by: Zac Leonard

Dad
My Dad and my beautiful Girls!

Fathers Day, a time to honor the men in our lives who, for better or worse, molded us into the men and women we are today. I have a great dad, Ricky Lee Leonard, he worked his hands to the bone to give me whatever he could. He didn’t take the easy road, to this day he still works alongside my mom running their own small business.

Life wasn’t easy for me growing up, but it was good. How many of our students are faced with so much worse. Lecanto Middle School, is located in an area where one might think the distress of the modern world might pass by. In rural Citrus County the word diversity makes people think of denominations of Christianity instead of culture. Our students are hurting, 65% free and reduced lunch. Countless children going home to empty houses, taking care of younger siblings, being subjected to content with no monitor.

What does it mean to be a father? Culturally, we view fathers as males, with strong outgoing personalities, goofy but heroic, but always there when we need it most. How many of your students, or students at your school, have never know that feeling. Never known what it’s like to be pursued like Marlin went after Nemo, the way Mr. Incredible faced insurmountable odds against Syndrome, or the determination of Christopher Gardener to show his son he could achieve his goals. A father doesn’t have to be the person who sired you, or the person that raises you.  There are countless stories of men and women standing up to protect, teach, and provide for children that were never “given” to them.  Here are 5 ways you can be a “father” to your students.

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  1. Pursue your students

Teaching is about more than communicating standards. Too often we forget that a standard is not a ceiling but a floor.  We don’t strive for standards, we meet standards and strive for goals.  If your students aren’t hearing that at home who will teach it to them?  Too often as teachers we feel that by giving the worksheet, or conveying the content we have done our job. Our job is not to spit out fact but to teach, if we are to teach them there must be learning.  IDK is not an answer and we cannot allow our students to check out so easily. They are your children go after their hearts and minds. Be their champion! Need Inspiration – Rita Pierson

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   2. Nothing can stand in your way

Walk into 9 out of 10 teachers lounges across America and you will hear some variation of this, “If the parents would just…”, “if they would just turn it in…”, it’s not fair to the good kids if I let him redo it…”. These are barriers, and barriers stop progress. If you see a barrier on the road you know that you can’t go this way. As adults with college educations we can figure out a new way to get around that barrier, but many teachers feel it’s the students job to problem solve that. Foolishness, the great Kevin Honeycutt said over the weekend “we are so fair, that it’s not fair anymore, is it cheating to use a ramp if someone can’t use the stairs?” Just because the student doesn’t follow the book to get to where they are going why is that wrong? Need Inspiration – Kid President

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3. You have the power to change their lives

In Finding Nemo, Marlin was very uncomfortable with everything he encountered, each experience was work, both physically and emotionally. Your students are the same, that young man or women refusing to work is lost and seeking anything that will provide stability. They have no control what they do. That refusal may be the only bit of control they have in their lives. How can we flip the script and trust our students to do great things!  – Need Inspiration – Kevin Honeycutt

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4. Don’t let them be lost boys(or girls)

Kids need love, attention, and positive affirmation, and not just because they completed their homework. Encourage your students, especially the ones who make you crazy. That student knows rejection, and fully expects you to follow suit, surprise them with unconditional love. Whether you have 5 year olds or 5th graders, 6th grade or Seniors, they just want someone they care about to tell them how proud you are. Teachers, no matter the gender are just as equipped to tackle the problem, of the lost boy. One of the most popular songs right now speaks to this desire for belonging. Need Inspiration – Lost Boys

5. Teach them how to love

We are currently dealing with the repercussions of not making empathy, character, and love a priority in the classroom. An entire generation of people have a very difficult time walking in someone else’s shoes. (I’m not saying everyone). Now we could sit here and point fingers, but I’m more concerned with joining together to demand that we teach the next generation how to love one another. The most important job a dad has is to teach his children how to make the world a better place. Teach your children that hate is wrong, that love is right, and that acceptance is not an option. Need Inspiration – Empathy by Noah Courser

Being a dad isn’t easy, but you’re not alone! You belong to the EdTechAfterDark family, and we want to hear from you. Join us in our summer blog challenge, or on Monday nights at 10pm eastern on Twitter under the hashtag #edtechafterdark.

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