5 Ways Running Has Made Me A Better Teacher


Screenshot 2016-08-27 at 9.22.15 AM

I’ve been running for a few years now and this summer I’ve been training to run my first half marathon which takes place in October.  My training has been easy at times and grueling most others.

One of the best things that has happened to me besides my improved health and fitness has been the growth I feel I have made as a teacher.  During my run this morning, I thought about all the ways training this summer has helped me be a better teacher:

1. The journey is more important than pace. — The heat of the summer made my runs more challenging.  It was hot, humid, and sticky even before sunrise.  Research has shown hot conditions like this to be effective for runners training for high-altitude races, a fact that is a real bummer for me since Ohio is as flat as a pool table.  What really bummed me out was that the heat was affecting my pace, adding almost a minute to my average pace.  I had to shift my focus from pace to logging miles.  I needed to forget worrying about my pace and remind myself that these conditions would pay off in the long run.

Teaching connection:  As teachers, we know the amount of material we are faced with helping students learn over the course of a year.  It’s nearly impossible to get to it all and yet we go for it anyway.  We feel like we need to get to that next step in the curriculum because we are running out of time.  However, training has helped me truly see that it’s more important to focus on the journey than to dwell solely on that next milestone.  The challenge we face is in resisting curricular demands and replacing them with our students’ learning needs.

2.  Staying fueled with a growth mindset helped me overcome challenges. — When you hit mile 7 on a swampy summer morning, or at minute 20 of a tempo pace workout, it’s easy to justify fixed mindset thinking such as, “You don’t really need to do this,” or “It’s too hot to be able to do this”.  I had to force myself to think, “You got this” — It has become my mantra and something I will say to myself when I cross the finish line.

Teaching connection: Helping our students see how important it is to use positive self talk can go a long way to helping them develop a growth mindset.  It’s an uphill battle and one that each person struggles to win, but talking students through this struggle can help them understand that it’s a normal part of the learning process.

3. Using benchmarks to keep on pace is helping me build the skills necessary for the race. — The good people at Columbus Running Company created a chart of pace times that were all connected to a race time goal.  My goal finish time is 1 hour and 45 minutes.  I am determined to reach that goal and I know that each time my foot hits the pavement, I’m getting one step closer.  The chart has been my guidepost, a way of holding myself accountable on my runs and knowing these goals motivates me to work harder.

Teaching connection:  Helping students know the “why” or what the end goal for each learning experience can be highly motivating, especially if they have had a say in what that goal can be.

4. Metrics are important, but so is listening to your instincts. — Sometime the pace chart needed to go out the window.  There one day a few weeks ago when I was supposed to do a speed workout on the track but I knew that my body probably couldn’t handle it so I just ran the miles at a comfortable pace instead.  I was still tired from the workout, but I was able to be present with my family instead of a spiritless zombie.

Teaching connection:  We believe in teaching the whole child, so with that comes knowing when a student is tired, grumpy or hungry because these are the factors that can’t be written into a lesson plan; we just need to adjust and adapt.

5. Enjoy every step. — I’ve learned to love sweat.  I’ve learned to run with a water bottle.  I’ve learned to appreciate Body Glide. I’ve learned not to fear the bats I see that fly around the trail in the predawn hours.  I’ve learned almost all the lyrics to every Black Keys album.  But the best lesson I’ve learned is to appreciate that I get to experience all of this. I’m lucky that I have the time and ability to do this.

Teaching connection:  It’s a cliche, but one that I don’t take for granted: We change the world one student at a time.  Every interaction we have with kids leaves an impression on them and it can either be positive or negative.  We can’t take this for granted and we need to remember how intentional we need to be with our interactions.

Tweets Worth Reading






Upcoming Dates



31 – School Community Meeting, 10:45am



5 – No School, Labor Day

6 – BIT Meeting, 8am Media Center

7 – Curriculum Night, 6-7PM

12 – PTO Meeting, 7PM

30 – Building Advisory Meeting, 8am Conference Room



1 – Community Cardboard Challenge

4 – BIT Meeting, 8am Media Center

7 – Building Tours by Board of Education

17-20 — Fall Conference Week; Late Night is Weds, Oct 19.

21 – COI Day

24 – State of Schools (Darby), 6-9PM

25 – State of Schools (Davidson, 6-9PM

26 – State of Schools (Bradley), 6-9PM

28 – Building Advisory Meeting, 8am Conference Room



1 – BIT Meeting, 8am Media Center

8 – Election Day/Hilliard U Professional Dev. Day, No Students

23-25 – No School (Holiday)



6 – BIT Meeting, 8am Media Center

21-Jan 3 – No School (Winter Break)

Let’s ask the kids…


I read a great post by George Couros this week about a school and parent committee that, after deliberation, decided to ban the use of mobile devices by students.

Couros pointed out the fact that kids weren’t apart of the decision-making process, adding irony to the phrase “do what’s best for kids” (It reminded me of a quote I heard over the summer that I love and is helpful to me as a leader: “Don’t do anything for us without us”).

When I think back to being in the classroom, I can remember the countless number of times when I was just plain stuck about what to do next, be it during a unit of learning or even how to organize the class library.  It was always frustrating and I would rack my brain trying to make a decision — It seems so silly now how much time I spent being “stuck”.

What I eventually learned to do is what should have done and what should be apart of each classroom community on Day 1 — I should have asked the kids.

Those of us who have spent more than 1o minutes in a room of 30 kids ages 5 to 11 know that there is never a moment when someone doesn’t have an opinion on something!  And that wealth of opinion and thinking from kids should be treated as a strength.  

Asking students what they think or even giving them control over a small project has an amazing effect.  It’s empowering and is, in my opinion, one of the easiest and most effective ways to build a sense of belongingness and raise the level of engagement within the learning environment.  In fact, it’s just plain respectful because it honors the thoughts of our kids.

So as we gear up for the school year, I hope that you continue to look at how the year will unfold through the lens of student voice.  Reflect on the learning experiences you create or plan to create and think about where students are in the learning.  Think about what you do through the lens of the Continuum of Voice as well as where opportunities for raising engagement and belongingness might exist within the learning experience you help create with your kids.


From http://www.personalizelearning.com/2016/01/continuum-of-voice-what-it-means-for.html

Articles That Got Me Thinking —
— New Staff T-Shirts are in mailboxes…
— Monday:
  • Convocation begins at 8:30AM at DAVIDSON HS.
  • District PD begins at 12:30PM in the ADE Media Center hosted by your pals, Herb and Kelly Riley.
  • Meet the Teacher is 5:00-6:00PM; Ice Cream Social lasts until 6:30PM
— Tuesday:
  • Building PD begins at 8:30AM — BREAKFAST PROVIDED by Herb.  PreSchool Staff will be joining us for Dr. John’s portion of the Meeting.
  • The morning will last until about 11:30 and then the rest of the time is for you to work in the building.
Upcoming Dates —


15 – Convocation (8:30AM) / District PD (Starting at 12:30PM in ADE Media Center)

15 – Meet the Teacher Night – 5-6PM; Ice Cream Social 5-6:30PM

16 – Building PD (8:30AM w/Dr. John) / Work Afternoon (PM)

17 – First Day of 2016-17 School Year!


25 – Community-Wide Meeting at ADE (Finances/Levy), 7PM



7 – Curriculum Night, 6-7PM

12 – PTO Meeting, 7PM

30 – Building Advisory



1 – Community Cardboard Challenge

7 – Building Tours by Board of Education

17-20 – Fall Conference Week; Late Night is Weds, Oct 19.

21 – Central Ohio In-Service Day, No Students

24 – State of Schools (Darby), 6-9PM

25 – State of Schools (Davidson, 6-9PM

26 – State of Schools (Bradley), 6-9PM

Looking for an answer


The few weeks just before the new school year is my favorite time of year and for a host of reasons.

Summer is still in full swing but football is getting started.  Vegetables taste better because they were grown in season rather than in a hydroponic hothouse.

But the biggest reason why this is my favorite time of year is because it’s when things start to come together for me on a professional level.

Like most educators, I spend my time off reflecting on the work we have done in the service of others and think about what we can do to improve.  But as a principal entering year 3, this feeling of everything coming together has been different in a way.

The past few weeks I have been thinking a lot about my message – What am I going to share with staff during the first part of the new school year that will hopefully energize and inspire us to continue to make a difference.  This year, it just wasn’t coming to me like it had in the past.  Usually, what I hope to focus on just comes to me through a variety of sources – Reading articles or books, conversations with my wife, or while I’m out on a run.

But this time, the well of ideas seemed dry.  It feels like I’ve had writer’s block for several weeks.

This had me panicking.  What was wrong? Had I lost my passion? No – I still feel the same way I had, perhaps even more emboldened by my convictions and my beliefs about the possibilities we can create for kids.

So what was it with me?

This week, I found the answer.

Tuesday night, I had the privilege to attend the inaugural TEDxHilliard event and heard several amazing stories related to one’s drive to achieve goals and dreams — Amazing stories of overcoming adversity, empowering others, and finding purpose that filled the evening.  Then, the next morning, I had the opportunity to attend the Ohio Innovative Learning Environments Conference in Hilliard and heard Jon Gordon speak about leading through love, kindness, and service to others.

The answer was that I had been focusing on the wrong thing.

I was looking for the wrong answer to the right purpose.

The “right purpose” in my opinion is being a servant leader to those within my “tribe” – My staff, my students, and the families that make up our community.  I want to empower others to make a difference and to remove the roadblocks on the path of progress.

Deep down the answers to what my message should be were always there.

The answer is “love” (Isn’t it always?).

The answer is “hope“.

The answer is “yes“.

The answer is “care“.

They may seem simple, but these are the words that can inspire, the ones that empower, and the ones that build relationships. 

I am so thankful for the folks who had the bravery and desire to share their story.  I am re-energized and ready to take on the best school year yet!


Articles Worth Reading —

Upcoming Dates — 


8 – KG Assessment/Screening Day

12 – New Teacher Work Day

15 – Convocation (AM) / District PD (PM)

15 – Meet the Teacher Night – 5-6PM; Ice Cream Social 5-6:30PM

16 – Building PD (AM) / Work Afternoon (PM)

17 – First Day of 2016-17 School Year

25 – Community-Wide Meeting at ADE (Finances/Levy), 7PM



7 – Curriculum Night, 6-7PM

12 – PTO Meeting, 7PM

30 – Building Advisory