Monday, January 2, 2017

#OneWord2017 - Victory

So, I've been thinking about this post a lot of the past few weeks.  It finally came together this morning when I was asked what my #OneWord2017 was.  Without further ado....


We just came home from the hospital and my daughter's last round of chemo!  After 5 surgeries, 19 cycles and 106 administrations of some type of chemo drug, her tumor marker is finally normal and it has been normal for the past few months.  While we know we have a long way to go before we can breathe again, I consider this a victory and I hope that we will remain victorious in 2017.

Did you know that Nike was the goddess of Victory in Greek mythology?

I'm sure you know that Nike's slogan is "Just Do It" which brings me to my next point and one of my new year resolutions....


Throughout this ordeal with our daughter A LOT of VERY well meaning people have told us, "Hey, if there is anything I can do, let me know." and others that have said "Dinner will be on your doorstep at 6:00 pm" or "We are coming up to the hospital at 1:00 pm".  While I appreciate the heck out of the former for even thinking about us, I really learned something from the latter and that is - JUST DO IT.  When somebody you love finds themselves in crisis, they don't have time to "let you know what you can do for them" - they don't even know what to do themselves.  Just like you don't want to "put them out" or "intrude" they don't want to "put you out".   

In 2017, I'm going to just do it.  

Things that I may be hesitant about, I'm just going to do it.  

Helping others when they are in need?  Just do it.  

Reading every night before bed?  Just do it.  

Celebrating every day of life, working with children and amazing adults?  Just do it.

Becoming a restorative discipline practitioner?  Just do it.

Being a champion for underrepresented kids and their families?  Just do it.

Happy New Year everybody.  Let's be victorious in 2017, together.


Friday, August 26, 2016

The Braden Bin - 8/26/16

What I'm Reading:

A great article on connecting with students whom may be difficult to connect with due to cultural differences.  But, how can you find similarities with students who are so different from you?  Read this article and find out!

What I'm Watching - Alan Watts - Why Your Life is Not a Journey

Alan Watts - Why Your Life Is Not A Journey from David Lindberg on Vimeo.

An absolutely  beautiful rendition of Alan Watts speaking on enjoying the journey of life rather than focusing on the end point of everything you do.  Some very interesting and thought provoking points on education he makes in this video as well.

What I'm Watching *Bonus!

This has NOTHING to do with ANYTHING but what it does have to do with is placing a rubber chicken into a fan and it is totally worth watching...

Guys, a 6 second video of a rubber chicken being "put" into a fan has 376,000 views.  How does that make you feel?  

Social Media Post I'm Digging

How about that?  Shelly Slater is a reporter for WFAA here in the DFW area.  It's always nice to see somebody as successful as her give a shout out to the schools and school district she came up in!


September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month.  If you are looking for ways to raise awareness or help in any way, here are some resources for you!  My little Avery and all of those fighting alongside her appreciate it!  #OwlsForAvery

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Braden Bin - 6/24/16

What I'm Reading:  Teaching the Teachers

Some things that stuck out to me...

I, in no way, was really prepared to be a teacher my first year.  Thankfully I had a great and supportive group around me at Isle of Hope elementary school in Savannah, GA!  
I loved the part about how good teaching can erase some of the negative effects of poverty on children.  I couldn't agree more with that.  Unfortunately, recruiting and retaining "great" teachers at high poverty schools is very hard.  You have to have a desire to work with our kids and not all people have that.  

That's ok.  

I want to hire people who want to work with our students. Our students deserve that. 

Traditional forms of Professional Development sucks.  Teachers, for the most part, HATE it.  Ok, when I was a teacher, for the most part, I HATED it.  But, then again, I wasn't the best student when I was in school.  I think it's just the way it is delivered.  

I think this guy explains it all better than I ever could....

We can sit in a professional development about bringing movement and activity into the classroom and never leave our seat for 8 hours.

Practice what you preach + information/practices that will make teachers teach better + something they can use the very next day in their classroom to improve the learning outcomes of their students = a happy teacher who has bought in.  

It's AMAZING how life works.  Literally just sat down with a couple of higher ups from the district to see how we can reach a group of our students who, up to this point, have been pretty darn hard to reach.  I am looking forward to reading this book as soon as break starts.  

The book in the article:  

The author of the book is a great follow on Twitter - @chrisemdin

What I'm Watching:  The Switch 

Not a soccer fan and I'm not sure I totally understand the celebrity/popularity of Cristiano Ronaldo but this is an AWESOME commercial.  Long, but I suggest watching it all!  It is VERY inspirational! 

Quote I've Been Thinking About:

From Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea (my favorite book of all time).  

"She is kind and very beautiful.  But she can be so cruel and it comes so suddenly and such birds that fly, dipping and hunting, with their small sad voices are made too delicately for the sea."

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

She Doesn't Hold it Against Us

We had an appointment with the doc today to discuss options moving forward regarding Avery's fight against cancer.  Despite her 14th round of chemo, her cancer doesn't seem to be affected much by it.  Perhaps I can update you in a later post about all of that but before I do, I want to talk about love.

Avery has a port and she HATES getting it accessed.  I hate having to hold her legs so she doesn't kick the nurses and I hate the fact that my wife has to hold her arms so she also doesn't hit the nurses while they are attempting to access her.  She screams until she can hardly breathe.  She cries until she can hardly cry.  Sometimes another nurse has to assist us in holding her down because she is doing everything in the power of her little body to stop us from "poking" her.  Anytime I've had to witness this, which isn't as often as my wife has, part of my soul is ripped from my body.  It's really hard being a father whose job it is to protect his baby and not be able to do anything to stop her from going through that.  It's really hard being a father whose job it is to protect his baby and actually have to participate in that.  I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy.

This week, she's getting chemo every day but only had to be accessed on Monday as one of the drugs she is receiving is not available orally.  However, the one she has to get every other day can be given orally.  As you can probably imagine as it is chemo, it tastes absolutely horrible.  She also hates that, and if anybody reading this has ever had to give a 3 year old medicine who doesn't want to take said medicine, it can be a nightmare for all involved.

Well, here were her options today....take the medicine or get accessed.  She didn't want to do either.  She fought, she hit, she screamed, she tried to bite.  I had to hold her.  Her mom had to hold her.  We had to act like we were going to access her just so she knew it was either that, or "simply" take the medicine and we can go home.

She was angry.

She was sad.

She cried.

She tried to convince us that she would "take it Saturday".  I had to beg her.  I had to tell her I'm sorry.  Still she demanded "take it Saturday"!  Finally, while I was holding her and she thought the nurse was about to access her, she took the medicine.  Her tears dried up and all was forgiven.


She began to twirl around the room.  She asked for a starburst.  She ran down the hallway as if nothing  happened just minutes earlier.  I was doing my best to not  break down in tears right there in the middle of the doctors office.

She simply doesn't hold it against us and I don't know why.

We have been conditioned to hold grudges against those who have harmed us.  As far as I'm concerned, and maybe you have to be in the room and experience what we experience to understand, we harmed her today.  We've "harmed" her many times before.  While everybody reading this will get that what we have to do is for her own good, she's 3 and can't comprehend that.   She's never held it against us.  As an adult, if we are hurt by another, we may never forgive that person for doing that to us.  We may never speak to that person again.

I got a kiss goodbye as I left her to go back to work.

I got an "I love you daddy" as I walked away.

I HAVE to find the silver lining in all of this otherwise I'm not sure I could continue.  What lesson can I learn from her in all of this?  I'm not sure but it will certainly be something I will contemplate for as long as it takes to figure it out.  Maybe I never will.  But, I do know this.  She doesn't hold it against us and I can at least be thankful for that.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Braden Bin - 6/9/16

Quote that's got me thinking:  "When teachers talk to teachers, good things happen."
  • I'm not sure who to give credit to for this quote but I first heard it from Plano ISD's superintendent Dr. Binggeli during his first "speech" to the administrators in the district.  That was at the beginning of the year, and here I am, in the first week since teachers and students have left for the summer, still pondering it.  
  • I think for too long the teaching profession went like this - This is my classroom, these are my students.  I'll do my thing and you'll do yours.  Good luck and good riddance!  Now, the teaching profession is moving in the direction of collaboration, sharing of resources and ideas, etc.  Educators are realizing that much can be learned from their comrades.  
  • #AmIrightTOTY?  
  • This is a pretty fascinating study and while the concept is abstract, as a school administrator I get it.  I'm sorry to say, while this study looked at high school suspensions, this is something that starts as early as elementary.  
  • Sometimes situations that arise in school take those decisions out of administrators hands and it's all up to policy as to whether or not a student is suspended from school but I think with the wave of educators interested in restorative discipline, the number of students being suspended will decrease substantially.  

What I'm Reading (Bonus):  Economists show that boys who grow up around books earn significantly more money as adults

  • THIS IS IT!  It's the study that every young boy needs to see.  Ask a young man what they want to be when they grow up and 99.99% of the time the answer is going to be something that makes a significant amount of money.  Show them this article and just tell them to read at least 10 books, keep them on your shelves (because they have to be "around" them) and they can earn 21% more than their peers! 
What I'm Watching :  Oh just a crazy video of a couple in a Jeep offroading down Black Bear Pass in Colorado.  There might be a choice word or two but once you watch the video, can you blame them?  How about the wife?  The husband, who is driving, seems to not be too concerned about anything at all - listen to his jams!  

Website I'm Frequenting:
  • Ok, so I have a confession to make.  I like to listen to live air traffic control in my free time.  I have taught myself, with the help of a friend whom I believe I've mentioned on this blog before, what they are saying with all that code mombo jombo.  I'm not going to lie, several times when I listen to it, I have a copy of the airport map in front of me so I know what runways they are using to land and take off from.  

Website I'm Frequenting (Bonus):  Live Air Traffic Radar 
  • That's right, gone are the days of you sitting out in your backyard with a pair of cheap binoculars pointed to the sky wondering where that airplane is going, where it's coming from.  Ok, so maybe you don't do that, but I do!  NOW, you can simultaneously spot planes with those cheap nocs, listen to said planes communicate with ATC and see where they are going and where they are coming from.  
This is pretty much me...

Except those nocs are way more $$ than my pair.  

  • I'm a sarcastic guy.  It's my personality, but I can promise you this... I can't get enough of those two websites.  

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Braden Bin - 5/20/16

You learn something new everyday


What I'm Reading:  Low-stakes Writing 

  • Love the idea of letting students...just....write.  Get them comfortable writing, not worrying about process or product.  Just write.  

What I'm Reading *Bonus:   How to Use Snapchat to Tell the Story of Your School

  • I really think this is going to work out better than Twitter in terms of telling a story.  Twitter is great for professional learning and networking and I don't plan on putting that away anytime soon (follow me @Mr_Braden).  
  • There are so many possibilities with Snapchat and I am really excited to learn more about them!  
What I'm Watching:  

  • We talk about "grit"  being one of the key ingredients to success.  Educators rack their brains on the reg about how to instill it into their students.  I don't have any answers, just this awesome scene from one of my favorite movies.   
  • Is it too early to be excited for college football season?  #GoIrish
What I'm Watching *Bonus:  

How awesome is this little moment that was captured between a father and son?  
Go Cubs Go!

That's it, folks!  Short one this week but as always, thank you for taking time out of your day to read what I have to say.  I hope you are enjoying it and if you have any recommendations, please feel free to leave them in a comment!  Salud! 

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Braden Bin - 5/13/16

What I'm reading:  

  • As a lover of sports, I kind of get it.  As an educator, I don't.  Perhaps it's because the next burb over has THIS to play in now.  Maybe they think it will entice people to move there?  Honestly, I'm very happy Plano residents didn't have to make that decision in a recent bond election.  
  • Anyways, it's nice to get recognition in the New York Times, but I wonder if they wish it had more to do with, I don't know, something educational? 

Music I'm jamming to:    Mr. Little Jeans - Good Mistake

 What I'm Watching:  
  • Avery had her 3rd lung surgery (4th surgery overall) last week.  We recently learned that it was a successful surgery, the tumor was removed and there were clean margins!  Anyways, before her first surgery, the doctor warned us that it would be important for her to use exercise her lungs in the first few days after the surgery in order to help them heal.  Avery had shown a proclivity to playing the harmonica around the house prior to the first surgery so we thought, why not bring it to the hospital?
  • She certainly had a few jam sessions on that hospital bed but none as #Powerful as the session we captured on video below.  As you can see in the second video, the nurses caught wind of  her performance and stopped by for a peak.  
  • P.S.  We have NO IDEA how she learned those idiosyncrasies of a harp jammer.  

       Keep in mind...this is 2 days after surgery.  


Quote I'm Pondering:  

  • My last few years in the classroom, right around this time of the year, I would put a countdown on my board that my students weren't always fond of.  Rather than counting down the days until the last day of school, we counted down the days until the first day of school, next year.  
  • Of course, summer break is one of the greatest perks of being an educator.  A chance to recharge, spend time with family, relax, etc.  But, as I've said in past posts, I really really love school.  I love the people I work with - both adults and students.  Change your mindset, make a difference.  

What I'm Eating:  
  • I know, who cares what I'm eating?  But, I'm eating something, right now, that has compelled me to start a new category on The Braden Bin. 
  • I just had Tacos from Fiesta (the grocery store) brought to me and they are, without a doubt, the best tacos I've ever eaten.  I had NO IDEA they had tacos at Fiesta.  
  • If you said there are better tacos somewhere else, I'd call you a professional fib maker.  
  • If you live anywhere near a Fiesta Mart, go get ya a taco...tell them Ben sent you.