Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Blog Homework?

Barry Saide nominated me as one of 11 bloggers he reads and wanted to complete this meme. I first met Barry at TeachMeetNJ in Stockton, NJ this past summer.  As I sit at my desk and ponder my takeaways from 2013, Barry's excitement and commitment to improving instruction at all levels for the students of New Jersey stands at the forefront. I am honored that Barry thought to include me in this conversation, and I will now share 11 facts - some personal and some professional - about me that readers of my blog probably don't know...
1. I converted to Judaism. 
2.  I had every intention of being a high school history teacher when I left high school. After taking one history course in college, I discovered something about teaching and myself. I didn't love history. I was inspired and driven by the teachers of history I had in high school. I didn't want to be a history teacher. I wanted to be an inspiring teacher.
3. I was the director's assistant on a feature film, and it was an amazing experience.
4. I'm an ELA guy with a math mind.  I see formulas in writing, and I've always tried to break down assignments for my students to help them see that.
5. I lost a teacher to another district over the summer.  Perhaps it's evident, but I took it personally. It's a "better" district according to demographic, graduation rate, state rankings, and basically every indicator. I was furious with him. He's an amazing teacher, and I wanted him on my team.  I figured out that I would have done the same thing, but I thought he was better than me. That's why I was so upset. In reality, I am happy for him.  He's a great educator with a promising future, and I like knowing that we still connect and talk shop.  
6. I pumped gas in high school and found a man's wallet that he had left on the pump. It had $700 cash in it. When I returned it to its owner, it had $700 inside. I'm no saint. It was hard to do. $700 is a lot of money to me now. Forget being a 16 year old kid.
7. I'm too wordy.
8. I'm a late bloomer: I didn't learn to swim until I was 10, I didn't start smoking until I was 20, and I never flew on a plane until I was 21. I still do 2 of those pretty regularly.  The ultrasound picture of my first son cured the smoking thing.
9. I played basketball and rugby in college. I still play basketball. With some exceptions and hiatuses, I've been playing once a week at the YMCA for the past 8 years.  I have met some great people and developed lasting friendships through that game.
10. I see value in students sitting in rows. I think there is something to be gained from sitting quietly and listening for extended periods of time.  There are points in life when sitting and engaging on a listening level is a must. It cannot and must not be the only or primary way that students are being taught, but to avoid it entirely is a disservice to our students.
11. I am the oldest of 4 children.
Task 2: Answer Barry's 11 questions:
1. What keeps you positive?
I fight with this daily. I look at many of the challenges facing teachers, administrators, and students in my state and country, and I worry. However, I feed off the positivity of my wife, the professional drive of my Twitter colleagues, and the innocence of children - my own as well as those in the schools I service.  
2. What did you think when you heard Twinkies were gone forever?
"What will they do with any of the extra cream filling that is left over? Will there be a raffle?" Because seriously, I have a reckless disregard for my own well-being when it comes to the cream filling in Hostess snacks.
3. What makes someone easy to be around?
I find that people are easy to be around when they are quick to laugh, and they are willing to show a level of vulnerability. I don't need life story, but be willing to risk openness. 
4. Favorite movie line?
"The dude abides." The Big Lebowski
5. Best food to eat on the grill?
I love a delicious steak, and a grilled one is amazing, but it's really hard to beat a good, old-fashioned hot dog right off the grill.. 
6. If you could master one of the martial arts, which would it be and why?
Kung Fu because I've always wanted to roam around from place to place helping people.  (I'm not really old enough to even understand whether or not that's a real pop culture reference.)
7. Favorite Star Wars movie quote?
8. Have you ever hit someone on purpose?
In fifth grade, I swung a lot at a kid, but he moved. Then he swung at me a lot, and I didn't move so much. I discovered fighting wasn't for me.
9. What scared you most?
In the world? That I'll mess up being a parent. There is so much grey area that changes from child to child.  It's a hard job - parenting - and one where the right answer last week might not be the right answer this week. 
10. Favorite non-mainstream cartoon you liked as a kid?
I have fond memories of Duck Tales from my childhood, but that's Disney, and you can't get much more mainstream. I really liked ProStars with Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, and Bo Jackson. Athlete spies with amazing gadgets who could use sports skills to take down terrorist threats? Right up my alley.
11. Do you ever wish you could still ride a big wheel and why?
I don't have a memory of riding a big wheel as a kid, so while I can see the novelty of it, I don't have a hankering to get myself into a riding toy that low to the ground!
My third task is to generate a list of 11 questions for 11 other bloggers to answer:
1. What would you do with a lottery win of $50,000?
2. What was the first thing you read that you remember loving?
3. Diving - Sky or Scuba?
4. What is your favorite season?
5. Would you move for a job?
6. Have you monetized your blog? Do you plan to?
7. Are you a cat or a dog person? There can be only one!
8. Pick one musical instrument to learn now that you're an adult. Why that one?
9. To where did you fly on your first flight? Does anything about the experience stand out as significant?
10. Do you play video games? If not, WHY? If yes, which system/games?
11. What was the first CD you ever bought? Do you still have it?

My last task is to nominate 11 bloggers that I want to see join the More Homework Meme: (in no order)
1. Marc Siegel
2. Kate Baker
3. Caroline Durley
4. Heather Rocco
5. Anthony Celini
6. Sam Patterson
7. Andrew Thomasson
8. Sarah Thomas
9. Joe Sanfelippo
10. Paul Bogush
11. Allen Martin

Here's how it works:
1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
4. List 11 bloggers after you write this.  
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated.  Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.
Go on, you have homework to do.
All the best.


  1. Done:

  2. Ross, loved reading this one. Awesome. Can't wait to catch up and talk more. Over a beverage of choice.

  3. Done!