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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Do You Know What Your Kids are Tweeting and Texting?


I get it, I’m old.Kids Are Good.  But Their Texts and Tweets Sometimes Aren't.

Keith Richards has better hearing than me (that would be a Rolling Stones guitar player reference kids).

My eye site gets worse by the day.  I wear contacts, but also need glasses to read anything smaller than a 24 font.

I just know my next pet will be a guide dog (sorry Buddy, but I need more than your sweet sweet love).

But old doesn’t have to mean naive.

Or just plain stupid.

If you have kids, I’m begging you to be aware.

Here is what I see and experience on a daily basis.

Technology is great.  But just like alcohol and cars, students are sometimes to young and/or immature to handle it.

The great thing about the world today is all of this new technology making the world smaller.

The bad thing for parents with teenagers is it’s making the world smaller.

Trust your kids, but don’t be a moron.

Check their Twitter accounts.

Then check their cell phone texts.

If you ask them if you can and they get mad or defensive, you’re on to something.

As a tired old school administrator, I’ve learned a few things over the years.

One, never eat food prepared by a student (figured this one out the hard way).

Two, never ever smell anything when a student says "Hey, smell this!"  Odds aren’t in your favor that it’s going to be good (if it’s food they’ve prepared, revert back to my last sentence).

Lastly, anyone between the ages of 8 and 18 is a lot smarter than you might think.

My hope is when parents check their children’s phone or social media they aren’t surprised by what they see.

But I won’t be surprised if they are.

Follow your kids on Twitter and Facebook.  It can’t hurt.

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The Gangs Are Coming. They Are Just Running a Little Behind Schedule.


When I first started teaching, one of the big issues was gangs.Be Aware.

I can remember sitting through presentations that taught us what to look for.

Behaviors.  Colors.  Symbols.  And the always scary bandanas (we banned them just to be safe).

As teachers, we had to be careful and diligent so our schools and communities wouldn’t be taken over by these hoodlums.

They were coming from the city in souped up Chevys and we had to be ready.

Evidently, we were the first line of defense against crack-dealing gun-toting gang bangers.

I did my best, all while focusing on trying to get the 9th graders to stop talking in Keyboarding class.

Turns out, my best was pretty good because as far as I know the Chicago gangs left our farm kids alone.

As I look back, schools can sometimes be overly proactive.

Gangs.  Y2KSwine Flu.

If it’s new and scary, we do everything possible to stop it.

Sort of like cell phones.

Eight years ago, they were going to ruin our youth.

Actually, they probably have but not in the way we anticipated.

Educators thought if students were allowed to bring them into school, mayhem would insue.

It would be worse than a gang member who had swine flu and computer problems all rolled into one.

Cell phones were the enemy.

And we would crush them.

Turns out we were all idiots.

Now we all have cell phones and we can’t put them down or turn away.

Cell phones have stolen our attention span, but our kids seem to be okay.

Just a tip – if you see a student wearing red, blue, or black… call the authorities.  There’s a pretty good chance they have guns and drugs.  I learned this in my meeting 18 years ago.  Or they could, simply look good in red, blue, or black… but don’t take any chances.

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If You Facebook or Twitter, Please Be Reminded Other People Can Also Read.


Since I began my long and illustrious career in education, I’ve noticed a couple of subtle changes.Be Careful Out There.

First, kids look a whole lot younger now than they did eighteen years ago.

Back in the day, seniors in high school seemed old to me.

Now, they look like they’re 12.

Secondly, everything else in education has completely changed and it all makes me a little nervous.

Testing.  Evaluations.  Common Core.  Lawsuits.  Government attacks.

It’s a lot.

I try to roll with all of it, but I must admit it can be stressful.

If all of this wasn’t enough, then there is the King of Changes.

Technology.

So many changes (I guess that’s why it’s called the King of Changes… or at least it’s called that now).

When I was in high school back in the 80′s (19… not 18), my school was one of the very first to offer One-to-One Computers.

We had one school.  And one computer.

But don’t worry, progress was coming.

A few short years later when I began teaching, we had a computer lab.  With 12 computers (that was what we called…  a lot).

And a printer.

How I loved that dot matrix printer.  The sounds it made.  The constant tearing off the pieces of paper with the holes in it.

The paper jams.  Good times.  Good times.

A student could print a 5 page English paper in less than 40 minutes (it was a special time).

I don’t mean to brag, but it was state of the art.

Back then, technology changed every couple of years.  I could keep up.

Now, it’s changing every couple of minutes.  I can’t keep up.

The thing I’ve noticed lately is students understand all of this new technology a lot better than I do. 

And at the same time, they don’t seem to understand it all.

Facebook is great (follow me!).  Twitter is cool (follow me!).

Social media’s greatest attribute is it makes the world smaller.

The worst thing is it makes the world smaller.

This is the part I don’t think students understand.

What they write on Facebook and Twitter is available to everyone.

And I mean everyone.

Back in the mid-80′s (a glorious time… thank you MC Hammer), students were free to share their thoughts, comments, and criticisms amongst their friends.

Now, their every thought is published worldwide for all to see.

It most cases this is okay.

They are at the age where opinions are formed quickly and expressed loudly.

I just worry that while they are old enough to share their thoughts, they are too young to realize the consequences.  They seem to be oblivious to the fact their words often times travel outside their peer group.

Long story short.

Dot matrix printers and MC Hammer were very cool (because we didn’t know any better).

Technology changes so quickly I can’t keep up.

This is all part of being old.

Another part of being old is I can read.

So if you are going to skip school or practice…

Don’t post it online.  :)

Use your time wisely children.  Google MC Hammer.

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Do Educators Have a Boss?


I’m confused.Is the Customer Always Right?

Who do we see as our boss?

The department head?

The principal?

The superintendent?

The school board?

The community?

Government?

Who?

Some may say students, but we don’t really answer to them.

If we did, we would give them what they want and not what we think they need.

So who is our actual boss?

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Summer is a Waste of Time.


I’ve been working in schools for so long, I can’t even remember what drew me to this lifestyle.Just the Thought of This Makes Me Miss My Summer.

I know it wasn’t the money (is there anyone who became a teacher for the money?).

Truth be told, there were probably lots of reasons.

The chance to work with students.  Coaching.  The structured schedule. 

The day before Thanksgiving meal that consists of all white food (noodles, mashed potatoes, roll, and milk!)

And of course, the always popular "summer vacation".

I love summers.

I love the countdown to summer vacation.

I love the three months off.

I love not wearing pants (please don’t contact the authorities… I wear shorts).

I love getting paid and not working (I mean I REALLY love getting paid and not working).

I love anything and everything about summer.

Except.

Except the fact that after 18 years of this I am now convinced summer is a waste of time.

We put so much effort into shutting down school for the summer.

Then we put twice as much into starting school back up again in the fall.

This can’t be good for a student’s brain.

Maybe.

Just maybe.

We should go to year round school.

Yes, I said it.

Year round school.

And get rid of my summer.

A part of me just died as I typed that last sentence.

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How Do You React When You See These 4 Words?


Happiness?It's Time.

Sadness?

Excitement?

Fear?

Relief?

Dread?

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Time to Focus on the 4 Kinds of Smart.


I think we may be at a turning point for public education, but what do I know (please don’t answer… or send me insulting/truthful emails).There May Be More, But This Picture Indicates There Are Only Four Types of Smart.

In ten years, the world of education may be overtaken by home schooling, charter schools, and online learning (this interweb thing really seems to be catching on).

This makes me a little sad because I’m a big fan of public education (almost as big of fan as I am of chocolate).

But it’s all I know.

Maybe there is a better way.

Maybe our students can be better served by another type of system.

Maybe, just maybe, a system that relied less on government funding could better educate our children.

I don’t want to sound crazy, but schools might be better off if they didn’t have to answer to politicians (a crazy thought I know, but I’m just throwing it out there).

Here’s what I do know.

Public schools try to be everything to everybody.

We teach.  We serve breakfast.  We make sure kids know how to drive.

We offer exercise (if you count PE).  We put a whole lot of students on the Honor Roll. 

We teach kids how to type (why… I don’t know).

We provide sports and after school activities. 

We provide things we can’t afford and spend money in ways that may not be fiscally responsible.

To summarize, we try and do so much that we probably set ourselves up for failure.

My latest theory is we need to downsize.

Focus in on what students actually need.

Focus on things our country could actually benefit from since our students will be the ones leading us in 20 years.

I see 4 types of smart in students.

Academic.  Athletic.  Vocational.  The Arts.

Not 100% of all kids fall into one of these categories, but 99% of them do.

Common sense tells me we should identify what a student is good at and then help them be great.

Yet, we sort of identify what a kid is good at then we try to make them the same level of good in the other areas.

Mediocrity seems to be our goal.

Academic kids should be thrown in rigorous programs at a very young age.

Athletic kids should be given the opportunity to maximize their skills.

Vocational students should learn the skills they need to keep this country growing.

Students who thrive in the Arts should be allowed to do just that.

I think it’s simple.

And I think we make it complicated.

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Student Outsmarting Me. Just Another Day.


School Administrator magazine.Life is Always 50/50.

The June 2012 edition.

Look for me.  And a student on the back page.

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Self-Esteem Poster for Students.


This got such a response on my other blog, I thought  I would share it here (for a much, much bigger audience).

I think this picture should be in every school in the world.

“They laugh at you because you’re different, but they are actually very immature.”

straw

Truer words have never been spoken.

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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.