Saturday, June 25, 2016

Today's Reads, Views, and Links

I just saw this powerful story.  In short, a rape victim speaks to a college football team about the time she had been raped by four college football players.  In her talk, she said that she actually hated the head coach - who only suspended the offending players one game and said they were good kids who made a bad decision - more than the actual rapists.

Then - and this is what is so powerful - she said "that man is right there" as she noted the coach in question was the head coach of the football team she was addressing.

Even more incredibly, that very coach, Mike Riley, had invited her to speak to his team.

As the victim stated at the end of her talk - in referencing Riley- this is what accountability looks like.

Let's hope there is some healing to go along with that accountability.


If you know me or read this blog often, you know how big of a fan I am of the millennials.  Well, here is what MTV is calling the generation after the millennials: the Founders.

An interesting title.  Why?

MTV President Sean Atkins says the name acknowledges that while millennials have disrupted society, it’s this new generation’s job to rebuild it. “They have this self-awareness that systems have been broken,” he told TIME ahead of the announcement. “But they can’t be the generation that says we’ll break it even more.”

Indeed, let's hope they find a way to fix the damage that has been done - not just by millennials but by Gen Xers too.


Five Ways to Personally Approach Your Students

The author steals five lessons on personalized teaching from watching Kung Fu Panda.

1.  A child is not your copy.  If you've seen the films, you know that Poe's father is a goose while he is a panda.  Something is clearly off here.  Yet, Poe's father appreciates their differences.  Initially, he tries to mold Poe into a noodle chef, like him.  However, when Poe has the chance to train to become the Dragon Warrior, he doesn't stand in the way.  He lets Poe find his true passion.  Now look at the other father son relationship in the film, Shifu and Tai Lung.  Shift is too blind to see the dark side of Tai Lung's nature because he is too focused on molding Tai Lung into his version of the Dragon Warrior.

So how can we, as teachers, allow students to develop their own talents and voices, even if they are not in line with our own visions or hopes?  When I began teaching, I had the foolish belief of being some kind of Mr. Keating from Dead Poets Society, where I would turn all of my students into budding intellectuals and poets.

Now, I know better.  I try to show students how they can use my classes to fit their true passions.

2.  Each has own abilities.  Shifu finally has a break through in the film when training Poe.  He realizes Poe has his own abilities and ways of doing things.  Once Shifu realizes this - he is able to unlock Poe's potential as the Dragon Warrior.

How can we get students to realize their own true abilities.  How can we get them to see things in themselves that they don't even realize are there?

3.  A cookie might be better motivation. Shifu realizes that he can motivate his other warriors through discipline and criticism, as they are all intrinsically motivated.  Not so with the Big Fat Panda, though.  He is motivated by food.

How can we find new and inventive ways to motivate students?  Simply yelling at them will only motivate a few.  How else can we get them work other than to say that it is assigned?

4.  You might wish for an apple or an orange, but you will get a peach.  These are the immortal words to Shifu from Oogway when he councils him on how to train Po as the Dragon Warrior.

How can we adjust our expectations so we can appreciate the types of people our students become?  I'd be sadly disappointed if - as I tried early on in my career - I didn't produce future English teachers and wanna be authors.  I've produced a few of those, but I've also helped students discover how to use writing to excel in college on their way to being nurses, engineers, journalists, entrepreneurs, and administrators.

5.  "When a student is ready, the teacher comes."  This might be my favorite quote of all time.  And I don't think this refers to Po in the film at all.  I think this actually refers to Shifu, who also is able to learn a lot from Po.  Only when Shifu is ready to accept the first four lessons here, is he able to understand the fifth.

How can we learn to tap into students' true potential so that they blossom in our classes and that, in turn, we blossom into effective teachers?  I mean it's always more effective to teach students who really want to learn.


This was one of the highlights of my spring/summer.  If you aren't already subscribing to the Entreleadership podcast, you are missing out.  This is one of their top 20 best episodes: Leading the Next Generation.

The podcast features an interview with Tim Elmore, who specializes in helping teams and businesses understanding the two massive generations invading the workforce - the millennials and Generation Z.

This podcast was so good, I bought his book - Generation iY: Secrets to Connecting with Today's Teens & Young Adults in the Digital Age.

This is so full of excellent content, that I'm going to save a good portion of it for my 2016-17 Teacherscribe's Teaching Tips, but here is one tip from Elmore, that as a parent, I just love.

He notes that today's teens are in dire need of mentoring more than ever.  So what he did was when his kids turned 16 - a pivotal year in all of our lives - he arranged for six adults, who the family thought personified their values, morals, passions, and hopes, to mentor their son and daughter.

How brilliant is that?

I always stress to my students that it's awesome to be an adult.  I think they get the reverse message too often - that you should try and prolong your youth as much as possible.  I think they see this absurd message in all formats - certainly TV shows (like anything on Bravo, such as The Real Housewives, where those wenches act like the biggest spoiled brats you could ever encounter in elementary school) and even in the adults around them - how many times have teachers unconsciously only asked students about how they were doing in sports (thereby subtly implying that sports are overly important) or parents who act likes idiots at athletic events or other parents who treat their kids like friends rather than children and, worst of all, some parents who dress the same way as their kids!

Elmore and his wife first chose Sara, an RN, who was a great mentor for their daughter, Bethany, for Sara was willing to show their daughter how cool it was to be an adult and how important having a positive impact on the world truly was.

Elmore and his wife asked their mentors to spend one day with their daughter mentoring her.  Sara first took their daughter to a maternity ward to see mothers give birth.  Later in the day, Sara took her to a class for unwed mothers, many of whom were Bethany's age but were facing far greater difficulties.  Can you imagine the lessons Bethany learned in just those two instances?!  Sara's overall message to Bethany was on the importance of sexual purity and waiting for the right man.  Those two examples had a far greater impact than any lecture from mom or dad ever could!

The next mentor, Holly, took Bethany to downtown Atlanta where they worked on projects for underprivileged families.  Her message was on the importance of service.

Betsy, a third mentor, worked as a flight attendant, and surprised Bethany by flying her up to New York City for the day to show her the contrast between the glitzy big city life and her more rural, southern home life.

As parents, we all know the pivotal role peers play in the lives of young adults.  I like Elmore's method of finding adult mentors for his children as a counterbalance to the peer influence his children will face.


The horror, the horror!

I'm a huge modern art fan.  Lichtenstein, Rothko, Mondrian, and Picasso are all favorites.  So when we were in NYC for the choir concert, my wife was able to persuade her group to take a trip to the MOMA (museum of modern art).  I wasn't able to convince my group, as they wanted to shop, which was fine (I had to settle for a trip to the Manhattan Lego Store).

But when Kristie's Clique (the name for her group on the trip) began bombarding me with pictures of my favorite works, it was almost too much to take!

The group spotted a Picasso.  I wonder if his classic, "Guernica," was there?  I believe the last time it was in the US, though was from 1939-40.

Along with Lichtenstein, I love the work of Mark Rothko.  I could spend hours looking at this.

I love the work of Piet Mondrian, and her Brenna and Cooper are posing with one of his works.  I could spend an hour looking at this one too!

When I received this, it broke my heart just a little.  You see, I love the work of Roy Lichtenstein.  This is his classic "Drowning Girl" painting.  In fact, I have this in my classroom.  So when Kristie's Clique were touring the MOMA, they rounded a corner to take the elevator and saw this!  "Reynolds!" They all said as they knew I had this in my room.  They were kind enough, at least, to take a picture of it for me.


My wife has long been a fan of James Corden's Car Pool Karaoke.  This one might just be my all time favorite -

I like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but many of their songs do sound the same, but the musicianship is on full display here.  Growing up in the '80's I can't help but wonder how many of the bands that rose to fame back then would function on this show.  Most of them formed just to get laid and to get rich.  Thus their songs are three chords and junior high level lyrics.  I don't know if they could display the rhythm and style and flare that the members of the Chili Peppers do in here.


Finally, here is one of my favorite little pick-me-up speeches of all time.  


Can you believe we are 9 days from the Fourth of July?  That means after that comes the fair.  Then August rolls around and fall sports kick in.  Summer is just about over!!!

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