Thought for the Day: What does love really look like?

Thought for the Day: Valentine’s Day is meant to celebrate ‘love’. Companies spend lots of time and money to make sure we feel insecure if we don’t spend the money to show our love to that special someone. Unfortunately, the love celebrated on Valentine’s Day is often immature and superficial. We need only look at how much a dozen roses costs today and tomorrow.

So, what does love really look like. Disclaimer: I, in no way, believe that I hold the only or best definition. This is one man’s experience and observations. From my own experience, love is lifelong, deep, hard work, time consuming, angry, forgiving, supportive, critical, comforting, demanding, forgetful, memorable and so much more. Love is all consuming and yet asks nothing in return. (1 Corinthians is a good read!) In class today, I shared these things with my students. But I also shared that love is not simply what you do for your loved one. To me it is more how we respond to their imperfections. When we experience their humanity and imperfection, will we love them anyway? Your answer to this question will speak volumes about your love.

Is it for real? Yes. Easy to find? Nope. But you’ll absolutely know it when you see it. Happy St. Valentine’s Day.

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Thought for the Day: Faith and Growth

Thought for the Day:

Today a friend and I were again talking about this idea of faith. In the past he challenged me to see faith as the idea that ideals never die. He also argued that faith can not be in institutions or people because each of those is fallible. As such, it’s important to keep faith in ideals because ideals don’t die. I argued that they do die, as soon as we are let down by the people or institutions. He agreed and then he continued, “Faith is like clothing. Even though the clothes fit when we were children, as we grow and mature, the clothes no longer fit because we are not the same person. Nor are we faced with the same reality or challenges. Therefore, our faith has to grow as circumstances change.” Wow! Revelation.

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Thought for the Day

For the past several years I have reached out to my students using what I call my “Thought for the Day”.  It’s part of my Delgado Daily…the agenda for that day’ s class. It was my way to reach the students where they were. In all honesty, it was my way to give them some spiritual guidance, we are a private Catholic School, without being overly religious. I guess in my own faith journey, I needed to reach them in ways that touched them but in a way that wasn’t overly ‘preachy’.  After all I do work with teens!  So, I started offering the Delgado Daily: Thought for the Day.  I sincerely hope you enjoy it.  It has been consoling for many and enriching for many more.


Thought for the Day: While occasional impulsivity can be invigorating, acting without first considering the consequences may lead to difficulties that can be life changing.  Conversely, a life of thinking without acting can lead to isolation and frustration. Think Plan Act

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Kinetic Molecular Theory/Heat Transfer Solids & Liquids. – ppt download

Particles are not bound together in fixed positions; therefore they are constantly moving. Liquids are fluid –Liquids are more ordered than gases because of stronger intermolecular forces and lower mobility

Source: Kinetic Molecular Theory/Heat Transfer Solids & Liquids. – ppt download

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Going Gradeless is not for the weak

After 30 years of teaching, something I never intended to do but absolutely fell in love with, the past 6 months have been a real adventure. At the beginning of this school year I decided to go Gradeless. Gradelessness is a movement that allows students to regain ownership of their education by literally removing the manipulation or forced compliance create by grades. You can read more on their blog, Teachers Going Gradeless (TG2). (

Recently I assigned a task that required students to identify an issue in our Watershed and create a proposal to address it. For me it was an exercise in patience, coaxing and frustration. For them it was seemingly worse. There were missed deadlines, poor effort, excuses, complaints…Arghhh! So I posted my woes on this fantastic blog site. The responses were insightful, helpful and in their own way validating. You mean other teachers are facing his too? Really? All sarcasm aside, I needed this at that moment. But there was one post that really helped me to understand how this entire experience is merely another step along what I identified above as an adventure. It was a podcast from Aaron Blackwell on the Teachers Going Gradeless Blog.

The podcast was created for TG2 and moderated/presented by Aaron Blackwelder. In the podcast, he interviews author, Alfie Kohn, a respected antagonist of education’s obsession with grades and standardized testing. I’ll let you listen for yourself, but for me it was another “aha moment!” as I travel this path toward better student learning and student driven teaching. Here is the link:

The podcast he did with Kohn focused on Student Motivation. It was enlightening in a couple of ways. First, as is usually the case in situations such as this, I wondered about “their motivations”. In reality, I should be looking at mine. To paraphrase Kohn, lack of student interest suggests that it is likely, the curriculum, the lesson or the relationships not the students. My second insight was Kohn’s recommendations of ways to change the classroom. In my classrooms, the relationships are good. I get the feedback to validate my belief here. But, Kohn suggests that their ‘motivations’ quickly change, for the better, when they have a stake in both the curriculum and the lesson. He further suggested that I ask them questions to help me and them understand their interest in the topic…though it might be questions I might not want to hear the answers to. In any case they should no more be expected to perform for my lessons anymore than they should simply perform for a grade.

As I get further into this journey, each old experience forces me to ask old questions with a new perspective. It’s very surprising to me that 30 years into this vocation, I still have so much to discover. If you aren’t ready to look inside your own motivations and practices, Gradelessness probably won’t work for you. But, if after 30 years you still want to do better by your students, this is the way to go. What an adventure. Thanks Aaron B.

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The Hard Reality of Racism – My Personal Wake up Call


“You are such a rebel!”

“Why can’t you just jump through the hoops?”

“Why do you always have to create waves?”

“You are such a sh$# disturber!”

To each of these observations by loved ones and peers I have had to accept that they were true reflections of who I am. Who I have always been. I suppose I can’t really help myself. I’ve never wanted to be anything else. I enjoy stirring things up. I enjoy helping others to be uncomfortable; to live outside of that proverbial comfort zone. But, this past week I got a taste of my own medicine.

On the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday I purposely chose to attend the Black Lives Matter March in Sacramento. I decided late Friday night and felt a bit uncomfortable with my decision. I instinctively knew that my dis-ease revolved around media reports from previous BLM events: the counter protests, the violence and the anger on both sides. I even dreamed about it that night, knowing full well that any potential negative was in the back of my mind. Even as I parked and headed toward the march’s meeting spot, I wondered what the day would hold for me.

Upon reaching the Safeway parking lot, I heard that the march was not permitted and that there would be no police escorts. That said, I understood that failure to secure a permit is its own protest about having to “get permission” to exercise the First Amendment Right to peacefully protest. And from the very agencies that are viewed as the root of racism and bigotry against people of color. Anyway, I felt comfortable that the march was well organized as we headed down Capitol Avenue on our way to the steps of the state Capitol. Imagine my surprise when we began the march north on Alhambra and then west on J Street…a one way street! And we were going to march against traffic. My anxiety was up and I was a bit wary about what I had gotten myself into. Once we started I got my mojo and fully embraced the march, the rationale and the actions that were taken. I allowed myself to trust the organizers, trust the participants and trust the process. In other words, to trust what Black people, specifically what Black women can do!

I tell this story only to highlight the inherent prejudice that someone, as liberal as me, can harbor inside, and not even recognize it.

A friend, Maureen Wanket, addressed such ingrained prejudice in a post.( ) And as I re-read her post and aligned it with my thinking before the BLM march, I recognized just how little any non-Black person actually gets it. How a brown/biracial/feminist/pro LGBTQ man can still harbor insecurities about Black people. What I actually recognized was that I have my own personal work to do.

I suppose that I can feel some satisfaction in knowing that recognizing my faults is the first step in addressing and changing them. Now comes the tough part: fixing them.

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It’s Time We Hold Accountability Accountable

Teaching will never be measurable in the sense of “accounting”. It is an art as much as a science and the more we attempt to quantify it, the less likely we are to allow teachers to practice the art of it.

Teachers Going Gradeless

The maxim “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” (oftenmisattributed to Peter Drucker) sums up the continued belief in the necessity and power of accountability. A lack of accountability is seen as a sure path to lawlessness, indolence, and corruption. We don’t trust people who are unwilling, unprepared, or otherwise unable to render an account.

As a high school language arts teacher who is increasingly “going gradeless” in his teaching practice, I find that I am often left with few “measures” of student learning and growth. In its place, we have a lot of feedback — mostly verbal — and not the kind that fits easily (or at all, really) within the neat grids of a traditional gradebook. Although I still give the occasional quiz (always with the option to retake), this approach has largely disrupted the traditional economy of completing assignments in exchange for points. Since I…

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Post Weinstein America

In a post-Weinstein America, it is amazing the speed at which prominent and powerful men are falling to accusations of abuse, harassment and other misogynistic behaviors.  But, it is not only the men that will fall.

This recent story about Andrea Ramsey actually caused me to pause and remember a situation that occurred to me back in 2001.  It forced me to think about a time when I was harassed by a superior, who by the way was a woman. It did not move me to report or retaliate or even open up any more than I did above. Which is exactly my point: inappropriate behavior is, well, inappropriate,  no matter which gender, race or age the offender. What inspired me to blog was the realization that I would not take my claim any further than I already have.  The reminder came when I recently received word that the individual was retiring after a long and illustrious career. I never felt physically threatened, but I did worry that my repeated brush offs would result in professional consequences.

Thankfully I was able to move on without any ramifications to my reputation or professional aspirations.  Which I suppose is the REAL point here. Women don’t have that luxury.  If and when they report, their reputations, qualifications and motives are always questioned. Women will always have to validate, source and otherwise prove their accusations.  I am in no way advocating that men should be deemed guilty simply by accusation, although that is what it seems to be at this juncture.  But, after eons of women having to accept as ‘normal’ this boorish, disrespectful and often violent behavior, the pendulum has to swing back.

One other thought…although with less frequency and in most cases less effect, women can also be the abuser, the harasser, the perpetrator.  It is no less traumatizing to the victim be they female or male.  The issue is power and influence.  As such, it needs to be called out whether the perpetrator is male, female, Black, White, young or old.  The entire system needs an overhaul.

#METOO Harassment

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Not All Men

I needed this reminder. I needed to know that wondering about past behaviors, worrying about past behaviors, knowing that there were times being male was excuse enough and now…soul searching. Being harassed made me more aware but did it actually change me? Thanks for the food for thought Ms. Maureen.

Maureen O'Leary

This is not about workplace harassment.

This is not about the who man felt up my bare knee under the table during a meeting at work. This is not about the time he sat on me at another meeting, giggling as he crushed me with his body.

Neither is this about the time I blocked a colleague I hardly knew on social media after he sent me suggestive messages and a picture. I ignored his dozens of notifications until finally he flipped out and sent a series of vicious emails berating me for, among other things, my bad online etiquette.

I have more stories about these and other men who interrupted my right to earn in peace. We all do. Almost every woman I know has dealt with weird men who have crossed one basic common sense and decency boundary after another.

But this post is not about the creeps…

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Test Anxiety in the Age of Gradelessness

As we move closer to semester finals, I find myself doubting my ability to assess each student fairly based on a semester final.  Our school mandates a semester final and after having dived into the world of Gradelessness I find myself getting more and more anxious; more and more unsure that what I am doing is the right path. Continue reading

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