Thursday, February 23, 2017


Ladies and Gentelmen,

There has never been a more perfect match for me than my husband Travis Barnes. No, he didn't hijack my laptop. I am truly saying this. The guy is my senior editor. I will let posts fly through the publishing process without him (like this one, because ehe will hate the piece). These unedited version will be many flaws to them, misspellings, un-conjugated, structurally unsound sentences. I am NOT a linguist. He knows the in's and outs of language and is just good at getting his point across. I am a full on Brian Regan stand-up act when I speak or write.

So I hand my latest email over to Trav to be edited. He and I watched a lot of Phineus and Ferb when the girls were younger, so I call him my smart-i-nator.

He can change my words from Brian Regan to C.S.Lewis...from 4th grade to grad school. I told him today that i was quitting. He makes me feel so dumb so often when he edits my work. He told me to shut up. That if anyone felt dumb it would be him. He said I regularly made him feel dumb. I asked him when do I, of all people, make him feel dumb. He told me when I start saying thing like i just added that to the Google classroom, and now it's flip flopped teaching and we can do about 5 more of those in then next 10 minutes. Did you check the Google Classroom for that?

So why am I spewing all of this you you here? Because we all have the things we are good at. For me, it is NOT writing. I butcher words and language. I have no idea why all two of you read every post I throw up on here. But you do. Trav tells me that while I am right, I do have the vocabulary of an uneducated sailor, that the ideas are what keep people coming back. 

I am a teacher and it is so easy for me to forget. We have artists, athletes, craftsmen and women, we have all kinds that make up our classroom, or offices, our teams. We need to remember we all have strengths and weaknesses. A favorite quote of mine, attributed most often to Einstein is, 
 “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” The question I have for you at this point of our journey together is, “What is your genius?”

I do not mean this to turn into a cliche post, but how many times do we in our classrooms ask students to do the same stuff or turn out the same work? Something to be mindful of with what little time we have left with them this year. I am not smart in the same why Trav is smart, but that doesn't mean I should quit putting out these excellent pieces of literary genius. 

Team Work

I found a new group on the Twitters the other day. It was a group of people talking about complex systems. On a deeper dive a ran into this article about Teams. Yaneer Bar-Nam identifies teams as a largely useful necessity in the future of the world. I thought that his insights were adept, but I could't help but have a bad taste in my mouth when I think about teams, teamwork, or group work. In college, I was always the one pushing my team through and making sure everyone pulled their weight and ultimately finishing up the slackers work and making it look consistent. In grade school we were placed in pods and had group work...again, I would tend to back off of my ideas for the greater good of just moving with the team and getting the job done. As I read through his first post, I kept thinking I don't agree, but then into the thirst post, I started thinking about the only team I ever fully felt worked and worked well together. It was my team.

I have said in the past, but I will restate for the newbie readers...I want what I want, when I want it. I have no patience. I am a bit fussy when I don't get it right now. No, NOW.

A few years ago, I in my first real year in admin for Epic Charter School, a new department was created around me. I had no idea what a blessing it would be to interview and pick a team from scratch. I knew my strengths and I knew my weaknesses. I was able to hire 4 individuals who would be able to overcome my weaknesses, While allowing me to grow in both areas. We spent two and a half years working to be the most efficient group (at the time) in the school. We were so versatile that we could to move to other departments when help was needed. We were a well oiled machine. I had never been in a role of leadership like that before and I was really able to spread my wings with that group. It was the first time I had ever been in a group where we all worked equally as hard on tasks some the same some different. When someone felt like they were pulling more weight than others, we discussed it and usually came to the conclusion that everyone was still pulling their own weight. The personal growth that came from this experience was huge.

I guess what I am saying here, is that teamwork often gets a bad stigma when teams are put together haphazardly. I hated teamwork and even going into writing this post I had a bad taste in my mouth. But teamwork can be great. Teachers, when building your pods or groups during the year, be thoughtful. I know some of you probably are very thoughtful. Know that best friends dont always make for the best teams and students dont know how to pick teams without best friends.