Thursday, August 30, 2007

Early Dismissals

It looks like we are finally going to get a full day of school in! I don't know if the kids, and/or teachers, will be able to function having to work for a full day. Ha! Ha! My lesson plans look like heiroglyphics and I am having a hard time keeping track of where I am in each class. This is the first year since I have been at Payson Seymour, that I can remember, having this many days early in the year where we had to be dismissed early for heat. I am very proud of the 7th and 8th graders on the way they have adjusted and gone with the flow.

Now that it looks like we will have full days from here on out (until snow days!) we can get down to business and get in a routine. A couple more days of catching up and I should be back on track. Of course Monday puts a little kink in things, since it is Labor Day, but at least that is a known day of vacation. If I don't get back to you...Have a great Labor Day! Here's to routine!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Bronx Is Burning

What a great show! If you have not seen this show, and you are interested in baseball, you must take the time to take a look. I was nine when this was going on so this was very interesting to me.

The show is about New York City in 1977. The stories main ingredient is the New York Yankees and the controversy surrounding Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson, and George Steinbrenner. The good thing about this show is it also takes the time to show what else was going on in New York during this time period. Son of Sam, the heat wave, the race for mayor, and many other side stories get some good attention in this series.

It is hard to believe that the Yankees could have won anything with all the controversies, and explosive situations, that were going on. I am not a Yankee fan but could definitely feel what it would be like to be a Yankee fan during this time period. I remember watching the 1977 World Series and admiring players like Thurmon Munson, Willie Randolph, Lou Pinella, Reggie Jackson, Steve Garvey, and Davey Lopes. Again, this show sure got me to thinking about the past and my dreams to be a big leaguer. The show puts to rest any ideas that being a big leaguer is all glitz and glory. Watch the show. Remember your dreams. Reintroduce yourself to baseball gods.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Understatement of the Year!

I don't care what anybody says! Michael Vick is a joke! He apologized to the Atlanta Falcons and the NFL for "using bad judgment and making bad decisions". He didn't run a red light! He is directly (or indirectly) responsible for the death of 53 innocent dogs. He said he did not personally place any bets or share in any winnings. Are you kidding me? How are we supposed to believe that? He is definitely trying to cover up the gambling part due to the NFL rule which says that if a player is even associated with gamblers he would be subject to a lifetime ban. The article also said he has "found religion". He is pulling out all the stops to try to save his career and his image. It is not working for me! People like this need to be punished, no matter who they are. Punishment in my mind is not being suspended, being able continue his job after "one" mistake. I sure hope the Falcons get their signing bonus ($22 million).

What is your opinion on this?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Minus the Heat...A Great Start to School

What a great bunch of kids! We have started out great at Payson Seymour! It seems everyone has a positive attitude and teachers are really making an effort to make the new teachers feel welcome and old colleagues feel closer. The kids have been in a great mood, especially considering the 85-90 temperatures in the junior high rooms.

The seventh graders seem to be adapting well and the eighth graders seem to be getting back into the groove of things without a hitch. We have had a few locker and lock problems but nothing that we couldn't handle. I think we are all looking forward to a "normal" day to see where it takes us.

A lot of the things have stayed the same...picking on Mrs. Orr, Mrs. Linderer, and Mrs. Steffen, hearing Mr. Harbourn's wonderful laugh echo down the hall, seeing how all the kids have grown over the summer, seeing last year's eighth graders as lowly freshman, talking softball with Mr. Zanger, and, of course, myself being picked on for my organization. It is all part of why I love teaching. One thing I can feel that is different this year...the attitude. You can just feel the positiveness (is that a word?). What a great way to start out the year! Let's carry this on throughout the year and strive to continue it through the rest of our teaching careers and, as students, through the rest of our academic careers. Attitude is such an important thing!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

And We're Off!

Here it comes! School starts tomorrow. It's time for homework, quizzes, tests, practice, games, and just being extremely busy in general. I'm ready, and I hope you're ready! I hope my students make me think as much as much as hope to make them think. I hope I learn as much as much as I hope to teach. All the things that kids do now days is unbelievable! They seem to play in every sport, are involved in every club, keep up on homework and class stuff, and still make time for friends. Kids are amazing and sure keep me feeling young.

Pay attention to how fast the year goes as soon Halloween rolls around. It seems the holidays make the year zoom by. Christmas (and the end of the first semester) will be here before you know it! Work hard but don't forget to take time to smile everyday.

No matter how bad you think your day is going I guarantee someone else is having a worse day. Life is too short to be serious, and/or grouchy, all the time! How will you choose to get up every morning? Will you dread going to school or will you embrace it and get as much as you can out of it and have a few laughs while doing so? Will you gripe about practices (and maybe even games) even though their are some kids in the world that don't ever get the opportunity to play sports? Will you complain about homework and tests or will you realize that not all kids in this world have an opportunity to get an education and that this will make you a better person? My personal philosophy is this: How well your day goes is 99% mental. In other words if you wake up thinking you are going to have a bad day then you probably will. On the other hand, if you wake up and say "Bring it on!" and choose to have a good attitude, you will have a good day. Another thing I have learned it this: If you make a mistake or bad decision fess up and take responsibility for your actions. Don't blame someone else or pass the buck. You will end up getting much more respect if you acknowledge your mistakes. Everyone makes them, but not everyone takes responsibility for them. I hope these tips help you in having a successful school year.

Good luck and best wishes for 2007-2008!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

For Payson Seymour Junior High Students-First Week of School

The first week of school will go like this. Monday and Tuesday of next week (August 20th and 21st) are teacher work days. We have meetings about the upcoming school year and will also have some time to work in our rooms. On Wednesday (August 22nd) you, the students, will be coming to school for a half of a day (until 10:45). We usually have a short assembly with all the students, 7-12, in the high school gym to start out the day and then you are dismissed to your first hour class. Each class you go to, on this half of a day, will be approximately 10 minutes, or so, long. This gives each teacher time to take roll and introduce themselves. A HINT: Most, if not all, junior high teachers don't have time to hand out locks and lockers on this day so do not bring your school supplies until Thursday. On Thursday and Friday you will have regular hours 1st through 4th hours and shortened hours 5th through 7th hours. This is due to an early dismissal time on each day. The early dismissal time for Thursday and Friday is 2:00 p.m. On the morning of August 23rd (Thursday) all seventh graders should go to the multi purpose room as soon they are let in the door. All eighth graders should report to their first hour classes. On Thursday (August 23rd) most junior high teachers hand out books, lockers, and locks. Please visit my website to see what is going on during every week and what the homework is throughout the week. Some of my favorite sites are also linked on my site. I would also appreciate it if you visit my blog. Obviously you know where it is because you are reading this! We will be using my blog throughout the year to discuss important topics.

Let's have a great year! My goal for you is to learn as much as possible and to have some fun!

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Corn Festival and the Kids Being Gone

The family and I just got back yesterday from the Corn Festival. The festival is held in West Point, IA. It is a four day affair but my wife and I learned a few years ago to spend the day Saturday and hang around until the parade is over on Sunday (around 1 or so). Some of the highlights are free sweet corn, plenty of rides for the kids, and a killer grilled chicken dinner. There are literally thousands of people that come to this event! It's a great "family" affair. I will have to say, this year, the heat took some of the fun out of the festival but it was still great to see our family and friends in a festive atmosphere.

I am going to start working in my room at school on Wednesday of this week. I am excited to get back in the groove of things. The kids are making one more trip to Grandma and Grandpa's before the summer is over. They are spending four days there! I think it is the longest my wife and I have been without the kids. This has good and bad points. We will miss them immensely but I will be able to get a great jump on school and be able to spend some quality time with my wife. Like my wife said, "What are we going to do without the kids?". When you are used to having them around it is easy to forget what you did before you had them. We are planning on having another "fun" day tomorrow as the last "real" day of summer with me. With the heat we will maybe see a movie and maybe eat lunch out. Something like that anyway. I am going to miss them when school starts.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Here it Comes!

My calendar is filling up already. We just got my son signed up for football this fall and my daughter signed up for dance for the year. My school items are already ready and waiting on my calendar and my adrenaline is beginning to flow. There is just something about knowing that you have to be organized, and have pretty much every minute of a day planned out, that makes you feel very accomplished at the end of a busy day, and week. It is very gratifying that you have survived the tornado of a school, and extracurricular, week. We all, parents, do it. My wife and I are not special. We do work well together and we both know what our strong, and weak, parts of completing the schedule, are.

As you parents know, once the school year starts it is like a crazy-fast carnival ride that you can't get off of. The days blur into weeks, the weeks into months. It's a good time but extremely busy! Some of the things my kids are involved in are cub scouts, football, basketball, daisy scouts, and dance. Along with the extracurricular schedule you also have to keep the grandparents happy with invitations to visit and trips to their houses. Of course we will always have homework to keep up on with the kids and all the other daily chores that have to get done. Sometimes it doesn't seem like there is enough time in the day but everything always seems to done eventually.

So as I said, "Here it Comes". It waits for no one. So hunker down for the long haul and always remember to take the time to "smell the roses". Take the time to laugh with your kids, wrestle them around, read a story, play catch, or play a board game. Eat as many meals together as a family as you can and talk to your kids about their day and what is going on with their life. Enjoy these times because before you know it not only will the school year be gone but so will your children.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Alcohol Stories

On some overnight trains, Amtrak is offering $100 in free alcohol. Are you kidding me? What are Amtrak officials thinking? Are they liable if someone gets off the train and gets in an accident or does something because they are intoxicated? How about $100 in something that means something! $100 off your next overnight trip? $100 on a hotel room of your choice at your destination? Is Amtrak hurting that bad that they need to pull out this? I don't know, it just seems that that money could be used for something a little less frivolous. What do you think? I wonder what kind of ideas Amtrak customers could come up with to replace this offer? Did officials even think about asking customers?

Astronauts have flown while drunk? Holy cow! As a kid I remember looking up to these guys and thinking they are the top of the heap. Heroes, men of admiration, indeed. I am not saying that these guys can't have a drink ever, but "while flying" and "drank heavily shortly before a launch" is not acceptable by any stretch of the imagination! These ladies and gentleman have a responsibility to the U.S.A., NASA, young people everywhere, and fellow astronauts that have served loyally and respectfully. I hope that all "astronauts", that have engaged in this act, are dismissed immediately!

Friday, August 3, 2007

A Conversation With Reality

Last night I got a chance to visit with a fraternity brother of mine. He is now a Major in the United States Army. He popped open his laptop and proceeded to show me picture after picture of Iraq, and Afghanistan. He has done several tours of duty over there and told me story after story of how it was in those areas. He showed me pictures of mud huts that some of these countryman had as houses. He showed me pictures of "hotels". They were nothing but concrete walls and floors with paint slopped on part of the walls. He had many pictures of his troops and ceremonies of fallen troops. He also showed me pictures of the beautiful landscapes of this region. If this doesn't get some kind of emotion stirred up in you, I don't know what would.

I asked him questions concerning not only the war, but simple things like what the food and weather were like. I must have looked like a little kid learning about a new video game or something. We talked for two hours and it seemed like ten minutes. It was the first time I have ever got a chance to talk to a serviceman about any details concerning the war.

Talk about feeling like a "speck" on this Earth! I mean, this guy is out there laying his life on the line day after day, and I am teaching. I love teaching, but when you talk to someone like this it sure makes your job seem a little less important. To top it off, he is just a normal guy. When I looked at him I still saw that kid I went to college with. When I listened to him I knew he was different inside and I knew that he could see the big picture like most of us can't.

We talked about many things involving the military. We talked about the Pat Tillman incident. We talked about what would happen if we pulled out of Iraq right now. We talked about what we could do different over there, and what we should do for the kids on the front lines. Some of them obviously have "baggage" and we should have a way to deal with it.

Talking to him sure made me appreciate what we have here, and all the armed forces that defend what we have here. He is now on his way to learn Arabic. To my friend, may you always come back from duty healthy, always be appreciated, and always hold your head up with pride.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A Perfect Day With The Kids

I had one of those memorable, perfect days with my kids yesterday. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it is special. We didn't do anything special. We took a walk around the mall, visiting the music store (for me) and the pet store (for all of us). The pet store was extremely special. The way the kids reacted to the different animals, and the giggles they cut loose when they were playing with the puppies and kittens, were priceless. After our walk we ate at a restaurant in the mall and then went and saw Ratatoullie. The kids were getting along, which is unusual for my two. They were in a good mood. We had a lot of laughs and I thoroughly enjoyed their company. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and I love spending time with them, but at their ages (6 and 9) they can be a handful when they are not getting along. My brother and I were the same way. Do all siblings scrap like this? I have a "picker"(my son) and a "whiner"(my daughter). They are good kids and don't do anything that leads me to believe that they will be incarcerated in later years. By the way, that was a funny. They do many things around the house. They are usually polite and show considerable compassion for someone (even each other) if they are hurting physically and mentally. I am a lucky man. I have a wonderful wife and two wonderful kids. I don't know if I am writing this for you guys or for me. I think every once in a while we need to step back and realize just how good we have it. This time of year, a few weeks before school starts, it seems I am always reminiscing about the past summer and what we have done, and not done. Sometimes it seems there just isn't enough time to get all the things in that you want the kids to have as memories when they get older. My theory is this: Do what you can, when you can, and always enjoy life. You can only do your best. If there is not time for everything then there is not time for everything!