Monday, April 20, 2015

What's On My MInd (Nothing to Do With Sharks)

As I begin this, I believe I have at least four other essays that I have attempted to start waiting in my folder on Drive.  Maybe they are good ideas, maybe they’re not.  Maybe I did not give them the proper attention when the topic initially crossed my mind.  I have not been able to write as much as I had hoped lately, and I hope that my ability to develop a thought into words on a page is not going away.  I hope this is just rustiness that needs to be removed by increasing the use of my brain and my fingers to pour my thoughts into my keyboard and onto this page.

I also wonder what my plans are with my writing?  I didn’t begin this with any plan, course of action, or intended outcome.  I just felt that I needed to start writing.  I felt that with what I have done, what I do, and what I will do that writing would be an amazing experience for me. I may not be writing poetry, although I have tried, but I do feel that writing puts me in touch with humanity.  It gives me insight into my own perception of the world while I verbalize the experiences I have with people throughout each day.  I have had quite a bit on my mind lately and I desperately need to write.

A prominent thing on my mind has been the Twitter chat I created and curate, #txhsfbchat.  It has grown more and reached farther than I could have imagined when I first had this idea.  It has opened up relationships with people across the nation and provided an opportunity for me to grow professionally that I honestly haven’t put much effort into previously.  I have always enjoyed learning, but I have never invested as much time into learning more about what I do than I have now.  It is exciting and I wish I would have done this years ago.  I can easily say it has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my career and I can’t wait to see the impact of it on the field and in my classroom each day.  

I have also been flooded with thoughts of my future and how my son’s college choice may impact it.  Depending on where he ends up (in three years) could impact where I’m living, what I’m doing, and a whole host of other things that I haven’t considered.  I would love for him to attend a university somewhere West, preferably in or very near the mountains.  This would force our hand into moving to where my wife and I have set as our goal of moving to for our eventual retirement.  I would love for this to happen, as it would fulfill my heart’s desire of being in a place that is absolutely beautiful to me.  The mountains have been calling me for years, and I have not given them the full answer I feel they deserve.

Did I mention that I teach seniors?  Working with them as they approach their impending graduation requires a special level of commitment and understanding.  With over a month remaining in their high school lives, there is so much I still have left to teach them with so little time.  Less than half of what I want them to learn from me involves the inhabitants of our oceans.  I want them to learn to finish what they started, and to finish strong.  That even if you don’t like what you are asked to do, that it is still worth giving your best effort when the task is a requirement.  And even if you think you’re done, and you feel you’ve taken everything you can take from this school and the teachers you’ve had, that there is a reason I choose to teach seniors and I have more to offer you even after you leave.  
With all of this on my mind, I still manage to find the time to be with my family and give them the love and support they deserve.  I also manage to find time to fulfill my Netflix and Game of Thrones addiction.  It is important to have your daily escapes. Whether you enjoy this or not, read this or not, I have fulfilled part of my need to write some words and express some thoughts.  Now I must figure out what to write next…..

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mastering the Task at Hand

This week we begin our shark dissections.  This is a time of year that seniors are not interested in doing much, but still have much to do.  In our case, we have a spiny dogfish to examine, poke, prod, manipulate, and memorize.  You will learn how an aquatic organism compares to our own bodies in structure and function.  You will also learn about why their organs have evolved and adapted to allow these animals to survive in the water.  

All of these things you will learn about the shark are interesting (at least to me), but the main lesson I really hope you come away with is the experience of overcoming your fears, your self doubt, or whatever it is that holds you back from trying something new. Sure its smelly, and slimy, and kinda gross at the beginning, but you are about to venture off to college on your own and you will be able to tell people you meet that you dissected a shark! Believe me, not everybody can say that.  I've had students come back to me and tell me how dissecting a shark made them seem more interesting to potential dates! I can't think of a more appropriate use of this knowledge I am providing you then using it to gain attention from the opposite sex!  

The shark is temporary.  The unit will end in about two weeks.  As you progress in life, there will be challenges, assignments, etc that you will have to deal with for a longer period of time than one hour a day for two weeks.  Start building up your tolerance for such things now and embrace the shark.  I have never said you have to enjoy it, but it is an assignment you must complete.  As a professional, take it from me, there is always an assignment that you don't enjoy but still must complete.  I wish I could tell you that if you pick the right profession that you will enjoy everything about it and never experience the dread of performing certain tasks, but I can't.  There are professional athletes who are receiving millions of dollars a year playing a game for their profession that don't like some part of their job.  It seems crazy, but that is part of going to work.

Your uneasiness about the shark will dissipate.  Its just a small shark that is the next job on the list.  It is not something that can hurt you.  It cannot make you feel inferior.  Believe me, it will not be coming back to life anytime soon to exact revenge on you either.  You are bigger than this job and can do this because all it is is the next job on the list.  

So lets cross this off our list and build up our toolbox to conquer the next big job that you don't want to do.  

Monday, April 6, 2015


Its Shark Week in Aquatics! This is truly one of my favorites times of the year as we learn about sharks and how important they are to the ocean environment.  My goal is for each of you to come out of this with a greater appreciation for sharks, and less fear of these amazing animals.  

In order to understand them, we must first be able to identify them.  Right now we know of 450 different types of shark that swim in our oceans around the world!  That is an amazing number for an animal whose gene pool has been around for millions of years and survived 4 extinction events that wiped out dinosaurs and other organisms.  In our local waters of the Gulf of Mexico there at least 49 different types of shark that call the gulf home.  If we know what type of shark lives in a certain area it helps us understand what they need for survival and what we need to do to protect that environment.  For example, the whale shark is a beautiful creature that migrates through the gulf every year.  In the past there have been 80-100 sightings a year of these giant fish swimming in our waters.  After the BP oil spill, that number reduced to 35.  I wish we had policy in place that required the guarantee of the safety of the natural habitat and the animals within before we just drill without any care of remorse.  

We will spend time this week also learning about shark behaviors and what is being done to protect them.  Fortunately we are learning about sharks during a time when they have fascinated enough people and scientists to bring much needed positive attention their way.  Thanks to organizations like OCEARCH, led by my favorite shark scientist Chris Fischer (no relation), and also to the social media educator David Shiffman , people are learning more about the positive impact sharks have on the ocean ecosystem, and what needs to be done to protect them.  

I hope you enjoy this week as much as I do.  This will also lead us into one of the best times of year, where we really get to "dive in" to the shark and dissect a spiny dogfish.  So get ready and hopefully what we learn impacts you and leads to helping protect these beautiful fish!