5 Minute University.


If you are under 35 years of age, you’ve probably never heard of Father Guido Sarducci.

You may also be confused by his reference to a Polaroid camera.

His thoughts on college are funny because they are closer to the truth than we as educators would like to admit.

Enjoy.

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Let Me Tell You a Little Story About the Grossest Hotel Room Ever.


Actually, it’s not a story about a seedy hotel, but that doesn’t matter.Much Cleaner.  I Mean Much Cleaner.

You are here for the gross part and I’m not about to disappoint.

Let me start at the beginning.

The Evil Spawn was wrapping up her summer season of softball, so we had one final trip. 

I say summer season, because next year starts in about 8 minutes because June 2013 is just around the corner and we’ve got to get these girls practicing (sarcasm alert!).

Since we had this one last tournament and we were tired of living in No Tell Motels, we had the ingenious idea to rent a house.

It would be fun.

It would be close to Lake Michigan.

The whole family together.

It would be like a vacation, except for the fact that 14 hours a day we would be sitting in lawn chairs at some faceless softball field in 197 degree heat.

Actually, it’s fun.  Except for the part where your underwear starts sweating.  I hate that.

One would think a person’s underwear would dry out in extreme heat, but it’s just the opposite.

But, I digress.  We rent this house and it seems like a great idea.

I probably wouldn’t have done this 10 years ago, but now with the interweb it’s just so simple.

Pictures online.  Reviews by other God fearing kind-hearted folks.

What could possibly go wrong?

Turns out a lot.

The pictures didn’t exactly reflect the level of disgusting that wrapped itself around the house like a thick winter coat on a chubby 4-year old.

Turns out people who rent their homes for money don’t use the word "filthy" or the phrase "should be condemened" when they are trying to make a buck.

I should have realized we had a problem when cockroaches met us at the front door.  And they were on their way out.

The look on my wife’s face as she was sentenced… I mean walked in to this rental property was disturbing.  She looked like a teenage girl in a horror movie when the phone rings and the call is coming from inside the house.

She was scared.  And rightfully so.

The highlights were as follows:  old food in the refrigerator, a mysterious hair attached to the TV remote, enough trash hidden under the raised cabinets to start your own dump, and a cat in the corner of the bedroom.

Actually, it wasn’t a cat.

It was a dust bunny in the shape of a 47 pound cat.  I swear it growled at me when I reached down to pet it.

I was afraid to turn on the lights.  Not because I didn’t want to see more dirt, but because I was frightened to touch the light switch.  There was a layer of something on it that reminded me of a petri dish.

I could go on and on, but it gives me the willies and I feel like I need to save part of this story for my therapist.

And as a favor to all of my loyal readers, I’m not even going to tell you my theory on the mystery hair.

My wife tried in vain to find a hotel room for us to stay in, but they were all booked.  Turns out Priceline and William Shatner couldn’t save me on this night.

So I went with Plan B.

I slept in my clothes.

I did survive the night, but then I had to use the restroom and shower.

Honestly, in my 44 years on this Earth, I don’t recall feeling dirtier after a shower than before.  And I grew up in an era where you showered after high school PE.

Something positive did come out of this experience (besides the partial refund).

I have a whole new respect for my wife’s fear of portapotties (she can’t be the only one who would rather explode than take one step into these plastic boxes of infection).

Actually, now that I think about it, I would have been better off sleeping in a portapotty.

As an added bonus it was our wedding anniversary.

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The T-Shirt Every Youth Sports Parent Should Be Required to Wear.


I saw this today.Best Shirt Ever.  And Smartest.

And it made my summer.

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How Do You React When You See These 4 Words?


Happiness?It's Time.

Sadness?

Excitement?

Fear?

Relief?

Dread?

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Why Do I Answer Questions? I Do It For the Kids.


From time to time, I get questions from college students. Fitchburg State. Home of the Falcons.

Sometimes these questions come from teachers obtaining their masters’ degrees.

Other times they are sent to me by scary hitchhikers who seem to have an uncanny sense of where I live.

The latest.

1. How do you view the Common Core Standards in relation to the ’4 Kinds of Smart?’

Educators are probably going to hate Common Core.  I say this because as educators we are bred to hate everything new.

I remember when I started my career, a veteran teacher cornered me for 45 minutes to tell me how the world would end if teachers were forced to use whiteboards instead of chalkboards.

Update on world ending:  It didn’t.

My hope is Common Core levels the playing field. 

Students, no matter where they were born, deserve the same quality of education.  The system will never be completely fair, but we have to try to get it as close as we can.

I have big hopes for Common Core, but remember… I’m also standing in a very short line of educators who like NCLB.

I do hope this country begins to realize we must offer different types of education to satisfy the needs of different types of learners.

2. Discovery Education Science Techbook, covered in your April blog, seemed to underwhelm you. However, Pearson publishing, with funding from the Gates Foundation, is launching online curriculum that perfectly aligns with the Common Core Standards. The lion’s share of Gates foundation money is being invested in technology-based instruction and assessment. The new Teacher Evaluation (value added) system that pairs teacher performance with student test scores is already underway in most states and is aptly aimed at dissolving tenure. Most states now operate a K-12 virtual school. What do you believe is the long-range, underlying plan for education?

They don’t have a plan.

But the more they throw darts at the wall, the more likely they are to stumble upon a plan.

Discovery’s Techbook wasn’t terrible.  It just didn’t meet my high hopes.

Getting rid of tenure is a good thing.  Getting rid of teachers’ unions may turn out to be a bad thing.

I think we are in the beginning stages of the death of the public school as we know it.  What the system will look like in 20 years, I have no idea. But, I’m hoping it pays superintendents well.

3. What do you think of Professional Learning Communities? Is this valuable collaboration, or a process-oriented waste of time?

A little from Column A… a little from Column B.

It can be a valuable collaboration and it can also be a process in which I update thousands of people on the sleeping habits of Buddy the Dog.

I have over 6,000 Twitter followers (@principalspage).  I can almost gaurantee you they’ve learned nothing from me.

4. Are you worried about America’s world-standing in Education? Do you think education in the USA is being dragged down? And if so, by what?

No.  We are fine.

America thrives on drama.  In the education world, that means we are obsessed with our ranking in the world.

If I’m wrong, pick a country you want your child to go to high school.

And then go.

I mean it.  Get out.

Get a box.  Get your stuff.  And beat it.

We are America.  We should stop apologizing for not being perfect in every single facet of life.  We do our best and sometimes that just has to be good enough.

We should be proud.

We have DISH and Direct TV, Five Guys, gas stations every 12 feet, pizza delivered right to our homes, and the NFL.

We owe no apologies.

Last time I checked, a lot more people were moving to America than away from America.

4. As a marathon runner and would-be professional baseball player, what are your thoughts on health and education?

I wish.  Half-marathon. 

I have the shirt to prove it.

We have to transition from teaching games in school to teaching good health habits.

I like to think occassionally the government does something productive.  An example is getting 99% of the people not to smoke in my lifetime.

Now, I think we need to focus on healthy lifestyles for kids.

This will have to be done by the entire country.  I think First Lady Obama is starting to push us in the right direction.

But we can do it.  We’ve tackled smoking, factory working conditions, seatbelts in cars, and not drinking during preganancy.  All in the last 50 years.

5. If you could be King of Education in America, what would you do?

The list:

Make it a federal crime for burning popcorn in the teacher’s lounge.

Go back in time and use all of the ARRA money to install air conditioning in schools that don’t have it.

Year round school.

Drop the idea of grade levels based on age.  They should be based on ability.

Mandatory 2 years of service to our country after high school.  Might be military.  Could be working in a state park or soup kitchen.  Do something to make the world a better place.

Start girls in kindergarten at age 6, boys at age 7.

Grade promotion based on testing.  Test at grade 3, 6, 8, 10, and 12.  Stop with the "some people don’t test well".  They seem to do fine on their drivers license test.

Drop all state and federal testing until they figure out how to do it online and have it graded immediately.  We can travel to the moon and back, but we can’t figure out a way to grade a multiple choice ACT test?

Make it a federal crime, punishable by death, if you mess up my order at the drive through.

I have more, but I’m just getting angry typing this list.

Actually that’s a lie.  I’m just hungry.

The drive through comment made me realize I haven’t had dinner.

Go Falcons! (that’s where they questions came from… I hope you get an A Kris!)

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How to Maintain Classroom Discipline (1947).


It still holds up.

Sort of.

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AASA Connect. Read Their Blogs. And Mine.


The American Association of School Administrators is currently featuring PrincipalsPage.com on their blog page.AASA - A Great Organization.

Their website is designed to celebrate success in public schools and serve as an interactive professional resource for superintendents.

As luck would have it, I like celebrations, success in public schools, and being an interactive professional resource.

Thank you AASA.  And keep up the good work.

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700 Subscribers.


It’s official.That's a Lot of People.

The PrincipalsPage.com Blog now has 700 subscribers.

This, along with close to 600,000 visitors and a 800,000 pageviews since April of 2009, makes me realize I’ve disappointed a lot of people in that time.

I’m sorry.

And thank you.

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The Biggest of All Parental Mistakes.


I’m about to do all parents a favor.Never Make a Wish.

I’m going to share a lesson most of us had to learn the hard way.

Please take notes (or just refer back to this blog … it’s good for traffic).

Never.

Ever.

Wish.

Against.

Your.

Kids.

The mere thought of wishing against your children will infuriate the God of your choice.

Karma will smack you upside the head like a tired angry mom with 7 year old triplets in Wal-mart (I’ve seen her slap them into next week… and I was scared).

Examples follow.

Your kid is playing in his or her 100th baseball/softball game of the summer.  Every one of them took place in tempatures of at least 1,000 degrees.

You just want an evening off.  You spot what looks like a raincloud in the distance.

You quietly, without bringing any attention to yourself, wish it would rain just enough to cancel the game so you can go home and read a book.

This may seem like a simple harmless wish, but you know what will happen?

No rain for 18 months.  A drought of epic proportions.  Your kid’s game not only won’t be rained out, but it will go extra innings.

Farmers will hate you.

And if you’re lucky, you might get home by 2:00 am.

Another example.  Wish your child’s graduation program will be over in less than an hour.

You’ve just guaranteed you will be in a hot gymnasium without air conditioning sitting between smelly people for the next four days.

Wish the coach will put your kid in the big game.

It happens.  Only to have the very same kid do something so horrific the team loses by 97 points and the other parents won’t speak to you in the grocery store ever again (this last part could be a good thing).

Wish your child’s teacher would announce your kid as a mortal lock for a full scholarhsip to an Ivy League college. 

Not going to happen.  There’s a better chance the teacher says in her 47 years of education she’s never been more sure a child is guaranteed to be convicted of a felony before their 14th birthday.

Wish your kids gets a college degree so they can support themselves.

They do.

And they move back home for the next four decades.  With their spouse.

And four kids.  And two dogs.  And massive debt.

Get it?

Never wish. 

It angers the God of I Just Want Some Peace and Quiet.

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Vacation Means Driving Around and Looking at Schools.


I can’t be the only one who does this.I Shouldn't Be Blogging While on Vacation. I'm An Idiot.

Who in their right mind doesn’t like driving by the local schools when they are on vacation?

My wife thinks I’m weird (not for this… other stuff).

Here’s how it works.

After surviving a long school year, you take a vacation vowing never to return to the world of education you left behind.

As soon as you arrive at your destination, you begin to wonder where the school is located.

You look it up on your laptop and then you drive by to see it.

It’s simple.

And interesting.

And it’s not weird.

Okay, maybe it’s a little weird.

But it’s not like I went in.  Doors were locked (Palm Desert High School… Go Aztecs!).

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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.