Friendships come in three levels, let’s talk…

Over the years, I have developed a working theory. Friendships come in three distinctive categories. I will call these categories “tiers,” More specifically, it looks like an upside-down triangle. All three tiers are essential to a certain extent. The first two are crucial to a well-rounded person. These add to or take away a person’s mental, physical, and social well-being.

Tier-three friends are the most common and the most uncomplicated friendships to form. These friends are referred to as “aquatints,” which I believe is incorrect. Acquaintances would be the fourth level if there were four, but in my mind, three is the correct number. Tier three are friends you work with, live close to (like a neighbor), or meet because of a tier two friend. These friends come and go due to life and work changes. If they were to call you, it would pertain to a specific need related to the connections, like work. Tier-three friends could appear to others as tier two, but when life changes, so do these friends.

Tier-two friends are the ones that do not come along too often, but when they do, you know it. Connections are made with little effort. It could be a common goal, sport, lifestyle, belief, or any combination. These friends could be close or far away, but when you can meet up, you make all efforts to accommodate. I have a group I ride bikes with every week. This connection supersedes all social levels. These individuals off the bike are all different, but on the bike, we are all the same. If one of them were to call or text me to meet up for a beer, I would go at the drop of a hat. If they needed me to help them move, build something, or work on their car, I would drop everything and help. Tier-two friends are the best! You can go months without seeing them, but when you do, you pick up exactly where you left off as if nothing had changed. They know everything about you and a few things you wish they did not :-). Tier two friends are the glue that keeps you going when time gets tough. I guarantee these friends have seen you ugly cry more than once. I do not have many tier two friends, but I would hate to lose the ones I have.

Tier one friends are the toughest to find, and most people may never find one. I will call this friend a soul mate. These friends know more about you than you even know. They have been with you from the beginning and have seen you grow into who you are. They have picked you and your tier-two friends up at places when you could not pick yourself up. They are your biggest advocates and critics. They only have one goal, for you to succeed. My tier one friend/soul mate has been with me for 36 years, 27 years as my wife. She has seen me at my worst and supported me at my best. You may not have this friendship level yet, but I believe everyone will at least once in their life.

Amber has been in all three levels of my frendship tier theory, but I am happy she is still my tier one/soul mate.

Your friend in education and parenting,
Douglas Greek EdD

Reflections Can Be Hard

Reflections can be challenging. Looking back at what you have accomplished is more complex than remembering what you should have done better. WHY!!??? This should not be the case! As we look back on this school year, we have accomplished so much, overcame, adapted, and lost. We should be able to say, “This year was …, but I made it the best I could with what I had”. When looking back at what we have accomplished and looking forward to the future goals,, we need to have the ability to recognize and celebrate what we have achieved. Here’s to a school year like no other.

In education, we have lost a lot of teachers to burnout. The stress of the current education profession is unprecedented. Students have changed, teachers have changed, the administration has changed, and policies have changed. COVID not only impacts the body systems but also impacts the environment we live and interact with. Masks have been removed,, and distances closed,, but we have never been so far apart. Eye contact is brutal, all social interaction is tricky, OR we have just forgotten how to do it. Why is this? I believe it is related to reflections. We struggle (I do, for sure) to see what we are doing good and focus more on the added stress of the whole picture.

Reading an article published by Education Week, I believe the stress comes from the gaps during COVID. “It’s heartbreaking. The pressure is overwhelming,” Bouchard said. “I feel like a horrible teacher. I’ve been teaching for 22 years, and this might be the lowest self-esteem I’ve had.” I have heard this from countless teachers who are excellent but can not see past the tree. Each learning opportunity does grow the next. Some students will struggle due to this loss, but growth will happen. Getting back into a schedule with teachers who know their craft will help this loss of learning.

“Preoccupied with a single leaf, you won’t see the tree. Preoccupied with a single tree, you’ll miss the entire forest.” This quote from Takuan Soho identifies an issue with not seeing the big picture. This has changed, in my opinion, drastically. We have to focus on the leaf so the tree can grow, focus on the tree, so it rises to build a more substantial forest, and focus on the forest to develop a better world. Educators focus on the minor aspects to create a stronger student. This is what we do now and have always done. We have to take that aspect as a significant positive and grow from that. Education is not the same, but life is not the same. As humans, we adapt to meet the environment better we are exposed to with the ultimate goal of survival. Each experience allows us the gift of a lesson learned. Teachers showed their ability to adapt. Technology was used in ways that it has never been used before in education. If you question this statement I have a few videos of kindergarten students video meeting with their teacher through Google Meet. This alone would have never happened before the pandemic. Our teachers are resilient, to say the least, amazing would be better.

Reflections are tough. In some considerations, we see all of what we should have done or actions that should have been better. We look back at a situation or interaction with a critical eye. We all have areas that we could improve, but take note of the areas in which you are great. Education is not accessible, just ask any parent who had to deal with COVID teaching. Society forgets how many times they wished the schools to open and their students to return. We were heroes during that time, and we are still heroes now. Take solace in the fact that you work in a job that can be thankless but at the same time worthy of all awards. Awards for patients, caring, support, growth, and shaping our future should be given. You are an EDUCATOR, be proud of what you have done and what you will accomplish in the future.

Your partner in education and parenting,

Doug Greek EdD

Technology in the Classroom

Technology can feel very daunting in an elementary classroom, but it does not have to. Use the link below to learn more.

Technology can feel very daunting in an elementary classroom, but it does not have to. Teachers have been teaching for years before technology, as we know it, even came into the picture. When the first pencil became the “new thing,” we probably had someone who scoffed at the notion of using lead as a writing utensil. The exact definition of technology is something that makes work easier. This is what technology in the classroom can and should be doing. Streamlining the effort of work is the purpose of using technology in our lessons. 

The other part of using technology in the classroom is to teach students the proper usage. Technology can become a distraction and an interruption in the learning process. I have had teachers tell me they are not using technology at all, then complain their students take too long to log in to the device. Practice and being proactive is the key to using technology in your classroom. This is not an automatic practice nor an easy task at first. With practice, the time it takes for students to navigate learning resources will streamline. The more students learn, the more they will know, this is the case in using technology also. 


Another misconception when using technology is that “more is better.” This is not the case. In some instances, one technology used correctly and entirely is more powerful than many tools used halfway. Take Google Docs as an example. Google Docs can meet most needs in the classroom. Docs can be used as a presentation tool, infographic creator, close reading resource, differentiation in the area of speech to text and audio to read, data tracking, book creator, and many more. Have students create their rough draft using speech to text then print it for them to edit. This practice will allow students to speak freely without worrying about typing or spelling. It is not a written law that students have to create with pencil and paper. Allow for the option; this is the key to using technology. 

TPACK is a technology integration framework that identifies three types of knowledge instructors need to combine for successful edtech integration—technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge (a.k.a. TPACK).


Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge (TPACK) have to be balanced in today’s classroom. Plenty of research has proven that the balance of technology and purpose is critical in moving a class from average to above-average academically. This is mostly because the technology allows students and educators access to outside resources. Schools that do not embrace this concept are doing a disservice to our future leaders. Embracing the balance of TPACK should be a common practice among administrators, which will model best practices for their educators and students. To learn more about TPACK, click the link provided here.


Technology is not the goal or destination. Technology is a vessel that we use to travel more efficiently. The real question is, how can technology aid me in the classroom? The first step to answering this question is knowledge. Look at the learning goal, then chose the strategy, LASTLY select the tool. If you don’t know the objective, you will never arrive at that goal. If your goal is to have your students understand “X,” then decide how you help them to understand “X” and choose the tool to reinforce that strategy. If you are at a loss for the strategy, Dr. John Hattie and Dr. Robbert Marzano may be able to help.

Both researchers have completed extensive research on this topic, and you can read more using this link

Last thoughts
If you want to fight and resist technology usage because you are not comfortable, then your students will suffer. As educators, our job is to support and prepare our students as they grow. If we do not allow them to learn proper technology usage, then they will learn on their own. In some cases, this causes misconceptions in their learning journey. You, as an educator, are the best at what you do because you have learned from others. Embracing technology affords your students to learn from you. Students need to be allowed to fail in a safe and caring environment. The teacher provides this environment for students daily. 
In future posts, I will spend some time exploring resources and how to use them in your quest for authentic learning opportunities. 


Douglas Greek EdD, your partner in Educational Technology 

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!!!!!!!!!

This is what I have learned from my heated debates with my teenager.

I allow my kiddos to be online at home and after school as long as it does not hinder family activities. I also have full access to WIFI in my house, which means I can turn it off when I choose. In some cases, I shut off WIFI for my kids; this action causes mini-meltdowns. This is the background to why I had this question and why I researched this topic. I also believe this is something most parents ask and want answers to.

Humans do not like to be told what to do (NO WAY); we often argue with Humans do not like to be told what to do (NO WAY); we often argue with authority when asked or given a directive. There are many reasons that adolescents may become argumentative with their parents. We may want more independence, disagreeing about rules and values. Believing in something so much makes it is hard for us to take others’ perspectives into account. Trouble coping with emotions or immature thought processes regarding consequences of actions. Struggles working through conflicts with peers or adults. All or any of these situations could cause friction in your home. The following questions explore potential reasons teens may argue with their parents is the same for us when discussing our rights as adults.

Why is my child so argumentative?

How does your child’s behavior affect you? When your child becomes argumentative during an interaction, it affects you emotionally by triggering feelings of anxiety and annoyance. We also believe that they should do what we say without argument or question. In our mind, what we say is LAW! In their mind, it is an opportunity for debate. The power lies in the discussion and who can stay calmest.

Three triggers may cause your teen to argue with you:

  • The first is puberty, the second is hormones, and the third one is independence. Puberty brings hormonal changes, which will create mood swings, emotional outbursts, and feelings of vulnerability. 
  • Your teen wants to feel strong by asserting their own opinions rather than just agreeing with yours or others. 
  • They seek more independence during this time, so it becomes hard for parents to understand why they want their space even though you have given them plenty before.

What can I do about my teenagers’ constant arguing?

The most straightforward answer would be to change your perception of your child’s behavior as “arguing” and seek other methods to find a middle ground. This is a challenging concept to grasp.  If we cannot change our own views on what arguing is within our relationship with our teens, then all of this information will be useless.

There are many different reasons why the average teenager might argue with their parents. It could simply be that they feel like they know better than their parents because they are exposed to more things –  through school, sports, or even seeing it at home; I also fail at this daily. Teenagers often want more freedom and independence, which can cause them to rebel against parental figures for not giving them room to grow. They believe there is too much oversight by the “authorities” in their lives. This can create arguments between parent and child during this time where both parties think the other isn’t respecting them enough. Space is critical for me and may also help you. Relationships can both grow and die in this power struggle.

Suggestions for ending arguments with your child:

  • Try not to start an argument when you feel like you are already too upset.
  • When arguing, try to remain calm and level-headed at all costs. Sometimes taking a minute or two before joining the discussion can help control your emotions allowing for better interactions.
  • If you do lose your temper, take some time away from your child/teenager – separate yourself from them for a short while (a few minutes to an hour) as this may be triggering old memories of past arguments.

My point of view as a dad:

The reality is, I write this for my own headspace and wellbeing. I am not perfect and never will be. Even after all of my education and years as a classroom

The reality is, I write this for my own headspace and wellbeing. I am not perfect and never will be. After my years as a classroom educator, I find myself sliding into the “because I told you so”! Mindset. I commented a while back, “you get hard in the yard.” In this case, the “yard” interacts with tiny humans that we hope will become strong-minded adults. We want them to question, be assertive, and be headstrong, all with respect. If this is who we want them to be, who will be their role model? I try not to fail at this, but I do. Arguments become yelling matches. Feelings are hurt even if we do not want them to end like this. As parents, the most powerful thing is not to win; it is to show how we recover when we are wrong. We ALL fail. The key is how do we recover?

Your partner in education and parenting,

Douglas Greek EdD

OH, For The Love!

In our household, we have a newly crowned teenager. Before you applaud my extraordinary accomplishment, let’s talk about this further. Simon has gone from 100% dependent to 80% independent. As a parent, this is both relieving and stressful. I love seeing him become his own person, but I fear all of the mistakes I have made being made by him. As a parent, we want our kids to be safe and wrapped in bubble wrap their whole life. This practice is not a reality, and coming to grips with this reality is super tough. We will explore this topic further with relevant research and real-world accounts.

First, this phase of adolescents is not easy for anyone. The kiddo is going through so many mental and chemical changes that, in most cases, they do not know which way is up. I, as the parent, want to control or orchestrate every step of this process. Simon wants to do the same. This is where the struggle becomes a battle. Healthy Children website states, “Adolescence is the period of transition between childhood and adulthood. It includes some big changes physically, and to the way a young person relates to the world.” This world includes their family. In my opinion, the “I want to be free” aspect is the toughest. I want to be a part of everything he does, but he wants to be left alone.

Contemporary PEDS Journal wrote in July 2021, “Parents can be perplexed and worried about the behavior of their adolescent children. Real risks exacerbate the worries as adolescents venture into real-world demands.” As I look back over the things I did and somehow survived, I worry about this “behavior” aspect the most. I did some stupid things as a kid and rebelled against those who tried to help the most. As I reflect now, I can see some had great intentions. When I was told I would not or could not do something, I did it. I have counselors in high school who thought and voiced my inability to achieve anything more than jail time. I ended up with a Doctorate in Education and Leadership (EdD). I also had loved ones who tried to keep me safe, and I ended up making bad decisions. The key here is how they dealt with me. They did not say, “Told you so,” or boast. They listened and supported me. These individuals are who I hold most dear to this day.

The student who is going through this change is also dealing with a lot. In this time of uncertainty, they struggle with acceptance, balance, stress, and changes in their body. On top of this, they are trying not to make their family mad. The last one may not appear as a priority, but they want to keep the peace. Mental health is a genuine concern for us as parents. CDC writes, “Adolescence is a time for young people to have a healthy start in life. The number of adolescents reporting poor mental health is increasing. Building strong bonds and connecting to youth can protect their mental health. Schools and parents can create these protective relationships with students and help them grow into healthy adulthood.” What does this look like, and what can we do as parents?

First, we are not all experts, and we are ALL still learning. Most experts say to listen to your kiddo from what I have read. As adults, we have mortgages, doctor bills, insurance payments, bills, taxes, and everything else adulting throws at us on the day-to-day grind. These things can make your kiddo’s issue appear less then. It is crucial to understand that their struggles are as big as ours. Who likes them or do not like them, where they fit or do not fit, teachers making them work too hard parents who give too many chores, and so many other things. These items are oversized and cause stress for them. When Simon talks to me, I try to listen, but I also fail to see him eye to eye. This is where I will work to improve my practice.

CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Data Summary & Trends Report: 2009-2019pdf icon

An article written for Parenting and Family by Jill Suttie identifies the risks of being a teen and gives good advice for keeping them safe. She interviews the author of Born to Be Wild, Dr. Shatkin. He writes that parents “Think their primary job is to remind teens over and over that they’re not invincible and to explain to them what terrible things can happen to them if they engage in risk.” He says that teens know they are not invisible; this is where their stress lies. They are full of fear and want to be included and accepted. He goes into how the brain works and how hormones are the attacking forces. I do remember the stress when I would try something, and it would fail. I did not worry about the failure; I worried about others’ thoughts. Was it cool, or was I just an idiot? Would I ever recover from this social detriment? This was the stress I dealt with, but I did not have to battle the social media giants.

Social media has amplified everything we thought we dealt with when we were their age. If I was recorded when I failed, I knew. Cameras were not small. Today, the recordings and uploads are happening ALL of the time! Everything is documented.

As peripécias da infância ficaram registradas graças a essa belezinha
VHS Recorder 1990 (Free to use image)

We as parents need to listen and validate our kid’s concerns and struggles. This is the most powerful tool we have. I strongly believe in counseling for ourselves and our kids. There are professionals available to help either in person or virtually. Seek help and support our most valuable resources, our children.

Your partner in education and parenting,

Douglas Greek EdD

Balance is critical in most situations.

Balance is key. In education, we try to find the fine line between frustration and learning. If you search this topic, you will find, “The zone of proximal development (sometimes abbreviated ZPD), is the difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can do with help. It is a concept developed by Soviet psychologist and social constructivist Lev Vygotsky (1896 – 1934).” If the ZPD is not found, a student can get to the point of frustration very quickly and shut down. In a perfect world, students would come to us with a “tag” that states what their ZPD is and the directions to follow in the quest for academic growth, not the case. So, what can we do to meet each student’s individual needs? Technology can be the answer (in some cases, not all).

Technology allows the time needed to assess each student then prescribe the needed resources to scaffold the student to their ZPD. Most programs that have Artificial Intelligence (AI) integration will adjust the difficulty of the questions based on how the student answers the delivered questions. An adaptive assessment may take 20 minutes to complete, but it can take that much time for each student in a classroom. This technology does NOT take the place of a well-informed and connected educator. Taking the data from the AI and comparing it with anecdotal notes and teacher observation is how we can support students best. I can already hear your thoughts! If the teacher has to do the work, why would they ever use technology to arrive at the same conclusion?! If you have ever evaluated 25+ students over a week, you will have to admit you get tired super quick, and the stories or math evaluations haunt you in your dreams. We are human; computer programs are not. This is why balance is essential. What does this look like in the classroom? In the next section, we will explore two resources of MANY. The two I have included here are, in my opinion, the best place to begin. I hope you find them helpful also. ReadingIQ is a fantastic resource that allows you to choose how the reading levels are reported and allows students to take a placement test. This is a FREE

This is a FREE digital resource in both fiction and nonfiction from Marvel, Pixar, National Geographic, and others that students will love to read. This is a great resource for teachers and meets all of the safety measures that are expected in our classrooms today (COPPA, CIPA, FERPA). Resources available in Reading IQ include all Disney products. 

With audiobooks and graphic novels, students of all ages can benefit from this excellent resource, and it is FREE. I know there are a bunch of other resources like GetEpic, Tumblebooks, and many many more. This resource has built-in differentiation through the assessment and different reading levels. Finding one resource to meet all of your students’ needs can be difficult, but with this one and your small group reading practice, and written material, you will give your students options that are engaging for them and you. In math, I like Prodigy Math, and before you start yelling at the computer that all students do is play games, read me out on this one. If you assign practice to your students based on what you know about your students, this is the program for you. First off, it is 100% free and easily navigatable for most. In the planner area of the program, you can assign activities to individual students or the whole class. When assigning activities, you mitigate the loss of time while using the program. There is no placement test, but in this instance, your knowledge as the teacher is more valuable than a placement test. 

If you are not assigning activities to your students in Prodigy, you SHOULD NOT be using this program. It is a waste of time if you do not spend some time. This is a powerful program, and with great power comes great responsibility (Uncle Ben, Spiderman). 

Final Thoughts

The vital aspect of any technology usage is a balance. Without balance, we will either not use technology at all, which is not an option for our students, or we will lose the personal connection that is also something our students need to be successful. Don’t place a student in front of a program and expect them to learn in the absents of the teacher and a personal connection. Students need to learn in their ZPD, and technology can only help. You, as the teacher/parent, need to use your professional judgment in choosing the right tool, digital and non-digital. 

Your partner in education and parenting,

Douglas Greek 

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