Time Flies.


This is my first blog since May.Time Flies.

Where have I been?

Everywhere.

Michigan.  Indiana.  Ohio.  Home.  School.

Asleep.  Jogging.  Bike riding.

Softball games. 

Twitter.

Mostly, Twitter.

Way back in April, some crazed anti-education blog person (probably Eastern European… because they are always the villain) infected this blog with a dreaded virus.

By the time I got everything fixed, I wasn’t in the mood to blog (notice I didn’t say write… since nothing on these pages qualifies as "writing").

Blogging is funny.

If you do it all the time, you want to do it all the time.

If you don’t, you don’t.

Sure, I could have replaced all the hours I used to blog and done something productive like charity work, but instead I wasted them on Twitter. 

It seemed so quick and easy.

Maybe it’s my ADHD.  Or maybe I don’t have ADHD.  I can’t remember, and I’m out of medication.

Plus, I think I just saw a squirrel run by the window.

Anyway, a lot has changed since I last posted.

The Evil Spawn is now a full-fledged teenager.  Buddy the Dog is staring down middle age.

Actually, he’s asleep, but if he ever awakens, I’m sure he will be staring down middle age.

Another school year and summer break has come and gone.

I’m older and everything takes longer.  And I can barely see, but that’s another blog for another time in a size 24 font.

Maybe I will get ambitious this fall and blog about my adventures.  Or maybe I won’t.

Time will tell.

On my Blog 2.0, I am no longer linking anything. Takes too long.  And I have a squirrel to chase and an old dog to pet.

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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 $425 Million Powerball is All Mine.


Don’t waste your money on buying a ticket.Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner.

I’m winning.

Actually, the woman who I’m relegated to by marriage is winning.  All of "our" money goes in "her" account.

But don’t feel badly for me.  I have total access to "our" money.

Just as long as I don’t spend any of it.  In her defense, she doesn’t spend any of it either.

This explains the bumper sticker on her car "She Who Dies With the Most Wins!".

We decided to buy a Powerball ticket last night.  By we, I mean she said "Stop here, so "we" can buy a Powerball ticket."  I think it’s cute she includes me.

After we purchased the winning ticket (we didn’t win), the woman I’m related to by marriage and chauffeur around so she can gamble "our" money away ($20 for losing tickets) asked what "we" would do with the money when we won (again… for clarification… we are giant losers… so far).

She wants 2 vacation houses.  One on a beach.  One in the woods.

I think a lake house would be the answer, but it’s not "my" money now is it (again, we lost).

The Evil Spawn wants iEverything.  And $1,000,000 in Fun Money.

Seems excessive, but then again I’ve never had $425 million (and never will… even if "we" win) so who am I to judge.

If she is going to be spoiled, might as well go big.

Me, I want nothing.  But a nap.

My concern is if (when) "we" win, how much am I going to have to spend on security?

I have zero interest in getting kidnapped by members of the Mexican Drug Cartel.  I’m not sure why I’m afraid of them, but it just seems like the logical thing to be frightened by.

Actually, "we" decided after the vacation homes and iJunk to take the rest of the money and spend the rest of our lives (length will depend on Cartel) giving it away.

Our foundation will be called "Buddy’s Gift" after Buddy the Dog – the Patriarch of Our Family.

So don’t bother buying a Powerball ticket this week because "we" are winning.

And "we" have big plans to give away the money.

Actually, go ahead and buy a ticket.

It will just make "our" winning amount that much larger.

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Leave My Time Alone.


It happens twice a year.Why Can't They Just Leave It Alone?

I’m not sure why, but my neverending confidence in the government tells me they must have a good reason to totally uproot my schedule.

The time change means I wake up 4 hours early to bright sunshine pouring down on me like asteriods in a meteor shower (since I wasn’t a science teacher I have no idea what I’m talking about).

Then I’m completely confused if I’m hungry or not.

So instead of eating breakfast, I reset all the clocks in the house.  I thought we had three clocks.

Turns out we have 117.

Then I need to reset the clocks in our cars.  I would love an answer to why we have two clocks within 1 inch of each other in our Ford Taurus (no charge for the free plug).

Then, I’m off to change the batteries in our smoke detectors.

Why?

Because the battery companies had a meeting and decided to tell us if we don’t change the batteries when the time changes we will ALL DIE!

They are smart.  Not as smart as the hot dog bun people who continue to sell us 8 buns for 10 hotdogs.

Actually, this isn’t true.

They sell us 16 buns for 10 hotdogs.

I can’t hate them.  Only admire.

After more time changing chores, I spend roughly the one hour I’ve gained trying to figure out why Buddy the Dog is hungry at 2 in the afternoon.

Then it occurs to me.  His stomach doesn’t change times.

For a dog who doesn’t wear a watch, he sure knows when it’s time to eat.

After all of this, I’m overrun with depression when I realize it now gets dark at 4:30 in the afternoon.

Suddenly, the school day is like working the overnight shift.  Arrive in the dark and come home in the dark.

Thankfully, there is something good that comes out of the time change.

I can spend the next week totally annoying my wife by saying what time it is and also what time it "really" is.

Thank you government.

This should keep me amused until at least Thanksgiving.

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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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Buddy the Dog Eats Better Than You.


The woman whom I’m related to by marriage just made vegetarian treats for Buddy the Dog. They Do Look Tasty.

I was given strict orders to take them out of the oven in 15 minutes.

And then wait another 15 minutes to give him one, so he doesn’t burn his mouth.

The world is ending. Save yourself.

You can find more sad and pathetic facts about me on my Facebook page.

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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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Why Do I Answer Questions? I Do It For the Kids.


From time to time, I get questions from college students. Fitchburg State. Home of the Falcons.

Sometimes these questions come from teachers obtaining their masters’ degrees.

Other times they are sent to me by scary hitchhikers who seem to have an uncanny sense of where I live.

The latest.

1. How do you view the Common Core Standards in relation to the ’4 Kinds of Smart?’

Educators are probably going to hate Common Core.  I say this because as educators we are bred to hate everything new.

I remember when I started my career, a veteran teacher cornered me for 45 minutes to tell me how the world would end if teachers were forced to use whiteboards instead of chalkboards.

Update on world ending:  It didn’t.

My hope is Common Core levels the playing field. 

Students, no matter where they were born, deserve the same quality of education.  The system will never be completely fair, but we have to try to get it as close as we can.

I have big hopes for Common Core, but remember… I’m also standing in a very short line of educators who like NCLB.

I do hope this country begins to realize we must offer different types of education to satisfy the needs of different types of learners.

2. Discovery Education Science Techbook, covered in your April blog, seemed to underwhelm you. However, Pearson publishing, with funding from the Gates Foundation, is launching online curriculum that perfectly aligns with the Common Core Standards. The lion’s share of Gates foundation money is being invested in technology-based instruction and assessment. The new Teacher Evaluation (value added) system that pairs teacher performance with student test scores is already underway in most states and is aptly aimed at dissolving tenure. Most states now operate a K-12 virtual school. What do you believe is the long-range, underlying plan for education?

They don’t have a plan.

But the more they throw darts at the wall, the more likely they are to stumble upon a plan.

Discovery’s Techbook wasn’t terrible.  It just didn’t meet my high hopes.

Getting rid of tenure is a good thing.  Getting rid of teachers’ unions may turn out to be a bad thing.

I think we are in the beginning stages of the death of the public school as we know it.  What the system will look like in 20 years, I have no idea. But, I’m hoping it pays superintendents well.

3. What do you think of Professional Learning Communities? Is this valuable collaboration, or a process-oriented waste of time?

A little from Column A… a little from Column B.

It can be a valuable collaboration and it can also be a process in which I update thousands of people on the sleeping habits of Buddy the Dog.

I have over 6,000 Twitter followers (@principalspage).  I can almost gaurantee you they’ve learned nothing from me.

4. Are you worried about America’s world-standing in Education? Do you think education in the USA is being dragged down? And if so, by what?

No.  We are fine.

America thrives on drama.  In the education world, that means we are obsessed with our ranking in the world.

If I’m wrong, pick a country you want your child to go to high school.

And then go.

I mean it.  Get out.

Get a box.  Get your stuff.  And beat it.

We are America.  We should stop apologizing for not being perfect in every single facet of life.  We do our best and sometimes that just has to be good enough.

We should be proud.

We have DISH and Direct TV, Five Guys, gas stations every 12 feet, pizza delivered right to our homes, and the NFL.

We owe no apologies.

Last time I checked, a lot more people were moving to America than away from America.

4. As a marathon runner and would-be professional baseball player, what are your thoughts on health and education?

I wish.  Half-marathon. 

I have the shirt to prove it.

We have to transition from teaching games in school to teaching good health habits.

I like to think occassionally the government does something productive.  An example is getting 99% of the people not to smoke in my lifetime.

Now, I think we need to focus on healthy lifestyles for kids.

This will have to be done by the entire country.  I think First Lady Obama is starting to push us in the right direction.

But we can do it.  We’ve tackled smoking, factory working conditions, seatbelts in cars, and not drinking during preganancy.  All in the last 50 years.

5. If you could be King of Education in America, what would you do?

The list:

Make it a federal crime for burning popcorn in the teacher’s lounge.

Go back in time and use all of the ARRA money to install air conditioning in schools that don’t have it.

Year round school.

Drop the idea of grade levels based on age.  They should be based on ability.

Mandatory 2 years of service to our country after high school.  Might be military.  Could be working in a state park or soup kitchen.  Do something to make the world a better place.

Start girls in kindergarten at age 6, boys at age 7.

Grade promotion based on testing.  Test at grade 3, 6, 8, 10, and 12.  Stop with the "some people don’t test well".  They seem to do fine on their drivers license test.

Drop all state and federal testing until they figure out how to do it online and have it graded immediately.  We can travel to the moon and back, but we can’t figure out a way to grade a multiple choice ACT test?

Make it a federal crime, punishable by death, if you mess up my order at the drive through.

I have more, but I’m just getting angry typing this list.

Actually that’s a lie.  I’m just hungry.

The drive through comment made me realize I haven’t had dinner.

Go Falcons! (that’s where they questions came from… I hope you get an A Kris!)

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Fresh Beagle.


As I get older, I’ve come to realize what’s important in life.

It’s not a big house.  Or owning several cars (including a Classic 2000 Ford Taurus).

Or big screen TV’s, iPads, or fancy computers (but they are nice… and the screen clairity on the new iPad is unbelievable).ET Phone Home.

It’s the little things.

Seeing your child stay out of jail (making bond is a gift).

Surviving another day at work (barely).

Enjoying weather that’s not too hot or cold (which is getting harder to find at my advanced age).

Waking up and most, if not all, of the important body parts are working.

I guess it’s a sign of maturity when you can recognize what’s truly important and you don’t focus on the small and petty.

Having a day where you literally have nothing to do (I haven’t experienced this one, but I’m looking forward to it).

And there’s nothing more important than Buddy the Dog’s bath.

Simple, but important.  At least to me.

It happens every two weeks and it is a highlight.

I look forward to it days in advance (him… not quite as much).

I’m not sure this little bit of happiness would have given me the same level of contentness 20 years ago (not sure if contentness is a word or not).

But a clean dog makes me very happy (this is not a metaphor).

It doesn’t make him quite as happy, but maybe he will see the bigger picture as he gets older.

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My School Tested for a TV Pilot.


This blog has given me a lot of unexpected benefits.Sadly, I Remember TV's Like This.

Free trips.  Fame for Buddy the Dog.  A cool nickname for the Evil Spawn.

The occasional free t-shirt (maybe the greatest benefit of all).

But this week may have been the oddest experience of all and I have this mediocre blog to thank for it (or blame).

My school interviewed for a TV show.

Yes, a TV reality show.

This goes against everything I hold sacred and pure.

I am the last remaining person in America who does not want to be on television.

I’ve never understood why people feel the need to be on tv.  I find the need for fame a little disturbing.

People (especially young adults) seem willing to do anything and everything to get themselves on television.

I don’t get it, but realize I’m probably in the minority.

But as luck (good and bad) would have it, people seem to stumble upon me when they Google for educators.

A production company did just that a couple of weeks ago.

They contacted me and asked if we would be interested to going through some pre-interviews with the possibility of being on a reality show about high schools.

My first thought… of course not.  What type of idiot wants to be on tv?

But then I thought, what the heck.  Maybe this is my entry into movies. 

Or maybe even better.  Maybe, just maybe, my dream of remaking Three’s Company will actually happen (if you are under 40… click the link).

So several members of our staff were interviewed by producers.

And it was odd.

Really odd.

There is no chance they will be making a tv show about us.

Why?

I think we are way too normal.  And we are far from normal.

But "reality" tv is exactly what I expected.  I don’t think it is "real" at all.

I think they want people who they can mold in to characters.

They are looking for big personalities that can be encouraged to be even bigger on tv.

I’m okay with that.  I’m just not that.  And my school isn’t that.

I still think there is a tv show about schools that needs to be made.

But it’s not about fights.  Or gangs.  Or wacky teachers.

It’s about good students.  And committed teachers.  And all the good things that happen in schools every day in small towns all across this country.

It would be about kids and families who are doing the right thing in a world that gets more complicated by the day.

I would watch this.  But once again, I realize I’m in the minority.

One benefit to not getting a TV Pilot… I now consider myself an out of work actor.  So if you need me, I will be waiting tables at Applebees’s.

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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.