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My 3 Challenges to Educators

posted Jan 4, 2016, 5:00 PM by Gilbert Trevino

Over the Christmas break, as I spent lots of time driving to various activities and destinations, I had the opportunity to listen to Joel Osteen Radio on SiriusXM.  In the last year or so, I've become a huge Joel Osteen fan and find myself listening to his sermons any chance I get.  Keep in mind, I LOVE music and use it as an avenue to de-stress, so listening to Joel or any form of talk radio (other than ESPN)  is quite an accomplishment.  However, Joel's messages always seem to speak to me and I find myself using his message to improve things in my personal life as well as my professional life.  

We had a staff luncheon today and I used three things I learned from Joel over Christmas break to challenge our staff as we embark on the busiest, most event-filled, and stressful time of the school year.  I strongly believe that these challenges will allow educators to experience joy and success, even through the difficult times in a spring semester:

Challenge #1:  Make Deposits Everywhere You Go

As educators, we should encourage each other and lift each other up.  In order to do this, we must remain positive, especially during hardships.  It is human nature to be somewhat negative, so we have to be intentional about remaining positive.  We've all been around negative people who complain, criticize, and just bring everyone down.  When those people leave, we often feel relieved or glad to see them go.  Don't let that be you.  Be the type of person that people miss when you're not around.  They should miss your joy, passion, encouraging words, and kind spirit.  In short, anytime you leave, whether it be for the day or for good, people should be better off than they were before.  There is no greater joy as an educator than to have students come back after they have graduated high school and are in adulthood and say, "Thank you.  You made a difference in my life."  That's what all educators should strive for; to make a difference.  Make positive deposits in the lives of your peers and students.  

Challenge #2:  Keep Your Vision in Front of You

It's a proven fact that we move toward what we constantly see.  Educators must establish goals.  In our district, we ask our teachers to post their daily learning objectives and to set long-term goals for student performance.  We strongly believe that having goals will allow us to avoid complacency and steer us toward better outcomes.  Even the bible makes reference to having vision:  "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Proverbs 28:18).  Here's an analogy:  Most vehicles have a front windshield and a rear window.  Which one is bigger?  The front windshield is bigger for a reason.  The most important thing is what's in front of you.  We need a rear window to reflect on what is behind us, but what's in front is much more important.  As educators, it's important for us to be reflective and look at past failure or mistakes, but we must continue to push forward with a positive vision.  If you keep a good vision in front of you, God will not only do what you envision, he'll supersize it.  Establish a vision that keeps you moving forward.  

Challenge #3:  Keep Growing

Many people suffer from destination disease.  Once they've accomplished a certain thing or arrived at a certain point in life, they stop growing.  Studies show that 50% of people will never read another book after they graduate from high school.  One reason is that those people see learning as a period of life instead of as a way of life.  Education is ever-changing, so we must constantly seek to learn new ways and ideas.  Not matter how many years you have in education, never stop learning and growing.  Sadly, there are some educators that stop growing as they near retirement (none in our district of course).  I like to say those educators are in active retirement.  Never lose your passion for teaching...or learning.  Seek out inspiration from others.  If you're the smartest one in your group, your group is too small.  Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you, that push you to learn new things, that are more talented than you.  Doing so will not intimidate you, rather, it will inspire you.  Prepare for greatness by seeking opportunities for growth.  When God sees that you've prepared, he will open new doors for you and take you to higher, more prosperous levels.  

In closing, I challenge all everyone to reflect upon and consider these three challenges.  Lets continue to make a difference in our profession by making deposits, maintaining a vision, and becoming life-long learners.  

A Lesson in Losing

posted Dec 1, 2015, 2:52 PM by Gilbert Trevino   [ updated Dec 1, 2015, 3:49 PM ]

I had the privilege of coaching my son’s tiger league football team this fall.  I’ve always loved football and coaching youth sports is a good way for me to stay involved with my kids and it also remedies the itch I have for coaching since becoming an administrator several years ago.  Our season started back in August and concluded a couple of weeks ago with our team playing in the Tiger League Super Bowl for our league.  What an experience it was coaching this group of 3rd and 4th grade boys.  As most elementary educators (and parents) know,  3rd and 4th grade boys can test your patience and make you question what you’re doing or saying.  However, they can also make you laugh and enjoy the journey! 

We knew at the start of the season that we had a special group.  We started with 24 boys and ended the season with 20.  They worked hard and asked LOTS of questions.  We had players with diverse playing abilities but they all had a great attitude and did anything we asked them to do.  Ok, you’re right…some days we had to “encourage” them to do what we asked them to do.  But hey, coaching requires that from time to time.  At the start of the season, we placed each player in positions where we felt they would be successful, then we planned practices to build upon strengths and address any deficiencies.  We basically had to teach them the game…the proper way.

For those of you that don’t know me, I tend to be somewhat OCD and must have things extremely organized.  I believe this is a good thing and bad thing.  It makes me a perfectionist who is never satisfied with the status quo.  My wife will tell you that it can be quite challenging living with me at times!  J  However, I feel that in order to be the best, you have to constantly evolve and improve in everything you do.

Our first game was good and bad.  We didn’t perform to the best of our abilities, but we won 12-0.  At the next practice following that game, we PLANNED and we coached our players on ways to improve our areas of deficiency.  We also took time to highlight our areas of strength.  We were constantly finding ways to build upon what we could do well while finding ways to improve our weaknesses by introducing new plays, blocking schemes, drills, etc.  We performed a little better in our second game and won 20-0.  The same practice routine followed this game.  Before we knew it, we reeled off 8 wins in a row and were headed to the playoffs with an undefeated record.  You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Uh oh!”  I felt the exact same way, but we constantly preached to our boys about games being won in practice and us having a record with 0 wins thus far.  They bought into this belief and showed up to work hard in every practice.  If you’d ask any of our boys how we win games, they’d tell you that we win games in practice (planning and preparing).  We were ready for the playoffs and ready to bring home the championship!

Our first playoff game was against a team we had defeated in the regular season by a score of 20-0.  During practices that week, we talked to the boys about the difficulty of beating a team twice and how they would be gunning for us this time.  The boys listened and worked even harder in preparing for the game.  We had a great week of practice and it carried over into the game.  We won 32-6.  We were on a roll and our confidence had never been higher.  We were headed to the Super Bowl.  However, my son sprained his ankle early in the game.  He was hurting but was able to finish the game.  My son was the workhorse running back of the team and played linebacker on defense.   This worried me because we had a great overall team, but he was one of two players we could not afford to lose heading into the championship game.  His ankle was swollen and he could barely walk early in the week, so I held him out of practice.  He attended practices but mainly watched and listened.  As we all know, kids learn best by full involvement in practices, not simply watching or listening to instruction.  They learn best by DOING.  In the middle part of the week, our quarterback tweaked his ankle in PE at school.  This was the other player we could not afford to lose.  We held him out of two practices that week as well.  So, heading into the big game, we were somewhat hobbled.  This worried me!

The day had arrived!  This is what we worked for so hard for 3 months!  Being OCD, I have to do things the exact same way before each practice and each game.  For example, I had to wear the same clothes on game day and had to fill up the water bottles the same way before each game.  Yes, there is an art to filling up water bottles!  During the week, the possibility came up of us using our district’s charter bus to transport the kids to the game in Plainview.  I knew that I shouldn’t have conceded to this, but I figured it would be a good experience for the kids and they deserved to be rewarded.  Again, I am superstitious when it comes to routines before games.  We loaded the kids up on the bus and headed to Plainview.  Now think back to field trips or any other activities that required 30 to 40 minute bus rides.  The boys were wound up and we kept trying to get them to “get their minds on the game.”  But hey, we were playing a team we had already beaten 26-0 in the regular season and I knew we were the better team. 

The game went horrible!  Nothing went right offensively.  We couldn’t block, throw, or run!  It seemed like we were moving in slow motion.  The other team scored early in the 2nd quarter and took a 7-0 lead into halftime.  At the half, we talked to the boys about waking up and playing a little harder.  The boys seemed surprised that we were losing.  We hadn’t been behind at halftime of any game this season.  We talked about offensive blocking schemes and strategies for stopping them on defense.  The rest of the game was much like the first half.  Our defense played outstanding but our offense could not move the ball.  They had two players on their defensive line that we could not block.  I can say my son and our quarterback being hobbled is the reason we lost, but that would be making an excuse.  The game ended with the other team winning 7-0.  This was a team we had beaten by 26 points about 4 weeks earlier!  We were stunned! 

After the game, we gathered at midfield and I talked to the boys.  I talked to them about this game not being an accurate reflection of the type of team we were.  I told them how proud I was of them.  I also told them anyone can handle winning; however, we learn more from losing than we do from winning so keep their heads up.  I told THEM that, but I was hurting!  I questioned what we could possibly learn from losing a game like this.  We worked so hard for 3 months and had dominated every team we played.  Kids were disappointed and there were many tears shed.  It plain hurt losing this game!

As I sit here today and reflect upon the season and final game, I can see that we accomplished many great things with these young boys!  With a couple of weeks gone by, I can now see that we do indeed learn more from defeat than we do from winning.  Losing leads to self-reflection, more determination, and a stronger work ethic.  We never want to lose a big game, but losing builds character and helps prepare you for the peaks and valleys in life.  In order to never experience that type of disappointment again, I strongly believe that those boys will work harder and be a little more disciplined the next time they take to the football field.  In reality, the coaches will be more disciplined and search for ways to improve our “coaching.”  In reflection, the loss we experienced is actually my fault.  The head coach should have done a better job of preparing the players for the “big game” and the challenges that arise from the unknown.  I should have taught them how to think critically about ways to handle in-game situations.  In short, I needed to do a better job preparing our players for the “test.” 

How does this relate to education?  Well, coaching a football team and teaching a classroom full of students is actually very similar.  Teachers take a group of students each year and build upon their academic strengths and deficiencies.  This requires constant “coaching” and self-reflection.  Coaches use practices as their formative assessments and provide immediate feedback to correct instructional or learning issues.  They use the actual games as their summative assessments and dissect the game film looking for data to make instructional changes that lead to improvement.  Coaches prepare their athletes for situations that may arise in ball games by repetition in practices and by providing athletes with meaningful and immediate feedback (good and bad).  Coaches must be detailed in planning their practices each day.  They have to manage their time well and build in practice time for small group and whole group instruction/practice.  Teachers can learn quite a bit from coaches when it comes to planning and looking at data. 

As educators, what do we learn from unsuccessful outcomes?  Do we blame students for being apathetic?  Do we blame their parents?  Better yet, do we blame the teachers they had before us?  As the head coach of my tiger league football team, my initial reaction was to blame our line for not blocking, my son for not running hard enough, etc.  However, it was not their fault.  It was my job to look at the data, even during the game, and make adjustments to make them successful.  I failed to do that in our game and we lost.  As I sit here and write this blog, I can guarantee you that I will not allow myself to play the blame game.  I promise you I will use this experience to become a better coach.  Do we as educators do the same thing?  Do we engage in self-reflection and ask ourselves what can I do to get better?  Can I plan better?  Can I adjust my instructional practices to ensure success for all students?  What can I do to help the “hobbled” students?  Some students come to us with gaps in learning or with learning disabilities.  What do we do to fill in those gaps or to help them overcome their disabilities?  First and foremost, it starts with building relationships with students and getting to know them.  I firmly believe that educators should never forget what it’s like to be a student.  This will help in building those relationships and making connections that will impact learning. 

Finally, how do we react when we experience a “loss” (i.e. A campus that is rated Improvement Required)?  Do we pin our ears back and get to work?  Do we engage in self-reflection and look at the data in order to make improvements?  Personally speaking, I’m competitive and will not allow my “team” to make excuses or experience repeated failure.  I’ll dig my heels in and get to work finding ways to be successful.  As a district leader, I want our staff to have a sense of pride in what they do, in our profession.  I will not settle for the status quo. 

In closing, I challenge all educators to be reflective, to plan for greatness each and every day, and to build relationships with students.  If you experience failure, get back up and do what it takes to get better to earn a victory next time.  Oh, and losing the Super Bowl…IT STILL HURTS!  But, I’m the one who has learned from losing.  

More Education Means More Money

posted Oct 16, 2012, 12:44 PM by Gilbert Trevino

Education does indeed pay off.  The following statistics were taken from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (2011).  As you will see, the more education you have, the more money you will make.  

Average yearly salary with no high school diploma:  $23, 452
Average yearly salary with a high school diploma:  $33,176
Average yearly salary with some college but no college degree:  $37,388
Average yearly salary with an associate's degree:  $$39,936
Average yearly salary with a bachelor's degree:  $54,756
Average yearly salary with a master's degree:  $65,676
Average yearly salary with a doctoral degree:  $80,652

Obtaining a degree also makes it less likely that you will be unemployed.  It is very important for young people to realize the value of an education.  Students dropping out of high school or not pursuing some type of education beyond high school will end up losing thousands of dollars over the course of their lifetime.  Students do not necessarily need to attend college; however, some type of trade school will help them learn skills that will pay off in earnings.  Parents:  Encourage your child to STAY IN SCHOOL!

7 Things Your Child's Teacher Wishes You Knew

posted Sep 26, 2012, 1:04 PM by Gilbert Trevino

The goal of every teacher is to form a positive relationship with students and their parents.  A positive working relationship between teachers and parents will help a student reach a higher level of academic and social success.  The following are 7 important things your child's teacher wishes you knew:

1.  We're on the same team.
    We all want what is best for your child.  When a teacher comes to you with concerns, that teacher isn't "picking" on your child and isn't criticizing your parenting skills.  The teacher is truly concerned about your child's progress in class.  When we work together, your child will achieve greater levels of success.

2.  Don't believe everything your child tells you happens at school, and we won't believe everything he or she tells us happens at home.
    Teachers hear the wildest things about the home lives of students.  Children seem to be missing the little voice inside their head that helps them differentiate between private information and public information.  They also tend to have active imaginations.  Therefore, when your child comes home and tells you something wild about what happened at school, he or she may be adding a little more to the story than what actually happened.  

3.  We don't want perfect kids.
    Teachers can find good in everyone.  They don't want perfect kids and they don't pick favorites.  We know that you send us the best child you have.  Instead of the perfect child, we want children who make mistakes, admit their mistakes, and learn from those mistakes.  

4.  Your older child needs you more than ever before.
    Elementary parents tend to be very active in their child's education.  As students get older, parents tend to be more uninvolved.  Just because your child is growing up, it doesn't mean they don't need you.  They need you even more as they get older.  

5.  We need to know.
    If something in the home life is affecting your child (such as a divorce, death in the family, etc.), we need to know.  We don't need all of the details, but a "heads up" that your son or daughter is going through a traumatic event might be helpful if your child acts out at school.  

6.  Keep in touch
    Part of establishing a positive relationship is communication.  If the teacher sends home notes or other information, please take time to read the information.  If you change phone numbers, please let the teacher know.  We need as much accurate information in order to let you know about your child's progress.

7.  You have a right to know.
    You have the right to know about your child's level of proficiency.  We have all kinds of information on your child.  Contact the school if you have any questions.  Knowing everything about your child can be very powerful.  

References:  Education and Schools, May 2013, by Rebecca Mana

Untitled Post

posted Oct 6, 2011, 6:28 AM by Gilbert Trevino

Hello everyone! This is my personal web site and I want to share it with all of my friends and family. Please feel free to post and tell me what is going on in your life.

posted Aug 24, 2010, 10:50 PM by Gilbert Trevino   [ updated Sep 26, 2012, 1:13 PM ]

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