My Swan Song

I don’t know how much longer I will be in education, so I wanted to share this before it is to late…

These are little things that I do throughout the year that seem separate, but I tie them together on the last day of school. And as my students, other teachers, and myself are in a pool of tears. We say goodbye. 

On my first day of school. I introduce myself.

Welcome POWERPOINT (fear)

After our first extremely challenging problem that usually(purposefully) makes a student want to rip their hair out. I show this clip, and as I show this clip I stand right next to the board just staring at them, turning the volume up throughout the clip. As it finishes I lean forward and I am usually choked up because this clip just hits me in the feels, I say “this is all I ever want from you…… Your best!!!!” and I tell them “I promise …..Promise you will get mine”….”I’m tearing up right now….lol”

Weeks later  we talk about motivation, hopes, and dreams. I play this clip from Dan Pink. After the video each student writes their sentence, even though some can’t at the time, I tell them its due two weeks before the end of school and they laugh and think I’m joking.

Months later, during or a little before anti-bully week. I show this. “its a little longer, but so worth the watch!!!”

When the video ends I have 5 writing prompts on the board.  

1) I have been bullied….what,where,why,how

2) I have bullied…..what,where,why,how

3) No one knows I want to be ………

4) what are the names and labels others have given me…..

5) what are names and labels that I have given myself……..

I lust let them spill their hearts. I collect it when they finish. I have had a girl write 8 pages to me.  

The next day I have each student write something honest and nice about everyone in the classroom, or any student in any of my classes.  I created a Google form to make this organized and easy to do.

Then on the day before the last day of school, I give my swan song, My last lecture. “inspired by  Randy Pausch’s Last lecture “

This is my last lecture:

Upon finishing the last lecture I have a sealed envelope for each student. It contains all the wonderful things that were said about them and a personal message from me to them. I include about their writings from the Dan Pink video and their writings from the bully video.  I promise myself that I spend at least 30-45 mins writing to each student.  So as soon as I finish my last lecture I tell them to go ahead and open your letter.   Here are a few examples.

A , B , and C

So, In a pool of tears, we say goodbye

I love my students

“Awake my soul”

“…And now my heart stumbles on things I don’t know
My weakness I feel I must finally show”

Mumford and sons -Awake my soul-

Well, upon returning from TMC my educational career has taken a turn.  And I owe it to TMC. Actually I owe it to the people that make up TMC. You are the most encouraging, kind, resilient, and dedicated human beings that I have ever had to pleasure to meet.

Now to be honest… I am not good at making great lessons and tying in real life concepts to incorporate higher level thinking while never straying from curriculum mandates and state objectives. I admit it, I can fake that in a lesson plan, but I just can’t do that like others I have met. But, and this is a but that Sir mix-a-lot would turn his head for, I have a gift to motivate the un-motivated.  And I want to put that to the test. So I quit my job.

I am no longer a Math Teacher.   I am now the Department Head and Lead teacher at Brooke county’s alternative school program.  I get the honor of teaching English, Science, History, Math from grades 6-12.  The alternative school is for students that have extremely poor attendance, expulsions for any reason, many suspensions, and students that transfer from the youth correctional facility.  And while friends #@jamidanielle truly worry about my safety. I can honestly say that this school year has been my most exciting school year I have ever gone into.

Today was my first class, I started out lead teaching a lesson about misleading graphs and how the world and news are trying to fool you and every student was attentive. I mean every student.  Then they worked on individual assignments until lunch, then participated in physical activity, and then two hours on a credit recovery program. We finished the day with a video from Ukraine’s got Talent  because students taking art history were learning about mediums. They were still hungry for knowledge at the dismissal bell.  I have never been so happy in my entire teaching career.

Thank you TMC,  Thank you for giving me the courage to take this educational leap of faith.  For all of you that commented on my blog  with encouraging remarks… thank you….   For @lisahenry and @samjshaw sharing their previous blogs and their ups and downs with me….Thank You…. For people that I have never met reaching down to me with an out stretched hand and helping me up……THANK YOU……for @jamidanielle who has never left my corner… you are my shock paddles when I think my heart stops…..Thank You!!!

Lend me your hand and we’ll conquer them all
But lend me your heart and I’ll just let you fall
Lend me your eyes I can change what you see
But your soul you must keep, totally free…

…In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
And where you invest your love, you invest your life

…Mumford and Sons-Awake my soul-

I love teaching… it is not what I do…It is who I am

I am a fraud “my time at TMC14”

TMC14 is real!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ok as I am on the verge of a complete nervous breakdown, an identity crisis, and a feeling of complete inferiority. I ask why. DID tmc do this to me, Kinda…. I came here expecting great things and I am bombarded with so many things beyond great. I then reflect back to Wheeling, West Virginia and reflect to my practices. I thought I was pretty good, on the leading edge of technology, implementing project based where I could and idolized by students. I felt as if I were a good teacher. Then I show up in Jenks. To be surrounded by this many people that are this far above me in every area of teaching, learning, growing, intellect, honesty, humor, and kindness, hit me like a stake through my heart. I truly feel as I am nothing compared to those I met here. And going from feeling like top dog to nothing is crushing to everything that I held dear to me. So if I am not a great teacher…… WHO AM I
I got the honor Thursday night to sit with amazing people sharing their fears, hopes, and personal secrets of their life in teaching. They were so honest, so completely naked, and I, wanting to join in “fit in” offered some of my fears but then as I awoke today I feel dirty. My heart is heavy, because I lied. Well I didn’t completely lie I just shared certain fears and strengths that manipulated people to see me the way I wanted them to see me. We were all skinny dipping but I had a flesh colored bathing suit on “with painted on abs”. So, to those who were sitting and being honest Thursday night, thank you, and I am sorry. Even as I write this blog it is really hard not to write things to manipulate others into liking me. So if I can’t be honest to you…….. WHO CAN I BE HONEST WITH?
And as I enter my 9th year of teaching, I could be entering my last year. There is a high possibility that I could be going into sales and this conference confirms my movement into that field, because I feel so inadequate….. so beyond inadequate. I feel defeated. My crisis is……. Teaching is not what I do….. It’s who I am….. but if I can’t teach…………..WHO AM I????

Respect (to get it one must give it)

I grew up with family values that I must always respect my elders, teachers, and everyone I came into contact with.  However, students these days don’t have the same values, I know some do, but a lot don’t. So on the second day of class I do a little name learning game.

I have the kids tell me their full name and something about themselves and I relate a personal story to their story, I try to make it funny or entertaining which keeps kids attentive. but I will ask three kids at a time and then go back saying their names. ask three more and then go back saying all six kids names, ask three more… you get the drift. So by the end of the game I will have memorized all thirty students.  I will say their names in different order each time, which helps memorize all the names.I then go on with rules and classroom expectations, then show some sort of TED movie, but before they leave I will go through the class saying all their names again.

I will do this with all 180 students I have, but the trick is THIS.

The whole week I will walk the halls calling out each of their names as I see them. Some will laugh that I am doing this and I will forget some, but within the first week I will have 90% of them memorized.

My point…

The kids love this. I remember last year half way through the year a student was upset because their teacher didn’t know their name. I don’t want a child to feel like that with me, with my class. 

So by doing this little game, the kids see that I am here for them and it sets the tone for the rest of the year..

The students’ first day of school (be different!!!)

The First Day of School

The most famous book for new teachers is The First Days of School by Harry Wong (not kidding)  I have read this book cover to cover multiple times.  And a section of that book still sticks out in my head to this very hour is a picture of a teacher standing at the classroom door shaking hands with each student with a huge Cheshire Cat smile on his face.  Now in no way am I disagreeing with that being a great way for a new teacher emulate, but if you want to set the tone for the year that this class isn’t going to be like any other math class that they have ever had then Harry Wong’s approach, while great, won’t cut it.

So, how do I take the approach a little differently.

  1. Classroom is completely pitch black with a PowerPoint on the wall just saying welcome
  2. Music is playing in the background (usually mysterious or dark i.e. Gary Jules “Mad World” or Death Cab for Cutie “I will follow you into the dark”)
  3. I am standing in the door way in the three piece suit not paying one ounce of attention  to the students
  4. Some students will be very afraid, some will laugh it off, overs stay silent even though they are sitting next to their friends, some students act out, but unless a student is in danger of being bullied, I will not even look at them while they file in.
  5. The bell rings for their first math class
  6. I still don’t speak
  7. I don’t take role
  8. I wait for the lost children to show up late
  9. This is where all kids get quiet. The first late student I just stare. They will say are you Mr. Kent and I will barely nod my head. They will ask where to sit, and I will just give a hand gesture of anywhere in the room.
  10. While I am now behind my podium (all eyes are on my) I’ll clear my throat and while they are not realizing it, ill advance the screen on the PowerPoint.
  11. The number 2,000,000 is showing
  12. My first words to them are… Did you know that this your new favorite number?  And I’ll wait.  Then I repeat well it was your new favorite number. This is how many minutes you have until you wear one of these. (I advance the slide to show a green cap and gown for graduation). I finish this slide by saying something along the lines of this is all the time you have, so don’t let even one minute go to waste.
  13. My next slide I pick my voice up higher and lighter, much less James Earl Jones and more exciting and bubbly
  14. I saw Welcome. Welcome to the next chapter in your book of life. However, this chapter has a 2 million minute time frame and you will never be able to revisit it. So let me introduce myself.
  15. (next slide) I read it verbatim to them. I am Smart, Mathematical, Funny, Compassionate, Handsome, Talented, I am Mr. Kent, Who are you?
  16. As the kids sit there, I keep silent, some will talk. Some will say their name and then maybe some will break the mold and say I’m smart, I hate math, I like math, I’m pretty, and all kinds of other colorful things
  17. I then still don’t really pay attention to them lol    very stern the whole time until this moment….
  18. I then leave my podium and look around and say I think you are afraid. WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF??????
  19. I leave a few seconds before introducing the quote of all quotes
  20. “Our Deepest Fear” by Marianne Williamson which is sometimes wrongly accredited to Nelson Mandela but made popular by Samuel L. Jackson in the movie COACH CARTER (in POWERPOINT)
  21. After finishing reading that I usually am very soft spoken and let the words stay on the board and let it sink in.
  22. I finish the first day with a TED video from the internet.  Usually Rives’ poetry. And end class with a discussion about hopes and dreams the kids have in high school
  23. No math
  24. No syllabus
  25. No names
  26. No bureaucratic non sense
  27. I make their math class begin, end, and “trying” to do everything in the middle different than anyone else in the world.

Ok if your still reading wow    thank you

Like I said….. I’m different and I don’t have all the answers and I promise you I never will. But I also know that my students go home and when their parents ask how was your first day of school. Math class is mentioned      good or bad    The class is mentioned.


Welcome POWERPOINT (fear)

First blog ever!!!: My Educational Philosophy


Hello, Welcome to my blog.

I’m using this blog to share ideas, lessons (my weakness), and my two cents of a very different educational philosophy.  So let’s start out with my educational philosophy.

 I have been in so many math classes throughout the course of time and have been bored to tears, and I love math. So, why was I bored?  Was it the lessons, nahhhh, great lessons help, but can’t make a dynamic class. Was it the difficulty, nope; however, correct level of difficulty is crucial. Was it lack of engagement on my part, maybe, I mean if I never gave a teacher a chance then they had no chance right???

            So what engages a student, what makes them want to be there, what makes them want to come to your class even if their sick in bed? So I ask you to think for a second….. Where did you go last time you were sick and shouldn’t have gone… a party, a new movie on opening night (guilty of this one), a wedding because you had to be there for the bride and groom, a comedy club, a concert???  What I am trying to get at is why can’t we make school like this. Why can’t our classrooms be a comedy club, why can’t walking into my class feel like walking into the movies? Why can’t every day students be so excited to walk into class because they feel like they would miss something if they skipped. 

            Well, this is me. This is my classroom. I make them laugh, cry, love, collaborate, share, respect, and cherish, and I am not even talking about the math yet. I have had many very sick students in my class, lol. This is what I have been trying to do for the last seven years and going to continue to try to do until the day I retire. 

             This is just my first blog and wanted to just get my feet wet.  I will elaborate on how I make a dynamic classroom, share a few of the interesting lessons I have, and collaborate with anyone to make myself and others just a little better. “baby steps”