Hello Everyone and Happy Monday,
This weekend I received some great new books, Leading Professional Learning by Thomas C. Murray and Jeffrey Zoul. Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Project Book volume 2 and He’s the Weird Teacher by Doug Robertson. While I’ll be doing a review with Appy the App Dice Pirate later this week, I wanted to focus on Weird Teacher. I’ve been following and chatting on and off with Doug for the last year and finally the stars aligned just right and I was able to finally purchase his book. While several things stood out to me in his book it was Chapter 16: Letters to Prison that really jumped out at me. The chapter had a great message at the end about: “if its important to our students, it should be important to us.” To borrow a line from the book, I’m going to get on my soapbox right now. My own father wasn’t in my life much and it wasn’t that we didn’t have a decent relationship when I was growing up because we did but he wasn’t around as much as I wished he would have been. As a father myself now, I know what it’s like to not make conferences as much as I would like to with my own son. While he is still in PK, his conferences like to run late morning/early afternoon when I’m at work trying to help my own students and teachers. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not involved or haven’t taken half-days to make my son’s conferences with his teachers. My son has also done school parades during holidays or special events like most four year olds do and I have been able to make two of them but not as many as I would have liked.
In my own father’s case, I can understand these days why he didn’t make those events, especially living a few states away. Not to mention a few years later after he remarried and my siblings were born and he was able to make those moments with them compared to me. Especially now, since I haven’t really talked with him in two years and haven’t seen him since my son was almost ten months old. While I know his life isn’t the most together these days (2008 crash hit him hard) I do at times wish he would make more of an effort to see his only grandchild right now or at least call and not send a text on my birthday. Which brings me to this post’s title. Being more Hondo Maclean and less Buddie “Clutch” Hawks. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, Hondo and Buddie were characters on the 80s cartoon, M.A.S.K., about several average people who came together to fight a terrorist organization known as V.E.N.O.M with vehicles that could transform into battle ready vehicles to take on the bad guys. Hondo was a high school history teacher working on his doctorate and had a former military background. Buddie was a guy who had former ties to organized crime and was a master of disguise who went straight. Buddie worked as a mechanic at the service station that was secretly the M.A.S.K base in Boulder Hill, Nevada. When an emergence would happen usually dealing with V.E.N.O.M, they had special watches that flashed with alerts that they had to drop everything and come a running. Usually, with comedic results. One member, Alex Sector who was a former British Intelligence officer was working with a boy scout troop doing flag signals and ended up dropping them and leaving troop in dismay once during a mission. It was pretty funny or Dusty Hayes who was a pizza kitchen worker and was always dropping everything to go save the world. However, in real life, Dusty would have been fired for his constant leaving the job and he was always working on something during normal business hours.
So, what does this have to do with Doug’s chapter and Hondo? Well, our good buddy Hondo while a history teacher at a high school and even though had to run out on missions even during the day didn’t just run out. In fact, many times he made sure everything was taken care of before he ran out. One of my favorite episodes was when he was walking a freshman to the principal’s office and his watch went off. He paused, looked at his watch and then turned to the student. He said: “You continue to the principal’s office, he knows what you did. I have to get a sub for an emergency and I will see you tomorrow.” Then he left. Hondo had this happen a lot, once he was grading tests, his watch went off, he put them carefully in his brief case and said: “Guess I’ll grade these before the meeting.” Another time he was finishing with his class and then told them to have a great weekend and ended class early, to which the students cheered. It wasn’t that Hondo didn’t run out in a hurry twice during the series. Once he was in the library with a stack of books for research and ended up handing them to a woman near by before running off. Another time he was helping with football practice to show them a running play and then kept on running after his watch went off. The point is: Hondo put his students first before he decided to go save the world.
As for Buddie, while he was working a mechanic at M.A.S.K. headquarters, when his watch went off, he ran out even though he was just two floors up from base and other M.A.S.K teammates were scattered across the country. He didn’t have to run, in fact one episode he left an elderly couple to ride a bike to town after their car broke down because he had a mission and couldn’t finishing fixing their car. Another time he was fixing a tire and then ran out and we saw the tire explode from too much air being put in. HE HAD THE LEAST DISTANCE TO TRAVEL! Buddie had plenty of time to finish what he was doing and then head down the elevator to M.A.S.K. headquarters. The situations were played for laughs of course but another M.A.S.K member, Julio Lopez who was a doctor outside of the team and never once did he leave patients hanging or staff. He was only in a few episodes but he knew he had to make the time for his patients and staff before going off to save the world. Something Doug talked about a lot in his book was making that time to just listen to our students. We constantly talk about how our schedules are so busy and we barely have time to think but its about making that effort to find the time not just with our students but with our own families and fellow teachers. The time we make for others can have the most value to anyone. It can be for a conference, taking pictures as our kid performs in a school play or just saying: “Tell me what’s bothering you?” We have to remember that we do as teachers doesn’t just stop at when a lesson is over.