Listen More Than You Talk.


This is NOT the Actual Bus.Newsflash.

Turns out there have been times in my life where I wasn’t as smart as I thought.

2nd Newsflash. This happens more than I would like to admit (some may even say daily…).

I was reminded of this a few nights ago when a former student/player stopped by to visit.

Personally, I wish all former students/players would leave me alone. Haven’t I done enough for them (oh, I haven’t… alright then…)?

They make me feel old with their college degrees, careers, marriages, kids, and the fact they have aged so much in the last 15 years (I’m glad I don’t look any older…).

This concept of former students is not working for me. The fact that their lives are moving forward is an ever so subtle hint that I may be getting older (lucky for me… I don’t respond to subtle hints…).

It’s really quite uncomfortable for me.

They not only make me wonder why life is moving so quickly, but they also have better memories than me.

They can recall things I said or did over a decade ago when I can barely remember which tie I wore yesterday.

This student asked me if I remembered a certain bus ride when I was his basketball coach.

My only thought was… I was a basketball coach?

But as he told the story it all came crashing back to me (and crashing is the key word here).

As we traveled to a game about 30 miles away, I required the players to be quiet. Completely quiet.

I told them it was so they could focus on the game. The real reason was I didn’t want to listen to them.

As we got about halfway to the game and came to a stop sign this player screamed something out from the very back of the bus. I wasn’t sure what he said, so I gave him my standard coaching response.

“Be quiet!”

Then he yelled again. I said “Be quiet!”

He then had the gall to yell something about a car. This really caught my attention.

I remember thinking how dare he talk after being told to be quiet. So of course, I screamed “For the last time, be quiet and don’t make me come back there!” I didn’t even bother to look back.

He knew I meant business.

Mainly because I yelled in my Don’t Push Your Luck Unless You Want to Run the Entire Next Practice Coaching Voice.

He got quiet.

Everyone got quiet.

The entire bus was quiet for the rest of the trip. But I did notice they were strangely restless.

When we finally arrived at the game all the players and cheerleaders rushed off the bus. I figured they were excited about the game.

Nope.

They were excited to get off the bus to see the damage.

What damage you ask?

The damage where a car hit us when the bus stopped at the stop sign.

And when the player yelled.

Turns out the first two times he was trying to tell me a car hit the bus.

The third time, he was trying to tell me…

…the car was on fire.

When I first started teaching and coaching, I had all the answers. Turns out I just didn’t know all of the questions.

Or that a car hit our bus and burst into flames.

There is a lesson here somewhere but for the life of me I don’t know what it is… oh yeah… other people may have knowledge that you don’t even know you need.

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Is Three-Day Weekend a Mood?


I’m in my 7th year as a school administrator (for those of you counting at home… that’s 49 years if I were principal of a kennel).

When you have been in administration as long as I have it does strange things to you (somewhere there is a principal or superintendent starting his or her 40th year that is mocking me… and I mean mocking me more than usual).

My personality has been forever changed since I left teaching. I’ve lost something and it has taken me the longest time to figure out what.

Yesterday, it came to me.He's Grumpy.  And He has Cool Shoes.

I’ve lost my moods.

When I was younger, I had a wide range of different moods.

Happy, sad, excited, angry, jealous, fear, guilt, and all the rest.

After seven long years (that have flown by) I am left with only two moods.

Grumpy and Three-Day-Weekend.

Even when I’m experiencing the Three-Day Weekend euphoria… it always comes crashing down on Sunday night… which means grumpy returns.

Grumpy sounds bad, but it really isn’t.

It’s just a combination of extremely busy, slightly overwhelmed, mixed in with a hint of worry (on a good day… on a bad day there is a lot of worry).

This became crystal clear to me yesterday because I had a flashback.

Back to when I was teaching.

A time when I had more moods (and less money).

I spent the morning working on a highly sophisticated technology project with other administrators (sometimes referred to as a PowerPoint).

Putting administrators in charge of a project this complicated is at best a roll of the dice.

At worst, it’s an embarrassing nightmare that ends up with lots of slides with way too many words, bullet points, and bad clipart.

But we got lucky.

Because I was there (I sense there may be more mocking).

And who knows more about technology than me?

The correct answer is just about everyone. The even more correct answer is my wife.

And she has trained me well.

Not around the house, because that is still a work in progress. But with technology.

Actually, the truth is she has a long way to go before she has me fixed in knowledge of all things technology (and that’s not the only thing she would like to have fixed on me…).

But she has got me trained better than most.

This brings me back to yesterday. I didn’t have to know exactly what I was doing, I just needed to know a little more than the other administrators.

It was like when the bear chased my friend and me through the woods. I didn’t have to be faster than the bear, I just had to be faster than my friend (I kind of miss him).

So with my little bit of knowledge (learned from my wife… or stolen if you want to spit hairs), I was able to help with the PowerPoint.

For the first time in many years, I felt like I actually got to teach.

I got to experience the feeling that teachers live for. The moment when a student gets it (which if I remember correctly doesn’t happen as often enough as teachers would like).

Students light up when a concept finally makes sense to them. When it happens you can see it all over their faces.

It’s great.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen nearly as often in administration as it does in the classroom.

I wish it did.

What’s odd is I didn’t even know I missed this feeling until yesterday. I wonder if that’s because I’ve been stuck on grumpy since my last three day weekend.

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Guest Blog – It’s Not All Flowers and Sausages.


The Legend That is Mrs. Mimi.It’s Not All Flowers and Sausages.

Mrs. Mimi, the author, describes herself as a public school teacher who loves her job but is routinely frustrated by all the drama that is created by the other ADULTS…so she has to make it funny so she doesn’t routinely poke herself in the eye.

As I have written in the past, I seldom read blogs. But this one is a must.

So enjoy… “Literally Bursting With Excitement”

My friends are jazzed. It is almost vacation and it is all they can do to hold it together. I am also barely holding it together as I alternate between panicking over how much I have left to do before the holidays and fantasizing about all that extra sleep…

In my classroom, it is time for wrapping everything up so that we can start fresh in ’09. Today I asked Curly Girl (no, not Curly, but one of my new super faves….it just so happens she also has curly hair. Maybe I am curl-ist? Pro-curls? ) to work on a special project at the back of the classroom with Smarty Pants (another girl who I am totally digging lately. I know, what’s with all the girls as faves since I typically love the bad boys…). They are independent and basically total rock stars so I knew I could trust them.

The rest of my friends were on the carpet when Smarty Pants enthusiastically raises her hand and says, “We need help!”

Thinking that they just need more paint or something, I say, “What is it?”

Smarty Pants answers, “Curly Girl just peed all over herself and the floor and we need help with the puddle.”

Ah, yes. Of COURSE that’s the problem. Urine is just what I need to make my tenuous hold on the class’ brimming excitement to dissolve into nothing.

Oddly though, no one laughed or said anything. I knew they heard Smarty Pants. So what was the deal? Was this empathy? A mature response? Or perhaps, is no listening to a freaking thing this close to vacation?

As soon as I send the rest of the group back to their seats, I make my way to the back of the classroom to check out Curly Girl and her infamous puddle. Expecting to find her sobbing behind the art center, I am surprised when I see her diligently painting away, with her pants rolled up to her knees to stay out of the puddle, acting as if nothing has happened.

Me: Curly Girl, are you OK? What happened?
Curly Girl: I BURST!
Me: (Trying not to laugh) Why didn’t you ask to go to the bathroom?
Curly Girl: I was so into the project that I just didn’t.
Me: (Shocked that Curly Girl is handling this better than I am.) What can I do to help you?
Curly Girl: You know anyone who can take care of this? (Indicates puddle of pee.)
Me: Um, yea. (still tyring not to laugh). What can I do for YOU? Do you want to go to the bathroom and I’ll call mom?
Curly Girl: Sounds good…let me just finish this up.

And she happily goes back to painting. A couple of minutes later, she cleans off her paint brush, nimbly leaps over her own pee and heads to the bathroom.

When mom arrives with a clean pair of pants, I tell her the story. Mom and I have a good laugh while Curly Girl goes to the bathroom yet again, this time to change her pants. It is close to the end of the day, so I tell her it is OK if she wants to go home with mom. She insists on staying in school, stating, “Hey, it was just a little pee.”

Words of wisdom from my little friend that I am going to use to get me through the rest of the holidays. When I am freaking out about not having the right bow, or only getting through the Ws on my Christmas card list, I will think, “hey, it’s all just a little pee.”

For more entries, please click to visit It’s Not All Flowers and Sausages… and don’t forget to buy her book.

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5 Things I Haven’t Done (and Everyone Else Has).


This Makes My Belly Hurt.1. Drank a cup of coffee.

2. Seen a Star Wars, Star Trek, or Harry Potter movie.

3. Ridden a roller coaster.

4. Owned a pair of sandals.

5. Eaten a Big Mac.

List inspired by (stolen from) the Mike and Mike ESPN Radio Show.

Add your own list under comments… or create a list on your blog. Please leave the link in the comment section so the PrincipalsPage.com readers can take a look.

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School is Hard Work.


Don't Let Anyone Tell You Different... School is Hard Work. One week of school is officially in the books (get it… books… let it be known that somewhere I am the only one laughing…).

School has a long way to go, but there is good news.

The hardest part is over.

There is nothing I dislike more than the first couple days of school. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the school part I hate (although I do miss my old friend… summer).

It’s the “first couple of days” part.

The beginning of a new school year is a struggle (not unlike trying to convince a pack of 8 year old girls they shouldn’t be giggling at 2 am during a sleepover).

The start of school means everything is new again (which is good), but the bad part is everything is new again.

The challenge is to make what is new… routine. This involves the annual “Days and Days of Meetings”. These take place in the weeks and months before school even officially starts.

That’s why I’m happy when the first couple of days are over and done with.

Simply put, they are complicated, hectic, and tiring.

On top of that, these days are always half days. Students aren’t even in attendance full-time.

School without students. It’s really quite odd.

For the unitiated (new teachers) I am going to let you in on a little secret.

Half days last at least twice as long as full days.

Don’t ask me how or why, but they do (it’s one of education’s great mysteries… along with why teachers can’t microwave popcorn without burning it).

Common sense (and 3rd grade math) tells you a half is 50% of a full. Not at school.

Especially, not the day before a holiday (but don’t worry about that… the first school holiday is way in the future… like 3 weeks… hello, Labor Day!).

Give me a regular school day and a five day week. That makes me happy.

I need a routine.

I need the bell to ring so I know what time work starts. And what time to eat. And what time to go home (unless there is a crisis immediately after school is out… I hate that).

And do everything else.

Thankfully, my life is now headed down a more structured path.

School is back. I have a routine. And I’m very happy.

I’m also amazed.

One thing always jumps up and grabs my attention when school starts.

No, it’s not the excitement of the children returning to school (yes, this is a little thing I like to call sarcasm).

Or even the higher level of excitement that teachers have when they start a new year (yes, this would be more sarcasm… and there is no chance I will ever run out).

It’s not the heat (and how does the sun know when school starts???).

The thing that always amazes me is how tiring school can be.

Mentally and physically.

But mostly physically.

My legs are sore from walking around and my voice is fading from talking (probably too much).

I’m not going to lie… I need a nap.

School is hard work.

How come I forget that over the summer?

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Sunday Night.


Nothing Cooler Than a Dog in Sunglasses.It’s here.

No more talking or thinking about it.

It’s officially the last Sunday of summer. School starts bright and early tomorrow (6:00 am… unless I’m overcome by Edusomnia and can’t sleep… then it will be
4:00 am)

My wife doesn’t understand the significance of Sundays. How they should be dreaded and feared.

She considers Sunday to be the last day of a restful weekend. To her it’s a gift. It’s a calm and peaceful day.

I consider Sunday to be an annoying precursor to what is sure to be a long and hectic week.

Basically, it’s Pre-Monday.

To me it’s nothing more than a reminder of how far away we are from Friday afternoon.

As I have said before, I don’t dread school. I look forward to it. I just hate to let summer go.

But as I sit here (as I seldom type standing up), I have come to the realization that time is once again slipping away.

This little tidbit of information once again slapped me in the face when I got my eyes checked last week.

The optometrist pointed out that while my eyes haven’t drastically changed in the last 12 months, he isn’t far from recommending I get bifocals.

I said bifocals are for old people.

He said exactly.

He did point out that wearing a pair of reading glasses in addition to my contacts might help.

Great.

How blind am I that I first need to insert contacts into my eyes, and then put on a pair of glasses?

It won’t be long until I need a Seeing Eye dog (a real dog… not that thing that lives in my garage and thinks he’s a human).

Getting old stinks.

Summer being over stinks.

Sunday nights stink.

But there is good news. School starts tomorrow.

And it doesn’t stink.

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Which Will Make Me Sicker? The Swine Flu or the Media?


Remember When Pigs Where Our Friends?  I Wonder If They Are Upset About the Whole Bacon Thing?Last winter I wrote (slopped down… whatever) two blogs about the overreaction surrounding this country’s newest arch nemesis… the Swine Flu.

If you haven’t heard, the Swine Flu is not our friend.

How do I know this?

Because it has all of the characteristics of the perfect arch enemy.

It’s mysterious, has a cool name, comes from a less than intelligent animal, gives schools the opportunity to close or dismiss early, and it doesn’t like children.

Basically, it’s kryptonite for school nurses.

And you know it’s a big deal because nothing can stop school nurses.

This spring school districts all across the country were burdened with the decision about what to do if their community experienced an outbreak of the dreaded Pig Flu (not as catchy, I know).

Government officials were happy to do their part to fan the crisis.

The Department of Diseases Contracted from Filthy Farm Animals (which I personally didn’t even know existed) put out daily emails explaining what schools should do if one of their students had the flu.

I appreciated their guidance in the first few emails. Though, I must admit my interest waned after email #154 (and this came in day 2 of our long national Swine Flu crisis).

To the amazement of no one (other than government officials), schools have a pretty good handle on kids who are ill.

Personally, I have a standard reaction when a student gets sick in the hallway.

Step One: I try not to step in it.

Step Two: I try not to breathe so I don’t throw up in the hallway (no one likes the Vomit Chain Reaction).

Step Three: I send the student to the office so the nurse can comfort them until mom, dad, or grandma can come and pick them up (it always seems like grandma… never grandpa… another one of education’s great mysteries).

Step Four: Call a custodian and ruin his/her day by telling them a 1st grader’s stomach just exploded (I have never seen a custodian smile after receiving this dreaded news… and they should because it could have been something worse than the stomach explosion).

Step Five: Involves Mom/Dad/Grandma. They simply keep the child home until he or she feels better.

It’s a tried and true plan.

Simple but effective.

And it served us well before the Department of Diseases Contracted from Filthy Farm Animals came along.

The problem wasn’t that the government wanted us to take this situation seriously, it was the media’s overreaction to the entire event.

WHAT?

Yes, I said it. The media overreacts.

And then they beat the overreaction to death.

This goes on and on and on and on until a more exciting story comes along.

Remember Gov. Mark Sanford from South Carolina? The guy taking secret “vacations” to Argentina to “see” his girlfriend.

He was all the rage (and still would be) before Michael Jackson passed away.

I’m not saying the Governor was happy about the unexpected death of Mr. Jackson, but I’m not say he wasn’t…

In the case of the Swine Flu, the media has had all summer to get revved up to cover this story as the flu season cranks up.

And schools will be right in the middle of it.

Lucky us.

One day we may look back and appreciate the good old days when flu was just a smelly interruption to a winter school day.

I for one am going to take this latest outbreak of Swine Flu seriously.

I’m getting my annual flu shot for $60 (used to cost $8 five years ago).

I only regret there isn’t a Media Shot that would prevent me from getting sick as I watch all of the “Swine Flu and Schools” stories on the news this winter.

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I Don’t Hate School, I Just Love Summer.


Everywhere I go (work, home, work, home, work, home… rinse, lather, repeat), people ask me if I’m ready for school to start.

Turns out there is such a thing as a stupid question.

No, I’m not ready.Who Doesn't Love Summer?

What I’m ready for is summer to last forever.

Forever. Which I understand is a very long time.

Who doesn’t love summer? Especially if you work at a school.

The warm weather, time to golf, vacations, wearing shorts to “work”, mowing (okay, bad example… at least after the first mow), and best of all… a monthly paycheck.

If you didn’t get this, let me say it (or type it) again.

They pay me… and I’m NOT working with the teachers or students.

Let’s all take a moment to comprehend this little nugget.

Pay, but no work (not “regular” work… still plenty to do).

Basically it’s stealing. Actually there is no basically about it.

It’s stealing.

Not with a gun, but with a Master’s Degree.

If you know teenagers who are undecided about what they want to do with their lives, I have a suggestion for them.

They want to be…

… ME.

My work consists of being around kids (better than adults), going to games (better than a real job), and working shorter hours in the summer (it’s like I stopped aging at 12).

I’m living the dream.

This doesn’t mean everything about my job is perfect. Trust me, it isn’t.

But I do get to wear shorts in the summer (did I mention students and teachers are not around), so that makes up for a lot of the troubles during the school year.

I think as educators we do a terrible job at expressing what great jobs we have.

It’s easy for us to fall into complaint mode and point out the negatives of our profession.

The worst thing is we do this in front of our students.

We complain and complain until we have convinced the very best and brightest students that working in education is not something they should pursue.

Instead of promoting careers in teaching, we discourage them.

I am here to break the cycle.

Education is the best job ever. And I mean ever.

So this year, I think everyone should follow this rule: if you can’t say anything nice about education, don’t say anything at all (I just made that up).

To review… people ask me if I’m ready for the regular routine of school after 2 ½ months of working alone.

Answer. No.

Reason. I love summer.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t love my job during the school year.

It just means I love getting paid while wearing shorts a little better.

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New Principals: You Can’t Say I Didn’t Warn You.


As we get ready for a new school year, I feel a sense of obligation to share some important information with new school administrators.

I can only hope they are sitting down.This is Not a Happy Person.

Although new administrators probably aren’t sitting… or even taking time to read this blog (or eat or sleep).

It’s very likely they are busy drowning under the paperwork that is already piling up on their desk.

But there’s good news. They will survive (at least some of them).

In the meantime, this blog will be here waiting patiently (until they get their new jobs under control or become unemployed).

The information I’m about to share will come as a total shock because colleges and universities seldom share this little fun fact with the students in their graduate programs.

So here I go.

Ready?

Are you sure?

Okay, here it is.

Parents are going to sue you.

A lot.

And by a lot, I mean several times each year (if you are “popular” this may happen several times in a single day… usually a day with a full moon).

You need to prepare yourself, not just for your impending legal trouble but also for the noise.

Parents seldom say they are going to sue you in a nice quiet inside voice.

They scream it.

You will recognize this event happening when you hear the cursing which is then followed by finger pointing (literally and figuratively).

As soon as you see a finger (hopefully index) being pointed in your direction, cover your ears.

Because the “Suing Announcement” is always concluded by the act of slamming.

After all, good parents must always express their love by yelling at authority figures (I need to check but I’m almost positive this rule is on the back of each child’s birth certificate).

The formula is a simple one. The Louder the Parent = the More They Love Their Child.

Parents get bonus points if they make a scene in a public place.

In the main office, at a game, the grocery store, maybe even at a funeral (sad and disturbing… but true).

But back to the slamming.

Parents can be very creative.

They will slam almost anything to make their point. It could a phone, office door, fist, chair, basketball… pretty much any object can do the trick.

The good news is once this happens, the conversation (or threat) is coming to a close.

There is something else you should know.

There is also a direct correlation between how loud parents scream and the odds of you really getting sued.

This formula. The Louder the Threat = Less of a Chance of Them Having a Lawyer.

So now you’ve been warned.

Let the suing (or not) begin! (if it hasn’t already happened during registration)

Lucky for us (people foolish enough to try and run a school) these threats don’t happen every day.

Angry parents usually take Sunday mornings off.

However the rest of the week, school administrators are fair game (especially when you’re trying to eat or leave school in a timely manner).

This doesn’t really seem fair to me because even deer have an offseason.

But those are the rules that school administrators have to live by, so make sure you have the school lawyer on speed dial.

Because you’re about to get sued.

Or not.

But you’re definitely getting yelled at.

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Meanwhile, I’m at Work.


You Have Got to be Kidding Me.I don’t know which is worse…

Buddy the Dog in my bed… or the fact that he is watching my TV (or technically speaking… sleeping to my TV).

I knew he couldn’t be trusted when I’m at work.

Coming Soon… the Buddy the Dog Webcam.

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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.