As I Hurdle Towards the Sweet Relief of Death.


I just had my 45th birthday.  At least I think it was my 45th.I Need This Car.

At this point, I’ve lost track.  And really don’t care.

My theory is any birthday from this point forward beats the alternative.

If I really think about it (and I try not to), my life is probably half over.

It’s probably more than half over, but I’ve convinced myself with advances in medicine, an occasionnal walk around the neighborhood, and only eating17 cookies instead of 21, I should live until at least 90.

Not that I want to be that old, but again it probably beats the alternative of a dirt nap.

Since the clock is ticking I should really get on with accomplishing something (anything) before it’s too late.

I shouldn’t waste my last few remaining good years watching TV, tweeting, mowing my yard, or even going to work.

I should be making the world a better place.

My time should be spent on charity work.  Traveling.  Maybe building a school for the less fortunate.

Meanwhile, I’m shuffling paperwork and worrying about mandated testing.

This doesn’t seem right.

I’m on the clock.  I have things I need to do.

And first on the list:  Mid-life crisis.

So if you need me, I’ll be driving way too fast in my brand new red convertible I can’t afford sporting a mustache and wearing a tight shirt unbuttoned two buttons lower than appropriate.

Once I get this phase out of my system, I can help build a school.

Or at least mow my yard.

*Note from editor in chief…aka…tech-geek wife or whatever it is you call me on this "blog"…ummmm…it’s 46 and no…just no…on the mustache and unbuttoned shirt that is…I am totally good with the brand new red convertible.  Maybe I am having a mid-life crisis too…after all I turned 39 this year.

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Only Idiots Run Marathons.


The title of this blog may be a lie.Run Forrest, Run.

I really have no idea because I’ve never ran a marathon.

26.2 miles seems like a long way.

I know when I’m in the city if a restaurant is over 5 blocks away, I take a cab.  Or I don’t go.

It has never ever occurred to me that I should run to the restaurant.  And it’s only 5 blocks (although city blocks seem rather long).

So the thought of running over 26 miles seems insane to me.

But the thought of running a half marathon seems like sheer genius.

Train hard.

Lift weights.

Waste my winter weekends traipsing around the ice and snow covered streets of small town America.

And then the big moment arrives.

Race day.

Time to run with 20,000 like-minded completely insane people.

People who wear trash bags as jackets.

People who use porta potties like oxygen (anyone who uses a porta potty has completely lost their marbles… or REALLY has to go).

People who get sick along side the road during the race.

People who collapse from the heat.

People who double-over with leg cramps and scream like they are giving birth.

Runners are an odd group.

And I’m not too embarrassed to say I’m one of them.

I just don’t know why.

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Seeking Solitude: Unplugging From An Increasingly Wired World.


Article by Martha Irvine, AP National Writer.We Need Quiet.

"Seeking Solitude".  Click HERE.

I’m more and more convinced that this is an absolute must for teachers, administrators, and students.

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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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Society Has Gotten Too Fast.


I have a theory.Ferris is Cool.

Not because I’m smart, but because I’m old (two of the benefits of being old are you can say whatever you want… and eat dinner at 3:30 pm).

I think life is getting easier, but less enjoyable.

The interweb is great.  Stores being open 24/7 is wonderful.  Getting our news and weather whenever we want is nice.

Every day more and more things come along to make our existence more pleasant.

In theory.

Apps are nice.  Movies on demand are great.  Central air certainly has it perks.  Smartphones are cool.

There is no arguing technology is great.

But on the other side of the coin, everything happens all the time.

We’ve lost something.

And I think it’s free time.

Boredom is good because it makes you appreciate other experiences.

And in this day in age, I’m never bored.

Who has the time?

Between work and weekends that are busier than ever, there is no down time.

This weekend I ran (jogged… whatever) a half marathon.

I hadn’t trained nearly enough.  I had a bad foot (worse now).

Yet, I didn’t want to miss running (jogging… whatever… I get it).

Why?

Because I was so looking forward to the 2 hours with no phone.  Or email.  Or resposibilities.

Just running along with thousands of complete strangers who wouldn’t ask me a single question about anything important.

No responsibities other than putting one foot in front of the other (and not wetting myself… runners will understand).

This doesn’t happen often enough.

No, not running a half marathon.

Slowing down for two hours.  Or two minutes.

Maybe I need a skip day like Ferris.  Anyone want to go… Bueller, Bueller, Bueller… anyone?

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Turns Out Following Directions is Important.


I write this blog for two reasons.

One, so people will stop contacting me to ask how my "vacation" is going.

And two, as an open apology to every student and teacher who I have accused of having no ability to follow directions.

You see, I haven’t yet experienced my "vacation".

I was ready.

I was prepared.

I was even hopped up on a handfull of valium (by the way, I think I’m hooked).

My lovely wife (as lovely as one can be considering she drove my to the butcher with a giant smile on her face… she looked sort of like the Joker from the last Batman movie) was even prepared to look after me and Buddy the Dog on our days off.

But it didn’t happen.

I got up early.

Popped the prescribed pills.

Which of course made me feel pretty good about the upcoming procedure (and if I’m honest… at that point I felt pretty good about everything from famine to communism).

I wobbled into the doctor’s office and only bumped into one person I knew (that wasn’t awkward).

I hopped (crawled) up on the table and waited to get gutted like a newly caught fish.

The very nice nurse (or two… since I was seeing double at that point) asked me if I had taken any aspirin lately.

Normally, I would have lied but since I was under the influence of so much free prescription happiness, I said yes.

They said come back in a week because if we cut you open you will bleed to death (I’m summarizing the official medical conversation).

They also mentioned maybe I should have read the directions they sent me a month ago (whoops).

So I went home.

And Buddy and I promptly slept for the next 19 hours (turns out free meds come with a price).

It’s the closet I’ve come to death.

If you are wondering, it’s peaceful.  Very peaceful.

I just closed my eyes and went towards the light.

Then I woke up in a pool of my own drool.  As an added bonus I couldn’t feel my left arm.  It had evidently got trapped under me during my coma.

I’m glad I didn’t experience any halucinations because I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have shoed away any monkees crawling up my legs without the use of both arms.

Actually, when I came to, I felt great.  It was like a mini vacation (no wonder Buddy is always so happy during those 14 minutes a day when he is awake).

Everything would have been great if I hadn’t remembered my real "vacation" is in a few days.

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Taking Vacation the Hard Way.


Like most people, I love vacation.

Sadly, I’m just not good at it.

If I go on vacation for 5 days, I can’t even enjoy it until day 4.5.

I’ve considered practicing my vacation skills, but I never seem to have enough time to get away.

But this week this all changes.

On Thursday and Friday, I will be taking two days of sweet sweet vacation time.  It’s possible I will even take the weekend as an extended vacation.

And I am looking forward to it.

No getting to the office early.

No phone calls to return.

No 75 emails per day in my inbox.

No students or teachers asking "Do you have a minute?"

No making a decision which automatically makes half the people mad at me.

Just peace and quiet.

Just me and Buddy the Dog laying around watching bad TV (technically he just might be sleeping).

I’ve been looking forward to this short vacation for weeks.

What I’m not looking forward to is the surgery.

But my wife is.  She really doesn’t want to have two Evil Spawns running around.

I may write a blog during this vacation.  I’m guessing I’ll think I’m hilarious while hopped up on valium.  Maybe it will be about the bond of shared experiences Buddy and I will now "enjoy".

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Athletic Age.


Snowboarder-Crash-and-Burn

The Evil Spawn is 10.  I am not.

This has never been more apparent to me than when my face slammed into the earth as we were learning to snowboard (you may have heard my girl-like screams and crying earlier this morning).

I graduated from high school over 25 years ago.

I have t-shirts from the late 1980’s.

I remember when David Lee Roth had good hair (side note… Van Halen is getting back together… are you listening Guns N’ Roses?).

I know who was President before Ronald Reagan.

I shouldn’t be learning to snowboard.

I shouldn’t be snowboarding even if I knew how.

Which I don’t.

Which was very apparent to the high school kid who was kind enough to give us lessons.

He was very polite.  He even called me “Sir”.

And he helped me up the first time I fell.

Which was when I was trying to strap my boots into the fiberglass piece of death I was supposed to slide down the mountain on.

He also helped me the second time I fell.

After that his interest in my safety seemed to wane.

As I add up my injuries, I seem to have a slight concussion, a bruised tailbone, and some sort of thigh injury that will no doubt get worse as the swelling goes down and the Advil wears off.

Through the grace of God, my fingers seem to be okay which allows me to share this horrific and humiliating experience with blog readers around the globe.

On my last trip on the ski lift, I not only feared for the safety of the people in front of me, but also the 5-year old girl behind me who had no idea she was about to crash into an old man laying face down in the snow in the next 45 seconds.

During the few seconds of reflection I had before doing a face first plant into a snow bank, it occurred to me that my real age isn’t 44 (I also want to take a second to apologize to Ashleigh, the kindergartner I traumatized.  I’m almost certain she has stopped crying by now).

I have no idea what it really is, but I now have a better understanding of my athletic age.

I’m not 16 anymore.  Or 26.  Or even 36.

I’m at least 44.  Probably older. 

Much older.

This may not seem that old, but you don’t see many 44 year olds in the Olympics do you?

I enjoyed snowboarding, although I’m not sure why they just don’t call it falling.

I have come to realize, I can no longer choose my athletic endeavors based on fun, excitement, or conquering new challenges.

I first have to consider rehabilitation time and if my health insurance deductible covers any possible disfigurement.

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Everyone I Know is Getting Older.


It is a well known fact that time flies.aging

Unless you’re at work.

Time speeds up anytime you want it to go slower.

Weekends.  Vacations.  Lunch hour.

Time slows down anytime you want it to go faster.

Dental appointments.  Class periods with a really annoying kid.  Prostate exams.  Staff meetings.

Time is our enemy (as are doctors with big hands).

I think most people are like me and don’t really focus on time.

Because if we did, we wouldn’t waste it.

Time is precious because it’s limited.

Yet, we treat it like it will be here forever.

We watch too much TV.  We sleep too much.  We do things we don’t like because we’re too lazy to change.

I don’t really notice the effects of time when I look in the mirror.

I only notice it when I see the effects on other people.

Just recently, I saw several people whom I’ve haven’t seen in over 15 years.

The good news is they are still around to be seen.

The bad news is they’ve gotten old.

Way old.

I did my best not to gasp and point when I saw their aging and decrepit bodies (I’m not say I didn’t… I’m saying I tried my best).

It’s like they’ve aged 15 years since I last saw them.

Me?  Not so much.

I am exactly the same as I was back in the early to mid 90’s.

It’s amazing really.  I look great.

At least I think I look great.

Then it occurred to me.

How do I look to them?

I guess I shouldn’t worry about it.

With their fading eyesight they probably didn’t even notice.

Time marches on and if I’m lucky I get to tag along.

At least for a while.

RIP Coach.

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I Know You Can Believe in Yourself.


This little guy just learned to ride a bike.

And he’s excited.

And he’s about to give a motivational speech.

His experience is a lot like life.  If you want sucess, you just have to keep practicing.

And believe in yourself.

Rock and Roll!

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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.