Traveling is Fun. Pre-Travel is Not.

I hate pre-traveling.

The planning.My Packing Skills Have a Lot to Be Desired.

The scheduling.

The packing.

The over packing.

The drive to the airport (2:45 am wake-up call).

The sleepless night because you lie in fear you won’t hear your 17 alarm clocks, and you will miss the whole thing.

The arriving at the airport 2 hours early, just so I can make my way through security in 43 seconds.

While 43 seconds sounds quick, it’s a lifetime when you’re being touched in places where you shouldn’t be touched (how many people on the no-fly list do I share a name with???)

The checking in at the hotel only to discover I’ve forgotten something I reminded myself over and over not to forget (mental note… don’t forget toothbrush… and pants).

You may be asking why I travel if it’s such a hassle?

Because it’s free!  And you know how I love the free stuff (email me if you have any questions… and free stuff).

Once or twice a year, I accept a very gracious invitation that has me show up and attend meetings at a location that’s at least 40 degrees warmer than the one in which I live.

This time it’s the good people at District Administration Magazine.

They have been kind enough to fly me to Phoenix.  They are also going to provide me with some professional development.

And golf.

But mostly professional development.

With some golf.

I can’t thank them enough for the airfare, resort hotel, the opportunity to learn more about technology, instructional design, health care budgets, drop-out prevention, and school wellness.

And don’t forget the golf.

Now if I could just do this without all the pre-travel hassle.

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Why Use Twitter?

Because it’s the greatest professional development tool ever.

And the best part?

It’s free.


Follow me – @principalspage

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It’s both sad and tragic.Dropouts Aren't Cheap.

Students need to do better.

Families need to do better.

Schools need to do better.

Our country needs to do better.

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Bullying Victim or Hero. Thoughts?

I’m a little behind on this topic, but as it often happens, school got in the way (it was a very special full-moon week).

In the last few days an Australian boy has rocketed to YouTube fame after a classmate recorded a cell phone video of him body-slamming a smaller boy who’d been picking on him at school.

The clip which was hard for me to watch shows the altercation (although neither boy was hurt in the confrontation).

Both boys got suspended.  The smaller student for 21 days and the young man who fought back, 4 days.

Public support seems to be overwhelmingly on the side of the original victim, whose father said he’d been bullied for years without fighting back (hopefully he won’t have this problem going forward).

This incident seems to have drawn more attention to the problem of childhood bullying.

As an educator, bullying can be one of the most challenging issues we face.

Take a look and share your thoughts on the video or bullying in general.



If this issue wasn’t complex enough, an added layer is a student videotaping the incident on his cell phone.  If the bullying issue was challenging enough, think about dealing with it once it goes viral on YouTube.

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Dumbest Education Thing Ever. At Least Since Duck and Cover.

Duck and Cover.  We Have the Same Attitude When It Comes to Dismissing Teachers.

I’m looking to be talked off the proverbial ledge.

It’s teacher layoff season and I’m once again trying to find someone who can explain this idiotic concept to me.


It’s so idiotic even it’s acronym sounds stupid.

“Last In, First Out”.

Who can possibly think it’s a good idea to lay-off teachers based on the concept of the most recently hired must be dismissed first?

How have educators allowed this to happen?

How has our country allowed this to happen?

How can we base staffing decisions on hiring dates and not on quality?

I’m not saying schools should always keep the newer teachers, I’m saying they should keep the best teachers.

Maybe I’m wrong.  It has happened before.

Like the time I told my 4th grade teacher I didn’t think hiding under a desk would protect us from a nuclear war (she wasn’t amused).

Maybe we should change LIFO to Duck and Cover.

Because no matter how you say it, students are at risk.

Times of the year I dislike immensely:  March for teacher layoffs, April for tax day, and September for Christmas sales.

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Education Reform: Teachers Seem Surprised.

Why Are Educators Surprised?Education is being attacked.

You can’t open a newspaper (do people still do this?), cruise the world wide web, or turn on the TV without hearing about a group who’s upset with educators (remember the good old days when only parents got mad… usually about too much homework or book bags that were too heavy).

Public education has become the face of everything that is wrong with America.

And why not.  We don’t have anyone else to blame.

Not overspending government.  Not undisciplined politicians.  Not dysfunctional families.

Our country is failing because of the school down the street.

You’ve seen it.

Busses pull up every morning.  Students go to class.  Teachers give homework.  Administrators have expectations.  School Boards do their best on a limited budget.

It’s a zoo.

It’s a wonder any of us allow our children inside these walls (this would be sarcasm… oh, you knew that already, didn’t you?).

People want public education to be the villain.

The good news is everything goes in a cycle.  Given enough time this attitude towards schools and educators will pass.

The question is, can public schools survive until we get our collective wits in order?

My guess is probably not.

Schools may not look vastly different in 10 years, but they will be.

The buildings will be the same.  Busses will transport students.  Athletic events will be played.  Teachers will give grades.  A principal will still roam the hallways and yell “Hurry up!!!” into the restrooms (very likely, junior high boys).

But mark my word, things are changing.

How can I be so sure?

Because politicians have decided to fix education (and why not… they’ve done such a great job at addressing all of our other problems…).

This means education will never be the same.

While this doesn’t surprise me, something else does.

Teachers seem stunned by the entire process.  It’s like they had no idea the general public (where politicians get their strength) had grown dismayed by public education.

This feeling has been growing and growing, but those of us closest to the situation seem to be the most surprised.

It’s like we felt education would stay the same for the next 500 years.

And this is the part of the story that shocks me.

As educators, I feel like we should be forward thinkers, but in this case we’re not.

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Professional Development Means Developing as a Professional.

As I look back on my 16 years in education, I’ve seen many changes.

My hairline.

My age.You Have to Change and You Have to Improve.

My weight.

My paycheck.

All have gotten bigger (I’ve notice there’s a lot more bad than good).

The biggest change deals with expectations.

There’s ever increasing pressure from the state and federal government to improve student achievement.

And this attitude shows no sign of slowing down.

One day, I will retire (I hope… I hope… I hope) and at that time it’s likely I will barely recognize public education.

It will be a shell of its former self.  Not necessarily in a bad way, just in a different way (it’s a “it’s not you, it’s me” situation).

One of the changes within this big change is the way educators approach professional development.

When I started out as a teacher, professional development was almost an afterthought.

It was something you did, but not something you took seriously.

It was a day off from school and if you learned anything at the meeting… great.  And if you didn’t learn anything… great.

It was win-win because of the day out of school.

Did I mention you didn’t have to go to school on this day?

To summarize, you got out of it what you put into it.

Which in far too many cases wasn’t much.

A decade later, quality professional development is a key component of a successful school district.

Curriculum, special education, and technology are constantly changing.  In 2011, we need teachers and administrators to change with them.

This takes professional development and lots of it (and money… never forget money).

I used to encourage new teachers to ask about benefits when they interviewed.

Now I tell them to ask about ongoing professional development opportunities.

I guess when you think about it, these are benefits.

For the teacher.

For the school.

And most importantly, for the students.

This blog was written for VIA. The only quarterly eZine for administrators, teachers and advocates of arts integration! VIA provides research, resources and articles on arts integration that are vital to every program’s success.

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Little Girls Grow Up So Quickly.

Where does the time go?

It seems like The Evil Spawn was born only yesterday.

Now she’s 10.

She’s outgrown her playroom wall, so it was time for a change.

But what I know and she doesn’t is all too soon, she will outgrow our house altogether.



 Happy Birthday.

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A Day Made of Glass.

Our future, brought to you by Corning.

It is hard to imagine what we will see and experience in the next 50 years.

Or the next 5.


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Interviewing Makes Me Smarter.

In my profession, I get the opportunity to interview a lot of people.

This could mean a couple of things.

One, people hate me with such a passion that after a very short period of being around me on a daily basis, they quit.

Or two (and my much prefered theory), while I’m not a genius (this is constantly reinforced by the people who live in my house) I’ve been able to hire good/great people who sometimes have opportunities to take other/better jobs.

Either way, I get to interview lots and lots of people.Truth Be Told... I Wasn't That SMART to Begin With.

On a slow year, I would say I have 5 openings in various positions.

That means I interview about 25-40 different candidates every 12 months.

In a more hectic time, this number could easily triple.

And that’s a lot of interviews.

This brings me to a new theory.

Interviewing isn’t a science.

It’s an art (no, this isn’t my theory… someone already had this brainstorm…).

When interviewing you find yourself looking for certain things:  a good work ethic, passion, leadership, an ability to get along with others, organization, forward-thinking, etc.

These are what we call no-brainers (welcome to behind the curtain of school administration).

When you think about it, no one is looking for:  a bad work ethic,  little or no passion, an inability to lead, someone who can’t get along with others, disorganization, and backward-thinking.

My theory (which isn’t completely crazy… despite the thoughts of these same people who eat my food and are entertained by the 1,000 TV stations I provide them) is there’s one attribute you have to look for
in all interview candidates.

They must be smarter than you.Yes, this theory finds its genius in its simplicity (as do all good theories).

Don’t just hire smart people, hire smarter people.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  The key to success:  be the dumbest person in the room.

Even more interesting (to me) than what happens at the conclusion of an interview is what happens during an interview.

The smart ones make me smarter (not that difficult of an accomplishment, but an accomplishment nonetheless).

And this is the part of the interview process I really enjoy.

It’s an opportunity to talk to people who have knowledge and experiences I don’t.

Even though I can’t hire every person I interview, it always works out for me.

Because while they may not get the job, I always get smarter.

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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.