Teachers Have Power.


Testing.Shhhhhhhhh.  Testing.

It’s the never ending education topic.

I think we need testing, but probably not to the extent the government is shoving down our throats (and normally our government does a GREAT job!).

One day, it will be readjusted and we will test students just the right amount for their indivdual progress and goals.

Sadly, we aren’t there yet.

Everyone complains about the amount of stress testing puts on students and teachers.

Don’t even get me started on the billions of dollars being made by faceless companies who are part of the testing process.

It’s BIG business.  Really BIG.

Then there is the little secret no one ever acknowledges.  The intregal part of testing that is left unspoken.

Teachers are powerful.

Very powerful.

Without them, there’s no testing.

When teachers in individual schools or states decide they’ve had enough testing, we will see a change.

Can you imagine if teachers refused to test?

Up to this point, they have been very compliant.  Teachers usually are.

But one day, I think they may decide as a group they’ve had enough.

If that happens, things will change.  And change very quickly.

So it begins in Seattle.

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Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown, Connecticut.


I haven’t written a blog about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday, December 14, 2012 for a couple of reasons.Sandy Hook Elementary.

First, my life at school has been busy.  Extremely busy.

I’m always swamped this time of year, but this tragedy made things even busier (I’m not complaining).

Parents, students, and staff were more shaken about this event than anything I’ve ever experienced.

During Columbine, I was a snot-nosed young teacher, so I’m sure I didn’t realize the impact it had on my administrators and school at the time.

Secondly and most importantly, an event like this doesn’t lend itself to snarky sarcastic blog writing (this is my go to move).

So, I’ve taken some time off from blogging.

And I’m glad I did.

I think the most important thing we can do at times like this is be reflective.

The best reaction is not to overreact.  This can be hard to do when everyone around you wants you to "Do something!"

In the face of tragedy, we all want to immediately implement rules or procedures to fix our own situation.

And often times, that’s the worst thing we can do.

Time will give us many of the answers we are searching for.

Lessons will be learned from what happened in Connecticut.

Schools will become safer.  Politicians will eventually do the right thing (I hope).  Administrators and teachers will be better trained.

Students who are already safe will be even safer in the future.

These things will take time, but they will happen.

This of course, will never fix what happened, but we have to understand we can’t fix it.

We can only make things better from this point forward.

This can sound cold and uncaring, but it’s not.  It is why I didn’t write a blog the next day.

As a side note… Why does the news media put children and families who were directly involved in a tragedy on TV, but won’t show a drunk fan who runs on the field during a professional baseball or football game because they don’t want to "glorify" their actions?

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Twitter is the New Teachers’ Lounge.


A long, long time ago I was hired as a teacher.Twitter Is What You Make of It.

Now we aren’t here to question the good judgment of the gentleman who made this decision, but we probably should discuss it at some point.

For whatever reason, he chose me out of 3 candidates.

I may not have been the greatest teacher, but I was evidently better than the other two.

Or they may have turned the job down right before he offered it to me.

I will never know.

But lucky for me, I had a job.

When I was hired, he gave me some good advice.  After he put his cigarette out.

Yes, times have changed.  In today’s world you would never see a high school principal sitting at his desk hiring a new teacher while sucking on a cancer stick.

But two decades ago, I did.

And I remember his advice like it was yesterday.

He said "Mike, take this advice or don’t.  Doesn’t make me any difference.  But, if I was a brand new teacher, I would stay out of the teacher’s lounge."

Then he went back to smoking.  He really seemed to enjoy it.

I took his advice.  And vowed to never smoke at my desk because I didn’t want my fingers to be yellow.

He didn’t tell me why I should stay out of the lounge, but I remember thinking at the time he must know something I don’t because he had been in education forever.

And I mean forever.

His fingers were REALLY yellow.

These days, I’m starting to think Twitter has become the new Teacher’s Lounge.

Neither one is bad, but they are what you make of them.

Both can provide educators positive and upbeat experiences, but both can also suck the living life out of you.

In either place, I think it’s very easy to get caught up in complaining about schools, students, parents, and even politicians.

If I was giving advice in today’s world (and I am), I would say don’t go anywhere where the people around you make you feel bad about your profession.

This might mean the lounge.  This might also mean Twitter.

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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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Every Teacher Has Faced This Ultimate Struggle.


It’s the student who doesn’t get it, but should.

From Kid Snippets.

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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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The Scariest Feeling You Can Experience in School.


Working in a school is more fun than a real job.Shock and Horror.

But there are times that can be unsettling.

1.) The sad day that is July 5, when you realize summer is almost over (downhill from there).

2.) The morning you wake up expecting a snow day and it’s 52 degrees and sunny.

3.) Anytime the government gets involved in education.

But all of these pale in comparison to the worst feeling an educator sitting at his or her desk can experience.

It happens every year.

I know this because people email me within seconds of this tragic event.

The tone of the email is always the same.  Shame mixed with fear wrapped in an apology.

5.) It’s when an employee using a school computer goes to one website and ends up on another.

The unexpected site rhymes with born, thorn, sworn, torn, and worn.

It’s always the same series of events.  They type in an innocent web address and they end up someplace entirely different.

Usually, the site is only on the computer for seconds, but it can seem like hours when they are frantically hitting the Escape or Delete button.  Some have even pulled the power cord.

This stress and shame is compounded if there are children within 100 feet.

I always get the sense they are sweating profusely when they send the email pleading their innocence.

First, I’m not the computer police.  I know it was accident.

And second, why do innocent people always feel so guilty?

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This Will Make Every Teacher Very Happy.


Last week I had a good day because I only worked half of it.Lotterys Are Fun.

At lunch time, I snuck out (and before you tell on me… I filled out the proper paperwork).

I have to sneak out.  If not 197 people stop me.

This is bad.

The good thing is each one of them only "needs a second".

Superintendent Math:  197 people x 1 second = 17 hours and 19 minutes.

So, I was very happy to get out of the building without being stopped.

I spent a beautiful fall day working with a dog like a dog in the yard.  I’m not sure what Buddy does when I’m at school, but I know what he does when I’m home.

He lays in the exact spot where I need to work.

It’s creepy.  Wherever I turn, there he is.

Sleeping.

And snoring.

Note to dog who lives in my house and eats my food:  It’s a big yard.  Go sleep in a flowerbed I’m not weeding.

While I was working, I had an endless stream of ingenious ideas.

Most of which I forgot within two minutes.

The one I remember is golden.

Everyone loves a day off.

Everyone looks forward to it.

How about each school employee gets one Lottery Day Off every five years.

Here is how it works.

Each Friday the school hires an extra sub.

Before first period, the entire staff gathers in the gym for a drawing.

After a drum roll and lots of anticipation, one employee is pulled from a fancy machine filled with ping pong balls.

When your name is pulled, you get to go home.

No questions asked.

Just a bonus day off.

Teachers, administrators, janitors, cooks, secretaries… everybody is eligible.

A day off is great.  An unexpected day off is better.

Everyone would look forward to Fridays, just because of the excitement of not having to stay.  Actually, everyone looks forward to Fridays already, but that’s not important.

I don’t see a downside to this idea. 

Other than the cost of a sub and the bitterness of those who don’t win. 

Now, I just need to find a fancy lottery machine with ping pong balls and a large group of people who want to go home.

One is going to be a lot easier to find than the other…I will let you decide which is which.

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When Teachers Strike, Everybody is Out.


I thinkNobody Wins a Strike. teacher unions can serve an important role in the education of students.

I also support their right to strike under extreme circumstances.

I also believe that when they do strike, everyone loses.

Students.

Parents.

Teachers.

Politicians.

Every strike picks away at the trust people have in schools.

At the end of a strike, both sides will think they’ve won.

And both will be wrong.

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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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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.