Most people are most vulnerable when they are teens. Worrying what other kids think about what they wear, who they eat lunch with, and where they’ll hang out on Friday night.

For some, it can be a great time of life and for others, it can be miserable. For some, it is a time to get lost in learning; knowing that teachers are there to help them when they don’t understand and redirect their actions when something is done incorrectly.

Unfortunately, many students often learn how to just complete a task. They figure out what the teacher wants and without putting much thought or effort into it, race through the work and turn it in.

The best teachers know how to draw students into intentional thinking, intentional problem solving, intentional learning.

I think all people are hesitant to really invest any time or energy into something that they don’t fully understand or love. It takes real effort and intentional action to try something new.

Think about the bravery that is required to do any physical activity, for the first time, in front of other people. You could be jumping on a trampoline, diving into a swimming pool, or learning a new dance. It is unnerving to put yourself out there for the first time. What will other people say when I screw up?Will they think lesser of me because I can’t do this thing right?

Imagine you’re entering a dance class in high school. Chances are most of the kids in this class have some experience with dance, cheer, or tumbling. They are already used to trying something new in front of other people. They know that they have some ability to dance and enjoy it so much that whatever other people are thinking doesn’t matter.

Until they hear that they’re learning a completely different type of dancing, Bollywood. They haven’t ever seen it before, they can’t imagine themselves moving and stepping because they’ve never seen it done. They’re not familiar with the music. The stories that are being told through this type of dance are culturally foreign. They nervously smile and look around to see that nearly everyone else in the room is feeling the same way. 

However, emotionally, dance is universal. The students learn to relate their own life experiences to the dance style.

What does this have to do with you?

Well, if you’re feeling stuck, or alone, or in a place that nobody understands, there is a way out of that feeling. It does take a brave step or two from you. You need to know what you want to do, but more often than not, you need permission. What is really blocking you from doing something new? What is keeping you from progressing? Do you know what needs to be done? Have you been given permission (from yourself or someone else) to begin?

We live in a world where it’s simple to learn something new. There is so much information in front of us on the internet that we can do nearly anything we set our minds to. But, you can over-prepare to the point of information overload. You can become stuck with so much information that you don’t know where to begin.

Trust the dance teacher, or a mentor, or a friend. You need instruction, but you need the signal to begin. Permission. Begin. Start. Make a plan, but take a step. Start doing something. People might be standing around watching you, and you might feel self-conscious that you’ll do something wrong. Don’t let that stop you. They’re not doing anything for themselves. They’re just standing there, watching you.

You have permission. That’s the only real block for a lot of people. You may begin. Even if people are watching. Give them a show. Show them that you want to achieve, learn, do. You can do it. You are capable. You have the ability to learn and progress built inside of you. Don’t let fear or others opinions stand in your way!

Whatever it is that you want to accomplish, it can’t be as terrifying as being in a high school dance class 🙂

You can Own Your Good! Make it happen! You’ll be amazed at your progress and growth!

– Dave

Check out the Own Your Good podcast episode with Amber McCord, my friend, and a high school dance teacher.

I had an awesome conversation the other day with a friend who works for an organization that helps people improve their lives through mentors and micro loans.  Poverty is a world-wide problem that can be solved in a variety of ways, but often is best changed with a personal connection and a little bit of time.

Find a Mentor

A mentor is one of the best tools to change your future. Chances are they have been through something similar to what you would like to accomplish. It is also likely that they have had someone else to give them advice or bounce ideas off of. You need someone that understands where you are coming from and believes in you.

The best way to find a mentor is to talk with people that are a part of a group that are doing or studying what you are interested in. As you have conversations with people you will begin to recognize where others are in their own journey, and that they might have some experience to share with you. They might be a part of a Facebook group, or a group on LinkedIn. Introduce yourself and be patient. Ask questions for others to answer. Be willing to talk about things you know, and answer other peoples’ questions. When you find a person that might be open to mentoring you, simply ask them if they have time to talk about a few things, or answer a few of your questions. Be patient. Don’t follow up immediately. They’re busy doing their own thing and they’ll respond when they can.

It’s important to be willing to take other peoples’ advice. They don’t know you or your situation, so they’re giving you honest and legitimate steps that have worked for them. If you aren’t willing to try something new, that is your problem, not theirs. Be gracious about what they are providing to you for free and because they’re nice.

You may arrange a professional mentoring relationship that guarantees time and advice that you are paying for. This can be a good way to get personalized advice and the relationship benefits both of you.

There are a lot of people in the world that are at different stages in their own process. You will eventually be a potential mentor for others as you gain experience and knowledge. Be open to helping others just as some might have helped you.

You Can Do Anything

Whatever it is that you want to learn, whatever it is that you want to do, you can do it. You have the potential. You have the tools. You have the support you need, it’s just finding it. Be willing to talk about what you’re doing. Be willing to listen to other peoples’ experiences. Take what you’re learning and apply it to your day.

I’ve been absent from this site for a while. Things have been changing and I’m excited to share them with you!

I started Wasatch Reading Club with the intention of helping students who struggle with reading. I value the experience of reading a good book and believe that reading is the best way to learn about everything and everyone around us. However, I realized that students who struggle with reading are likely struggling with school as well.

I needed to broaden my scope. I needed to change my offering. I have been producing YouTube videos and writing blog posts for Wasatch Reading Club, but I also teach high school English and English 1010, 2010, and 2200 for Weber State University through our high school’s Concurrent Enrollment program. Wasatch Academic Coaching is different. It’s more broad in covering all of the different elements of education, not just reading.

Every day I see students not motivated to do the work. There are many reasons why students struggle. It is possible that there are as many ways for students to struggle as there are students. And this is the problem with our Public Education System. How can I as a caring and demanding teacher, help all of my students where they need it most?

It is a daunting task.

Is it possible? Sure, why not?

Is it going to happen? I don’t know.

What would it take for me to help each of my students feel successful in school?

What about actually being successful in school?

Time. Time, and effort.

So, Dave. What is it you do as an Academic Coach? Is it the same teaching?

Kind of. I’ll explain.

  • Academic Coaching is helping an individual make discoveries about themselves.
  • Academic Coaching is about providing an outside commentary about what I see and hear from an individual.
  • Academic Coaching is helping an individual understand what they want, and what steps it might take to get there.

It’s like Athletic Coaching, but Academic.

  • Academic Coaching is not talking about the past, like therapy. It’s not a never ending schedule of appointments forever talking about the future.
  • Progress is made IF you’re ready to act.

Academic Coaching is dependent on trust.

Academic Coaching is for the student who has a hard time with homework completion, procrastination, turning homework in, being organized, and understanding assignment instructions. It’s a big process that can be overwhelming.

I can help break down what is expected, what it takes, and guide students on the ways of getting it done.

That is Academic Coaching.

I have experience not doing well in school. I understand the dichotomy of pleasure and pain as it relates to procrastination, homework, and grades.

I know what it’s like to go back to college as an adult with a family.

I know what it’s like to desire change and improvement and not know how to make it happen.

And, I have made it through.

I am available to work individually with students (and parents) through school and what teachers expect.

If you want to have a chat about your student and what it might look like to work together, drop me a line.

Good luck comes from good work!

Read on!


I really dislike confrontation. By nature, I am a people pleaser and an introvert. I get along really well with students who do their work, are polite, ask questions, and help other students. However, students who have an attitude or visibly don’t want to be in class make me uncomfortable.
And I love it!

Conflict Leads To Solutions

Every year I have taught at least one student who has displayed some form of apathy or disinterest. I know some kids don’t like English. I know everyone likes some subjects in school, while others subjects are awful. You don’t have to love the subject to do well. Effort and attitude are everything!

One year I taught a 7th grade young man who regularly forgot to turn things in. He knew that even if he got bad scores, he would still be moved to the next grade level. I tried to encourage him to turn in work. I tried to create assignments that would get him writing. It didn’t work. He didn’t care.
So I lied. It was a little lie. I told him that if he didn’t pass class he would have to repeat the same class over the summer. Some school districts do this, some don’t. The district I was in didn’t do summer school, but he didn’t know this. It turned him around. He knew that he didn’t want to do work over the summer.

This year has been different because I’ve been teaching Sophomores in high school. They need to pass or they don’t get the credit and have to take the class again or do a credit recovery packet.

Sometimes Let Behavior Simmer

Because I love to read, I want to foster that love in my students. I know not all are going to love reading, but my hope is that maybe they will find the things that they like to read and will accept that as a part of their lives. I permit all forms of books. Paper books, eBooks, audiobooks, nonfiction, graphic novels, everything counts as reading. As a result, students are often on their phones for the first 15 minutes of class. It’s quite funny really, when I get questions about grades or citizenship marks. As if reading a book requires so much swiping and tapping. I can hear what you’re listening to, it’s so loud (and it’s not a book).

One student asked about this terms grade. The assignments were terrible for sophomore level writing. No elaboration, no details, no supporting evidence. The writing was basically skimming answers to say the assignments were done. When the question was asked, “What can I do to fix my grade?”, I responded with, “Do the work. Fix it if it’s not good enough. Edit and revise”.

The Confrontation

It happened just before the winter break. It wasn’t really a confrontation, but the student was obviously frustrated.
My heart was racing. Did I mention I have a hard time with conflict?
And then, it all came out in a rush. “You’re not doing your best. You’re not reading a book when we read. Your writing isn’t a real attempt to address the prompt. I don’t believe you’re writing is going to help you when you take the ACT test next year. You’re not even trying. You play sports, right? If your coach is mean to you and doesn’t seem to like you, but you want to be first string, what do you do?”

I think their response clicked. “I do my best no matter what.”

“YES! No matter how good you think you are, you will succeed if you do your best! Show me your best writing. Find a book you want to read. Try like you care about your future. Especially if you want to play sports in college!”

Whatever my students’ goals, I want them to be successful. Sometimes they need to figure what that looks like for them. There needs to be consequences for inaction. Whatever that looks like in your home, stand strong. Set rules. No matter how much they whine or yell or cry, stick to your rules. You’re helping your child succeed by setting expectations.

Help them find something they like to read. Read with them. Set time aside where all technology is off. You will be teaching persistence, growth, and success.

I hope this helped.

Read on!



Do you have a special situation that could use some specific advice? Let me know in the comments, or send me an email. I’d love to help!





Things seem to become difficult towards the end of the year. There are so many things going on with holidays, weather changes and the amount of daylight available that we lose track of the progress we are making in our goals.

Bed looks more inviting at the end of the day. Practicing reading or writing starts to feel like more work than it’s worth. In the United States, school terms are starting to wind down and students are losing steam with their homework and class projects.

So how do we stay the course? How do we find the energy that we need to keep going?

It’s important to keep the priorities at the top of our things-to-do list. If reading for 15 minutes rejuvenates you, put that at the part of the day where you need a boost. If meditating sets your energy level, get that in at the beginning of the day. If you’re writing a novel or journaling your life, make time for that before you sleep. Make time to keep doing those important things.

Maybe the amount of time-wasting focus we give to Netflix should be sacrificed during this busier time of year. Maybe to feel more productive we need to be more productive.

Make a plan before you go to bed tonight. What are you going to accomplish tomorrow? What are you going to read tomorrow? How much time are you going to give to yourself to read? How much are you going to expect yourself to write before you call it a day?

Make it happen!
Every day is a fresh start!

Read on,


#read #books #write #persist #success