108 years.

2016 was a glorious year. I had cancer ripped from my body, a stroke did minimal damage to my brain, and the Cubs won the World Series!

This last Christmas, I received the book, The Cub Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse, by Tom Verducci. I’ve been plugging through it for a while now, 15 minutes a night (just like my teacher told me to read!), but a few nights ago, it was hit by something.


I’d gotten to a chapter called, The Zen of Joe, where the current manager of the Cubs, Joe Maddon, had just been hired. His first task, meet up with Javy Baez, a rookie at the time playing in Puerto Rico. Javy had been called up and made an impact on the Cubs organization (I loved the description of batting practice), but had issues with strike outs and emotional outbursts. As Maddon watched his budding super star, he could tell that Baez was trying to impress him, going 0 for 9 with six strikeouts. Madden pulled him aside and simply told him:

” ‘Hit a couple of singles,’ Maddon told Baez, ‘and above all, I want to see you smile.’ “

Baez had 3 hits in his next 8 at bats, and Maddon was on his way with his player, laying the foundation on a connection with him. This is the way the entire book reads, as one big connection to players, to his own bosses, to the fans, the connection that have to be made. As I read, I got more and more excited because his style is completely my style as well.

Next, we learned a little bit about Joe’s father and how he would “respond not with a complaint, but patience and positivity. Joey saw it. He believed his father never had a bad day in his life.” I’m pretty sure my kids cannot say the same about me!! 🙂


Then, the sayings: Attitude Is A Decision.  Every Day Counts.  9=8 (9 players, playing hard for nine innings equals one of the 8 teams in the playoffs.) All Aboard Maddon’s Bus. There’s a Different Bus Driver Every Day.  Get Loud. Write it down, see it, and believe it, have it engrained into your soul. Then, it started into the “13 core principles of managing, according to Joe Maddon. After reading that, I was up half the night. Pretty sure I got two hours of sleep, because it just made me feel that so much of what I’ve been doing for so long matters. His first principle:

  1. Make a personal connection first; everything else follows.


I’ve been fairly angry/disappointed/irritated at being constantly called “the relationship guy”. I was approached by my principal to move from 8th grade because of my ability to form/create relationships with students. I wasn’t asked, I was told this was going to happen (all though it was done in the most positive way possible). I’ve really not felt good about this move because I’m doing a bit of floundering and my 8th grade team was second to none.

However, I’m a quarter in, and I’m enjoying my sixth grade team, their humor and wit about our profession is refreshing. The fact I’m in a group chat is hilarious (even though I do know what a group chat is, unlike some of my co-workers!). My sixth graders are like sixth graders, and I love them to pieces. And I’m getting used to being “the relationship guy”. I’m not sure it’s who I am, or what I want to be, but it fits how I work in the classroom. And I guess that’s ok.

And, after seeing a major league manager, one of the architects of the Cubs 2016 World Series is a relationship guy, I’m ok going forward being that guy too. 🙂