Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Let's Talk About Recess

The conversation of adults taking away recess from students may be a bit controversial with some people. I think it mainly has to do with adults wanting to have control, a lack of creativity on the adults part and kids in our country just simply having the right to recess.

Do we dock a teachers paycheck if they're late to school one day, miss a staff meeting or say something they shouldn't have to a parent?

Of course we don't.

Do we make teachers sit in a three hour training and then...... when everyone gets a break, we tell a few they have to sit outside on the bench because they weren't paying attention, forgot to charge their laptops, were caught talking to their friends and now must sit down during the break.

Of course we don't.

It's my firm belief that recess is a civil right for all kids.

For some reason it's become socially acceptable (in some schools) to take recess away from kids, and parents don't have a problem with this? What do parents say when their child comes home and they tell them that today they didn't get any recess?

My five year old daughter who started Kindergarten last week would be outside of her mind if she didn't run around during the day and was forced to sit on a bench instead. She needs exercise, she needs to stimulate her brain with movement, she cannot sit down for more than 30-45 minutes - it's her right to have recess just like eating lunch, or using the bathroom at school.

What would a parent say if their child got home and they said they didn't eat lunch, because they misbehaved?

What would a parent say if their child was sent outside during math time and didn't receive any instruction?

What would a parent say if their child said they weren't allowed to use the bathroom at school because of something they did?

I've had students misbehave before in the bathroom at school. We don't take away their bathroom privileges, we don't have that right. We may escort them, have them go with a buddy, do a sign-out sheet of some type, etc etc.....but we wouldn't dare tell them they couldn't use the bathroom at school.

If a student isn't being respectful during lunch we don't and can't tell them they don't have the right to eat lunch. We may have them eat at a different table, in the office until they can gather their emotions, or I would sit right next to them during lunch while they ate.

That's called 'building relationships' and 'working through their struggles!' When you take something away with no creative alternative you're saying you have no creativity, you're done thinking about it and not thinking about the child - we owe kids so much more than that.

Recess is no different, all kids have the right to recess each and every day. They need it, their brain needs it, their energy level needs it and all Kids Deserve It as well.

When I was a Principal very early in my tenure I brought up the conversation of recess with my staff. There were just a couple of teachers who felt the 'taking away recess' practice was positive and acceptable. I brought it up with the entire staff at a meeting and a very veteran teacher raised her hand.

"Adam, it's become such a normal thing in schools I haven't thought twice about it for years. Can't we as a staff be more creative than just having a kid sit on the bench during recess, we owe our kids more than that!"

Yes. We. Do.

And we as a staff came up with many options on how to support our students while still allowing them to move around and release their energy before returning to class.

Please fill out this form with ideas that you've implemented at your school instead of taking away a child's recess. Let's work together to be creative and find alternatives, we can do this together and we must stand up against those who think otherwise.

I also understand that all students at school have the right to be safe during recess as well. If we ever had a student who was endangering others during recess, we as a staff worked with them and their family for alternative options. Sometimes at a different time, in a different setting, with additional adult support. We worked with the student and family, we didn't take away.

There are TONS of articles about recess and the huge benefits from having kids run around and take breaks. Here's a great one from EdWeek.

- When a human sits for longer than about 20 minutes, the physiology of the brain and body changes.
The brain essentially just falls asleep when we sit for too long. 

Tim Walker has written extensively about how the many frequent breaks in Finnish schools offer so many positive benefits to kids. We should be giving more recess and more breaks in our schools, not taking them away.

Heinemann publishers has a great book called 'No More Taking Away Recess' that I actually purchased many years ago, check it out if you need some research and new ideas.

I also found an article from the Center for Science in the Public Interest with some horrific statistics. You can read the entire article here, but a few key points are below. 

In a 2016 study of Principals, it was reported that in three-fourths of our schools across the country, kids are punished by loosing recess. I'm starting to think this is a bigger problem than I previously thought.

Here an article on the benefits of recess from Stanford.

Let's talk about recess!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Carpe Diem -

Life is short. I don't take naps. I wake up early. I blog a lot. I run a lot. I kind of can't help it, but I'm always moving around the house.

I truly believe we should seize each and every day, Carpe Diem!

Here's what the last 48 hours looked like for me.

Saturday morning started with publishing three blog posts - here and here and one on MESPA's blog here!

Then @coacheagan picked me up for @edcampsfbay where we hung out and learned together for a few hours.

First session was with two of my amazing author friends who wrote The HyperDoc Handbook - @lhighfill + @kellyihilton


Headed home, packed up the car with my family and drove to Santa Rosa for a marathon I was running in on Sunday.

We had dinner at my Principal friend Jason's house before my marathon on Sunday.

Sunday morning wake-up at 4am with the 26.2 starting at 6am. 

Packet pick-up at De Loach winery on Saturday afternoon!

Post race hardware and yes I wore a customized Kids Deserve It race shirt for the marathon, had LOTS of compliments on the course!

Thanks to my wife and kids for the sign they made, very motivating seeing the on the course!

Sunday we got home around 1pm and I had to clean-up obviously after running a marathon. Shower, eat, rest up a little and then head to my moms house for dinner with the family. My laptop also came with me because we had @KimBearden on our @KidsDeserveIt show at 530pm - watch the show here!

A good friend of mine once told me that 'I'm sucking the marrow out of life!' I absolutely am and hope you do to! 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

My Gear

For the last four to five years I've been running about three marathons a year. Lots of people ask me about my gear, so here you go!

Disclaimer - I don't work for Brooks or get paid by Brooks, but I do wear Brooks from head to toe for my gear!

Brooks Adrenaline have been my shoes for SO many years and I can't recommend them enough. I've been loving the fun colors from Brooks lately and this one below is my new favorite color and have been through a few pairs and wearing them tomorrow for Santa Rosa marathon.

People laugh, but split shorts are my absolute favorite to wear! The Brooks Sherpa is the most comfortable short I've ever worn. There's a nice little pocket in the back to stash some food and they are just the best!

Socks are so important for so many obvious reasons. I've gone back and forth over the years between low cut socks and something up to the ankle. Lately I've been wearing the Radical Lightweight and they are so so so comfy!

Hats are simple and important - I really like the Run-Thru hat, check it out!

And finally my shirt! Many people know that I'm co-founder of Kids Deserve It and I really wanted to wear one of our shirts for a race. The problem is our shirts are a cotton blend and not ideal for 26.2 miles.

So, I took one of my Brooks running shirts, and one of my Kids Deserve It shirts and had my taylor combine the two. Tomorrow at Santa Rosa marathon will be the inaugural of this shirt and I can wait to support Brooks and Kids Deserve It!

That's my gear, happy running and run fun!

My Imaginary Friends

It’s not just about a workout or a calorie burn - it’s a time, for you. Let's go!

So many people I know say they don’t have time, can’t find the time, before they had kids they ran, when they were younger. You've gotta find your groove!

Each morning the patter of my feet, my shoes on the road help to find my beat. Hearing the sounds that only happen super early in the morning - most people don’t hear these sounds.

4:00 am is when my alarm goes off, it’s the time of day I’ve always loved the most. Family is still asleep, kids aren’t running around the house yet - first some coffee and then run.

There is that pivotal moment, of staying in bed or getting up to run. Don’t for a minute think it’s an easy decision each morning, it can be hard, there’s a daily struggle and sometimes I fail. The trick for me has always been to flash forward, picturing and hearing the coffee pot coming to life is the first step of motivation.

Then, once the morning coffee ritual is done, it’s out the door. 4:45am is my optimal time to leave the house, knowing my kids will probably be up by 6:00am, I love to be home when they roll into the kitchen for that morning hug.

"Dad, you're all sweaty."

"How was your run?" says my three year old.

"Great run, great run!"

"Where'd you go?"

They love knowing my route, what did I see, how did I feel - these are the conversations we have in our house.

Those first strides down the road, checking your body for any issues, planning your route, weather check, shoes tied, dog leash isn’t tangled, Garmin on - let’s go!

The road each morning is so peaceful, the sounds, smells, darkness, silence, the solitude.  Now comes that moment of truth, there’s something I must admit.......

I have a secret, my imaginary friends are always with me - to help along!

I’m serious. They’re always there as I run with my headlamp on around the streets of my hometown. If it’s a quick six miles or something a little longer, the motivation to push and exert comes from my friends.

A friend is ahead of us, gotta push the pace to the stop light - let's go.

Check your six, two friends are behind and closing the gap.

Deer Hill Rd in Lafayette is a thoroughfare during the day, but really quiet at dark thirty in the morning.

Sure my dog Bear is with me, but that’s never enough. I need those friends in front and those trying to chase me down. My friends are my coach, in my ear. They're my pusher, my motivator - faster, harder, slow down, catch up. Some people use Nike+, Strava or even an actual coach - I have my imaginary friends.

Lots of 'friends' on Mt. Diablo Blvd, great stretch to run each morning!

Bragging rights have always been another motivator for the early morning sessions. When you're done by 6:15am with a workout. Looking down on Highway 24, people in their cars headed to work - and we've already had the pain, had the sweat, earned our breakfast and feel freakin amazing from the workout. That. Is. What. I. Love.

Lace up those shoes, get out the door, run with your 'friends' and kick off each day with a sweat.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

We're Just Going To Say It #KidsDeserveIt

This post is co-written with the amazing Lindsy Stumpenhorst! If you aren't connected with Lindsy, you're totally missing out! @lmstump

Lindsy and Adam talk almost on a daily basis via Voxer, and we've made a decision. We're just going to say it. We're tired of the complaining. We're tired of the excuses. Our kids deserve the very best each day in our schools and that starts with us!

I (Adam) have said for years that I like to ‘keep it real.’ For years friends have told me they appreciate my honesty and for being direct. That’s great - but lately I’ve been thinking about those non-friends of mine, those educators you work with who argue and make excuses and say they’ve always done it this way - how about keeping it real with them?

I’ve decided, I’m just going to say it.

When someone says they don’t ‘understand Twitter’ and it’s lame, I’m going to talk with them about learning and staying relevant for their students. I’m not going to nod my head and give a weak smile. I’m just going to say it.

If I hear a teacher or another adult in a school say ‘you’re too young for that’ - I’m going tell them I’ve seen Kindergarten students write three pages during Writer’s Workshop. And that I’ve had 1st graders in my own coding class that have written apps, programmed a Sphero and printed on our 3D printer. Yes. They. Can. I’m just going to say it.

If I hear a Principal complain about kids, that they don’t have time, there’s no money, they’re only a few years away from retirement - I’m just going to say it.

Complaining doesn’t get us anywhere, it only adds fuel to the bonfire which turns into an inferno that spreads and spreads and spreads. When a negative fire spreads that far, it’s so hard to put it out. If you hear people complain and complain, please say something.

How many times have you gone to a restaurant or a hotel and had bad service, and said something about it? Far too often we see or hear about something in education that’s happened and people just don’t say anything.

“It’s just how they are.”

“They are really nice though.”

“I don’t think they mean what they said.”

Call. Them. Out. Please just say it.

My two children are in swim lessons right now and a few weeks ago their instructor said something to my son that blew me away. First off, he’s three years old. They were practicing their dives and he’s made big improvement. What does she say?

“That wasn’t that horrible.”

Are you kidding me. I lit her up after the lesson, how dare she talk to anyone, let alone my son like that. That wasn’t that horrible? In the car I had a talk with Tilden about his dives, how proud I am of him that he’s been working hard at our pool and to keep giving his best effort. I also told him that what his ‘coach’ said to him wasn’t respectful and that I spoke to her about it.

Kids also need to know that adults can’t talk to them a certain way, kids have to know that we have their back.

Fast Company just published a great article about ‘6 Ways To Deal With Chronic Complainers!’ They have some great suggestions

Who’s coming with us? Who’s going to speak up? Who’s going to say what’s best for kids? Who’s going to call people out?

All of this can be done respectfully of course, it just needs to be done!

When I (Lindsy) was hired, it was well known, I was to be the first female principal in the building. Ever. As I walked into the lobby of my “soon-to-be” school, I was greeted by a wall of golde- rod frames with sepia photos...the legacy of principals I was to follow.

There were so many questions running through my mind, but the loudest “Would they (teachers, parents, students) like me?”.

Coming into this first year as a principal in a new building, I had one-on-one meetings to get to know my staff. During these meetings one of my teachers said, “I heard that you say it like it is.” I wasn’t sure whether to be offended or proud...

Some conversations are just hard, no matter how honest you are. In my short time as principal there have been a few times that I’ve drug my feet before uncomfortable conversations, but at the end of the day I still say it. In the long run, it doesn’t matter if we personally/professionally disagree.

Don’t we deserve honesty from each other? Don’t our kids deserve what’s right by them, even if that means a hard conversation between adults? If we don't talk about it, how will we ever fix it?

Today...I carry my reputation with pride, I do what’s right by kids, and that starts with my ability to be real (even though I still kind of hope that you like me!)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Let's Get Pumped Up

Kids start next week (some districts they've already started), aren't you excited, I can't wait for them to arrive in our schools - let's get pumped up!

Maybe it's a video, check out three below!

Micheal Phelps pumps me up!

Kids look up to you, don't loose the love and get pumped up for them!

FLOTUS and Missy - who wants to sing!

Maybe it's a #KidsDeserveIt Canva, see a few below!

When I was a teacher I'd always watch Dead Poets Society the night before each school year. It reminded why I became a teacher, why I build those strong connections with kids and why I care about education so much!

I just want back through old photos I have with former students and letters they've written to me over the years. Remembering those kids, wondering where they are now and looking forward to building new relationships gets me excited to do this work.

What gets you pumped up for the school year? Share out on social media using the #KidsDeserveIt hashtag - and be awesome for kids!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Please Just Be Happy

Last night I was tweeting about my five year old daughter and how she's starting Kindergarten next Monday in our public schools for the first time. The last three years have been an awesome experience in pre-school. 

A wonderful school community, happy and loving teachers, everyone on campus made her feel welcome and special and like she belonged!

With only a few more days until she starts, I've done some deep thinking on what I really want for her experience to be. It has nothing to do with curriculum, GAFE, Chromebooks, math centers or even making friends. I simply want ALL the people who interact with her at school to be happy. 

I want them to smile. To say hello. To be interested in her. To ask questions. To support and encourage. My two children are a direct reflection of how my wife and I have raised them until this point. If they aren't respectful, if they don't follow directions, if they aren't positive members of the school community - it's our fault, not theirs. 

If you work with kids in a school setting, do not punish them for how they act. Work with them, guide them, support them - it's not their fault.

I've seen far to many teachers over the years who simply aren't happy - and kids deserve happy adults at school. If you're having a bad day, leave your problems in the car. Someone just last week told me a story about a few teachers who said they weren't going to smile for the first two months of school. They'd 'heard' the incoming class was naughty and a bunch of trouble makers. 

"If we don't smile they'll know who is in charge, that's what they need."

It is a child's civil right to have happy and nurturing adults at school that smile and show them they care! (Please feel free to Tweet that, I think it's the truth and very important!)

When I was a Principal there were a few times when I told one of my teachers they needed to smile more. Honesty has always been my goal, and especially when it comes to an adult who works with kids, it's even that much more important. 

Please smile, please be happy, please be genuine, if my daughter does something that makes you upset or isn't correct - please let my wife and I know so we can work on it together with you. Frowning, being grumpy, being mean, not being nice or simply just being standoffish is not okay - ever!

If you need a pick me up, Sesame Street always does the trick!

She's ready, and she deserves happy!

Pharrell Williams came out with a fun picture book called Happy last year which is definitely worth checking out! 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Now What

My wife and I were on our first date and I can remember the moment well. We were walking up the stairs at SF Moma having a great conversation and she turns to me - "You're pretty passionate and intense aren't you?"

"Yes I am!"

We laugh about that now and at the time it wasn't a serious moment at all, and the truth is my wife is very much the same way. My wife has also diagnosed me with 'too much energy' and has fully embraced my internal pace that is constantly running and thinking and creating and pushing and moving and designing and writing and blogging and taking our two children on adventures!

I tell that story because I've always had the 'now what' mentality. You have an experience, you accomplish something and then that's it. There is always more, there has to be more.

Ten years ago I ran my first marathon. The longest training run I had was only nine miles, but I finished the race in under four hours. I crossed the line and my first thought was - "What would it be like to turn around and run back 26.2 miles?"

I was exhausted and honestly could barely walk, but that was the thought in my head.

About six months later I ran my first fifty, I had to see what it would be like!

Passion is my advantage. Hard work gets me there. There is always someone with more passion and hard work than me, I have to catch them. I constantly say to myself, now what?

Please don't ever settle, don't ever say 'good enough' for them, I'm too tired, the line is too long, they don't even speak english. 

Push harder than yesterday, commit to more than you did last week, put their future front and center. Accomplish a goal for kids and then find something else to go after!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Here's What I Would Do

Just because something has been handed to you a certain way - just because someone may not believe in you or your idea - just because you don't have enough money - just because the majority of kids at your school don't speak english - just because you have some teachers who 'think' it should be done a different way - just because everyone has always told you no, you're not good enough and you can't - just because you've dealt with rejection and failure  - just because your leader doesn't get it and maybe they never will - all that means, is you need to fight even harder and don't go down!

What would I do? 

Keep fighting. Don't listen to those people that say you can't. The people that are saying you can't probably want to but they're just scared to get out of their comfort zone. I've always been a firm believer in talking about your struggles, tell others what you're going through - you may just find some help.

Last year I was at an EdCamp and in a session with about thirty other educators. I can't exactly remember what the session was about, but our conversation turned to social media, access in schools and certain things being blocked. A teacher in the session was telling the group how Twitter was blocked in her school, she really wanted to use it as a resource for her learning, showing kids examples of how to be digital citizens, etc. 

"My Principal just says we can't unblock it."

I ask her what district she works in and wouldn't you know I'm connected with one of their Assistant Superintendents, and what she was saying just didn't add up. They're the kind of Assistant Superintendent that understands social media, understands relevant learning - can get stuff done! So why would everything be blocked?

It just so happens that I have their cell phone number as well, and dial them up right in the middle of the EdCamp session. They answer with - 

"What's up Adam, what's going on!"

I'm tell them the teachers story, ask a few questions and the truth comes out. The Principal has been giving mis-information. All those things the teacher wants to do can totally happen, the Principal just needs to give the thumbs up. On Monday morning they're going to make some phone calls and make some changes, the teacher in the EdCamp session is about to cry.

This is why we should tell others our stories, our struggles, our ideas, share our passions. You never know who is listening, who can help, who can pick up the phone and make things happen - that's just what I would do.

Our time with kids is too precious to have wasted potential, wasted opportunity, wasted moments. You are the solution, get rid of the problem and be part of the solution.

Nothing is ever perfect, there's always going to be some issues - start being part of the solution.

Refuse to go down - you got this.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

If You Think They Won't

If you think they won't, there is no way that they will.

If you think they might, then there's a chance. 

If you think they can, then go make it happen.

I believe they all can. I believe that it's inside all of them to do whatever they dream is possible. They may not be able to do something very well, but they need to at least try. We need to give them a start. We need to believe - think - encourage - push - train - prod - help - guide and think that all kids have amazing inside of them and can achieve.

There's the crutch I believe for most people, that first step. They're frozen - can't move - can't speak - can't think - they can't even get out of the dugout and onto the field. Please don't try and blame someone else, point a finger, make an excuse, call in sick, shift the blame, act like you don't know - or just simply not care. 

We don't have a choice, if you work in education it's our job. It's more than a job, it's a part of us. In my opinion, it's a civil right to have every adult at school believe in every single student. Adults shouldn't have the ability to give up, to say no, to say can't/wouldn't/shouldn't. 

For some of our students we're the only positive interaction in their life - so we better make it positive and encouraging.

Maybe you've had your fair share of disappointments, maybe you've been told no, maybe you've failed, maybe nobody has ever believed in you. You know what - if you still think you won't, there is never anyway you're going to make it happen.

Say it for kids - stand up for kids - be brave for kids - believe in kids. Remember, our kids have unlimited potential, it's usually the adults who put a cap on how high they can fly. How far they can go. How much fun they can have. How creative they can be. 

Let's think that ALL kids can - and they will. This is your chance to leave a trace. A trace of inspiration that all your students can follow back to you. Life will be hard for them, but they'll know where to go. They'll remember how you were. They'll remember your love. They'll remember you believed. Your inspiration. Your encouragement. That you knew they all could!

How many Kelvin's are out there right now, just waiting for someone to believe in them? Please go believe!