If I Were in Charge of the World.


A poem by a 3rd grader I like to call the Evil Spawn

 Poetry is Cool.

If I were in charge of the world

I’d cancel unkindness,

violence, Reading, and also

English homework.

 

If I were in charge of the world

there’d be happiness,

Math, and

My Weird School books.

 

If I were in charge of the world

you wouldn’t have bad books,

You wouldn’t have 1-4 point A.R. books.

You wouldn’t have empty lots.

Or “talking in line.”

You wouldn’t even have broken buildings.

 

If I were in charge of the world.

A chocolate covered donut

would be a vegetable.

All dogs would be Beagles.

 

And a person who forgot to brush her hair,

and sometimes forgot to put on her flip flops,

would still be allowed to be

in charge of the world.

 

 

Hopefully, she gets a good grade since she is now a published author on a moderately read blog.

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I Bought a Book.


It’s true.

I’ve purchased a brand new 2010 book.

It has a shiny cover and 244 pages.  Much to my disappointment, it has no pictures (or sadly pop-ups).

My intention with this new purchase is to do a little something I like to call “reading”.

I’m not sure how this adventure will turn out, but I’m optimistic (always the glass is half full kind of guy… or not).

You see, I don’t read unless it’s on my laptop or phone.

Consequently, I don’t buy books. 

That wasn’t always the case.  I used to read.

Of course, that was way back in the Pre-Technology Days.It's a Book.  I'm Going to Read It (in Theory).

Many of you probably don’t remember the good ole days.  The 80’s, 90’s and the whatever the 2000’s are called (back when I was youthful and vibrant… before life had beaten me down).

Back then, it wasn’t uncommon for me to read several newspapers a day.  On a good day, I might even crack open a magazine or a book.

Not now.

I’m way too busy.

Too busy searching the interweb.  On my email machines.

My time is spent on sports scores, the 10 day weather forecast, watching my investments tank, and looking for retirements spots (I WILL win the lottery… I NEED to win the lottery… and SOON).

I’m busy.  Really busy.

This is my way of saying  I “waste” a lot of time.

The world wide web is one part convenience, one part information, and 7 parts time sucker.

Something tells me this book may very well be the last one I ever buy.

I don’t own a Kindle or an iPad.  But I will.

We all will.

And probably sooner than we realize.

In fact, and I’m going out on a limb here, I think devices like these will be required by every Pre-K through college student in just a few short years.

This may sound crazy today, but it won’t in 5 years (if you don’t believe me reread this blog in 2015… like it will exist in 5 years, or 5 minutes…).

Presently, schools require students to provide their own pencils, paper, binders, folders, glue, Kleenex, and countless other school supplies.

Why not have each kid bring a machine on which they can read textbooks?

Your first reaction may be Kindles and iPads are way too expensive for the average family, but they won’t be in a few years (or months).

It just doesn’t make sense that schools continue to purchase expensive books when students can simply download them on their first day of class.

This sounds far-fetched, but I think it’s coming.

And soon.

Now while you contemplate my latest half-baked idea, I’m going to read a book.

Quite possibly, my last one.

Book report coming soon.  Unless I get busy checking the long-range forecast.

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What About the Great Kid?


During our regular corporate meetings involving all things PrincipalsPage.com, the staff decided I should blog about That Kid and the Great Kid (meetings, staff, planning, and coherent thoughts don’t really exist).

I first blogged about That Kid.

That Kid is easy.No That's a Smart Kid.

Everyone has a That Kid in class, their school, or as we are finding out… in their familes.

We’ve been notified That Kid turns out pretty well as he (yes, he) grows older and is given time to mature (remember… some take longer than others).

We’ve also been notified he can turn up in prison.

This reinforces my theory.  Everything, and I mean everything, is 50/50.

Examples are:  Will you wake up tomorrow morning.  50/50.

Will I win the lottery?  50/50.

Will more than ten people leave a comment on this particular entry?  50/50.

Will this blog make me rich.  Okay, bad example (there is exactly 0% chance of that happening).

Everything else in life is truly 50/50.  It either will happen or it won’t.

That Kid has the same chance of being successful (or not) as any other student.  It just takes time to find out.

There is an exemption to this rule.

Great Kids in 2nd grade have a better than 50% chance of still being great when they are adults (I have no proof of this, but my blog/my theory).

Every teacher has a That Kid.

They also have at least one Great Kid.  Most have more than one Great Kid.

If you think about it, there are probably at least 5 in each classroom (or with our soon to be the standard larger class sizes… 12 per room).

These are the students who are polite, hard-working, helpful, and happy.

They really are the majority of your students.

You know immediately when you meet them they will be successful in life (they have the parents that say it’s okay to beat them if they cough without raising their hand).

These students will grow up and be doctors, teachers, accountants, carpenters, or maybe engineers.

Actually, it doesn’t matter what they end up doing, it only matters that they will be good at it.

And they will be good.  Really good.

They will also pay their taxes and mow their lawns (very important to a stable society).

This doesn’t mean they’re perfect and won’t have bumps in the road, because they will.

They will just correct their mistakes and not make excuses.

That’s why you trust them to hand out papers, take notes to the office, and help the sub when you are gone.

They are the ones who will tell you what That Kid did when you weren’t watching.

This story often involves the random animal-like noises That Kid makes.

Or the throwing of some sort of object.  Oh, and don’t forget the always popular inappropriate gestures (usually during some sort of program where all the parents are in attendance).

As we head towards the end of the school year, as difficult as it is with our patience waning, we should all try to focus on the Great Kids.

Because there are far more Great Kids than there are That Kid.

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That Kid.


Everyone knows That Kid.

The one who started causing havoc the minute he came into the world (odds are he slapped a nurse in the maternity ward).

His poor parents have convinced themselves there was some sort of mix up at the hospital, and they brought home the wrong child.

On several occasions they’ve even tried to give him away.

To no avail.

I shouldn’t say “him”, but let’s be honest.  99% of the time it’s a him.Dennis the Menance. (could be a girl… actually, no it couldn’t)

If you don’t know the student I’m talking about, you aren’t in education.

Or you’re a liar.

Every school district in the world has That Kid.

His parents couldn’t leave him with a babysitter because he always attacked them.  Or ran away (I mean the babysitter, not the kid).

He got kicked out of preschool.

On the first day.

He’s the one who caused untold emotional damage when he first stepped foot on school grounds.

Sadly, registration will never be the same.

After meeting him, the secretaries immediately called the kindergarten teacher and said… “Retire.  Retire now.  Before it’s too late.”

That Kid is the one who does exactly the opposite of what his teacher tells him (which makes me think you should just tell him to do the opposite of what you want).

He doesn’t follow directions, he can’t stand still or be quiet, and he touches everyone and everything.

He also cuts in line, gets in trouble in the bathroom, cafeteria, and on the playground. 

And can’t find his pencil.

Or pen, papers, book bag, coat, locker, or classroom.

He always needs a Kleenex or wants to go to the bathroom.

He consistently asks you a question about the exact thing you just explained.

He makes indescribable animal-like noises at the most inappropriate times.

Teachers cringe at the mere mention of him.

The pray years in advance they don’t see his name on their class list.

They are willing to promise the principal, superintendent, secretary, the custodian, and God they will do anything… anything at all if That Kid isn’t in their class.

And guess what happens.

That kid is always in their class.

And when he is in your class, everything you’ve heard about him isn’t true.

He’s much, much worse.

Now you pray harder then ever.  You pray he will be gone on Mondays.

And Fridays.

And field trip days.

And when you have a sub.

And every other day.

But he never misses school.

Unprepared, but he’s always there.

It’s like you’re being punished.

But you aren’t.

You see… every class has That Kid.

Just like every class has a Tall Kid, Smart Enough to Be a Doctor Kid, Athletic Kid, Mortal Lock to Be Prom Queen Kid, Thinks They’re Always Sick But They’re Not Kid, Only Child Kid, Cool But Doesn’t Know It Kid, Shy Girl Kid, and Funny Enough to One Day Be on Saturday Night Live Kid.

Classes are always different, yet they are always the same.

If That Kid happens to move out of your school district (he won’t, I’m just using this as an example), there is another That Kid waiting.

Impatiently, but he’s waiting.

You see, there has to be a That Kid in every class.

It’s the law.

If you don’t believe, ask any teacher if they have a That Kid.

Because they will all say yes.  Right after they stop twitching.

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Swimming Purgatory.


This Isn't Good.

My swimming lessons are over.

I bring this up because so many people ask me how they are going (although not nearly as many as ask about Buddy the Dog).

The good news is I didn’t drown.

The bad news is I can still only partially swim.

Unfortunately, being able to partially swim doesn’t really help when you are in a drowning situation.

In fact, it may be worse than not being able to swim at all.

Before I started taking lessons, I would simply get in a pool and sink to the bottom.

Quick and painless.

No harm.  No foul.

The end wouldn’t take long.

I could go in peace.

Now, if I get in a pool I don’t sink to the bottom nearly as quickly.

Because now I know the proper technique to swim.

I have a faint understanding of what to do with my hands, arms, shoulders, legs, back, head, and breathing (it isn’t easy "not-swimming" when you are thinking about 117 different things).

Sadly, I can’t implement all of these techniques for an extended period of time.

Which means if I’m drowning, I will swim roughly 20 yards AND then sink like a rock.

I’m no rocket scientist, but I’m not sure if I got my money’s worth out of these lessons.

My teacher said if I was in a boat and it capsized I would be fine.

She said adrenaline would take over and I would be amazed by how well I could swim.

She might be right.

Especially, if I’m in the 3-foot end of the ocean and I have time to put on my swimming goggles (floaties wouldn’t hurt either).

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Believing You Are Great Leaves Very Little Room for Improvement.


The idea for this blog came to me after reading a comment left on an entry called “Perception”.

It got me thinking why educators and schools are sometimes the last to know they may not be as perfect as they want to believe.I Need This Poster.

I’m not judging, I’m just saying. 

This is an easy trap.

It can happen to administrators, teachers, custodians, cooks, school boards, parents, athletes, students and entire school districts (is there anyone I didn’t insult???).

Most of us like to believe we are self-motivated (if this was true, I wouldn’t need an alarm clock… or a scale).

And most of us are motivated.

Up to a point.

Then not so much.

The point our self-motivation fails us is when things get really hard.

It’s difficult to do things that are uncomfortable (or new).

I think this is one of the reasons it’s taken so long for technology to be taught by classroom teachers.

It can be hard (ie: new).  And confusing.  Even worse, it opens up the possibility the teacher may not be the smartest person in the classroom.

Many of us also believe the organization in which we are members is far greater than it actually is.

If you are involved with a group of people who are consistently telling each other they are great, you start to believe it.

None of us want to think we need to continually improve, but we do.

We all need help to accomplish great things.  To do our best.  To do things we could have never imagined.

It’s impossible to push ourselves to our limits (if that was the case the Marines wouldn’t need Sergeants).

Most of us think we are working as hard as possible.

We believe we are improving on a daily basis and giving at least a 110% effort (except on Fridays and days before holidays… those don’t count).

The truth is we probably aren’t.

That’s where we need help.

Other people (or outsiders) can recognize areas in which we need to improve.

That’s why we need coaches, bosses, mentors, and professional development.

We may not want people telling us we aren’t as great as we think we are, but it’s definitely what we need.

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Death, Taxes, and Hotel Workout Rooms.


There is very little you can count on in this world.

Politicians.  Nope.

Tiger Woods.  I don’t think so.

Anything good on TV.  Probably not (I think we need more channels).I Need a Fancy Excercise Outfit.

Swine Flu sweeping the country?  Not this year (or ever).

But all is not lost.

Even in 2010, you can still be sure of 3 things.

One, you will die.  I’m not exactly sure when or how, but it will happen (sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you are better off hearing it from me than some random stranger…).

Second, every government body known to man will tax you until you are beyond poor (and then when you run out of money, they will try to raise your taxes).

Third and most importantly to me, when you enter a hotel workout room it is a 100% mortal lock guarantee you will see a couple of things.

As you enter the surprisingly small room with a very strange smell, you will instantly notice the piece of workout equipment you want to use is broken.

You want to ride the stationary bike for 60 minutes before your big meeting?  Sorry, it won’t start.

Want to spend some time on the treadmill to relax before a presentation?  I don’t think so, because it needs to be repaired.

Simply want to lift weights to relieve some stress?  Not today, half of them are missing.

It never fails.

The other thing you will ALWAYS see in a hotel workout room is someone “working out” who has never “worked out” in their life.

You can recognize this person by the fact that they spend most of their time trying to figure out how to start each and every piece of exercise equipment.

They pretty much just wander around for an hour (often in a very sheik sweat suit).

When they do figure out how to start a machine, they “workout” hard for 4 minutes.

After they finish, they sprint to get a drink of water like they’ve been in the desert for 17 days.

I like it when life is predictable.

I would like it better if I was immortal and didn’t have to pay taxes.

These two are important because I will never find a stair stepper that works when I need one.

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Vegas Review.


I should have blogged about this earlier, but it has taken me a few days to completely get a handle on our first trip to Vegas (still trying to recover from the bad Easter Karma…).

My blogging schedule has been a little out of sorts.It Looks So Pretty From a Distance.

I can’t explain it, but I just haven’t been sharp.

This is a nice way of saying I’ve been lazier than a two-year old beagle (yes, that beagle).

Looking back, I’m starting to see a pattern.

Nothing makes me tired like a vacation.  This seems odd, but every time I go somewhere I return more exhausted than I left.

In theory, vacations are supposed to be relaxing.  You should return rested and ready to tackle all of life’s challenges.

When I get back, I want a nap.  Much like Buddy the Dog (yes, that beagle).

We’ve been home for 7 days and I’m still on West Coast time.

All I want to do is sleep in and then stay up until 4:00 am playing roulette… I mean watching TV.

In the last few days, I have tried to come to grips with my feelings about Vegas.

The whole experience has left me hurt and a little confused.

Before we left, I thought I had a good understanding on what Las Vegas would be like.

I assumed it would be hot.  I had a feeling the desert would be sandy.  I figured we would see Wayne Newton at a gas station.  And most importantly, everyone would be rich and happy.

I was wrong.

Vegas is a little more complicated than that.

It’s a fun city, but kind of sad.  It’s exciting, but I was concerned about dying in some sort of East Coast/West Coast rapper revenge killing (yes, I think about these things).

It’s rich and poor people gambling side by side (I have my doubts if many of them were that rich). 

It’s the best and the worst of people.

In summary, it’s a giant neon lit mess.

But in a good way.

Basically it’s Disneyworld for adults (without the mouse hats and long lines).

Every time I walked down The Strip I had the same thought.

I need a shower.

And yet, I was fascinated by the lights, attractions, hotels, and the people.

Mostly, the people.

It’s amazing what you see when you get out in the world.

It really does take all kinds.

All different types of people have made their way to Vegas (most with tattoos… call me old fashioned, but I still don’t get the sleeve tattoo look).

My suggestion is one time in your life you need to vacation in Vegas.

I would also add that you should leave your money at home.

Because while I returned (sleepy), my money did not.

I wondered how they paid for those fancy hotels.

Now I know.

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No Tenure for You. Come Back One Year (or Not).


I’ve steered clear of the following blog topic for the last three years (how time flies when you are blogging).

No, not the discussion on whether or not Seinfeld is the best TV show of all-time ( it is… BJ and the Bear comes in a close second).

Tenure.

This seems to be the hottest of all education topics.

Hotter than testing, the perceived worthlessness of administrators (I said perceived… because all of us are worth our weight in… well, in something), or the lack of parental support.The Soup Nazi (Seinfeld).

Tenure trumps them all.

Just saying the word can provoke a heated discussion (and get you beaten up in a Teacher’s Lounge near you…).

You are either for it, or against it.

It’s hard to find someone who rides the fence on this issue (much like Dancing With the Stars… some love it and some find it as enjoyable as abdominal cramps).

To me that’s the problem.

Those of us with tenure (yes, I am a proud owner (or not) of what could be construed as a lifetime teaching job) absolutely love the idea.

And what’s not to love.

Tenured teachers have jobs (very important in this day and age).  If that wasn’t enough, they (evil administrators) can’t fire those tenured teachers.

And as an added bonus, our raises are based on the number of years we have taught and has nothing to do with productivity.

It’s a little piece of heaven.

I’m not saying this is right.  I’m not saying it’s wrong.

I’m just saying it’s our system.

Then there is the anti-tenure crowd.

This is a rather large and angry group which includes pretty much everyone else in the free world (and most people in Cuba).

Anyone who doesn’t have tenure (99.999999% of all humans) believes it is the dumbest idea since New Coke (which incidentally, I enjoyed).

These people think far too many teachers who attain tenure end up going through the motions while cashing an ever increasing paycheck.

I’m not saying they are right.

I’m not saying they are wrong.

I am saying tenure is woven into the fabric of our educational system.

Some states are considering passing No Tenure Laws (way to be a leader Florida… and I’m crossing my fingers you don’t send us another Bush for The White House…).

Tenure has never seemed very American to me.

I’ve always thought our country was built on the idea that if you work hard and pay your dues (figure of speech… not Union) it’s possible to make your fortune and climb the ladder of success.

If you think like I do (and for your sake, I pray you don’t), tenure may be holding good teachers back.

They aren’t granted the opportunity to be judged financially on the great work they do.

They are lumped in with all teachers, good and bad. 

Those who work 12 hour days and those who hardly work at all.

I think that’s a shame.

Tenure doesn’t help our best and brightest.

It doesn’t promote working harder, thinking outside the box (which is the dumbest phrase since… Where’s the Beef?), or going above and beyond.

Unfortunately, it’s major purpose seems to be protecting older teachers from vindictive administrators and school boards.

This is important, but is it reason enough to keep tenure in 2010?

The title of this blog comes from The Soup Nazi.  My hero.  My mentor.  My compadre (at least he will be after I learn Spanish).

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School Lunches: What Are We Doing to Our Kids?


food revolution

 

This blog carries many burdens. 

The main one is I can’t leave my house without NOT being recognized.

Thankfully, I’m getting used to this awkward and uncomfortable feeling (for the last time people… I look just like the cartoon… it’s just not that complicated).

Another is I constantly receive emails from people who want me to promote their products.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I will NOT schlep for your company.

I hope that’s clear enough.

No exceptions.

Unless you send me free stuff.

I have standards (I wear XL t-shirts in case you were wondering… and as it turns out, my standards are actually relatively low).

I just don’t feel comfortable capitalizing on the PrincipalsPage.com name (again, XL… and I’m still looking for a book and a movie deal… I have my fingers crossed that I will be played by one of the greatest actors of our generation, Mr. Morgan Freeman).

Until I get my big break (i.e. paid), I will continue passing on educationally related items that I believe will benefit the readers of this blog (and more importantly, students).

Today (or whenever you read this…), I want to share a new TV series about the food served by schools. 

It’s Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

Sounds boring, but it isn’t.

Once you start watching, it’s hard to look away.

It’s like a car wreck.

If you watch just one TV series about lunch ladies… this is it.

His website describes the series (much better than I could) as being about how families eat, what kids get at school and why the diet of processed food and snacks is causing so many health and obesity problems.

The series was filmed in Huntington, West Virginia.

Jamie’s challenge was to see if he could get a whole community cooking again.

He worked with the school lunch ladies and local families to get everyone back in the kitchen and making tasty meals with fresh ingredients – no packets, no cheating. He’s started a Food Revolution: to get people all over America to reconnect with their food and change the way they eat.

Please take a few minutes and watch episodes 1 – 3 (you can watch the entire series on Hulu.com… which is free TV on the internet… welcome to 2010).

If you agree with the concept (and you will… unless you hate small children) click on the Food Revolution Badge and sign the petition in support of healthier school lunches.

petion

Mr. Oliver hopes to collect enough signatures so the White House will allow him to deliver the petition to President Obama.

If enough people sign in support, he just might get the right people to listen.

Like the First Lady Michelle Obama.

And if she’s happy, everyone’s happy (at least that’s how it works at my house).

Enjoy (and prepare yourself to be shocked and disgusted) the first three episodes (and don’t forget to watch the rest on ABC or Hulu.com).

 

Episode #1

 

Episode #2

 

Episode #3

I was kidding about Morgan Freeman playing me in a movie… he’s way too tall.

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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.