Monday, February 27, 2012

Weekly Kodachrome - The San Rafael

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One day you'll see her and you'll know what I mean.
Take or or leave her she will still be the same.
She'll not try to buy you with her time.
Nothing's the same as you will see when she's gone.

It's foreign on this side
and I'll not leave my home again.
There's no place to hide
And I'm nothing but scared.

You dream of colors that have never been made,
You imagine the songs that have never been played.
They will try to buy you and your mind.
But only the curious have something to find.

It's foreign on this side,
and truth is a bitter friend
Reasons few have I to go back again.

                                            - Sean Watkins

Adventures & Misadventures of Daily Living
Did you take a photo in the past seven days that made you smile? If so, feel free to include it in the linky below. 

Remember, by adding your photo into the Weekly Kodachrome meme you are agreeing to do one of the following: display the linky or button to your post, or link back to this post so that everyone gets a little more exposure for the image they’ve uploaded. Those who don’t help to ’share the love’ will have their links removed. You can find the code for the linky here.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

When You're Only as Valued as the Outcome

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I hear that word and it makes me think of my Boy Scout days…back when I was trying to get as many merit badges and skill awards as I could. You know, wanting to fill that olive green sash with as many circular patches as possible to show that I was the bomb. Of course, that was a lifetime ago, back in the days of pubescence, schoolhouse crushes, and acne.

Merit seems to mean something different to me today. Maybe it’s because I read an article last night about the new bill in the process of being passed.

I don’t agree with it.

Some of you may or may not know about Senate Bill 67, which links a teacher’s pay raises directly to his or her students’ final test scores.

This bothered me.

It bothered me on many levels.

Are there bad teachers out there who aren’t up to scratch? Yes, we all know that there are; however, there is also a set that works as hard as they can, trying to make a difference, yet by denying them income to try to match the changing economy, you are going about it the wrong way to try to fix the problem of student success.

You see, I’ve had some of the students in my classes with low test scores every year that I’ve been a teacher. To try to help remedy this, I offer up extra help an hour before school to any student who needs it. I stay in my classroom during my lunch break, labs, and recesses (when I’m not on duty) to help any student who wants it. I stay after school—nearly every day—for at least an hour to be a resource for students who want help.

But no matter what I do, I still have low-scoring students.

Now, I have parents that are involved in their child’s education, and I see these kids progress and get better and better. I also see kids who simply don’t care and have little to no parental support. I have students who will not come to me for help, even when they are those who so desperately need it.

I had one particular student whose parent informed me that their child couldn’t come to school early or stay afterward with me, also, they couldn’t attend the remediation classes offered by the school—though their child severely needed it.

And still, the parent refuses to help their child with their education.

And yet, even with all of this, it’s going to be put on me.

If I were in the situation of working for a corporation, and was being judged in my competence based on the outcome of those working in my department, it would be much easier to remedy the situation: If someone weren’t up to scratch, I could terminate them and replace them with someone that had the skills I needed, this way the job would get done well.

However, in education, this simply isn’t possible.

Teachers are given the group that they get, and that’s it. We teach whoever walks into our classrooms, and we try to teach them on their level. We try to get them through the process, and yet, there is only so much a teacher can do when standing alone.

I think of that word: merit.

Really, it’s not simply the value of the outcome; it’s about finding value in the entire process.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Taking Great Photos Part 7 - The Breath

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The breath? Now, just what in the world is that supposed to mean, Teachinfourth? I breathe all the time, why should one breath be more important than any other I take?

Thanks for asking.

The reason ‘the breath’ is so important is that many of us go out to take photos; later, we sadly discover that all of the shots (or many of them) are blurry. But this cannot be! We checked the shutter speed, the aperture, and everything else. There’s no reason why these shots should be blurred...and yet they are.

This blurriness just might be due to the fact that you haven’t been taking what I like to call, “the breath.”

Many people, when pushing the shutter button, move their hands up or down slightly at the same time; many times, they don’t even realize that they’re doing this. Even this slightest movement of your camera (especially when zoomed in) can have a drastic effect on clarity the shot you have just taken. Now, though many lenses today have IS for helping the shots to overcome this shakiness (which is just an initialism for Image Stabilization) taking this small breath before you snap can have the biggest impact on your images for clarity.

(The red arrows indicate the IS switch).

It was a few years ago that I noticed that when I took pictures that were at a lower shutter speed, many of them came out blurry. This was simply from the fact that I was not holding the camera as steadily as I should have when snapping away. I can still remember my grandpa telling me, “take a breath right before you push the shutter down and hold it; try to hold your hands as still as possible.” He then went on to explain that leaning against something can help you to maintain your stability as well—or even better—using a tripod.

I began to ‘take the breath’ before I snapped my photos and began to notice a decrease in blurry images. This little tip worked like magic!

Of course, if you haven’t focused your camera properly to begin with, you won’t get clear images—no matter how still you hold it. Always make sure that your camera is set to automatic focus

Now, there’ve been times in which I’ve switched my camera to manual focus. I usually do this when the camera itself is having difficulty focusing on the part of the image I’d like to have clear (see the blue arrows). When I’ve not remembered to turn autofocus back on when I’ve finished, I usually wind up with a blurred shot or two afterward. Now, while in the digital age you may think that losing one or two shots isn’t that big of a deal; however, what if you whipped your camera out of your bag after your last use, and you quickly snapped a shot at that perfect moment your child kicks the winning goal into the net?

There are some images we just don’t want to miss. Like I said in an earlier tutorial, always put your camera back to your personal ‘default’ settings. That way it’s ready at a moment’s notice for use the next time.

Just like putting your car keys in the right place so you can find them for work in the morning

Until next time; shoot ‘til you get it.

But wait, Teachinfourth…what if I don’t have IS on my camera?

All the more reason to utilize ‘the breath’ as often as you snap a photo.

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: About Your Camera
Part 3: Aperture
Part 4: Shutter Speed
Part 5: White Balance
Part 6: ISO
Part 7: The Breath
Part 8: The Rule of Thirds

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Wonderful World of Writing

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Lately, I’ve been trying to teach my class to be better writers.

’Tis not always the easiest of feats, I must say; as I pondered over how I should best go about this a few weeks ago, I was struck by a gloriously wonderful epiphany.

I decided to invite the students into my thought processes as I wrote—to take a journey into my brain for a short visit...which I did. I started this all off by writing an un-descriptive, lame ‘paragraph’ of one to three sentences; from there I would model to my students how I would read this text aloud, reread it, and change the wording until it sounded the way I wanted it to, causing it drip from the tongue like honeysuckle nectar.

The first mini-selection I wrote on my own, but for the others I invited the students to offer up suggestions and we rewrote these—on ensuing days—together.

And now, I present you with the final versions of creative writing from my motley crew of fifth graders...

I didn’t want to go to school today. I was really tired.

When the alarm on my phone pierced the early morning darkness, I realized that I had no desire to go to school today. As I tried to pry my eyes open, it felt like my eyelids were glued in place. I felt completely exhausted; I wanted to stay in bed all day and do nothing but rest.

Last week, Mr. Z said that we couldn’t use pronouns. It was hard.

Last week, Mr. Z decided to challenge the class not to use pronouns for one whole hour. At first, I thought that this would be a piece of cake, but was I ever wrong! It was extremely hard and that hour felt like a million years. It got even worse when that loudmouth, *Joey, suggested that we pay one bonus buck for every pronoun we used in class! Man, that stunk for those people who used pronouns! Luckily though, Mr. Z said that he would pay all of us one bonus buck for every pronoun he used. It was awesome.

We read a story in class today. We made salsa. It tasted good.

We read a story in class today called Carlos and the Skunk. It was about a boy named Carlos who was trying to impress his friend, Gloria; however, it turned out terrible! Carlos tried to pick up a skunk by its tail that they had nicknamed two toes. As a result, Carlos got sprayed from head to shoes. I loved the story, because it was hilarious!

Carlos’ family had a fun tradition of making homemade salsa, and the recipe for the salsa was at the end of the story. Mr. Z surprised our class by bringing all of the ingredients (except garlic) to make this deliciously zesty recipe.

The fragrant odor of cilantro filled the classroom as we watched Mr. Z make the salsa. My mouth was watering. We had to read the story again with partners (if we wanted) with good expression while the next batch was being made. The whole time I was reading, I was thinking about the salsa and how good it would taste.

Finally, it was time. Mr. Z broke out the bags of chips; my taste buds were begging me to taste the salsa. Even though *Joey said that it was disgusting, to the rest of us it tasted like summer was already here.

It snowed. I like the snow. It’s pretty. I wish it snowed more than it has.

It was Sunday morning; I was nestled and snug in my soft, warm bed. When I opened my bleary eyes, I had to shield them from the brightness flooding my room. I groaned and rolled out of my bed feeling like a zombie emerging from its grave for the first time.

I slowly dragged myself over to the window and opened the blinds—seeing a Narnian world of whiteness. I could feel the icy coolness of the outside as I pressed my cheek against the frosty window. A warm fire seemed to burn deep within my soul. My eyes widened as I gazed at the snow, drifting from the heavens on gossamer angel wings, and settling on the roofs of the houses and yards in the neighborhood; it was like the sugary rooftops of gingerbread houses. It made me think of Christmas all over again.

*Name has been changed so as to protect the guilty.

Weekly Kodachrome - Frosty Crossing

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It snowed.

It hasn’t done much of that this year.

But it sure can look great when it does.

Adventures & Misadventures of Daily Living
Did you take a photo in the past seven days that made you smile? If so, feel free to include it in the linky below. 

Remember, by adding your photo into the Weekly Kodachrome meme you are agreeing to do one of the following: display the linky or button to your post, or link back to this post so that everyone gets a little more exposure for the image they’ve uploaded. Those who don’t help to ’share the love’ will have their links removed. You can find the code for the linky here.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Media of the Week - The New Kid

Pin It A few years ago - and a school ago - I worked with students making short films. They were to write, direct, act in, and edit each of the films. This particular little movie was one of my favorites.

And yes, in every movie I was the Teacher, Mr. Jorgensen.

Talk about typecasting...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Another Valentine's Day

Pin It I was driving home from school tonight. Evening was settling in, and the sky threatened snow, but it had yet to make good on its threat.

As I drove, “It’s too Late,” by Carole King came on on the radio. As the song progressed, it reminded me a record mom used to play back when I was a kid. My thoughts turned to Valentine’s Day when I attended Summit Valley School a lifetime ago…the memories of making valentine holders and attaching these to the sides of our desks. Eating cupcakes with whipped frosting. Passing out cards with cartoon characters on them to everyone in class—plus that one special card for the teacher that came in every 32-count box of valentines.

I my mind drifted to my own class’ party earlier today. I had wanted to give a card that would be something unlike the typical usually given out; yet it had to be something amazing and fun at the same time. So, again this year I decided to give the kids a card of my own making.

Twenty minutes later, with the aide of Photoshop, this is what had emerged.

Of course, it was printed in black and white so as to save the wear and tear on the cartridges of the color printer. Also, it said that it was from Mr. Z on the bottom instead of Teachinfourth (I thought I’d change that up so that you could print yourself a copy, and then tuck it away with your other prized Teachinfourth holiday possessions).

Needless to say, the card was a hit and had the exact results that I’d anticipated. Snatches of comments like, “Oh man…this is way too cool!” and “How did Mr. Z get these?” drifted to my ears over the music that was playing.

Over the course of the next five or so minutes, the valentines were passed out—ah that rite of passage of the elementary years…

I snapped back to the present for a moment as I drove under the underpass by the tracks, I again thought of my own years of Valentine’s Day. The outlandish dancing, the sugar rush, and the feeling that a relationship was never very complicated. If you liked her, you acted like an idiot and wouldn’t leave her alone until she either hit you, or told you that she liked you back.

Oh, how some things never change…

When my students begged me to play “The Party Anthem,” it was like a throwback to my own years in elementary school…they all began to dance insanely about the classroom, each claiming that he or she could do the shuffle. Of course, only one student proved that he was fully capable of it.

You got it; it was Joey.

Of course, walking around the classroom with a video camera inspired even more outrageous moves, as well as a dozen students begging me to put the video on YouTube – to all of which I deflected with, “Nope, not a chance…I don’t want to scare anyone out there.”

Than before I knew, it the day had reached its end. More than enough sugar had been consumed by the kids to put the most stalwart anti-nonsugarist into a tizzy. The bell sounded, and the kids left right before the rush had set in—and most likely—the coma inspired afterwards.

Sitting in my car, Carole’s song ended, and with it, the musings of the day.

Another Valentine’s had passed successfully, and I had survived. I switched the channel and kept on driving.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Weekly Kodachrome - Sunset over Utah Lake

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I stood gazing at the ice-kissed lake, glinting with the last rays of the setting sun. Deep indigo and elegant gold reflected back the remnants of the day. I stood on the graveled shoreline, contemplating the slabs of ice scattered over the top of the glacial lake, like ships frozen in a moment of time.

I stayed for quite some time as the fog on the distant shoreline intensified in strength and rippled across the waterfront like gossamer curtains. I waited until the sun sunk lower, engulfing the mountains into the molten ball of magma.

As the chilly breeze swept over the frozen tundra, I moved back to the warmth and security of my vehicle. Firing up the engine I drove home as darkness fell with a playlist full of tunes for company.

The perfect ending for a surreal day…and this week’s kodachrome.

Adventures & Misadventures of Daily Living
Did you take a photo in the past seven days that made you smile? If so, feel free to include it in the linky below. 

Remember, by adding your photo into the Weekly Kodachrome meme you are agreeing to do one of the following: display the linky or button to your post, or link back to this post so that everyone gets a little more exposure for the image they’ve uploaded. Those who don’t help to ’share the love’ will have their links removed. You can find the code for the linky here.

You might also want to check out Community Golbal. The most recent Kodachrome may be found by clicking the link on the top of the page, or simply click here.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Media of the Week - He's My Brutha

Pin It I was thinking of my family yesterday.

I really found myself missing them, too.

It’s funny because I can’t even remember the time that I saw my sister, Miya. All I know is that it was a long time ago.

Time goes steadily onward and days become weeks. Weeks become months. Months—if we’re not careful—can become years.

I called my brother and sister-in-law last night. It was great to hear their voices again. Granted, I just saw them this past Thanksgiving, but it was great to talk to them about what was going on in their lives and the most current events.

As I drove the byways and streets to arrive at my final destination last night—a rendezvous with a few friends—we filled each other in on the various happenings and happenstances of our lives.

Some minutes later when I finally hung up the phone, I can’t tell you how much I wanted to hop a plane and fly to New York.

I love my family so much, and my brother is simply awesome; here is just one of the reasons…

By the way, Yancy is the one singing. I thought I’d mention that just in case you didn’t know.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Moments with Joey - Defense Mechanisms

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SCENE 1, INTERIOR. MORNING. CLASSROOM. The teacher has just called up his second reading group. Five kids get up from their desks and move over to sit at the kidney-shaped table as the teacher passes out their books on reptile defenses. As the kids open their books, the teacher begins a discussion on some of the defenses they read about the day before.

TEACHER: So what defense have you guys been the most impressed with so far?

GIRL 1: I think that having poisoned fangs is a great way to protect yourself.

GIRL 2: Yeah, that’s probably the best protection.

BOY 1: The camouflage of some lizards and snakes is pretty cool.

BOY 2: It’s weird that some lizards’ tails come off so they can get away.

JOEY: I love the lizard that shoots blood out of its eyes; it’s awesome!

[There is a pause for about two seconds before the boy starts to make squirting noises and pantomimes liquid shooting out of both of his eyes. The entire table is silent for a beat; the other students and the teacher all look wordlessly at the boy.]

TEACHER: Joey, that is so creepy.

JOEY: You know what, Mr. Z? It sure would be cool if you could do that, too.

TEACHER: What, shoot blood out of my eyes?

JOEY: Yeah, but pepper spray!

TEACHER: Now why in the world would I want to do something like that?

JOEY: Well, you know…to spray the bad kids in class.


TEACHER: I think I’d prefer anti-kid juice.

JOEY: [Nodding] And then you’d spray the whole class with it, right?


TEACHER: Nope. I think I’d need it for only one student, Joey.

Fade to black.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Let's Blame the Schools

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I’ve heard things like this for years.

The students can’t read as well as they should: It’s the schools’ fault.

Our kids aren’t as proficient in mathematics as they should be: The teacher isn’t doing his job.

My child can’t write very well: It’s all because of Ms. So-and-So’s lack of teaching my child properly.

I’ve heard these types of things for years.

In fact, when No Child Left Behind was passed, I was in the infancy of my own teaching career. I do remember it being something that people were excited about—just like any other promise made by politicians. For example, when George Bush Sr. announced, “Read my lips, no new taxes,” the crowds went wild.

Could he make good on his promise?

I think we all know the answer to that.

Being an educator, I saw NCLB going into effect through different eyes than the cheering crowds at the pronouncement of George W. Bush that—in a nutshell—all American schoolchildren would be proficient in both reading and math by the year 2014.


The other day I saw an article to which I haven’t been able to relocate. In it the author asked a few questions such as: Do we expect police officers to end all crime by a certain date? For firefighters to stop all fires? For doctors to end all illnesses?

Let’s be realistic here…we don’t. However, we expect them to do their best and strive as they can to make this world a better place for us all.


While this editorial of sorts is not meant by any means to have the solution to the educational dilemma we face as a society, I do wish to address some basic concerns, as well as share some thoughts, that I’ve had for a long time.

First off, let’s get one thing straight…are there poor teachers in our schools? Of course there are. There are these proponents of apathy in every career field that we have available to us. These are they who clock in at the assigned time, and are gone the moment they are permitted to do so, putting in no extra effort other than the basics that are required—it’s the nature of the beast. Sadly, these types of teachers are those who cause all those in the field to be painted with the same negative stereotypical brush.

But you know what? I’ve worked in two different schools in my educational journey, and in these two schools I’ve seen very few of these types of teachers. Furthermore, these teachers do not ‘fly under the radar’ by any means. The other teachers know exactly whom they are, as does the administration (who often are trying to help them to do better), and many parents in the community usually know how to spot them. However, I’ve come to discover that these types of individuals are far and few in-between as a general rule. Sadly though, it is these types of teachers that tend to be remembered in our own varied backgrounds and experience. After all, we can all remember that awful teacher we had, and how much we hated that particular class or year in school.

Yet, in all honesty, most teachers that I know do their job, work hard, and often stay extra time at the school; frequently they will take work home because there simply isn’t enough time in the day to stay caught up. My first principal, Cindy Wright, once told me, “Teaching is one of those careers that will consume your entire life if you let it.” She then told me about finding balance and realizing that there is a time to go home and stop thinking about work. Even now - years later - I still find myself struggling to follow her advice…I worry about my students who are not achieving, I’m continually planning ways in which to better engage them, and putting in countless hours off the clock to make sure that this is happening.

Of course, not all teachers do this—but for the most part, I think a majority of them are doing the best the can, day in and day out. Most of them went into teaching because they wanted to make a difference; after all, one usually doesn’t go into education planning to get rich.

My own teaching career has been a rollercoaster of assessing, remediation, and more remediation. I’ve not known a year in teaching where I was not continually assessing students, and trying to think of ways to move them along further down the boulevard of knowledge.

It was a few years ago that I remember chatting with a kindergarten teacher. This teacher told me that in her class she had kids who came in knowing their first and last names (as well as how to spell them), all names of the basic colors and shapes, kids that could count to 10 or 50, and those that could even tell you all the letter names in the alphabet and basic sounds they made.

I was blown away…

She then went on to tell me about the kids who’d come in knowing hardly any of these things. When asked what their mom’s name was, they’d simply reply, “Mommy.”

Already—even in the first year of school—these two groups of students are clearly at an advantage and disadvantage in their education. In talking with a few parents about how their kids had learned these basic things, many of them gave responses like, “I have them watch PBS programs like Sesame Street,” “I read with them all the time and talk about the book,” and probably the most important of them all, “I spend time talking to them, explaining what all these things are.”

Even these, the simplest of things, can make a huge difference.

I remember talking to one parent (not in my school) in regards to this and her response was something to the effect of, “Teaching my kid? That’s not my job, they learn that stuff when they go to school.”

Already, this woman’s children are more at a clear disadvantage than many others.

I thought about Jimmer Fredette this morning. I thought of how skilled he is in basketball, too. To watch this guy on the court is like watching poetry in motion.

Now, whether or not you like Jimmer is totally irrelevant. The fact is he’s a better basketball player than I will ever be.

But why is this? Why aren’t I as good as Jimmer?

Oh, I imagine that a lot of it is simply athletic ability and hand-eye coordination. This plays a big role. However, I think that there’s something else, too.


I’ve played basketball before, and I’m not bad, but I’m not that great at it, either…mostly because I never practice. The reason I don’t practice is probably because it’s not important enough to me to invest the time to do so.

But what if I wanted to become better? What would I need to do?

Let’s say that I sign up for a basketball class with a coach, and he shows me different methods and skills I can use in my playing.

So, while I’m with him, I do what he says. “Now practice this at home.” He tells me.

I go home and sit on the couch. Since I know he’ll be checking in on me the next time I go to his class—and he’ll ask me if I’ve practiced—I head outside for five minutes, shoot a couple of times, dribble the ball with my heart half into it, and then stop because my favorite television show is slated to come on.

I drop the ball and count it as time served.

Now, compare that to someone else who goes to the same coach, and gets the same instruction that I did—we’ll call him Jimmer. Jimmer heads home and then spends an hour each day on the court, trying to master the skills he’s been taught. He keeps shooting until he can make the shot and practices dribbling with both hands.

We both return to the coach, and both report that we went out and practiced.

And really, we did; however, one of us was trying with all his heart and wanted to get better, while the other one of us was just serving time.

So, who is going to become the better basketball player?

Every year I have students in my class who do something quite similar to this. I have the student that is taught a skill, given an assignment, and then goes home—knowing that this is practice of what he’s already been taught. Often it either gets done halfheartedly (to get it over with), or he comes back the next day having not finished it at all, but armed with a barrage of excuses. Now compare this to the student who not only completes the assignment, but the one who tries their very best and goes above and beyond.

Who is going to become the better reader, writer, or mathematician?

Now, let’s change up the scenario just a little bit. Let’s pretend that after my basketball class I went home, and there I have a friend that’s better at basketball than I am who says, “Hey, how about if I watch you practice and give you some pointers? Maybe even practice with you for a while?” After all, it’s more often easier to do something when we have somebody at our disposal with a little more knowledge than we do.

Chances are, I’m going to get better at basketball because he’s going to see the errors I’m making, and he’ll point out the places I need to improve. In other words, he’s going to help me to hone my skills as a ballplayer.

Compare this to coming back home after practice, trying to remember what the coach said, and applying it. Whether this practice is with all my heart, halfhearted, or not at all, none of these will be nearly as powerful as having an expert there along with me, helping to guide me as I try to improve.

Now, if you put this in an educational context, you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.

Can parents make a difference? Indeed they can.

In fact, I’ve noticed over the years that those students who generally excel in school, who are the higher readers, and those who comprehend math concepts are the students whose parents are involved.

Not always, but nearly always.

The students who are behind in assignments, are lower readers, and are poor academic achievers as well are usually—but not always—those with parents who are not involved.

Having a parent there with you can make all the difference, but it does take patience, effort, and most of all…time.

A past colleague of mine received a letter from a parent that informed her that she didn’t appreciate homework being sent home. She also went on to let the teacher know that it was the teacher’s job to educate her child. She said that when her child came home from school, that this was her time to spend with her daughter, and they couldn’t be bothered with things like schoolwork.

I thought that this was kind of funny…after all, when we go to a doctor we don’t fully expect that the doctor will be the one to heal us in a moment or two; however, we follow his directions when he lets us know the things that will make us better: we rest when he asks us, we take the medication he prescribes, and we make sure that we’re doing what he recommends because we want to get better.

Education is not something that happens only during the time school is in session, it happens in a thousand little moments all throughout life. It is a constant and consistent thing that should be nourished and helped along the way.

Also, education is a partnership.

The coach, the mentor, and the athlete are all working together for the betterment of the athlete, in much the same way that a teacher, parent, and student are working together for the education of the child.

It’s a win-win-win team when all are doing what they should.

Now, before I conclude, let me address one more little thing: The parent who works hard with their child and still sees little to no progress.

Well, back to Jimmer.

While Jimmer most likely has more athletic ‘talent’ than I do, I can still become a better basketball player than I currently am. We all have different areas in which we excel. A parent who has a struggling student—and all three parties are working hard to overcome it—shouldn’t be discouraged by this. After all, in comparing our own levels, we should well be aware that if we compare ourselves to how well we’ve done in the past, we are more likely to have an accurate marker of our achievement and progress. If I judge my progress based solely on Jimmer’s ability, and how close I am to matching up to him, I will always find myself lacking and become discouraged.

There are those of us who simply struggle. However, having something like a learning disability gives us a challenge to work at and then finally overcome. Just be aware that the more we ‘dis’ our ability, and compare ourselves with those around us, the more discouraged we’ll become. We need to keep plugging away. We need to keep taking those shots from the 3-point line trying to make it. We should keep on dribbling that ball. After all, it’s through the consistent practice and work that we’ll find ourselves discovering that we have more ‘ability’ than we perhaps originally thought.

One more thing about Jimmer and then I’m through; it was something he said at a basketball camp to the hundred or more kids who attended. He challenged them to reach for their dreams:

“I set a goal…I went out and worked as hard as I possibly can every single day, I saw my dreams start to come true. Now, I’m from a small town, I’m probably from a smaller town than almost all of you guys that are in here…no one thought I could go up and play in the NBA, no one thought I could be a division one basketball player. No one thought I could be reaching these dreams that I’m reaching today. But I did! And the biggest thing is, it’s because I went out there and I worked as hard as I possibly could every single day…My challenge to YOU is to go out and do it. Go out and reach your dreams. Whatever it is, it doesn’t have to be playing basketball…like I said, instruments, schoolwork, it doesn’t matter what it is, I challenge you guys to set a goal…that you want to reach later on in your life. Write it down, okay? Then post it up, right above your bed. So every single night, you’ll see it and you’ll be thinking about the goal that you want to accomplish. If you guys really put in the effort every single day, you guys can do it and I promise you that.”

—Jimmer Fredette

Police officers are not able to end all crime. It’s impossible for firefighters to stop all fires. It’s unrealistic to expect doctors to cure all illnesses. We shouldn’t expect everyone to be to the same standard by a certain time, either.

However, should we stop trying to do any of these things?

Absolutely not.

It was Dory from Finding Nemo who reminded us that we simply need to ‘keep on swimming’ in order to make progress to finally get to where we need to be.

...and that is exactly what I plan on doing.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Weekly Kodachrome - Heavenly Tides and Whitecaps

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The sun beat down from the heavens; the underside of the cotton-ball clouds were gray with shadow—mountainous peaks of condensation adrift in a cerulean ocean.

Finally, I pulled my car to the side of the road and paused to watch these silvery-white vessels traveling on their journey over the airy waves.

I took a picture, climbed back into my car, and continued on my own voyage.

Adventures & Misadventures of Daily Living
Did you take a photo in the past seven days that made you smile? If so, feel free to include it in the linky below. 

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Moments with Joey - Locked Doors

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SCENE 1, INTERIOR. AFTERNOON. CLASSROOM. The teacher has released his students for the day; as he walks to the front of the room and starts to get ready for the next week, he notices fifth grade boy lingering behind in the classroom.

JOEY: Mr. Z, I’m sorry about talking so much in class today. I know why you sent me to Australia .

TEACHER: Well, you do know that I still like you, right?

JOEY: Yeah.


TEACHER: You know, deep in my heart I have a little room that has the name ‘Joey’ engraved on the door.

JOEY: Really?

TEACHER: Yep, I keep it locked.


JOEY: Yeah, you have to contain that ferocious and dangerous monster that’s in there, right?

TEACHER: Well, I have to keep myself safe somehow…


JOEY: You better add some extra locks.

[Fade to black]

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Endings and Beginnings

Pin It When I arrived home, the blinking orange light was a telltale sign that the end of an era had truly begun. This was only one indication that my good friends had moved; it was obvious from the cars no longer parked in their stalls, the darkened windows at their home, and now the absent name of the Wi-Fi connection we’d shared for the past four years.

We’d been neighbors and friends for five great years, through the thick and through the thins of life…the borrowing of eggs, invitations to run to the store on quick errands, planning and execution of block parties, phony messages from the future, cupcake adventures, target shooting, and everything else that came with ease which would now, finally, be over.

Marc and Jen had officially moved.

Gone are my neighbors from three doors down.

I thought of all this, and the days where visiting consisted only of walking the distance some would traverse to reach the mailbox the edge of their yard.

I watched the blinking orange light on the Apple wireless booster for a few seconds longer; then, I switched it off.

New days now lie ahead, and visits will require the use of vehicles and lengthier passages of time. In other words, it looks as though my own little world must get just a little bit bigger.
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