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What a Mess: Project 180, Day 93

Success is rarely a straight, easy, or expedient line from start to finish, and if and when it ever is, it is success shallowly gained, shallowly achieved. Success–real, I dug-deep-and-fought-for-it success–is a mess, a circuitous mass of dead ends, restarts, and reroutes. Success without some mistake, some setback, some failure is not truly success.

And this is what I try to instill in my kids. I want them to see success as much a struggle as a triumph.  And, more often than not, this manifests itself in my work with them during our writing experiences.  I tell them I want to see their beautiful messes. I tell them that they may not erase or backspace on drafts, as it destroys the evidence of their toil, the trail of their paths. I tell them that if it was easy, it’s probably not good. I tell them that success in writing is series of intentional accidents until they find the right words. And I say this over and over until it sinks in. And that is not easy, for they have learned that–been conditioned to believe that–success happens in a straight expedient line from one lesson, to one chapter, to one unit after another, ever-forward in a linear fashion as they are rushed headlong through the coverage model that we so perpetuate in education. And consequently, they–I believe–experience too many shallow successes because we don’t give them the time to live and breathe and struggle in their messes. Learning takes time. Success takes time. A lot of time. Through the 180 experience, I am able to give that time, that opportunity, that important first step for kids to embrace the mess of success. Today, the mess, the long road to success continues. Love making messes with my kids.

Happy Tuesday, all. Take the long road today. Make a mess. Give yourself that gift, that freedom. You deserve it.

The Thread We Follow: Project 180, Day 92

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

~William Stafford

There is a thread I follow, a thread I latched onto a long time ago, and while that thread has gone in and among things over the years, it has not changed, and I have not let go. Can’t. Won’t. I cling to it desperately as I make my way day to day in a world filled with the young whom I serve, pledging my best to help them on their own ways. And as I go about my days, I encounter those who do not see the thread, and I have to explain. This past Saturday, I encountered two who do not see the thread in my ways, so I have to explain. I must. The thread brought me to them; they, then, must serve a purpose in my journey. And so, I will explain.

Comment #1

A looks better then a C😂😂😂 bro are u serious? No kidding ? U expect 16 years olds to do work when u promise them an A ? How is a child supposed to learn anything when they don’t have to care ? All you are is a stupid liberal. You clearly have no brain cells.

This comment was in response to my saying in the “Making Sense” post from last week that perhaps one reason some chose to remain with Project 180 is that it was a “free” A (I will speak to how free the A really is below). It was my attempt to provide an honest analysis of the results. As for, “How is a child supposed to learn anything when they don’t have to care?” Well, it is troubling that we perpetuate a system where we have to give kids a reason to care beyond the opportunity to learn and build oneself. If we have to give them a reason to care, then do they really care? Is compliance really a better sign of caring than commitment? I am not convinced, so I push my kids to care for their own sake, not for the grade carrot that I dangle in front of them. As for your final comment, I doubt I can get you to see my “liberal stupidity” any differently, so I won’t try.

Comment #2

I have been reading your blog with interest and skepticism. It sounds like this project is more for your benefit than that of your students. I am also surprised that a school would even allow a teacher to give an automatic A to every student in the class. You made it very clear that this was a project to see what the outcome would be, like a test of a teenager’s mind, instead of actually teaching them. Maybe you did it to make it easier on YOU, so you wouldn’t have to work so hard and give a test to see how good you actually taught them. You are angry at a student because he chose the A and now you want to start grading him? This is what YOU wrote: I told him 4 months ago when I gave him the A, I was giving him nothing. So if you are admitting to giving ‘nothing’, what makes that child interested in doing ‘something’? He hasn’t been given a guideline as to what you even expect if you are giving nothing. You as a teacher, are not doing this in the best interest of the student. You should be teaching them that hard works get the rewards, it doesn’t happen automatically. And then to change it midstream? Really? How will you teach a class where some want a grade and some don’t? What will the students with the automatic grade do while the others are being tested? In this life, there is no job, anywhere, where the boss says, I will give you a wage to come every day to work. You just decide what to do with your time, because I have nothing to tell you that I expect of you. That is ridiculous! You did not earn a teaching degree by winging it and the collage just passed you. You had to work hard to earn that degree! That is what you should be teaching these students. That is what they go to school for. Otherwise, they could stay home. You would not be needed. People pay taxes and expect their children go to school to learn.

Given the length of this comment and the variety of concerns raised, I will attempt to present my response in a point-by-point manner. Here goes.

  1. “It sounds like this project is more for your benefit than that of your students…Maybe you did it to make it easier on YOU, so you wouldn’t have to work so hard and give a test to see how good you actually taught them.” Easier on me? This has been by far my most challenging year of teaching in my 20 years of service. It has been incredibly difficult to step away from a traditional approach, where I could wield the power of grades to extrinsically motivate kids, trading it instead for mere influence to inspire kids to be intrinsically motivated. I have not taken the easy road, and I have not an easy destination. “A test to see how good you actually taught them”?  The Smarter Balanced Assessment is right around the corner, an assessment that all students must pass in Washington State to graduate, and while that is supposed to be a shared K-10 responsibility for all teachers with whom a child has come into contact, in reality, the finger gets pointed at he/she who stands at the end of the road. I am at the end of that road for my kids. We will see how well I have taught them then. Ironically, I was at school preparing a model introduction on a Sunday to help with a performance task when I read your comment. Sunday. Day off. At school. Typing in my coat because the heat is off. Easier on me indeed. The “test” is coming. And though sadly some will not pass, those who do will be the ones who have committed to learning. Each kid is leaving a trail behind him, a record of what they have done or not.  At the end, those who do not pass probably will be the ones who have not left much of a trail.
  2. “I am also surprised that a school would even allow a teacher to give an automatic A to every student in the class.” So glad you raised this concern. Part of my motivation for doing Project 180 was to expose a dirty little secret in public education. I did 180 because I can. I say that not out of arrogance, but rather, I say it out my own astonishment that there are no real checks and balances to a teacher’s grading approach. In essence, we can do what we want. As a default, most teachers employ the traditional percentage-based approach, but they do that mostly because it’s what was used with them. Teachers take a 3 credit course on assessment in college that deals very little with grading approaches. So, as a default, teachers employ the traditional percentage-based approach to grading. We use it because it exists. There is no evidence base to support its effectiveness. We cling to it for its familiarity, not its wisdom. Unconvinced that the approach truly fostered real learning in the classroom, I abandoned it. I got tired of playing the grade game. I may have swung the pendulum too far the other way, but it had been stuck for far too long on the other end. So, I took an extreme approach. I did it to get people talking. I wanted people–mostly my colleagues–to raise objections, so we could come to the table and have a serious discussion about grading practices, a discussion that is long overdue. Hopefully our exchange will nudge us closer to that reality.
  3. “You are angry at a student because he chose the A and now you want to start grading him? This is what YOU wrote: I told him 4 months ago when I gave him the A, I was giving him nothing. So if you are admitting to giving ‘nothing’, what makes that child interested in doing ‘something’? He hasn’t been given a guideline as to what you even expect if you are giving nothing. You as a teacher, are not doing this in the best interest of the student.” At this point, I will offer that you are a parent of a student in my class. That said, I will take you back to the first day of school this year where I sent two letters home. One to you. One to your child. I will let them speak for the nothing that you speak of in your comment. As for angry, I am not sure you know me very well. My post last week expressed my confusion and concern over a student and family opting to stay with something of which they were so critical, confusion and concern over not choosing what I thought would be a preferable option. I wonder how many other teachers out there are willing to provide personalized options?
    (from the parent letter)Imagine, for a moment, that in my class you and your child will not have to play the grade game. You will already know the grade for the rest of the year, so now instead of asking about the grade, you can ask about the learning. And that is the essence: learning. An old teacher adage suggests that “grades are earned, not given,” but that is simply not true in the vast majority of classrooms. Grades in many cases and in many ways are given, and so I am doing as most do, giving a grade–granted it’s an A, but a grade is all I can give. I can’t give learning. Learning truly is earned. I really only provide the opportunity.
    Dear Learners:Welcome to Honors English 10. I am beyond excited to begin and share this journey with you. And while I am not certain about all that we will encounter and experience along our way–or even where we will land at our journey’s end, I am certain that it will be unlike anything we have experienced in the past. As you entered the room today, I handed you a wooden letter A. It is my gift to you. It is your grade for the year. No, I did not misspeak, I am giving you an A…for the entire year. It is yours to keep. I will not take it back. Promise. Cross my heart.But, my young adventurers, take heed. For, after all, what I handed you is just what it appears to be: a wooden letter A. It is nothing. Oh, don’t worry. I am not going back on my promise. I will type the A into your transcript at the end of each semester, but even that is merely a digital character, a mark on a screen. It, too, in reality, is nothing. So, before you sit back and relax with your gift and chalk me up as your “best teacher ever,” consider the following.In truth, I gave you nothing, but I did that, young traveler, to give you everything. When I handed that A to you as you came aboard today, I really gave you ownership. I gave you the keys to your learning. I gave you choice; I gave you freedom. I gave you responsibility. And that is the essence. In the end, young friend, you are responsible for your learning. I cannot give it to you. In this arrangement that we find ourselves, I am responsible for providing opportunity and support, and I can and will give that freely and abundantly, but I am not responsible for your learning. You are. This reflects, then, the terms of our agreement for our journey.So, we set out. 180 days from now we will set anchor in some unknown harbor. But before we set sail, pick up your A. Look at it. Feel it. Right now it is an empty gesture, a simple symbol. It won’t mean anything until you give it meaning. Months from now, as we look back on the calm and storm of our journey, and you hold this symbol in your hand, what will it mean then? I can’t wait to hear about your discovery. Thanks for letting me join you. I am honored. Welcome aboard.~Syrie
  4. “How will you teach a class where some want a grade and some don’t? What will the students with the automatic grade do while the others are being tested?” Actually, rather easily. The content and teaching approach remains the same, regardless the choice for the grading approach. For the three who have opted for the traditional approach, I have met with them, and we have created a personalized grade book to help them keep track of their grades. The assignments will be the same, the assessments will be the same, the tests will be the same. The only difference is the grading preference.
  5.  “You should be teaching them that hard works get the rewards, it doesn’t happen automatically…In this life, there is no job, anywhere, where the boss says, I will give you a wage to come every day to work. You just decide what to do with your time, because I have nothing to tell you that I expect of you. That is ridiculous! You did not earn a teaching degree by winging it and the collage just passed you. You had to work hard to earn that degree! That is what you should be teaching these students. That is what they go to school for.” Okay, I lumped this all into the “something-for-nothing” concern that you have raised. Of course, I hope that the letters above address this to some degree, but I will offer more. No thing is free. Nothing on the other hand is freely and cheaply given because it is…well, nothing. But the thing that I offer is an opportunity for kids to learn the value of commitment and responsibility, a thing that cannot be faked or copied from a peer’s assignment, a thing that is not defined by some teacher’s arbitrary approach to grading. As products of the public education system and the traditional-grading approach that comes with it, we have all played the grade game, sometimes getting A’s for nothing learned, sometimes not getting the grade we think we deserved based on the subjectivity of the teacher. And in the end, as we look back, and if we are honest, and we take the “grade” out of the mix, we got out of school what we put into school, just as we have gotten out of life what have put into life. I have not taken that important life lesson away from my kids. I have taken away the pretense that too often exists in their formative years. In reality, in my class, they can only get out of it what they put into it. For I only offer opportunity. And with that opportunity comes an abundance of support and encouragement. But I cannot do it for them. Isn’t there a lesson in that? Yes, I worked very hard in college, but only because I pushed myself. In reality, the “real world” allows too many opportunities for us to skate along and take the easy road. I could have skated through college; I could skate through teaching, but I don’t. I can’t. I won’t. And that is because I have learned to push myself, for myself. I cannot trace it back to a grade, but I can trace it back to the people who instilled self-worth in me. That is what I want for my kids. A real opportunity to discover their own power, real power, not the artificial, compliance-creating, short-term power that comes with grades.
  6. “People pay taxes and expect their children go to school to learn.” Yep.  And those people who pay taxes need to question–they have the duty to question–what is going on in our schools. As a taxpayer, you are doing your duty. But I hope that your questions continue. I hope that as you begin to take a more critical view of your child’s education, you ask the same questions of all his teachers. I am on your radar because what I offer is different, because I make public–EVERY day–what goes on in my classroom. It’s too bad that that which is familiar seldom comes across the screen, and it is accepted as fine because it’s always been there, but I wonder what lurks beneath. I wonder if one dug what she would find.

2861 words later and sadly the thread is likely no more apparent than when I began. But it is there. I feel it. Always have. I am sorry that you cannot see it.

Happy Monday, all. Follow your thread.

Room to Breathe: Project 180, Day 91

One of the goals of Project 180 is to reduce the amount of stress kids experience in their days. And while science supports the notion that stressed brains can’t learn, I tend to rely on sense more than science. It’s not that I don’t value what science offers; to be sure, it’s just that I don’t need it to establish and back up what I already know. Kids cannot, will not learn when they are over stressed. And while I cannot completely remove all stress, I can reduce it. I cannot control what happens outside my classroom, but I can control what happens inside. I am in charge of how kids feel in my classroom.  And that is one of the major driving forces for my taking grades off the table. But really it’s about  more than the grade. So much more.

It’s about how the kids feel for 55 minutes a day in my room. And that requires intention and constant effort. It is not an accident. It is a carefully-considered, carefully-choreographed approach that places kids first and content second. Yesterday, we began “Writer’s Craft Workshop,” which we will have every Thursday for the rest of the year. The academic aim here is to introduce and apply elements of craft to our writing. The human aim here is to provide a low-stakes, low-stress environment for kids to practice and play with their writing. And, as I discovered, this is not as simple as carving out a day of the week to create the necessary environment. It is a complex endeavor that requires a surprising amount of guidance and reassurance. Oh, not in the academic sense. On the contrary, the kids don’t need much help to assume their academic personas, fretting over the right way to do things; they have been well and thoroughly conditioned for that role.  They need help and support to just relax and and learn by making messes on their papers, by making mistakes in their efforts. Sad that we have to guide kids to a place where they can breathe, where they can relax, where they can learn. And so, I try. I try. I work hard to create a culture where kids can just be, where can kids can learn, where kids can relax, where kids can breathe–just breathe. And that is the 180 difference.

Happy Friday, all. Don’t forget to breathe today. Just breathe.

Together: Project 180, Day 90

Project 180 has been transformational for me as an instructor in a number of ways. Perhaps among the most important transformations has been my stepping off the stage. I am no longer the star, and this has been hard for me, for I like the spotlight. I like being up front. I like talking. I really like talking. But that has changed, and what’s interesting is that it was not an intentional move on my part. It just happened. And now that I have learned to talk less, I have learned to listen more in my supporting role. The kids now have the stage, but their new roles have taken some time, some adjustment. And yesterday, was no easy adjustment. For the first time this year, I put them in teams. Up to now, they have had choice in where they have sat and with whom they have worked. Understandably, they have chosen their comfort. Yesterday, I stole some of that comfort.

Wednesdays for quarter three are grammar days. Though I have some reservations about teaching grammar in isolation, the reality for most of these kids requires a steady foundational knowledge of grammar for upcoming challenges: SBA, SAT/ACT, AP, and beyond. So, I feel I have an obligation to help them establish and build upon this foundation. In truth, it’s not quite as “isolated” as the name and approach may suggest, for there is practical and purposeful application to their writing. I like to think of it as grammar in repetition, giving the kids consistent opportunities to learn and practice. And that is why I have designated a day. And on that day, stemming from a belief that we can learn best with and from each other, I have placed kids in what I am calling Grammar Groups. And this was not comfortable.

Of course, I did not do it to torture them. I did it to stretch them beyond their comfort zones, to stretch them into situations that will no doubt reflect “real-world” work, where we do not always get to choose whom we work with. And though it was awkward and uncomfortable for some, they survived, and they will continue to survive. The graphic above reflects what I believe to be the ideal goal for a community of learners, and while we have a long way to go to get even close, I believe it is a goal worth chasing. And so we will. Together.

Happy Thursday, all. Ninety days. Half way there. Crazy.


Making Sense: Project 180, Day 89


With all but five returned, 81 of the 83 (97%)  in so far have elected to stay with the 180 option. And while I am pleased with this result, it gives me pause as I wonder what it really means. Here are some initial thoughts as I continue to process the outcome.

It was the path of least resistance. It’s become the “new familiar,” so folks stayed. I get it.

It’s a “free” A. Regardless of one’s feelings about 180, an A on a transcript looks better than a C. But nothing is free. One parent brought the word “nothing” into play with her comment at the bottom of a returned letter. In short, she made it clear that they were NOT in support of 180, that my approach had given her son the green light to do nothing, and that reality would be on my shoulders, my conscience. My response to her is below (name changed).

Good afternoon. Thank you for returning the parent letter indicating your preference for the approach I take with grading Justin. Thank you, too, for your frank feedback regarding 180. When I gave the A to Justin at the beginning of the year, it was certainly not intended to be an invitation for him to do nothing. On the contrary, I had hoped that it would motivate him to take greater responsibility for his learning. Unfortunately, my grand plan has not worked for Justin as it has for others. And that is why, mid-year, I presented the option to return to tradition. That said, I think that if it would better motivate him, we should return to tradition. His doing nothing is not okay, and if that is his plan for the rest of the year, I do not think it’s a wise choice on his part. I told him 4 months ago when I gave him the A, I was giving him nothing. It was up to him to make it something. So, of course the choice is yours, and it seems you have made it, but I wonder if we shouldn’t reconsider for Justin’s sake. Again, thank you for your candid comment.
Monte Syrie

So, it makes me wonder, then, about the motivation to stay with 180 in this case. If it is the cause of “nothing,” then              why continue? Is it because they know he would not likely earn an “A” with a traditional approach? Is the grade more important than the learning? Is this representative of what the system has done to condition students, parents, and society to place too much emphasis on grades instead of learning? How many others made the choice for the same reason? One wonders. It is of particular interest to me that all my most-vocal critics stayed with 180. Hmmm.

The 180 approach has reduced stress. I have a hunch that for some families this was a key factor in their decision. And this makes me happy for that is certainly something I sought to achieve. Stressed brains cannot learn.

The 180 approach is working. I am certainly not suggesting that is working for all, but it is for many. I hope at least that this was a factor in some of the decisions.

I may have been duped. It’s likely that a small handful of returned letters had forged or not fully-informed signatures. It’s what it is.

Okay, but what about the two who opted to return to tradition? What was their motivation?

Student #1: He needed the extra challenge of tradition. Mom and I had several face-to-face conversations about Jason’s (name changed) experiences in my class and their family’s breakfast-and-dinner-table discussions about character, learning, and the future, and for them, a return to tradition made the most sense. And so, after reassuring me that she believed in what I was trying to do with 180, she informed me that tradition was the better choice for them. I am happy to oblige. I love that they did not take this situation lightly. I love that they had deep, sustained conversations about learning. Love it.

Student #2: I will let Haley’s letter speak for itself (see above). I am so proud of her for taking charge of her learning, for making the choice that was best for her, and I am pleased to provide a culture of possibility that allows for such a choice. Choice is commitment. I have no doubt that Haley is committed. I hope those who elected to stay with 180 are as committed as she. So proud of this young lady.

Happy February, all. Come on spring!


Revolt! Project 180, Day 88

Gonna take a short side route this morning. Gonna write about my seniors. Though I am not using Project 180 with them, I wanted to offer a glimpse of the journey that we began yesterday. We are getting ready to read Animal Farm. Our essential question for the unit is “How does power influence how decisions are made in society?” Yesterday, we began with a social experiment. I presented a scenario in which the students at CHS revolted, and all adults had been permanently dismissed from the building. Now in charge, the students’ task was to draft and adopt a set of commandments for all students to live by with the adults out of the picture. Of course, they had to play along, accepting the parameters that they still had to go to school from 8 – 3, Monday thru Friday. Thus, parameters loosely set, the kids got to work.

It was nothing short of fascinating. Oh, it was messy and mildly chaotic, but it was intriguing to watch them interact. I strictly stayed out of it, resisting my educator urges to give direction, to admonish inactivity, to…be the adult. I gave them the entire period, telling them that I would simply watch and take notes. And that’s what I did as they worked through the trials and tribulations of working as a community. Some took an active role. Some took a more passive role. Many did nothing at all, staring into their phones, their default escape from any awkward realities. And it was awkward. It was 38 minutes of awkward for my 4th period class. For my 5th, they managed 15 minutes of awkward. For each class, I took nearly 5 pages of notes, capturing–as best I could–the nuances of their interactions, which I will share with them as we debrief the activity today. One thing that struck me, especially from fourth, was how “adulty” the commandments were (draft example above). “Students shall complete work in a timely manner.” Ha! Gonna call BS on that.  Anyway, it was the beginning of what I hope proves to be an interesting, eye-opening experience for our newest round of “adults” about to meet the “real world.” Wanted to share.

As for Project 180, my sophs began their own journey of writing argumentative letters to the school board, addressing the controversy of using movies to teach the Holocaust. The kids will get a chance to support or protest the use of the movies The Book Thief, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and Life is Beautiful at CHS. I am thankful that I can provide a “real” purpose and audience for their writing.

In other news, with all but a handful of parent letters in, all have elected to stay with 180.  Once I have them all in hand, I will share my thoughts on what the results might mean.

Happy Tuesday, all.



Too Late to Turn Back Now: Project 180, Day 87

So proud of the Memory Projects these ladies did. Using their own money, they made shirts and hats to honor Holocaust Remembrance.  They have pledged to wear them once a month on a designated day in an effort to keep memory alive. Overall, Project Memory was a huge success in its first year. I have so many awesome models to share with my kids next year, so they can continue this proud classroom tradition.

On another note, it’s crazy that we have already reached the halfway point of the Project 180 journey as we begin second semester today. I have learned much along the way, and I am eager to continue learning as we seek to turn education upside down, one day at a time. Though today will tell more as the official turn-in day, with two-thirds of the parent letters returned, all have opted to stay with the 180 approach. Of course, I will process and reflect on what that truly means as I take the rest of the results in, but I am honored that so many continue to place their faith in me and my unconventional approach to learning, but it is not an honor lightly borne. Indeed, I take seriously the burden of this responsibility, the weight of this charge. It is my daily drive to succeed, to do my best, to be dedicated, to fulfill my sixty degrees of the triangle.

Happy Monday, all. Halfway there, but still oh so far to go. Thanks for keeping me company. Couldn’t do it without you.

A Thousand Words: Project 180, Day 86

Here are some of the projects that the kids produced. I was so impressed with the creativity and variety of their projects. There was also a movie and puppet show, which I unfortunately could not share. I have two more classes who will share their projects today. I am beyond excited to share in more moments with my kiddos. I am so proud of what they accomplished despite the snow-day setbacks. I am also proud of their commitment to something for which there was no grade. It seems choice can indeed foster commitment.

On a separate note, with nearly half of the parent letters returned, all have chosen 180. No school tomorrow for the kids. I’ll be back with you on Monday.

Happy Thursday, all.

Looking Ahead: Project 180, Day 85

Morning, all. Running late. Quick post. Took in twenty letters yesterday, and, so far, all have opted to stay with 180. Of course that is only roughly a quarter of my kids, but I am heartened by the fact that kids and parents are choosing to stay on the 180 path. In earnest, I hope it was a carefully considered choice, in which kids and parents reflected on their experiences from the first half of the journey. I hope.

Today we begin sharing Memory Projects. I will share some tomorrow.  Happy Wednesday.

Spirit Intact: Project 180, Day 84

Morning, all. Thank you for all the check-ins, well-wishes, and words of support yesterday. It always means the world to me to know that you’re “there.” Truly. It’s nice to know that so many have tuned in to the project. It’s nice to know that so many care about the progress of the journey. But, of all, it’s nicer to know that so many simply care about me.  Thank you. And to put your minds at ease, I am fine. Really, I am great. In an odd, rather unexpected sorta way, I am at peace. And I think that’s because I trusted my gut, I listened to my heart, and I followed my compass. I made a “kid decision.”

And while it will be a week before I know and subsequently share the decisions of my kids and their families, some interesting conversations have already begun with my kids. Here are a few from yesterday. Names changed.



John: Hey, Sy. Can I get my portfolio?

Me: Sure. What’s up?

John: I want to show it to my dad. I want to show him what I have done, how I have grown. I wanna stay with 180.

Me: He wants to go traditional?

John: Yeah. He doesn’t think I am doing anything.

Me: Okay. Well, make your case, kiddo. If he wants any input from me, have him or mom email me, and I will support you.



Layla: Sy, whatcha think I should do?

Me: Lay, I think you are in a perfect position to continue with 180. It would break my heart, if you went the traditional route. You have taken full responsibility and ownership of your learning. You’re a poster child for 180, girl.

Layla: You really think so?

Me: Absolutely, chica. I am so proud of all that you have accomplished so far this year. Can’t quit now.

Layla: Okay, Sy. I got you.



Michael: (leaning on the edge of my desk, Gary standing beside) Sy, I wanna stay with 180. I know. I know. I have kinda screwed up this semester. I started off well, but then I got lazy. But I can do this.

Me: You think you can reload and make it happen?

Michael: For sure.

Me: How will the conversation go at home? Can you convince your folks to stay with 180?

Michael: Oh, yeah.

Me: So you’re going to own this?

Michael: Yep.

Gary: (jumping in) Me, too. I messed up. I got lazy, and it kinda became a habit.

Michael: (interrupting) And we’re gonna be like this, spreading his fingers apart.

Me: You’re not gonna sit together?

Michael and Gary: Nah. (chuckling) We can’t sit together, Sy.

Me: Huh, ya think? Okay, boys. Let’s see if you can redeem yourselves.

And by the end of the day, I was feeling okay. I didn’t find the decision a smudge on the project. I found it to be what it was intended to be: another option for kids. And my spirit can live with that. Journey on!

Happy Tuesday, all. Again, thank you for being there. Really.


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