Boys Don’t Need SuperDad, They Just Need Dad

In my years of teaching, coaching basketball, and being involved in the lives of teens I learned one thing that dwarfs everything else I learned. Boys and young men need dads. Most importantly, they need to know that their dad is “there.”

Being “there” doesn’t mean you have to be at every game, every practice, every up and down, every event. However, being “there” means that they can depend on you. That they know you care. That you love spending time with them. That, when the time comes, you are willing to drop everything just to see or be with them.

First, some staggering and sobering statistics. Most of these statistics pertain to single-parent households where the dad is not present in the child’s life.

  • Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, poor educational performance, teen pregnancy, and criminality, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics.
  • Over half of all children living with a single mother are living in poverty, a rate 5 to 6 times that of kids living with both parents.
  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census.
  • 72% of adolescent murderers grew up without fathers. 60% of America’s rapists grew up the same way according to a study by D. Cornell (et al.), in Behavioral Sciences and the Law.
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes according to the National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools.
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
  • 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes according to a study by the Center for Disease Control.
  • A large survey conducted in the late 1980s found that about 20% of divorced fathers had not seen his children in the past year, and that fewer than 50% saw their children more than a few times a year.
  • In a longitudinal study of 1,197 fourth-grade students, researchers observed “greater levels of aggression in boys from mother-only households than from boys in mother-father households,” according to a study published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.

The statistics are staggering but perhaps not all that surprising. As teachers, we have all learned from day one that students thrive under structure and discipline. While not impossible to achieve under a single-parent household, it does become increasingly more challenging.
Over the years, when I would bring this issue up with struggling fathers, I would inevitably hear the same excuse, “I just don’t have the time.” Remember, being “there” doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be there for every little aspect of your child’s life. In fact, it is healthy to be absent at times and let them grow into independent, young men.

I have read countless books over the years on this topic. I have been blessed with teaching a large percentage of boys over the years who are missing a father-figure in their life, or worse yet, their father is there but not really “there.” Two of the best books on this subject are Bringing Up Boys by Dobson and the Five Love Languages for Teenagers.

So what are some easy, simple ways to be “there” for the child in your life? A lot depends on the age, but allow me to give you a small sampling.
Have a piece of your child’s artwork on your desk at work.

Leave him a sticky note on his pillow or bathroom mirror before you leave in the morning giving him an encouragement for the day.

  • Text him an encouraging message at random during the day.
  • Attend his events! Whatever he has a passion for in life.
  • Rough-house!
  • Randomly slap him on the shoulder and tell him that you are proud of him.
  • Talk to him. Oh my goodness, but about what?!? I’ll give you a secret, it doesn’t matter! Who can spit the farthest? Who is better: Spurs or Warriors? What is one thing you wish you wouldn’t have learned at school today? It doesn’t matter, just start a dialogue.
  • Don’t try and fix everything, just listen.
  • Put a random good paper on the refrigerator.
  • Take him out to dinner, just the two of you.

Most importantly, remember the title of this post, kids don’t want superdad. They just want dad. Be “there.”

Journaling: A How-to Guide for Teachers


To kick off 2016, we talked about the importance of reflection as a teacher.  So often we can get bogged down in the day to day rigor of just being a teacher.  Think about what goes into your day after you finish teaching.  Grading papers, preparing for the next lessons, organizing and cleaning the classroom, congregational duties, and other teaching duties just to name a few.  We can quickly become overwhelmed.  Unfortunately, taking the time to reflect can often get pushed to the side.

Now what if I told you that you could do your job of reflection in just five, short minutes every day?  Would you be more likely to make that a habit and set it into your daily routine?

Thankfully, this is possible.  A small, simple journal is all you need.  Now those of us who were graduates of Martin Luther College perhaps remember, with horror, those special, little things known as reflection journals during student teaching.  Let me be clear, that is not what I’m talking about when I refer to journaling.

We need something doable.  Something that we can look forward to each day and make a routine in our daily schedule as a teacher.  Our goal shouldn’t be a two-page written essay in a notebook.  If that excites you, more power to you.  However, for the rest of us, a short bulleted list does the trick with the same effect.

How can we effectively journal with an eye on reflection as busy, Lutheran educators?  I present to you a few, simple tips.  If you have ideas to add, please share in the comment section.  I would love to hear from you.


We simply don’t have the time for an essay.  Furthermore, I don’t even have the desire for an essay.  What I do have a desire for is growth.  A bulleted list of thoughts from the day can make all the difference in the world.  For instance, just this week, I made a bulleted list of specifics that I want to work on for the next school year.  That journal entry was followed up by what has gone well so far this school year.  Sometimes the best journal entries are a simple question or two.


Don’t go more than two days without journaling.  At that point, it is too easy to get out of the habit of doing this every day.  After all, we are creatures of habit.


I love my computer.  It’s a beautiful Macbook Pro :)  However, it is much too distracting for when I want to use it as a journal.  Inevitably, an email message or iMessage pops up at just the wrong time.  Handwrite your journal.  You will find that this old-fashioned method serves the mind well for reflection.


For those of you who know me, God has not given me the gift of organization.  If you are much like me, placing your journal in a prominent place is of the utmost importance.  The last thing you want to do at the end of a long day is search for something like a journal for five minutes.


This is my favorite!  Don’t worry about spelling, mechanics, or grammar….yipee!!!  Just write!

There you have it.  A few random thoughts from a very random mind.  If you are interested in my entire blog post on the importance of reflection, you can check it out by clicking on the following link.

Resolve to Grow as a Teacher

In the meanwhile, I am going to journal!

Reading List: Readicide


I am currently enjoying reading this book.  It takes a look at how national education policy has killed the love of reading for students across the country.  It takes a hard look at how No Child Left Behind and high-stakes testing have been a major detriment to the overall literacy rate in America.

Most importantly, it explains how, we as schools, can curb this alarming trend and promote the love of literature in the hearts and minds of the students whom we serve.  I will have a more detailed review up when I finish reading.  In the meanwhile, I encourage you to check it out.

25 Professional Growth Conferences for 2016

Came across this great list of conferences in an edchat on Twitter.  Great resource if you are looking to attend a national professional development conference but don’t know where to begin.

I will be attending at least two of these.  In February I will be attending the TCEA Conference.  I also hope to attend the iNACOL conference in October.

I have copied the conferences upcoming for January into this post.

You can find the complete list at 25 PD Conferences for 2016

Keep Growing!




Jan. 12-15
Orlando, FL

Find us at Booth 2117! FETC provides educators and administrators the opportunity to explore the integration of technology across the curriculum through hands-on exposure to the latest hardware, software and successful strategies.


Jan. 13
Montclair, NJ

The NJECC annual conference promotes and supports the integration of technology in K-12 education as it applies to student learning, professional development, leadership and instructional planning.


Jan. 28-29
Atlantic City, NJ

Find us in the exhibit hall! The 21st annual Techspo exhibition and training conference for school leaders, sponsored by the New Jersey Association of School Administrators.


Jan. 29-31
Philadelphia, PA

EduCon is an innovation conference where we can come together, both in person and virtually, to discuss the future of schools. Every session will be an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas—from the very practical to the big dreams.


Jan. 30-31
Oxon Hill, MD

Stop by our table! This two-day high-intensity event from EdTechTeam focuses on deploying, integrating, and using Google Apps for Education (and other Google tools) to promote student learning in K-12 and higher education.

Resolve to Grow as a Teacher


A new year often brings a new focus.  Typically, this focus comes in the form of New Year’s resolutions.  Often our New Year’s resolutions center around personal promises to ourselves, our family, or our wellbeing.  It is rare that our resolutions center around professional qualities.

As educators, our work never ends.  A successful educator reflects regularly.  A successful educator applies that reflection and continually tweaks and improves their teaching.

However, even the most successful educators can fall into their old habits and place the value of reflection to the side.  We may begin to teach the same lessons, with the same methods, while expecting a different result.

While there are occasions when we move from reflection to action, reflection must be a continual aspect of our professional life.

What are some easy methods of reflection for educators?  Here are a few, simple ideas for you to get a jump start on reflection in the New Year.

Peer Observation

Working together with your faculty and realizing the gifts of your coworkers is invaluable.  Take the time to observe in a colleague’s classroom.  Something you see may give you a new idea.  A culture of collaboration could be fostered through engaging with one another in their classroom.  What often happens through peer observation is that both educators grow with each other.


It is powerful to be able to put your thoughts to paper.  So what should an educator journal about?

  • Perceived problems in the classroom and possible solutions.
  • Triumphs!  What went well today?
  • Quotes.  Come across an inspiring or uplifting quote?  Write it down!  I keep a long running list of quotes in the Notes app on my phone.  This could come while listening to a podcast while I’m walking, watching a TV show, or reading a professional article.

                                                                         I will have a future blog post on journaling.


Choose an area in which you want to grow as a teacher.  Find books, articles, and blog posts on that topic.  Read up on it for weeks and focus your efforts on that particular area.

One helpful reminder, don’t make your topic too broad.  When you choose an area of growth, be specific as possible. Narrow the scope of that growth initiative to aid in your overall success.   For example, rather than choosing to improve on classroom instruction, focus on how you are going to increase hands-on activities within the classroom.  This will give you a clear path to improvement.

Make it your professional New Year’s resolution to be a reflective educator.  An educator who not only grows during the summer months but throughout the entire year.

Other blog posts regarding the reflective teacher.

The Most Valuable Feedback in the World is Your Students

Are You Reaching for the Sky in Your Classroom?

10 Ways to Thank a Student

Image 12-6-15 at 8.06 AM

#3: Sticky Note Smile

10)  Tell Them

Nothing beats the ol’ fashion look ‘em in the eye and “thank you.”

9)  Stickers anyone?

Not as a reward, but as a quick and easy thank you.  Everyone loves stickers.

8)  Write Them a Personal Note

Stick it in their desk or backpack.  Better yet, if you are really proud of their work in a certain subject, tell them.  Slip it into the next lesson of their textbook so they can have the pleasant surprise all to their own.

7)  Tell the Parents

Trickle-down thankanomics?

6)  Display Their Work

Place their art work or strong assignment in a prominent place by your desk.  Perhaps, on the wall for a few weeks or in a frame right on your desk.

5)   Down Time

Encourage them when they are down.  Be specific and tell them how much you appreciate them.  This one can get emotional, especially if they are really down about something.  The more personal feedback the better.

4)  Have Lunch with Them

Make it a point to sit with them at a lunch hour, and have a conversation with them.  Try not to focus on school.  Focus on their life outside of school.

3)  Sticky Note Smile

Walk by their desk and put a sticky note on top of their desk while they are working.  It is unexpected and it is personal.  That is a rare combination in a classroom.  And seriously, does that take all of 30 seconds?

2)  Extra-Curricular Support

Show up to one of their events outside of school.  The ideas are endless.  Their basketball game, soccer match, football game, dance competition, singing recital, and gymnastics event are all examples in which you can show you really care and appreciate them.

1)  Hug it Out

If you don’t like a hug, then you need a hug.  This is especially important for male teachers who have male students who really look up to them.  They crave that affirmation.  They need to see that male example of care and kindness.  Remember, many of them may not receive any male affirmation outside of school.  The lack of a father in the life of a boy has reached an epidemic in this country.

Have another way to say thank you?  Share it in the comment section.