Be Available. Just Don’t Be Too Available.

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Technology is quite possibly the best thing to ever happen to school administrators. It could also be the worst thing to happen to school administrators.

Computers, email, Twitter, etc. are everywhere. And at a cheap price.

The only thing that separates technology from drugs is the absence of a dealer standing on the street corner giving you your first “Tweet” free.

If I am anything, it is street wise, so I know how these things work.

The first one is always free. Then you are hooked.

I don’t want to be hooked.

There is nothing more pathetic than a middle aged school administrator who checks his BlackBerry 412 times a day waiting for the next email.

This includes but is not limited to checking it first thing in the morning, while golfing, when walking the dog, and during breakfast. And lunch. And dinner.

And in the bathroom.

The CrackBerry is Adictive.

The CrackBerry is Adictive.

I may have a problem.

I may end up in a 12 step program saying, “My name is PrincipalsPage and I am hooked on my CrackBerry.”

Life is about moderation.

At least that is what people say. I have noticed the people who say this are usually eating or drinking way too much. But as always I am not here to judge.

I have my own problems.

I can’t get away from work.

Even in the bathroom.

This is one thing that has changed in my 6 years of school administration.

In the old days (2004), you could leave the office and your troubles behind.

Whatever crisis existed (and there is always at least 7 crises at any given time), would lie rotting on your desk until you returned to work the next day.

Or even better. Until you returned from vacation (if and only if you found the time to actually go on vacation).

Since you couldn’t see or smell this carcass of impending disaster, you could put it out of your mind.

Not now.

Now it is 2009.

The stench comes right through your cell phone or computer.

Everyone has access to you.

There is no such thing as time set aside to meet with actual human beings. They just email, text, or Twitter you at all hours of the day and night.

6 years ago there was a little thing I used to call weekends.

Now every day is the same.

If someone has a question, concern, or a comment, they can contact you at anytime.

Day or night.

Here is a little tip for brand new administrators. When someone threatens you in an email at 2:07 a.m., they don’t really mean it.

Actually they do mean it. They will just have second thoughts in the morning. So do your best to go back to sleep.

Although it wouldn’t hurt to double-check that your doors and windows are locked.

Access is wonderful. In moderation.

We can’t blame the people emailing us. Technology gives everyone the same amount of access, which is a good thing.

It is our fault as school administrators that we can’t turn off our phone or not check our email.

I probably shouldn’t be giving this advice because I am the idiot who has looked at my email 4 times while typing this blog.

And my Twitter account 3 times. And my Plurk account twice (all in the last 17 minutes).

Technology is great. If you can control yourself.

I can’t.

I have a problem.

The good news is the first step to conquering this demon is admitting that I am powerless to control it.

And that’s what I am going to do.

Just as soon as I answer a few emails.

Because while I may have a problem, I can quit anytime I “want”.

I just don’t “want”.

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9 Responses to “Be Available. Just Don’t Be Too Available.”

  1. podgorani
    on Jun 12th, 2009
    @ 1:17 am

    guilty as charged, but with iphone at least i will tweet, check, book, surf, rss, listen, watch, sync in style

  2. Natalie Schwartz
    on Jun 12th, 2009
    @ 9:45 am

    The prevalence of new communication technology in our culture creates unrealistic expectations of teachers. In today’s world of instant access, parents expect an immediate response from teachers when they call or e-mail with a question or concern. But teachers are with students most of the day and have limited time during prep periods. Often they can’t respond to a parent until late in the day or the next day. It’s a difficult situation for teachers.

  3. Kimberly
    on Jun 14th, 2009
    @ 9:43 am

    My pet problem right now is my online gradebook. Report cards are due tomorrow so naturally I’m catching up on my Blog reading while inputting grades. I made the mistake of also checking my e-mail. An e-mail from parent who has filled my inbox all year was there and I couldn’t resist the temptation to look. Sure enough ten different questions about assignment grades I’m trying to put in . . . why doesn’t he have a final exam grade (it hasn’t been entered yet because your last name starts with “P” and I’m only on “D”) What does exempt mean? (For the 179th time – different assignments are given to different students in the same class; I have to use an online grade book so you will see the assignments of other students. That’s why the assignment description says – only some children will complete this assignment) The questions go on and on and on . . . Fortunately this is my last of her children . . . next stop explaining the report card when it goes home this Friday.

  4. KonstantinMiller
    on Jul 6th, 2009
    @ 10:32 am

    How soon will you update your blog? I’m interested in reading some more.

  5. New Principals: You Can’t Say I Didn’t Warn You. | PrincipalsPage The Blog
    on Aug 6th, 2009
    @ 6:16 pm

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

  6. Which Will Make Me Sicker? The Swine Flu or the Media? | PrincipalsPage The Blog
    on Aug 15th, 2009
    @ 8:15 am

    [...] 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 [...]

  7. Eve H.
    on Dec 19th, 2009
    @ 1:27 pm

    Great points. Good luck with the book.

  8. JV
    on Jan 13th, 2010
    @ 7:25 pm

    I just wanted to write that I really appreciate your blog.

  9. Parent
    on Jan 19th, 2010
    @ 1:45 am

    I love this site. Thanks for making education better.

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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.