January is Over. Seriously?


 

How is it possible that January is gone?  Where did it go?

I need more than 31 days to get used to writing 2010 on my checks.  Never mind, I don’t use checks anymore… it’s 2010.

It’s been 67 days since Thanksgiving.   37 days since Christmas.

This amazes me.Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock...

And saddens me.

It’s been 164 days since my school year started (which means the countdown is on and we may just make it… and this doesn’t sadden me).

All of this is hard to believe.

There’s never enough time.  And the time I have goes way too fast (i.e. weekends).

When I was a kid, time went so much slower.

A math teacher explained this concept to me.  When I was 8 years old, every year was 1/8 of my life.  Now that I’m 42, every year is 1/42 of my life.

That means at the age of 8 each year accounted for 12.5% of my total life.  Now each year accounts for 2.4% of my life.

Time is going more quickly because it is a smaller percentage of my lifetime.

I’m no mathematician, but this is only going to get worse (when and if I’m 80 years old, each year will be 1.25% of my life).

This math story problem makes me feel old.

It’s amazing that it’s been 15,467 days since I was born, so I guess technically I am old.

The good news is I will never be younger than I am today.

Either way I look at it (or use the calculator to figure it), I realize I really need to be more productive on a daily basis.

The clock is ticking.

Faster every year.

 

“Time is an illusion.  Lunchtime doubly so.” – Douglas Adams.

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Sunday Night.


Nothing Cooler Than a Dog in Sunglasses.It’s here.

No more talking or thinking about it.

It’s officially the last Sunday of summer. School starts bright and early tomorrow (6:00 am… unless I’m overcome by Edusomnia and can’t sleep… then it will be
4:00 am)

My wife doesn’t understand the significance of Sundays. How they should be dreaded and feared.

She considers Sunday to be the last day of a restful weekend. To her it’s a gift. It’s a calm and peaceful day.

I consider Sunday to be an annoying precursor to what is sure to be a long and hectic week.

Basically, it’s Pre-Monday.

To me it’s nothing more than a reminder of how far away we are from Friday afternoon.

As I have said before, I don’t dread school. I look forward to it. I just hate to let summer go.

But as I sit here (as I seldom type standing up), I have come to the realization that time is once again slipping away.

This little tidbit of information once again slapped me in the face when I got my eyes checked last week.

The optometrist pointed out that while my eyes haven’t drastically changed in the last 12 months, he isn’t far from recommending I get bifocals.

I said bifocals are for old people.

He said exactly.

He did point out that wearing a pair of reading glasses in addition to my contacts might help.

Great.

How blind am I that I first need to insert contacts into my eyes, and then put on a pair of glasses?

It won’t be long until I need a Seeing Eye dog (a real dog… not that thing that lives in my garage and thinks he’s a human).

Getting old stinks.

Summer being over stinks.

Sunday nights stink.

But there is good news. School starts tomorrow.

And it doesn’t stink.

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School Pictures: How Many Friends Do They Think I Have?


My desk is a mess. End of the Year Desk.

But so are my house, truck, and garage.

I’m not a slob. I’m a school administrator.

This means the months of April and May are busy. Really busy. So busy that I shouldn’t even be taking time to write this.

I should be working on curriculum, handbooks, or school finances. Or at least watching a Dirty Jobs episode that I have only seen 17 times.

Graduation. Prom. Retirement parties (not mine unfortunately). Daughter’s events (unfortunately soccer). Spring concerts. Baseball games. Musicals. Meetings.

It goes on and on.

But the end is near. Although I’m not counting down.

Actually the end isn’t near for me. Working year round takes some of the excitement out of the end of school.

But I will have a 3 month summer break from kids and adults, so I have that going for me.

Until then it will be busy.

Way too busy for me to have time to clean out my desk.

It has taken an entire school year to collect all of the stuff that now resides in, on, under, and around my desk.

And by stuff I mean crap.

It is going to take time to clean this mess up.

And 47 trash bags.

And a putty knife (there is something sticky in one of my desk drawers).

I am also going to need at least 2 Advil. My back is bound to be sore from lifting all the crap in and around the desk.

From the beginning of the school year to the end, my desk reminds me of my dorm room at college.

Clean and neat with very few items at the beginning of the year.

Messy and not so clean with all kinds of junk at the end. At least there aren’t any concert posters on my desk.

But there are pens. Lots of them.

Seriously, how many pens does one man need? 10, 50, a 1000?

If you plan on giving me a free pen in the next 20 years, please don’t. Although I could use a letter opener.

Another item that is taking over my desk is school pictures. Not of students.

Of me.

Sad but true. I have hundreds.

Actually that is a lie.

I have way more than that.

The question is why?

Why do they give me so many pictures of myself?

There are wallet size photographs of me falling out of my desk like snowflakes. Except the pictures all look the same.

Bad.

You would think with digital cameras they could get one good picture of me.

Yet, I don’t have the heart to throw them away.

So I have become a collector. Of bad school pictures of myself.

Sure it’s creepy. And a little sad. Even borderline pathetic.

But what am I to do.

The picture company gives me these pictures every year and I have no one with whom to exchange them

I am a school administrator, not a popular junior high girl.

It seems a little cruel they continue to give me these year after year.

When I do get around to cleaning out my desk, I am going to be faced with the prospect of what to do with these pictures.

If I drag them out and lay them on top of the desk it will look like I’m staring into a carnival fun house mirror.

Except I am 15 different ages. In the same pose.

Feet on the floor. Hands in my lap. Shoulders back. Chin up. Smile.

Next year I am going to ask if they can’t just use last year’s picture.

And I know where they can find one. Or a thousand.

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As Educators, Shouldn’t We Be Counting Down to the First Day of School?


No matter where you go, schools have a lot in common.

Each one has bulletin boards covered with faded construction paper, a colored pencil or crayon laying in the hallway, copiers that are jammed, horseplay in the restrooms, and at least one staff member who can tell you the exact days, hours, minutes and seconds until the end of the school year.

Generally, they start the official countdown right after Christmas.

This holds true, unless the staff member is having a bad year. Then they start at Halloween.

Really bad year, Labor Day.

The best part is that you never have to ask them about the countdown. They tell you as they walk by in the hallway.

I can remember doing this. My system was slightly more low-key. Let the Countdown Begin!

I checked off the days on a school calendar that was taped inside my grade book.

Do teachers still have grade books? And if so, why? But, I digress. Again.

Checking off the days gave me a sense of accomplishment. At the time, I thought keeping track made the year go by faster.

It was even more special when I forgot to do this for a few days. Then I got to put X’s through 3 or 4 days at once.

Weekends were an added bonus.

I felt like I had just won a prize. The more X’s the better.

But the X’s always had to be in the same color. In retrospect, I have come to realize that I might have some control issues… or a disorder.

Hard to tell. But in my youth, chewing on paint chips was probably not the best plan.

Checking off the days probably made the end of school go slower.

Now that I work (and remember everyone’s definition of work is different, so don’t judge) 12 months a year, I never worry about the end of school.

It doesn’t even cross my mind. Maybe that is because I am so focused on the job at hand.

I am locked in. Totally immersed in the job. Giving it 110%.

Or more likely my memory is getting so fuzzy that I just forget to do it (i.e.: paint chips)

Just as soon as this school year ends, it will be time to start the next one.

At this stage of my career, I am not a counter. My life is passing fast enough… kind of like the huge bowl of chip dip intended for a staff luncheon that is gone by 9:30 in the lounge. (I can’t make this stuff up.)

No need in wishing my life away.

Plus, if I really need to know how many days are left, I can just walk down the hall.

At my school, or your school. Or any school.

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The Shorter the Work Week, the Longer it Feels.


The Perfect Long Weekend.Like most people, I look forward to any sort of vacation. While the summer one continues to be my favorite (followed closely by any other), I must admit that I do have a special place in my heart for that day off that falls on a Monday.

I don’t care what holiday the government has to move to make this possible (and people say our elected officials are incapable of accomplishing anything).

These 3 day weekends are a gift, and well- received if you work in schools.

As educators, we need to forget about our low pay, mediocre health insurance, and lack of respect from society (not that those of us in education like to complain). Give me that extra 24 hours off.

I start to look forward to the time off a couple weeks in advance of any 3 day weekend.

The anticipation builds until the Thursday before (Friday is spent day-dreaming about Saturday-Monday… and of course my work).

The closer the weekend gets, the more I get excited and start planning what I am going to do for those 72 hours of not working.

Then it happens. I always know these weekends will turn out exactly the same way.

It is inevitable.

They are too short. Way too short.

Somehow I leave work on Friday afternoon, glance at my watch, and realize it is 2:30 p.m. on Monday.

72 hours of free time always goes by faster than a normal 48 hour weekend.

But that isn’t the bad part.

The following 4 day week is easily the worst part.

You would think that a work week that starts on a Tuesday would fly by.

Nope.

It drags.

Badly (if that isn’t a word, it should be)

For some reason, known only to scientists and possibly aliens, a 4 day work week (when you normally work 5 days) seems at least 894% longer (and if you don’t believe me, Google it).

Why is that?

Why does the God of Work punish me so? He teases me each time we have a 3 day weekend and I always fall for it.

Everything (which means nothing) I know about time tells me 4 days is shorter than 5.

Once again, I have actually sat down and done the math.

Yet, a shorter work week is actually longer.

It almost makes me want to get out of education and take a job in the real world (a world that I have only heard about… a world with no prep periods and I have been told that some people even work year round… just the thought makes me queasy).

The key here is almost.

I will stay in education and continue to look forward to those precious 3 day weekends.

Even if the following 4 day week will punish me by feeling longer. Much longer.

Just to test my theory, I would like to propose a 4 day weekend, just to see how a 3 day work week feels.

I am willing to make this sacrifice for the good of everyone who has to suffer through a short work week.

You can never accuse me of not being a team player.

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Labor Day is Here: Which Means I Have a Lot to Do.


Where Did the Summer Go?The arrival of September tells me one thing.

I am woefully behind.

As an educator, I realize how lucky I am to have a job that gives me some time off during the summer months.

The only problem is that it isn’t nearly enough time.

As the school year winds down each spring, I always try to make a list of things that I need to accomplish over the summer.

This year was no exception. I made a list of about 30 items that had to be done.

No exceptions. Writing them down on the list was like carving them in stone. They would be done before the beginning of school.

Some were small items (like take a nap every day) and some larger items (paint the house). Actually, I may have those backwards as I believe taking a nap every day was Important Large Item #1.

As I sit here on Labor Day (it’s an American thing if you are reading this from another country… and enjoying your universal health care), I have realized that summer is officially over and…

I lost my list.

About 2 months ago.

So, most of the items on the list have not been completed. I think. I am not exactly sure because if you are paying attention you know I lost the list.

When I think about summer as a large block of time, I worry that I am not getting enough accomplished.

I have wasted an opportunity that I can never get back.

I have an overwhelming anxiety that time is slipping by me.

Things around the house, at work, and on the computer still need to be addressed. So much to do, and so little time.

But if I break it down, I don’t feel quite as bad.

This summer I got to travel (Texas and Colorado), went to NECC (sort of), visited a zoo, coached a softball team, learned a bunch of technology stuff (Jing, Ping.fm, Twitter, Plurk, Joomla, etc.) made lots of positive changes at school (at least I hope they are), did some work in the yard, saw the Riverwalk in San Antonio, wrote about 38 blogs, helped redo our school website, played some golf (never as much as I would like), rode the flat escalators in the Denver Airport (these should be everywhere), went to a Major League Baseball game, explored a cave, visited Sea World, watched the tech queen’s workshop business grow by about 300%, ran about 175 miles (jogged more than ran… actually, shuffled more than jogged), loaded about 60 items on PrincipalsPage.com, experienced my daughter growing about 4 inches and aging from 7 to 14 years old, and saw the horribly disappointing Alamo (the Alamo isn’t disappointing… just the mall next door).

So all in all, I can’t really complain because none of this stuff was on the list.

Maybe as I get older (if all goes well… quick, someone knock on wood), I will have a better understanding that life isn’t a race.

Not everything needs to be on a list and crossed off as I complete it.

Ah, who am I kidding?

What I need to do is make a fall list.

There is much to be done before winter gets here. Primarily, all of the things I didn’t get done over the summer (which is pretty much everything).

And Important Item #1 is going to be… Don’t Lose List.

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I Hate the First Day of School. But I Have Yet Another Plan.


Yes, it’s true.

I hate the first day of school.

Hate it. With a passion.

You heard me. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate it.

I hate it like a 15 year old boy hates homework (or a 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, or 41 year old… the point being, boys don’t like homework).
My Plan is Very Detailed.
I hate it like my 7 year old daughter hates boys (I can sense her disgust for boys slowly fading away… I am afraid that I am in for some long and painful years between the ages of 12 and 21).

Did I mention that I hate the first day of school?

Good. Just so we are all on the same page (and as long as that page isn’t a worksheet or a term paper).

If you are asking yourself, why does he hate the first day so much? The opening of school has so many positives. It is a great time of the educational year.

Students are generally excited to be back in a routine (even if they don’t admit it), parents are unusually excited for the students to be out of their house (they can’t wait to admit it), and the teachers are usually ready to start a new year (some will reluctantly admit it).

Fall is in the air. The leaves will be turning colors. The weather is cooling down. Football is about to begin. And don’t forget Christmas is just around the corner (can someone please tell me why time is getting faster… there used to be 24 hours in a day).

Still, even with all of these good things happening, I hate it.

The first day of school is exhausting.

More mentally than physically (although my feet do hurt on the first day… every year… mental note, next year hold off on wearing the new school shoes until Day 2).

So much work goes into getting school started. It is unbelievable how much time and effort goes into reviewing rules and policies that everyone on staff was following only 3 short months ago. Wouldn’t this time be better used focusing on students?

Now pay attention, because I am only going to say this once.

As someone who has been adamantly opposed to year round school. As someone who treasures their time off. As a person who excitedly looks forward to summer even more than a boy who is getting a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas (that is my second Holiday reference in an August blog… very impressive if you ask me… and I just realized that no one is asking me, so let’s move on).

But before we do… if you are receiving a BB Gun this year… keep in mind “That you will shoot your eye out, kid.”

Back to the subject at hand.

Here it goes. Please don’t ever repeat this.

Because I will deny it.

I think year round school might be a good idea.

I can’t believe that those heinous words just came out of my mouth. I feel a little dirty (I may need to shower before continuing).

Yes, I hate the first day of school because of the time and effort it takes.

It is amazing to me the amount of things that need addressed that we all took for granted just last spring.

Discipline, how to take attendance, putting grades in the computer, etc… it goes on and on.

Wouldn’t it just be easier (and better for the students) to go year round and take shorter breaks?

Oh my gosh, I just said it again. I may throw up in my mouth if I don’t stop.

I have become the national poster boy for year round school (by national, I mean the 12 people who read this… yes, my readership is way up… thank you very much).

My proposal is as follows. 9 weeks of school, 3 weeks off.

And of course a little longer vacation during the summer. I haven’t hashed that part of the plan out just yet.

Although, I am thinking a summer vacation should last somewhere between 14 and 32 weeks.

You see, while I am now a proponent of year round schooling, I still love my summers.

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Will I Ever Run Out of Things That Bug Me? Talk Amongst Yourselves.


I have some thoughts that I need to get out of my head. Hopefully when they are out in the open, I can then move on with my life.

Please feel free to discuss (or not, if you insist on not being a team player).

The school year has gone by so quickly. Every year that I work in education this seems to happen at a faster pace.

I have come to grips with the idea that I have to get older each year (beats the alternative) and that the school days are going to fly by quickly. I just don’t like it.

Some may think this is why I am grumpy. But let’s not kid ourselves; I was grumpy way before this started happening.Some Things Just Bug Me.

Early in my career I would start a countdown to summer as soon as the calendar hit March. Now I wish it will all just slow down.

It is almost like I want the school year to last longer or not (let’s all keep our heads before we say something foolish).

Yet, on the other hand I feel like winter has been here forever. I am ready for spring and warmer weather (which brings the end of school).

As you can see, I am a torn man. It is not easy being me (or green, I have heard).

Another thing that I have had to make peace with is wearing a suit each day. I am a huge proponent of teachers and administrators dressing and looking like professionals.

My belief is that we must separate ourselves from the students. To be treated and respected, we must dress the part.

Yet, I hate dressing up with a passion. When it is time to get my school clothes ready each evening, I am overtaken by sadness (or it could be laziness, it’s hard to tell).

The first thing I am going to do after I cash in a winning lottery ticket is burn all of my dress clothes.

Technically that will be the second thing. The first will be to buy a $50 tie and strangle the guy who invented ties (this is not a threat as I am assuming this gentleman passed away long ago… it is getting harder and harder to gain approval on these blogs from the PrincipalsPage.com legal department).

Again I am torn. Big fan of professionalism, yet hate ironing. Hope to win the lottery and live happily ever after, yet capable of attacking an innocent inventor. I live a complicated life.

Lastly, it is time for March Madness. You might think I am going to write about how this is such an exciting time for the whole country. Nope.

Or how there will finally be something decent to watch on television. Again no.

I prefer to focus (my anger) on the fact that for the next week we will all be subjected to news stories on one topic.

Not the “student” athletes participating in the tournament. Not the exciting finishes to the early games. Not even the small schools that will get some much needed publicity and a chance to shine in front of a huge audience.

Those are all nice, but they don’t bug me (hence, a boring blog… and we can’t have that).

The story we will all have to hear and read about is the one about how employees watching NCAA basketball games at work will cost businesses 957 quadrillion dollars.

Who is the nerd who decides this? Does anyone double-check his math?

Why can’t they just let us be happy for a couple of weeks? Why do all newscasts have to lead with stories about fires, accidents, what the local school district is doing wrong, and how much money IBM is losing because the janitor is watching Tennessee vs. American University (by the way my money is on a scrappy American U. squad… go Eagles!).

Feel free to talk about these topics amongst yourselves. I have to go iron my clothes and watch the news.

Another weekend has flown by and tomorrow is a school day.

And I am sad? Or lazy? Again, hard to tell.

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Two Day School Weeks Are Cool.


School is back in session after a two week break for the holidays.

Last night, I was overcome with sadness and depression and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was causing it.

Was it the weather? Was it the fact that the holidays are over? Was it the fact that my mother-in-law was sponging yet another free meal off of us?

I have never met someone who is happier when he or she gets a free hot meal.I Wish I Lived Here.

I don’t think the woman eats between visits. I think she starves herself and then comes and eats enough so that she can then hibernate for about two weeks until she can return to our house.

The preceding three paragraphs were written in fun and in no way should imply that my mother-in-law is a mooch, a big eater, or a bear. Mother-in-law jokes are easy (plus this is my last gasp hope that I still might be in her will… obviously my odds aren’t good now, but maybe if we invite her over for lasagna…).

But back to my original thought. Yesterday was a Wednesday evening, yet it felt like a Sunday.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I should have recognized the actual source of my sadness earlier. The answer was right in front of me the whole time.

Going to work after a long break isn’t fun. That’s right; I just wrote what everyone was thinking.

I would rather stay home day after day, never shave, occasionally shower, sleep in, stay up late (9:15 pm), and certainly never iron dress shirts or wear a tie.

This sounds better than getting up at 5:00 am and going to work.

There you have it. I said it. I prefer sitting at home doing nothing as opposed to going to work (with one exception… as long as I am getting paid from work).

But the best thing about education (besides the students, the long hours, and the high pay) is the time off that we get.

Summers, long weekends, and holiday vacations. You can’t put a price on free time.

That is why we shouldn’t complain about the pay in education too much. Time is worth far more than money.

This week I have to go to work two straight days. Yes, you read it correctly. I have to work a Thursday and a Friday before I get a weekend off.

I don’t know how much longer I can keep up this pace.

I’ve considered quitting my job because permanent time off would be nice, but I need the money for groceries.

Although after reading this, she may not come back.

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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.