Saturday, April 7, 2018

An open letter of resignation from an Oklahoma teacher

It's a confusing April morning in Oklahoma.


I have a cup of coffee and I'm looking outside my front window at my azaleas...which are covered in snow. Earlier this morning we had an earthquake. My wife is helping my son with his homework, even though he hasn't been in school all week, and he won't be there Monday either.

April, blooming flowers, snow, my son actually doing homework, earthquakes...and those aren't the weirdest thing to happen this past week.

This week I watched through various social media platforms and news outlets as my fellow educators, students, apologists, sympathizers, and according to Mary Fallin, ANTIFA, stormed Oklahoma City and the Capitol to rally for education funding. Awestruck, I saw them fill the Capitol building every day, I saw them spell out messages with their bodies for aerial photographs, and I saw some of the funniest and most grammatically-correct protest signs I've ever had the privilege of looking at.



 I wasn't there.

On Monday, I watched our children as my wife joined with her school on the Capitol lawn. On Tuesday, one of our kids had an appointment that my wife and I had to be present for. My school decided at zero hour to not participate in the full-fledged walk out, so for the rest of the week I had to be in class. I wasn't happy about it.

That said, I'm not unhappy about it anymore. I decided instead to take action. I've resigned.

I've resigned myself to the thought that most of the people in this state (most of the media included) think that this entire thing is about a pay raise. I've spent the whole week telling people I want my raise to go to my classroom, to no avail. In an effort to combat this, I looked at my wife and said, "I'm going to spend all of my raise after taxes on stuff for my room, just to prove a point." I felt noble. I was proud, standing before my wife having made what I considered to be an incredibly magnanimous gesture. But alas, my beautiful, lovely, and always taciturn wife brought me back down to earth: "Travis, no one cares about you."

I'm still seeing news stories and Facebook posts about how greedy teachers are. Our own governor thinks we all just want new cars. We can't win. We're either greedy, or we stop the fight now and we never cared about the student funding, so we're selfish. As Bobby Hill says:


I've resigned myself to the knowledge that even with this "generous raise," Oklahoma will still be near the bottom of the barrel in teacher pay, and because the money from the bills in question is going to general funds, in a couple of years the legislature can appropriate the revenue to whatever they want, leaving already crumbling districts to figure out how to pay for those raises.

I've resigned myself to the realization that the leaders of this great state don't care at all about public education, and their end goal is clearly consolidation at best, and vouchers at worst. This means my tiny school district in Okay, Oklahoma - the school I graduated from and now teach at - might not be long for this world unless something changes.


So I've resigned. What else could I do?

One of the biggest battles as a teacher in my district is convincing my students they're capable of being heard. A more perfect example could not have been constructed than in a conversation that took place in my classroom this past week.

Student: "Why aren't we participating in the teacher walk out?"
Me: "Well..."
Another Student: "We're just Okay. We're too small. We can't make a difference."
Me: *rage intensifies*


I think that may have been what broke me, and so I just went ahead and resigned again.

I've resigned myself to educating not just my students, but those of you who think teachers aren't fighting for your students. To educating those of you who think teachers just want a raise. To educating those of you who feel like just because your taxes went up, that gives you a right to blame my fellow educators and I, instead of the state government you keep voting into office just because you're pro-life and those stinkin' Democrats kill babies. You can be a Christian Democrat you narrow-minded Pharisee simpleton.



I've resigned myself to being nicer to those who don't share my views. And yes, that means starting right now, after the Pharisee simpleton line. Every journey has a beginning, and mine might as well be the space between these two paragraphs. I love you, even if you're an idiot (okay, now). There are ways to have reasonable discourse on volatile issues, and I have to take responsibility for my part in that. Part of the problem is social media - every issue is polarizing, and if you don't take a clear stance on an issue, you're often overlooked. Being overlooked is the worst thing that can happen on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other digital outlet. Fear of being overlooked can cause people to say emphatic things, even if they don't entirely believe them.

I'm resigned to investing in G, in H, in H. In L, J, B, D, J, C, A, A, A, E, T, and M. In R, J, T, L, L, J, R, T, T, T, A, N, A, B, and S. Investing in H, S, C, T, T, C, S, R, and R. In A and Z. In K, K, B, K, K, S, C, S, and S. In S, J, B, D, K, K, A, T, K, C, and S. Investing in M, K, N, K, M, K, S, A, E, S, C, L, R, and B. All of these young people depend on me to teach them about English, sure, but more importantly, they depend on me to help them become the kind of people this state can be proud of. They depend on me to protect them. I am their tutelary.


I won't be at the Capitol next week. I'll be in my classroom, helping administer state tests and trying to convince young men and women that yes, they absolutely can make a difference, and yes, their voices can be heard. I'll be showing them pictures of your signs and videos of your congregations. You can have the stage, and I'll take my broken classroom podium. Together we'll scream the same message. "You are powerful. You are capable. You are cared about."

To the Oklahoma Legislators who are currently supporting us, thank you. We are in your debt, and I personally would love for you to visit my classroom when it's over. It's an open invitation. Come and let my students and I thank you personally.

To the ones telling educators to get back in our classrooms and teach: There's a point in every dystopian novel where the hero(ine) meets those in power. If you could read anything other than bills penned in oil instead of ink, you'd know how they end.


Okay, okay, starting now. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

"If it's not your butt, don't touch it"

Everyone just ignore my obvious face cancer, doc says it's an overactive parotid gland. 

“I’ll be right back,” I said. “I’m going to shred some chicken for tacos.” 

“That’s fine,” Tye replied. “Throw some in a box and mail it to me.” 

I laughed and muted my gaming headset, mostly because of the ridiculous stuff that gets said in this house, and because Alicia won’t let me have a private gaming room where that stuff won’t get heard. 

I shredded the chicken and came back to a chuckling clan mate. 

“I just heard the best advice,” he said, barely able to speak through his laughter. “Your wife said, ‘If it’s not your butt, don’t touch it.’” 

“Kids,” was my succinct and exasperated reply. 

I’ve really got to make sure I start hitting the mute button better. 

•••

It’s 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning, and we’re not in church because I had photography plans today that were canceled by the rain. Somewhere, Brian Sloat is upset about that. 

Isaac woke up at 5:45 this morning, ready to start his day, and quite offended that the rest of us weren’t ready to start ours. He made this known through noises that, thankfully, I’m too deaf to hear, but I got up with Alicia anyway and headed to the living room. 

She fed him, then he griped until she stood him up and let him watch me play Destiny. I looked over at him, and he smiled. He smiled so wide he almost lost his pacifier, but he didn’t. He grinned at me every single time I glanced over for a solid ten minutes. It was inspiration an to me. 

“I will write,” I said to myself, “about baby smiles this morning. I will compare them to something also wonderful, and make the kind of allusions that will undoubtedly go viral on the social media.” 

My Muse was smiling at me, happiness personified, a very fat cherub with more chins than wings. It was a moment. 

I didn’t get up and write immediately, of course. I was in a game, trying to level up a character. I couldn’t quit then. 

The thought of the blog stayed with me for an hour or so, and from time to time I would formulate little ideas of how I would word things — powerful adjectives; not too heavy on the adverbs; and all of the other little things writers like to do when they’re putting something off. 

Then it happened. The 8 a.m. fight between Alicia and one of the boys, this time Aven. My Muse vanished, not a tangible thing after all, definitely not a smiling infant with drool running down his chins. 

•••

For the last couple of months, Drake has been a complete nightmare. We’re talking a “there’s a new hole in his bedroom wall because he chucked his bed frame (he’s five) into the sheetrock during a fit” nightmare. It was bad. After speaking with his doctor, the conclusion was drawn that part of his brain is underdeveloped due to drugs consumed in utero. 

He prescribed some ADHD medication that worked well with Aven. It did not work well for Drake. After a couple of weeks of tantrums and biting, a second doctor’s appointment was scheduled and a new medication prescribed. It’s working wonders. 

•••

I’m going to stop right there and talk a out something that is going to piss a lot of people off. I’m also going to use some language that might piss some folks off. I’m not here to apologize, and if you happen to be one of the pissed off folks, then I want you to do me a favor. Shut the browser down, and take ten minutes to think about it. Process it. I can promise you it took me longer than that to write and edit it. 

The kids’ bio family reads these blogs. They follow me on Facebook, and more than likely they are reading these words right now. They had to read that little bit up there about the drugs. 

I’m going to restate that: Drake’s biological mother just had to read that decisions she made as a nineteen-year-old have affected her child’s brain. 

Darlin’, if you’re reading this, I didn’t type it to make you feel bad. In fact, I want to tell you a story. 

The other day, Alicia texted me about the whole thing while she was at the doctor with Drake. She ended without blaming anyone. She told me about the medication he’d be taking and that was it. I was angry, and in anger I banged out a reply. 

“Fuck her,” I wrote. “Fuck her and her stupid ass decisions.” 

Drake caught this and then was scared to death to touch it. It's a lot like my wedding night.
My thumb hovered over the “send” button, but I didn’t press it. I still don’t know why. An incremental move to the left, a double tap, “select all,” and “cut” were pressed instead. I never sent that message. I’m done blaming you. You were young and dumb, and I’ve done plenty of dumb shit. I have had an affair. I did irreparable damage to my marriage and my relationship with my wife. I should have been divorced. However, I was shown grace. That grace led to us adopting three children. Those three children came to us swimming in the dumb shit that both you and I did. 

Grace hosed them off. 

It’s a hose I have to get under every day. There’s a long way to go before I forgive you completely, but anytime you want to use that hose…I invite you to it. 

•••

Drake has gotten better. However, Aven has stepped back up to the plate, doing his best to make everyone around him as angry as he is. He’s hateful, he’s sneaky, and he’s deceitful. We’ve basically taken our foot off of the brake and pushed on the gas, only to find out that some horrible mechanic has swapped our gas pedal for another brake. 

Things are not okay at the Sloat house. We’re covered in brake fluid and ADHD medication, pumping brake pedals like they belong to a vehicle in a Carrie Underwood song. The resulting collisions leave us covered in the viscous lifeblood of relationships with our children, our friends, and the people we work with. 

Grace keeps hosing us off. 

Photographer is Mandy Lundy, and she's incredible. Go check her out. 
I started this blog eight years ago with a simple purpose: I wanted to make you laugh. If I could go back in time and read all of these blogs before I posted them, I’m not sure my purpose would still have been the same. One thing is for sure, I never would have believed any of them actually would come true. Yet here I am; here we are; and this is reality: 

“If it’s not your butt, don’t touch it.” 

“You’ve been acting like a dickhead for the last two weeks.” 

“If I was Jesus I’d hide in the dark.” 

“I’ll have sex with you if you fix dinner and clean some stuff tomorrow.” 

“Those sweats make him look like he’s smuggling grapes.” 

“Maybe one day we’ll all die and then you can be happy.” 

“Yep, thank God. I’m gonna go get Taco Bell.” 

“I’m getting the kids McDonald’s because of their shots.” 

“Our children are stupid.” 

Maybe you’re laughing at us. Maybe you’re crying for us. Maybe you’re angry at us. It doesn’t matter. 

When you’re ready, just motion for us to scooch over, and we’ll make room for you under the hose. Until then, if it's not your butt, don't touch it. 

“Why do You even love me? 
Why do You even care? 
Why should You think of me? 
Oh my God, I’ll never know. 
Fire emoji times a million. 
It’s unconditional love,
The Grace Flood.” 

        - "Grace Flood" The OC Supertones

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Cleanin' out my closet

A post shared by Travis Sloat (@tstyles77) on

It happened a few weeks ago.

"Travis, you need to clean out your closet. I need hangers."

I laughed and went on about my business, trying not to give it a second thought. I did though, and a third, and a fourth. However, I never got around to cleaning out my closet.

Sunday though, it happened again.

"Travis, I got you these bags, you need to throw some clothes out, but if you want to keep them I understand. We're just going to put them in these bags."

I was cooking dinner for the family — nachos if we're being honest — and Akeeli was helping me. I laughed again, then stared at Alicia, trying to come up with something to say. A lump formed in my throat, and I felt tears coming in the corners of my eyes. I turned back to the hamburger sizzling on the stove and busily crumbled it, hoping the situation would resolve itself without me having to acknowledge it.

It almost did.

"Daddy, why did you laugh and then not say anything?"

•••••••••••••••••

I've heard a lot about Stockholm Syndrome, and I've always wondered how it's possible for a captive to have any positive feelings about their captor, much less sympathize with them. If someone ever abducted me, I always felt I would never fall victim to the mysterious psychological condition that is apparently so powerful, it led hostages in a Stockholm bank robbery to decide not to testify against those who held them captive.

My weight has abducted my happiness, healthiness, attractiveness, my self-esteem, my activity levels, and some of my relationships. It has taken more from me than I'll ever get back, particularly my health.

I've lost weight before. Back in 2010, I went on a run where I got from around 380 down to 300. It lasted approximately 10 weeks, and then the scale was tipping 360 once again. I couldn't maintain. I fell back into bad habits, and I got to the point where I didn't care anymore.

However, I loved Fat Travis. Fat Travis didn't care what people thought about him. Fat Travis knew he was fat and he took pride in that. Fat Travis didn't have to wear compression shirts to keep loose skin from jiggling underneath his shirts. Fat Travis just enjoyed food, he didn't count calories. Fat Travis was happier, Fat Travis was funnier, and Fat Travis took that one picture on a turtle one time.

Fat Travis was an awesome abductor. He wasn't an inherently bad guy, he just made some bad choices. He wasn't keeping me hostage with the intent of killing me, he just wanted to not have to worry about self-control. He enjoyed the lack of responsibility, because Fat Travis hated responsibility and accountability.

Fat Travis is a good guy, really. Don't hate him. I don't, and there are also days when I miss him.

•••••••••••••••••

So when my daughter asked that question: "Daddy, why did you laugh and not say anything?" it slapped me in the face and brought me back to reality. Tears threatened once again, and I fought the urge to lie to her. Instinctively though, I knew she needed the truth.

"I don't believe it's going to last."

"Oh."

I went back to cooking, and she went back to helping, and Alicia wound up knowing exactly how I was feeling, thank God. Later that afternoon, I went to play a game of basketball, and when I got home, she motioned to the closet.

"I took care of the closet. It seemed like you were having trouble. I didn't throw all of it out though, some of it is just bagged up."

There are sixteen million reasons why I love my wife. This is one of them.
I don't know if this will stick. I'm trying my hardest, though. If it does, then I'll get to look back ten years from now and wonder why in the world I didn't do it sooner. If it doesn't...well, maybe my struggle will motivate someone to never let it get this bad to begin with. Maybe my beautiful daughter will realize the mental struggles her father dealt with about his weight, and it will help her say no to another plate of pizza and yes to a salad.

But for now, a large chunk of me is gone. Success, I'm told, is kind of like being pregnant. Everyone is happy for you, but nobody knows how many times you got screwed. The plot line of my journey isn't something you could ski down, instead, it looks more like someone having a heart attack.

I am also taking steps to surround myself with people who support what I'm trying to do, even if it leads to me throwing out three-quarters of a brick of Velveeta.




I'll continue to fight. I'll continue to grind. I'll continue to repeat.

I guess I'll also continue to try to make space for my success. Even if it hurts.

Monday, March 27, 2017

On not being allowed to fail


Image credit

Many of you know (all too well, I'm sorry, well, actually I'm not, it's amazing) about my transformation over the last nine months. You know about Chris at Reform Strength and Conditioning, and you know that if you don't think you have the money for it, you really do, you're just spending it on things that make you fatter. 

I've bumped my workouts to four a week, and I'm making huge strides in the gym right now. I have never in my life been stronger than I am now, even in high school. Weight loss has plateaued, if only because I still have struggles with food addictions that I'm doing my best to break (I will NOT eat candy before bed, I will NOT eat chips before bed, I will NOT eat an entire double quarter pounder and three Filet 'O Fishes before bed). 

I got my first four week plan from Chris the other day, and I started in on it after asking him a bajillion questions he promptly answered even after he'd already provided video instructions (love you). 

The first week, I felt good after I finished my decline dumbbell presses, but I didn't feel like I challenged myself. I decided to challenge myself the second week, and I felt even better, even though I didn't complete four sets with the same weight. 

So I set a goal. Use the 45s for all four sets. 

I GET A BREAK ON WEEK FOUR THANK YOU BABY JESUS

When I looked at the app today, I saw what I wrote last week, grabbed the 45s from the rack and leaned back on the bench. I put the weight up twelve times, felt a wobble at the end, but dropped them with a sense of satisfaction. Round two went much the same. 

Before I started round three, a buddy of mine walked in with his mom. I like this guy, as far as that goes. He's one of those guys that would give you the shirt off his back and smile while he was doing it. He sat down, asked me how I was, told me he was through with his workout, and started looking at his phone. 

I threw the weight up. Once, twice, three...ten times. The tenth one got me, I'm not going to lie to you folks. Serious wobble, and a dip at the top that almost resulted in a 45-pound weight coming down to rearrange my overall gorgeous facial construction. 



I saw a blur out of the corner of my eye, and then a face above me. 

"How many more?"

"Two." 

"Do it." 

I lowered the weights, then got them halfway back up. A slap against my elbows and the weights were at the top. Lowered, another slap, at the top. Set three was in the books. 

"Thanks," I said. 

"No problem." 

A couple minutes later I was ready to start round four. Having needed a spot the last set, and not wanting to bother anyone this set, I walked over to the rack and I picked up two 40-pound dumbbells. 

I got to my bench, got ready to sit down, and I looked up. He was looking at me. 

"You've got 45s in you." 

I opened my mouth.

"Travis. You've got 45s in you." 

I set down the 40s and picked up the 45s. I knew I didn't have them in me, heck, I would wind up having them inside my brain by six reps. 

I laid down on the bench, opened my eyes, and this guy was there. 

He let me get through eight reps on my own. I couldn't believe I got that many, to be honest. The ninth rep though, wasn't happening. 

A slap. Nine happened. 

A push. Ten happened. 

"Squeeze it at the top." 

Another slap, another push. Eleven happened. 

"C'mon. One more. Do it." 

His hands never left my elbows, and I think it was more him than me, but twelve happened. I threw the weights across the room (dropped them pathetically), and opened my eyes. He was gone, sitting back down, going through his phone. 

It didn't hit me until the drive home. 

I wasn't allowed to do less than I was capable of, and I wasn't allowed to fail.

I'll add this. I had tuna for lunch. I spit when I exhale. When my head is lower than my feet, my face turns a sort of odd purplish-red color, kind of like a grape about to go bad. 

I was not easy to help. It didn't matter. I wasn't allowed to fail. 

As a teacher, I come across all sorts of kids. Some kids don't want to try, some want to try but don't have the means, and some are completely capable with school work, but are socially awkward. 

What if I didn't allow my kids to fail? 

Some of them aren't pretty. Some of them might have had tuna for lunch, and some might not have showered for a week. Some might spit when they talk, and some might not talk at all. 

Some are not easy to help. It doesn't matter. They shouldn't be allowed to fail. 

What if, as educators, we began to look through the lens of this guy at the gym? What if we took the too cool to try kids, the socially inept, the nose pickers, and we didn't let them fail? What if we carried this attitude through an entire school day. An entire month, a year? 

"Hey kid, put the 40s down. You've got 45s in you. Yes you do. Two more. One more. Finish this." 

It might be unrealistic. Some don't want the help yet, some don't want it at all. However, we owe it to them to try. We live in a world that encourages trophies for participation, results that happen overnight, and exerting as little effort as is required to reach the goal. 

Hand 'em the 45s. Push them. Don't let them fail. 

And Zac, thank you. You did more than just help me lift weight in the air. You didn't let me fail. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Figuring it out

Look at that enormous Sloat head. 
I'm typing this from the doctor's office. We're here for a checkup on Isaac, making sure he's growing like he should and hoping he won't be covering his face for the next ultrasound. 

I'm about to be brutally honest with you, and I hope you can forgive me for it. 

I don't want four kids. 

Up until this morning, I have been dreading Isaac's arrival, I've been worrying about my money, my time, and the fact that I've got three adopted children who might grow up holding a grudge against our sole biological child. 

Akeeli, Aven, and Drake, if you're reading this, I need you to know I never loved you any less than Isaac. Not for one second. I know you can't help feeling like you might feel, but listen: I love you more than you could ever imagine. I love you so much I'd die for you. 

On the way to Tulsa this today, I had to drop my truck off in Wagoner to get the oil changed. This is in no way a sponsored post, but the guys at Kevin Grover are seriously the best, and one in particular slapped me in the face with some truth this morning. 

He walked over to me, and I spent some time trying to figure out if I was looking at his smile or the sun. That's Neil being Neil though. I've never thought of him as car salesman, he's a friend who happens to be exceptionally skilled at getting me to spend huge sums of money on things with four wheels. 

My son weighs 2.6 pounds today. He's grown tremendously in the last two weeks. 

We're sitting in the lab now, waiting on blood to be drawn. In fact, I'm almost positive Alicia is actually reading what I type as I type it. She's talking about how much Isaac has grown over the past couple of weeks, and saying that he better slow down. I think she's finally realizing that when you have a giant for a husband, his kids might be huge too. I don't know, maybe just my head is giant. 

Back to Neil. He came over and shook my hand. 

"Two things to congratulate you for, Travis. One, you look fantastic, and two, your newest little one!" 

Everyone always does that. If they're familiar with our situation at all, they're so excited for us; for me. I get that, and I'm thankful for the empathy, but up until today, it was a forced smile, forced enthusiasm. So I smiled back at him, and I gave my prototypical response. 

"Aww, thanks! Be excited for her though, I don't want four kids." 

Neil didn't even blink. 

"Oh stop that, Travis. You've created an eternal soul." 

I'm alone now, Alicia has gone back to have her blood drawn, and I'm fighting tears as I type this. It's me and one old lady in the waiting room, and I don't need her wondering why the behemoth four chairs down is blubbering quietly into his cell phone. 

We've created an eternal soul. 

My son is an eternal soul. 

Isaac is an eternal soul. 

Somewhere in my brain a switch flipped. I took a couple of confused steps and finally spit out a response. 

"Thank you, Neil. I've never looked at it like that." 

"I'll leave you guys alone, I know you've got a busy day planned!" 

He bounced away, frustratingly happy, unaware of the chaos he'd just wreaked in my brain. Unaware of his creating a tectonic shift in the pangean plate that is my selfishness. 

You see, that's all it is, selfishness. One thing I've discovered since having children is that I am, by nature, a selfish person. I didn't realize that until after we'd adopted the kids, but it's true. I am a selfish person. I want my time, my money, my stuff, my wife. I, I, I, I. 

I'm not saying all that changed instantly. I know somewhere between now and the next eighteen years, I'm going to be selfish. But I was given a new way to look at things today. I have four eternal souls that I am now responsible for. Five and six if you count mine and my wife's, and that's a whole lot of souls to be in charge of. 

My dad figured it out. I don't know how, but he figured it out. Reading his writings from when I was a kid, I know he was frustrated, unsure of himself as a father, and selfish. But at some point he cracked the code. He figured it out, and he took responsibility for the eternal souls he'd helped create, and he did a damn fine job of it. 

Now I'm back at the doctor's office, waiting for my beautiful wife and my son to come back from getting a shot, which is apparently what you have to do when your husband's blood (A+), has a higher GPA than yours (A-). We'll leave here and go pick up two other sons and a daughter, all of which are mine

Today is a new day. Today I was verbally slapped by a friend who has obviously figured some of it out. 

Thanks, Neil. 

Here she comes. Gotta go. I'm gonna try figure it out. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

#OklaEd chat questions for March 12

Photo credit
Well, someone somewhere messed up and gave me the keys to the pound sign Oklahoma Education (#OklaEd) chat on Sunday night.

My topic? How to help students succeed with "real life" English Language Arts (ELA) skills. I have a bee in my bonnet about prepping students for the workforce, and not just for the state tests they have to take. If that means they get through my class without knowing what a gerund is, but they can send their boss an email with the correct homophones in place, I feel like I've done my job.

I was asked to preview the questions in a blog, so here they are. I will give you my answers on Sunday evening, and I very much look forward to hearing yours as well.

Thank you, educators of Oklahoma, for what you do for our kids.

  1. Introduce yourself. Have you ever gotten a work email with spelling/grammar mistakes? How did you react?
  2. What ELA skills do you find yourself using the most at your job(s)? 
  3. What ELA skills do you think our students need to learn before they graduate? 
  4. How are you helping teach those skills to your students while staying inside your subject area? 
  5. How are you effectively demonstrating those skills to your students? 
  6. Do you use writing as a punishment (essays, sentences, words, lines, etc.)?
  7. How can you specifically alter your lessons next school year to teach some of these “real life” ELA skills? 
  8. Do you show your writing to your classes? Do you write in real time on SmartBoards, etc.? 
  9. Do you think it’s important for your students to see you make “real-world” writing mistakes (as long as you correct them)?
  10. Do you have a policy/reward system in place for when a student catches a typo/grammar mistake you’ve made? 
Have a great rest of the week, and I'll see you on Sunday!

Follow me on the Twitter here: @tstyles77

Monday, March 6, 2017

One


Let us not forget Lloyd's eyeball, lost in the battle. 

"Defeat, my Defeat, my deathless courage,
You and I shall laugh together with the storm,
And together we shall dig graves for all that die in us,
And we shall stand in the sun with a will,
And we shall be dangerous.

- Kahlil Gribran

One more.

One more trip to Oklahoma City. One more trip to the Big House. One more game. One more piece of hardware for the trophy case.

You gave that to us, Mustangs. You did. You gave us one more.

When you walk into the hall, there are still streamers and small basketballs hanging from the ceiling. There is still paint on the door, telling you to go get the gold. There are still signs on your locker that say, "State Bound."

All of these reminders of what happened on Saturday night. If I had to imagine, painful reminders. I'm here to tell you they shouldn't be.

You gave me one more chance to go see my favorite team from my favorite school play in my favorite place: the state final.

And let us not forget Coach Clark's tie, which remained the entire game on Saturday.
You gave me one more chance to hang out with friends I hadn't seen in forever.

You gave me one more chance to tell your story.

You also gave me one more chance to spend approximately $250 on food for the weekend, but we're not going to focus on that, believe me, my beautiful and loving and kind and forgiving (did I mention beautiful) wife has focused on it plenty.

You can't see it very well in this pic, but that bucket had a lid on it. 

When the final horn sounded on Saturday night, I didn't see anyone on the floor hang their heads. I didn't see anyone cursing, throwing a fit, or mouthing off to the other team. I saw what we all hope to see in the young men who represent our school: dedication, not defeat; pride, not self-pity; and sportsmanship, not petulance.

You gave me one more chance to be incredibly proud of my school, my town, and my students.

Marcus literally cannot believe how high Caleb is jumping here. 
Also, can we be honest, just for a second, and say that you almost gave me one more heart attack on Friday night? No one had hopes of winning that game. I do not care what anyone tells you, no one thought you would pull that off. But you did, and you did it in such a way that gives this amazing town one more story to tell about that time in the state tournament when a miracle happened.

You also gave one more chance to someone to score a basket in a state final. You did that. You gave that to him. He will never forget it, and neither will anyone who saw it.

"Travis, I'm sorry, I tried to take a good picture but I was crying." - Alicia
So was I, babe. So was everyone. 
As an aside, I would also like to thank the Ft. Cobb-Broxton players who helped make that happen.

So, Mustangs, if I see you in the hallway with your head down, I will address it. I will remind you that greatness is not measured in the color of your trophy, but in your character, in your work ethic, and in the way you represent our town. And for those, Mustangs, you get the gold.

For those, you are number one.

Thank you.

"Between the pavement and the stars,
beneath the weight of years of scars,
burns the same soul -
paint the sky blue.
Hallelujah,
you're still you." 

- Reese Roper