Monthly Archives: January 2018

#EduGladiator

This week I was immersed in the #EduGladiator world. Marlena Gross-Taylor asked me to lead a Twitter chat on Saturday, January 27, 2018, based on classroom management. I didn’t know what #EduGladiator stood for nor did I care. Marlena is good people so if someone I value asks me to help I am all about it. If I had to guess I would say an EduGladiator is someone who is willing to fight for their students, someone who will battle against the isms wherever they may rear their ugly head and someone who has the desire to be the best educator they can be. I could be wrong. It’s immaterial.

Here were my questions:

Q1: How does classroom management contribute to the culture of a  class?

Q2: What makes classroom management different than punishment or consequences?

Q2.1 How do race and power affect classroom management?

Q3: How can your classroom management avoid conflict that naturally arises in classrooms?

Q4: What classroom management system or tricks have helped you the most?

Here was the one Tweet that stood at to me the most:

My answer looked like this:

Carla brings up such a fantastic point. Culture and management go hand in hand. Management without culture is teacher driven. Culture without management is chaos.

On Sunday I was part of the podcast with all the other moderators from #EduGladiators in January. Anytime I can hang with Victor Small, and Demetrius Ball I am there! My biggest takeaways from the show were like your kids, ISS is the devil, and get over your bias by meeting it head-on. Watch the show here to hear a boatload of gold nuggets!

 

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Question Everything.

This weekend an interesting thread started with this tweet:

First, these general tweets that are all fluff are annoying. They are meant to not ruffle any feathers and at the same time generate likes and retweets. The problem is they stifle thinking. Education isn’t as simple as this general platitude. Then I saw a tweet I agreed with.

Doug Timm responded with this:

Here is someone who is questioning and attempting to push the conversation forward. This is just one of the many reasons I appreciate Doug Timm. He is always questioning. This started a great conversation with @dingleteach and @justinaion about how important family is and how we can’t just ignore teachers and admin and think that strictly focusing on kids is going to solve the education’s problems. If the adults in the building aren’t happy that spreads down to the children.

The next person I came across as questioning things that most people just agree with without much thought is Dr. Justen O’Connor. His blog would make Rich Wiles snort with appreciation. Check out this blog about apps in #PhysEd. Just because something deals with technology doesn’t automatically make it engaging nor does it mean that it is sound pedagogical practice. This thought stood out to me:

Some of the tech being churned out is about as educationally relevant as a spur of the moment game of dodgeball, run the gauntlet or line soccer. One P.E. Games App, promoted as a ‘superb mobile resource for PE teachers’ and advocated on social media, promotes last man standing, a game (clearly for only the male students in the class) where even the ‘weaker’ jump ropers can stay in provided don’t stop. When they do, guess what, they sit down while the others keep going. Imagine a Mathematics app that had all the kids stand up in a room, recite times tables in their heads until they couldn’t do any more and then one by one sit down. At its best, this is lazy pedagogy yet there it is, unchallenged and pushed on to teachers for 99c.

Here is another blog he penned that shows how we need to be critical of the data we are collecting in regards to our student’s health. He masterfully illustrates his point by writing what a company states and what it really is saying. Read this from the heart rate monitor company:

“imagine 12 years from today, when your 1st graders receive their high school diploma and along with it, are handed their entire wellness portfolio correlated to their academic, attendance and fitness success. A legacy created for students and their families while meeting the daily needs of school administration and compliance.”

Sounds pretty good outside the line about compliance right? Check out what it really means:

“imagine 12 years from today, when your 1st graders from low SES backgrounds receive their high school diploma and along with it, are handed their entire wellness portfolio correlated to their comparatively poor academic, attendance and low fitness scores. A legacy created for students and their families that is completely ignorant of the fact that individual choice had little to do with any of this is created. A legacy in which a global insurance company (that in a multi-million dollar take over deal now own the data that is in the ‘cloud’) and sportswear corporates will continue to sell you products in an attempt to finally make you ‘healthy’, by repeatedly pointing out your failure to comply.”
Most of us don’t understand where race, power, and socioeconomic status all intersect.
This is why we need to listen to our thought leaders. Dr. O’Connor is just one of them that are constantly highlighting the issue of what we are doing with not only pedagogy but our student’s data in education. I would highly recommend following @audreywatters and @funnymonkey if you want to learn more about this. Another thought leader in the same vein is #PhysEd’s own Sherri Spelic!
It is imperative that we question everyone and everything that goes into education. We do ourselves and our students a huge disservice by just following blindly people with a lot of twitter followers, administrators, or keynote speakers. No one is above being questioned even the creator of #slowchatpe!! Next time you see a tweet or a facebook post question it before you like or repost. What does that statement really mean? Will it harm anyone? What may I be missing? Question everything.

My Contact With Pee

Today is MLK Day. I don’t feel the need to address this any more than to acknowledge it. I have been doing the work all year and to focus solely on social justice today and then forget about it until next year seems disingenuous.

Next. I read a fantastic blog written by Dr. Angela Dye titled Pissing on My Pee. What’s ironic about this piece is that commenting on it or discussing it decenters the author. That is the entire point of the blog in my opinion. Tell me what you think.

 

My next contact with pee was with my son’s Pee Wee basketball team. I coach the team and we played horribly. I don’t care about losing but our skills were really low especially compared to the other team. I left the game frustrated. I was wondering how I could make a better impact with only having a half hour before the game to practice. Suddenly the light bulb went off. It is time to use Teaching Games for Understanding pedagogy and combine it with the natural Sports Education Model that is recreation basketball.

Our next practice will consist of 2 v 1 and 3 v 2. This will allow the players to have more time being in real time game situations. A lot of what we lacked was game sense. What do we do in different situations? TGFU will be a crash course in decision making and also increase the amount of game time the kids will have. That increase in time will allow them to understand what is happening much quicker.

As always I appreciate you reading my blog. Have a good week!

Mush Face

As many of you know there are not many things that I enjoy more than playing basketball. It brings me a joy that very few things are able to. When I am in the gym the world disappears for 2 hours. The worries and stresses of my life slip away and for a while, the only thing that matters is playing. On the days I play I look forward to it as soon as I wake up and that feeling of excitement continues all day until it is time to play. I rearrange Voxcasts and family affairs in order to participate! When it gets canceled I go into a funk that is only rivaled by losing money. The funniest part of my love for basketball is that I am not even that good at it. I have a mediocre shot, am 1/2 inch shy of six foot, and my handle is barely competent on a good day. Let me put it this way, I wouldn’t start on most JV high school teams. My only saving grace is I am somewhat athletic and can usually place myself in the best position to succeed.

Twice a week I go to the local high school and play what I call “old man” basketball. A bunch of older (20’s and 30’s) guys get together and play pickup games. We call our own fouls and rarely ever argue. I break the teams up evenly and we rotate the teams in and out so winning does not dictate whether you get to play again or not. The culture and climate that has been created is amazing. Overall it is a movement paradise!

This week the local high school was closed so I went to a local gym to play a pickup game. The average age of participants was 20 years of age and I was easily the oldest person there at the age of 35. We picked the teams and started to play. There was an argument on almost every play whether there was a foul or who the ball was out on. I suddenly remembered why I hate playing at the park or outside of my old man league. It was brutal to watch time and energy being wasted on arguing over a call.

One of the players was around 21 and was a 1,000 point scorer in high school. He was the best player on the court by far. He was hitting 3’s and was dribbling by everyone with ease. One play the ball was in the air and I went to box him out. Next thing I know I feel his hand on my face pushing my head followed by the statement, “I will do that every time you box out with your arms. That is some p*&%y s*$t.” Let me preface that by saying I had never known the way I boxed out was a foul. I wrestled my whole life and basketball was something I did for fun. I never played in a league or played with refs. I am not saying what I did was not wrong I just had never had anyone say anything before.

Back to getting my face mushed. I felt humiliated and it immediately took me out of the game. I didn’t move at all for the rest of the game and quickly went home as soon as the game was over. The incident stuck with me all week. I replayed it over and over again sometimes imagining a different reaction and what the outcome would be. I do this often with situations when I feel upset. I pay different scenarios in my head of how I could have handled it and what the repercussions would be. Sort of like a poor man’s Walter Mitty. 

It reminded me of a time in class when a child purposefully threw the ball off of another child’s face so it would bounce back to him. I knew that feeling the child on the receiving end of the ball felt exactly. The humiliation. The loss of pride and power. The knowledge that any recourse taken would only lead to either physical harm or other consequences.  When this happened to me as an adult I recognized that this was a situation I needed to leave immediately. My student in class did not have that same luxury. They had to stay there and deal with their feelings of inadequacy in the public light of my class.

The incident bothered me greatly. I did a lot of mindful breathing and rationalize to myself why what happened wasn’t as big of a deal as I was making it out to be. It was one incident that really didn’t impact my life in any giant measurable way. Either way, it was nipping at me all week.

There are a couple of thoughts I have about my situation. First; when someone disrespects another in a game they are taking the joy away from them. They are not unlike the Grinch who wanted to steal the joy of Christmas from the Who’s. As a teacher, this is something we need to be aware of. This loss of joy not only affects our students at that moment they are going to feel a sense of shame or anger whenever they are reminded of the incident.  It will create a negative association that can last forever. We must ensure that the climate and culture we set in our class does not allow this to occur. Conflict will arise and that is unavoidable; however, it is necessary that it is not elevated to a place where students lose their self-respect and joy of movement.

Secondly, Jorge Rodriguez says that when we play a game we need our opponents to want to play with us again. This takes teaching games to a whole other level. We aren’t just teaching the game but socialization. Who wants to play a game with people that make us feel like garbage? In my situation, I will not be playing basketball at this gym or with that person again. I lost a place to enjoy movement and that sucks.

My final thought is what we can do when this does occur in our class. In the situation, with the aggressor in my class, I spoke to him privately as well as with their parent and an administrator. I made it known that my class will not be a place where students will experience either physical or psychological harm.

Have you ever experienced something similar to me? How did you handle the loss of pride and joy?