Friday, December 28, 2012

First Ski

Bailey and I took our first ski of the season. I used a new GoPro camera to capture some video and edited it at home. To watch this video in larger format, go to my Facebook site.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Writing and learning through President's Obama's eyes

Trevor Parent, one of my former athletes and now a college coach, sent me a message today. "Do you read Time? I was reading an article about President Obama, and he spoke about the importance of writing in his life. I thought you would find that quite profound."And I did.  

The President said in this interview with Time Magazine what many of us believe about the place of writing in our learning, the way we can use writing to discover what we think. His words parallel a line I wrote in a recent article, an adaptation of several different authors' quotations (e.g., Grace Paley): "We write to discover what we don't know about what we know." 

Click on this paragraph to expand.

Bailey & the Green Sea Turtle

Our neighbors The Sullivan's gifted Bailey a green Sea Turtle. So far, the squeaker has died but the turtle has survived. Usually, the boy has stuffed toys disemboweled within a few hours.  This time, I kept an eye on him as he pranced around the house with the turtle in his mouth. Every time he'd settle in on the floor and start tearing at stuffed toy, I'd say, "Gentle." It may have been the tone of my voice, but Bailey took it easy on the little green toy.  On to Day #3!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Seasons Greetings from Slovakia

Royal Wendy the Golden and playful Whiskey the kitty send holiday greetings from Slovakia. Warmest wishes to the Cicala Family from Bailey and me!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Snow time!

I've heard that milking cows prance and dance in the pasture when they first come out of the barn after a long winter. That's Bailey when he hits the snow in the backyard. He sprints and leaps and looks as if he has been set free. Here's to winter!

Can I stay outside and play?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Happy Christmas! Bailey, Zack, and Mazy.

Our friend Bailey Means adores... revels in... Christmas! Several years back as a graduate student in teaching, Bailey came to our university class ringing bells and singing songs as she proclaimed, "I just love Christmas!"Since then, she's delivered home-crafted cards with personal notes and Christmas gifts. Most recently, as The Human Companion to Mazy the Golden Retriever, Bailey has sent clothing for Bailey Tuckerman. This year, a tie for holiday parties!

All dressed up and waiting for an invitation!
A few weeks back I happened to run across Bailey on campus. The first question, of course: "How's Mazy?"

"I never knew how much love I had to give," said Bailey, "until I got this dog."

 Our dog friends are nodding.

Happy Christmas
Bailey, Zack, and Mazy. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Clancy, Paddington, and Sharon... OhMy

Two days with Clancy (German Shepard), Paddington (Golden), and Sharon (Homo sapien) tuckers out Bailey Tuckerman.

November sunset

Every so often in a dull, absent November day, we have a piece of the spectacular.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Thanksgiving Hike & Run

Click on photo to enlarge. 

After our hike and run on Center Hill in Weld, Maine... 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Thankful Writer and Teacher...

A Thankful Writer and Teacher…

I am thankful for the six unpublished books that I have written: Summer Blue, A Field Beyond, Tracy’s Story, Goal Lines, The Guys, and Beyond the Rules.

I am thankful for the 6000+- hours I spent writing those books and the 69 rejections I received from publishing houses.

For the New England-based poetry editor who wrote to reject my poems about Weld, saying, “this is shit written by a dilettante…no substitute for the authentic stuff”… I am thankful.

I am thankful for my 1992 rejection to the UNH doctoral program.

I am thankful for the 60 rejections that I received for my published books and the 100’s I’ve received for articles and poems.

I am thankful for the following line from a book review…. “And finally, Richard Kent. Ah, Richard Kent who makes us all feel like we're not doing nearly enough. After reading his chapter, I felt a bit deflated. But I quickly moved on to others who seem a bit more realistic (but, yes, he does have great ideas).”

I am thankful for getting turned down for a job at Albion College in 1979 and at least a half dozen more places during my lifetime. 

I am thankful for the words of some of my portfolio-stressed high school students, including the following:

“Dear Mr. Kent, I hope you fucking die in a car crash on the way home.” [BTW, I made it home and called the student.]

“You are a horrible, untollerable, impatient, anal-retentive, conniving weasel.”

“Mr. Kent… as a teacher I don’t particularly care for you. I think your class sucks. There is a ridiculously huge amount of work in your class. Most of the stuff we read in your class is junk… I’m learning nothing in this class that will help me in any way in my life. I already know how to read and write and unless St. Exupery is going to do my taxes for me I’m not going to learn how to do anything in class that will actually help me in reality.”

Today, as I ran the mountain trails above Webb Lake, I thought of the no’s that I have endured and learned from. Not surprisingly, these disappointments have created both incentive and balance within my life….

Here’s to our failures and all those no’s… Happy Thanksgiving.   

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Don't worry about knowing what you mean..."

This funk that I've been in while writing this article isn't a funk at all. I'm not sure why I don't remember this feeling and this process when I begin a project. Why am I surprised by this? I suppose, really, I am not. I think my ego gets in the way as I think I should be better (i.e., more immediate, faster) than I am.

Peter Elbow brought about the term "freewriting" that resulted in his book Writing Without Teachers. In the book he writes,

"[D]on't worry about knowing what you mean or what you intend ahead of time; you don't need a plan or outline, let things wander and digress. Though this approach makes for initial panic [No shit, Peter], my overall experience with it is increased control" (1973, 32-33).

The poet William Stafford explored this issue, too. He wrote,

"I must be willing to fail. If I am to keep writing, I cannot bother to insist on high standards. I must get into action and not let anything stop me, or even slow me much... I am following the process that leads so wildly and originally into new territory that no judgment can be made about values, significance, and so on. I am making something new, something that has not been judged before. Later others--and maybe myself--will make judgments. Now I am headlong to discover. Any distraction will harm creating" (A Way of Writing, by William Stafford 1989, 18).

I am on page 9.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Slogging through "Sam's Journals" (or, somebody shoot me)

"Careening down Sugarloaf's famed Narrow Gauge Trail, downhill ski racer Sam Morse drops 2430 vertical feet in a little over a minute. The 16-year-old reaches speeds in excess of 60 mph on the mile-and-a-half-long World Cup downhill course. Sam’s parents, coaches, and teammates support his pursuit of podium gold... so does his writing." 

I'm still wading my way through this article. Yet again for the 1000th time, I've discovered that writing is hard. Duh x 1000.

On the plane ride out to Las Vegas last week, after pounding away on the article for 15+- hours, I stopped mid-sentence and decided--because I didn't have a %$#@ clue what I was doing--I had to think in a more linear way. So, I constructed an outline. I can't believe I created a quasi-traditional outline... Usually, I have a list of topics and go from there. But this outline (and as you'll see below, it's a list with Roman numerals, Duh x 1001) seems to have gotten me off the dime.

It's not that I didn't know what I was doing in the article. It's just that I hadn't discovered what the data (i.e., interviews and writing) was saying. Sometimes, we have to live our writing to the point of utter bewilderment before a tiny speck of light begins to twinkle on the computer screen's page. Duh x 1002.

I Introduction
1       Pix of Sam racing
2     Glimpse of CVA (Bode, others … check with Chip/website)

II Sam through his teacher’s and coach’s lens

1.     Mary Poulin
2.     Chip Cochran

III Athletes’ Journals

1.     Definitions
2.     Glimpse at Serena Williams’ journal
3.     Carlos Delgado’s AJ
4.     David Chamberlain
5.     Primary focus of AJ is sport (While the primary focus of an Athlete’s Journal is sport, other areas of the athlete’s life find their way into the journal. P 6/CB article) *

IV Writing to Learn

1.     Zinsser
2.     Murray
3.     What SM said
4.     What Charlie B. said
5.     What the BMA athletes as a collective said
6.     How do athletes learn? (Chart)

V Modes of Writing

1.     Expressive
2.     Transactional
3.     Poetic
4.     Examples from journals

VI The Psychological

1.     Benefits of AJs
2.     WOB connections

VII Sam’s First Journals

1.     Story of ski trips
2.     Story of agreement between Kingfield ES and Morse family
3.     Examples and explanations

VIII Sam’s Recent AJs

1.     Examples
2.     Evidence of expressive writing
3.     Evidence of writing to learn
4.     What these examples reveal (questions for Sam)

IX What we learn from Sam’s writing

1.     What makes an effective coach for you?

X Summary

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Quick Write for IAA Magazine

One key to pitching ideas and books is to continually reach out to potential readership. A week ago I presented at the fall conference of the Maine Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. From that experience I was asked to write a short article for the national AD magazine. Here's a draft for IAA Magazine's “AD’s Clipboard”: 

"Learning with Athletic Team Notebooks & Journals"
by Richard Kent, Ph.D.

 “Writing organizes and clarifies our thoughts. Writing is how we think our way into a subject and make it our own. Writing enables us to find out what we know—and what we don’t know—about whatever we’re trying to learn.”                                 
––William Zinsser, Writing to Learn

Whether on the playing fields or in the classroom, writing is a powerful way to learn. Athletic Team Notebooks and Journals can enhance communication and amplify learning by providing athletes with space to analyze, reflect, and note-take. The idea of using writing as a way to learn in athletics is not new. From Olympians to middle schoolers, athletes use writing to guide training, motivate, and analyze performance.

What’s a Team Notebook?
Writing in Team Notebooks helps guide athletes to think more deeply about their performances and the team’s. The basic Team Notebook has five sections that include prompts to help players analyze their practice sessions and competitions:
Preseason Thoughts… the prompts on this page help athletes think about the previous season and the upcoming season.
Competition Analysis I… the prompts on this page help athletes reflect on a competition.
Competition Analysis II… the prompts on this page assist athletes in analyzing a competition that they watch.
Postseason Thoughts… the prompts on this page guide athletes in thinking about the past season while making plans for the future.
Notes & Journals… these pages provide athletes with a place to keep notes and sketch plays. This section may also include a variety of journal prompts to assist athletes in thinking more broadly about their sport and their lives beyond athletics.

What’s an Athlete’s Journal?
An Athlete’s Journal provides a place to set goals, grapple with issues, keep track of training ideas, and record results. These journals may stand-alone or be a part of a Team Notebook. Research suggests that writing benefits athletes by reducing stress and anxiety, increasing self-awareness, sharpening mental skills, and strengthening coping abilities. Writing in journals or notebooks helps athletes look back and think forward. Here are several model journal prompts for athletes:
––Who brings out the best in you as an athlete and why? You might first think of a coach, manager, or trainer, but also think about family members, fans, teammates, or even an opponent.
–– Tell the story of your proudest moment as an athlete that is not about winning a competition.
–– Write about this quotation from basketball legend Michael Jordan:
“I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
–– When you were young, whom did you admire as an athlete and why?
–– Write a letter to one of your former coaches. You may wish to include some of the following: what you’re doing now as an athlete; this coach’s contributions to your athletic and personal life; the issues you currently face as an athlete; a fun memory; and a photo. Send this letter.
–– Why can this statement be true: “Some days, playing poorly is the most important result that could happen.” Give examples from your own experiences as an athlete.
–– After a competition, write a note to an opponent. Highlight the athlete’s strengths or weaknesses, and feel free to offer some advice. (Not to be sent.)
––How do you cope with anxiety or nervousness before a competition?
––Describe your most humiliating day as an athlete.

For more information and models of Athletic Team Notebooks and Journals, visit the resource Website
Richard Kent, PhD, is professor at the University of Maine and director of the Maine Writing Project. He has authored ten books, including The Athlete’s Workbook: A Season of Sport & Reflection and the Soccer Team Notebook (with Amy Edwards, Gonzaga University). He may be reached at his resource Website: