I am rested, relaxed, and getting closer to the restoration that I need after a year of teaching.

I was up well before the rest of the house. It was a beautiful Michigan July summer morning; temperatures in the upper 40s, fog hanging close to the still mirror-like lake, and clear blue skies. The past few days began the same with highs in the low 80s. It promises to be a beautiful day.

Friday afternoon on the lake under the sun

Today is also Day 38 of summer break with thirty-six days remaining. I keep track of the days only to remind myself that summer is finite. Yesterday was the tipping point of summer. It was the point at which the first part moves into the second part or the first half changes to the second half. Summer is an arc, either way it means that I am on the downward side of the arc. Continue reading Tipping point

Game 7, done

Saturday marked the end of my seven game, seven stadium, and ten team baseball trip. I was in Cleveland, Ohio for a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Guardians.

it was a Larry Doby jersey night, I got the hat on my own. Larry Doby was the first African-American baseball player in the American League and played his first game July 5, 1947

This morning, I will pack up and head home. It has been a fun time. I will glad to be home, even for one night before I drive to our lake house to spend week and the fourth of July with my family.

I have enjoyed the trip and I’ve loved being in the six cities I had never watched baseball in before. This trip increased the number of my baseball cities to 18. There are twelve cities I have not seen a major league baseball game played and I hope to make it to 30 before, well you know.

Along the way I ran into people who were doing the same thing as me – trying to get to all 30 major league baseball stadiums in their lifetimes. It was fun listening to their stories and telling mine.

I believe we all want to tell a story with our lives, with our passions, and with how we spend our time. Continue reading Game 7, done

Roberto Clemente and the Pirates

Last night, I was in Pittsburgh to see the Pirates play the Brewers. It was the BEST venue yet. Hands down.

I am not sure why, but everything clicked last night from getting to the ballpark to getting back to my hotel room and everything in between. Including an eraser on the pencil provided with the scorecard.

and the peanuts were good, too.

My dad loved baseball. He had two favorite teams; I believe. He loved the Cleveland Indians and the Pittsburgh Pirates. I think. I’ll have to go with what I think because I don’t have anyone to ask, anymore. Continue reading Roberto Clemente and the Pirates

Wednesday and Philly

Wednesday night’s game four of my baseball trip concluded with a pop up out to center field. Twenty- seven outs. It was a good game; the Atlanta Braves bested the Philadelphia Phillies.

Yesterday I arrived in Philadelphia, site of game four but also the site where this great American experiment came to a head some 246 years ago.

the room where it happened, Independence Hall

Less than a mile from where I sit, the founding fathers discussed, debated, and argued about next steps in 1776. The eventually came up with a statement, a written declaration, of complaints and desires. The Declaration of Independence was intended for King George III, who never read it. But it didn’t matter the world was in motion, as it still is today. Evolving, changing, succeeding, failing.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I wonder what the founding fathers would think of where we are as a nation of people today. Continue reading Wednesday and Philly

Tuesday at the Mets

Tuesday found me back in New York City for the third game of my seven game baseball trip.

I didn’t plan my drive from DC to NYC very well and I arrived at the peak of rush hour. I was able to make the game on time and I was in my seat with food, beverage, and a scorecard for the first pitch.

 

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A post shared by Clay Watkins (@makingthedayscount)

The Astros began with a walk to Jose Altuve, their lead off hitter and lightning rod for boos in New York City and most baseball stadiums. The next batter, Jeremy Pena, hit into what should have been a double play, but he beat it out on a manager’s review. It was all downhill for the Mets after that. The Astros sent seven batters to the plate, got four hits and four runs in the first inning. They never looked back.

I enjoyed my dinner, Buffalo wings with blue cheese (needed more blue cheese) and a celery stick, kept score and watched the game. Continue reading Tuesday at the Mets

Baseball traditions – Tuesday’s Tune

I began thinking about my baseball trip a couple of months ago in April. Then life set in, as it always does, and I put it off.

When school ended in early June all I had was a dream, but no plans. I had empty dates on the calendar and a dream of visiting all thirty of the baseball cities in my lifetime.

The idea of a summer trip was born with the idea of flying to New York City to see my favorite team, the Houston Astros play in New York City. When I discovered that the schedule had the Astros playing the other New York team, the Mets two days later I decided to make it more than one game, or two, but more. By the time I had finished planning I had seven cities, seven days, seven stadiums, and a total of ten MLB teams.

The venues are Yankee Stadium (NYC), Nationals Park (DC), Citi Field (NYC), Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia), PNC Park (Pittsburgh), Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati), and Progressive Field (Cleveland).

My first step was deciding to fly one way to New York City, rent a car, and drive the remainder of the schedule. Then I booked the flight and then the car and I was on my way.  I could find and sketched out an itinerary, Sunday to Sunday.

Queensboro Bridge over the East River connecting Queens to Manhattan. Construction began in 1900 and the bridge opened in 1909.

Hotels and game tickets were next, it was early enough in the season that there are plenty of game tickets available for purchase. After tickets, places to stay, then places I wanted to visit along the way, because in life there is more than just baseball.

Along the way, I decided to visit at least one place in each city and write a long my way.

My first contact was an old friend who I used to work with in the restaurant business before I became a teacher. He and his wife live in the DC area. I texted him after tickets and hotels and yesterday we met for lunch. When he pulled picked me up, we started up right where we had left off some twenty plus years ago when worked with each other.

My second contact was a friend in Ohio for the Reds game in Cincinnati. He and his wife joined us this spring in Florida, and we shared a car when our flights home were cancelled.

Then there were the sights along the way. Each city has something I want to see along the way.

But it was the baseball that was most important.

“Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.” – Yogi Berra

New York City
My first stop was historic Yankee Stadium. Last week I saw that a friend of mine and his wife were in New York for a vacation, he and I teach together at the same school. So, we met at Gate 4 on a bright sunny Sunday afternoon for Houston Astros vs. the New York Yankees. Neither of us had seen baseball in Yankee Stadium.

I was a small speck of orange in a see of white pinstripe Yankee fans..

Yankee Stadium is only historic because it’s home the New York Yankees the most successful franchise in MLB, the stadium opened in 2009 and is modelled after the original stadium that was the team’s home from 1923 to 2008. Continue reading Baseball traditions – Tuesday’s Tune

Tuesday’s Tune – Reunited

It has been quite a long time since I wrote a Tuesday’s Tune post. It isn’t that I haven’t been inspired by music because I have, but it’s been a time issue especially during the school year.  It’s the third week of summer break and while I have more time to write, I also have the time for all those things I said I’d do when school was finished for the year, and now I have that time.

It’s Day 18 of summer break, the first real day of summer and I have been slowly carving away, and adding to, my TO DO list.

Our son was married the Saturday before Memorial Day and it was a weekend of family and friend time. It had been a while since I had been to a wedding, and we had a wonderful time celebrating our son and our new daughter-in-law as well her entire family.

School ended three weeks ago Wednesday and I finished the following day. It has been an interesting two and a quarter years since that last Tuesday’s Tune post – Tuesday’s Tune – Everything’s Not Lost.

The Friday’s weather, the first day of summer break, was sunny, warm, and perfect for watching the birds at the feeders in the backyard. I have placed the feeders so we can see them from the kitchen and sometimes I stop to watch the activity at the feeders. That first Friday afternoon, I looked out to watch for birds and I discovered an unusual bird latched to the tree bark. I stared and realized that it appeared it wasn’t a native bird. I was busy and when I came back later, it had flown off, and didn’t think anything about it the rest of the night.

The next morning, I was putting the trash out when I saw a bird walking in the street, it was the same bird I had seen the day before in our backyard. I bent down to pick up the bird and he climbed on to my finger and I picked him up. I guessed the bird was a pet and it had a purple (mauve) band on its left leg. A neighbor who had been walking his dog stopped to help and neither he nor I knew anyone in our neighborhood who had a pet bird. I placed the bird on a tree branch and took a photo so I could post a “have you lost your bird” post to our neighborhood’s Facebook page. I then headed off to Loaves and Fishes for my regular Saturday morning volunteer shift.

I couldn’t get the bird off my mind, I knew it was some family’s pet, and I felt guilt for not doing more to reunite the bird and its family. So, I turned around when I was almost halfway to Loaves and Fishes so I could retrieve the bird and put him (I was assuming it was a ‘him’) in Fern’s crate until after my shift. Fortunately, Fern and Ivy were (and still are) up north at the lake with my wife and daughter – which is a good thing, because if Fern had been in her yard, the bird wouldn’t have fared well. The bird was where I had left it and it got on my finger right away. I took it inside and placed the it in Fern’s crate, gave it some water, and birdseed, created the “have you lost your bird?” post, and headed off to Loaves and Fishes for my shift.

Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune – Reunited

moving purposefully

Yesterday morning, I went for a hike at a new location, St. James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville, Illinois. It’s less than five miles from my house, about a ten-minute drive, and I had been there a couple of times, but I had never hiked. The parking lot was largely wide open when I arrived. Wednesday was s hot and humid, unseasonably warm HOT for mid-June which explained the parking lot.

the sun and a solid oak at St. James Farm Forest Preserve

St. James Farm and the adjacent Cantigny Park could be called an American “Downton Abbey.” Continue reading moving purposefully

what I am planning for summer break 2022

It’s summer, day 9 to be precise. I am a counter. I count the days and I try to make the time count, too. Sometimes I do, sometimes I come up short, but I am reminded that

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens…. Ecclesiastes 3:1

It reminds me to do better and to be present.

I am at the lake for a short trip, and I am headed home early Monday morning to do some of the things I said I’d do when summer came and so far, it’s a work in progress. This morning I awoke to a silent lake and fog lifting off the surface and hanging over the lake. It happens when warmer water interacts with cooler air – it’s science in action and I love how it looks in the early morning light.

morning fog, Lake Margrethe, Grayling, MI June 11, 2022 at 6:29 EDT

I re-read last year’s summer post Three things for a mid-June Sunday morning and I did well in 2021. I wrote when I could, and I enjoyed the backyard birds and even branched out to birding by the lake. I re-centered myself last summer and I think last school year was my best year as an educator, yet there is still room for growth, there always is.

Today’s post will be the first post of my 13th year of blogging. Oh, how far I have come and yet I have never left where I began. Continue reading what I am planning for summer break 2022