Cell Phone Contracts. Do This for Your Child.


The Evil Spawn doesn’t have a phone.               Cell Phone Contracts for Your Child.

She has two parents who work, eat, and sleep technology but she doesn’t have a phone.

Why?

One, she doesn’t have a job.  So how would she pay for it?

Two, she is twelve going on thirteen going on forty, but up to this point her parents (mainly mom… and mom is always right) don’t think she is emotionally ready for a phone.

Sure, she would know the technology portion forwards and backwards, but we weren’t sure if she was ready with the emotional responsibility that comes with putting a computer in her pocket.

There are mean people everywhere, but owning a phone just gives them more access to our kid.

It’s a big world out there and we weren’t sure if she was ready to carry it around in her back pocket.

Lastly, our daughter goes from home to school.  School to home.  There are phones available everywhere she is located.

I’m not one of the parents who believe my child will always be safe and never in danger just because she has a phone.

Do phones help with safety?  Maybe. 

But mostly they are status symbols that occassionaly make the child’s and parent’s lives a little less hectic.

In 2014, cell phones (and all technology) is wonderful.  I wouldn’t want to be without it.

But I also don’t want my daughter growing up in a world in which that’s all she knows.

One day she will have a phone.  Probably a very nice phone.

And we will pay for it.  She can pay us back once that job I spend every day dreaming about comes her way.

And when she gets this phone, it will come with rules.

My money.  My rules.

I will start with these 18 from Janell Burley Hofmann.  She’s a genius.  And a good mom.

An open letter to her son Gregory on her blog:

"Merry Christmas!  You are now the proud owner of an iPhone.  Hot Damn!  You are a good and responsible 13 year old  boy and you deserve this gift.  But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations.  Please read through the following contract.  I hope you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it.  Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership.

I love you madly and look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.

1.  It is my phone.  I bought it.  I pay for it.  I am loaning it to you.  Aren’t I the greatest?

2.  I will always know the password.

3.  If it rings, answer it.  It is a phone.  Say hello, use your manners.  Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads "Mom" or "Dad".  Not ever.

4.  Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30 pm every school night and every weekend night at 9:00 pm.  It will be shut off for the night and not turned on again at 7:30 am.  If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text.  Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.

5.  It does not go to school with you.  Have a conversation with the people you text in person.  It’s a life skill.  *Half days, field trips and after school activities will require special consideration.

6.  If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes in thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs.  Mow a lawn, baby sit, stash some birthday money.  It will happen, you should be prepared.

7.  Do not use technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being.  Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others.  Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.

8.  Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.

9.  Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room.  Censor yourself.

10.  No porn.  Search the web for information you would openly share with me.  If you have a question about anything, ask a person – preferably me or your father.

11.  Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public.  Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being.  You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.

12.  Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts.  Don’t laugh.  Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence.  It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life.  It is always a bad idea.  Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you.  And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear – including a bad reputation.

13.  Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos.  There is no need to document everything.  Live your experiences.  They will be stored in your memory for eternity.

14.  Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision.  It is not alive or an extension of you.  Learn to live without it.  Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO – fear of missing out.

15.  Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff.  Your generation has access to music like never before in history.  Take advantage of that gift.  Expand your horizons.

16.  Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.

17.  Keep your eyes up.  See the world happening around you.  Stare out a window.  Listen to the birds.  Take a walk.  Talk to a stranger.  Wonder without Googling.

18.  You will mess up.  I will take away your phone.  We will sit down and talk about it.  We will start over again.  You and I, we are always learning.  I am on your team.  We are in this together.  It is my hope that you can agree to these terms.  Most of the lessons listed here do not apply to the iPhone, but to life.  You are growing up in a fast and ever changing world.  It is exciting and enticing.  Keep it simple every chance you get.  Trust your powerful mind and giant heart above any machine.  I hope you enjoy your awesome new iPhone.  Merry Christmas!

xoxoxoxo
Mom"

 


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Discovery Education Part Duex: Beyond the Textbook Continues.


Instead of making you watch a projector slideshow of my trip to Washington (old school reference), I thought I would just share my thoughts about my experience at Discovery Headquarters.Discovery Education.

First, I love a free trip.  I’m not sure which I love more – the free or the trip.  Combine them and I’m in heaven (if you are reading this and in charge of giving away free trips, please keep me in mind).

If you recall and I’m almost positive you don’t, I was invited by Discovery about this time last year to take part in a forum on digital textbooks (I’m told it’s the wave of the future).

The way this works is Discovery pays your expenses for two days and then they own you.  Sort of like a college athletic scholarship except there aren’t coaches from Discovery screaming at you.

Discovery flies or trains you in, provides a hotel room, feeds you, and then asks a lot of questions.

Their purpose is to learn the thoughts and ideas of people who may one day implement digital textbooks (or techbooks) in their school districts.

My purpose was to be helpful but most of all to learn something.

This is harder than it sounds.  Think about all the workshops, webinars, speeches, curriculum groups, etc. we’ve all sat through.  More times than not we all leave these experiences dumber and angrier than when we walked in.

Going to Discovery is just the opposite of this type of experience.  These people are so happy with their jobs  it’s almost creepy.

It is hard to be around them and not take something positive away from the experience

When the forum was over, I felt much smarter.  I’m sure I’m not, but the feeling is nice.

I would like to feel taller, but that’s a different blog.

Participating in an event like this at Discovery is fun for several reasons.  The biggest for me is I’m not in charge.  And it’s nice to be part of a group where you don’t hold any responsibility (other than being there on time and eating Georgetown Cupcakes).

It’s also nice to be asked questions instead of being the one asking.  Plus, anytime you find yourself in a situation where everyone else in the room is smarter, you should take advantage of it.

For two days, we were quizzed by the good folks of Discovery Education on a variety of topics.  The main one being what a digital math techbook should look like.

I’m often asked my thoughts about buying textbooks, but no one has ever asked me to help design a very preliminary version of one.

I guess I can check this task off my bucket list.

When Discovery comes out with their Math Techbook, I’m sure I won’t recognize it.  It will likely not look anything like the one our group came up with, but that’s okay.

We were there when they started.  And that’s pretty cool.

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QR Code Birthday Cake.


The Evil Spawn just turned 12.Happy Birthday Ashton.

She’s a nerd and I use this term with respect.

She’s a great nerd (she prefers geek).

For her birthday, she wanted a QR code cake and a QR coded scavenger hunt that led her and her friends all over town.

They went to all of her old haunts.  From her first babysitter to the dentist’s office where she lost her first tooth. 

The clues led them to the grocery store where they had to figure out how much money we have spent on Buddy the Dog’s food in the last four years.

They even visited their 2nd grade teacher where they had to recall the order of the planets from their very first big school project and recite them to her in order (funny what they forget).

They had a blast even though they have evidently forgotten everything they learned in 2nd grade.

It’s good to have a school technology coordinator as a mom.

Go ahead, scan the cake with your reader.  It works.

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The Outernet.


I miss our old world.

I Need to Get Out More.

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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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Kids These Days Are Weird. I Mean Wired.


I’ve noticed something about The Evil Spawn lately.Rockin It!

She is growing up (sad, I know).

With this comes the inevitable.  She will spend more time with her peers and less time with her parents (this part isn’t completely sad… but we try not to tell her as to not hurt her feelings).

She’s at the age where she wants to be around her friends all the time.  Sleepovers, parties, movies,  etc.

She even likes to arrive at her games early so she can spend more time with her teammates.

But, I’ve noticed something.

The girls she plays with like to be in the same general area, but they don’t spend much time talking to each other.

Everyone has an iPod.  Or iPad.  Or iSomething.

While they are in the same general area, they aren’t really together.

They all have their own apps.  Or music.  Or TV show to watch.

This is fine by me because they are quiet.  Which is a huge bonus if you have ever lived with an 11 year old girl.

But what will they be like in the future?

Will they continue to be around people but not directly communicate?

Will they go off to college and never speak to their roommates.

Instead of meeting new people as they get older, will they continue to text or contact their friends from home while ignoring people who are 3 feet away from them?

How will they act as adults?  Will they know their neighbors?  Will they interact with other parents?

Even more confusing to me, how will they be when they are old?

Are we raising a group of children who will become the first generation of nursing home residents who sit together but never speak to one other?

It’s possible they may be way too busy downloading apps to talk to their grandchildren.

Of course, by then, there may not be apps.

Or grandchildren.

Because they really don’t interact.

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Apple Has What You Need. Even Before You Know It.


Apple Has It Figured Out.The Evil Spawn gets my technology hand me downs.

This is good for both of us.  She gets something new and I get something brand-new.

She is generally very appreciative but she would prefer the newest and latest Apple products.

She has my old iPad.  She has a very early version of the iPod (squirrels run it).

Evidently, these are no longer cutting it.

She wants to upgrade. 

Why?

Because she says she’s the proud owner of iCrap.

iCrap?

Yes, she says old is iCrap.

She is the perfect age to be Apple’s perfect customer.

She’s grown up on Apple.  She doesn’t remember Dell, Commodore, or Mattel (classics my friends… classics).

She’s a loyal customer.

Very loyal.  She drinks the Apple Kool-Aide.

She doesn’t question them.  If they make it, she needs it.

They have the perfect business model.  Apple doesn’t make products to fill demand.

They create products to fill needs we didn’t even know we had.

Who knew we couldn’t live a productive civilized life without iPads, iPods, and Mini iThings?

They did.  And now she does.

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Searching for Sanity? Turn Off Your Technology.


It is my hope that through this blog someone at some point actually learns something.Take One Day Off. The World Will Survive.

I know it’s not likely, but hope is all I’ve got.

Many times, I know the advice I’m giving is directed squarely at me.

So lets hope today, someone learns something. 

This is my plan.

Technology is great.

It’s also suffocating.

When you are a new principal or superintendent, you are constantly told to communicate, be active in the community, be seen at school, and respond to questions and concerns as quickly as possible.

In this day and age, you can literally be "at" work 24 hours a day.

You can receive and send messages/information all day, every day.

You can check your email while eating, mowing, walking, and seconds before you fall asleep or within moments of waking up.

It’s great.

And it can literally suck the life out of you (I apologize for the language, but sometimes it’s nice to work blue).

That’s why I have this new plan.

No technology.

At least one day a week.  Or more likely, at least part of one day during the week.

I’m thinking Sundays may work best for me.

No emails.  No blogs.  No Facebook.  No Twitter.  No phone calls.

No school.

I’m going underground.  Off the radar.  Incognito.

Surely these same school buildings that have been standing for 100 years will survive one more day if I turn off my phone.

And if they don’t, there probably won’t be school on Monday anyway.

It’s easy to be needed. 

It’s much harder to realize everyone else will be just fine without you.

I’m officially copyrighting "No Technology Day for Administrators."  From now on, my speeches in front of literally thousands and thousands of people will include not only a push for administrators using technology, but also a push not to use technolgy.

At least one day a week.

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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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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.