2016 marks our 5th year in business. Over this time we have helped thousands of people learn how to keep their brains healthy. We are deeply honored to be a part of this revolution in the way we think about our mental health.
In 2015 we spent over 1000 hours doing volunteer work both by ourselves and in partnership with many non-profits. Our work with The Dear Wise Elders Foundation has helped connect older adults with schoolchildren for the enrichment of both groups. This collaboration led to our entry in this year's XQSuperschool challenge.
As I looked back at my blog posts I noticed that I never finished posting chapter 1 of my one-day-to-be-published book. Ironic that it was about a year ago that I last posted a piece of it.
Behind the fading
whistling comes the staccato drum of alternating light and heavy, running
footsteps. “First!” yells Damarcus, a skinny, light-skinned and light-hearted black
kid who punctuates it with a joyous whack of his bony knuckles against his
“You cheated,” puffs
Jose, a short, heavy Dominican kid who is a little too out of breath for a
twelve year old who has just run up only one flight of stairs.
It's much harder than I thought it would be. Teaching public school and running my business, Purplearn, was a lot. Now, adding in starting up a non profit, The Dear Wise Elders Foundation, I am up to optimizing my showers to save time in the morning.
I miss having the luxury of time to write. Of course I write all the time but most of it is paperwork either for school or for the businesses. I can't remember the last time I wrote a story.
After meetings in Miami and NYC, I am at least succeeding in spreading the word.
I wore my tuxedo to school Tuesday, December 23rd. Instead of a bow tie I wore my black silk tie with math symbols boldly emblazoned in primary colors. My purple pocket square perfectly matched the purple plus sign on my tie. It was a special day.
The children looked at me with mixtures of delight and puzzlement as I greeted them with a booming, "Bom Dia!" at the door. I always greet them this way, but I tried to put a little extra boom in it to mark the occasion.
I channel Mr.
Early yesterday morning I had to wear my long woolen overcoat over my dark suit with purple shirt and tie. The downstairs party room where we meet opens to the outside when it is warmer and the chill was seeping through the large closed windows. My friends, the original wise elders, were not happy with the current temperature and everywhere was heard loud grumbling coming from under blankets and sweaters.
I had a fresh batch of letters and short replies from the schoolchildren to read to them so I just began over the racket.
I am wearing my sportcoat as I address the class. This is unusual for me, but I feel it gives weight and formality to the speech. I finish thanking them for all their hard work to a slightly too loud round of applause. I silence them with a word, "But..." I let it trail off.
"We still have to do the math. On note paper everyone will list all their group's points and find the total as of right now. First group done gets 100 points, second group done gets 80, then 60, 40, 20, and the last group done gets 0.
My class had run out of steam. Once, in early August, there had been four full tables of more than six people each. I
needed a valet to help park the walkers that had to be lined up at the door.
When we compared our answers we often had people trying to talk over each
other. Today we sat sparsely spaced around two tables. I addressed the ten
older adults. Doing my best not to show my exasperation, I asked, “No stories?
It wasn’t their fault and it wasn’t my fault. Well,
actually it was my fault.
My basic point system works in multiples of 5,
making tallying point totals easy even for the mathematically challenged. Small
tasks and demonstrating positive behavior are worth the minimum 5 points. Bonus
tasks and something you want to recognize as especially good are worth 10
points. Group completion of large assignments and homework starts at 25 points
and goes up from there, but nothing is ever worth more than 100 points and
there should be very few 100s. At the end of every class, the group points are
tallied and the totals written in sharpie on the scoreboard in the back of the
Teachers – What if I told you there was a single
system that could handle most discipline problems, guarantee high student
engagement in classroom activities, and ensure most, if not all, of your
students turn in their homework every day? Read on, because all of this and
more can be yours for one low price.
No, I’m not going to charge you for the information.
However, the first thing you have to do is spend about $40. Every year I
patiently wait for sales on games like Connect 4, Jenga, Monopoly, and
It's hard to pretend. But, day after day, I put on a smile and do my job. I do my paperwork according to the latest model and set about the business of trying to get kids to pass tests. The thing that set me on this path was believing I can make a difference. Pretending I still believe gets harder every day.
Let's look at the numbers. There are 180 days of school. This year students will take 5 state assessments, 10 major assessments for their report card grades, a pre and post test for teacher assessment in every class, and the week-long rollout of the new PAARC test.