Parenting is the most challenging parkour I have ever attempted. Out of all of the races I have completed or even started, all wrestling matches I have competed in, track meets I have attended, or any Football field I have played on parenting takes the cake. Some days it is a breeze. My kids can be the kindest and most considerate humans on the planet. These days I genuinely believe I have this parenting thing figured out. On other days my kids are assassins. Able to slay me with a look or a snide remark that cuts me so deep I do not think I can recover. I lie there bleeding out as they laugh and point. I am the one who did not see it coming, blindsided by my spawn.
I try to use the education I have paid good money for to outfox my kids. I use all of the tricks of Cognitive Coaching, Love and Logic, Leader in Me, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, and punishment to change the paradigm. My kids see right through all tricks, and my fear of what is to come is shown. I am defeated before I even start. My daughter is lethal with her words, and they cut deep. My son uses the newly found power of hormones to turn on and off emotions at the drop of a hat. They are more powerful than I am because I love them no matter what. That is why it hurts so bad when they attach.
The struggle is not felt alone. I have to believe all parents have these battles. Facebook and Instagram would make me think others have perfect families and no troubles with their kids, but I have to believe others are survivors like me. The ones who continue to live to support and love our kids.
All joking aside, parenting is harsh. I, like many parents, try daily to connect with our kids. We listen to hours of Fortnite content, watch Garfield cartoons, and drive to countless appointments to help our kids. We feel like this will never end, but we miss this current time when it does. I believe that no matter the feedback I receive for all of the time I spend supporting my kids, they will appreciate the effort. Maybe not now, maybe in the future, perhaps when they are in my current shoes as a parent. No matter what, I will be there for them because I am their parent.
I write this not as a solution or even a rant. I write this to say you are not alone. It is tough to raise kids, it is tough to keep them safe, it is tough to keep them entertained, and it is tough to allow them freedom. We want the very best for them all of the time. For this to happen, we can not forget about ourselves. Our mental health is key to their mental health. Take time for yourself; this will allow you to be the best for them.
Your partner in education and parenting, Douglas Greek EdD
Reflections can be challenging. Looking back at what you have accomplished is more complex than remembering what you should have done better. WHY!!??? This should not be the case! As we look back on this school year, we have accomplished so much, overcame, adapted, and lost. We should be able to say, “This year was …, but I made it the best I could with what I had”. When looking back at what we have accomplished and looking forward to the future goals,, we need to have the ability to recognize and celebrate what we have achieved. Here’s to a school year like no other.
In education, we have lost a lot of teachers to burnout. The stress of the current education profession is unprecedented. Students have changed, teachers have changed, the administration has changed, and policies have changed. COVID not only impacts the body systems but also impacts the environment we live and interact with. Masks have been removed,, and distances closed,, but we have never been so far apart. Eye contact is brutal, all social interaction is tricky, OR we have just forgotten how to do it. Why is this? I believe it is related to reflections. We struggle (I do, for sure) to see what we are doing good and focus more on the added stress of the whole picture.
Reading an article published by Education Week, I believe the stress comes from the gaps during COVID. “It’s heartbreaking. The pressure is overwhelming,” Bouchard said. “I feel like a horrible teacher. I’ve been teaching for 22 years, and this might be the lowest self-esteem I’ve had.” I have heard this from countless teachers who are excellent but can not see past the tree. Each learning opportunity does grow the next. Some students will struggle due to this loss, but growth will happen. Getting back into a schedule with teachers who know their craft will help this loss of learning.
“Preoccupied with a single leaf, you won’t see the tree. Preoccupied with a single tree, you’ll miss the entire forest.” This quote from Takuan Soho identifies an issue with not seeing the big picture. This has changed, in my opinion, drastically. We have to focus on the leaf so the tree can grow, focus on the tree, so it rises to build a more substantial forest, and focus on the forest to develop a better world. Educators focus on the minor aspects to create a stronger student. This is what we do now and have always done. We have to take that aspect as a significant positive and grow from that. Education is not the same, but life is not the same. As humans, we adapt to meet the environment better we are exposed to with the ultimate goal of survival. Each experience allows us the gift of a lesson learned. Teachers showed their ability to adapt. Technology was used in ways that it has never been used before in education. If you question this statement I have a few videos of kindergarten students video meeting with their teacher through Google Meet. This alone would have never happened before the pandemic. Our teachers are resilient, to say the least, amazing would be better.
Reflections are tough. In some considerations, we see all of what we should have done or actions that should have been better. We look back at a situation or interaction with a critical eye. We all have areas that we could improve, but take note of the areas in which you are great. Education is not accessible, just ask any parent who had to deal with COVID teaching. Society forgets how many times they wished the schools to open and their students to return. We were heroes during that time, and we are still heroes now. Take solace in the fact that you work in a job that can be thankless but at the same time worthy of all awards. Awards for patients, caring, support, growth, and shaping our future should be given. You are an EDUCATOR, be proud of what you have done and what you will accomplish in the future.
Technology can feel very daunting in an elementary classroom, but it does not have to. Use the link below to learn more.
Technology can feel very daunting in an elementary classroom, but it does not have to. Teachers have been teaching for years before technology, as we know it, even came into the picture. When the first pencil became the “new thing,” we probably had someone who scoffed at the notion of using lead as a writing utensil. The exact definition of technology is something that makes work easier. This is what technology in the classroom can and should be doing. Streamlining the effort of work is the purpose of using technology in our lessons.
The other part of using technology in the classroom is to teach students the proper usage. Technology can become a distraction and an interruption in the learning process. I have had teachers tell me they are not using technology at all, then complain their students take too long to log in to the device. Practice and being proactive is the key to using technology in your classroom. This is not an automatic practice nor an easy task at first. With practice, the time it takes for students to navigate learning resources will streamline. The more students learn, the more they will know, this is the case in using technology also.
Another misconception when using technology is that “more is better.” This is not the case. In some instances, one technology used correctly and entirely is more powerful than many tools used halfway. Take Google Docs as an example. Google Docs can meet most needs in the classroom. Docs can be used as a presentation tool, infographic creator, close reading resource, differentiation in the area of speech to text and audio to read, data tracking, book creator, and many more. Have students create their rough draft using speech to text then print it for them to edit. This practice will allow students to speak freely without worrying about typing or spelling. It is not a written law that students have to create with pencil and paper. Allow for the option; this is the key to using technology.
Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge (TPACK) have to be balanced in today’s classroom. Plenty of research has proven that the balance of technology and purpose is critical in moving a class from average to above-average academically. This is mostly because the technology allows students and educators access to outside resources. Schools that do not embrace this concept are doing a disservice to our future leaders. Embracing the balance of TPACK should be a common practice among administrators, which will model best practices for their educators and students. To learn more about TPACK, click the link provided here.
Technology is not the goal or destination. Technology is a vessel that we use to travel more efficiently. The real question is, how can technology aid me in the classroom? The first step to answering this question is knowledge. Look at the learning goal, then chose the strategy, LASTLY select the tool. If you don’t know the objective, you will never arrive at that goal. If your goal is to have your students understand “X,” then decide how you help them to understand “X” and choose the tool to reinforce that strategy. If you are at a loss for the strategy, Dr. John Hattie and Dr. Robbert Marzano may be able to help.
Last thoughts If you want to fight and resist technology usage because you are not comfortable, then your students will suffer. As educators, our job is to support and prepare our students as they grow. If we do not allow them to learn proper technology usage, then they will learn on their own. In some cases, this causes misconceptions in their learning journey. You, as an educator, are the best at what you do because you have learned from others. Embracing technology affords your students to learn from you. Students need to be allowed to fail in a safe and caring environment. The teacher provides this environment for students daily. In future posts, I will spend some time exploring resources and how to use them in your quest for authentic learning opportunities.
Douglas Greek EdD, your partner in Educational Technology
This is what I have learned from my heated debates with my teenager.
I allow my kiddos to be online at home and after school as long as it does not hinder family activities. I also have full access to WIFI in my house, which means I can turn it off when I choose. In some cases, I shut off WIFI for my kids; this action causes mini-meltdowns. This is the background to why I had this question and why I researched this topic. I also believe this is something most parents ask and want answers to.
Humans do not like to be told what to do (NO WAY); we often argue with Humans do not like to be told what to do (NO WAY); we often argue with authority when asked or given a directive. There are many reasons that adolescents may become argumentative with their parents. We may want more independence, disagreeing about rules and values. Believing in something so much makes it is hard for us to take others’ perspectives into account. Trouble coping with emotions or immature thought processes regarding consequences of actions. Struggles working through conflicts with peers or adults. All or any of these situations could cause friction in your home. The following questions explore potential reasons teens may argue with their parents is the same for us when discussing our rights as adults.
Why is my child so argumentative?
How does your child’s behavior affect you? When your child becomes argumentative during an interaction, it affects you emotionally by triggering feelings of anxiety and annoyance. We also believe that they should do what we say without argument or question. In our mind, what we say is LAW! In their mind, it is an opportunity for debate. The power lies in the discussion and who can stay calmest.
Three triggers may cause your teen to argue with you:
The first is puberty, the second is hormones, and the third one is independence. Puberty brings hormonal changes, which will create mood swings, emotional outbursts, and feelings of vulnerability.
Your teen wants to feel strong by asserting their own opinions rather than just agreeing with yours or others.
They seek more independence during this time, so it becomes hard for parents to understand why they want their space even though you have given them plenty before.
What can I do about my teenagers’ constant arguing?
The most straightforward answer would be to change your perception of your child’s behavior as “arguing” and seek other methods to find a middle ground. This is a challenging concept to grasp. If we cannot change our own views on what arguing is within our relationship with our teens, then all of this information will be useless.
There are many different reasons why the average teenager might argue with their parents. It could simply be that they feel like they know better than their parents because they are exposed to more things – through school, sports, or even seeing it at home; I also fail at this daily. Teenagers often want more freedom and independence, which can cause them to rebel against parental figures for not giving them room to grow. They believe there is too much oversight by the “authorities” in their lives. This can create arguments between parent and child during this time where both parties think the other isn’t respecting them enough. Space is critical for me and may also help you. Relationships can both grow and die in this power struggle.
Suggestions for ending arguments with your child:
Try not to start an argument when you feel like you are already too upset.
When arguing, try to remain calm and level-headed at all costs. Sometimes taking a minute or two before joining the discussion can help control your emotions allowing for better interactions.
If you do lose your temper, take some time away from your child/teenager – separate yourself from them for a short while (a few minutes to an hour) as this may be triggering old memories of past arguments.
My point of view as a dad:
The reality is, I write this for my own headspace and wellbeing. I am not perfect and never will be. Even after all of my education and years as a classroom
The reality is, I write this for my own headspace and wellbeing. I am not perfect and never will be. After my years as a classroom educator, I find myself sliding into the “because I told you so”! Mindset. I commented a while back, “you get hard in the yard.” In this case, the “yard” interacts with tiny humans that we hope will become strong-minded adults. We want them to question, be assertive, and be headstrong, all with respect. If this is who we want them to be, who will be their role model? I try not to fail at this, but I do. Arguments become yelling matches. Feelings are hurt even if we do not want them to end like this. As parents, the most powerful thing is not to win; it is to show how we recover when we are wrong. We ALL fail. The key is how do we recover?
Innovators, the time is now or later or never or whenever.
What does this mean, Greek! Education does change a fair amount. This change is in pedagogical practices, data tracking methods, types of testing, technology resources, social practices, and classroom management methods along with everything in-between. The tasks/skills/curriculum that we cover as educators are endless and continue to grow. So, what is the purpose of this post?
Education does change, but the core of what we do does not. We are expected to perform at a high level no matter what happens. Personal life has no place at work. This is what I use to think until my mistake. A mistake that should not have happened, but it did. I started in education after 9/11/2001; on this day, I questioned everything I was doing in life. At the time of this life-altering event, I was working in a local factory, building fans on an assembly line. I did not like this job, but it paid well and included insurance.
My mind changed on 9/11, for the better. Your mortality and achievements come to light in moments like this. I started to wonder what I was doing to better society in my current profession as an assembly worker. I was providing for my family, which is noble on its own, but I was not nourishing my soul. Two days later, I quit my job and started a harsh journey to become an educator. For 13 years, I have worked to better society one classroom at a time, one day at a time, one month at a time, and year after year. I now see my students leave school, graduate, to start their journey in life. I love working with kids and our future, but I made a mistake.
Social Media is one of the “changes,” I started speaking of in the first section of this post. At its core, the connections that can be made surpass time and location. I can follow high school friends that have chosen lives to live all over the world. This connection is powerful! As Uncle Ben stated, “With great power comes great responsibility.” This power can build someone up or break them down with one post. We have to model responsible use of this power, but we are flawed humans. Posting with emotion can cause significant detriment to individuals, even if that was not your intent.
Teachers and parents change also. They become smarter with years of service. More intelligent in time management, relationship building, and their ability to walk into the classroom day in and day out no matter their current situation. Life can punch you in the gut and make you question why you do what you do; the students are the purpose and the focus. Mistakes happen, but education is based on grace. The key to this grace is that you do not expect it, you hope when errors occur, it will be granted.
I started this career with the hopes of making a change. This change does not happen in a vacuum nor is this change a given, it takes a lot of work. In this line of work, it is hard not to take things personally, I know this first hand. The key to this change is, how do you recover from mistakes? That is the integrity of a teacher. Changes will happen even if you do not want it to, your ability to adjust to these changes is essential in your professional and personal lives.
I am grateful for your support and grace. I am thankful for the time and efforts that all teachers put forth for our students. I am thankful for the opportunities public education has given me. These opportunities come gift-wrapped sometimes and in brown paper bags at other times. These learning opportunities are not always wanted.
In our household, we have a newly crowned teenager. Before you applaud my extraordinary accomplishment, let’s talk about this further. Simon has gone from 100% dependent to 80% independent. As a parent, this is both relieving and stressful. I love seeing him become his own person, but I fear all of the mistakes I have made being made by him. As a parent, we want our kids to be safe and wrapped in bubble wrap their whole life. This practice is not a reality, and coming to grips with this reality is super tough. We will explore this topic further with relevant research and real-world accounts.
First, this phase of adolescents is not easy for anyone. The kiddo is going through so many mental and chemical changes that, in most cases, they do not know which way is up. I, as the parent, want to control or orchestrate every step of this process. Simon wants to do the same. This is where the struggle becomes a battle. Healthy Children website states, “Adolescence is the period of transition between childhood and adulthood. It includes some big changes physically, and to the way a young person relates to the world.” This world includes their family. In my opinion, the “I want to be free” aspect is the toughest. I want to be a part of everything he does, but he wants to be left alone.
Contemporary PEDS Journal wrote in July 2021, “Parents can be perplexed and worried about the behavior of their adolescent children. Real risks exacerbate the worries as adolescents venture into real-world demands.” As I look back over the things I did and somehow survived, I worry about this “behavior” aspect the most. I did some stupid things as a kid and rebelled against those who tried to help the most. As I reflect now, I can see some had great intentions. When I was told I would not or could not do something, I did it. I have counselors in high school who thought and voiced my inability to achieve anything more than jail time. I ended up with a Doctorate in Education and Leadership (EdD). I also had loved ones who tried to keep me safe, and I ended up making bad decisions. The key here is how they dealt with me. They did not say, “Told you so,” or boast. They listened and supported me. These individuals are who I hold most dear to this day.
The student who is going through this change is also dealing with a lot. In this time of uncertainty, they struggle with acceptance, balance, stress, and changes in their body. On top of this, they are trying not to make their family mad. The last one may not appear as a priority, but they want to keep the peace. Mental health is a genuine concern for us as parents. CDC writes, “Adolescence is a time for young people to have a healthy start in life. The number of adolescents reporting poor mental health is increasing. Building strong bonds and connecting to youth can protect their mental health. Schools and parents can create these protective relationships with students and help them grow into healthy adulthood.” What does this look like, and what can we do as parents?
First, we are not all experts, and we are ALL still learning. Most experts say to listen to your kiddo from what I have read. As adults, we have mortgages, doctor bills, insurance payments, bills, taxes, and everything else adulting throws at us on the day-to-day grind. These things can make your kiddo’s issue appear less then. It is crucial to understand that their struggles are as big as ours. Who likes them or do not like them, where they fit or do not fit, teachers making them work too hard parents who give too many chores, and so many other things. These items are oversized and cause stress for them. When Simon talks to me, I try to listen, but I also fail to see him eye to eye. This is where I will work to improve my practice.
An article written for Parenting and Family by Jill Suttie identifies the risks of being a teen and gives good advice for keeping them safe. She interviews the author of Born to Be Wild, Dr. Shatkin. He writes that parents “Think their primary job is to remind teens over and over that they’re not invincible and to explain to them what terrible things can happen to them if they engage in risk.” He says that teens know they are not invisible; this is where their stress lies. They are full of fear and want to be included and accepted. He goes into how the brain works and how hormones are the attacking forces. I do remember the stress when I would try something, and it would fail. I did not worry about the failure; I worried about others’ thoughts. Was it cool, or was I just an idiot? Would I ever recover from this social detriment? This was the stress I dealt with, but I did not have to battle the social media giants.
Social media has amplified everything we thought we dealt with when we were their age. If I was recorded when I failed, I knew. Cameras were not small. Today, the recordings and uploads are happening ALL of the time! Everything is documented.
We as parents need to listen and validate our kid’s concerns and struggles. This is the most powerful tool we have. I strongly believe in counseling for ourselves and our kids. There are professionals available to help either in person or virtually. Seek help and support our most valuable resources, our children.
How do we support future learners/leaders? Education is both a profession and a lifestyle. You may believe you HATE learning or going to school, but I don’t believe that is true. Learning is reality if you are alive. We all learn through necessity. If your car has an issue, go to YouTube or Google and find the “fix”. In some cases, this “fix” will cause new issues. How many times do you try to build or assemble something before you actually look at the instructions? This is LEARNING in its most basic form. Learning through doing is important.
When my wife and I decided to have kids we read all of the books. We read about parenting, baby safety practices, the newest gadgets, what to purchase, and MANY more. When our son came, WE WERE READY! Reality hit hard when he turned one month. Simon was a colicky baby. He cried all of the time. We purchased all of the “things” that we learned about to help this nonstop screaming. We learned through necessity. We learned through adversity and judgment from others. I can not tell you how many times I cried because of the stress of Simon’s constant screaming. We survived through learning and educating ourselves over this situation.
As an educator, it is my job expectation to learn. I must educate myself to be relevant. As a parent, I must educate myself to be relevant to my children. I hear from parents all of the time about how the internet is controlling their kids’ lives. The real question is, what are you doing to help your kids understand balance? Do you set limits on their devices? Do you limit their digital access? Do you allow social media and how are you monitoring their presents on these platforms? Just like when Simon was a baby I have to learn NOW how to support him while he finds balance. This is not easy and has caused a lot of screaming and crying, just like when he was a baby.
Let’s start with cell phones. My family use Apple devices and the parent controls are great. All management access is done in ios without any other apps needed. Learn more using this link from Apple. I limit time on apps, set up bedtime, end times, and start times that limit who they can communicate with. I can even remove access to the app store! I know what my kiddos do on their phones ALL OF THE TIME. I educated myself on this process and I learned how to keep them safe the best I can.
If you are an Android user I would recommend Kite, which is also free. I know there are other apps that can do the same, but this one I know works and have used. Kite settings will follow your kiddo. It works through their Google account including Chromebook’s, cell phones, Microsoft devices, and other devices that use Chrome or have a Gmail account.
How about Microsoft including Xbox? You can manage this through Family Link. This includes All Microsoft products including Xbox consoles. You can choose who they can chat with, play with, games they can play, and time limits for all devices. With this program you will know what they are doing at all times.
We have one real job as parents and educators. That job is to educate and support our kids. In this digital world we can do this by setting boundaries. In the classroom procedures are in place to keep kids safe and free of learning distractions. At home this is tough to do, but with the right tools and conversations it can be achieved.
Technology allows the time needed to assess each student then prescribe the needed resources to scaffold the student to their ZPD. Most programs that have Artificial Intelligence (AI) integration will adjust the difficulty of the questions based on how the student answers the delivered questions. An adaptive assessment may take 20 minutes to complete, but it can take that much time for each student in a classroom. This technology does NOT take the place of a well-informed and connected educator. Taking the data from the AI and comparing it with anecdotal notes and teacher observation is how we can support students best. I can already hear your thoughts! If the teacher has to do the work, why would they ever use technology to arrive at the same conclusion?! If you have ever evaluated 25+ students over a week, you will have to admit you get tired super quick, and the stories or math evaluations haunt you in your dreams. We are human; computer programs are not. This is why balance is essential. What does this look like in the classroom? In the next section, we will explore two resources of MANY. The two I have included here are, in my opinion, the best place to begin. I hope you find them helpful also. ReadingIQ is a fantastic resource that allows you to choose how the reading levels are reported and allows students to take a placement test. This is a FREE
This is a FREE digital resource in both fiction and nonfiction from Marvel, Pixar, National Geographic, and others that students will love to read. This is a great resource for teachers and meets all of the safety measures that are expected in our classrooms today (COPPA, CIPA, FERPA). Resources available in Reading IQ include all Disney products.
With audiobooks and graphic novels, students of all ages can benefit from this excellent resource, and it is FREE. I know there are a bunch of other resources like GetEpic, Tumblebooks, and many many more. This resource has built-in differentiation through the assessment and different reading levels. Finding one resource to meet all of your students’ needs can be difficult, but with this one and your small group reading practice, and written material, you will give your students options that are engaging for them and you. In math, I like Prodigy Math, and before you start yelling at the computer that all students do is play games, read me out on this one. If you assign practice to your students based on what you know about your students, this is the program for you. First off, it is 100% free and easily navigatable for most. In the planner area of the program, you can assign activities to individual students or the whole class. When assigning activities, you mitigate the loss of time while using the program. There is no placement test, but in this instance, your knowledge as the teacher is more valuable than a placement test.
If you are not assigning activities to your students in Prodigy, you SHOULD NOT be using this program. It is a waste of time if you do not spend some time. This is a powerful program, and with great power comes great responsibility (Uncle Ben, Spiderman).
The vital aspect of any technology usage is a balance. Without balance, we will either not use technology at all, which is not an option for our students, or we will lose the personal connection that is also something our students need to be successful. Don’t place a student in front of a program and expect them to learn in the absents of the teacher and a personal connection. Students need to learn in their ZPD, and technology can only help. You, as the teacher/parent, need to use your professional judgment in choosing the right tool, digital and non-digital.