Sunday, May 15, 2011

Challenge Yourself.

... I just saw the most interesting news story on CNN entitle #DontFailMe. After watching this article i've come to the realization on exactly how education works in the United States.

    I've decided to challenge myself with the support of my students, my loved ones and random Facebook homies. It's not easy, but i've done it because i've got adequate support. The support may not always be to my liking, but that's what makes a challenge a challenge, not getting what you're used to. I haven't ordered my drink in two weeks and I could care less. My challenge hasn't always been so easy, but it wasn't the gargantuan challenge that I thought it would be. I have been affected by my challenge, but depending on your viewpoint, the change could be viewed in either a positive or negative way. I choose to look at it in the positive light. I could be grumpy and angry ranting about how boring I am.... or I could look at life in a healthier, less sugar filled way.

.... this leads to public education... promise.
Students nowadays are not challenged appropriately, well... most aren't. We are producing a very intelligent breed of adolescents who are so technosavvy, it's mind boggling. But what's more mind boggling is that many normal, average students are being pushed into credit recovery programs because they're falling behind in their classes. This isn't just a phenomena unique to San Bernardino, but in many other parts of SoCal and throughout the nation. The expectations set by teachers is not aligned with todays adolescent way of thinking. When the student doesn't get what they want, or suffer from a trial or tribulation in academia, they shut down and give up. Somewhere down the line, a happy medium needs to be met between teacher expectations on how to stimulate a students mind for success and a students behavioral and academic expectations. Students are not challenging themselves to take higher level courses (calculus, chemistry, physics, AP/IB English & history) because they don't want to take a 'hard' course. Rather than challenging themselves, students would rather focus on sports or something they're good at to prevent challenging their minds.
... teachers are no better (well most aren't). As a public educator, i'm finding more and more ways to challenge myself to deliver information better and more efficiently. I give students an opportunity to prove themselves by bending over backwards for them. Some other educators use their grading system as a method of punishment if a student fails to conform to their behavioral expectations in the classroom. By not copying sentences out of a book (aka vocabulary), students lose points towards their grade, but what kind of education value is in that? Very few people learn from copying stuff out of a book, I know I didn't. I went to school in the 'olden days', and those education tactics didn't work then.

Students should challenge themselves.
Teachers should challenge themselves.
I've challenged myself.
You challenge yourself.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I feel....

.... lighter. Perhaps this is just the start of something here, but after referencing this website relating to the glycemic index I feel more encouraged to eat healthier. Perhaps i'll start packin' my own lunch rather than eating cafeteria food <insert vomit face here>.

Glycemic Index
est. 7/2007. I still have the same backpack and use it today.
Myself and Arya in a murder mystery sketch in 2006

Monday, May 9, 2011


6th period = No part II final exam tomorrow, postponed till Wednesday. It's official.

If one person in 4th period emails me at my district email... no final until Wednesday.

Don't slow down the line, a little effort goes a lonnnnngggggg way

As lines get longer, employers short staff employees and patience levels get lower, people find methods for coping with day to day life. My coping mechanism has been ingesting my daily Starbucks sugar fix to give me the energy to deal with life's little hassles. I've found that if I get my daily fix, I can better deal with my many students in a manner that they are interested in.
After having had waited in line at the grocery store for what felt like an eternity, I now know what my students must feel like when waiting to capture my attention. You see, the lines for the deli clerk or the lazy heffer at the check out stand are similar to the 'lines' students have to wait when asking teachers for help. Currently my 9th grade AVID courses are jam packed, with a student- teacher ratio of 40:1, while  chemistry is at 36:1. This is a lot of kids (too many factors to try to explain why... lets just say that the budget is one of the biggest factors why) and my means of dealing with it and speeding up the process is ingesting sugar. I found myself a much more pleasant and expedient person when suga'-fied, able to multi-task and handle challenges calmer and more rationally when unsuga'-fied. Without my daily fix, i'm finding that I notice people's tone of voice or words a lot more. Before this little experiment I wasn't too bothered when people didn't say please, thank you or acknowledge certain things. Now that a week has almost gone by, I'm noticing that kindness goes a long way. I'm more likely to listen to you or work with you if you're calm, rational and realistic with your requests. On the other hand, if you assume, expect and/or fail to acknowledge certain aspects of life... don't expect me (or people in general) to move quick or be happy to work with you. A few students approached me in a very scolding and confrontational manner to ask how my anti-Chai campaign was going... lets just say it didn't go over very well for them. Confronting and telling me what to do is a sure fire way to meet my very stubborn and <very> unfriendly side. My mom and grandfather taught me that you can get a lot farther in life if your approach and demeanor are pleasant, honest and happy. I've lived by this and have a fairly great working relationship with all my students.

... so as this 'supermarket' worker starts to slow down and it takes longer at the check out lines, put a little effort and thought into your conversations and make them positive. It just may be a way to uplift someones day and help them cope with life's day to day hassles.

...Hope this made sense.

Todays drink = Venti Iced unsweetend Green Tea Latté with soy (I'll never drink soy again)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Day Three.... Yippee!

Day three...

I've realized more than anything that it's not caffeine that my struggles are with, it's sugar. I originally accepted this challenge knowing that cutting my sugar intake was necessary but hoping that I could ditch the caffeine habit. I thought caffeine was my major issue here, not necessarily sugar.

Caffeine: I've substantially reduced my caffeine levels with not too bad of an effect on my day to day liveliness. Aside from a kid yelling 'YOU'RE BORING' the first day, my body has responded quite manageably without elevated caffeine levels. Actually, I feel fine around 7:30AM.

Sugar: This is the painful one, the one that makes me think I need to have blood tests done for diabetes. For a while now, i'll crave something sweet before I go to sleep and get persistent and quite demanding if I don't get it. I knew that may have been an issue, but I didn't know the severity of the issue until now. Since i've switched drinks, I'm noticing sharp decreases in mood when i'm reminded or confronted for eating something sweet. I may be awake in the morning, but i'm not nearly as energetic as before. Perhaps it's all psychological.... perhaps it's a legitimate problem.... perhaps I should schedule a physical with my doctor....

Now: Aside from a coconut-syrup flavored drink I ordered yesterday and a 'skinny, sugar free vanilla latté' the day before, my new Starbucks fix is pictured below:
Iced Venti Green Tea + Solo Espresso Shot on the side

Hopefully i'll soon enough look like this again:  170lbs, semi-muscular/lean build and very, very tan.
Like the other picture, this was taken in London, U.K. in 2006... same day, actually.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spillin' the beans- Out with everything...

I may have been unclear in the first post (I have a tendency to do that), allow me to explain what's going on and why.
As a high school chemistry teacher, when the annual state exams are over and done with we tend to focus on curricular areas that are of interest to us. In an effort to prepare my students for their next courses, I'll focus in on areas of science that they'll learn the next year. It just so happens that one of these areas include introductory topics in biochemistry. Since I cannot teach my kids HARDCORE biochemistry, I wet their academic whistles with basic concepts that are health and science related. These past few days, I've focused on the area of cholesterol and diabetes. 

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I need my daily Starbucks fix. Prior to the days of my working there, i've been fixed on the habit of a caffeine high to get me through my day. Despite looking after my health via other avenues, I decided to overlook the negative effects Starbucks had on my health because it was something that i'd look forward to brighten my day. I've always been one of those 'anti-establishment' type of people who prefer smaller mom and pop type operations rather than supporting 'the man' and their 'corporate establishments' like Starbucks. As the years passed and I got older (and wiser), I decided to forego the hassle of searching and frequenting these mom and pop operations for the comfort, security and consistency of 'the Bucks'.    

 ..... well, besides...  places like those are virtually non-existent in the I.E.
Well anyways... I'm doing this largely to improve my physical health, because diabetes does run rampant in my family. My mom has been successful in keeping herself healthy and has warded off clinical type-2 diabetes in favor of random hyperglycemia spats. Additionally, as my metabolism slows to unprecedented levels... I've got to do what I can to keep my body healthy, active and ready for marriage and eventually kids. 

...speaking of kids (not my personal ones)....

On Monday, May 2, I had a discussion with my students about the negative effects of excess sugar in their diets and the correlation with food to diabetes. My kids were awesome and soaked in much of what I was talking about. After holding a pretty great conversation with my students, my 9th graders of all classes decided to investigate (aka target) my daily Starbucks drink: an Iced Venti, Semi-Dirty Chai Tea Latte. While conducting some preliminary investigation, we learned that my daily drink contains 60g of sugar, more than the recommended daily allowance.  

After this startling discovery and wanting to practice what I preach (watch what I eat, cut out excess sugar, salts etc...) I toyed with the idea of challenging myself to go a day without Starbucks. Somehow a day turned into the remainder of the school year, and I somehow obliged. My 9th graders challenged me, and now I'm following through... so here it is:

  • As of today, May 3, 2011, I will not drink another Iced Venti Chai Tea Latte in any form until the remainder of the school year (Thurs,. June 2, 2011). 
  • I won't get an 'equivalent'  or alternative drink at any other coffee shop.
  • I'll post regular updates (voluntarily) to keep my students, parents and the general Facebook public informed.
  • I'll inform all people close to me in my life know what's happening so they keep me in check motivate me to complete my goal (including but not limited to my fiancé Leila (aka homegirl), my parents and brother, my Starbucks suppliers baristas.

My goal is to try various drinks with lower sugar levels and eventually 'ween' my way to something with no sugar and eventually no caffeine. Again, i'm very well aware of the money wasted and mal-health effects, so don't lecture me on that (i'll ignore and lose respect for you). Today I went from 61g of sugar to nearly 14 and felt awful in doing so. I'll keep everyone updated with thoughts, findings and updates as I progress through my journey.  I know that i'm not alone in my journey, as some notable students are joining me on my quest and documenting their own adventures  (thank you Elisa, Javier and Christian). 

BTW, lets get something clear... i'm in no way bashing Starbucks as a corporation.... I wouldn't keep going back there if I didn't like them, right?


Day 1 - Help!

   I've been challenged by some students to see how long I can go without one of my daily 'must haves.' I'll explain the entire reasons for my madness and why I let high school kids talk me into this later, just keep checkin' back and rootin' me on. =]

Challenge:  No Iced Venti Dirty Chai's until AT LEAST the end of the school year (June 2, 2011).
That's exactly 30 days from today. That's roughly 52 grams of sugar every day cut from my diet.

Why:  It's 52 grams of sugar..... diabetes runs in my family.... IT'S 52 GRAMS OF SUGAR!

Well, i'm going to be super late for work now,  so i'll update later.