A Good Day

Nothing education related here today.

Why?

Because today I spent the afternoon with my oldest son. Just me and him.

After eating lunch at one of his favorite places in town, he and I left for Best Buy.

There, we did all sorts of rooting around, but he was especially impressed by the 3D printer that was creating an elephant.

After that, we stopped at an outdoors store en route to a Barnes and Noble.

Didn’t buy anything, but how cute does this kid look in this beanie that was far too expensive to buy?


Once we hit Barnes and Noble, we investigated the Star Wars section (of course) where Graham immediately donned the Kylo Ren mask with lightsaber in hand.


Soon enough, I convinced Graham that we could still have fun without wearing the mask, and he asked him if I would read to him. While looking for one of his favorites, Dragons Love Tacos, we stumbled upon this…

And proceeded to read the whole thing. 300 pages of original trilogy glory. Check it out.


Naturally, we followed up that with another Star Wars book (this time we read a book we own a copy of).


We left pretty soon after this, and apparently that’s all he had energy for. Here’s a pic on the way home.

It was a good day!


This blog is post #28 in my 91 day winter blog challenge. I’m posting a blog each day. Check out other posts at #91winterblogs, or subscribe in the top right corner of this blog to receive these blogs as emails. Thanks for reading!

Found Out

safe risk

I didn’t always wear glasses. And if things had gone my way during that eye exam, I still wouldn’t be wearing them.

So I’m my 15 year old self, and I find myself knowing that I’m going to struggle not on the driving test, but I am likely to stumble through the eye exam I’ll have to pass to get my driver’s permit.

I knew that my eyes weren’t great, but they weren’t terrible. So, standing in line to get my eyes tested, in a moment of both panic and genius, I thought to myself, Why not just memorize what the guy in front of me says?

Great plan, right? Nobody will know I can’t see, I won’t have to wear glasses, and I’ll get my driver’s license.

I slide up to the machine, look down into it while only halfway listening to the directions because, you know, I’ve got this, and rattle off the letters I have memorized. But when I look up, the lady has the strangest look on her face.

Thinking that I must have set a record or done something impressive, I was blown away when she asks, “You can’t tell those are numbers, can you?”

Not cool.

In that moment, I was busted. Not only could I not see, I couldn’t fake my way through the test either. After multiple failures in a matter of moments, I confirmed I had an eye doctor, knew where the DPS office was, and shrank back into my desk.

All over an eye test.

DEALING WITH OUR LIMITS
I hate it when I can’t do something, and I don’t think I’m alone.

Strength so often looks like a person who has it all together and does it all and makes it all happen (or at least appear to happen) effortlessly. No struggle. No fear. No work. No reality.

It comes as no surprise to me that in education, we’re not immune from this.

We praise innovation, creativity, resilience, risk, and grit, but we spend a surprisingly small amount of time talking about what it’s like to have these face down moments, exposed in our weaknesses, our shortcomings made plain for all to see.

And I think it impacts nearly everything we do.

All too often we are busy exploring innovation, creativity, and risk in the safest ways we can imagine. We hide, afraid of being known, and give off a nice “everything’s ok” appearance, and when we do that, we make it harder for the educator next to us, thinking those same thoughts, to embrace the challenges he or she wonders about in silence.

What if the thing we need is to be exposed in a moment of weakness? What if the thing we need is to fail?

I often wonder if it’s so hard for us to teach students how to recover from failure because we are not comfortable with our strategies for recovering from failure. I wonder of we see “recovering from failure” as hiding our mistakes, minimizing responsibility.

Maybe you don’t ever feel that way.

But I do.

GETTING FOUND OUT
Thinking back on my driver’s ed experience, it was absolutely imperative that I was found out. It would have been terrible for everyone if I had faked my way through that test. In that case, being exposed was for the best.

I’ve come to think that being found out isn’t such a bad thing.

For all the things we agree on as educators, this seems like the thing we should be in total agreement on. It’s so hard to be unsure about something. To have a gut feeling you know you have to act on, to not have the research to back it up (yet), to know you have to (and have some genuine fear of what that might mean).

To be clear, I’m not asking you to do something that will put your job at risk, or cause you humiliation, or ruin your reputation as a hard working, successful educator. What I do think would benefit us all is to add how unsure we are about things to the list of what’s important for us to talk about. Even if it’s after the fact. Even if it’s not kicking the door down on our insecurities, cracking that door with someone we trust is important.

We’re all unsure about something, but we can be unsure about it together. And together, we can work through those challenges more effectively that we can alone.

It’s not fun, but the safety in being known more deeply by other educators is worth exploring.


This blog is post #27 in my 91 day winter blog challenge. I’m posting a blog each day. Check out other posts at #91winterblogs, or subscribe in the top right corner of this blog to receive these blogs as emails. Thanks for reading!

Waiting

I hate waiting.

Ok, hate is a strong word, but I really, really dislike the whole waiting process.

I know this about myself, but I was reminded of it yesterday while sitting in a deer stand on my in-laws’ land.

Here’s my view the day before:

waiting and watching these deer

Here’s my view yesterday.

waiting for cows to move

Cows. COWS. Thirteen cows and a new calf just hanging out keeping the deer from showing up. Not cool.

They were grazing nearby when I arrived around 3:30, and I figured they would just pass through. If anything, I was relieved because they were there when I arrived. That should eliminate the chance of them being there when the deer show up, right? Wrong.

Suffice it to say, yesterday’s experience didn’t help me develop a new found love of waiting.

The only problem with this is that life is so full of waiting. And though it’s not my favorite pastime, at the end of the waiting is often something worthwhile. Last night, I was reminded of this as I turned back to see this after closing a gate.

IMG_2698

Worth the wait.


This blog is post #24 in my 91 day winter blog challenge. I’m posting a blog each day. Check out other posts at #91winterblogs, or subscribe in the top right corner of this blog to receive these blogs as emails. Thanks for reading!!

Taking a Break


I came across this picture from Sylvia Duckworth this afternoon, and with a inspiration from her, I’ve made a list of the ways I need to take a break over the next two weeks. Here’s the Duckworth image: 
I find the more general we are about our plans, the more general the results tend to be. I’d like to really get a lot of relaxation out if the break, so I need to take Duckworth’s suggestions and make them my own (otherwise, like many things, they’ll end up just being a tweet instead of a part of meaningful change).

So, here’s my list: 10 ways I can recharge

  1. Blog (that’s not cheating, is it?)
  2. Play some video games (Star Wars Battlefront for me, Disney Infinity with my kids)
  3. Read things that are not school related (Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf, Gratitude by Oliver Sacks, and Painted Horses by Malcolm Brooks to name a few)
  4. Read a few things that are school related and highly interesting to me (Show Your Work by Austin Kleon and I’m sure something else)
  5. Write in my copy of The Steal Like an Artist Journal each day.
  6. Hunt (I’m at my in-laws’ and enjoying being in the country right now actually)
  7. Figure out how to use my new Sphero SPRK (really excited about this actually!)
  8. Sleep late (this will happen soon)
  9. Spend too long at a bookstore or two in town (by my watch, not by anyone else’s…)
  10. Watch some Aggie sports (there’s one football game left and then a few basketball games before I’m back to school)

In no way is this exhaustive, but I thought it would be helpful to have committed to something specific.

What are you doing to rest and recharge over the break?

This blog is post #23 in my 91 day winter blog challenge. I’m posting a blog each day. Check out other posts at #91winterblogs, or subscribe in the top right corner of this blog to receive these blogs as emails. Thanks for reading!

Belonging Precedes Believing

belonging precedes believing

Belonging precedes believing.

It’s true for our students. True for our teachers. True for nearly everyone in our schools.

The ways we include or exclude others deeply impact their initial perceptions of our efforts to help them.

And this isn’t just wrapped up in what we say. It’s in the way we greet people. The way our campuses look at first sight. What people see when they drive by the bus loop and parent pickup.

It’s our duty to include others, wire to wire, each and every day at school because, for nearly all with whom we interact, feeling like they belong has to be there before they will believe us when we say things we mean.

Things like…

We put kids first.

We do what’s best for all students.

We’re a family here.

In our work at school, belonging precedes believing.


This blog is post #22 in my 91 day winter blog challenge. I’m posting a blog each day. Check out other posts at #91winterblogs, or subscribe in the top right corner of this blog to receive these blogs as emails. Thanks for reading!

Sticky Ideas About Self-Control

In November, I first heard these two claims:

#LB42 quotes (9)

#LB42 quotes (11)

I’m still not sure what to do in response to them. All at once there seem to be so many different options and so few options that will make meaningful impact in a timely manner.

Frustrating as that may be, it doesn’t mean these claims should see any less of our attention because there aren’t simple solutions.

When the spring semester starts up, what can you do to inject a conversation about self-control into your classroom?

This blog is post #21 in my 91 day winter blog challenge. I’m posting a blog each day. Check out other posts at #91winterblogs, or subscribe in the top right corner of this blog to receive these blogs as emails. Thanks for reading!

A Few Christmas Tunes

91 winter blogs (6)

This is a different sort of post, but I’m going to share it anyways.

I’m not a huge fan of Christmas music. In old world terms, there are probably two CDs worth of Christmas music that I care to hear more than once a year (maybe three).

However, some of those songs are relatively new or are not well known. Since I know that I’m not alone in my feelings about Christmas tunes, I thought I’d share a few that I’ve come to really enjoy that you might like, too.

You Gotta Get Up by Rich Mullins

I can’t remember not knowing this song. It’s not on an album of Christmas music, and my dad played the tape in his old pickup all the time. I love the song and being on the other side of the gift giving now for my boys just makes it a sweeter memory.

God With Us by Ross King

This song is new, but it feels like it’s one I’ve known forever. It’s about the idea that there’s something meaningful about us being together with people we love at Christmas. The song ties that idea to Jesus’ coming to be with us. Regardless of what you think about Jesus, Christianity, or religion, it’s an interesting idea that I hadn’t considered before and a song I’ve really enjoyed.

My Christmas Eve by Ross King

This is another song from Ross King. I’m not sure how to describe this song. When it came out, I remember someone commenting that it sounded like it belongs in the titles of a Christmas movie. As much as I don’t love the Christmas movie phenomenon, I tend to agree with the claim. Check out the song below.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside by Sara Bareilles & Ben Folds w/ Sing-Off Contestants

This is not a song I love, but I really dig this version. Admittedly, my enjoyment of the Sing-Off contributes to my enjoyment of this song; don’t hold that against me. If you spend any time at all in stores in the month of December, you can accidentally hear more than ten different versions of this song. This one is my favorite.

Clearly, I’m on my break. Expect things to be a little less about the life of an assistant principal over the next couple of weeks.

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a Merry Christmas. To all, I hope the break (even if it hasn’t started for you yet) treats you well as you rejuvenate for next semester and connect with family without the pull of school.


This blog is post #20 in my 91 day winter blog challenge. I’m posting a blog each day. Check out other posts at #91winterblogs, or subscribe in the top right corner of this blog to receive these blogs as emails. Thanks for reading!

 

Let’s Blog – Where Do You Get Stuck?

Today is the first day of my Christmas break. Over the break, not only do I want to relax, but I also want to make something.

-I just don't know what I would say-Here’s what I’m thinking.

I’m interested in creating something that will help others realize how much they have to say that is valuable for others to hear. I’m convinced that there are a lot of people sitting back saying to themselves, “I just don’t know what I would say” or “I don’t have anything to add that others need to hear” or “What would I say?”

I’m sure I’ll be stumbling my way through this, but I hope to create something that will allow people who want to start up blogging in 2016 to do so with a plan, a support for creating content.

So, I’m wondering a few things.

  1. Is that something that you might be interested in? If so, let me know in the comments at the bottom of this post or via Twitter (@aaron_hogan).
  2. What are the road blocks you come up against when blogging? The more I can identify those (and, rest assured, I’m starting with a healthy number of those from my personal experience), the more gaps I can attempt to fill for people.

Whether you’ve been blogging for years or you’re just getting started, I would greatly appreciate any feedback you have for me. Thanks for your time! 


This blog is post #19 in my 91 day winter blog challenge. I’m posting a blog each day. Check out other posts at #91winterblogs, or subscribe in the top right corner of this blog to receive these blogs as emails. Thanks for reading!

Too Much

When we try to do everything, we end up missing some of the things that should be staples in our schools. I was reminded of this recently when my family came across this house:

IMG_5559

Everything is there. Santa is there. Blow ups are there. Icicle lights. White lights. Multi-colored lights. Lights in trees. Lights across the driveway. Music timed to the lights.

It’s all there. All of it.

But you can’t really see any of it (or at least it’s tough for me).

We have to be careful to not add too much onto our plates as educators. If we don’t we run the risk of appearing a lot like this house. You’ll be bright, you’ll have a lot going on, but you might be a bit of a mess, too.

After writing this, I realize that this very well could just be my personal preference. Some people may flourish in this sort of environment, but it’s not for me. And my boys love the lights. All of it.


This blog is post #18 in my 91 day winter blog challenge. I’m posting a blog each day. Check out other posts at #91winterblogs, or subscribe in the top right corner of this blog to receive these blogs as emails. Thanks for reading!

Four Mistakes From Fall 2015

Four Mistakes From Fall 2015

Everyone makes mistakes. Recognizing that is a big deal, but if I’m not careful, I will end up dwelling on the recognition end of the equation and not looking at what I can do to remedy what I can control in each of my mistakes.

With that in mind, I want to share four mistakes I’ve made this semester and an idea or two about how I might correct them.

Call it accountability, call it sharing my learning, call it what you like. I’m sharing.

Four Mistakes From Fall 2015

POOR PLANNING
Over the summer, Jeremy Stewart (@J_Stew314) and I worked together to put a plan in place for a district Twitter chat. Out of a few conversations, #CSISDchat was born. It’s been a great experience, but I severely underestimated the time and energy it would take to start and maintain a weekly Twitter chat. Thankfully, the chat has meaningfully contributed to the lives of many both within and outside of College Station ISD, but I was surprised to see how much it took to do what it looked like was effortless for others to accomplish. It left me with respect for the many who lead chats I benefit from and with the reminder that for #CSISDchat to flourish and continue to support and challenge educators, this will take some intentional planning. Happily, that’s something I can do.

A BAD ATTITUDE
In August, we ran a program for a group of incoming 9th graders who we knew would benefit from a strengthened foundation of skills–both academic and behavioral. It was a great idea that served a group of students who needed the help and I had a bad attitude about giving up my time to help these students. I’ll spare you the details here and just say that the time was well spent, the relationships that started during that week in August have grown throughout the semester, and I will not discount the value of this sort of work again soon.

MISPLACED EXPECTATIONS
My experience blogging has been great. I’ve learned so much through both the topics I’ve explored and the process of sharing my writing. (I’d be a better English teacher now with this experience for sure… not sure why I never explored this while I was in the classroom.) But, for a long time, and at moments when I’m tired or don’t feel great about my performance at work, I worried far too much about how my blog posts would be received. I think that’s a typical issue that bloggers go through, but for me, the blog experience has brought to light the need to make sure this isn’t something I’m carrying over into other areas. I don’t want to go throughout my days worried about what others think, so I need to work on that.

FINDING BALANCE
If I only get one thing right next semester, this needs to be it. I didn’t plan my time well this year. That meant that time got wasted, I got behind, and the things I value most don’t get the time they deserve. In short, my wife and kids need to get first dibs on my time. I need to do a better job of making sure that happens and that even if they get a lot of time, it’s not what’s leftover after giving of myself at school or at church.

So, there it is. It’s been a great semester, but not one that’s free from mistakes. I’m excited about tackling these areas in which I have control to make some real improvements. Hopefully I’ll be able to see real growth in each of these areas over the next semester.


This blog is post #17 in my 91 day winter blog challenge. I’m posting a blog each day. Check out other posts at #91winterblogs, or subscribe in the top right corner of this blog to receive these blogs as emails. Thanks for reading!