Saturday, August 16, 2008

a great way to start the year...

Well there is now one week in the history books for the 08-09 year. Here on Saturday morning I am kind of in a daze in just how exhausting this week was. My team has 1st hour prep which I have now learned is the worse possible thing to have because it makes the afternoons sooooo long. Another factor adding to feeling beat up is that I am teaching 5 periods of Science this year and having to give the same lesson five times a day is very mentally draining.

But when I checked my email this morning I was given the most incredible inspiration I could ever imagine. Here is the email:
Hey Mr. S, I just wanted to take a moment to say Thank You. My son James is in your second period class and on Friday he came home from school extremely excited. It seems you gave an in depth chemistry lecture about atoms and elements. Oh boy was he super interested. He in turn gave me and my wife the lesson all over again to tell us how cool chemistry is. I have to say that this is the first time ever he came home from school actually thinking about what he wanted to be when he grows up. Thank You Very Much!
I teach to hopefully inspire and if I was able to already do that the first week of school then I cannot wait to see what I am able to do for the next 175 days.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

NOW it has begun...

Even though on the calendar it shows that I have now been in school for 2 weeks (3 if you consider all of the countless meetings I had to attend before the kids showed up), it was not until today that it became official. Here I am on a Saturday afternoon as my friends are off having pool parties and going to movies I am here at my favorite coffee shop grading papers.

As if I needed more proof in how this is a true vocation for me, I really do enjoy grading papers. Yes it is a lot of work but for me it is tangible reflection on how well I taught the information. If they did well, I feel satisfied by the results and if I find that they struggled, then as I am grading I am thinking of ways to go back and reteach the information. Regardless of how good you feel about your teaching skills, what it really comes down to is the results you achieve.

[But I will admit that a nice cold "adult beverage" would taste pretty good right now]

Sunday, August 17, 2008

pursuing victory with honor in the Olympic pool

With a title like this I am sure you are thinking this is yet another Michael Phelps article. It is not. Oh sure I am just as blown away and proud of what Phelps did in this Olympics but believe it or not, his 8 gold medals is not what I will remember the most from the "Water Cube" in Beijing.

What I will remember are the actions taken by Dara Torres.

My admiration of Dara goes well beyond the fact that she has won 3 medals in her fifth Olympics and that she is doing what she is doing at the age of 41. What impressed me the most was what she did on Saturday in the semifinals of the 50-meter freestyle and it had nothing to do with the time she reached.

As all the swimmers were coming out of the ready room for the heat, Therese Alshammar from Sweden noticed that her suit had ripped and was hastily trying to fix it but just made it worse. As she raced back into the locker room to change, Dara frantically waved the other swimmers down from the starting blocks and explained to the people in charge that one of the swimmers was having to change. She was pretty adamant that it would not be fair to race until everybody was ready to give it their all. When Therese emerged with her "wardrobe malfunction" fixed, the race commenced and Dara came in first.

Here is this 41-year old athlete who put all of her individual medal hopes into this one event and would have been justified in totally being "in the zone" and only focused on the race. But instead of thinking only about winning, she was more concerned about doing the right thing. Therese Alshammar may not have been a major threat to Torres but in a sport where people win (or loose) by only one-one hundredth of a second, having one less competitor always improves your chances to win.

Even though Dara came in first at the semis, she ended up with a silver medal in the finals missing first place by that mind-blowing .01 seconds. For this event, though, a silver represented the true champion of the race.

So yes, I am very proud of Michael Phelps and all of the gold medals he won (you should have heard me yelling and screaming at the TV last night cheering the American team on). But when I talk about the Olympics in my class on Monday I am going to make sure all of my students are aware that the true Olympic "gold" was won by a 41-year old mom and it was represented by a silver medal.

Dara Torres is an athlete who truly knows the importance of pursuing victory with honor.

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