South Central Teaching Job and Panic Attacks

South Central Teaching Job and Panic Attacks

Teaching as a profession is hard no matter where you are working. I’ve taught in Private Christian Schools that were similar to Southcrest Christian School and I’ve taught in inner city Los Angeles at one of the most dangerous schools in the country. Both situations were hard because you have so much work to do during school time and so much work to do after school just to get ready for the coming day. Both types of schools require constant attention – Lesson plans, committee meetings, classroom discipline, parents, etc. I think teachers have the hardest job on the planet and I regret treating my teachers so badly when I was a youth. Besides that, teachers are severely underpaid and underappreciated.

With all the generalization behind us, I want to get specific about my time teaching 7th grade history at John Muir Middle School in South Central LA. It sucked. Let me tell you why it was so bad. First of all, when the school year got started, I had an average of 36 students per class with one actually having 45. There was no way I could get this many kids to pay attention especially when there were only 35 desks. That’s right. All the chairs filled with nine students either standing or sitting at my teacher’s desk. Secondly, there were no history books for the students. I had to lesson plan for them without them having the basic materials. It was silly. Third, some of the kids were violent and were always fighting or threatening to kill each other. Fourth, the students were disrespectful. I needed another teacher to just sit in the room and handle discipline. Fifth, if you sent the kids out to hall or to the principal, they would just leave the room and take off. Sixth, the principal told me that it was important not to send any kids to his office because he was dealing with much more serious issues. Seventh, they had to regularly lock the school down because of gang activity. One time, two guys with machine guns broke into the school and we had to hide under desks until they were captured. Eighth I found out that the teacher I was replacing had committed suicide by hanging himself in the classroom. Not a very encouraging place to be.

 

Needless to say, my work environment was horrible and I had panic attacks before almost all of my classes. I couldn’t eat because of the stress and I dropped down to 120 pounds. I cried hysterically every night when I got home and no matter my best attempts, I finally quit.

 

Here are my recommendations: Don’t be a teacher unless you are tough, resilient, willing to be treated poorly and thick-skinned. I salute every one of you teachers out there. You are superstars.

 

 

Change Agents for Capital Campaigns

Capital Campaigns and Change Agents

Most people do not like change. If people have been doing things one way and someone introduces a change that will force them to shift their behavior, there is typically push back. This degree of this push back is usually determined by how much change is required. I recall working at one church where leadership decided to set up a new model for committees and since this forced the staff and the congregation to radically change how they related to the system of church democracy, there was a near rebellion. I guess what I am getting at is that change does happen and often it needs to happen, but that does not mean this change will be easy. In fact, some changes, no matter how necessary and no matter how small, are not accepted. The naysayers win the day. All of this can be seen in every level of society and I think most of us have had to either introduce change or be asked to change.

And like everyone, I have been a jerk when someone tries to make me change a system if the current system is working. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it, right? If the change is going to cause me to learn a lot of new things that slow me down or asks me to alter my finances or my actions, I typically balk and join a little faction of other people who would rather overthrow the institution that goes the way of the change.

So. With that being said, I get to our topic of change today – Church Capital Campaigns. Church Capital Campaigns are attempts by a congregation to raise extra funds from their particular flock to either renovate a current part of the building, or to raise extra cash to pay for a whole new set of buildings. Both of these two ventures are introductions of change because people are asked to give more money and because the leadership usually forms its focus around this project. In other words, leaders shift their focus to get their congregants to get on board with the new change.

But, I have to say that any sort of change that tries to open wallets wider is the most difficult change to get people to accept. People tend to not like when churches are asking for any money from them much less asking them for even more money. Knowing this, a church that is trying to raise extra capital really needs to bring in experts who know how to introduce this most difficult change. These experts are called Change Agents.

Change Agents understand how to bring about the vision of new church design and shifts in architecture, slowly bringing the church members to buy-in. How do they do this?

More on that in the next article…

The Future is now!

For some individuals and businesses, there is a gap between now and the possibilities of the future.  But for some people, the future is now and it is pretty impressive.  I always think of Apple and Google being at the front and center of this global trend setting and futurist thinking.  They take people’s imaginations of what things could be like and they blow right past these imaginations providing goods and services that have dominated market shares everywhere.  What used to be dreams are now cutting edge technologies which help people do what they wan to do and get to where they want to go.

Recently I was invited to see two of these business types for myself – Two companies who work together in the field of architecture and 3D animation to help other businesses flourish.  These businesses, Halo Architects and Gone Virtual, are located in West Texas but do most of their work for people all over the nation.  They believe art and vision to be the driving forces behind their projects and they’ve done such a good job at everything from church design to large retail design.

Speaking with the owner and chief innovator, I was reminded of a nicer Steve Jobs who not only builds great businesses, but who sees miles ahead of his competitors.  To be honest, I could not believe that these two businesses were not located in New York or in Silicon Valley.

Anyway, I just wanted to give a shout out to him and his team for doing such an excellent job and for pushing architecture and 3D virtual designs into the future; for not stagnating or plateauing as so many other firms do.  I have a lot of respect for leaders who know how to lead now and who also can lead their teams into the future.  I hope I can do the same sooner rather than later…

 

My Niece’s Future

The future looks bright for my niece who has decided to attend one of the best Texas colleges in the area next year. She could have chosen to go to a highly regarded four year Texas college, but she looked at the graduation rates as well as the job placement rates provided by Western Texas College in Snyder, Texas and made what I think is a smart decisions. After all, what good is college if it cannot get you into a good job. I think that is how colleges should be ranked – how well do they help their students get employed once they graduate. Forget the other ranking factors like campus beauty or social interactions – Just make sure I have a job post-college and I’ll be happy.

I recall my time in college and I can honestly say that my experience did not prepare me for anything useful. Four years of lecture and reading and papers for what? Definitely not a good job. I had to get my Masters just to get my foot in the job world – more money and more time. I compare this to what my niece has chosen – 2 years of technical training followed by an immediate job placement. And if she ends up wanting to go back for more years of education in the future, she can.

Anyway, that was just a rant and also an encouragement to other students to give weight to the right things when choosing a college. If it cannot get you a good job later, then find one that will.

Signing off –

 

School fears: Pre-K

My little nephew is heading into a highly regarded Lubbock Pre-K very soon and he is excited but also a bit nervous. This Lubbock private school is a Christian-based school and I imagine it will be a good experience for him, but I understand his basic fears. He fears the unknown as most of us do. He fears the initial interactions with a room full of strangers. He fears the rejection and failure that can come in any setting. His fears are legitimate. They are the same fears that chase most of us around for the whole of our lives – my nephew is just getting exposed to it early on.

Poor kid.

Still, I’m sure that this Pre-K has teachers who will protect him and help to alleviate his fears. They are trained to help students learn basic life navigation skills. He will be okay. I just hope he doesn’t inherit my lifelong fears that I picked up in my Kindergarten days.

 

Do we ever really grow up? Do we ever really grow out of our panic that comes from early socialization? I know I didn’t. Maybe I should start over like Billy Madison and get some shampoo – because it is better.

The future looks bright for my niece who has decided to attend one of the best Texas colleges in the area next year. She could have chosen to go to a highly regarded four year Texas college, but she looked at the graduation rates as well as the job placement rates provided by Western Texas College in Snyder, Texas and made what I think is a smart decisions. After all, what good is college if it cannot get you into a good job. I think that is how colleges should be ranked – how well do they help their students get employed once they graduate. Forget the other ranking factors like campus beauty or social interactions – Just make sure I have a job post-college and I’ll be happy.

I recall my time in college and I can honestly say that my experience did not prepare me for anything useful. Four years of lecture and reading and papers for what? Definitely not a good job. I had to get my Masters just to get my foot in the job world – more money and more time. I compare this to what my niece has chosen – 2 years of technical training followed by an immediate job placement. And if she ends up wanting to go back for more years of education in the future, she can.

Anyway, that was just a rant and also an encouragement to other students to give weight to the right things when choosing a college. If it cannot get you a good job later, then find one that will.

Signing off –

 

Just a quick Blurt

I won’t call this a blog post because it is so very short – We will call it a Blurt for Google’s sake.  In this Blurt, I just want to make one statement about colleges in this state.

Just because you go to a huge, popular Texas college rather than small and less popular Texas colleges does not make you smarter or more capable.  Western Texas College is a two-year school but it preps students for better jobs right out of school and creates less debt than the other Tier One schools.  So don’t act cocky if you are attending a “cool university.”  Most of those places don’t get you ready for real life or prep you for anything technical or useful.  Places like WTC might not have frat life or even Bachelors degrees, but they at least get you employed sooner than later.

That’s my Blurt rant for today – I attended a large university myself and am convinced that it was a racket designed to take my money and teach me little practical knowledge.  That might have been my fault.  But, if I had a kid I’d send him or her to a place like WTC over where I went.

Why am I saying all this?  What do I care?  I just get sick of the bigger school students thinking themselves superior because they were able to get into a school that makes them pay a lot of money to sit through boring lectures and write busy work essays.

That’s all.  I will return to my cave and say little more except this:  I can’t wait for the future!  What about you?

Jesus Walks Away, Mr. Kanye

Props to the WEST side

So, if pride goes before a fall, then Kanye is gonna drop like a sack of steel loaded potatoes hurtling downwards from a super high building in Idaho.

And it is going to hurt.

I’m not wishing that on him.  I’m just rolling with the classic Bible statement (pride goes before a fall) and laying it next to his own quotes about himself – Add his words to his behaviors – and you got some serious Tom Petty free falling action coming to a guy who has some serious talent, but who lets the world tell him he is bigger than Jesus –

Yep, Mr. Kanye – We can tell you haven’t talked to God in so long and we even bet you would try to upstage Him at the Grammys if God cared about winning Best Eternal Artist –

I wonder what your future on this planet will be like.

I can easily see that you are damaged from your past days and that makes me pretty sad.

I’m messed up too (A WHOLE LOT)  and I fall hard out of arrogance.  But dude, if you don’t take up some Philippians 2 and Colossians 3 “attitudinals” and apply them asap, you are going to feel a contrast so terrible that you will wish you had never tasted fame.

Jesus still walks but you gotta stop walking away.

Who cares if you gain the whole world?  The world is passing away – Buy stock in the eternal, bro.

You ain’t listening to me – You wouldn’t hear me unless I was made of gold, played like Lebron, looked like Beyonce, and/or had an honorary doctorate from Gucci.  But, you should.  And I hope the Holy Spirit gets your ear before you face plant off of a Grand Canyon dive – You are not as bad as Nebuchadnezzar was and I hope your future isn’t like his pre-animal fall – But I truly do hope you end up where he ended up – Praising your Maker and finding healing and true joy.

Sucks to fall and it even sucks harder to fall in love with this silly culture – I am the small fish in the smallest pond, but I fell in love with myself and my reflection in others’ eyes like you have.  And I am still paying for it –

I’m not like US magazine hoping for you to lead balloon it…

I’m just a small market media company guy (Go Dream Taxi, Go.)

And, I’ve got hopes that you get better and find best.

May you choose to drop speed and choose lower altitudes on your own – not choose to keep up the climb until your engine stalls, like mine did – The Himalayas at 1,000 mph don’t taste good, Yeezie!

God will not be mocked – We reap what we sow!!!

And yet – GRACE –

find that – get wise – your long-term could be beautiful – not dark and twisted.

(Read Mesus by Loud A. Smith – it will open your eyes.)

Mesus: PartOne
Read it, Kanye. It’s your first official post-doctoral assignment…

http://www.amazon.com/Mesus-Part-One-Loud-Smith/dp/1940816033/ref=sr_1_15?ie=UTF8&qid=1432245154&sr=8-15&keywords=Mesus

 

Training Legends…

After going to college and getting two bachelor degrees and then following that up with a Master’s Degree, I can honestly say that I do not believe in campus Higher Education – unless it is the sort that actually prepares you to do something specific.

Being “well-rounded” is a nice idea if the job market did not want so many rectangles and squares.

Anyway, I’m just being negative, disruptive, and iconoclastic.I should have begun by saying:  “I sure love those Universities and Colleges that truly prepare their students to become legendary.”

Yeah – that sounds so much better than saying Higher Education is a complete racket for most of the students who enroll and major in humanities, political science, history, communications, and other useless majors which should only be made available as “affinity minors.”

So sticking with the positive – Let me say this:  for those who are in the market for Texas colleges, I know one, which basically trains all of its students to be skilled in areas where they can find great jobs when they graduate.  Sure, Western Texas College in Snyder may not produce Socrates or Nietzsche.  But after spending some time speaking with their staff and talking with their students (and even taking a peek at their graduates’ employment records) I can honestly say that this Texas college is rocking it the right way.

Students come and at a 99% graduate.  Then they go get great jobs in fields where there are high-paying job openings.

Isn’t that what college is about?

I think this Texas Community College has it right!!!

Congrats to you – You have almost made me change my mind about the intelligence of going to school beyond high school!!!

 

An Almost Complaint…

When I was told I would be placed in “Corporate Housing Lubbock” for a month and then into “Corporate Housing Midland” for another month, I cannot tell you how displeased I felt.  Those word combinations being issued to me by my lovely company were supposed to be comforting – “You will be sent out of town to do our bidding, but rest easy because you will be given a home there – A corporate home – A corporate home in Lubbock/Midland.  You lucky salesman.  We value you so much that we are putting you into some sort of ugly box version of furnished life in cities you would never visit.”

Thanks bosses.  You really know how to treat your best workers.

I am a traveling salesman.  I should not be complaining.  I’ve been to all sorts of weird towns and lived out of my suitcase in bed bug motor lodges without complaint.  What bothered me most about this memorandum about my upcoming road trip itineraries was the use of euphemisms to describe my “housing opportunities.”  Usually my company just says, “get a motel for under $75 and save the receipts.”  But this time, I was told I had been set up in Corporate Housing – as if I were going to be ushered into a swank spot that I actually enjoyed.  Staying out on the road is not a swank thing.  And living in a motel is never called living in a home.

I was mad at my bosses – even more angry at the marketing department who most likely worded the memo to me.  I just want honesty.  Don’t raise my expectations that I’m going to be setting up shop at a nice place every night.  Just keep it real and pay for my vending machine dinners — A Snickers, some Doritos, and a 16 ounce Mountain Dew will do me fine.

After stewing a while and thinking about firing off an email to my superiors about their joke of a housing description, I thought better of it and determined to be a good employee.  I decided to be the sort who is unflappable – someone who is not emotionally affected by a silly set of words.  I went on the extended sales trip and prepared for the regular.

But then, when I got to my destinations in Lubbock and Midland, and found that my extended stay housing (At Home Corporate Suites) was actually the opposite of what I had been imagining and even beyond what I could have asked for, I had to totally eat my words (the ones I left in my head).  For once, my company had put me up in two places that were beautifully furnished spaces.  I was actually impressed with the design, the staff who handled my needs, the food options, and the fact that it really did feel like a home.

This is my confession of being an angry little child who guessed wrong about their bosses and their care for me.  It’s also a promise to find a way to stay at these amazing places again.  I liked them better than my own apartment.