Monday, March 19, 2018

Pilot Year

So this is way out there...

Often times when we start watching a new television show, the first season of it is often a little sketchy.  According to a study done by the Business Insider, approximately 25% of new shows get canceled after their first season.  Why?  Not drawing enough ratings for immediate success.  What if shows like Friends, Seinfeld, or Grey's Anatomy started now?  Would they have the same success or was there more patience then for a show to catch on?  I love Friends, but if you go back and watch the first season (especially on VHS were it first came out) you might think there was no way this show would make it.

What if education was like that?  Cut all new things right away if they don't garner immediate success.  What if we had places and support to continue to pilot new ideas and see how they go?  A school or district that allowed any educational strategy to have an opportunity to be piloted without any risk.  Now some ideas or pilots may be very successful, while others would struggle to make it to that second season.

The ease of this is to know you have a second season to work with.  Would kids still learn?  I hate to break it to long as you're teaching kids will learn.  If a pilot doesn't work out the kids still have something they can take away educationally.  Now that failure will better prepare for the next lesson with modifications of what doesn't work.  Then there's the outside chance you might hit gold and find a terrific way to teach something.

Now, I know this is a fantasy idea, but what if?  What if we can make it to the second season and continue to try things new without fear of failure?  Kids learn through success and sometimes even more through failure.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Shadow Day Leads to Perspective

What If?

So what if each semester or year an Elementary Department head or member from the department had to shadow a student/class around?  The teacher would have to sit in the desk, follow the same schedule, and even do the work.  They would have to go through the grind of the day both educationally and socially.  Even having to each lunch with their class!

Your next question is probably what is the purpose of this besides to make teachers angry?  My answer is perspective.  When was the last time we as educators sat in an elementary class as a student?  No matter what year of teaching you're into it's been a while.  I think it's important to know and understand what our students are going through developmentally, emotionally, and environmentally.  Without this knowledge we are merely making educated guesses.  Granted, those with experience, understanding and acuity into their students habits and behaviors have the ability and information to make pretty good guesses, but is it enough?

Just think...not only would we gain valuable information on what our students go through, we would also create an opportunity for peer observation.  It doesn't stop there.  What does something like this show not only our students, but also their parents.  The fact that we are literally getting into the trenches to see if you we can learn something more, with the purpose to create a better learning experience for their children goes a long way.

So I challenge you, your school, and myself to create some type of opportunity or experience like this for our students and teachers.  If we want to talk about professional development wouldn't this be a step in the right direction?  Always remember to teach with passion.

"Allocate brilliance today for the betterment of tomorrow"

Friday, December 1, 2017

Reply All

Reply All...

So this post is more of a an educational rant rather then educational insight!

Have you ever responded to an email and hit reply all and thought, why I am I including everyone on this?  Or, have you ever opened up an email and thought why do people insist on sharing everything with all of us?  I am hopeful the answer to both of these questions is a resounding yes!  If not, then you need to really think about if you're the "reply all" culprit.  There are some of you lurking among us. By lurking you're continuously hitting reply all every time there is a group message started via email. If someone asks a question they are the ones who want the answer, not everyone.  Most of us have been there at some point.

Why should we look at this and discuss it's merit?  According to data from VoloMetrix (a Seattle company that tracks technology use at work) at least 15% of a workers day is on email with 5% of emails received being of the reply all variety.  Can you imagine, one-third of all your emails being from reply all!  Not only is that more work time wasted, but that is also asking for mistakes to be glorified.  Another statistic stated that approximately 78% of people can't stand receiving a reply all email from co-workers and friends.

Here is a link to an article sharing 9 email reply-all disasters and how they turned out...

So I ask you what is the point of the reply all?  Are we really trying to help each other stay informed or do we have an underlying purpose?  

Take a Minute and Evaluate:

Before you press that button ask yourself, "Does everyone need to read this?"  Usually you can determine the best answer to that question is no.  If you try talking yourself into it, the answer is no.  If you think there is that one person in the group...the answer is still NO!  Sometimes all it takes is a split second to realize, not everyone needs to know this.  This resonates more with the first mass email distributing information.  In that case do what you want with the information and move one.  Yes, this does sound harsh and does not represent a 100%, but much like the english language rules are made as protocol, but are accurate "most" of the time (i.e. I before E except after C).

Now don't get me wrong some items do require a reply all and when used appropriately it provides a wonderful advantage in electronic communication, but as the golden rule states:  do on to others as you would like them to do on to you.  A little extreme, yes.  However, if you don't want the infamous reply all, realize neither do others.

Saturday, November 25, 2017



As my wife is t-minus one week before her due date I find myself with much anxiousness surrounding what lies ahead.  Are we ready?  Anything else to do in the baby room?  There are a million things still to do around the house.  Everyone tells me that you're never truly ready.  What is that day going to be like (our pregnancy class can only prepare so much)?  I start to wonder are these the feelings our students go through on a different level? 

We know that students go through anxiousness and anxiety all the time whether it is a test, an athletic contest or a relationship at school/home.  What do we do to help prepare them?  Are they ever truly ready for what they're about to embark on everyday they leave their house.  I know answers for me will soon present themselves as I will have to go through it to truly understand.  Do our kids have to "go through it" to truly understand?  I think in some circumstances yes, but what can we do to help prepare them?  We must nurture and teach them all at the same time.  What we do just can't be done in the classroom with education.  As educators we see these kids more then their parents do in many situations. 

Think about that as you come back from a well rested Thanksgiving Break and eye up that Christmas Break, just around the corner.  For many, that anxiousness (good or bad) will be there.  Think for a moment how you can step up and do something perhaps a little different or extra to help those in your school or classroom.  Help nurture and educate them all at once because we to have experienced those feelings.

Blessings to all of you and God help me as I know life will be getting a little crazier, but I know life for the students that walk my halls is just as, if not, crazier!

Friday, November 17, 2017



I constantly talk about the term perspective and how I feel we as a society lack it when it comes to dealing with issues, listening to reports,  in our work places, etc.  We have all heard the saying talking about walking in another person’s shoes.  We constantly try and compare things, complain, or justify with have that proper perspective or understanding of the whole story.  I wonder what it would be like if God lacked perspective?  I would imagine he wouldn’t have sent his son to die on the cross for us.  What if Martin Luther lacked perspective?  Would he have nailed all of those thesis to the door of the church?

Perspective is defined by a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.  We often times do not see the whole picture when it comes to dealings in our everyday life. 

Example from Mark 9:30-37
9:30 They went out from there and passed through Galilee. But Jesus did not want anyone to know, 9:31 for he was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” 9:32 But they did not understand this statement and were afraid to ask him.75
9:33 Then they came to Capernaum. When Jesus was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 9:34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 9:35 After he sat down, he called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 9:36 He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 9:37“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

In this case we see the disciples showing a lack of perspective.  I know for me in the pending weeks my perspective will change based life events as all of yours has as well.  Let us know and understand that as we serve the Lord here as an SLT group or in our everyday lives that we need to try and strive for perspective.  Whether its about something in our work, something in our homes, or something in our communities.  The one thing we truly have perspective on is that God has perspective.  He sent his son (the ultimate sacrifice) to die for our salvation.  A true gift!

Live each day with patience, understanding, and perspective!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Educational Mindset

Educational MINDSET

One book that I have recently read is The Innovators Mindset.  I highly recommend this book if you're looking for a good read.  I found this interesting and thought I'd share...our mindset is an effective tool to have in our teaching repertoire.  How we handle and embrace a situation or dilemma directly impacts the outcome for us and for our students.  Take a moment to reflect on what your mindset is.  Often times we miss out on opportunities that we have with students and quite frankly for ourselves.  I believe reflection as one of the most powerful tools for growth.  

Fixed Mindset- belief that abilities, intelligence, and talents are fixed traits

Growth Mindset- belief that abilities, intelligence, and talents can be developed

Innovators Mindset- belief that abilities, intelligence, and talents are developed so
                                that they lead to the creation of new and better ideas

Monday, April 10, 2017


How many mentors does the average person have? I am not sure what that number is, but I can think of several that have directly affected my life in a way that I would classify them as a mentor.  Personally, I categorize my mentors based upon chapters of my life.  Recently, I spoke with a mentor of mine whom worked directly with me from the end of high school into my early college years (I call this my poor choices years).  I haven't spoken to Chris Davis in over 16 years.  However, I heard some news through the grapevine of some significant life changes, thus  I felt I had to call and chat.

I called one afternoon after hearing that he was stepping down from his current position and said, "Chris Davis, it's Brandon Marolf".  His response was that of great excitement.  After exchanging the initial pleasantries we talked for about 25 minutes.  You wouldn't have guessed it had been over 16 years since we last spoke.

Chris impacted my life in a big way.  As in the case with most good mentors...they don't know they are regarded as mentors or people of special character to us.  They go about doing what they do because it is who they are.  Sometime they learn of the impact they had, but often times they have no idea of the individualized appreciation we share for them.  Chris, (if you ever read this) I can not thank you enough for the impact you had on my life specifically.  My time with you during those years directly shaped me into the man I have become.  From our countless hours playing basketball on Sunday nights to the conversations that we shared in during the (poor choices years).  Our time together is something I still reflect back on today more then you would think.  No matter the next chapter that you decide to write in your life understand that you have changed the lives of countless many and I thank you!

I share this with all of you in the hope that you will not wait to thank someone you might consider a mentor.  Share with them the joy they brought to your life.  The more often we hear this the more inspired we become.  Recently, I had a student in her statement of faith speech in church publicly thank me for helping to inspire her and the selection of her verse.  She continued to thank me for the impact that I had on her life.  I'll be honest, I had no idea!  However, this was one of the most humbling experiences ever for me.

Thank those who have inspired you!