About Me

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San Clemente, CA, United States

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Every day I wake up I make a decision to be as good a man as I can be.  I make some mistakes, but I hold my head high as a man of good character.  The older I get, the better if feels to do the right thing.  I don't lie on my taxes, or cheat on girlfriends.  I don't take what isn't mine and I don't ask for things I neither need nor deserve.  I always pay my fair share and I treat people with respect.  I do all these things, not for any praise, but because this is how we are supposed to act.

Maybe I'm watching too many YouTube videos, but I'm getting convinced I'm the last sane and honorable man in America.  I know that great men and women must be out there, but I fear we are wildly outnumbered by people who have no desire to walk a good walk.  Well I'll walk a good walk.  I'll do so because I have a responsibility to my G-d, my family, and my late father and I will not embarrass any of them.

Additionally,  as a public school teacher, i feel a responsibility to act as a role model for our children.  Many of our kids live in homes in which parents do not exhibit good character.  As teachers, people who stand in front of these kids 5 times a week, we have an opportunity (responsibility) to show them not just mathematics, but how to be young men and women of good character.

Too many of my colleagues have forgotten this responsibility or never realized that it is the biggest part of the job.  I'm not talking about saying "bullshit" in class.  Heck, my language at times also gets colorful.  I'm talking about showing kids that when you go to work, you go to work.  You don't sit at your desk and demand others work.  You stand and deliver until your feet hurt and your voice is strained.   Then you do it again 4 more times that day and every other minute of your week.   Then you work even harder the next week.   We must show our students what hard work looks like.

We must show our students what it means to come to work prepared.  How dare we lambaste our students who don't bring their book to class when we can't be bothered creating a good lesson plan?

Some of my colleagues are amazing hypocrites.  They come to work late yet write more tardy referrals than the rest of us.  They confiscated cell phones while spending much of their time in class living on theirs.  They complain about the performance of their students while not doing anything to better themselves.  They expect an hour of homework a night out of the students and then can't be bothered to grade that work in a timely manner.

It is time for teachers to begin holding each other to higher standards.  It is time for teachers to risk friendships if it means it might help students.  It is time for strong teachers to open their doors and show their colleagues what it means to be a teacher.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


On Tuesday I begin my 24th year as a high school mathematics teacher and I still have the feeling of butterflies in my stomach.  The rush of standing in front of a crowd competes with the fear of standing in front of a crowd.  And don't tell me a classroom of 38 17 year olds isn't a crowd.  Hell, somedays its a gang.   If the past 23 years are any indication, I won't sleep for the next two nights.  I'll toss and turn and plan my day/week/semester/year.  

One of the reasons I like teaching public high school mathematics is because it provides me a fresh start every year.  For most people, life and work is a steady non-stop grind.  I get to enjoy a clear start date and I get to look forward to an end.  I like having a finish line.   I hit the tape, take a couple days off, and spend the summer playing golf and thinking about how to get better.

I have only one goal this year.  Perfection.

I want to pitch a perfecto.  27 men up.  27 men out.   Nothing even close.  Punch out 17.

I want to birdie every hole.  298 yard drive with a 10 yard draw right down the middle.  142 yard 8 iron that flies right at the stick.  8 foot putt with 3 inches of left to right break right in the back of the jar.

I want to score on a penalty kick, a breakaway, a long distance bomb, and I want to bend a corner around the goalie.

10 frames?  12 strikes.  300

I want to dunk on Michael Jordan as I beat him 11-0 in one on one.

I want the jury to award my client MORE than I asked for.

I want the doctor to tell me to start smoking because I'm too healthy.

I seriously want to be the perfect teacher.  I've won 3 Teacher of the Year Awards.  What else is there?  I want to be perfect.

No more popping off at a kid goofing off.  Calm and perfect.
No more colorful language in class.  Classy and perfect.
No more outward frustration when they act like kids.  They are kids.  Breathe and be perfect.
No more going home with anything left in the tank.
No more forgetting that I am there to serve there needs and help them achieve.

I want to be perfect.  Seamless transitions from funny to serious.  The perfect balance between rigor and reason.  I want to be tall and dark and handsome and every one of my words dripping with importance.   I want to have the greatest year since Plato opened the Academy.