Make it relevant!

A child asks “Why do I need to know this?” As a teacher the pressing reason is because it will be on a standardized test. Of course ALL knowledge is valuable, but to learn it really needs to be relevant to our curiosities, needs and desires.

Some of the benchmarks teachers are required to teach are not that relevant when looking at the surface value. Does the average American need to know how to graph the slope of a line, know who why the war of 1812 was fought or know how a subduction zone affects the Earth? Probably not.

Does technology sometimes hurt us in making it relevant? “Why do I need to learn to multiply if the calculator can do it?”  or better still “There is an app for that!” Technology has taken some of the relevance away from teaching. When teaching measurement and how to read a ruler I was told by a contractors son that “My dad has a laser he points to the wall to make the measurement.” After he brought the tool in to show me, I found it to be more accurate and saves time. Should we all know how to measure, certainly because we need to make sure the technology is working correctly and some of us will go on to create technology that makes our lives easier.

If standards can not be made relevant to a students, they will not learn them. We need to realize that all standards will not be relevant to all students. Luckily most students will find most standards relevant if connected to their lives in the proper manner. Parents, teachers and communities need to make this learning relevant by sparking curiosities and asking questions.

Too often connections aren’t made and learning is hindered. I hear: “My parents don’t know the answer” or “I am not good at _____”.


It is not about others knowing or being good it is about figuring our something new. This needs to be encouraged.


In reality school is NOT about the standards that we are required to teach but about learning HOW to learn new things.


WHY? Because everybody has to learn new things everyday to survive in our society.


Leading a Student To Water.

I love being a teacher, helping guide students in their learning. Seeing their eyes light up or face brighten when they finally get it. These AH-HA moments really are the reasons anyone teachers. Quenching the students thirsts for knowledge is highly rewarding.

Lately, I have gotten the impression that a growing group of students don’t want the knowledge waters that are being offered in schools today.  Groups of students seem indifferent to what is being presented to them in the classrooms. Saying “So what”, “Who Cares”, or “I don’t need to know that”.

Why? I wish I could answer that one. Is it because they can just google anything thing and get an answer in seconds? Is it because they see no need for knowledge in the world today? or is it that the American culture is about instant satisfaction and education is about a life of learn?

We need to work as educators, parents, and communities to make sure our students drink what we are giving them. The statistics show us falling in the world rankings. Until we find ways to motivate ALL students so they want to seek knowledge instead of randomly access it the fall will continue.

If we lead them to knowledge, drinking it up is expected.

The Gorilla out the window

Let me stare out the window for a moment instead of looking in the mirror. There is a huge billion pound gorilla out there that nobody in the “Ed Reform” world wants to address. Society doesn’t value education anymore.


Yes, I know every candidate for political office want to say they do, and parents say they care but do they really VALUE it? Like people of days gone by?


Our entertainment industry sure doesn’t. The Cosby Show is only on in reruns and to replace it we have Two and 1/2 Men. So from a family show that stressed hard work we move to, well what have we moved to, a show about a leech of a man with a dumb kid living with a “lucky” internet billionaire. To sum it up the next generation is worshiping the Kardashians and Jersey Shore. They have the “I don’t care” attitude and it shows. Parents try as they might but I see them giving in to being a buddy to their children because they do not want to deal with the extra stress or real work of raising them. heck right now my 3 children are glued to the TV while I take the time to write this. (I guess I am part of the problem). Today one of my students confessed he plays 4 hours of Xbox every day. Others talked about going to bed at 6 am over break because they were busy. These are 13 and 14 year old 8th graders.


Our Business industry doesn’t, they are so worried about profits they don’t think about the culture it is creating. They will sell anything to anyone if they will make money. My students always seem to have the newest games, cell phone and clothing. My students say they must have the name brands to be cool. These thoughs are inserted in their heads young and last a life time. Stop worrying about profits and worry about the kids. If they can’t make money, they won’t have any in the future to spend.


Did the Gorilla gain some weight.


Teachers need the help of society to fix the “ED” problem. Teachers will continue, like we always have, to work to improve our teaching and engage our students. We just need some help in our society to actual make it hit home.


Please Sweat to Inspire and put the Gorilla on a diet by holding the entire society accountable to the educational issues in this country not just the teachers. They are only a small piece to a very complex puzzle.

4 Basic Changes

Time to “Tear Down” the current educational system for educators. It seems the logical place to start in fixing the education system in American.


How did we create a current system that has theoretical experts training actual practitioners? Education is a profession therefore we need to set the system up like other professions. Doctors, Nurses and Lawyers don’t go from classroom strait into the profession so why do we let teachers? We need a systems that slowly nurtures in-coming teachers and keeps them in the profession.


Here are four of my suggestions:

  1. All schools of Education must be in-bedded in a school district structure to create “teaching” districts. (Similar to teaching hospitals that are often considered the best.) Professors actually teach and students see lessons presented and broken down for for strengths and weaknesses. No more talking about ideas in theory it is show in practice. By connecting the districts to the university programs it will give students and educators more access to necessary resources. Students would spend more time learning in the workplace and less time in the classroom.
  2.  Change the way the re-certification process works. Currently, (in Michigan where I work) districts need to provide every teacher with 30 hours of PD a year. Teacher also need to keep current with 6 college credits every 5 years. This PD is often not relevant to all teachers and college credit not relevant to the schools. So let’s stop wasting the money and have Graduate/Mentoring programs integrated into districts. This would be so much better than for profit grad programs prey on the teachers.
  3. Foster an environment of sharing instead of competition. Competition is great when it is in sports but school districts need to work together sharing ideas and resources. Collaboration needs to extend out of districts to benefit all students. Time is important t all teachers so we need to try to give someone a hand. “Top” mentor teachers should move from district to district learning and sharing what works.
  4. Take the business out of “Ed Reform”. The current reform movement is not driven by data or what will help all students. Michelle Rhee and Jeb Bush want to sell you their program. The charter school movement is run by for profit companies. Let teachers and districts decide what works not executives that have a profit motive.



Like it or not TV has a major influence on the youth of today. It is not the TV of my youth where we had 4 channels to choose from when picking something to watch. Today we have over 100 channels to choose from. When we still can’t find what we want we can stream from the internet or watch something we recorded on the DVR. I love all the options available. I can watch great content when ever I want. The scary thing about TV today is so can my children. What they want to watch is very different than what I want to watch. Often times their desires for viewing are not totally appropriate. Adults need to monitor what children are watching. In my opinion adults need to watch what the children are watching. This way there can be a discussion about content. Children often misunderstand what they see on TV. In my classroom student will say “I saw this on the History Channel last week” and proceed to explain the topic. In theory this is great. It helps “Flip” the classroom and gives students excellent prior knowledge. In reality, it often gives children a misconception because the student only understood a small portion of the material presented.

To sweat to inspire the youth in your life please watch TV with them. It might mean you won’t get to watch your favorite show now and again but it will create rich discussions about what is consumed.

Who or What inspires you?

To start the content off I want to ask a question: Who or What inspires you?

I have asked this question every year in my advisory class, most of my students state that their parents or older siblings are their inspirations. Of course they are parents and older siblings always have major influence on people’s lives. Influence and inspiration are similar concepts. Without my parental influence or that of my older brother I am sure I would be a different person.

But for me, there are two main people I think about when it comes to inspiration in my life as a young man. First, is Charles Radel, the father of a boyhood friend, Boy Scout Leader and 8th grade history teacher. He lead by example, he was firm and fair, and around more than my father (who was a doctor). The second person I think of is William H Armstrong. Most of you have heard his name since he is the author of “Sounder”. To me he was my 9th grade “general studies” teacher at Kent School in Ct. The class was a mix of how to study and ancient history. He was a master of the craft of teaching and knew how to motivate. They both lead by example. That is how they inspired me.

So Who or what has inspired your life?

New Inspiration Day 1

Welcome to Sweat to Inspire.

Our mission is to create a blog of ideas on how adults can help inspire today’s youth.

Our goal is for adults to become more aware of their actions and how these actions might influence the youth around them. With this awareness adults can become  a positive inspiration to all youth they come in contact with in their daily lives.

Our logic is that society (as reflected in the media) seems to feel that the majority of today’s youth are unmotivated and lazy. As has often been overheard “parenting doesn’t come with a handbook” and “becoming a parent is the one thing you don’t need a license but should”.   We hope to help all who come in contact with children: parents, students, teachers, coaches, church leaders, community group leaders, grandparents, etc.

Our focus is to be an agent of change not blame. Adults need to remain positive and focus on what is best for the children they influence. This is not always easy, this is why it takes sweat to inspire the youth of today.

Working hard to make sure teachers are inspiring the youth of tomorrow.