Author Archives: slowchatpe

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?






10 Questions to Critically Reflect On




andy vasily

This image was created by Andy Vasily.  It will help guide my 2017 reflection.

  1.  I have deepened many personal and professional relationships this year. I strengthened many of my professional relationships at the SHAPE National Convention this year. Sleeping Rooming with Andy Milne was a highlight for sure! Coming in a close second was hanging with my Paddle Zlam crew! Meeting Mel Hamada and Shrehan Lynch in person cannot be overlooked as well. I could spend pages just reflecting on that experience alone. I have also combined some of my professional relationships into much more personal relationships. Getting to know people on a deeper level was definitely a goal for me this year.
  2. I am always interested in people’s stories for sure. I firmly believe that everyone has a story and I can learn from everyone. We have interviewed many people on the Voxcast which allows people to have a platform to center and amplify their voices.
  3. This year I was very grateful for my personal blessings. My family is overall very healthy and I acknowledge and appreciate this. Professionally I haven’t counted my blessings. I sometimes feel stuck in a rut and don’t know what to do about it. Hopefully, 2018 will help me with this feeling.
  4. This past year I have written a book chapter and numerous blogs, created some cool Voxcasts, presented locally, regionally, and nationally. In the classroom, I have really continued to work on having a more student-centered approach. I am happy with my progress and have some really cool ideas for a future Voxer book club podcast and helping Kennedra Tucker with a social justice podcast.
  5. Physically this year was a let down for me. I played basketball twice a week but I have slacked on my muscular endurance and strength training. I need to get back on track.
  6. My inner critic voice kept me back from applying for some jobs. I have also apologized more this year for the words that have left my mouth than in years past.
  7. I have spent more time trying to recognize others value and goodness in my life. This occurred in many fashions. Some people received gifts from me, others a card, and still others I made time for.
  8. I surround myself with great people who push themselves so hard that I can only marvel at what they do. This helps drive me to continue to be a creator and producer in a world of consumption.
  9. I don’t know how much I empowered others. I do know that if anyone asks me for help I did anything and everything in my power to assist and empower them.
  10. In 2018 I  will work on being more physically active. The value of this can’t be overstated.

Take the @andyvasily reflection challenge. What did your year look like?



How Actions are Perceived

Every trimester I give out a feedback form to my students. I truly want to learn what how they feel about my class. More importantly, I want to find out what their perception of me is. One of the questions I ask them is, “How much do you feel Mr. S. likes you?” I was surprised by one student who marked down that I dislike them. First off this student is a very good student who makes minor behavioral decisions that I disagree with. I honestly like this child. They are not reprimanded very often nor have they ever received a poor mark in my class.

If all that is true above, why does that child believe I dislike them? I honestly don’t know but I will be finding out soon. What is interesting here is the idea that my actions toward him may not be showing him how I truly feel about him. How often does this happen with my other students? What about other adults? This conversation was brought up in the restorative justice group on Voxer. How often are our words and actions being interpreted in a different manner than what we were intending?

I look forward to finding out the feedback the rest of my students give me. The important part of this whole process is that I have to use this information to change my teaching. If you hold power over a person or group of people it is your duty to find out what they think of you and your job. How many administrators poll their teachers? How many teachers poll their students? If we care about our students shouldn’t we find out how they truly feel about us and our class? How else will we get better?

trimester questions



100 Word Challenge

Today I read Dene Gainey’s  (@dene_gainey) blog titled What Are My 100 Words? The premise behind the blog was that you had to write 100 words on why you love teaching. The idea came about when Jesse Boyce (@Jessxbo) was given the assignment as part of her Teacher of the Year candidacy. She wrote:

“I get to show students the beauty in struggle and the power of making mistakes.  Math is a topic that makes most people cringe and I feel fortunate to get to make it something that is less scary.  I love to show my students that something that seems impossible does not have to be that way, but can be fun! I love showing them that the struggles that occur in math are paralleled to life; that there is always a way.  I teach compassion, how to be good people, how to love, how to see a different point of view.” (link)

This is a powerful statement! I try not to compare myself to others by telling myself that my writing is more about the thought than the execution; however, this was both well thought out and executed. Here is Dene’s 100 words:

“I love teaching because it is a perpetual process of learning & I am just as much of a student when I teach as the students themselves are. I love teaching because of the immense ability to “reach” and not just teach & to see lives transformed through that reach! I love teaching because little by little, the world can be changed for the better. I love teaching because of spontaneous discovery and the ability to empower students to C.L.I.M.B.E. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing students actualize themselves and take ownership and independence when learning.” (link)

Dene’s idea that the world can be changed by us is spot on. He fit so much into so little of a space. This is going to be difficult. Ok, I just wrote it and it took me 45 minutes. Here is the result:

Teaching is sharing time with people. Every day I get the opportunity to provide a safe environment for kids to explore and have fun. We form connections and memories that will leave a lasting impression on all parties. Together we enjoy creating new neural connections constantly challenging ourselves to grow. I get to feel that I am impacting the world battling hate and fear. Future generations will be changed for the better if I continuously grow and make a positive impact on my students. I am leaving the world a better place than before I got there.

Go ahead. Take the challenge that Jessie Boyce laid down. Write your 100 Words on Why You Love Teaching than tag @jessxbo, @dene_gainey, and @schleiderjustin. I can’t wait to read why you love to teach!

Parent Teacher Conferences and Seesaw

Disclosure: I am a Seesaw ambassador. That means I get more classes to use for free.

The past couple of years I have had more parent conferences than ever before. They are mostly with my younger students. Their parents want to know how their child is doing in my class which is completely reasonable and should be lauded. I always tell the parents that if there was an issue with their child they would have heard from me well before the middle or end of November but I digress.

What I did notice with the meetings was that I felt a comfort level during those meetings that I hadn’t felt when I was first teaching. Some of that could be explained by my increasing knowledge of my subject area and the fact that my community knows me very well after 7 years. That is only part of the answer though.

The biggest factor in my opinion is my use of Seesaw. Every single meeting the parent commented how much they  enjoyed the videos. This gave them a knowledge of what my class is about as well as a comfort level with me. That cannot be valued enough! The conversations were pleasant and productive.

One parent told me they sit with their child and watch the videos together. They than ask them questions about what is going on in the video, did they have fun, and what were they learning. This made my year to hear that. There is nothing more powerful than enabling a family to have a window into my class that starts a conversation about learning and joy.

If you aren’t using Seesaw you are missing out.