Most Popular Posts of 2010.


Another year is coming to a close (or it’s over… depends on when you read this).

For me, this means one thing.

An easy blog (post… whatever).

So here are the most popular Blogs (posts… whatever) based on comments from 2010.

Thank you for taking the time to visit.

I’m amazed at the number of people who continue to come back (over 25,000 a month).

A special thanks to everyone who has been kind enough to leave a comment.  I learn far more from you than you do me.

It’s been a great year.

See you in 2011!


January -  We Need to Stop Teaching Our Students How to Write.  (54 comments)

February – How Plumbers Can Improve Education.  (27 comments).

March – Perception.  (22 comments)

April – That Kid.  (17 comments)

May – Times Change, Do You?  (11 comments… slow month)

June – Time to Get Things Off My Desk.  And Chest.  (18 comments)

July – I Stink at Vacation.  (14 Comments)

August – Teacher Tired.  (16 comments)

September – Cursing is Wrong?  I Wish Someone Had Told Me.  (15 comments)

October – First Graders and the F Bomb.  (30 comments)

November – Twitter is Changing Education.  But Not School Desks.  (19 comments)

December – Teachertudes.  (19 comments)

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Skiing. Esquí. 滑雪.

The Evil Spawn likes a lot of things.

Sleep.  Books.  Video games.  Basketball.  Chocolate.  Not doing chores in a prompt and timely fashion.

And she likes to ski (as you can see from the video).

If you have been paying attention you know she’s nine years old (going on 35). 

She’s been skiing since she was five (we question our parental judgment for allowing her to slide down the side of a mountain at 107 miles an hour before she completed kindergarten).

Since she started skiing so young, it came quite easily to her.

I didn’t start trying to injure myself on the slopes until I was 37 (which sounds old… but seems quite youthful to me 6 years later).

Even though I’m stronger and more athletic (my opinion, not hers), she’s a better skier.

And even worse, you can watch her and tell she has a lot of room to improve.

In the next few years, she will only get better.

I, on the other hand, will only get older.

My skiing skills have probably peaked (get it, peaked… mountains… never mind).

How is this possible?

How can someone younger and weaker be so much better?

I was thinking about this as I laid in the snow after smacking my face on the side of the half pipe.

Young people catch on to new skills quicker than old people (see:  technology).


At least it seemed like genius, as I tried to pick up my pride after my latest crash.

Once my head cleared (days later), this got me thinking about how we teach foreign language in school (don’t try to figure out how my mind jumps from one thing to the next).

Why don’t we teach 1st graders a second language while they are young?

And eager.

And unafraid.

Why do we wait until they are older and their reflexes aren’t as sharp?

Sorry, I don’t know if I’m talking about learning a second language or skiing.

I may still be in a fog.

Sadly, I used her Flip Cam to make the video.  She had to show me how to turn it on (and this was pre-head injury).

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She Believes. Do You?

It Doesn't Hurt to Believe.

She’s nine.

Another Christmas has come and gone.

And she believes.

Really, really believes.

No questions asked.

No hesitation.

No weird looks to see if we believe (for the record, we do… because what’s the downside).

How long will it last?

Can she make it to ten?  Or eleven?  Or maybe thirty?

Last year at this time, we were positive she wouldn’t make it through another Christmas.

But she has.

Maybe she knows something we don’t.  Maybe she doesn’t want to let us down.

Maybe she just believes.

Do you?

Be careful with your comments… she reads this blog.

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What Christmas Means to Me.

Christmas is a special time.He's Scary.

It’s an opportunity to slow down (actually speed up) and spend time with friends and family.

The holidays mean carols, lights, church, Santa Claus, and snow (and don’t forget holiday sales… items slashed 20%… until the day after Christmas when prices will be slashed 99%).

But to me, Christmas means something else.

The Grinch.

That guy scared the bejeebies out of me when I was a kid.

And I’m not to proud to admit he still does.

I never make it through a Christmas season without seeing that thing in my dreams (nightmares).

To this day I find this male humanoid creature with bright green fur, scrawny limbs, a round midsection, and a foul grimace CREEPY (the previous sentence brought to you by Wikipedia… expect for the word creepy… I added that).

It’s possible I am the only person who was scarred by this “cartoon”.

But I doubt it.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Except to you Mr. Grinch.  You are a mean one.

If he wasn’t scary enough, he was also mean to his dog Max… so Buddy the Dog also hates him.

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Post Semester Stress Disorder.

Try It.  You Might Like It.

The sound you hear are sighs of relief (or crying in some cases).

School employees are in full exhale mode.

The semester is winding down (or crashing… whatever…).

The holiday/winter/Christmas break is here.

Students, teachers, and parents are happy and relieved (although parents won’t be quite so happy after their kids are home for a couple of weeks… and by parents I mean me).

I’m fascinated how school employees go through an emotional ringer as they face the start or end of something.

The beginning of school brings added stress, but so does the end of a semester.

Do people who work in the regular world face these same issues?

Or are they exempt because they never get an end or a beginning?

They have the start of their career and retirement.  That’s the list.

We have beginnings and endings several times a year.

As school employees, we are lucky.

Weekends off.  Holidays.  Summer breaks.

Even though these all bring a certain amount of stress, we need to remember we have a good life.

A really good life.

And as I repeatedly tell myself, working at school beats a real job.

Even with the stress.

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The Graph of Snow Day Excitement.

Snow Days affect us in different ways.Sad But True.  (from

To break it down I’ve made a graph with words (it’s all I got, so bear with me).


Students:  It’s a combination of Christmas, their birthdays, and a trip to the amusement park.  In their lifetimes nothing rivals this special day.

Not their first cars.  Not their college graduations.  Not their weddings.  Not their firstborns.


The snow day to a child is life’s greatest gift.


Parents:  It’s fun about once a year (especially if they also get off work).  It’s not unlike summer vacation for mom and dad. 

Fun for awhile, but at some point  it is time for the kids to go back to school (this generally occurs about 9:42 am when the kids announce they are bored).

Snow Days #2-5 are simply babysitting nightmares.


Teachers:  They will tell you they don’t want a Snow Day… way too much to do.

That’s a lie.

It’s a paid day off. 

Even if they have a lot to do, they get over it about halfway through watching Regis and Kelly in their pajamas (teachers’ pajamas… not Regis’s).


Principals:  It’s a break from students, parents, and teachers.

Enough said.

Of course, if the principal is also a parent… all bets are off (sometimes watching 400 of other people’s kids is easier than 2 of your own).


Superintendents:  Snow Days are a nightmare.

Do you cancel school?

Do you not cancel school?

Who wants to get up at 4:00 am and stare into the darkness and try to guess what the weather will be like in 3 to 8 hours?

What do you say when parents call and complain?

Cancel school and people are upset about not being able to find a sitter.

Don’t cancel and the very same people complain about how dare you risk the children’s lives when it’s _________ (fill in the blank with snowing, windy, cold, foggy, or icy).

Even worse, don’t cancel and all four districts that surround you do (the dreaded Snow Day Donut).

It’s a no win.

Now don’t get me wrong.  It’s still fun.

It’s still a Snow Day!!!

As always, Snow Day is capitalized. That’s out of respect.  We don’t want to offend the precious Snow Day and risk it not returning.

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The Best Year of Their School Lives?

Mom's Class.

This blog is probably a little overdue, but I’ve been hesitate because I didn’t want to jinx the situation.

If you remember (and you probably don’t’), the Evil Spawn is in her mother’s class this year.

Yes, they are both confined to the same 4th grade room for 9 long months.

When this opportunity presented itself, my reaction was like most of my reactions.

How does this effect me?

My conclusion was it wasn’t going to be good.

Not good at all.

The fights.  The homework.  The awkward Parent-Teacher Conference.

The arguments at home about the fights, homework, and what a bad father/parent I am.

The worst part?  Me playing the complicated role of both room dad and husband (this could be my only chance at finally win a well-deserved Oscar… my one regret is I haven’t gained 150 pounds and used an accent for the role).

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t see much upside to this school year.

Again, for me.

But they both believed this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

And since I had no say, I took the position of “I’m all for it”.

For them this was the being in the right school, at the right age, at the right time.

As an administrator, I’m not sure I would have placed a teacher’s child in his or her classroom because of the numerous variables.

The kid.  The teacher.  The students.  The other staff members.

A lot could go wrong (and in school, it frequently does).

But, I’m happy to report (knock on wood) it seems to be going great.

But, I’m sad to report I think this has less to do with my wife and daughter and more to do with the other kids.

The Evil Spawn and her deadbeat friends seem to be a very good class. 

There are three types of classes. 

One, which comes along about every 5 years, is the class that makes kindergarten teachers cry in the hallway.  On the first day of school.

Once, these kindergarten teachers compose themselves, they immediately run to the teacher’s lounge and warn all the other teachers to make sure they retire the year before they get these heathens in class.

Then they go back to crying.

The second type of class are the duds.  Good kids, but they have no interest in anything.

The don’t like school.  Or reading.  Or work.   Or athletics.  Or even breathing.

They are just there.

Then there’s the third type.  The great class.  They are also on a five year cycle (so it works like this… terrible, dud, great, dud, dud,… and the cycle continues).

Teachers love the great classes.  This is what gets them to return from summer vacation.

And not retire.  In fact, there is no evidence a teacher has ever retired the year before they were to get a great class.

When they have a great class they love it.  The year flies by far too quickly.

They actually get to teach and not play referee.

This makes teachers very happy.

These kids are easily recognizable because they love everything.

A class like this so special because they like each other.  This may sound like a simple concept, but if you have ever been in a room with 25 students you know how important this is.

They are supportive, not demeaning.  They are happy and upbeat, not cranky and put-out.  They don’t want less work, they want more challenging assignments.  They are competitive, but gracious in losing.

They are so good as a group, they can even pull other students towards success.

This is the class my daughter has stumbled into (props to my wife for excellent birthing timing).

Being with a great group has allowed my wife and daughter to have a wonderful half-year.

Will it last?  Time will tell.

From my perspective, I hope so.

A once in a lifetime opportunity only seems to happen about once a lifetime.

Note to readers… wife not happy with “excellent birthing timing” reference.  In fact, any reference to all things pregnant makes her nervous.

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Merry Christmas from The Evil Spawn and Buddy the Dog.

The Evil Spawn has been working with Animoto in her mom’s class.

Christmas + Buddy the Dog = One Proud 4th Grader (mom wants you to know this is a practice project).

As her dad (and one-half of her gene pool), I’m also very proud.

So from everyone at the corporate headquarters… Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

And Happy Festivus.



You wouldn’t know it from this video, but Buddy is actually awake from time to time.

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2010 Edublog Awards. It’s An Honor Just to Be Nominated.

Winning Wouldn't Stink.






I’ve been nominated for two Edublog Awards. (which makes me openly question the sanity of the judges).

Best Individual and Best School Administrator Blog. Best School Administrator Blog?  Must Be a Weak Field.

This means a couple of things.

One, I need a new dress (how horrified would I be if someone caught me wearing my 2009 dress at the awards ceremony).

Two, I have to remember to thank my beagle, my agent, and especially my ghostwriter during my acceptance speech.  Mainly my beagle, because without him I’m just a creepy guy dragging an empty dog leash down the street.

To be honest, I hope I don’t win.


Because if I did I will be under enormous pressure to start producing quality blog posts.

And I have no interest in that.

I like my little world where I quickly slop down my thoughts on things that only interest, bother, and bug me.

The expectation of quality is something I don’t want to deal with.Best Individual Blog?  Really?  I Mean Really.

Plus, if a school superintendent actually wins an Edublog Award it may very well encourage other superintendents to blog.

And I’m really not interested in that.

Competition wouldn’t make me better.  It would only make be bitter.

Since July 2007, I have had the Superintendent + Sarcasm corner of the interweb all to myself.

And that’s the way I like it.

So do me, The Evil Spawn, The Tech Queen, and Buddy the Dog a favor.  

Don’t vote.

And if you’re from Chicago, please remember to not vote several times.

As usual, if you choose to ignore my advice, you can vote HERE for the Best School Administrator Blog.  And HERE for the Best Individual Blog.  Just make sure it’s for someone else.

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Email Stress.

Teachers and administrator have stress all around them.

The beginning of school stress.

Report card stress.Ever Feel Buried?

Parent-Teacher Conference stress.

Holiday stress.

Testing stress.

Way too much free food in the lounge stress.

School Board stress.

Overwhelmed with constantly changing new technology stress.

Contract stress.

Other employee stress.

Senseless meeting stress.

Teacher stress on administrators.

Administrator stress on teachers.

Discipline stress.

Kids with runny noses stress.

Lack of enough snow days stress (the official season of woo-hoo! is about to begin).

End of school stress.

And the list goes on and on.

But #1 on the list comes from an unexpected source.

Email stress.

Electronic mail was supposed to make our lives simpler.  But like with so many things, it has made it more complicated (hello, spam).

Emails are great but they never stop.  Ding.  Ding.  Ding.  Ding.

My inbox makes more noise than junior high boys in the restroom (take my advice… do not go in there)

If you walk away from your computer for 10 minutes you can return to 20 emails.

During the course of writing this blog, I’ve received 12 emails… only 1 was almost important (and it’s Sunday).

Emails multiply like rabbits.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed.

The good news is I think our friends, the tech people, can help (let me… I mean them… help you).

While most people know the basics of email, most don’t go beyond that.

The easiest way to reduce the amount of time you spend on incoming emails is to filter them automatically as they arrive.

This is where you need tech help.

To not only set up your email folders, but to help relieve your stress.

Or some of your stress.

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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.