Running Thoughts: Fuels, Tools, and Mentors

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I had a crazy weekend beginning immediately after school on Friday and never had the opportunity to sit down and write. Well, that’s not exactly true because I chose to watch the Memphis-Arkansas State football game during the time I did have to write on Saturday, but I digress. This post is about my running thoughts from my run on Friday morning, September 7, 2012. Writing Time Limit: 45 minutes

I ran 5.28 miles in 51 minutes. It was a better run that the other runs last week. I maintained a 9:42 pace and ran well up until the last half mile.

I’ve been reading about and experimenting with whether or not I eat something before my runs. I’ve found mixed information online, and it’s hard to tell what’s trustworthy. I’ve been told Jillian Michaels says you must eat within the first hour after you wake up. I usually head straight for the streets and don’t eat until I’ve been up for 90 minutes or longer. But I have experimented with eating a little fruit, a piece of toast, or some graham sticks. Before this run, I went high tech and consumed a packet of Chocolate Outrage Gu. Honestly, I had to choke it down. It was really strong, and I’m not sure chocolate is the best choice for my first taste of the morning (Mocha Latte, perhaps…). After the initial swallow, the Gu became much more palatable. And I did have a good run…but I’m not ready to assign causation just yet. (I have no connection to Gu.)

This leads me to my connection to learning. How important is it that students eat a good breakfast? How much does it impact their learning? When I was growing up, my parents made us breakfast every morning. My kids tend to fend for themselves making cereal, grabbing pop-tarts, or microwaving sausage biscuits for breakfast. I do try to insist they eat something, but I probably need to do a better job of monitoring what they eat. Maybe I should use my early morning time to prepare them something instead of running and writing. I need to research this more and see if I can provide some better food options for them for breakfast.

Note: I have started a group Posterous with Scott Elias as a place to curate recipes and healthy meals for busy educators. It’s called Fuel 4 School. If you would like to be a contributor, we’d love to have you. Just send me your email (a DM on Twitter will work) and I’ll add you to the group.) 

As I mentioned in a previous post, leaking water bottles aren’t much use on a run. I pitched mine in the recycle bin, and bought a new Amphipod water bottle last week. I decided on the Hydraform Thermal-Lite™ 20 oz. model, and it was great! The thermal cover keeps my hand from freezing, it’s shaped so that it is easy to squeeze, and it doesn’t leak so I wasted no water. I also purchased an ArmPod SmartView™ for my iPhone. I’m not as crazy about it, but mostly because I’m used to carrying my phone in my hand and I look at it way too much. that said the ArmPod worked very well. It’s nice to have useful tools for running. (I am not connected with Amphipod in any way other than as a consumer.)

Good tools are also useful in the classroom–especially when it comes to instructional technology. I’ve spent a lot of time learning about tools (apps, resources, etc.) over the past few years. Here’s a list of few of the places I go to first, when I’m looking for digital tools for teaching:

A final thought about Friday’s run was about mentoring. I’m leading a 6th grade mentor group this year at school, and I’m also mentoring/coaching a Martin Institute resident. I’ve been blessed to have some great mentors over the course of my life. These days much of the mentoring I receive as a teacher comes face-to-face with Alice or online through connections with other teachers. Because I love lists, here’s a short list of just a few of the people who have become not only friends, but mentors for me as I continue this journey of personal, professional reform:

There are others I could certainly add, but I have found these folks extremely thoughtful and generous. Also, they are willing to push me a little, and I appreciate them for it. You should read their stuff and connect with them.

Well, I’m out of time. I’d love to hear your thought son any or all of this.

Running Thoughts: A Thinking Mashup

While running this morning, I was thinking about some recent blog posts that I have read. They’ve been percolating in my mind as I think about learning, the writing process, the upcoming school year, and this blog. The first posts are Bo Adams’ “Walking Myself and My Dog to School or Braiding NPR and a Cup of Joe” and his “Process Post: Contemplating Juxtapositions.” Both are interesting posts, but what has percolated in me has more to do with Bo’s process. First, he uses an everyday activity–walking his dog, as an opportunity for thinking and learning that he then turns into a “random reflection.” I like that and think I can apply that to my own routines. Second, Bo writes what he refers to as “Process Posts.” According to Bo these posts are “a place to think and not worry about getting all the pieces to fit together or all of the conventions right. It’s like a journal. I usually use a process post as I am working out some thinking in my mind.” (1)

With all of this in mind, I have decided to start my own version of process posts that I’m calling “Running Thoughts.” These posts will simply be a collection of things I’m thinking about while I’m running. In order to capture my thinking before it melts away in the craziness that is my daily life, I plan to use Audioboo to record my thoughts as I am doing my run cool down. I tried it this morning and think it will work well. Unfortunately, I forgot to charge my phone last night and it died before I could finish the audio reflection. My plan is to post the short audio reflections to my Posterous, then write a more complete reflection here on the blog. I plan to set a time limit for the writing of the posts and not to worry about polishing and perfecting it. (I will run spellcheck.) We’ll see how it goes. I generally try to run 3 times a week so maybe I can

The other post that has percolated this morning is John Spencer’s “From Goals to Commitments.” In the post John shared that while he still plans to have his students set individual goals and collective class goals, that he is going to transition from setting personal goals to making personal commitments. The difference is in making a promise about what he can and will do.  For some reason this idea resonated in me and while running this morning I identified a few commitments that I want to make. This list certainly isn’t complete yet, but the following are things I know I want to commit to:

  • Honoring the most important member of my PLN–my wife, by focusing my attention on her when we are together (no multitasking) and talking aloud about the crazy things rambling around in my head
  • Investing time in playing and teaching tennis to my own kids. They, particularly Eric and Andrew, have shown an interest recently in my favorite sport, and I want to commit to helping them learn the game and discover whether they enjoy it or not.
  • Giving my students a voice in my classroom. I like how John put it when he said he will let the students “help negotiate the norms, rituals and goals” in his classroom. I will do something similar.
  • Trying new thinking routines in my classroom and giving better evaluative responses by using the Ladder of Feedback
  • Providing examples and rubrics to help model ways in which students can demonstrate their learning well.
  • Updating my teacher website/blog weekly in order to better communicate with parents and other interested parties

We’ll see how this Running Thoughts series goes. Now I just have to remember to charge my smartphone.