This Internet Thing May Just Catch On.


Internet.

Internet.

I’ve had it. I’m moving.

This may come as a shock to my wife, but things are changing. I thought the least I could do is tell her, before she heard it from a stranger on the street… or on Twitter.

But don’t feel sorry for her; she’s tough. She’ll bounce back.

Yes, it’s time to cut ties… and move the blog.

What? You thought I was leaving my wife. Seriously? Where would I go?

I think we all know that I’m not capable of taking care of myself.

So I’m definitely not moving out of the house. She might divorce me and remarry, but I’m not leaving.

Maybe her lawyers can force me to live in the basement, but that’s where I draw the line.

If all goes well, maybe she will marry someone who plays golf. It would be nice to have a fourth for the Saturday tee time.

Plus, if the 3 of us are going to eat dinner together every night, it wouldn’t hurt to have the same hobbies. At least that will give us something to talk about.

But once again you’ve got me distracted.

I am considering moving the blog to WordPress.

It has outgrown its present home. It needs things that I can’t give it. I felt like the blog was my baby, then one day I looked up and it’s become a teenager.

Of course, it doesn’t slam doors, hog the bathroom, or ask for money (so I have that going for me…).

It does need other things.

More plugins, a better header, a place to recommend books and resources, possibly a picture of me and an explanation of my job, and definitely the ability to post pictures in individual blogs (yes, I know they are called posts… stop emailing me… I like to call them blogs).

I feel like if it isn’t getting better, it will get worse (I smell the first of a long line of PrincipalsPage.com bumper stickers and t-shirts).

While my wife has done a wonderful job setting the Blog up until now, I think I now need professional help.

Plus, she says she doesn’t have time and I should stop bugging her. Fair enough. Never let it be said that I don’t catch on after being told something like 147 times.

The whole design a blog thing is more complicated than you might think. And it turns out people don’t like to work for free.

Who knew?

I am in the process of assembling a team from all over the world. Only the best highly trained professionals are good enough to work on my blog.

Of course, as long as they are cheap.

A cartoonist from Minnesota has been hired to draw the header. I met him through a lady in Chicago whom I have never met (isn’t the internet cool?).

Soon, I will be hiring someone to do the nuts and bolts of the blog transfer. I am down to either a guy from India or a lady from Canada. Maybe someone from Tennessee. I can’t decide.

This wouldn’t be possible without my contacts on the internet.

I am pretty sure this is the wave of the future. And schools, teachers, and administrators need to understand this.

Kids have already got this, so we don’t have to worry about them.

It continues to dumbfound me that people think technology is a passing fancy.

Students aren’t going to wait on educators who continue to focus on having them look up words in the dictionary, spend years teaching them to write in cursive, or not take them to the computer lab on a daily basis.

But today I can’t focus on changing people’s ideas because I have work to do.

I need to get this blog moved. And sell my wife on the idea that husband #2 needs to be a golfer.

Just kidding.

I have people moving the blog.

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My Days as the Main Man Are Numbered.


Let the Countdown Begin...For some mysterious reason, there seems to be more interest in my blog when I write about my family than when I write about educational issues.

I do my best to write different types of blogs in the hope that I can keep all 12 readers interested (yes, the PrincipalsPage.com Blog continues to grow by 2 or 3 people a year).

My writing style seems to make “editor” types nervous (and by style I mean… actually, I have no idea what I mean because I have no idea what I am doing).

They tell me that the posts for PrincipalsPage.com Blog are “all over the place.” One is about my distaste for soccer, another about New Year’s resolutions, then it’s about NCLB, and finally I am giving advice to new principals (unwanted and unasked for advice….but advice none the less).

This blog seems to confuse people with English degrees. I think they would understand it better if they didn’t spend so much time reading books.

While they are confused, the truth is…so am I (maybe I need to read more books… or any books for that matter).

But that’s okay because total confusion is all part of life in education. When you work in a school and you are trying to help raise hundreds of kids, life can get hectic.

But, it’s manageable.

Just as long as you take the job seriously, but not yourself.

Just when I think my life couldn’t get any more hectic, my wife schedules 87 more workshops, my daughter wants to invite 34 girls to her birthday party (bowling… what could possibly go wrong??), and I find myself cruising the internet late at night for cute puppies (this is not a metaphor… my daughter is getting a dog… or I am, time will tell).

Don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining. Lots of families are busier than we are.

They just don’t have a blog to complain about it.

It has taken me 13 paragraphs to get to my point of this blog (maybe the “editor” types are actually on to something).

Lately, I have been busy. So when my daughter told me I was going to spend a Saturday night taking her to a Daddy-Daughter “Main Man” Dance, I did what every clear thinking father would do.

I lied.

Said I was busy. She said I wasn’t.

I said I couldn’t go because I would have the flu that night. She said I was going.

I said I wouldn’t because I am not her real father. She said that since she looks just like me, I was her father and we were going.

My wife didn’t say anything. She was too busy planning her free Saturday night without either of us.

So I gave in and decided to go. I really didn’t have a choice since she had already picked out my suit and tie (black suit, silver tie… I was a vision of handsomeness…).

When we arrived at the dance, I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t that bad. Plus as an added bonus, lots of dads looked far more miserable than I did.

We had dinner, desert, and danced.

Slow danced, not fast (I have the rhythm of a middle-aged white guy… actually, it isn’t that good).

As we danced she thanked me for taking her.

If I was sentimental, this would have warmed my heart.

As we concluded the last slow dance, she started to cry. I asked her what was wrong but she wouldn’t tell me.

I chalked it up to a little girl being tired after a long day.

As we headed home, she finally told me what was making her sad.

She thought the dance went by too fast. She said she wanted to spend more time with her “Main Man”.

I am still not sentimental, but that was nice. Very nice.

Now I have a feeling that in the not so distant future, I will be the one thinking that things have gone by way too fast.

And I will be wishing I was still her main man.

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You Want To Be a Good Boss? Let Others Do Your Work.


Common Sense Helps Make a Good Boss.You want to be productive? You want to get things done? You want your school and district to run smoothly?

Do you want to change things and be forward thinking?

It’s easy (not really, but it can be done). The answer is quite simple.

Get others to do your work.

Sure that sounds bad. That’s why you don’t say it out loud. Because some people will think you’re lazy.

But that isn’t true (actually, I don’t know that for sure because I haven’t met all of you).

If you let other staff members do your work, you aren’t lazy. You are a genius (well, technically not a genius, or you probably wouldn’t have taken a job as a school administrator).

Delegation is a skill. For many people, it is something that has to be learned. But, don’t think of it as taking the easy way out.

It is quite the opposite. It’s bringing people in.

It’s how you improve your school for the sake of the students and teachers. And you can accomplish this more quickly when you have help.

As the leader of your school, you have one primary job. Leave it better than you found it.

Progress isn’t easy. If it was, everybody would do it. Progress is slow and painful, but worthwhile.

To make productive changes, you are going to need help. And lots of it.

Smart leaders surround themselves with good people and then get out of their way.

Running a school, or any business, is an impossible task for an individual. It is a huge, but manageable task, when a group of people tackle it together.

If you want your employees to get on “the bus” and head in the same direction as you, give them some ownership.

This can’t be done if all the ideas are yours.

Some of the best ideas for change come from secretaries, janitors, bus drivers, cooks, parents, and yes… even students.

If it makes the school better, who cares who thought of it?

Listen to everyone’s thoughts. Ignore the bad ones and steal the good ones.

And then share the work. But not the credit.

Always give the credit to others. Time spent patting yourself on the back could be better spent focusing on the next big challenge (and trust me, there is one right around the corner).

People involved with schools and kids have already proven they want to help.

Let them.

The idea for this blog came after reading Jim Burgett’s thoughts on leadership (www.burgettgroup.com):

• Leaders who don’t delegate burn out or lose effectiveness.

• An “It’s easier to do it myself” attitude by leaders results in apathy, not excitement by employees.

• Successful delegation promotes pride, ownership, and a sense of being needed by employees.

• Successful delegation encourages employees to be creative and innovative.

• Successful delegation includes good manners and appreciation.

• Successful delegation includes recognizing successes.

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How I Became a Teacher.


5 Reasons (That Aren’t Completely True).

5 Reasons (That Aren’t Completely True).

The answer to the title of this blog is quite simple.

How I got there is a little more complicated.

This spring, the 2009 crop of high school seniors will graduate (barring any last minute mistakes on their part… and I am watching). As educators we want these students to have a plan.

An exact detailed step by step plan of what they are going to do with their lives from this point forward.

From my experience most 18 year olds don’t think any farther ahead than approximately 4 minutes into the future (of course 4 minutes is an average, boys would be less… much much less… and as someone who has a daughter, this is a bit frightening).

Teachers (as do I) are always asking students what they are going to do with their lives once they graduate.

College, military, or get a job. 3 choices.

As educators, we seem to prefer they pick college. I assume that’s because college is the path we took (I am also aware of what happens when you assume).

We want them to choose from these 3 choices and stick with it. For the next 50 years.

I am not sure of the logic behind this because most of us had no idea what we wanted to do when we were 18 (17 in my case… which was way too young to be making any decisions not involving cheeseburgers, sports, or a Def Leppard concert).

I often wonder if we have unrealistic expectations for graduating seniors. After all, most will change their minds in the first 6 months after they leave high school.

Sometimes, I think they just give us the answer we want to hear regarding their future plans.

As I stumble through life I think about this as I meet people.

Did the guy at the gas station always have the dream to sell me PowerAde and donuts?

Is the lady at the dry cleaners living out her lifelong goal of ironing shirts for 9 hours a day?

How long has the UPS driver who delivers to my house wanted to drive a truck and wear an ugly brown uniform (although wearing shorts to work in the summer is a pretty nice benefit)?

I point out these examples not to take anything away from them. All of these people seem both happy and nice (goals that we should all have).

They are everyday people who do every day jobs. Obviously, by our way of thinking they must not have had a specific plan when they were seniors in high school.

And that’s okay.

They are good people who have jobs. More importantly they are good citizens who are making society better, not worse.

We all interact with people who probably aren’t pursuing their high school dream job.

In fact, I am one of them.

My plan wasn’t to be a school administrator who writes semi-coherent blogs.

Yes, I know you are shocked. Please take a moment a compose yourself.

My plan when I was a high school senior was… actually, I didn’t have a plan. But I told the people who asked that I did.

My goal, up to that point, was to play major league baseball. It turned out I wasn’t good enough. Who knew (other than the college and professional scouts)?

That is how I ended up going to college and getting a business degree. Why college and a business degree? I have no idea.

Like most teenagers I just picked something so adults would stop asking me.

Plus, it was the mid 80’s and Michael Douglas seemed really cool in the movie Wall Street.

The good news…I graduated. The bad news…after 4 years of college I was again getting asked what I wanted to do with my life.

I remember thinking that I just went through this whole “pick a career” thing a few years earlier. What a vicious circle.

So I took jobs that in which I didn’t really have any interest (when I could find them). Then I woke up when I was 26 and got really lucky.

I knew how to throw a curveball (evidently, just not a good one).

Actually, I had known how to throw a curveball since I was 12, but it took awhile for this skill to become useful.

My curveball wasn’t good enough to get me into the majors, but it did get me a job as an assistant junior high baseball coach.

One of my old coaches needed help and I knew how to throw a curveball.

After a few practices, it didn’t take me long to figure out that I liked kids, school, sports, coaches, and summers off.

If you count 26 years as not long.

So I went back to college with an actual plan. And when I told people what I wanted to do with my life I actually meant it.

And that’s how I became a teacher.

Which has led to everything else.

I wish I could have told my high school teachers this story when I was a senior. My life plan is going to be based on the skills I learned in Little League.

And that will eventually lead to me writing a blog about education.

From now on, I may just tell high school seniors that life has a funny way of just working out.

**Note from wife…I got pretty lucky too. You see he was graduating college with that business degree when I was in 8th grade. Obviously that would have been an awkward romantic relationship. When PrincipalsPage decided to return to college I was a sophomore who just so happened to be in the same history class. The rest really is history!

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When Hiring Employees, Avoid This Mistake.


Albert Einstein.

Albert Einstein.

In the last year, I have had this conversation with at least 612 people. You may question my ability to remember every person I have talked to in the last 12 months, but that would be a mistake.

I have just a hint of Raymond Babbitt in me (Google it… and if you haven’t seen the movie, rent it). This compulsiveness may explain my need to iron my shirts after I get them back from the drycleaners, but that is a whole different blog.

This same conversation seems to come up over and over. For reasons that I don’t understand, people are dumbfounded by this issue.

It’s like a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, covered in a conundrum.

This question always comes from principals or superintendents (or from the best job in education… “the assistant superintendent”… after all, who hates this person… or even knows who they are?). While I work in K-12 education, I think my ideas on this topic will apply to all businesses.

The million dollar (and beat to death) question is… What type of employee should I hire?

This question comes in all different forms.

Should I hire someone based solely on education? (like requiring at least a Master’s Degree?)

Should I hire local people or candidates from outside of the area?

Should I be searching for applicants fresh out of college, or look for more experienced individuals?

Should I be looking for a certain type of personality trait (see how I deftly avoid a controversy by not touching on the subject of hiring males vs. females?)?

And even, should I weed out candidates if they weren’t straight A students in high school and college?

While these questions are helpful in narrowing down a search, an interviewer’s sixth sense may be more important.

Like lots of skills, this can be learned. But the great leaders (bosses) are born with it (feel free to make your own joke here about great bosses being non-existent).

So many employee problems could be reduced if the people in charge just made better hiring decisions.

Someone who is adept at the interviewing process can instantly recognize the qualities necessary in becoming great employees.

The biggest mistake employers make is not treating the hiring process with the respect it deserves. They just don’t put the time and effort in to finding great employees.

They fall into the “Just Get This Position Filled” trap…or the even sadder offshoot of “Just Get This Position Filled Today Because My Vacation Starts Tomorrow.”

Hiring takes time. Hiring great long-term employees takes even more time. But the good news is the time you spend now will save you an enormous amount of headaches in the future.

I believe you should always hire based on what is best for the people already in-house.

In the case of a school, that includes the students, but it also involves the other staff members.

If you can find a new employee that is a team player and a hard worker, your life will not only be better in the short term but much easier in the long term.

Another thing to look for when hiring people is finding candidates who are not exactly like you (1 you per school is plenty). Since students come in all shapes, sizes, and types, so should their teachers.

This may mean hiring people that you “don’t get”. But I guarantee you there will be students who get them.

If you constantly hire people like yourself, you are watering down the gene pool of your school.

These are good guidelines to get you started, but there is one thing you should always keep in mind when hiring new staff.

It is the Golden Rule of Interviewing. Pay attention because a lot of people mess-up this simple concept.

Like most things in education, it just isn’t that difficult. But this is the one mistake you must avoid.

Hire and surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Too often, the people in charge want (and need) to be the smartest person in school.

I myself, prefer to be the dumbest.

Why?

Because a school district where I am the most intelligent employee is average at best. A district where I am the least intelligent employee has a real chance to be great.

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We Need More 8 Year Old Kindergarten Students.


I Didn’t Draw This.

I Didn’t Draw This.

If I was put in charge of all things related to education, I would be overwhelmed. And underpaid (I am also going to need full family health insurance, but we can talk about that later).

Also, I would be extremely happy (after all, that is a lot of power, and who among us isn’t power hungry?) I would join President Obama in making big changes (and mine wouldn’t cost 800 billion).

There are obviously a lot of issues in education that need to be addressed.

I have so many ideas regarding school improvement that I hardly know where to start.

Just to name a few:

• indoor playgrounds (which would allow kids the same general feeling of going outside for recess but are prohibited from doing so during inclement weather)

• the ability to suspend all students (and parents) who show up to school without a coat when it is cold

• naps for all employees at the same time the kindergarten class rests their eyes

• automatic jail time for kids who mess with their mechanical pencils too much

• and of course… free chocolate chip cookies for everyone at snack time.

But I don’t want to spend this blog boring you with issues that will never be addressed (trust me, all the previous situations will continue to be ignored… another case of The Man keeping us down).

I am here to talk about one change that I think we can, and should implement.

Since I have all the answers, I am going to be nice and share (save your mocking emails… because you have to give me some credit for my confidence).

In my estimation, schools have done the right thing by getting away from social promotion.

For those of you not familiar with social promotion our friends at Wikipedia define it as the practice of promoting a student (usually a general education student, rather than a special education student) to the next grade despite their low achievement in order to keep them with social peers.

I can remember a time not so long ago when students were passed on to the next grade level based solely on their size. Think about it. Big kids move on. Smaller kids get held back a year.

We have come a long way.

But I am here to propose that we must take this idea a step further.

Educators have to get past the idea that a student needs to be in a certain grade based on their biological age.

Kids age and learn at different levels. I know this because I live with a 7 year old who thinks she is 35 (and even worse, she believes she is my boss).

Why do we start 5 year olds in kindergarten when they aren’t ready? Aren’t we putting them in a situation where they are doomed to fail?

What does a child’s 7th birthday have to do with 2nd grade?

Some 7 year olds are ready for 2nd grade, but some should be in 1st grade or even 3rd.

I realize there may be limits to my theory because we don’t want to have kindergarten students who are 14 years old, but we have to give kids some leeway.

They all learn at a different rate and we need to recognize this. Maybe we need a 3 year age span for each grade level.

By the K-12 model, all freshmen in college would be 19 years old and seniors would be 22. When I went off to college, I was amazed to find out that students come in all ages (from 17 to 80).

And shockingly, the older the student, the more prepared and focused they were (I must admit that at the time I felt the older students studied way too hard and asked too many questions).

Why wouldn’t this theory work in public schools (admittedly, on a limited basis)?

Do we use the present system because it is beneficial to students, or because this is the way we have always moved kids through the 13 grade levels?

Ok, let’s cut to the chase. Do athletics play a major role in keeping the same aged children together? Or is it some other reason? I hope someone (or many someones) has a different answer for me.

After all, you can’t really expect me to run education by myself.

I am so not qualified.

Comments: 12
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The Secret to Life, Blogging, and Everything Else.


Just Blog.

Just Blog.

You may have noticed something about this blog.

The title is no longer in all caps. I have been told that some newspapers won’t pick up my blog because they consider a title in all caps to mean that I am shouting.

I’M NOT.

This does bring up a question. Are there still newspapers? (I guess I don’t have to worry about them running this blog)

Like most people, I am a creature of habit. I like my routine. This explains why my blog titles are always in caps.

When I wrote the first blog, I put the title in all caps. So I have done that with all of them.

If it doesn’t make sense to you, it does to me. It may even seem weird that I have to type each blog in the same font on the same computer, but this also makes sense to me (by the way… it is Tahoma 12 on my Lenovo ThinkPad which is named Larry).

My need for a routine made a career in education the obvious choice. I love the fact that the bell rings at the same time every day. The world in which we live is a little chaotic. There isn’t a lot that you can count on these days(in case you haven’t noticed). But I know exactly when 1st hour starts and 8th hour ends. I like that.

This blog is the 206th one that I have written. Why is that important? It isn’t.

But if all goes well, this blog will produce my 500th comment (actually the 502nd). And if that isn’t a big deal to you, it is to me.

If I seem overly selfish today, it’s because I am. But it isn’t me, it’s the half bottle of Nyquil that is coursing through my veins (I am so ready for spring).

I have to admit, I didn’t think I would ever get over 500 comments. And if I am being honest (again, it’s the Nyquil talking), I was stunned when I got 1 comment.

When you write a blog, there isn’t a lot of feedback. While your statistics page may show that hundreds or even thousands of people click on your blog, you are never convinced that actual humans are reading it.

Until you get a comment.

I will always be grateful to Anonymous because he/she left the very first comment on my 2nd blog THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT (actually, this one could be considered shouting).

How he/she found the blog, I will never know.

I am assuming this person is lonely and owns 14 cats, but that is just a guess on my part.

But I’m glad he/she found the blog (even if too gutless to leave their real name… although I can’t really blame them for not wanting to be associated with it).

I think it is easier for people to comment now. After 207 entries (one guest post), the PrincipalsPage.com Blog can be termed a success. Actually, success may be too strong of a word.

To me, success implies that I might have made money. I can assure you (and the IRS) that I haven’t.

If it isn’t successful, I am not sure what to call it. It isn’t always funny, or entertaining, or thought provoking.

Part of the time it isn’t even about education.

But it is certainly something.

I’ve got it. It’s consistent.

Since July of 2007, I have written 2.48 blogs per week. The first 2 come pretty easily, but the .48 continues to be a challenge (if you aren’t a math teacher that is 11 per month).

Plus, my typing skills have improved dramatically (mainly because my wordiness has caused me to type 869,740 characters… which oddly is about the same number of visitors I’ve had).

While cranking these blogs out, I think I have stumbled on to the key to success. And it doesn’t involve money.

It’s showing up.

Every day. Every week. Every month. Every year.

In the case of this blog, 2.48 times a week.

Too many people can’t seem to master this simple task.

As kids they have a hard time making it to school, or practice, or to a club meeting. Then they go off to college and can’t get out of bed to make it to class.

Soon after that, they graduate (or drop out) and become adults who struggle getting to work on time.

And usually, they have a sure fire excuse for this behavior. It’s someone else’s fault.

Sure it is.

So while the blog hasn’t made me famous, or rich, it has given me something more important.

The key to life. Which is the same as the key to blogging. Which is exactly the same key if you want to be successful at anything.

Just show up. And sooner or later people will recognize your efforts.

Even if they are named Anonymous.

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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.