What About the Great Kid?


During our regular corporate meetings involving all things PrincipalsPage.com, the staff decided I should blog about That Kid and the Great Kid (meetings, staff, planning, and coherent thoughts don’t really exist).

I first blogged about That Kid.

That Kid is easy.No That's a Smart Kid.

Everyone has a That Kid in class, their school, or as we are finding out… in their familes.

We’ve been notified That Kid turns out pretty well as he (yes, he) grows older and is given time to mature (remember… some take longer than others).

We’ve also been notified he can turn up in prison.

This reinforces my theory.  Everything, and I mean everything, is 50/50.

Examples are:  Will you wake up tomorrow morning.  50/50.

Will I win the lottery?  50/50.

Will more than ten people leave a comment on this particular entry?  50/50.

Will this blog make me rich.  Okay, bad example (there is exactly 0% chance of that happening).

Everything else in life is truly 50/50.  It either will happen or it won’t.

That Kid has the same chance of being successful (or not) as any other student.  It just takes time to find out.

There is an exemption to this rule.

Great Kids in 2nd grade have a better than 50% chance of still being great when they are adults (I have no proof of this, but my blog/my theory).

Every teacher has a That Kid.

They also have at least one Great Kid.  Most have more than one Great Kid.

If you think about it, there are probably at least 5 in each classroom (or with our soon to be the standard larger class sizes… 12 per room).

These are the students who are polite, hard-working, helpful, and happy.

They really are the majority of your students.

You know immediately when you meet them they will be successful in life (they have the parents that say it’s okay to beat them if they cough without raising their hand).

These students will grow up and be doctors, teachers, accountants, carpenters, or maybe engineers.

Actually, it doesn’t matter what they end up doing, it only matters that they will be good at it.

And they will be good.  Really good.

They will also pay their taxes and mow their lawns (very important to a stable society).

This doesn’t mean they’re perfect and won’t have bumps in the road, because they will.

They will just correct their mistakes and not make excuses.

That’s why you trust them to hand out papers, take notes to the office, and help the sub when you are gone.

They are the ones who will tell you what That Kid did when you weren’t watching.

This story often involves the random animal-like noises That Kid makes.

Or the throwing of some sort of object.  Oh, and don’t forget the always popular inappropriate gestures (usually during some sort of program where all the parents are in attendance).

As we head towards the end of the school year, as difficult as it is with our patience waning, we should all try to focus on the Great Kids.

Because there are far more Great Kids than there are That Kid.

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Death of Distance.


I’m hesitant to read other blogs because I don’t want to steal other people’s ideas (I think I have said this before, but I can’t remember for sure).

You get to a certain point in life where it becomes hard to recall things. Like whether or not you said something out loud or just thought it. Or if you ate breakfast today (and what you had). Or where your car is parked. Or your wife’s name (I often confuse this with my daughter’s name… when I can remember that). And anyone’s birthday, including my own.

I suffer from some, if not all, of the above. Plus a whole lot more.

My middle-aged memory prevents me from reading a lot of blogs. Also affecting this is a lack of time, but that is a different story.

I really do worry about accidently stealing other people’s thoughts and ideas. I want the incoherent ramblings of my blog, to be mine and only mine.

It may not be full of quality, but its mediocrity is all mine. death-of-distance

So in the interest of self disclosure, I didn’t come up with the title of this blog. It was a phrase used by a speaker I heard this week at a conference.

Google also tells me it is also a title of a book from 2001. Now I don’t feel so bad in stealing it (quick question… if you steal something that’s already been stolen, is it really stealing?).

The basis of the speech (which was very good) was the world is getting smaller and how educators are reacting to it (or more likely not reacting to it).

Communication is easier and quicker than ever before. A lot easier and quicker.

Technology is allowing us to not only interact with our neighbors, but with people from all over the world.

My question is why are schools struggling with this concept? Why are we reacting to this process instead of leading it? Why aren’t we jumping all over this?

Students don’t have to be confined to the brick walls where their desk is located.

Why do I get the feeling that people who used rotary phones and watched Andy Griffith (the best show ever) as kids are the ones dictating how our students are learning?

In too many cases, educators spend more time giving excuses about not using technology than actually offering students these opportunities.

Kids in my daughter’s class will be my age in 2042 (as old as I feel some days… I am not really that old).

I don’t feel like we are preparing these students for what they will face in the coming years. And I am even more confused by the fact that this doesn’t seem to bother a large percentage of people in education.

Even worse, far too many people don’t even understand that they don’t understand the changes taking place.

We all could be doing more.

The world is changing.

And getting smaller. And smaller.

Distance isn’t just dying. It’s already dead.

Now some of our old ideas on how to educate students need to die.

And we can’t be afraid of the new ones being born.

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The Secret to Life, Blogging, and Everything Else.


Just Blog.

Just Blog.

You may have noticed something about this blog.

The title is no longer in all caps. I have been told that some newspapers won’t pick up my blog because they consider a title in all caps to mean that I am shouting.

I’M NOT.

This does bring up a question. Are there still newspapers? (I guess I don’t have to worry about them running this blog)

Like most people, I am a creature of habit. I like my routine. This explains why my blog titles are always in caps.

When I wrote the first blog, I put the title in all caps. So I have done that with all of them.

If it doesn’t make sense to you, it does to me. It may even seem weird that I have to type each blog in the same font on the same computer, but this also makes sense to me (by the way… it is Tahoma 12 on my Lenovo ThinkPad which is named Larry).

My need for a routine made a career in education the obvious choice. I love the fact that the bell rings at the same time every day. The world in which we live is a little chaotic. There isn’t a lot that you can count on these days(in case you haven’t noticed). But I know exactly when 1st hour starts and 8th hour ends. I like that.

This blog is the 206th one that I have written. Why is that important? It isn’t.

But if all goes well, this blog will produce my 500th comment (actually the 502nd). And if that isn’t a big deal to you, it is to me.

If I seem overly selfish today, it’s because I am. But it isn’t me, it’s the half bottle of Nyquil that is coursing through my veins (I am so ready for spring).

I have to admit, I didn’t think I would ever get over 500 comments. And if I am being honest (again, it’s the Nyquil talking), I was stunned when I got 1 comment.

When you write a blog, there isn’t a lot of feedback. While your statistics page may show that hundreds or even thousands of people click on your blog, you are never convinced that actual humans are reading it.

Until you get a comment.

I will always be grateful to Anonymous because he/she left the very first comment on my 2nd blog THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT (actually, this one could be considered shouting).

How he/she found the blog, I will never know.

I am assuming this person is lonely and owns 14 cats, but that is just a guess on my part.

But I’m glad he/she found the blog (even if too gutless to leave their real name… although I can’t really blame them for not wanting to be associated with it).

I think it is easier for people to comment now. After 207 entries (one guest post), the PrincipalsPage.com Blog can be termed a success. Actually, success may be too strong of a word.

To me, success implies that I might have made money. I can assure you (and the IRS) that I haven’t.

If it isn’t successful, I am not sure what to call it. It isn’t always funny, or entertaining, or thought provoking.

Part of the time it isn’t even about education.

But it is certainly something.

I’ve got it. It’s consistent.

Since July of 2007, I have written 2.48 blogs per week. The first 2 come pretty easily, but the .48 continues to be a challenge (if you aren’t a math teacher that is 11 per month).

Plus, my typing skills have improved dramatically (mainly because my wordiness has caused me to type 869,740 characters… which oddly is about the same number of visitors I’ve had).

While cranking these blogs out, I think I have stumbled on to the key to success. And it doesn’t involve money.

It’s showing up.

Every day. Every week. Every month. Every year.

In the case of this blog, 2.48 times a week.

Too many people can’t seem to master this simple task.

As kids they have a hard time making it to school, or practice, or to a club meeting. Then they go off to college and can’t get out of bed to make it to class.

Soon after that, they graduate (or drop out) and become adults who struggle getting to work on time.

And usually, they have a sure fire excuse for this behavior. It’s someone else’s fault.

Sure it is.

So while the blog hasn’t made me famous, or rich, it has given me something more important.

The key to life. Which is the same as the key to blogging. Which is exactly the same key if you want to be successful at anything.

Just show up. And sooner or later people will recognize your efforts.

Even if they are named Anonymous.

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An Open Letter to Superintendents and Principals: You Should Blog.


Blogging... It's the Wave of the Future.Superintendents and Principals should blog.

Well that is not exactly what I mean. Plus I feel like I am repeating myself.

They don’t have to necessarily blog, but they do need to keep up with the technological times.

It is almost 2009 after all.

You can’t be a leader in education without leading. And you can’t lead by using pencil and paper when everyone behind you is Twittering. Or Plurking. Or doing 50 other things that I don’t completely understand (yet… I am working on it slowly but surely).

How can we expect students and teachers to stay current, when we are set in our ways?

If we don’t want to get outside of our comfort zone, how can we expect others to tackle the changes and challenges in technology?

How can we make financial judgments on what is good for the school district when we don’t understand the tools being purchased?

How can we tell technology directors that have to block certain websites when we have no idea what the sites are and why they are being used?

How can we let ourselves be considered old, out of date, out of touch, closed minded, and well just really old?

Aren’t we risking looking ignorant when we stand up in front of teachers and say we expect them to use technology?

And then we don’t?

Aren’t we risking looking even more ignorant when we evaluate teachers on using technology and yet we struggle with email?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying every administrator should be a tech geek (a term that I use with love, not with judgment …after all, my wife is the biggest geek I know, and I love her dearly… yes, she wrote the last 15 words).

I am saying that we need to put in the time to advance ourselves if we want everyone around us to be taking these same small steps.

In Open Letter Part 2 (or the Deuce as the hip kids will surely call it), I will tackle the sure fire excuses that administrators will send me (if they email): I’m too busy, if I had a blog no one would read it, I don’t want my thoughts on that internet thingy, and of course the very popular Blah.. blah… blah… blah… blah… blah.

This is a big subject, so I can’t change the administrative mindset myself. This is going to take all of us.

And just one blog won’t cut it. I may be looking at a series here. Possibly even a manifesto.

But I have time. Lots and lots of time.

And cold hard cash. Actually, this part is a lie. I have don’t have a lot of money, just a bunch of change in my desk drawer (mostly pennies).

But I am willing to spend it if I have to. Although I don’t really want to because that is my morning chocolate milk money.

So I will stick to logic.

And if that doesn’t work, I will move on to Phase 2… guilt. And if that doesn’t do the trick, I may invest in frickin’ sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their frickin’ heads (I do love Dr. Evil from Austin Powers).

So it starts here.

Bombard your administrator with this first blog (in what may become an ongoing series… unless of course I get distracted but some other issue).

We can change them. We must change them. We have to do it for the kids.

Wow, I just had an Obama moment there.

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Comment on My Blogs, or Not. I Don’t Care, or Do I?


I Wouldn't Block Any Comments.  I Just Couldn't Find a Different Cartoon.The title to this blog is easily one of the top 5 most pathetic that I have ever used. If you don’t believe me read all 173 (counting this one) entries.

Then you can become the official judge of pathetic titles. Although, if you accept this challenge, I will just consider you pathetic. Granted your effort will be appreciated, but I will still look at you with both sadness and disgust.

After all, who has time to read blogs? Or write them? Or leave comments on them?

Even though I have written over 172 blogs, I still have no idea why.

I don’t remember why I started, and I can’t figure out why I don’t stop.

It is like a rash that won’t go away. Or an annoying 7th grader (if you don’t get this reference, you have obviously not spent any time around middle school students).

When I hear people say they have a blog but haven’t posted in 2 months, I always wonder… why do you have a blog?

Isn’t the point to post your thoughts periodically?

Is it possible they haven’t had a semi-coherent thought in over 60 days? Could it be that they are just too busy?

Can they be so busy they don’t have 19 minutes to slop something down?

Granted, I am not as consumed with the quality of my writing as some bloggers. I try not to get bogged down by using correct English, understanding the proper use of an adverb, or even knowing how to correctly use a semi-colon; (in my estimation, still the coolest of all the punctuation marks).

Truthfully, I am not sure I would even recognize quality if it walked up and slapped me.

My goals in having a blog are two-fold. One, amuse myself. Two, kill time.

Oh, I forgot one.

I am here to get comments.

And lots of them.

Hopefully, hundreds. Or at least 3. Okay, I will settle for 1. I am what you call easy.

Evidently, comments are a source of pride to bloggers.

I think. I haven’t actually met a blogger.

I have a picture in my mind of what they are like… pale, hunched over, glasses, slightly angry, definitely a little moody, borderline psychotic, way too much free time and… wait a second… this all sounds a little too familiar…

Anyway, I have nice (bored) people who leave comments or send me emails (stalkers).

Some of the comments comment on how many comments I get (or don’t get).

I get the feeling if there are a lot of comments; more people want to comment and if there are no comments, people don’t want to be the first to leave their thoughts.

I have no idea why people leave comments.

It is also surprising to me which blog entries receive comments. Usually, the blogs that get the most are ones that I don’t care for (that’s a lie, they are like children… I love them all equally… NOT).

I have read articles on how to get more comments. They say you should be argumentative or controversial.

It seems odd just to do this just to get comments.

And kind of sad.

People who have to resort to these types of tactics are really the lowest form of bloggers.

The only thing I can think of that might be worse is someone writing a blog about getting comments just to see if readers will leave more comments (especially on older blogs… or as I like to call them, Classics… and by Classics, I mean they are just old).

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Grissom, I Could Really Use Your Help.


Gil Grissom from CSI.As I get older several things in the world of education are becoming crystal clear to me.

One, students look forward to summer break more than any other group, except for teachers. When I was a kid, I had no idea how much teachers looked forward to getting out of school in May. Now I know.

I often times think people who work 50 weeks a year appreciate three day weekends more than people in education appreciate 3 months off. Too often we all forget how lucky we are to have the time off not only during the summer, but during the school year.

Two, if a student is sent to the office and the first thing they say is, “I swear I am not lying”, I can officially call Las Vegas and bet my life on the fact that they are about to tell a lie.

What honest person even assumes that someone thinks they are lying? Honest people don’t have to announce they aren’t lying, because it doesn’t ever cross their minds that others think they might be. I should have been a detective (but they don’t get summer breaks, so I will leave that job to Gil Grissom).

Third, the older I get the more and more I think someone is turning the clock forward when I am asleep (maybe Mr. Grissom could solve this riddle for me). I can remember when old people would say time goes faster as you age and I thought they had Alzheimer’s (or as we called it when I was a kid- “crazy nutbags”).

Now I can’t believe how quickly the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years fly by. It is amazing to me that it is almost Halloween. I glanced at the front of PrincipalsPage.com and noticed that there are now less than 70 days until Christmas. Where does the time go (and why do I blog about the loss of time, yet I have a countdown on the front of the website…..it’s a riddle even to me)?

I often wonder why people who are getting close to retirement take such joy in counting down their time left on the job. I understand that they are looking forward to a more relaxed, less structured life, but who in their right mind wants time to go faster (is everyone’s secret desire to age?)?

I would love it to be like when I was 7 years old. It would be Tuesday and my next baseball game would be that Saturday, so I would do the obvious thing. Get my uniform on, 5 days in advance. I looked good (not really, but it’s my blog- if you want to stay young in your own mind, get your own blog).

Back then it seemed when you were looking forward to something, it took forever for that event to arrive (dinner, a game, the holidays, puberty, getting a girlfriend, going to prison for the first time, etc.). Time went so slow back them.

Not now though, as I barrel towards a near certain date with death. I can’t keep up. The days and weeks are just rolling by. Each school year seems to go faster and faster.

One day in the near future, I am going to get school started on the first day, swing by my office, and when I come out ten minutes later it will be Thanksgiving.

How can time go so fast, yet it my own mind I don’t seem to age (it is my blog)?

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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.