Chapter 7 ~ What a Successful Classrooom is Full Of

No matter how big and overwhelming negative situations and things can be, they can be overcome by overwhelming and bigger positivity. Case in point the horror film 28 Days. Imminent death is coming and there's nothing you can do about it.

It was so good they made a second movie but I never saw it. I thought the first one was silly not scary. If death is coming for me, I'm coming for it, and bringing an overwhelming abundance of life to meet it head on.

The imperfection of our species is that physically we don't last forever. The perfection of our species is that until that day happens, it's up to us how big we live mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We've known this for a long time. When a man died in Ancient Greece they asked one question: Did he have passion?

So if death is not scary, then living with everything you could be dead and passionless inside of you is. When we're focused on living to the fullest, we start seeing examples around us of passionate life overcoming a listless acceptance of death.

On his first reading test this student scored a 29%. He didn't care because he has accepted that he's not smart. By age 10 he's already given up, already dead.............20 days later he scored a 60%. Highest growth in the class. Now he's awake. (Julius Caesar's grave)

He makes this same growth in 20 more days and he's getting a 91%. An F to an A in 40 days. I dramatized his success by spreading my arms wide and saying, "Before the flood there was only failure. The waters rose and washed all that away. Now there is only success. Go now Noah and live your new life!"

20 days ago another student scored an 85% in science. She does care about this score and begins to break down because she is gifted and has never got less than an A on anything. But this isn't passion either, it's a very frail ego attached to an identity she must live up to where she is a "success" only as long as she is always successful.

That's a pathetic belief, not a powerful one. Failure and obstacles will constantly enter our lives, especially when you're chasing giant, full-of-life dreams. Life wants to see how badly you really want them, or if you'll give up. Most people will lower their standards and settle for what they have before ever realizing that the more they overcome, the more they become.

Because she's religious I asked her if she prays for what she doesn't want, then asked why then she's placing thoughts of what she doesn't want on the alter of her brain. I shared that her real failure is being able to control her thoughts when things aren't going well. She whispers that she's trying but is afraid.

I kneeled next to her and whispered back, "Excellent! You're being given a chance to be really alive! Can you hold on to what you want even when it makes you afraid to do it? This is the stuff life is made of. Holding on when you'd rather give up. Using your brain and spirit to create what you do want instead of allowing your fears and insecurities to take control and create what you don't. This lesson is more important than any subject you're studying right now. Learn this one fully."

She did struggle and hold on and now has the highest grade in a science class that's very demanding ("OK my little paper tigers getting your A's on basic knowledge of the scientific inquiry process - including the learning 'disabled' student I made cry on the 2nd day of school and suppossedly isn't able to learn- Now show me real ability. Tell me what each of these steps mean and show me each step in an experiment of your own").

And as proof education can prepare us for success in real life, this student's puppy got very sick over the weekend and is likely to die. I shared how before I call Grandma Bette at night I think only of her being there to answer the phone and being able to tell her how much I love her.

"That's all you think about today; going home and seeing your puppy alive and healthy. Show your love by appreciating him every day you're together, and thinking thoughts of life, not death. Because the fact is that one day my grandma won't answer the phone, and one day your puppy won't be there when you get home. How many days can we cover them in love before that one day happens? So far my count with Grandma is 1,800 to none." (about 5 years ago I started calling her everynight)

I rose and pointed my finger towards the class and bellowed "Failure runs from you! Fear hides from your strength! Doubt, darkness, and even death have no place here........Because WE are here. And WE are FULL OF LIFE!"

In the silence I think I literally felt cells splitting with brand new worlds of possibilities.

And after surgery that night, her puppy survived and is alive back at home.


What a Good Teacher Gives

I stopped at a Walgreens Monday afternoon when a former student from 4 years ago came in, gave me a high five and told me how I am still his favorite teacher.

As he walked away the clerk behind the counter, Shirley, told me how wonderful that was. When I told her I never had him as a student, that he was in the class next to me and could hear me teach through the walls, and that it was his little brother who had me last year, she was impressed.

I shared that I was struggling to afford to continue teaching (I had to sign withdrawal papers for Sofia's ballet), then grinned and mentioned how things like running into this kid keep happening and reminding me why I need to continue teaching.

She said kids need someone to believe in them, and I told her how since I've never met one that was a failure, I've never let one fail.

Her smile turnd into a frown, and in an almost angry voice she said, "That's what we need. More teachers who give a damn!"

As I walked away I couldn't help but think that of all the things a good teacher gives to his or her students, one of the most important is actually giving a damn.

(pictures inside the Roman Coliseum and summer trip to Ohio)


Chapter Six ~ Knowledge IS NOT Power - USING it IS!

Your team is down by a point with time running out. They pass the ball to you. What do you do?

You know what to do, shoot the ball!

But no matter how much you know what to do and how to do it, if you don't do it, all your knowledge is nothing more than potential power.

You have to shoot the ball.

What made me think of this? Yesterday I returned to the classroom after a 13 day absence. Some problems came up that I had to take care of. One student missed me so much that she hugged me and wouldn't let me go for 2 minutes. In the week before I left I had made a big impact on her feelings. I now owe it to her to make a big impact on her abilities. I need to make her truly powerful.

She didn't stop smiling the entire hour-and-a-half of class, at one point proudly showing me her pencil with "Knowledge is Power" written on it. Now that we have even less time together we have to make her education that much more meaningful, and that much faster. To do this we have to cut through the myths and lies of education.

And one of the biggest is that "Knowledge is Power".

Most of our time in school is spent acquiring lots of knowledge, but never being required to do anything with it other than spit it back out on a test.

We don't teach an athletic sport like basketball by having kids come into a gymnasium and sit on the bleachers all day. The coach doesn't stand in front of them telling them all about how to play the game while they all sit there taking notes for an upcoming written test. This makes no sense because it doesn't develop basketball players.

Yet this is exactly what we have been doing in education for years. The kids don't get out of their seats and "get on the court" to practice applying their knowledge of the game. They don't have to practice showing what they know. And because they don't get to practice using their knowledge, they don't get the great increase in knowledge they would naturally acquire in the process.

And the student I wrote about in Chapter 3 that was the last one to earn his freedom, became the first one to design a successful experiment and eligible to show what he knows to other classes.

Can you imagine what will happen when millions of students spend their days practicing using and improving their knowledge? Wouldn't "knowledge" become much more meaningful and powerful?

Wouldn't we graduate millions of higher-level thinkers and problem solvers out into the world?

And wouldn't millions of impossible situations and poor conditions become possible and powerful realities?

Can you imagine a movie made about these many powerful students instead of the few powerful teachers? I can, and even though this latest challenge that kept me out of the classroom for so long has caused me to want to give up, and cost so much to fix that I don't know how I can afford to continue teaching, I know I must. I must use what I know with all my power.

I've been searching for love my entire adult life, and finally found her. Maybe not in human form, but in what I do each day. I have to hold onto this and protect her with my life, even if it means my death.

Because if love is worth living for............then it's absolutely worth dying for.

I might look like a warrior on the outside (thanks Grace), but I have to become much more of one on the inside. If I'm going to keep and protect this incredible love alive for who we are and what we can become, I have to become a whole lot more than I currently am.

Click on this link A King at His End for a video well worth watching, and a reflection of what's going on inside. I may not be full of confidence and security right now, but I am full of power and passion. And love, great love is the only thing keeping me going........either to the realization of my dream, or to my death.

Either way I win, because I'm using the knowledge that I am free to live any way I want, and using that power to choose to live and to die for something that really matters. Something bigger than myself.


Chapter 5 ~ An Effective Teacher is an Effective Student

Years ago Bruce Lee's sifu told him about a Japanese Zen master who welcomed a university professor to his home to talk about Zen. Instead of asking the master questions, the professor spent his time trying to impress him with his own opinions and knowledge on the subject. After listening patiently, the master began pouring his visitor some tea. But when it was full he kept pouring. The professor finally exclaimed, "The cup is full, no more will go in!"

"Like this cup," the master explained, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

We tell ourselves we're open minded, but usually don't see that we're really not until we get tired enough of our good intentions producing the wrong results. Appropriately, on this Labor Day, wouldn't it be nice to have our labors produce more and more of the results we want?

If we're full of our own rigid opinions, egos, excuses and baggage from the past (hurtful/disappointing people and events), we're simply too full in the present to take in new and better ideas. Ones that WILL lead to new and better results in our lives.

And being too full, our same old thinking leads to our same old actions and our same old results, no matter how many times we change jobs, locations, and the people in our lives. We push and push and push, and when nothing changes become tired, frustrated and disappointed, sometimes even hopeless and depressed.

Yet all around us are those who can help us if we'd just empty our minds, becoming a student again of how to do it right this time. Bruce Lee was and is one of the world's greatest martial artists because he was also one of it's greatest students. Instead of defending his style as "The Way", he had "no way" by learning from every other art and adapting it into a brilliant and effective flowing system. (becoming an effective student of Rome's streets)

And before Lee, there was Emerson who said, "Every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn of him". 2,500 years before this Socrates talked about emptying his mind, one of the greatest minds of all time, to allow room for newer and higher levels of knowledge and understanding to come in: "One thing only I know, and that is I know nothing."

That's a martial artist, a poet and a philosopher to learn from, and on Friday I needed to listen to them all. I failed miserably with a student, and had to empty my cup in a hurry. This week students from other homerooms came to me for reading and math. As happened during week one with a student in my homeroom, a few of these new students didn't turn in their homework......for the second day in a row.

When they didn't turn it in the first time I "hugged" them (water flowing), patiently explaining why it's important they do the work, trying to flow into them and make some meaningful connection.

The second day they came in empty handed I brought out the "hammer" (water crashing). It worked in week one with my homeroom student. It didn't work so well with one of the new students this week. At the end of class she stormed out and threw her backpack against the wall, collapsing to the ground in tears.

I wanted to "keep pouring" my opinions and perspective into her cup, but as I looked I realized she had no cup left to fill. I had washed away her spirit instead of her limitations and she had taken "her cup" and smashed it against the wall.

As much as I wanted to hold onto my full cup by justifying my method, I immediately dumped it out because it didn't matter if it worked for another if it hadn't worked for her. Many times we teachers, parents and coaches hold on to our rigid way of doing things by complaining that kids just don't want to learn, saying, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink."

Well, you can lead a student to school, but you can't make them think either. Instead of giving up on them, what if we helped them want to think, even if it meant changing "our way" of doing things? Just because what we're offering is tasty to us (i.e. teaching/parenting the way we were taught/parented) doesn't mean it's tasty or even right for them. Instead of forcing what we're serving down their throats, we have to empty our cups out (give up our rigid one-way style) and find out what they're thirsty for. What is an effective, yet still strengthening way for them?

If we keep doing things "our way" when it's not working, the way we're teaching/parenting/coaching can become detrimental and even poisonous, weakening and beating them down v strengthening and building them up.

Doctors don't treat patients all the same when they all have different ailments. That would be insane as many patients went untreated and some would even die.

If education is going to graduate more intellectually alive and healthy students, we have to go from being general practitioners (telling students what to memorize and controlling their behavior) to becoming brain specialists (guiding intellectual growth through inquiry and developing internal self-guidance).

The way to do this is by first emptying our cups of what we know about teaching when what we know isn't working. And we check for this on a student-by-student basis.

It's more important to be effective with every child than it is to defend our every word and action. So when I spoke with the Behavioral Specialist who knew this frustrated student, I really listened. I poured everything she said into my ears and into my mental cup, catching it all because it was empty of my own thoughts and opinions. Why would I hold onto them if they hadn't worked?

At lunch I found this student and apologized, admitting I was wrong in my approach, but that I would keep trying until I found the right one. I also asked for her help in doing this.

As I looked at her I saw eyes full of appreciation, and for the first time saw how big and beautiful they were. Before this I remember them as always being half-closed, almost in anger.

I told her I loved her and her great spirit, that I would teach her the same as if she was my own child, and asked why she thought she couldn't get her homework done.

She told me she has to take care of her brothers and sisters, including getting up at 2am to take care of the baby. I asked her how long her ride home on the bus was, and she said an hour. I asked if she thought she could try to get it done on the bus ride home, mentioning what a big opportunity it was.

She said she'd try it, and after I hugged her I told her that if she did try and did succeed, she would know something about her that I know; that she is capable of overcoming anything she really wants to.

Had I not emptied my mind, had I held on tightly to my thoughts of my way of teaching, I wouldn't have had room to learn her way of learning, and she would have hated coming into my classroom and learned very little this year.........including how to become bigger than the obstacles she'll face in her life, bigger than homework and bigger than Mr. Stuart.

And now I am a much better teacher for her because I'm a much better student of her.


Chapter Four ~ Move and Be Moved Into Waves of Possibility

Near the end of the summer I drove my motorcycle one last time to the beach. As I felt the waves move me around I realized that as students (and adults) if we're not moving or being moved (internally) we become stagnant. If we're stagnant for too long we become infested with bacteria, algea and parasites. We become unhealthy and sick.

Sick and unhealthy thoughts lead to sick feelings which lead to sick choices and actions which create even more sick and unhealthy thoughts......leading to even sicker feelings and then choices and then thoughts.

We literally make ourselves sick and diseased.

One of my students thinks he is bad, and because he has no doubt about that, he doesn't expect much out of himself or hold himself to high standards. He doesn't expect to move or be moved. It's going to be an interesting year with him. Who will win, the one with complete faith, or the one with complete doubt?

These are drawings he made the first week of school.

Day 1 - I'm being eaten by sharks

Day 2 - I'm defeating a shark

Day 3 - I'm defeating 5 sharks

Day 4 - I'm defeating a giant dragon

Day ???? - He draws a picture of HIMSELF defeating the dragon

Now on that day I'll have done my job. I will have "won" because he sees himself as capable of winning. (Photo 1)

It doesn't matter how the world sees me; It matters how he sees himself in this world. Even if a statue were erected in my honor as being a great teacher, I am not a great teacher for him unless he sees the greatness in himself. Can I help him do that before I am gone and nothing more than a memory?

Yesterday morning I woke up to this news report as I accessed my email:

KABUL – A suicide bomber detonated his explosives as Afghanistan's deputy chief of intelligence visited a mosque east of Kabul on Wednesday, killing the Afghan official and 22 others.

Out of the 167,000 people across the world that will die today, 23 were blown to bits before I even woke up. And for what? An eye-for-an-eye?

Just as it takes a strong man to be a gentleman.....it takes a strong and more intelligent person to find a peaceful solution versus striking out and "punishing them for what they did".

Since I have 23 students in my homeroom I was determined to go to school yesterday and make them even more alive inside by exploding the appreciation of life and possibility inside of them, especially the possibility of evolving into bigger-brain adults capable of solving serious problems in more intelligent ways than trying to kill the people they have problems with. (Photo 2)

If we really appreciate the fact that we are alive today, we become much more willing to face our problems and fears and doubts, and replace them with solutions, courage and confidence. (Photo 3)

I praised and hugged students who were rising above their limitations, and singled out and hammered those that tried to give up and not try. At the end of the day I felt I had hammered one particular student a little too hard, breaking his spirit instead of his limitations. And I felt bad.

As I was leaving I noticed something he had written and left on his desk:

"My goal for this year is to get smarter and get a 5 on the FCAT. I know I could do this because my teacher is Mr. Stuart and he never gives up on me and he pushes me harder."

I think the hammer broke apart what was holding him back, and allowed the waves of possibility to enter him. I thank Emperor Trajan for being someone who could inspire and enlighten me on how to do this. (Photo 4)


So I can remember and elaborate

Photo 1 -
I can't remember this emperor's name here on Palentine Hill in Ancient Rome. I do remember how he made all citizens, including senators, kneel before him and kiss his rings and feet.........He made others feel worthless and insignificant. He was murdered, and is insignificant and worthless to me as to how I can live my life to the fullest.


Photo 2 -
Bella's highlight on the return trip home was going to be able to visit Mammoth Cave. We spent so much time playing in the same river Abe Lincoln did as a boy that when we got to Mammoth all the tours were sold out. I told Bella we'd get a hotel and come back in the morning. She just wanted to go home.

I went back and told them how this was the highlight of my daughter's trip......and they told me there had been "a last minute cancellation". My smile to them was as big as Bella's was holding the tickets.....Looking at her face, I see just how beautiful life and love is....and why it's worth giving your life for


Photo 3 - Sofia at The Serpent Mound in southern Ohio. God bless her spirit. She would have fit right in with these highly spiritual people who lived thousands of years ago. I will do whatever it takes to protect and keep this alive inside of her. Strength and muscles can be so much more than how society sees them, as a way to say, "Oooh. Look at me". . A man's body is for pleasing his woman, playing with his children, and protecting his and others' spirits, especially those he loves. (Her Great Aunt, Sister Veronica, a nun in Ohio, 80+ years old and still going strong!)

Photo 4 - This is a statue of Emperor Trajan in the Senate House. He greeted others by name and shook their hands and hugged them. He made them feel valuable and under him Rome experienced some of it's greatest accomplishments.

This statue was remarkably found in its original color and intact, except for the head, hands and feet which were made of different material.

He is gone, but he lives on in me, and I am more because of it.


Chapter Three ~ Teaching at the Cellular Level

On this same day of great victory for one student (last Wednesday), there was only one name left on the board under "Strength Training" (things like "talking when others spoke, voice volume way too high", etc). This student could have seen this as a great defeat; gone home embarrassed, upset and ticked off, focusing on how unfair it was that he was being "singled out". (Photo 1)

Instead, he saw it as a great opportunity, turned down a friend's offer to play that afternoon, and focused on turning in a project that scored a perfect 100% on the gifted rubric. And he turned it in one day before it was due. Now that's desire, and victory over victimization! (Photo 2)

What happened was that he focused on being 100% responsible for his reality, and ended up producing the reality that he wanted.

How? For three days 100% of my thoughts have been on him being 100% responsible for his own thoughts and actions. That's 60,000 thoughts x 3 or 180,000 thoughts over three days.

180,000 thoughts surrounding him, infiltrating him, inspiring him and uplifting him to new levels of possibility and production. As he believed in himself he added his own 180,000 thoughts, creating a combined 360,000 powerful thoughts of production in just 3 days.

It's the same process my son and I use that allows him not to need his medicine to control his ADHD when he's around me. His younger brother, who is even worse, doesn't need it either. His mom and I are both trying to figure out exactly why this happens.

To be honest I'm not quite sure. All I know is that Brosden and I, his brother, my students.....we create a universe of total confidence, great ability and unlimited strength, and we do this together. We don't hope or try. We KNOW and DO. (Photo 3)

Since we shed and create millions of cells per second, it's possible that because I vibrate so strongly the emotions of love, laughter, life, strength, etc.........around me their new cells are created with new receptors for the natural chemicals (dopamine, elastin, etc) which allow us to think, feel and act at more powerful levels.

And if this is what is happening, as science suggests, this next example had an even more profound effect on this student, further changing him from the inside out on a cellular level.

I had him hold some papers in one hand and raise his other hand and face the class. I took the big picture of MLK off the wall and held it behind him, then shouted to the class, "What do you think? See a similarity? Martin Luther King had a dream. ____ had a dream. And they both Did Big about making their dream become true. You're not looking at the next MLK. You're looking at the FIRST ____, becoming his BIGGEST self! "

Kids from other classes came in at least three times to borrow his project and take it to their class. That's three more positive cellular changes.

Education isn't about only preparing students for tests. It's about switching them on and lighting them up to their true scientific nature of unlimited possibility (including in the microtubials, or our on/off switches, of the neurons in our brains).

And it's not about them becoming the next MLK, Edison or Lincoln. It's about them becoming the first ever THEMSELVES. They have never been here on Earth before. They will never be here again. Lasting, life-long education is bringing out and developing the gifts only they can bring to this world, and teaching them how to do it on their own after you're gone.

Can you imagine an entire class doing this for an entire year? Can you imagine entire school systems doing this? I had 27 kids come to my reading class yesterday (we're having homogeneous math and reading classes this year). That's a total of 28 people x 60,000 or 1,680,000 potential thoughts a day all on what we want. It's my job as their teacher to passionately focus all these 1.7 million daily thoughts to produce powerfully acting people.

Change DOES occur. Obstacles ARE overcome. And children DO BECOME their greatest selves POSITIVELY affecting the world. Even just one of these future men and women can become a WORLD CHANGER!

To ensure the action this year produces the results we want for tomorrow, all we have to do is identify what action each student should be taking each day for optimal growth. What specific areas of weaknesses should they be focused on overcoming on a daily basis? Let's change them from the inside-out on a cellular level. And let's change them permanently by teaching them how to believe in and change themselves. (Photo 3)


Photo 1 - statue of Julius Ceasar in Rome


Photo 2 - One of the pictures Bella took while driving to or from Ohio. The beauty this child is seeing and bringing to the world is incredible


Photo 3 - It's not right that we can't include pictures of the actual students. It would have so much more meaning. Living in fear and playing it safe is critically limiting. Can you imagine if this was our thought process while being taught how to walk?

"Don't try too hard, you might fall. As long as you try to do your best, it's OK if you can't walk." What!?! We don't try our best. We try UNTIL.

I chose this picture because it shows the singularity of focus in my eyes. No hoping or trying my best. I'm trying and doing until the student I was looking at got it.

This is exactly what made the Samurai warriors the greatest of their time; singularity of focus. And one of the reasons my first weblog was named "Samurai Teaching". Everyone around me, past, present, future, has something to teach me.

Photo 4 - Even if you only have three powerful people all powerfully focusing on the same end result (i.e. mom, dad, child - grandpa, grandma, teacher, etc) the result is POWERFUL (Bella and I with Marc Mero, founder of the terrific program Champions of Choices)

And believe me, Bella's spirit is just as powerful as Marc's and mine, which is why I grabbed the boy by the shirt who ran into her at Mammoth Cave. I'm here to protect this spirit until it's developed and given to the world. That's my excuse for sometimes "being too scary" as she and Sofia tell me, and I'm sticking to it.