2017-09-18 Published 1st Article

Near the end of July, I received a random email message from someone associated with Edutopia….I thought to myself that either this is one of my friends playing a practical joke on me or this email was sent to me by accident. The email asked if I would be willing to write an article on Visible Mathematics for the educational resource, and it wasn’t a hoax.

My reaction was skeptical at first, I had a hard time believing that the amazing resource of Edutopia would want something from me. You have to understand three major problems with this: 1) I am a physics, math, and technology nerd….writing is a huge challenge for me and I don’t think I write very well; 2) Like Dave Burgess says, being creative is hard work (it’s like being good at anything, it requires a lot of hard work); and 3) The article is going to be very public!

The challenge to overcome these huge obstacles was almost enough for me to choose not to pursue writing an article about mathematics. I have a fixed mindset regarding my writing, but I am working on it, so I tried to write the article.

In my first attempt, I wrote a narrative, with myself removed from center stage. Recreating a time when visuals in mathematics made an impact on students learning. I spent a week of writing, revising, and seeking feedback, before, I sent it to the kind folks at Edutopia. Their response was gentle, kind, but let me know that was not what quite the idea they wanted to capture. Although this type of feedback normally shuts me down, I am working on a growth mindset in my writing and I wanted to persevere.

In my second attempt, I focused on a personal story. In my story, I learned something so powerful I will never forget it and use it instructionally whenever I can. I won’t spoil your read of the article, but the learning was powerful and changed me as an educator. The second story flowed out and I was happy with it, so I tried one more time sending it back to the great folks at Edutopia.

Eureka! They were almost there, the tough job for them was on. The editors had to figure out how to display it, clean up my horrible grammar, and get it ready for publication. With ease the process seemed seamless as the folks at Edutopia put it all together.

The night before it was to be published, I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve, the anticipation was killing me.

When I woke up the next morning, I saw it was published, and I let out a squeal. I awoke my wife by jumping on the bed, singing, “Do you know what today is…” Well she didn’t appreciate that at all! After the morning fog wore off, she was very happy for me, and I learned my excitement could at least wait until the sun had risen.

I also find it amazing that writing is a process that shows us how unorganized our thinking is, and it always feels so good when a well written piece is produced. I am so so grateful for the experience and for the great folks at Edutopia for working with me, despite the number of revisions. As I continue my growth journey in my writing, this was a story that I am excited to tell. Happy Monday and have a week worth writing about!

#makeschooldifferent Challenge: Accepted (as I understand it)

From the first time I watched the above piece by the amazing teacher, Taylor Mali, I find myself shaking my head, goosebumps rising, and, by the end, yelling, “Hell Yeah!”

This evening, I was challenge by the amazing @mathprincessC to write a blog about #makeschooldifferent, to which I am responding here.

I admit, this is a challenging piece, I am sure in my rush to respond, I am missing many things, but I have a few things on my mind, and here we go.

peter-griffin_400x400I am a total goofball (think Peter to left), so I am able to make most serious and difficult situations a little less difficult through my bad jokes, and silly antics. The limit of productivity approaches the zero, as the function of my distance to productive center simultaneously approaches zero.

I encourage people to reach for more than they are capable of, I want others to see the amazing potential they have, and the value they bring to our world each and everyday.

I try to make school different by reaching one student everyday, to make that personal connection, build relationships, and make at least one positive interaction with at least one person per day.

To poorly paraphrase Gandhi, I make school different by being a model of the change I wish I would see in the world. gandhi-21

I challenge teachers to develop and foster relationships, I ask them to care, I want them to see their growth from day to day, week to week, and month to month. Focus on growth, we are all getting better together.

Those are some of the ways that I make school different, I believe if we change the culture through positive discourse, building relationships, and foster a growth mindset, we will all be a lot better off.

I guess what Taylor Mali says, I make schools a better place, because I make a difference, what about you?