Beyond the Textbook Forum Attendees: Weird.


I’m assuming if the good people at Discovery read this, I’ll be banned from corporate headquarters.They Put Up a Sign to Welcome Me.  I Thought That Was Nice.

That would be bad.

But, it would be neat to walk in, only to be wrestled to the ground by a gang of security guards (I don’t know how many they would need, but I’m guessing 7… I’ve been working out).

Plus, it wouldn’t be the first place where I’ve been uninvited.

And what are the odds they would invite me back anyway?

The Textbook Techbook Forum was interesting.

Interesting to say the least.

I got to meet an amazing group of people who are quite famous in the education/technology world (still not sure why I was there… they must have needed a token Superintendent).

If you read blogs, tweet, or stalk this kind of educator, you would have been impressed by the lineup.

Dembo.  Jakes.  Warlick.  Whitby.  Becker.  Sheninger.  Couros.  Laufenberg.  Maiers.

And the Godfather.  Shareski.

Why is he the Godfather?  Because he is.  You don’t get to question why.

It was a Who’s Who of famous educators.

And I discovered something (get it… discovered?).

They are weird.

Every last one of them.

Really weird.

What kind of person is obsessed with the education issues of the day?

Technology.  Curriculum.  Teaching styles.  Textbooks.

Who are these people and why don’t they get hobbies?  Maybe they should take a walk or something.

I would like to think they attended the forum for the free trip.  Maybe even to raise their profile in the Twitter universe?

For all I know, nuzzling up to the people who brought us American Choppers and Shark Week raises their fee for presenting on various educational topics.

But I don’t think any of this is true.

I think they are just weird enough that they were there in the hope of helping provide students and teachers a better textbook (techbook) for 2012 and beyond.

Told you they were weird.

The good kind of weird.

Top 3 Questions I get when I attend these types of events:  1.  Why don’t I attend these types of events more often?  2.  Are you going to make fun of me in your blog?  3.  How’s Buddy the Dog?

Answers:  1.  I like my house.  2.  Yes.  3.  He’s great.  He’s Buddy the Dog.

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A Flight, a Free Trip, Discovery Education, and Food Posioning. It Was a Very Busy Day.


The superintendent’s life can be a busy one.Discovery and Shark Week.

But I know it’s the same for principals, teachers, secretaries, custodians, parents, students, and Buddy the Dog.

Well, not Buddy.  He’s not that busy.  Unless you count 17 hour naps  as busy (I’m so sick of holding a mirror under his snout to see if he’s still breathing).

Everyone is busy, so I’m not complaining.

But lately, I have been unusually busy.

School.  The Evil Spawn’s athletic career (I use athletic… and career… loosely).

This week I added to my troubles by throwing in a one-day trip to Discovery Education in Washington, D.C.

One-day and trip should never be used in the same sentence (and I just did it twice… idiot!!).

I really didn’t have time, but I knew I needed to make the time.  After all, it’s Washington D.C. (you can never turn down a free trip to your nation’s capital… unless you are a communist… and if you are… I’m not judging).

The trip was good.  Not great.

Blog sarcasm karma reached up and slapped me in the face.  Again.

When will I ever learn?

Note to self:  Don’t write a blog about what type of person you don’t want to sit next to on a flight because karma will mock you by sitting someone worse next to you the very next day.

I get on the plane.  Take my window seat (which is an opportunity to be the first one to notice an engine is on fire).

And then it happens.  Nope, not a lady with a baby (that’s a different blog),

Worse.

A young strong woman (freakishly strong) sits down and announces "I’m the worst flyer you’ve ever met.  I apologize in advance for screaming and I’ll probably grab you at some point".

Well, thanks for the warning.  And for cranking up my stress level because people with brand new vasectomies always hope to be grabbed by perfect strangers on a plane.

Here’s a sentence you almost never hear people say… "I wish I had MORE swelling!"

The worst part?  She screamed so loud on take off there was no way anyone was going to hear me crying like a little girl when she grabbed my man parts like a grocery bag.

Let’s just say, it was a long flight.

But it got worse.

The airline "misplaced" my luggage.  Which I’m told (by them) is better than "losing" it.

I should have known there was going to be trouble.  It’s never a good sign when you get off the plane on the middle of the tarmac.

The good news is they "found" my luggage.

Since I arrived at the hotel late, I got to eat dinner by myself in their ridiculously high-priced restaurant.

Who pays $14 for a hamburger?

After dinner, I retired to my hotel room to get a good night’s rest before going over to Discovery Corporate Headquarters.

I was excited.

And cramping.

You see, the $14 hamburger turned on me.

It’s 1:00 am.  I’m in Washington by myself.  And I’m face down in the bathroom eating tile.

I thought I was dying.  At one point I was hoping I was dying.

I just knew I was leaving this world like Elvis.

How sad.  A small school superintendent found alone in a hotel in a compromising position.

People were bound to talk.

I didn’t care.

Just stop the cramping.

Luckily, I eventually fell asleep.  In bed, as far as you know.

I got up and felt like a million bucks.  Food poisoning evidently doesn’t last long on the East Coast.

Maybe it’s the time change.

I made my way to Discovey and had a wonderful time.

But that’s another blog.

I’ll get to the Techbook Discovery people.  I promise.

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Turns Out Following Directions is Important.


I write this blog for two reasons.

One, so people will stop contacting me to ask how my "vacation" is going.

And two, as an open apology to every student and teacher who I have accused of having no ability to follow directions.

You see, I haven’t yet experienced my "vacation".

I was ready.

I was prepared.

I was even hopped up on a handfull of valium (by the way, I think I’m hooked).

My lovely wife (as lovely as one can be considering she drove my to the butcher with a giant smile on her face… she looked sort of like the Joker from the last Batman movie) was even prepared to look after me and Buddy the Dog on our days off.

But it didn’t happen.

I got up early.

Popped the prescribed pills.

Which of course made me feel pretty good about the upcoming procedure (and if I’m honest… at that point I felt pretty good about everything from famine to communism).

I wobbled into the doctor’s office and only bumped into one person I knew (that wasn’t awkward).

I hopped (crawled) up on the table and waited to get gutted like a newly caught fish.

The very nice nurse (or two… since I was seeing double at that point) asked me if I had taken any aspirin lately.

Normally, I would have lied but since I was under the influence of so much free prescription happiness, I said yes.

They said come back in a week because if we cut you open you will bleed to death (I’m summarizing the official medical conversation).

They also mentioned maybe I should have read the directions they sent me a month ago (whoops).

So I went home.

And Buddy and I promptly slept for the next 19 hours (turns out free meds come with a price).

It’s the closet I’ve come to death.

If you are wondering, it’s peaceful.  Very peaceful.

I just closed my eyes and went towards the light.

Then I woke up in a pool of my own drool.  As an added bonus I couldn’t feel my left arm.  It had evidently got trapped under me during my coma.

I’m glad I didn’t experience any halucinations because I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have shoed away any monkees crawling up my legs without the use of both arms.

Actually, when I came to, I felt great.  It was like a mini vacation (no wonder Buddy is always so happy during those 14 minutes a day when he is awake).

Everything would have been great if I hadn’t remembered my real "vacation" is in a few days.

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Taking Vacation the Hard Way.


Like most people, I love vacation.

Sadly, I’m just not good at it.

If I go on vacation for 5 days, I can’t even enjoy it until day 4.5.

I’ve considered practicing my vacation skills, but I never seem to have enough time to get away.

But this week this all changes.

On Thursday and Friday, I will be taking two days of sweet sweet vacation time.  It’s possible I will even take the weekend as an extended vacation.

And I am looking forward to it.

No getting to the office early.

No phone calls to return.

No 75 emails per day in my inbox.

No students or teachers asking "Do you have a minute?"

No making a decision which automatically makes half the people mad at me.

Just peace and quiet.

Just me and Buddy the Dog laying around watching bad TV (technically he just might be sleeping).

I’ve been looking forward to this short vacation for weeks.

What I’m not looking forward to is the surgery.

But my wife is.  She really doesn’t want to have two Evil Spawns running around.

I may write a blog during this vacation.  I’m guessing I’ll think I’m hilarious while hopped up on valium.  Maybe it will be about the bond of shared experiences Buddy and I will now "enjoy".

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Children Should Not Be Allowed to Do Homework in the Car.


I blog about what I know.

Maybe that’s why I don’t blog more often.

These days, the Evil Spawn is the center of our universe.

Not because she’s a good kid.  Or an only child (this only applies if you don’t count my son, Buddy the Dog).

Everything revolves around her because she’s involved in everything.

Basketball.  Softball.  Piano.  The drums.  4-H.  Church choir.

You name it and she wants to be a part of it (except cleaning her room… because I’ve named it… and she wants NO part of it).

She’s busy.

Which means we are busy.

I’m not sure who decided 10 year olds can’t drive, but they obviously didn’t have a 10 year old who needed to be transported to 8 different things on a Tuesday evening.

This new kind of life for children is an adjustment for me.

When I was a kid back in the late 70′s and early 80′s we weren’t nearly this busy.

We had time on our hands.

We rode our bikes.

We played in the woods.

We threw rocks in ponds.  And at street signs.  And at trains (don’t judge me).

We complained about being bored.

Now it’s all different.

There are practices.  And games.  And camps.  And uniforms to wash.  And overnight trips. 

Mostly, there isn’t time to sit around and watch the world pass by.

I don’t think this new world is all bad.

But it’s certainly different.

I can’t imagine what things will be like when The Evil One is a parent (scary, I know… but yes, she will one day give birth to the Evil Grandchild).

I can’t imagine kids will be busier than they are now, but what do I know (to review… I think we established I know little or nothing earlier in this blog).

I do think I have a solution.  A law.

A law that makes it illegal for children under the age of 16 to do homework in the car.

This wouldn’t solve all of the worlds problem, but it would certainly slow down youth sports.

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My Daughter Hates School. I Did Not See That Coming.


The Evil Spawn has officially announced she doesn’t like going to school.She's Sleepy.

By officially, I mean she said it in the car when we were traveling back from yet another evening of supervising an athletic contest (as the child of a school administrator… she was born into the family business of sports supervision).

Her statement was short and to the point.  "Dad, I don’t want to go to school anymore."

This led to my rebuttal which was a long-winded rambling sometimes incoherent monologue about how hard I work and did she realize there are days when I don’t want to trudge into the office at 7:00 am and work until10:00 at night.

After about 27 minutes of hearing myself talk (she stopped listening pretty early on), I realized there must be more to her story.

She likes her friends.  Sports.  Reading.  Playing on her iPad.  Writing.  Corndog Thursday.  Math and science.  Assemblies.

And sleep.

Lots and lots of sleep.

School?  Not so much.

But she used to love it.

Turns out after only 5 years of education, she has decided she’s not a big fan of the daily grind of nearly 8 hours a day of sitting in a desk (of course… minus passing periods, homeroom, lunch, study hall, PE, library, computers, and music/art).

This worries me.

It’s weird because she loves to learn.

She likes the History Channel.  You Tube.  Discovering new things on the Interweb.  Going to the public library.

But sitting in class she finds a little boring.

It’s not her teachers.  She loves them (there are at least 3 on her Mt. Rushmore of Important People who have impacted her life… sadly, Buddy the Dog and I didn’t make it…).

In the teachers’ defense, they just can’t go fast enough.

Public schools are set up to teach to the middle.

And I think they should.  We’re in the business of producing taxpayers and good citizens who know how to stand in line and wait their turns.

We aren’t there to push the top 20%.  We count on colleges to do that.

I’m okay with this, but I do worry why a 10 year old who loved school has started to go the other way.

Maybe it’s just a phase.  Maybe she’s just starting to transition from tween to angry and bitter teenager (and if my mediocre parenting keeps up… one day, a angry bitter sarcastic adult).

Maybe she still loves school, but this is her way of fitting in with the other kids and slightly rebelling against the man (by the way… there’s a good chance I might be the man).

I may have no idea how the mind of a pre-teen girl works (actually, I’m pretty sure I don’t know how the mind of a pre-teen girl works).

But I do know, I miss the little person in my house who eats all my food who used to fly out of bed on school days because she didn’t want to miss a thing.

I just wish I knew for sure if it was her or if it’s us.

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College Professors and Twitter.


This is a bad sign.Actually... It's 5,330 At Last Count.

I have over 5,300 followers on Twitter.

Why?  I assume they have bad taste and not enough hobbies, but that’s another blog.

Most people seem to follow because occassionally I will comment on education topics (mostly I provide updates on Buddy the Dog, my new TV show, and express my anger that our next President may be named Newt).

My followers include college students, teachers, principals, assistant principals, superintendents, and parents.

I just about forgot… nearly 73% of my Twitter followers are hardcore gangbangers who are doing time in federal prison (and I would like to add… for crimes they didn’t commit)

What bothers me about this situation isn’t the drug trafficking across state lines, but the fact that I have exactly 0 Twitter followers who are College Education Professors.

Yes, I said 0 (typed… whatever).

Wouldn’t you think someone… somewhere…  would be a college professor with time on their hands who might want to follow other educators on Twitter?

It worries me that the people teaching the next generation of teachers and administrators may not be using technology at the same rate as other educators.

And more importantly, students.

Since there is always room for more followers, you can find me @principalspage.

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There is a Complete Lack of Discipline in My House.


It’s borderline ridiculous.He is Cute.

Part of my job is trying to promote good discipline among a large group of students.

It’s not any easy job, but someone has to do it.

Talk nice.

Treat each other with respect.

Don’t cheat.

Don’t touch each other (this means you junior high boys).

Pick up trash.

Easy on the texting.

Use your indoor voice.

Don’t put anything on Facebook that we will all regret (and cause me to contact the school lawyer).

Basically, just do the right thing.

It doesn’t always go smoothly, but for the most part students seem to listen.

Then there’s my house.

And the two people who live in it and eat my food.

They have no discipline.

Specifically, they have no discipline in regards to the other "thing" that lives in my house and eats more food than anyone.

Buddy the Dog.

It seems that hundreds of children of all ages will at least fake respect when I’m in their vicinity.

My dog?  It’s like he’s an animal. 

And deaf.

Even worse, my wife is evidently trying to win the Mrs. I’m a Dog Owner and I Have No Interest in Making the Family Animal Follow Any Rules Because I Find Him Handsome Pageant.

Why does he get to do what he wants when he wants?

Why is there always time for his every want and need?

Why does he get to crawl inside the dishwasher and look for scraps?

Why do we call my bed "my bed" when HE seems to spend more time there?

Why does he get so much attention?

And most importantly, why does he get all of this special treatment when I work and all he does is nap?

I can’t pinpoint the exact date where I lost control of our home, but it seems to be about the exact same day in which he showed up.

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Resolution for 2012. Give Away Some Money.


It’s time for my 2012 New Year’s Resolution.charity-donation.jpg

In past years, I’ve set my goals pretty high. Watch more TV. Learn to swim. Be less fat. Run a half-marathon.

I don’t want to brag, but check – check – working on it – and check.

But now on to bigger goals.

I’ve always thought my purpose in life was to give away large amounts of money to good causes (sadly, I don’t consider myself a good cause).

It seems like a very noble way to give back and make the world a slightly better place.

What a great gig.

Have a bushel barrel full of cash and sit around on my big behind and decide where the money could do the most good.

It sounds great.

In theory.

The problem is I don’t have a boatload of money (sorry you had to hear it here first).

Yet, I can’t shake the thought there must be more for me to do than slop down a third-rate blog with way too many readers (I’m not judging you people… simply questioning your good taste).

I’ve always resisted the urge to cash in on the blog’s nominal success.

I turn down most interview requests, guest posts, speaking opportunities, and most of all… advertising.

From the very beginning I assumed people didn’t want to visit a blog about education (and nothing) and see 17 ads from Viagra and Online Universities.

I still think that.

There is nothing worse than going to a website or blog and being overwhelmed with tasteless ads.

But I’m torn.

How can I give away money when I don’t have it?

So after over 560 posts (most of which need to be destroyed) and hundreds of thousands of visitors, I’ve decided to cash in.

Here’s my plan.

Step 1 – Start a charity (seems like a lot of paperwork, but I’m up for it).

Step 2- Get someone (any one…) to pay me for what I already do for free.

Step 3 – Take Buddy the Dog for a walk and decide where this money can best help kids, schools, or any good cause.

I’m convinced there’s no chance any of this will work.

Except, the walking Buddy part (he’s very insistent).

Wish me luck. Or call me crazy.

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TV Show Idea: Road School.


I have an idea. RV1.jpg    

An ingenious one.

It may sound like I’m full of myself, but if you don’t think your ideas are ingenious, who will?

You have to give me the benefit of the doubt because I could be delusional from the massive amounts of Advil coursing through my veins from my recent snowboarding accident (I fell… hard… on my caboose… now I must blog standing up… sad really).

In the past few years, I’ve watched my share of reality television.

Survivor. American Idol. Shows with angry unhappily married fake rich ladies. All the junk on E! and VH1.

Some of it’s good.

Most of it isn’t.

Usually, I come away with even lower expectations for the human race.

I’ll often watch and then go through a period of self-loathing and abdominal cramping.

Just recently (after my last blow to the head while snowboarding/falling), it occurred to be there is an untapped reality show market.

Education.

The great thing about a reality show about education is 100% familiar with the topic and issues surrounding it.

Most of us went to school. Some of us even graduated (8th grade counts).

It’s hard to find a family who doesn’t have at least one member who is a teacher, so the education reality television market could be a gold mine.

Here’s my idea.

A show called “Road School”.

It’s homeschooling, but in an RV.

Two things I know nothing about.

You take an average family with two educators, an Evil Spawn, a handsome beagle, big fancy motor home with internet and satellite television provided by the production company and you got yourself a show.

Hit the open road and let the high jinks ensue.

An entire school year learning from the land.

The family visits national parks, monuments, and also interacts with regular people.

They stop by the homes of astronauts, veterans, and inventors.

Each week the family goes to a new state, does charity work, has a new experience, and learns a valuable lesson.

At the end of each episode there’s a quiz on the places and people they visited and the things they learned.

The curriculum could be put out in advance so schools and homeschool students could participate along with the show.

It would be education for the next century.

Not confined to a desk or classroom, but learning by being out in the real world.

I see a blog, YouTube updates, lots of Tweeting, and possibly a Discovery Education tie-in.

The family not only learns new stuff, but grows closer.

There’s laughter. There’re tears. There are long speeches about the greatness of the American people.

It’s The Amazing Race, Dirty Jobs, American Pickers, combined with a life-long education.

It’s ingenious.

At least, I think think so.

Now I will just sit back and wait for some education organization to recognize my genius.

And throw massive amounts of cash at me and Buddy the Dog (because he doesn’t perform unless there’s money involved… or a carrot).

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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.