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Fourth graders received sycamore seedlings, yesterday, from the Missouri Department of Conservation. The trees are in celebration of Arbor Day (still a month away), and have accompanying literature to explain the best planting practices, as well as the benefits to living amongst trees (besides getting to meet Ewoks).
One student gleefully announced, "I never thought I would be getting a tree at school!"
To have 13 on the list is always impressive.
This time around, seven of students have straight A's,
and the rest have a combination of A's and B's (or all B's).
Principal Bozarth just sent this message to the staff:
I also have reflected on the way that many of us approach the end of the school year. We have all been guilty of counting down the days to summer break as we eagerly look forward to summer vacations, warmer weather, and extra time off. My challenge to all of us this year is to remember how much we missed our kids this time last year. Let's not think of these last 44 days as some finish line or light at the end of the tunnel, but rather as 44 opportunities to love & teach our kids. Let's finish well together, and embrace whatever changes may come with optimism & hope!
That positive message reminded me of something I wrote a few years ago as a Professional Pet Peeve:
Teacher friends, the sooner you start counting down to the end of the school year, the longer it will seem to take.
Sometimes we make things harder for ourselves, resulting in our own frustration, than we should. And it's really not that hard to figure things out.
We find ourselves in the lame-duck days of our year - those last weeks when mandating tests are complete and the last day of school is still ahead of us. Now is the time to experiment with your dream lessons and test new methods. Now is the time to step out of the comfort zone a bit more than usual. But it is not the time to relax your expectations and stop teaching.
As much as you anticipate the end of another year, please don't make it public. Not only will you make this period seem longer for yourself, but you will send the wrong message to your students. It may be a perceived message, but it is a message, nevertheless.
I have a dream that one day I will come to class and people will surprise me with the news that it is the last day of school. I don't want to see it coming.
I would rather my students leave me with a different message:
When we analyze even the most innocent of our actions and habits, we may find that we do more harm than good. That's why we need to analyze what we do. That's how we develop more sophisticated philosophies, and it's how we can answer more fully when challenged. It is important that we consider adult behaviors in our school, and not only student behaviors.
Leave the countdowns for the Christmas calendar - not the end of the school year. Even then, don't start more than 10 days ahead of the event. If you start too early, you're just fertilizing anxiety and distracting your students.
Here is a lesson about goals and grit.
Take a moment to watch this video:
Now for some questions:
I finished evaluating 11 applications for the summer's George Washington Teacher Institute at Mount Vernon in Virginia. Last year I analyzed 14 for an institute that never happened due to a pandemic. I was happy to do so. What follows are my suggestions based on my observations.
I first published these in January of 2020.
As I think about the experience of evaluating these applications, I want to figure out what I learned from it. I haven't always taken my own advice when applying for a teaching institute, but it helps to think about it. If you are an educator applying for acceptance to a scholarship to a location-based teacher institute, these hints may help you as well:
Remember that the application process is competitive, with only the top applicants being accepted every year. If you're not accepted this time, try again next year, but don't just send the same answers. Study them. Tweak them. Perhaps you'll make it on your second try, or your third try...
If you make it to North Park Mall any time soon, be sure to check out the artwork on display from local elementary schools. The first two pictured below are from current Hoggatteers, while the rest are from Hoggatteers who have passed into the fifth grade ranks.
Yesterday's new adventure was a trip to the plasma donation center on 32nd street. I've always heard about getting paid to donate plasma, but I've never tried it. After researching about BioLife's process, I decided to make an appointment and try it out.
I found a coupon online that earns $500 for the first five donations before a certain date, which compelled me to try it now rather than later.
There is more involved in the first donation than usual - a physical, a review of medical history, and the filling our of a lengthy questionnaire on the computer. In addition to a finger prick and a weigh in, the initial process took a couple of hours before I was ever shown to the process area.
Finally in the chair/bed, needle in arm, the process took about an hour - again, longer than normal, since they monitor first-timers for 15 minutes after the process. I don't know how the process works, but during regular intervals, while the donor repeatedly flexes his hand, plasma is extracted from the blood. In the alternating times, the donor relaxes the arm and blood cells are returned to the donor. At the end of the session, fluids are automatically added into the body to rebuild blood volume. It's not difficult, it doesn't hurt much, and people with deadly diseases are helped.
It's pretty simple, and I have already booked next appointment for later in the week (One may donate twice a week.).
Before you leave the facility, someone loads up some money on a debit card and sends you on your way. I know my coupon is a pretty good one, but I will also earn a bonus after my eighth successful donation. There is also a bonus if I refer someone to try the process for themselves (By the way, if you are at least 18, fulfill the requirements, and find yourself making a donation, tell them Mr. Hoggatt sent you!).
A year ago, she could not walk. She would black out, tingle in the extremities, and completely collapse to the ground with no warning. She only moved with a walker and with someone supporting her with a gait belt.
But on Friday, my daughter and I tackled the most difficult ropes, bridges, and ziplines course at Fritz's Adventure in Branson, climbing some 50 feet to the top of the building and descending through a series of obstacles, drops, and precarious climbs.
I couldn't help but remember the journey she has been on for the last several months. With a lump rising in my throat and the sting of tears in my eyes, I thought about her personal climb and difficult return to confidence and success.
It is with great honor and a soft heart that we completed the course together, Friday afternoon. We know our young lady is resilient, powerful, and determined, but Friday lent a concrete illustration to that knowledge.
The whole family took a well-earned trip to Branson in anticipation of our son's performance at the state archery competition. During the day before, we were able to take in the ropes courses and other climbing, tunneling, and sliding adventures at the 80,000 square-foot facility.
First up was the four-story Sky Trail ropes course. The four us us harnessed up and hooked onto the course for tight ropes, swinging bridges, rolling logs, and more along the 20-minute adventure. Afterward, the kids tunneled through a cement mixer to emerge through manholes, climbed through a water tower to slide back to ground level, weaseled through corkscrew climbing cages into storage containers, and meandered into a series of tree house mazes and obstacles. My son even tackle a set of warped walls.
The laser room was an interesting addition to the facility. In turn, we entered the room to avoid lasers with the goal of shutting down the system by pressing a set of buttons located around the perimeter of the room.
Then, after some ground training, my daughter and I attacked the TreeTops Course, quantified as "32 obstacles, including 11 ziplines and 2 death-defying free falls". This hour-long hike to the literal ceiling and back was taxing on the mind and the muscles, but our successes made the journey worth our while.
I heard this song on the radio, last Sunday, on the only radio station that would play it in our area - Carthage's KDMO 93.5. The only difference with the song on the radio was that it was the Pete Seeger version; here, I have posted a more modern version.
Sadly, Little Boxes describes how we have taught teachers to lead their classes for many, many years. For many years, I have advocated for being different, but it doesn't matter: while people like to tell us to think outside the box, what they really must mean is to make sure we teach every student using the same materials and the same methods.
How has that worked for us?
Could it be that government's answer to education is pretty faceless? Could it be that a teacher should know students before prescribing lessons? Our children are not numbers in the State Identification System! They cannot be "fixed" with a computer code or a patch.
What we have done for years - putting children in small groups, prescribing a program based on test performances, buying materials based on claims that they address the latest federal mandates, accepting shiny new programs because of a sales pitch - has not worked. In our class, we do things differently. We accept that every teacher has strengths and weaknesses, and yet we do not pigeonhole the teacher by making him teach with a script. We accept that students need more than a cold academic approach to knowledge and skills, but that other areas provide the foundation and must be addressed first and often.
I hope students who have me for a teacher do not all turn out the same. That is not my intention in teaching. I do, however, hope they can function with other non-boxes in a coherent society.
Behind the scenes at our fifth president's house, comes an interesting find - his personal seal being discussed on PBS's Antiques Roadshow. James Madison, often attributed as the "Father of the Constitution", requested a modest wax seal after his service as president of the United States, and this looks to be that seal. The monetary value, right or wrong, is none of my concern as much as the historical value as I imagine the contents and importance of any letters he may have sealed using this tool.
A little mystery brings life to a rainy March day. I presented 12 boxes to the class, and challenged them to find which of the brass brads in the tops were secretly wired together on the inside. Some boxes had one pair of complete circuits, while others had up to four; one "trick" box had no circuits at all.
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