What you see 3/11. I see 0311.

snowy drive

Today is a special holiday, kinda like a lot of others that are made up and only celebrated by the few.

This one is based upon a set of numbers that indicate a particular job that I held for a number of years.

Like it or not every workplace has a hierarchic way of organizing people, the job I used to hold was at the absolute bottom. There were days when I found bugs in my food, mostly just bees for some reason. Some days you looked under the tables and found roaches clinging to the underside. Some days we were served this beef stew in little envelops, the sucking noise the cold stew made as you scooped it up still turns my stomach.

Don’t get me started on the overcrowded living conditions.

If it was miserable outside, we were outside. There were days when 80 degrees felt freezing after living in 120. Sometimes 30 felt sweltering. Other times it was odd to be dry.

We had a saying, embrace the suck. Maybe that is what the job was all about, understanding how to deal with life when things didn’t go as planned. We lived that way for years that it just slowly became part of our souls.

Today is March 11th or 3/11. The job I had, infantry, was assigned the number 0311.

Odd how I sometimes miss the pain and chaos of it all.

At Ikea today.


I spent a few hours at Ikea today learning about design.

Here are a few things that stuck with me.

  1. Start with why. Selecting furniture is the very last thing we should be doing but it is usually the first.
  2. Colors – only stick with 3 colors max. Keep your color palette simple.
  3. Make sure you cycle through your anchor charts. When you are finished, take a picture, print and put them into a book/binder. Easy, clean access.
  4. Posture – lean in or back? Each has a purpose. Chairs and stools have a different purpose.

There is a training/PD space that we have our eye on to redesign. We were given advice on how to start that big process.

A few hours on a Saturday where worth giving up for the knowledge gain.

Final thought – we spend millions on curriculum but zero on design. I wonder why that is? Is it lack of understanding? Trust those who built the school knows whats best for kids? I have many more wonderings…

How do I become more like this dog?

dogWe followed this car today for about two miles. Hard to see in this image but on the right side there is a lab leaning out the window. It was cold enough that we could see its breath but that pup didn’t seem to find at all.

We sat right behind this car at two or three stops lights. Each time the dog was so far out the windows his shoulders were fully exposed. The whole time the pup was smelling the air and watch anything and everything that moved.

I spent the day trying to be more like my dog friend. Putting my full self in and taking time to take it all in.

With all my devices buzzing and ringing all day long making it very, very hard to be fully present.

It is kinda like listening, really listening when someone is talking. I feel many of us, me included, are aggressive listeners. We just wait for a pause before we start talking. We don’t talk to be understood, we talk to just talk.

My goal is to be more dog.

Working with humans is hard.

hug day

I sometimes dream of the day when the robots take over. Working with humans is just hard! Sometimes when some will take, take, take but never share, the gets a wee bit annoying. Are we not trying to help the same people?

Hidden agendas? I don’t think the robots will have those.

Two-faced? Nope. Robots have no faces!

(fyi… I’m 100% sure I am guilty of the above. I am human… for now.)

It was one of those days until I opened this little chocolate. It reminded me of something someone told me. You can only control yourself, take charge and make the day something.

There is much out of our control. If life hands you unfortunate things you can react either positively or negatively.

I should have saved that little foil wrapper and put it in my Jar of Awesome.

I chose to give the day a hug and enjoy!

Cutting edge or bleeding edge?


Years before there was an Apple watch there was the Pebble watch on Kickstarted. The pebble was unlike anything I had ever seen and I had to have it.

Maybe a year or so after backing the watch it arrived. The learning curve wasn’t too big but it was pretty amazing. I remember people thought it was nuts, no one wanted a watch that did things other than tell the time.

I am also always on the lookout for newer technologies or alternatives to what is already in existence. Anytime I step outside of the norm I am ready for issues. My tolerance level goes way up as I know I’m getting ready to spend tons of time making it work.

Yesterday I bought an Amazfit watch by a huge company in China but relatively unknown here in the US.

If I was given this watch as a gift I might now put that much effort into figuring it out. This makes me think of the classrooms and students. Choice drives more effort. How might we allow more choice and less rubrics? We saw a teacher today during a site visit who talked about how, in his experience, rubrics drove all projects to generally look the same.

These thoughts are still fresh and I have no idea how to bring them to life…yet. The classrooms we saw mimicked the actual world and not what you would typically see in an average high school classroom.

How might we…

  • create problem-based classrooms that were more like the actual world the kids will inherit?
  • allow for more student-generated questions without clear answers?
  • tolerate more risk?
  • make school suck less?

At home today…

I can count the number of times I have been sick. Once in 1991, 2000 and now 2018. I think it was all due to my family doctor growing up. When we would get sick he would just tell us to ride it out. I really can’t recall any medicine. It could have been a financial thing, medicine cost money which was something that wasn’t always available.

Today I watch Flint Town on Netflix, all eight episodes.

I am at a loss.

The water crisis alone is staggering, then the crime and loss of jobs. I can’t imagine what they face every single day.

I wonder how many of these issues are within our own communities and we don’t even know it.

I wonder if I am solar powered.

desk for post

This is my desk in the new building. The biggest change is I am no longer looking at a dumpster. My new view is maybe 200 feet of windows which allows all day sunlight to stream in.

One tiny change in perspective is sometimes all it takes.

We have a pretty big meeting coming up that has the potential to shift a lot of our focus for the upcoming year. I am pretty excited about it but also nervous. You know how it goes, people come in with thoughts and ideas and from time to time won’t let go. We are all like that. It is hard to let go.

There was an article I read about brainstorming just last night. The idea was to have the beginning of the meeting just brainstorming questions that you are trying to answer. This small technique helps really focus on what you are striving to do.

Why questions? There are no solutions in the questions.

Just pure questions.

So many times we show up with the solution already in our minds. Sometimes that makes it really difficult to listen to the other voices in the room.

I’m not sure if this technique will work but I am going to try my best to change the focus to some driving questions.

Sometimes I get frustrated waiting.


It seems the older my kids get the more waiting around I have to do. Somedays they don’t put shoes on until we are walking out the door like it is somehow the first time they have ever left the house. Other days there are times when they forget to brush their teeth and that is the day they decide to actually take the full two minutes to really brush them well. I am not always calm on days like that.

On Wednesdays, my daughter has her lessons so I wait in the car. Sometimes it is freezing cold and other times it is boiling hot.

Today I am waiting as Aidan is practicing percussion which basically means everything in his life is a drum. The counter, back of my car seat, dinner table… it can be rather annoying.

I just paid the bill for this month’s lessons. I kinda shudder at how expensive all of these lessons and equipment are.

Some days it makes me think of my own childhood, my lifelong dream was to play an instrument. That was not in the cards when I grew up for a number of reasons. My bucket list doesn’t have a ton on it. Play an instrument, visit South America and Antartica so I can finish my continent checklist, and a few other things. Maybe that is why I think these experiences are so important for my kids.

Some days I am proud that I can actually afford to pay for the opportunity. I am thankful for the school district that allows me to bring my kids with me to work and how much they value fine arts.

If I can shift my thinking just slightly, the waiting isn’t so bad.


Today my daughter stayed home sick. I think now I have a problem, Fortnite. I can totally see why the kids talk about it, watch videos of other people playing and can’t wait to get home to play again.

That got us thinking… what if we offered a summer class for teachers? Maybe have them play things like Minecraft and Fortnite, then explore various social media sites. The big idea is to learn a little bit more about the lives their kids lead.

Would this make a difference? Would knowing where your kids are at and investing time exploring those worlds might help make new connections.

It is kinda like showing up at one of your student’s sports games.

Then again maybe it is just a way for me to play these games at work and call it research.