2014-04-29_18.31.08Just shut up and teach Walt.


Friday was a special occasion. Having Brad Gilbert there, hitting balls with the SVHS Tennis Team, a dedication from mayor Rachel Hundley where she talked about the importance of building bridges, press coverage from all the papers, the administration from both Sonoma High and Creekside talking about what a symbolic victory the wall is in bringing the two schools together, the superintendent and school board members discussing the new policy of inclusion for all students, the parents, the students and everyone celebrating the new Dragon Tennis wall. It was magic.


Course, that didn’t happen. La La Land did not actually win the Oscar, the president is not actually a misogynistic, bigoted narcissist, and alt facts are not actually true. Wait, what?!?


The truth is Brad never responded to any of my texts or inquiries even after I offered a free overnight stay in Sonoma and unlimited Nicholson Ranch wine. (He did teach me how to play Ping-Pong, that part is true: http://valleytalking.blogs.sonomanews.com/2016/08/05/note-teachers-plan-hard-teach-well/)


Mayor Hundley cancelled after running into the Index-Tribune editor Jason Walsh who I had emailed Friday morning with the line, “When a wall that is meant to be a bridge turns into a bigger Wall”.


The administration and district heavy hitters apparently are too busy to pay attention to my silly little “project-based, student-centered agenda”, and the Wall, well, let me tell you about the Wall.


Just shut up and teach Walt.


That’s what the little voice says every time these situations arise. I love projects, connecting students with semi-crazy ideas that could happen is a big part of my curriculum. Dream big I tell students, http://valleytalking.blogs.sonomanews.com/2016/06/18/bad-teacher-seeks-200-million-dollars/ Sometimes they work: http://www.sonomanews.com/gallery/3721006-181/creekside-students-install-sonomawood-sign?artslide=0 And sometimes they don’t: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/2953927-181/activism-academics-meld-at-creekside


I’m in it for the journey. There are two types of people in the world-transporters and flyers. Transporters want to arrive at their destination and flyers want the experience of the journey. Transporters keep their eyes focused on the prize; flyers are always looking around knowing that eventually they will get there. Traditional education often encourages transporters who just want the answer, which is fine, but one of my responsibilities is helping students enjoy the journey.


The Wall was a project built out of necessity. There was a small, unusable wall on the courts so I decided to replace it with a larger, functioning wall. I have 30 players on my tennis team and with four courts, space is an issue. I need all the practice areas I can get plus I’m kinda biased as I learned to play tennis against a wall http://www.sonomanews.com/news/education/4866015-181/sonoma-teacher-describes-adhd-as?artslide=0.


I designed a performance task around the Wall for my Geometry and Social Responsibility classes, we came up with a design and budget, I went to Friedman’s and bought the wood, we made the wall in my Art classes, and everything was set to be installed for the Friday dedication.


Then the superintendent came to Creekside on Wednesday. I was all hopped up on endorphins following an amazing presentation about LBGTQ+ issues by Positive Images; I explained the whole project to her. http://valleytalking.blogs.sonomanews.com/2017/02/20/when-a-wall-is-a-bridge/


I need to wag more and bark less, this I know about myself.


“Course you’ve cleared it with maintenance and the administration.” She said. “Of course.” I replied thinking somehow that writing this and telling everyone I had come in contact with while planning and creating the Wall was enough. I’m just taking down a wall and putting up another, what’s wrong with that? I rationalized.


The little voice in my head was nervous that I was wasn’t staying totally true to my “rigorous honesty “ philosophy so I went directly to the SVHS principals office and left her a note that I was replacing the tennis wall. Thursday morning, I get this email from the head of maintenance:




It has come to my attention that you are planning to build a wall on the tennis courts. Before this happens you need to submit to me a change of facility form and I must ok it. It may also need to go through the DSA process because students and staff would be using it.


We will need to submit it to DSA for approval.  Just so you know, DSA is backed up at least 6 weeks if not longer, you will need to hire a architect and a structural engineer.  These will cost a lot of money, (around $15,000.00).  Do you have the funds for this?



I won’t bore you with the rest of the interaction suffice it to say, the Wall is sitting on the ground outside my art room, the dedication was cancelled and once again, I have managed to upset everyone. Contrary to popular belief this is not my intention, I really just want a usable wall for my team and if I can turn it into a performance task and PBL activity for students, great.


Monday afternoon and I’m back to square one, filling out the “Facilities Alteration” forms and having an architect friend draw up plans so they can be approved by the DSA and the head of maintenance. I thought about ranting and blaming and hating then realized that it wouldn’t help, I just want to put up the wall.


As I tell students on the daily, it’s not about falling down; it’s about getting back up.


Just shut up and teach Walt.









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