Thoughts, links & ideas from the 2008 National Teacher of the Year

Each time I've taken off in a plane since May (which is a lot), I've been writing in my journal, then adding these journal entries on this blog.

Check in often, or subscribe to get headlines fed to you! Oh, and the views expressed here are not those of anyone but me.  And anyone who happens to share the same views, I guess.

(Note: the blue posted dates are actually the dates I wrote the journal entries, not when I posted them online.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Your Holiday Homework Assignment

Okay, so a couple of my readers (i.e. half of my loyal following) have wondered what on earth they will do when I remove myself from civilization for three weeks and retreat to a remote beach in Mexico, far from suits, conferences, airplanes, and (gasp!) my computer!  Well, I'll tell you what I'm going to do: not much of anything related to suits, conferences, airplanes or computers.


We're going to surf, sleep, eat, play, make music, and listen to the ancient sound of the pounding waves.  We won't be showering much, but we'll be smiling plenty.  Ah, the good life.  [pictured are my cousin, Mike, and my son, Aspen (always training!)]


As for the rest of you, don't worry.  I have a plan to keep your inquisitive and insatiable appetites for more National Teacher celebrity gossip and deeply meaningful pedagogical discussion well fed.  Here's how it works:


Look back to some of the previous posts (there are now 63 of them, easily accessible from the Blog Archive on the sidebar, right) and re-read them.  Then, in an effort to make this more of a discussion (say "Web 2.0") post a comment or two!  I must say that Paul Bunyan and RunningGal have been the teacher’s pets in the comment arena, and a few of you have chimed in from time to time.  But in the spirit of good teaching, I’m going to leave the discussion to all of you.


Perhaps my absence will be a good thing.  Perhaps it will renew my hope that I’m not just spouting off into oblivion.  Perhaps we’ll build a community here.  It’s up to you.


I would propose the following guideline:  check in just as often as you always have, but each time you visit for the next three weeks, instead of reading a new post from yours truly, read an old post or a colleagues comment and leave a new comment.  (Dad, this means that there should be approximately 84 comments from you.)


You don’t have to be a blogger to comment, you don’t have to use your real name if you don’t want to (although Paul Bunyan does,) you don’t have to sign up for anything, and you can even post anonymously.  There is no risk whatsoever!  But the rewards are great.  Think of all the brownie points you will earn.


Feel free to disagree, challenge, question, and wreak havoc while I’m gone (but keep it clean, eh?  This is a family show.)  I want to see some discussion, not just “you’re the best thing since sliced bread, Mike!”  A couple of those are nice for brownie points, but keep it real.


Happy holidays.


  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  2. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  3. Does this mean you are going to post comments on my blog? I am doing gear reviews next.

  4. I did have a discussion point though that I have been thinking about since I watched your NEA speech.

    I am truly curious what you envision a classroom looking like. As a fellow teacher, I do find that there are times when students just have to learn a list of stuff. What did you encounter in Japan? Do they too have to plow through mountains of information and memorize it to regurgitate it later on a test or are they more constructivist in their approach?

    You mentioned learning things like the quadratic equation as potentially missing an opportunity to instead teach a student something that they'd actually use again (kind of a funny example, really, as I remember it being used constantly in Algebra and Trig - like the last step in a major problem was finally running the numbers through that lovely equation but hey, that's just my old school upbringing I guess!)

    So it made me think, I am sure your students learn about the endoplasmic reticulum and golgi bodies, and they don't really need that again in their life but I guess I'd argue that it's still good to plow through that and all the other mountains of knowledge we need to plow through, even if a kid is not wanting to go in that "direction".

    And here's why - it teaches kids how to think.

    I have this new puppy and at dog training classes the lady said to me that it's not true that Old dogs can't learn knew tricks beause they can...IF they've been taught how to LEARN.

    I just remember in graduate school all this fluffy talk about creating curriculum around the direction that each student wants to go in and then, like I did after listening to your Awesome speech, I sat there confused as to what is actually being proposed.

    So, I leave this post to ask you to expand on what you began in that speech so that I might understand a little more about this precarious balance between aquiring knowledge as we trudge through facts and letting students "direct their learning".

    Gracias Senor!

  5. oh, you make your Christmas vacation sound so cool.. i am sure it will be a great time. kinda wish i could be with you. i think i would be welcome.. i can sew, bandage and eat.. love the photo of the "other Mike".. his MOM..

  6. Mike,
    Would be willing to trade my hotel conditioners and body lotion for your hotel shampoo. Also have available mint condition shower caps still in boxes. Make offer.
    Who says there are no perks to travel. Say hello to all of the TOY newbies when you go to Dallas!
    The Florida Road Warrior

  7. I am one of those TOY newbies. I can't wait to meet you, Mike. Love the blog.

  8. Hey Mr. Geisen, its well you'd know by Rebecca Gorman, you had my brother Ryan Gorman in your science class in middle school, and I rememeber coming into your class after school and you would give us green apples. lol. :D. Anyways, Im now known as Rebekah Sulffridge, when my stepfather adopted me I changed the spelling of my first name, and well, now I just recently got married in September, so crazy stuff huh. I just wanted to say congrats on your National Teacher of the year. I was sitting with my parent in laws, and my brother in law was like "Bekah do you know this guy?" And before the TV said a thing I was like "oh my gosh.....thats Mr. Geisen with President George Bush! What the HECK!!!!!" "Thats was my brothers science teacher..hes from Prineville..." So yeah pretty excited thats for sure. Im so happy that you finally got recognized for everything that you've done and accomplished for the students at CCMS. My brother still talks about you to this day, so I mean you ahve such a great affect on people. I only wish that when I have kids they are able to have a teacher as great as you! Have fun traveling as I see you've been doing alot of that! hehe. Well if you'd like you can email me back at would love to keep in contact with someone from back home. And if I ever had a science question....I'd have someone to ask! Well have a great New Year, and I look forward to hearing from you!

    Rebekah Sulffridge. (Rebecca Gorman)
    2007 Graduate CCHS

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Feel free to question, disagree, challenge, or make suggestions! I'm a big boy. I can take it.