My School Tested for a TV Pilot.


This blog has given me a lot of unexpected benefits.Sadly, I Remember TV's Like This.

Free trips.  Fame for Buddy the Dog.  A cool nickname for the Evil Spawn.

The occasional free t-shirt (maybe the greatest benefit of all).

But this week may have been the oddest experience of all and I have this mediocre blog to thank for it (or blame).

My school interviewed for a TV show.

Yes, a TV reality show.

This goes against everything I hold sacred and pure.

I am the last remaining person in America who does not want to be on television.

I’ve never understood why people feel the need to be on tv.  I find the need for fame a little disturbing.

People (especially young adults) seem willing to do anything and everything to get themselves on television.

I don’t get it, but realize I’m probably in the minority.

But as luck (good and bad) would have it, people seem to stumble upon me when they Google for educators.

A production company did just that a couple of weeks ago.

They contacted me and asked if we would be interested to going through some pre-interviews with the possibility of being on a reality show about high schools.

My first thought… of course not.  What type of idiot wants to be on tv?

But then I thought, what the heck.  Maybe this is my entry into movies. 

Or maybe even better.  Maybe, just maybe, my dream of remaking Three’s Company will actually happen (if you are under 40… click the link).

So several members of our staff were interviewed by producers.

And it was odd.

Really odd.

There is no chance they will be making a tv show about us.

Why?

I think we are way too normal.  And we are far from normal.

But "reality" tv is exactly what I expected.  I don’t think it is "real" at all.

I think they want people who they can mold in to characters.

They are looking for big personalities that can be encouraged to be even bigger on tv.

I’m okay with that.  I’m just not that.  And my school isn’t that.

I still think there is a tv show about schools that needs to be made.

But it’s not about fights.  Or gangs.  Or wacky teachers.

It’s about good students.  And committed teachers.  And all the good things that happen in schools every day in small towns all across this country.

It would be about kids and families who are doing the right thing in a world that gets more complicated by the day.

I would watch this.  But once again, I realize I’m in the minority.

One benefit to not getting a TV Pilot… I now consider myself an out of work actor.  So if you need me, I will be waiting tables at Applebees’s.

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Google Wallet. The Future is in Your Pocket.


As I get older it’s becoming more and more apparent that certain things no longer exist.

Lots of things I grew up with and took for granted just aren’t relevant.

They’re gone.

Like the dinosaurs.

And Swatches.

And tight-rolled jeans.

Don’t forget Phil Collins (which most of us have… whatever happened to him anyway?)

One day sooner rather than later I will be on this list (a list I constantly update in my head because it reminds me of how old and out of date I’ve become).

 

The official If You Remember This Junk You Are Old List:

Cassette Tapes.

Floppy disks (8 inch and 3.5 inch).

Desktop computers (with mega giant monitors).

Atari (best days of my life).

Netscape.

Betamax.

8mm video cameras.

VHS tapes.

Reel to reel movie projectors (can anyone say we have a Sub today!!!)

Record players.

Transistor radios.

Slide projectors (how I loved the beeeeeep when it was time to move on to the next slide).

Boom boxes (the 80’s were a special time).

PDA’s.

Rotary phones (and bag phones).

Walkmans and Discmans.

Pagers (drug dealers and gang members gave these such a bad name).

Calculator watches (nothing screamed Geek like a calculator watch).

Zip drives.

Typewriters.

Polaroid cameras.

8 tracks.

And soon my all-time favorite, newspapers.

 

All gone.

Now, Google wants my wallet (Google Wallet, coming to a store near you).  They are no longer happy just printing money, now they want to take it out of our pockets.

It’s hard to imagine a world without credit and debit cards, but it’s coming.

It’s even harder to imagine that one day I will have to explain to my grandkids how we used to carry paper money around in leather foldy things stuffed in our back pockets (and yes, we were off-balance… and we liked it).

 

 

Maybe the Overlords at Google are going to advance our society in positive ways we can’t imagine (my compliments on the Coca-Cola and Subway plugs).

Maybe they will become so rich and powerful they can actually change their Save Button on Google docs to something other than a floppy disk (really, Google… 15 year olds don’t correlate the Save function with Floppies).

While the above blog does take shots at Google (which breaks the code of being a Google Certified Administrator), I can assure you I will be the first one on my block to purchase a Google wallet. 

Say goodbye, pennies.

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School Administrators Need to Limit Access. Huh?


Embrace Technology or Get Left Behind.

At the District Administration Magazine conference this week in Phoenix (yes, I said Phoenix), there was a discussion on social media and its use in schools.

I’m never shocked when school administrators talk about limiting access for students (I’m not happy, but not shocked).

I was surprised when several superintendents talked about why they don’t personally use it.

Their reason?  They don’t want to give parents and community members any more access to school business than they already have.

Huh?

Color me dumbfounded.  And tan (yes, I said Phoenix).

I assumed everyone knew it was 2011 (although I know what happens when I assume).

Everything is accessible.

The world’s a big place and it’s getting smaller.

Parents are demanding schools be more open.  They want to know and see what their children (and teachers) are doing.  They want information, and they want it immediately.

If you don’t believe me, Google it.

Our lives are no longer just our lives.

People have access to us whether we like it or not.

I think we have two choices:  use and understand social media or stick our head in the sand and hope it goes away.

And I’m pretty sure it’s not going away.

If you don’t believe me, Google it.

Just so you know, I’m typing this on my resort balcony.  Sure it sounds fun, but there is a slight glare on my computer screen as I enjoy the 94 degree sunshine.  And if that wasn’t enough, the ice cubes in my drink are melting ever so slightly.

It’s not easy being me.

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Phone Books? Really?


Someone, somewhere, thinks I hate trees (for the record, trees and I have an unblemished record of over 40 years of living side by side in almost perfect harmony).

I believe “they” think I hate trees because it’s the only reason “they” keep dropping off phone books at my house.

I don’t even know who “they” are.  I’ve never met them.  I’ve never seen them.

My assumption is they are small wiry people and dress in all yellow (don’t ask me why, it’s my assumption).

But “they” continue to give me phone books that I don’t need, want, or like.

These books are like mice.  Every time I get rid of one, three more turn up. 

On the porch.  In the mailbox.  Shoved between my screen door and the other door that has a directional name (front, back, side, etc). 

They are even randomly thrown into my yard (thankfully, wrapped in a double plastic bag because I would be crushed if one got wet and I was left with only 17 others shoved in the kitchen drawer… and you know what I mean because you have the same drawer).

Enough.Buddy is Resting Before He "Goes" Out in the Yard.

Stop coming by my house and leaving me this little surprise.

It’s bad enough when I find Buddy the Dog’s gifts in the yard (and by find, I mean step in).

I don’t need a phone book.  Or phone books.

Much like I don’t need encyclopedias.

Or dictionaries.

Or catalogs.

Or a rolodex.

Or newspapers or magazines.

I have a little thing I like to call the interweb.

If I need a name, phone number, or pizza, I will Google it (sorry Bing).

The world has changed.  It’s time we changed at the same speed.

Our reaction time as a society is slow.

Way slow (hip phrase for the kids).

Why do we insist on keeping things past their usefulness? 

Why are we so hesitant to move forward?

Why do phone books make me angry?

And most importantly, why can’t dogs be taught to use a litter box?  If Buddy was truly man’s best friend, he would have more respect for my yard.

Or at least bark when the phone book people sneak up to my house to force their outdated gifts on me.

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Teacher Burnout. And Yet, They Still Keep Going to Work.


I give up.

I’m done discussing tenure (arguing… whatever…).

If you have a blog that revolves around education (and as luck would have it… I do) there’s one surefire way to get more readers (and angry emails).

Write about tenure (actually, there’s a second more powerful way… write about homeschooling, but I’m not going there… at least right now).

Tenure is blog gold.She Doesn't Look Burnt Out.

Writing about it is probably not worth the death threats, but luckily for me I have security (Buddy the Dog).

I’ve come to understand people who have tenure love it. 

I mean LOVE it.  Love, love, love it.

Absolutely love it.

Did I mention they love it (like Buddy loves to nap).

And what’s not to love.

You have a job.  You get to keep the job.

Forever.

And as most of you know, that’s a very long time (if you don’t believe me, Google it).

Tenure is a pretty good deal if you can get it.

Then there are the others.

People who don’t have tenure in their careers think it’s impractical and unfair.

They aren’t familiar with our world (hallways, spitballs, junior high goofiness, etc.)

The concept of educators having lifelong jobs is foreign to them.

They believe tenure should only be for Supreme Court Justices.

But that’s okay.  It wouldn’t be much of an argument if everyone agreed (and I do hate it when I want to argue and no one will join me).

No matter which side of the tenure argument you fall on, I know one thing for sure.  I’m not changing anybody’s mind.

So I’ve given up.

But I would like to ask for one exception.

If you publicly announce you’re “Burnt Out” this statement should lead to an automatic recall of your tenure rights (to clarify “publicly” can be in person, on Facebook, or over the phone).

No exceptions.

My theory is once someone says this out loud there is no going back.

If  a person establishes they are “Burnt Out” they can’t come back (at least in the same career).

So if you are in your 1st year of teaching or 30th year and the “Burnt Out” bug hits you, you’re done.

No tenure.

No job.

No nothing (except your pension and maybe parting gifts, but that’s it).

Because teaching is kind of important and once the passion has left you, so should tenure (maybe I will win this discussion… argument… whatever… but I’m not going to hold my breath).

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Weird is as Weird Does.


My daughter is 9.

This means she thinks everything and everybody is weird (I don’t call her the Evil Spawn for nothing).

Her mom is weird (especially when she dances).

I’m weird (anytime I speak to her).

I get the feeling as parents we are in for a long decade.

She says “weird” so much, I’ve found myself doing it.Now That is Weird.

I don’t even remember what we were talking about , but I said something was weird.

She responded with “Weird like when you see your teacher at a grocery store weird?  Or like when someone you’ve know starts wearing a cowboy hat weird?”

I must admit I had to take a moment and think about this one.

Both of them are pretty weird.

When you’re a kid there is nothing weirder than seeing your teacher in public.

In a student’s mind, their teacher is always supposed to remain in their natural habitat.

The classroom.

Seeing them in any other type of situation just doesn’t seem right.

I get this same type of reaction as an administrator.

Students find it odd when they see me outside of school.

It’s even weirder for them if I’m wearing jeans.

Evidently, they think I should never leave the office and I should wear a tie 24 hours a day (if it makes them feel any better… I feel like I never leave the office and I wear a tie 24 hours a day).

So I guess weird is just anything out of the ordinary.

But to answer my daughter’s question, I’m going to have to go with weird like when someone starts wearing a cowboy hat.

I don’t care who you are, that’s weird.

You can only wear a cowboy hat if you’ve always worn a cowboy hat.

If you haven’t worn one by the age of 8, you can never wear one (it’s the law… Google it).

It’s not a fashion accessory you can just jump into mid-life.

It’s so weird, the next time my daughter has a friend over I may be wearing a cowboy hat.

If she thinks I’m weird now, she hasn’t seen anything yet (maybe it’s her that’s in for a long decade).

My daughter’s weird comparison comes from one of her favorite shows Phineas and Ferb.  I’ve watched it a couple of times.  It’s weird.

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Going to a Job Interview? Take This Advice With You.


I’m a little late on this blog.If You're Looking for a Job... Good Luck .

Most administrators (new and old) who are changing jobs have probably already done so by now.

My bad.

If you want, you can sue me (you wouldn’t be the first person to threaten legal action… this year… or today).

In the last couple of months, things have been hectic in the exciting world of education.  Of course, if you work in or near a school you already knew this.

Changing jobs can be a nerve-racking experience (so I’ve been told).

This might be especially true if you like your present position (and there are actual school administrators who like their jobs).

Eventually everyone moves on to bigger and better (unless you’ve been fired… then you may have to move on to smaller and worse).

The lifespan of a school administrator is roughly… not very long.

I don’t have actual statistics (too lazy to Google), so just for the sake of this blog let’s say it’s 3.64 years (I thought if I threw in a decimal it would seem like I actually knew what I’m talking about).

Once you hit this magic number it may be time to move on.

The challenge is where do you go?

What job should you take?

First, you need a school that is willing to hire you.  Personally, this makes me nervous because do I really want to work for a district that would hire me (think about it)?

I think this is where some administrators make a mistake.

Don’t just take a job to take a job.

Don’t get mesmerized by the money, benefits, or the offer of a brand new stapler (which I desperately need by the way).

There is something far simpler that is more important.

You want (and need) a job where you are surrounded by people who have a vested interest in your success.

This may seem kind of basic, but it’s important.

Without this type of support, you are almost certainly doomed to fail.

You may want the new job to go well, but if the people above, below, and around you don’t want it to be a success… it won’t be.

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Google Teacher Academy for Administrators. Time to Review.


  

I survived my trip to San Antonio.

Sadly (for blogging purposes), nothing out of the ordinary happened.

I don’t mind saying, I felt a little jipped.

No drama.  No “incidents” on the plane.  No random stranger doing something stupid.PrincipalsPage Meets Google.  Good Times.

Just a Google Conference.

I say just, but it was so much more.

A 12 hour conference (sounds long, but it’s not really that long once you figure in snack time… and I do love my snack time).

The conference was many things.  Mainly it was an overload of information.  But in a good way.

Now that I’ve had a few days to comprehend my experience, here are my thoughts (in no particular order). 

 

  • Conference hotels gouge you.  Bad.  This should be a crime, but instead it’s considered good business.

 

 

  • It came to my attention (in the first 14 seconds) that employees of Google are way smarter than me.  Way smarter.  Way way smarter (and childlike… they looked 12 years old).

 

  • Presenters with a sense of humor interest me.  Your information can be life changing, but after sitting 9 hours straight… I need a laugh.

 

  • Google employees seem to really enjoy their jobs (they seem happier than educators… maybe because, in my mind, they are allowed to take their dogs to work).

 

  • No matter how much you know about Google Docs, Google Calendar, and everything else Google… you know nothing.  Actually you know less than nothing.

 

  • A 3 hour layover doesn’t sound like a long time, but it is.  Time spent in the Atlanta airport is like prison.  Every second lasts hours (and there’s no early release program).

 

  • Ben and Jerry’s serves a fabulous lunch.  I recommend adding a brownie to whatever entree you order.

 

  • Google’s applications are free.  Microsoft’s are not.  You do the math.

 

  • Outdoor heated pools are still cold when the temperature is in the 50’s.

 

  • Google Calendar has a thousand great features.  Unfortunately none of them get me places on time.

 

  • All schools are different.  All schools are the same.

 

  • No matter where you go, there are interesting people.

 

  • Eating Mexican food while wearing a suit almost never turns out well.  Or at least for your tie.

 

  • They sell a lot of jumbo extra large margaritas on The Riverwalk in San Antonio, yet you never see someone fall in (the river).  How is this possible?

 

 

  • Did I mention Google employees are smart?  I did?  Sorry for repeating myself, but I’m stupid (or at least way less smart than them).

 

  • You can’t decide the long-term direction of your school district after a one day conference.  Even if it’s Google.

 

  • One day soon, there will be a news story about a divorce caused by too much Twittering.  One of the spouses will have had enough.

 

  • Airplane seats in the emergency row are pure gold (so that’s what it feels like to stretch my legs…).  They are First Class (or Business Class) without the free booze.

 

  • Google Docs is free magic.  I would explain it to you, but I’m still trying to process it.

 

  • Every tech nerd in America owns/wants an Android phone (sorry Blackberry… you had a good run).

 

  • If you walk up to me and say “I’ve read every blog you’ve ever written”, you might want to consider getting a job.  Or possibly a date.

 

  • If you recognize me in an elevator, I might want to get a restraining order.

 

  • Microsoft should be worried.  If Google plays their cards right, Word and Excel may eventually disappear from schools.

 

  • How do people taller than 5’10” fit into an airplane bathroom?  Even more confusing, how do they use an airplane bathroom?

 

  • All airplane stewardesses (flight attendants.. whatever) look tired.

That’s my trip.

To summarize, it was an honor and a pleasure.

I’m thrilled to be one of only 2 (?) superintendents in the country to be a Google Certified Teacher.

I now feel like I know so much.  And I feel like I have so much to learn.

Thanks Mr. and Mrs. Google.

Thanks Buddy the Dog.  Without your video, I’m just a creepy guy talking to himself.

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The Electronic Resume.


Are resumes dead? 

If your answer is NO, you can stop reading (thanks for stopping by and please tip your waitress).  If you said YES, am I under any obligation to notify the next of kin?

You can probably guess I think paper resumes have outlived their usefulness.

You can also probably guess that I’m not comfortable delivering the unfortunate news of death (but that’s a whole different blog).resume

Email (along with texting for you crazy kids) is replacing snail mail.  Land lines are being put out of commission by cell phones (how I miss the rotary phone and the party line).  Newspapers are getting crushed by the internet.  And the Kindle seems to be every librarian’s worst nightmare.

Since technology seems to be changing every facet of our lives, why should resumes be any different?

Maybe it’s time to lighten my mailman’s load.

Maybe it’s time to stop killing so many trees.

Maybe it’s time to stop wasting money on stamps.

Maybe it’s time to shift the focus from fancy resume paper and cool fonts to what a candidate has really accomplished.

Maybe the new resume should be electronic.

Maybe it should be a personal website, wiki, blog, a series of podcasts, or even a summary of a candidate’s online presence.

Maybe this could be a mandatory class in every college education program.  Just think, we could produce graduates who understand technology and how it can be used in schools to benefit students (a novel concept I know, but call me a dreamer).

I haven’t worked out the details (don’t worry, they are just details), but resumes should be more than a phone number, an address (snail mail… it’s dead people, move on), an odd sounding objective statement, embellished job history, and three references.

While the classic resume drives me crazy, nothing angers me more than the three references at the bottom of the page (yes, I said one page… don’t even think I can wade through 5 pages of your resume… I’m just not that into you).

Who’s idea was the whole reference thing?

When did this become the standard end-of-the resume space filler?

When did we convince ourselves that it was so important to ask potential employees to name three people who think they are great?

I get it, your pastor loves you.

Your pastor loves everyone.  That’s why they are in the pastor business.

Your pastor might even like me (okay, that’s just crazy talk but you get my point).

Do we actually believe people who are desperate to find a job will list references who think they are lazy, incompetent, and don’t deserve to make a living wage?

I know resumes are simply a way to narrow down a group of candidates into a manageable number of interviews, but how great would it be if you could just get online and learn a candidate’s personal history.

To me, knowing someone’s technology ability is far more important then if they were on their high school swim team or a member of swing choir.

I can Google a person’s name and find drunken inappropriate pictures of them, but I can’t access their technology skills online.

It just doesn’t seem fair.

Or very 2010.

As an added bonus, electronic resumes mean less paper cuts.  And I don’t care who you are, that’s always a good thing.

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Google Me This.


Thanks Buddy. Buddy the Dog is man’s best friend.

Or at least Mom’s Best Friend.

On my behalf, Buddy was kind enough to put together a 1 minute video for the people at Google (which is all the more impressive when you consider he doesn’t have thumbs).

Because of his good work, I’ve been selected as 1 of 50 school administrators in the United States to attend The Google Teacher Academy for Administrators (I’m no marketing major, but shouldn’t it be “The Google Administrator’s Academy”).  This is a free professional development experience designed to help K-12 educational leaders get the most from innovative technologies.

At least that’s what I’ve heard.

Basically, I’m going to get Googlized (I hope they’re gentle).

This is a win-win.  I like Google and Buddy likes it when I’m not home.

There is only one downside.  The conference is in San Antonio.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the chance to return to the home of the Alamo.  And the mall next door to it (when visiting a national monument you may be overcome with hunger pangs and need a Mrs. Field’s Chocolate Chip Cookie ).

But come on Google, you couldn’t splurge for a city with a beach?

In the time it takes me to write (?) this blog, Google has made about 47 bazillion dollars.  At least.

When I think of that kind of money, I think waves.  And not Google Wave.

I shouldn’t complain because I’m guessing Google had several applications for this conference (although only 1 by a talking dog), so I’m honored they invited me.

I’m also willing to bet that out of the 50 administrators less than 10 are superintendents.

Out of those 10, probably 2 have rambling incoherent blogs.

And only 1 of them has a semi-famous talking, YouTube video-making, wife-stealing dog.

How many people are thinking… I could have done a better video than that stupid dog.  Well too bad, Buddy thought of it first.  And to review, he doesn’t have thumbs.

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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.