The Gift.


I Have My Own Cup.  Yet, I Don’t Drink Coffee.I believe that everyone has a gift.

Sometimes these gifts are discovered at a young age, while others seem to stumble upon individuals later in life.

In a perfect world the gift you’ve been given has the ability to also make you money… like underwater welding, yodeling, or maybe even the ability to mime.

I have none of these. Mine is far more pathetic (yes, more pathetic than a mime… if that is possible).

But I believe it is a gift none the less.

At a young age, I used to watch people and try to guess what they did for a living.

Sure, it was a sad and lonely childhood, but it is the only one I had.

As I recall the easiest people to recognize were teachers. Why? Because they have a aura.

When teachers are in public, there are certain tell-tale signs that give them away.

Their tired, haggard look is always easy to spot, especially at the end of a semester.

A gleeful, upbeat smile is a dead giveaway as summer vacation approaches.

And there are other signs such as the coach who wears shorts when it is 27 degrees outside or the elementary teacher who has a collection of 8,000 sweaters with various apple designs on them.

Teachers look like teachers. You don’t have to be an expert to recognize this. You just have to be in the same room with them for 13 straight years (if all goes well and there isn’t some sort of “incident” that slows you down).

If you are lucky enough to grow up and work in a school, you may gain another skill/gift that I like to call Teacher Profiling.

This is an ability that can only be mastered after spending the 13 years of a K-12 education and another 4-7 years of college (give or take 1 to 3 years… all of which depends on your commitment level, parental funding, student loans, and total number parties attended).

After my extensive schooling and 15 years of work experience, I believe that I have mastered this second gift (I’m still looking for a gift that pays the bills).

What is Teacher Profiling? Excellent question. I am glad you asked because if you didn’t this blog would have come to an awkward and premature end.

This gift of Teacher Profiling means I can walk into any school and identify what every staff member teaches just by looking at them.

How do I do this? It is quite simple if you know what you are looking for.

PE teachers look like PE teachers.

English teachers look like English teachers.

Business teachers look like Business teachers.

Elementary teachers look like Elementary teachers.

Shop teachers look like Shop teachers.

And Administrators look overpaid (I thought I would say this before someone else did).

How do I know what they look like? It’s easy, they just do. Plus they often sit together (seldom do they go outside their species and intermingle).

I am supremely confident that I can walk into any school in the country and correctly match 80% of the teachers with their subject areas (I would say 100%, but Math and Science teachers get a little fuzzy for me).

What good is this gift of Teacher Profiling?

Honestly, it has no value whatsoever. I wish I had been born with the ability to make balloon animals. Now, that is a cool gift.

Teacher Profiling is in no way useful, beneficial, or good for society.

But, it does help me pass the time at workshops.

If you are one of the lucky few who share this gift… remember, it should only be used for good and not evil.

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Comment on My Blogs, or Not. I Don’t Care, or Do I?


I Wouldn't Block Any Comments.  I Just Couldn't Find a Different Cartoon.The title to this blog is easily one of the top 5 most pathetic that I have ever used. If you don’t believe me read all 173 (counting this one) entries.

Then you can become the official judge of pathetic titles. Although, if you accept this challenge, I will just consider you pathetic. Granted your effort will be appreciated, but I will still look at you with both sadness and disgust.

After all, who has time to read blogs? Or write them? Or leave comments on them?

Even though I have written over 172 blogs, I still have no idea why.

I don’t remember why I started, and I can’t figure out why I don’t stop.

It is like a rash that won’t go away. Or an annoying 7th grader (if you don’t get this reference, you have obviously not spent any time around middle school students).

When I hear people say they have a blog but haven’t posted in 2 months, I always wonder… why do you have a blog?

Isn’t the point to post your thoughts periodically?

Is it possible they haven’t had a semi-coherent thought in over 60 days? Could it be that they are just too busy?

Can they be so busy they don’t have 19 minutes to slop something down?

Granted, I am not as consumed with the quality of my writing as some bloggers. I try not to get bogged down by using correct English, understanding the proper use of an adverb, or even knowing how to correctly use a semi-colon; (in my estimation, still the coolest of all the punctuation marks).

Truthfully, I am not sure I would even recognize quality if it walked up and slapped me.

My goals in having a blog are two-fold. One, amuse myself. Two, kill time.

Oh, I forgot one.

I am here to get comments.

And lots of them.

Hopefully, hundreds. Or at least 3. Okay, I will settle for 1. I am what you call easy.

Evidently, comments are a source of pride to bloggers.

I think. I haven’t actually met a blogger.

I have a picture in my mind of what they are like… pale, hunched over, glasses, slightly angry, definitely a little moody, borderline psychotic, way too much free time and… wait a second… this all sounds a little too familiar…

Anyway, I have nice (bored) people who leave comments or send me emails (stalkers).

Some of the comments comment on how many comments I get (or don’t get).

I get the feeling if there are a lot of comments; more people want to comment and if there are no comments, people don’t want to be the first to leave their thoughts.

I have no idea why people leave comments.

It is also surprising to me which blog entries receive comments. Usually, the blogs that get the most are ones that I don’t care for (that’s a lie, they are like children… I love them all equally… NOT).

I have read articles on how to get more comments. They say you should be argumentative or controversial.

It seems odd just to do this just to get comments.

And kind of sad.

People who have to resort to these types of tactics are really the lowest form of bloggers.

The only thing I can think of that might be worse is someone writing a blog about getting comments just to see if readers will leave more comments (especially on older blogs… or as I like to call them, Classics… and by Classics, I mean they are just old).

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Dress Codes for Educators: A Tough Sell When Wearing a Puma Sweatsuit.


Puma was/is Cool.There is always talk about dress codes when you work in education.

Teachers are often concerned if a student can wear a particular shirt, a hat, baggy pants, etc. Most of these issues can be quickly addressed by a good handbook and fair enforcement by the staff.

I also think about dress codes. Except my thoughts often go towards what educators wear.

This issue first came to my attention when I was getting ready to complete my Master’s Degree in Educational Administration (yes, I have a degree… as far as you know).

My college advisor came to visit me at school.

He took time out of his busy day (????… this is a whole different blog discussion) to sit down with my Superintendent and me to discuss my future.

At the time, I thought it was a good sign that he felt like I had a future. In retrospect, I have come to realize he was just completing his part of the advising process so he could get paid.

As the meeting came to a close, the professor looked at me and said, “The best advice I can give you is to always, and I mean always, dress professionally.”

He felt that if you wanted respect, you had to look like you deserved it.

I thought this was great advice. And throughout the years, I have tried to abide by it.

If teachers or students are in attendance, I always wear at least a shirt and tie (and yes, pants).

Not every administrator does this, but it works for me.

The thing that has stuck with me about my college professor’s advice is that when he said this, he was wearing a white and lime green Puma sweat suit.

For those of you too young to remember, the Puma brand was cool way before Nike.

Back when tennis was the next great sport (we are talking the 70’s here… tennis was soccer before soccer), Puma athletic clothes were considered hip.

And not rapper hip, mainstream hip.

The problem with my college professor wearing this dapper outfit (he thought) was the year; it was in the late 90’s.

He looked like Jimmy Connors in his prime (actually, he didn’t look like Connors in his physical prime… just the outfit).

He wanted me to be appropriately dressed, but his best advice was given wearing a 20 year old sweat suit?

How was this a good idea? Why do people think rules are for everyone else?

I often think about that meeting when I hear or read about school dress codes.

If we want others (students) to present themselves in a certain way, shouldn’t we (teachers and administrators) lead by example?

Haven’t student dress codes become an issue just in the last 30 years? Isn’t that about the same time that teachers and administrators began to think that golf shirts, khakis, shorts, and tennis shoes are okay to wear to school?

And please, don’t get me started on wearing jeans on Friday. How did Fridays become less important than a Tuesday or a Thursday? Isn’t it still 20% of the educational week?

Unless, of course it is a shortened week but that is also another blog.

I could go on and on, but I have to go iron my dress clothes. Maybe I should rethink my thoughts on this topic.

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The Shorter the Work Week, the Longer it Feels.


The Perfect Long Weekend.Like most people, I look forward to any sort of vacation. While the summer one continues to be my favorite (followed closely by any other), I must admit that I do have a special place in my heart for that day off that falls on a Monday.

I don’t care what holiday the government has to move to make this possible (and people say our elected officials are incapable of accomplishing anything).

These 3 day weekends are a gift, and well- received if you work in schools.

As educators, we need to forget about our low pay, mediocre health insurance, and lack of respect from society (not that those of us in education like to complain). Give me that extra 24 hours off.

I start to look forward to the time off a couple weeks in advance of any 3 day weekend.

The anticipation builds until the Thursday before (Friday is spent day-dreaming about Saturday-Monday… and of course my work).

The closer the weekend gets, the more I get excited and start planning what I am going to do for those 72 hours of not working.

Then it happens. I always know these weekends will turn out exactly the same way.

It is inevitable.

They are too short. Way too short.

Somehow I leave work on Friday afternoon, glance at my watch, and realize it is 2:30 p.m. on Monday.

72 hours of free time always goes by faster than a normal 48 hour weekend.

But that isn’t the bad part.

The following 4 day week is easily the worst part.

You would think that a work week that starts on a Tuesday would fly by.

Nope.

It drags.

Badly (if that isn’t a word, it should be)

For some reason, known only to scientists and possibly aliens, a 4 day work week (when you normally work 5 days) seems at least 894% longer (and if you don’t believe me, Google it).

Why is that?

Why does the God of Work punish me so? He teases me each time we have a 3 day weekend and I always fall for it.

Everything (which means nothing) I know about time tells me 4 days is shorter than 5.

Once again, I have actually sat down and done the math.

Yet, a shorter work week is actually longer.

It almost makes me want to get out of education and take a job in the real world (a world that I have only heard about… a world with no prep periods and I have been told that some people even work year round… just the thought makes me queasy).

The key here is almost.

I will stay in education and continue to look forward to those precious 3 day weekends.

Even if the following 4 day week will punish me by feeling longer. Much longer.

Just to test my theory, I would like to propose a 4 day weekend, just to see how a 3 day work week feels.

I am willing to make this sacrifice for the good of everyone who has to suffer through a short work week.

You can never accuse me of not being a team player.

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Proof That Readers are Much Funnier Than I Am.


After I post a blog, I receive comments and emails from readers around the world (turns out poor taste knows no boundaries).

Surprisingly, most comments are well thought out and the authors have something to add to a blog.

But, I especially enjoy the ones from people who are borderline lightweight crazy. Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t from full-fledged standing outside my bedroom window, wearing snow boots and a top hat, smoking a candy cigarette through the mouth hole of a hockey mask crazy.

Although, it would be nice if these people also took an interest in reading more.

The one thing that most responses have in common is they are generally funnier than my original post.Not This is Funny.

This one is a great example of that.

It was written in response to my blog, “FORGET THE GAME, WATCH THE PARENTS“.

The author is Angie Bicknell from Forth Worth, Texas. She is working on her doctorate, which also proves that there is no direct correlation between the amount of education you have to your good taste in blogs.

But, we won’t hold that against her, or the fact that she was a cheerleading sponsor (I actually respect her for surviving that… 10 years… you are a glutton for punishment… and by respect I mean of course… pity).

I also feel a certain kinship to her because she uses my patented “looking busy” move (more on that in her response). This particular move has gotten me through a thousand awkward moments in public when I don’t want to stop and talk to students, alumni, or anyone else I am avoiding (the list is too long to get into here).

In my estimation, she is not only funny but a good mom. Also, I think this story should be printed on the back of every program at any event where parents gather to cheer, boo, scream, yell instruction from the stands, complain about coaches or referees, and form a tunnel so their children feel important.

Enjoy.

My son just started soccer (5 years old-played 3 games).

The first game he got hit somehow. I didn’t see it, just noticed him holding his face. We made eye contact (big mistake) and then – in the middle of the game-came running off the field crying.

I tried to push him back him (at this point my husband called me “cold-hearted.”) and told him he couldn’t just leave the field when he wanted.

The good news is that he hasn’t done it the past two games, so I think he got the message.

My husband and I are definitely in the first category. We hate the tunnel hand thing.

We refuse to do it. I pack up the chairs (look busy) to avoid eye contact with the weirdo’s who will yell at me to get out on the field and make a tunnel! Not doing it.

I love my child and everything, but isn’t actually signing him up, paying the fee, buying shorts and socks and cleats and taking him to practice and games every week enough?

I’m even willing to provide “snacks” (i.e.: sugar) whenever I’m told to.

I will not tunnel or paint my car or buy a fake soccer ball that looks like it busted through your windshield thing.

My son needs to understand that, while I love him tremendously and it’s all about him for one hour on Saturdays, the rest of the world does not revolve around him.

And-even more important- the outcome of the game will not be rehashed at home for 3 hours so he can “improve his skills.”

The author is quite possibly the smartest parent I have never met (hard to tell for sure, since I haven’t not not met everyone). You can read more thoughts by visiting her blog, Human Voices Wake Us.

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School Days, Vacation Days, and Sick Days.


Sad but True.I had planned to take a vacation day this week. Partly because I need a vacation. But mostly, because I have days that must be used or I am going to lose them.

I wish my contract had built-in days that had to be taken for vacation. No exceptions. No unexpected meetings. No crisis to interrupt them.

If this were the case, it would give me something to look forward to and force me to take some time off.

Kind of like Thanksgiving… of course without the turkey or the pilgrims. Although, I wouldn’t mind eating turkey on my mandatory day off. And if it would help, I could take a couple of pilgrims golfing. After all, how good could they be? I am thinking the big hats would get in the way of their swing.

But, I am getting off the subject at hand.

My master plan was coming together… the vacation day was scheduled, perfect weather forecasted, and a list of outdoor chores a mile long.

It was going to be a great day full of sunshine, quiet, and accomplishments. And by accomplishments, I mean mowing and weed eating (or as I like to call it… my dream retirement).

What could possibly go wrong?

Once again, the unexpected reared its ugly head.

The flu. So technically, its ugly head wasn’t reared… but bent over the toilet.

The night before my vacation day was to take place, my daughter was overtaken by disease.

She had a fever, chills, headaches and all of the gross sickness things that involve numerous trips to the bathroom… if she was lucky enough to make it (feel bad for her if you like, but I was left to deal with the overspray).

Since I already had a day off planned, it made sense for me to stay home with her and let mom go to work.

It wasn’t the perfect day I had planned, but when you are a parent this is the price you pay if you want at least a 50/50 chance that your only child will take care of you when old age kicks in (I am trying to stay on her good side because I really don’t want to live in a nursing home… they are hot and smell like old people).

You would think sick days are the complete opposite of school days, but I found that they have a lot of similarities.

At various times both have headaches, crying, trips to the restroom (at school running boys out of them and during a sick day trying to get my daughter into one), long hours, moms calling to check in, and quiet times followed by total mayhem.

So on my vacation day which didn’t turn out to be much of a vacation, I learned staying at home is just like school.

Except for one thing.

When my daughter got sick, I instinctively called out for a janitor.

I waited patiently, then called out again.

No janitor.

No Nurse.

No one.

Just me. And my very sad daughter. And what looked like dinner from 2 nights ago.

So, I cleaned up the hallway myself.

I hate sick days. Sometimes it is easier just to be at school.

Maybe next time, the janitor could stay home with her.

I know… I know… she is definitely going to put me in a nursing home.

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Parent Your Kids Early Because You’re About to Get Demoted.


Cigarettes Will Be the Least of My Troubles.As I continue my career as a school administrator (unless you’ve heard something, and if so please send me an email ASAP… it could be awkward if I show up at work tomorrow), I have learned that parents have a limited amount of time to raise their children.

If I wasn’t employed in education, I would have missed out on this lesson in life.

When I was younger (much, much younger), I thought the parenting cycle was from birth to the age of 18. I believed parents were in charge of their kids until they left for college and moved out of the house.

After working with students and parents for the past several years, I have gained a much broader perspective.

I have discovered parents have only 14 short years (give or take a few months) to instill their values and beliefs into their kids.

After a child celebrates their 14th birthday, parents are no longer calling the shots but are merely acting as consultants.

At this point, teenagers start to take their advice and guidance from anyone and everyone not named mom or dad.

This is tough for some parents to believe, but I think it is true.

If parents have a good relationship with their child during their younger years, they have a much better chance of becoming a full-time, well-thought of consultant (doesn’t pay well, but beats the alternative).

If they have not had a quality relationship, they may end up getting fired as consultant (this is the alternative and it pays much worse… in fact it can cost you money).
14 years. It isn’t a very long time. And as I head into year 7 of my parenting cycle, I am quickly realizing how quickly this time passes.

In a few short years you have to give your kids structure, discipline, manners, kindness, worth ethic, common sense, and an appreciation for education.

It is a big job, but it can be done.

And it has to be done. Because while you can continue to offer advice and guide them for the rest of their lives, their basic values have already been set.

I believe that parents who think they can jump in and fix their kids when they are 15 or 16 or 18 are in for a rude awakening.

At that point a team of the consultants may not be able to change them (or lawyers…).

Then a parent’s best hope is that the child changes themselves. And that doesn’t always turn out very well.

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Forget the Game, Watch the Parents.


This morning I noticed something while watching my daughter’s soccer game.

It occurred to me that the parents are far more interesting to watch than the game itself. Of course, I had time to let my mind wander because my kid was busy catching her breath after running semi-hard for nearly 14 straight seconds.

She was alternating between grasping her chest and wiping her forehead. This sounds like I am picking on her, but this was during warm-ups.

For a moment, I thought she might get sick but then I realized that would take effort (in her defense before the game she did walk to the car by herself… while carrying her Nintendo DS… that is what we call progress).

She needed a break and the coach needed a player who didn’t think they were going to pass out.

While she got a much needed (in her mind) rest on the sidelines, I started to notice the parents around me.>Soccer.  I Just Don’t Get It.

And by around me, I mean the ones within 25 yards of my general area.

You see, as a highly trained school administrator, I know that the keys to enjoying an athletic event are: don’t stand or sit with the parents, don’t make eye-contact, and most definitely don’t engage anyone in small talk.

My wife thinks I am a loner. I have no idea where she comes up with these crazy ideas, but I wish she would get away from me (it’s a joke).

The thing that struck me about the parents was that you could break them into 3 distinct groups.

The first group would be parents like my wife and I. I am going to refer to them as the Observers.

They are at the game to support all the kids on the team.

They are thrilled that their child is participating and not growing even lazier by watching the Saturday SpongeBob SquarePants marathon.

They are not screamers. You won’t catch them threatening the referee or coach. In fact, they are probably ecstatic that another parent volunteered to coach so they can take a season off (that would be me).

These parents cheer for the kids and the good plays from both teams. In their eyes, athletics is a way to get exercise, learn discipline, and be part of a team.

Good hearted, hardworking, tax-paying people like myself (at least that is what I like to believe… they may be just stopping by the game before they go pick up water and beef jerky for their compound).

The second type of parent are the ones I like to call the Obnoxiously Loud Ones.

They are much more into the game than the Observers. They cheer/scream for the good plays and complain/scream to anyone within listening distance about the bad ones.

From time to time, they will yell directions to their kid (and by time to time, I mean every 3 seconds). They feel the need to share knowledge that they picked up from their time sitting on the bench when they played sports in junior high.

They don’t coach the team because that would cut into their time second guessing the person who is.

Usually, these are very nice people. They are very supportive of their children.

They want to win and if their team doesn’t, it is obviously the referees fault.

Nice people, but just like the animals at the zoo they are best observed from a distance.

The last group are the ones that worry me.

They are the Insane Ones Who Have No Concept of Reality.

If you make the mistake of striking up a conversation with them, you are in for 45 minutes of listening to “when they played” conversation.

They have very interesting stories about high school. Too bad, all of these things happened 29 years ago. Which isn’t bad, except nothing else exciting has happened to them since?

Ugh.

These are people who not only cheer for their kids and yell at the ref, but they live for the next game.

They have all of the qualities of the Obnoxiously Loud ones mixed in with a just a dash of Crazy (and by dash, I mean boatload).

They are excited. At the game. Before the game. Driving to the game (with painted windows on their vehicle). And at work 6 days in advance of the game.

They think about the game. A lot. In fact, all the time.

The love it. Sometimes a little too much.

They are positive their child will receive a full-ride athletic scholarship. Or win a gold medal in the Olympics. Or at the very least, start every game in high school, win numerous MVP awards, be
named Homecoming King or Queen, and get their picture in the newspaper at least 5 times a week.

They were legends (in their own minds) and the child will carry on this tradition. Just ask them (but, really don’t).

When you break it down, all parents fit into 1 of the 3 groups.

If you don’t believe me watch the parents at the next game you attend.

Just don’t make the mistake of engaging them in conversation. Unless, of course you want to hear about the game winning shot they made in the semi-finals of the JV basketball tournament in which they dominated in 1981.

I heard it was amazing.

Actually, I overheard it. Remember, I don’t get that close.

Especially after this blog.

LATE ADDITION: It has been pointed out to me that I have forgotten a 4th group of parents. The VideoTapers. They are the ones who miss out on watching every event that their child participates in because they are too busy trying to tape it for later viewing. Which brings up the question… who really wants to “rewatch” a 7 year old’s soccer or t-ball game?

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Disclaimer

While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.