Thursday, December 27, 2007

a fresh start for '08

I have internet once again in the apartment. and it'll stay that way cuz my roommate is moving out @ the end of january and i'll be alone in a one bedroom; which i'm looking forward to in some ways although it's been great to have a built-in friend for the past two years.

Anyway, for next year I want to actually make my blog about teaching and coaching. About the dynamics of having my athletes in my classes. When they make me proud, when they make me cringe, when they make me... confused! And also throw in some actual coaching technique stuff as well as math teaching technique. I'll also be working on the water polo team webpage here:

Right now it's just a mock-up; i wanted to get it approved before i actually made it live. Tomorrow I'm working at a group home i worked at before I became a teacher. Should be fun to see the staff again (and I still know some of the kids because I've been helping out for the past few months doing some triathlon team stuff.) But it's from 7am-11pm! And i'ts 12:15am right now... hmm. i got a girlfriend tonight. well, we've been talking for a couple of months, so it was great hanging out with her tonight. i even treated her to Taco Bell before taking her grocery shopping at WinCo (kinda like FoodsCo/FoodMax if you have those) for her zoo class she teaches. i drive a hard bargain.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! I was in Hawaii for a week then beautiful southern cali, where it was like in the high 60's or at least warm enough i could sit outside in shorts and a t-shirt... but after wearing a speedo for years i don't get cold that easily. i really gotta stop typing now...

Thursday, November 8, 2007


No internet at my apartment due to a roommate's errors in calculation... now that water polo season is over and i actually have some free time, i plan to fix that situation next week. no full time coaching until around February! Hallelujah in a way, although I'll miss the kids. Tomorrow night is a Water Polo team party at a pizza place which should be fun. i got a ball for my assistant coach for the kids to sign and a big picture for them to sign for the scorekeeper. i think it looks nice.

will have to report more later but i'm tired.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

one month!

a month in an not a whole lot to report! Some challenges for some kids to be sure, including some of my athletes. but the support is there! Still only a few problems in classes which is so refreshing! Gave a test on Friday and will need to grade/record those soon... not looking forward to that so much but not bad either.

my new assistant coach for water polo is awesome. we are really making the kids work hard and it's showing. they're having a lot of fun too, and so am i because at least with another adult on deck it's not me at 22 (mostly new) swimmers/water polo players! We have our first two official games this coming week.

The Shaver Lake Triathlon is next weekend, and we're excited. Except it's gonna rain Saturday when we're planning on going camping :-( I don't know how I'm gonna fit everything in this week... but I'll try! Gonna go to the gym tonight and then eat dinner so i won't be hungry when i go grocery shopping.

After this triathlon I'll take a bit of a break then just will be training for a half marathon in november. if it's too much I'll just stop. It might be too much. I need to devote more time to the Algebra 10 class (algebra I rehashed for the kids who failed it.) I want to move to a problem-solving approach.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

first week almost done!

well it was a busy first week! Almost 20 kids are out for water polo (well... about 12 showing up but 8 more that will be getting their physicals soon enough/this weekend). So that's cool. Triathlon practice Saturday (a brick workout at Woodward Park to get back into the swing of things... probably 4 miles running, 10 miles biking and some endurance workouts like lunges over the hills, carrying your partner, and sprints).

the kids are AWESOME so far! Algebra I is a bit rougher but because of their skill level... we spent almost all week on negative numbers and such and they had a rough time with it... but they're optimistic still! So that's cool. 39 kids in first period but they'll fix that soon. average of 32 in the tohers so not that bad. TPA rocks it! highlanders never quit!

mathnerd hope your first week is going well too! I think you're the only person who reads this other than cateacher guy and stuff. did he get a job after all? i'll have to check soon.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sponsorships and a break and Volunteers

The past month has seen only one event happen (a one mile run race where six students participated) but a lot of other things! Xterra wetsuits donated 5 brand new wetsuits to the Tri Team, which will greatly enhance our water capabilities at the Shaver Lake Triathlon in September. We will be begin training for that next week.

Saturday the 18th I took four students (Victor, Angel, Albert, and water polo convert Marvin) to Fresno Pacific University to hunt for more volunteers for the Triathlon Team. It was a bit odd for me to go back and speak before people who were basically my peers... big bad Mr./Coach Dorman now. (the oldest students there were freshmen in college when I was a senior). But it went well, although at first the kids were immature and then when I asked them to say something cool about the triathlon team they uttered one-word responses. But the students loved them and a lot of students wanted to volunteer. So we'll see how that goes!

School starts on Monday! I'm scared but excited to teach algebra I from start to finish as well as get another crack at Geometry this year. I have quite a few students from sports who will be in my classes, which is a challenge but something I'm really looking forward to as well.

oh and on a personal note i have a girlfriend now so may be making frequent trips to UCLA this semester...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Catching up - I'm going on vacation next week!!!

This past weekend the Fresno PAL Triathlon team traveled to Rancho
Seco Park to participate in the Tri for Fun and Tri for Real
Triathlons sponsored by TBF Racing. The Tri for Fun was a sprint
distance tri (.5 mile swim, 16 mile bike, 3 mile run), and the Tri for
Real was an Olympic distance event (.9 mile swim, 24 mile bike, 6.2
mile run). 7 students participated in both events combined, with only
Albert, Carlos and myself completing the Olympic Distance event.
First the results! Edna (triathlon convert from water polo!) and
Elizabeth (founding member) placed FIRST in their division in the Tri
for Fun event! Edna did the swimming and running and Elizabeth did
the running. Angel and Gabriel successfully completed their first
full triathlon in great time. Victor hadn't been practicing with us
for a while, but completed the duathlon race that day in fine shape.
Albert, Carlos and I handed out water to people and had fun doing
Sunday, on the Olympic Distance Event, Albert finished first in our
group (yes, before me...) with a time of 2 hours and 55 minutes! I
finished with a time of about 3 hours 2 minutes. Carlos finished
under three hours but had a spectacular sprint finish.
TBF was amazing – giving us free leftover pasta after Saturday's
event (which we combined with chicken and rolls for dinner that
night!) and being extremely accommodating of our group as always! All
of our donated racing bikes worked flawlessly (no flats!) and the kids
ran in their donated shoes and Fresno PAL shirts. Well, except me who
ran shirtless (See the photo gallery for explanation.)
Finally, the best part of the trip was Saturday night. While I
always try to find ways to positively affirm my student/athletes, I
have usually found that such comments hit home better when given in
private for the population I serve. However, over the campfire, I
went around to each student and spent about a minute praising them in
every way I could think of – glossing over the, "problems," and
frustrations I sometimes feel with them. In turn, I invited the rest
of the students to find something positive to say. I was amazed at
the honesty around that campfire. They all either took it seriously
or kept quiet if they couldn't say something worthwhile. Even some of
the guys got kind of emotional. The end was particularly touching.
As I dismissed them to leave, Gabriel piped up that what they'd been
talking about was to say something nice about me. So all seven kids
said something nice about me. I've realized the impact the Triathlon
was having on them in terms of grade increases, ditching decreases,
and events competed in. Yet perhaps I failed to really think about
how when it comes down to it, any kind of coaching situation is
ultimately between the athlete and the race, and the coach and the
athlete - imparting knowledge and care in a uniquely human endeavor.
Note that this was just after they'd lovingly cut my hair...
Thank you, individual donors and partners. Thank you, friends and
supporters. And of course, thank you Sargent Doyle and Fresno PAL,
whose leadership has made this program more effective and made the
past six months happen. We're taking a two week break (because I'm
going on vacation!), then will start training again in mid/late August
for the Shaver Lake and Merced Triathlons in September and October.
Last week we also received word that we were selected for a sizable
donation by a private party, securing our finances and allowing us to
buy better equipment for the students, transportation costs etc. and
in short further validate the Triathlon Experience these students are
I have never more proud my students (from McLane High School!) this
weekend as they competed (and won!), volunteered, and conducted
themselves. You may view some pictures from the weekend at:
and the official TBF Results/pictures will be up soon at

* These past two weeks I was at a math conference on teaching ELL Students better and it was amazing! I learned all about foldables for vocabulary, better notetaking, projects, and just hanging out with other math teachers! 3 days of it were at the beach too!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

when worlds collide

Things have been really busy lately!

June 22nd: Millerton Trip! We swam, we ran, we ate Wendy's, we had fun! Combination water polo/triathlon practice.
June 23rd - the Valley Teen Ranch/PAL Fun Run!: Talk about my worlds colliding! I worked for Valley Teen Ranch (a group home for teenage felony offenders) from '05-'06, after college and while student teaching. I've stayed involved every so often being able to substitute, and tried to get them involved in the Triathlon Team, but it was too much work logistically. Anyway, so they were running there with a team of 7 kids that I brought too, and it was pretty cool to hear them all call me, "Mr. D______," and my students calling me a mix of Mr. and Coach. And the VTR staff that I knew calling me Brandon. It was really cool, I was happy with my 4 mile time of 29 minutes. (so a bit over a 7 minute mile). Afterward we all also got free wienerschnitzel meal vouchers so pigged out on chili dogs and drank mountain dew.

June 25th: Had a meeting with a local development group that might want to give us $! We'll get word in 2 weeks.

The teaching and coaching part! : Several students in summer school are also now on my triathlon or water polo teams. One, we'll call him "Jose", really turned himself around since joining the triathlon team in February. I have worked on this kid for probably hundreds of hours - either praying for him, doing stuff behind the scenes for him/talking to teachers, and the actual helping him with his sports and schoolwork. I was so proud of him just last wekeend, when he realized he was failing hte summer school class, he called me to check his answers. normally i'd think that was odd, but I thought it was great that he would do that and he even was getting most of the answers correct!

But his behavior in class was not good. Last Tuesday he and a friend were messing around, and Jose's cell phone rang. I took it away. It rang again and I answered it, as I threaten to do andn oftne will answer student cell phones in class. A deep voice said, "this is Angel's mom," and a group of guys not more than six feet away from me started laughing. It was, "Allen," another new triathlon recruit of the past month (I had his brother in class last year though.) Well of course I couldn't stand for that, so sent them both to the summer school principal's office. The idea in SS is that you get one office visit, then gone. Jose was upset when he came back, but stayed after school with some other students just to do their homework in the classroom. I was impressed.

But two days later, he was making inappropriate comments about sexual functions (not the math kind of functions... wow so sad that i even notice that!), so I sent him outside and told him to watch it, that I really would kick him out at this point for inappropriate behavior. Well, about 2 hours later (summer school is a LONG 5 hours) he said something racist in front of the class. So I quietly called the office and informed him he was dropped. The other athlete kids in the class were shocked and told me things like, "oh, he's never gonna talk to you again!" and even though I knew I was being fair, kinda got to worrying too! After all, I really do care about this kid! This was the kid that I'd even grounded(took away cell phone, didn't let him compete in a race) before, after about a half hour consultation with his mom and stuff in April. He gave a speech in his english class about how the triathlon was the best thing he'd ever done. He has told me the triathlon has changed his life perspective much for the better, and has remarked when we see gang bangers/members on the streets, "that would be me without triathlon," - and I got him enrolled in the Mayors Gang Prevention Initiative, which provides family counseling and extra services when he needs them next year. I didn't want to lose that either.

But, sure enough after school he came back and asked if he could still be on the triathlon and water polo teams. I said yes, and started to say something like(note: I did not say or mean 'sorry'), "kicking you out wasn't personal, I did what I had to do," and he responded that I didn't have to explain, that he knew why he got kicked out. That definitely shoes maturity I honestly don't think he had six months ago. Part of it is he's turning 15 in a few months (2 days before my birthday, he is fond of pointing out.) and I noticed when looking at pictures recently has really matured physically recently. He's bigger and getting bulkier (working out will do that to you too!). So this truly was a success story so far still... although I feel more than ever the weight of responsibility and the opportunity for his school life. He recently told me after I mentioned how cool graduation was that he wanted me to hand him the diploma at graduation (some of the other triathlete/water polo kids I've got strong bonds with agreed). I told him that if he keeps working and maturing like he has the past few months, I'll find a way to make it work.

Another needy kid in my summer school class started practicing with us in the past week or two. His "mom" (we'll leave it at that) is very protective and he struggles with anger (gets picked on), immaturity (talks a lot about nothing sometimes... just happy to have people to listen to him I think!) and is smart but doesn't always do homework. I called him every day for 3 days in a row to make sure he does it and now hasn't missed an assignment in two weeks. I give at least 30 minutes to an hour of homework every day, including weekend. So it's starting to work... his mom called me this morning to let me know he's run away for a bit - got mad at her and left. Came back about an hour ago, but now he can't go on the camping trip we've been planning for weeks this coming weekend and he was really looking forward to. Bummer. But I'll do my best to keep him involved in stuff with the appropriate consequences.

Wow, how's that for a post about teaching and coaching?
- we'll be competing in the TBF Racing Tri for Fun and Tri for Real Triathlons next weekend. Should have about 6 kids and two adult leaders going up. Good stuff. our first triathlon since April 31st.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


Went to McLane's graduation tonight. Wow, it was so encouraging! To see quite a few students I know from coaching was great; I can't wait until two years from now when my first group of TPA students will be graduating!

Today was an incredibly good day of getting some real work done, hanging out with the kids, and then graduation. I also got the Triathlon and Water Polo Team Suburban oil changed and tuned up.

What a privilege it is to live and teach in Fresno, at McLane.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

eating healthy

this week i'm going to start eating healthy. and just trying to be healthier. for as much as i work out, i shouldn't be getting more body fat. but i definitely am.

today at the grocery store i got some salad, yogurt, fruit (banana's and strawberries), lean chicken and cheese, and orange juice. oh and low fat granola bars. we'll see how it works this week. should be cheaper than always buying taco bell too!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

less than two weeks left

That's right. 2 weeks from now we'll all be done. crazy stuff. i'm feeling more energetic and optimistic about the students' learning and less like a general charging into battle (even in the 12pm class).

but i'm going to bed early for a nice run tomorrow morning at 6am and then Stairs after school! (i'm still gonna try for that Olympic Distance Triathlon in less than two weeks! I'll have to do a lot of training I guess tomorrow, Friday there's no time, Saturday night, Sunday, then all next week!)

- grading tests is not fun :-) almost all but one class done though!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


the energy it's wearing thin!

Monday, May 21, 2007

taking the city bus

Two cool things today:

1) No sports practice of any kind (Although i will probably go running tonight by myself).
2) I dropped off my car at Midas to get its brakes fixed (been meaning to do that for months...) and then took the city bus home! It took about an hour, but was filled with great conversation and knowing that I did the right thing... great to connect with the city and live as my students live!

- tomorrow is a Jeopardy-style review game, which I'll need to prep tonight, but other than that I don't even need to bring anything tomorrow except markers... so I may just ride my bike! If I leave early enough it won't be that warm! Craziness... I'm all serious now about getting in shape! For sure gonna do the June 10th Olympic Distance Triathlon even though I don't think I'll be fully ready for that yet... just to see how it feels and get back up there.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

the beauty of pre-season

Water Polo pre-season started this week! It was fantastic. 14 kids on Monday (3 new!), more on Wednesday and Friday. Even 10 today (saturday) at 5:30pm! I was impressed. The best part is at least 4 of the newcomers are totally loving the sport. One guy already went and bought jammers and stuff. Pretty cool. It's been so encouraging for me and also to see that most of the triathlon team will be transitioning to water polo...

i'm not sure how I'm gonna manage water polo and triathlon and summer school though. at least a lot of the kids will be "cross-over" kids - doing both water polo and triathlon (and for a few, in my summer school class too!) that's too much Dorman for even me to handle...!). but it'll be fun.

last night and today all day was lifeguard training. not bad; there are quite a few cool people there and it's fun to be the "coach" to several of them (kids who did winter water polo) and yet talk with them normally about water polo and the like. i even let them call me Brandon with a stern warning to call me Coach Dorman when they see me in my regular role. good stuff. but... 8 more hours tomorrow! Then since i didn't do any planning/prepping tonight, i get to do all the recording and stuff tomorrow!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

should be a good week

This week will be the first week since starting the school year that I am not an official student at Fresno Pacific University, or an official coach of a sports team. Wow.

- I'm looking forward to using feedback from the letters into my classroom lessons this week. Tomorrow going to make volume flipbooks and do a few problems with some homework. i'll have to think of a cool project we can do for TPA Day/Symposium in two weeks. The other teachers have been working for weeks on them. Hmm.

- Coaching-wise, should be a fun week. I'm actually looking forward to getting some working out in myself - swimming M and W maybe, and water polo Tuesday night. I need to get back in shape if I'm gonna do that Olympic Distance Tri in June. WATER POLO starts tomorrow after school and I can't wait to see who is there and get started on that!

- The biggest thing I will do to change my practice in the classroom is collect homework and provide feedback on it every day. If nothing else that will help change the tone they say they've noticed in the class. My bad for not being better at handing back work, etc.

Again, I'm optimistic about this week!

Friday, May 11, 2007

more of a somber post

By all accounts, it's been a busy week!

Monday: nothing special, except working for a few hours on my graduation portfolio (so i can be a real teacher, not an intern) until 5, then triathlon practice @ fresno state from 6:30-9
Tuesday: regular school. one of my most optimistic students was apparently taken from her home (with bro's/sis's separated) by CPS last night. she was bawling. ... then me playing water polo not very well from 7-9.
Wednesday: school, then Coaching training from 3:30-7. found out another girl is pregnant (girl number five this year... they're 15 years old.)
Thursday: morning triathlon practice, then exit interview for FPU (Huge deal!) from 10:30-12, lunch with mark, finally got smogged, Junior High Graduation party from 6:30-9, party with the Fresno State triathlon team from 9-midnight!
Friday: Asked my class the following questions:
1) What do you expect from school?
2) Do you trust your teachers? (trust them to teach you, trust them to know you, trust them with stuff other than math/science/history/English).

After yesterday's exit interview (where i talked for an hour!) and today's letter responses... I was extremely humbled.

basically, more than a little kids think I'm too nice and let the other students run all over me. And I tend to agree with them. I've been trying to put up a front for a couple of months now, but I think coaching two teams for 3 months and allowing myself to get caught up in the kids' problems has taken a toll on my teaching and I feel like I just woke up from teaching in January. One girl was really pretty upset with me and it was great (humbling!) to hear her tell me what she thought - "when you tell people to leave or be quiet and they don't, it's just SAD." wow. honesty is good I suppose.

This weekend, of course I'll have no time to grade papers or get ahead on planning. Going to Great America with the JH group from church. regular sports practice next week after school, but I will most definitely take time at nights to DO SCHOOL. I get to form cool bonds with kids as a coach - apparently in the classroom I will HAVE TO BE all business now. I'm at once relieved and... crushed in spirit. Yet optimistic.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Triathlon Practice and the week

This morning was a great triathlon practice. Six of us went to Millerton and did some running (3 miles), biking (12 miles) and swimming!( 1/4 mile). It was a great time augmented by McDonalds afterward! Especially when one of my water polo+triathlon athletes said, "thanks dad!" and the old couple across from us looked at me funny.

Overall it was a great week as well. Good lessons on Thursday and Friday - constructing pyramids, cylinders, etc. with construction paper. only lost 2 rulers. Not very stressful except still for the 12pm class, although Friday was better with them.

Had a great conversation with a kid on Thursday night at jr high group at church.

gotta do one more paper and then i just gotta put together my portfolio for Fresno Pacific and then on Thursday's the meeting and then I can... be done with credentialing!

- swim season ended on Friday. it was great but thank goodness... now i'm only coaching one sport for the next two weeks (triathlon) then comes Water Polo!!!!

- questions i had for myself for this weekend:
1) Am I too involved in my students social lives? Getting called on a Friday night by one of my triathlon students because he/she was upset about breaking up with a fellow triathlete and didn't want to go to practice... a bit too much drama for me. it all worked out, sure, but still...
2) I need to have more personal time. although tonight has been nice... relaxing! Tomorrow will be church and spiderman+lesson planning! This week is gonna be too busy, so I need to make sure to try and make it to water polo Tuesday night... However, being 3 months late on my car registration and "needing" new brakes for teh past month and a half are signs that I haven't been great at my priorities.

Monday, April 30, 2007

a reminder i work at an inner city school

Apparently this morning at around 7:20 a student was stabbed on his way to school. he's doing ok (mostly a superficial wound... he was saved because apparently he's fairly big, so the knife didn't really hit any organs) and the attacker likely wasn't a student. still, crazy.

oh yeah, we started doing 3-d solid stuff today (surface area, volume) which i like and today was fun; we just practiced drawing them because for a lot of kids that throws them off when they have to go find the area and such of them. i thought it was a really good lesson.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

this weekend

I went to go look at my blog and mathnerd posted that i should post. so here i am.

- i'm a first year teacher (would prefer not to say where) coaching water polo, assistant coach for swim team, and hte most exciting thing is that i've been training kids for a triathlon the past few months. it's been an incredible experience.

I had sixteen kids training for it, and 10 went to the Icebreaker Triathlon in Folsom Lake. see and check out the pictures. i'm the guy on the front of the "men's swim" picture set... for better or for worse!

This weekend we got a chance to go to an arena football game with the local Police Activities League. I took 8 kids; it was pretty awesome. They had a great time, were really appreciative, and it was a great team bonding experience.

Thsi morning was a small "kids" triathlon that they competed in the 15-17 division. there were five racers. One of my guys got second in the whole thing, another got third! Not bad! Both of my girls that raced finished, even though they were having some issues.

One of my students accidentally locked the keys in the borrowed Suburban... not cool for a while! But we were able to get in... the benefits of working at an, "at-risk" school is that the kids know how to pick locks and stuff... heh.

Teaching tomorrow I'm going to plan out right now. I went to a Geometer's Sketchpad workshop Friday and Saturday (yeah, it was a super busy weekend!) and didn't learn much but it ignited a passion to use that baby in class! Tomorrow I think I'll just do the standard Monday stuff - hand out the five Passion Problems (five problems that by the end of the week, they'll be able to solved. Helps keep me and them focused and lets them know what they'll be quizzed on on Friday.)

-k got the problems and a general plan for the week. I was hoping to have time tomorrow night to work out, but I think I'll have to spend time finishing grading tests and working on the rest of the week. there as just no time this weekend... i'm exhausted after spending 7 hours working with the kids today and being in the sun...

- i'm thinking about purchasing (for pretty cheap) a suburban to help haul kids around. there was an article in the local paper about my triathlon team a couple of weeks ago and there has been a great response, with people donating shoes, offers of money, etc. right now whenever we go somewhere other than meeting at the school it's a huge operation, sometimes involving two trips and stuff which is annoying. although i'm kinda paring down the Tri Team a bit too from the kids that are committed to those who aren't. for the summer i will probably try to get it bigger again, but for the next triathlon (probably July) i want them doing all three events; not just a relay approach, so will need them dedicated.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Just starting

I think it'd be cool to start a blog. Lately I've actually been reading some of the education-centered blogs, so now I have a place to talk about what's going on with my students and I too...