Friday, June 17, 2016

The Best Graduation Gift Parents and Teachers Could Ever Give Their Kids

One spring towards the end of my teaching career, I had a parent request a meeting. All educators know that when parents request a meeting, it usually means that they want to complain about something that you did. I didn’t know what this parent wanted to complain about, but I braced for it. She handed me a blank piece of paper and asked me to write a letter to her daughter. She explained that she had started doing this for her daughter in kindergarten. Every year she had the teacher write a letter to the daughter as an eighteen-year-old. She was compiling the letters in a binder, and as a graduation present, she would give her the binder with letters from her thirteen years of school. Anybody who knows me can guess that I shed a tear, both at the thoughtfulness of this mom and at the honor to be able to write a letter like that to a student. I decided then and there that when I had kids I would do the same thing.

Somewhere along the line we decided that, instead of just doing letters, we would get a copy of Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! for each of our kids. I would have their teachers

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

How to Make the Most of Summer: A Guide for Educators

Before I became an educational administrator, I spent 8 years teaching. Four of those years I had summers off without kids, and four years I had summers with kids. Before we had kids, I usually spent my summers doing some sort of house project. Summer was a time to re-tile the house, put in French doors, cut off my thumb. Yeah, I really had the summer thing down. Summers with kids were the same, except there were kids in the house. So essentially I would find time to get projects done around being a dad.

 But I learned several things throughout the years, both as a teacher and as an administrator. It is very easy to let a summer slip by. Summers can easily sail past rather quickly, and the last thing I want is to be starting a new school year feeling not rested. In fact, I have discovered that no matter how long a school break is, the majority of teachers come back to school stating, “I could have used just one more day.” 

So here is a guide that I have compiled both through experience and through conversations that will help you make the most of the summer.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Beginning of a Secret Garden

I love gardening. I know that this statement is pretty obvious, but I'm not sure if you understand how much I enjoy gardening. Mowing the lawn is one of my favorite chores. I can get lost in time trimming trees. I start to get a little giddy in the fall, anticipating the hours that I get to spend spreading seed and shoveling manure to put in a winter lawn. If I go for a couple of weeks without doing yard week or gardening, I start to feel like I'm losing my soul.

So when my eight year old daughter recently read The Secret Garden and then could not keep herself out of the garden, my heart beat with the joy of 1,000 angels singing. She has been weeding, digging, planting, watering, and doing whatever she can in the garden day in and day out. So of course a Renaissance Dad wants to continue to encourage this type of behavior.

Behind this row of oleanders...will be a secret place.
Enter the corner of my yard.

We have a row of oleanders at the back of our yard, and behind them is my workshop. There is a small triangular hunk of wasted space sitting back there. I have always thought about this as a great place for raising chickens, if and when my city ever lifts their ban on chickens (don't get me started on that one). But my wife and I started talking about this little corner. What if we made it a secret garden for the kids? What if this became the area where they could dig and plant whatever they wanted? What if the kids had a place to make mud pies, look for worms, grow and pick as many flowers as they wanted. And what if I pulled out an oleander or two and built a secret door for their secret garden?

So while the secret garden is merely in its infancy, I could not contain my excitement to share the early stages of this project.

Stay tuned for the next phase of The Secret Garden project.