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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There is a Complete Lack of Discipline in My House.


It’s borderline ridiculous.He is Cute.

Part of my job is trying to promote good discipline among a large group of students.

It’s not any easy job, but someone has to do it.

Talk nice.

Treat each other with respect.

Don’t cheat.

Don’t touch each other (this means you junior high boys).

Pick up trash.

Easy on the texting.

Use your indoor voice.

Don’t put anything on Facebook that we will all regret (and cause me to contact the school lawyer).

Basically, just do the right thing.

It doesn’t always go smoothly, but for the most part students seem to listen.

Then there’s my house.

And the two people who live in it and eat my food.

They have no discipline.

Specifically, they have no discipline in regards to the other "thing" that lives in my house and eats more food than anyone.

Buddy the Dog.

It seems that hundreds of children of all ages will at least fake respect when I’m in their vicinity.

My dog?  It’s like he’s an animal. 

And deaf.

Even worse, my wife is evidently trying to win the Mrs. I’m a Dog Owner and I Have No Interest in Making the Family Animal Follow Any Rules Because I Find Him Handsome Pageant.

Why does he get to do what he wants when he wants?

Why is there always time for his every want and need?

Why does he get to crawl inside the dishwasher and look for scraps?

Why do we call my bed "my bed" when HE seems to spend more time there?

Why does he get so much attention?

And most importantly, why does he get all of this special treatment when I work and all he does is nap?

I can’t pinpoint the exact date where I lost control of our home, but it seems to be about the exact same day in which he showed up.

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Are Teachers So Dry They Need Buckets of Lotion?


Every year school ends.Teachers Love Apples!

And every year my wife comes home with a U-haul truck full of lotion.

That’s just how she rolls (don’t judge her).

Being a fourth grade teacher has many challenges.

One being how can she possibly drink out of the 1,412 “#1 Teacher” mugs she has received over the course of the last decade.

Trust me, I’m not exaggerating.

I’ve counted them.  She has 1,412.

If you don’t believe, stop by our next yard sale.

It’s buy one mug, get 1,411 free.

Now, if you are a high school teacher this blog is making little or no sense.

That’s because at a certain point students stop buying gifts for their teachers.

So if you are a high school teacher and you’re reading this blog while drinking out of a “#1 Teacher” mug… stop it.

Because you evidently purchased it for yourself and that’s just wrong.

And creepy.

Everyone knows you can’t self-proclaim yourself the “World’s Greatest Teacher”.  Only 7 year olds can do that.

Those teachers who receive gifts know they can be broken down into two specific groups. 

Group 1:  Things you put on your body. 

This would be your lotions, nail polish, perfume, scarves, t-shirts, jewelry, and the ever popular any clothing item with an apple on it.

Group 2:  Food or Drink.

This is your coffee mugs, candy, homemade cookies, fruit baskets, and gift certificates from the students favorite restaurant (you see, elementary kids love McDonald’s way more than teachers).

I know parents sometimes stress out over what gift to buy their child’s teacher at the end of the school year.

I have a suggestion.

Cash.

Nothing says “Thanks for tolerating my kid for 7 hours a day so I don’t have to" like straight stone cold cash.

Of course, I’m kidding.

Most parents can’t afford to give teachers enough cash to cover an entire school year worth of suffering.

So what should they do?

I haven’t a clue.

But I do know the Evil Spawn just completed (barely) her 4th grade year in my wife’s class.

And I don’t have a gift.

I’m thinking maybe a mug.  Or a five-gallon bucket of lotion.

Or better yet, a mug that says “World’s Greatest Mom and Teacher” filled with lotion that smells like apples.

She’s going to love it.

Note from wife/teacher of the Evil Spawn:  I really scored this year with one of the best gifts ever…iTunes gift card…cha-ching!

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Doctor? Why?


Things I don’t want to be.

Poultry processor (look it up… it will make you a vegetarian like the Tech Queen).Lucy is the Original Mean Girl.  I Like Her.

Newspaper reporter (this is not going to end well).

Roustabout (again, look it up).

Garbage man (the work is fine… the smell not so much).

Roofer (been there, done that).

Dental Hygienist (how do people spend their days sticking their hands in strangers’ mouths?).

The person who cleans the operating room after surgery.  I don’t know what their title is, but they need one.

If you have this job you should seriously consider becoming a dental hygienist.

But the job I least want is doctor.

Not the kind of doctor who asks you to cough (guy reference).  Or tells you how life ends (again, not ending well).

I don’t want to be the kind of doctor who works in education.

Not that I wouldn’t take an honorary degree if someone wanted to give me one (are you listening Harvard?).

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t respect people who have doctorates in education, I just question whether it will be worth it twenty years from now.

I think we are heading towards a time where everyone (who wants one) has a doctorate.

If you have a computer and a little ambition you can become a doctor of something (I obviously have one of these, but not the other).

It’s getting harder and harder for me to tell the difference between someone who got their degree from Oxford and someone who got a degree from a small Caribbean country I’ve never heard of and can’t pronounce.

If you ask me, and no one is, a doctorate isn’t what it used to be.

Sort of in the same way a high school diploma isn’t worth what it was 50 years ago. 

Of course, if I had a doctorate maybe I could get published and people would read my work (I can dream can’t I?).

Please call me at your convenience, Harvard.  Or Caribbean University located in a strip mall.  While I’m not willing to put in the time for a doctorate, I am willing to travel.

** Note from all knowing “Tech Queen”…I think they call the person who cleans up the surgery room a custodian.

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Name Game.


What’s the odds?And You Are???

My high school basketball coaches:  Coach Shurtz and Coach Bottoms (get it… shirts and bottoms).

My wife’s first principal and superintendent:  Mr. Butts and Mr. Bottom (this one is self-explanatory).

Is there any doubt we were meant to be together?

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The Best Year of Their School Lives?


Mom's Class.

This blog is probably a little overdue, but I’ve been hesitate because I didn’t want to jinx the situation.

If you remember (and you probably don’t’), the Evil Spawn is in her mother’s class this year.

Yes, they are both confined to the same 4th grade room for 9 long months.

When this opportunity presented itself, my reaction was like most of my reactions.

How does this effect me?

My conclusion was it wasn’t going to be good.

Not good at all.

The fights.  The homework.  The awkward Parent-Teacher Conference.

The arguments at home about the fights, homework, and what a bad father/parent I am.

The worst part?  Me playing the complicated role of both room dad and husband (this could be my only chance at finally win a well-deserved Oscar… my one regret is I haven’t gained 150 pounds and used an accent for the role).

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t see much upside to this school year.

Again, for me.

But they both believed this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

And since I had no say, I took the position of “I’m all for it”.

For them this was the being in the right school, at the right age, at the right time.

As an administrator, I’m not sure I would have placed a teacher’s child in his or her classroom because of the numerous variables.

The kid.  The teacher.  The students.  The other staff members.

A lot could go wrong (and in school, it frequently does).

But, I’m happy to report (knock on wood) it seems to be going great.

But, I’m sad to report I think this has less to do with my wife and daughter and more to do with the other kids.

The Evil Spawn and her deadbeat friends seem to be a very good class. 

There are three types of classes. 

One, which comes along about every 5 years, is the class that makes kindergarten teachers cry in the hallway.  On the first day of school.

Once, these kindergarten teachers compose themselves, they immediately run to the teacher’s lounge and warn all the other teachers to make sure they retire the year before they get these heathens in class.

Then they go back to crying.

The second type of class are the duds.  Good kids, but they have no interest in anything.

The don’t like school.  Or reading.  Or work.   Or athletics.  Or even breathing.

They are just there.

Then there’s the third type.  The great class.  They are also on a five year cycle (so it works like this… terrible, dud, great, dud, dud,… and the cycle continues).

Teachers love the great classes.  This is what gets them to return from summer vacation.

And not retire.  In fact, there is no evidence a teacher has ever retired the year before they were to get a great class.

When they have a great class they love it.  The year flies by far too quickly.

They actually get to teach and not play referee.

This makes teachers very happy.

These kids are easily recognizable because they love everything.

A class like this so special because they like each other.  This may sound like a simple concept, but if you have ever been in a room with 25 students you know how important this is.

They are supportive, not demeaning.  They are happy and upbeat, not cranky and put-out.  They don’t want less work, they want more challenging assignments.  They are competitive, but gracious in losing.

They are so good as a group, they can even pull other students towards success.

This is the class my daughter has stumbled into (props to my wife for excellent birthing timing).

Being with a great group has allowed my wife and daughter to have a wonderful half-year.

Will it last?  Time will tell.

From my perspective, I hope so.

A once in a lifetime opportunity only seems to happen about once a lifetime.

Note to readers… wife not happy with “excellent birthing timing” reference.  In fact, any reference to all things pregnant makes her nervous.

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Merry Christmas from The Evil Spawn and Buddy the Dog.


The Evil Spawn has been working with Animoto in her mom’s class.

Christmas + Buddy the Dog = One Proud 4th Grader (mom wants you to know this is a practice project).

As her dad (and one-half of her gene pool), I’m also very proud.

So from everyone at the PrincipalsPage.com corporate headquarters… Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

And Happy Festivus.

 

 

You wouldn’t know it from this video, but Buddy is actually awake from time to time.

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A Good School Administrator Can Smell Trouble.


One of the worst things about being a school administrator is you become jaded.

After a few years (or hours) on the job you begin to get a sense of the people you are dealing with.

Your senses are heighted to the point you can easily recognize an upset person/fan/parent/employee/total stranger from at least 457 yards away.

My 457 yard figure isn’t a guesstimate.  It’s from a scientific study (Google it… actually, don’t).

It’s like playing Where’s Waldo.  Give a seasoned administrator a gym full of people and they can instantly spot the one person who is about to walk up and say…

“I don’t mean to complain, BUT…”

Just once, I want someone to walk up and say “I always complain and I always will.  So sit back and enjoy the colossal reaming you are about to receive!”

What a breath of fresh air that would be (call me a dreamer).

Since this is never going to happen, I want to focus on the downside of having the ability to recognize a complicated situation before it happens.

You (and by you, I mean me) get so used to having your guard up, you sometimes assume there’s trouble where there isn’t.Moist is Not Good.

And we all know what happens when you assume (if you don’t… Google it… really).

Not being able to properly diagnose a situation can make your life even more sad and tragic than it already is.

As I was researching this blog (not)  it made me think of the most horrific moment of my life.

No, not the day the Evil Spawn assumed control of the TV remote (although that’s definitely top 3).

The day in question was so terrible I encourage all of you to stop reading this blog immediately (yes, I know… there’s no way you can stop reading now, but you’ve been warned).

I found myself in the middle of a situation and I didn’t have the ability to pinpoint where my troubles were coming from.

This can be the death of a school administrator (not literally).

Lucky for me, fifteen years later I’m older and wiser.

Okay, just older.

Seriously, this is your last chance to bail out (save yourself, I’m begging you).

No?  So you are all in?  Alright, here we go.

Fifteen years ago, my child bride and I went to the movies.

From the moment we walked in I knew something was wrong.

What was it?

Did the movie stink?  Probably, but that wasn’t it.

Were there creepy teenagers making out in the balcony?  No.  There wasn’t a balcony.

Was the popcorn burnt and overpriced?  Negative.  It’ wasn’t burnt.

What was it?

There was a certain smell I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

A sort of stale moist haze lingered in the air.

It was almost pungent.

What was it?

I wasn’t sure, but I knew it was unpleasant.

Even back then I prided myself on the ability to diagnose a situation.

I can remember thinking I should be able to figure this out.

What is that smell?

I was a college graduate with nearly a year of teaching experience under my belt.  This shouldn’t have been a riddle wrapped in a mystery.

As the movie hit the halfway mark, I began to get frustrated.

What is that smell?  I couldn’t focus on anything but figuring out the strange odor.

Then it hit me.

My pants (or slacks for you older blog readers) were a little wet.

Actually, they were a lot wet.

Had I spilled my soda?  No, that wasn’t it.

What was it?

Had I had an “accident”.  No.  That will likely come in my later years.

Then I figured it out.

It was…

…still time to bail out people.

It was urine.

Yes, I said urine.

My own?

No.

Unfortunately, I had not wet myself.  I have never in my life wished I had less bowel control than in that very moment.

It was urine alright.

The person who “used” my seat during the previous movie had been kind enough to leave me a little present.

They had used the movie seat as a giant urine sponge.

And I sat in it.

For over an hour.

There’s a lesson to be learned here for every man, woman, and child who is considering become a principal or superintendent.

One, always and I mean always make sure your tetanus shot is up to date.

And two, never ever assume where your problems are coming from.  They may not be 457 yards away.

They just might be right underneath you.

Sometimes you are better off focusing inward instead of outward.

Or at least underward.

Let it be known, you will never go to the movies without thinking about me…and checking the seat for unexpected moisture.

PS…I tried to warn you!

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Be Careful. Evaluations Happen at the Oddest Times.


As you know (or don’t), I’m experiencing a rather weird situation.

No.

Not the rash.  That’s still a whole different story (any opportunity to use the word salve in a blog I take it… and I just did).

The Evil Spawn is in my wife’s 4th grade class.

You may be thinking this must be weird for them, but who really cares.

The important thing is it’s weird for me.

Why?

Because it is.Someone is Watching You.

And it’s my blog, so we are going to focus on my issues (but not all of them because of time constraints).

Having my daughter in her mother’s class struck me as odd from the very beginning.

It’s like prom.

I’ve said it before, the only good thing that can happen (for me… and I’m guessing you’re not surprised) is nothing bad happens.

A successful prom night for me is probably a boring night for the kids.

And I’m okay with that.

I feel the same about this “4th grade experiment”.

The only good thing that can come out of it is nothing bad happens.

No awkward Parent-Teacher Conferences.  No uncomfortable holiday parties.  No field trips where I have to chaperone and share a bus seat with 6 smelly kids over the course of an 18 hour day (which means 17 hours on the bus…  40 minutes in a museum…. and 20 minutes sitting at a picnic table eating a hot sandwich that’s supposed to be cold… probably in the rain).

When the school year started I envisioned a lot of crying.

I wasn’t sure by whom, but I figured one of the four of us would have some sort of breakdown (Buddy the Dog can be very emotional).

Much to my surprise, things have gone smoothly (I have the strange feeling I just jinxed myself).

I shouldn’t be surprised because this goes along with my theory on things almost always turn out just the opposite of what you expect (good and bad… so if you’re anticipating something good happening in the next few days… beware).

They both seem to be enjoying their year together, which means I get to enjoy my time at home.

The only thing that has struck me as odd is the Evil Spawn seems to be doing a year-long observation (the apple doesn’t fall far from the administrative tree).

Each night she comes home and critiques her mother’s performance.

It’s like getting a Broadway review after EVERY show.

Mom was interesting.  Mom was okay.  Mom was funny.  Mom got annoyed.  Mom got tickled.  Mom seemed tired.  Mom danced (ugh).  Mom’s timing was just a little off when she delivered a punch line during the math lesson (again… apple… not far from the tree).

For me it’s been an opportunity to experience my wife teaching without being in the classroom.

For the evil one, it’s a once in a lifetime chance to spend an entire year with her mom watching what she does best (not dance).

But for my wife?

It’s a year-long evaluation at the dinner table.

Good thing she has tenure.

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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.