Easter Bunny Stopped By. Streak Continues.


Another holiday. 

Another acknowledgement to all that is good in the world.No One is More Surprised Than Me.

Our floppy eared friend showed up.  And she cleaned up.

The Evil Spawn continues to believe.

I sensed a slight hesitation, but not a word was said.

This would be year number 11 if you are keeping score at home.

This process has lasted longer than I ever could have imagined.

Only 260 days until Christmas.

Will she make it?

I hope so.  Because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

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Christmas is Coming.


I’m guessing at least one staff member in your school has already begun the Christmas vacation countdown.

 

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She Believes. Do You?


It Doesn't Hurt to Believe.

She’s nine.

Another Christmas has come and gone.

And she believes.

Really, really believes.

No questions asked.

No hesitation.

No weird looks to see if we believe (for the record, we do… because what’s the downside).

How long will it last?

Can she make it to ten?  Or eleven?  Or maybe thirty?

Last year at this time, we were positive she wouldn’t make it through another Christmas.

But she has.

Maybe she knows something we don’t.  Maybe she doesn’t want to let us down.

Maybe she just believes.

Do you?

Be careful with your comments… she reads this blog.

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What Christmas Means to Me.


Christmas is a special time.He's Scary.

It’s an opportunity to slow down (actually speed up) and spend time with friends and family.

The holidays mean carols, lights, church, Santa Claus, and snow (and don’t forget holiday sales… items slashed 20%… until the day after Christmas when prices will be slashed 99%).

But to me, Christmas means something else.

The Grinch.

That guy scared the bejeebies out of me when I was a kid.

And I’m not to proud to admit he still does.

I never make it through a Christmas season without seeing that thing in my dreams (nightmares).

To this day I find this male humanoid creature with bright green fur, scrawny limbs, a round midsection, and a foul grimace CREEPY (the previous sentence brought to you by Wikipedia… expect for the word creepy… I added that).

It’s possible I am the only person who was scarred by this “cartoon”.

But I doubt it.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Except to you Mr. Grinch.  You are a mean one.

If he wasn’t scary enough, he was also mean to his dog Max… so Buddy the Dog also hates him.

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January is Over. Seriously?


 

How is it possible that January is gone?  Where did it go?

I need more than 31 days to get used to writing 2010 on my checks.  Never mind, I don’t use checks anymore… it’s 2010.

It’s been 67 days since Thanksgiving.   37 days since Christmas.

This amazes me.Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock...

And saddens me.

It’s been 164 days since my school year started (which means the countdown is on and we may just make it… and this doesn’t sadden me).

All of this is hard to believe.

There’s never enough time.  And the time I have goes way too fast (i.e. weekends).

When I was a kid, time went so much slower.

A math teacher explained this concept to me.  When I was 8 years old, every year was 1/8 of my life.  Now that I’m 42, every year is 1/42 of my life.

That means at the age of 8 each year accounted for 12.5% of my total life.  Now each year accounts for 2.4% of my life.

Time is going more quickly because it is a smaller percentage of my lifetime.

I’m no mathematician, but this is only going to get worse (when and if I’m 80 years old, each year will be 1.25% of my life).

This math story problem makes me feel old.

It’s amazing that it’s been 15,467 days since I was born, so I guess technically I am old.

The good news is I will never be younger than I am today.

Either way I look at it (or use the calculator to figure it), I realize I really need to be more productive on a daily basis.

The clock is ticking.

Faster every year.

 

“Time is an illusion.  Lunchtime doubly so.” – Douglas Adams.

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Holiday Stress.


It’s December.  Which means we are in the middle of another jam-packed holiday season.

This sounds like a good thing.I Need a Vacation.  And Not to Disney.

It’s not.

I’m not saying the holidays are bad, just busy.  Way too busy.

When I was a kid, Thanksgiving and Christmas constituted the most exciting time of the year.

The anticipation.  The gifts (even the socks and underwear).  Snow.  Time off from school.

It was great.

It was a nice change of pace from the rest of the hectic year.

Today, holidays mean a lack of sleep and not enough room on my Google calendar (I don’t really have a Google calendar but I’m trying to make a point and promote technology use in schools all at the same time).

Each year, around the 20th of November I know my time is no longer my time.

It is merely a block of minutes in which I’m required to be somewhere doing something with some people.

These people come in all shapes and sizes.  Friends, co-workers, relatives, and acquaintances.

And other people you may want to rain blows down upon (everyone who emails me an explanation of this line wins… nothing).

Now before you email me about my Bah, Humbug spirit (with the word Scrooge in the subject line), hear me out.

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is filled with the following:
 

Thanksgiving dinners (2)

Christmas Parties (1… I’m really not that popular)

Christmas Parade

Winter Concerts (2)

Christmas Program at church (2)

Christmas Gift Openings (3)

Christmas dinner

Girl Scouts (2)

Requests for Fundraising Donations (1 gazillion)

School board meeting

Basketball practice (2)

Basketball games (5 or more)

Wife’s workshops (5)

Vacation to Disneyland or world (thankfully only 1… I just don’t know which one we are visiting)

A 5k

Piano Lessons (7)

Dog walks (75… Buddy drinks way too much water)

Presentations (4)

Meetings (more than I can count)

Interviews (1 … again, not that popular)

Blogs (10 at least)

Naps (0… or 1 if I’m lucky)

Holiday lunches at school (2)

Emails (over 1,000… really)

Shopping (actually I don’t shop, so scratch this one)

 

These are just the things I could remember without looking at my non-Google calendar.  I didn’t even mention the getting fat from too much food and too little exercise.

If I get a free second and I sit down to watch TV, all I see are commercials where beautiful people are giving each other gifts that I know they can’t afford in real life.

My point is the holidays aren’t really holidays.

At least they aren’t as peaceful and restful as I think they should be.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but there has to be a better way.

**Note from “the wife”…  I DO have a Google calendar and promote technology use in the schools.  I am what you call the real deal… and according to that aforementioned calendar, I too am overbooked!

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Maybe It’s Not the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. But It Should Be.


It’s that time of year.

The honeymoon is over.

The fat lady hasn’t sung, but she is warming up (is this an insult to fat or skinny people??).

If you work at a school it’s very likely that your patience is getting shorter, shorter, and/or gone.

We’re a long way away from the happiness the beginning of school brings and an even longer way from the next sweet sweet summer vacation.

It’s too early to start the year-end countdown (although I’m willing to bet each and every reader can name the person in their school that will start the countdown… usually by January 1) and it’s too late to remember how restful last summer was.Do You Ever Feel Like You're Getting Buried.

Each year fall arrives and brings a special feeling I like to call “I’ve Got to Find a New Job” or “I Hate Everyone Shorter Than 4’10”” or “I Should Have Been a ________________ (fill in your dream occupation here).”

This feeling is so recognizable.

It has an unmistakable look.  A sort of fake smile (or grimace).  There’s also an overall brooding.

This time of year, every school has employees who absolutely hate their job, their class, their school, and anything resembling a child.  It’s like every family has a crazy person (and if you think your family doesn’t… that means it’s you).

In general, teachers are tired.  They are beginning to feel like they are getting buried.

To compound the problem, parents have also had it.

And Principals need a vacation.

Notice I didn’t mention students.  That’s because they aren’t infected with this feeling, but they are carriers.

If the general malaise of the school year isn’t bad enough, we have two major catastrophes headed our way (and I use the word catastrophe in the best possible way).

The holidays and testing.

Thanksgiving, Christmas and Festivus (and any other holidays you may or may not celebrate) ruin November and December (I use ruin in the nicest way possible).

Actually the holidays aren’t so bad, but the music stinks (I hate those holiday songs… every last one of them).

Testing gives us all a giant noogie around March and April (I use giant noogie instead of a kick in the …).

These events (and 20 more just like them) are exhausting.

There is no other way to say it… working in education is flat-out tiring.

People who have regular jobs don’t understand this.  They get less time off than we do, so it’s hard to relate to our working conditions.

Educating students is draining.

That being said, I think we can often be our own worst enemy.  It’s easy to fall into the trap where we think our jobs are harder and more stressful than any other profession.

They aren’t.

Being an educator is hard.  It’s just not that hard.

Lawyers, doctors, trash collectors, waitresses, construction workers, welders and everyone else (if they are lucky enough to be employed in this day and age) also have difficult jobs.

It’s not just us.

It’s not just our class.

It’s not just our school.

It’s not just this year’s parents.

Shockingly, it’s not even the administrators (at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).

All jobs, when done correctly are difficult, time-consuming and tiring.

Teaching (or anything in education) is no different.

I don’t think we are wrong in pointing out the challenges we face.  I just think we are wrong when we throw ourselves a pity party.

Maybe this year’s class is more difficult than usual.

Maybe they don’t listen or aren’t as respectful as they should be.  Our job(s) is to make them better.  At least a little better before we send them on to their next grade level (if we send them on… and if they are really bad… they are so getting sent on…).

Administrators face some of the same challenges.  Maybe our employees aren’t all perfect.  Our job is to help them improve.

If it was easy, everybody would go into education.

And we don’t want that.

Because if that happens, they just might figure out how good we really have it.

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Students Love Computers at School. I Blame Caffeine.


I Sometimes Feel Like This at 2 o'clock in the Morning.As we start back to school, I would like to take a moment to mourn… I mean cry… I mean reflect on our students and the expectations we have for them.

Pay attention because this may be the only time that I take the students’ side.

Of course that’s not true because I am extremely pro-student. But I will be watching them. And their friends. Especially during the lunch hour… and between classes… and before school… and at dances… and during games (I think you get the point).

It is relatively common to hear older generations (that would be us) say kids these days are lazy, unmotivated, and not as interested in school (or anything else) as we were.

I am here to make the case that this isn’t true. In fact, they may be more ambitious and open to obtaining knowledge than we were as kids.

I believe this to be true because during my teenage years I was completely uninterested in work, waking up, breathing, reading, school, and anything else that required effort (other than sports… I loved sports… and girls, but unfortunately they were something called “frightened and disgusted” by me).

I think kids in 2008 are so far advanced of our generation that it makes us nervous. Consequently, we label them as lazy or worthless just because they have different interests than we did.

It is important for us old folks to keep in mind that the “good old days” weren’t all that great.

No computers, no video games, no air conditioning in my parents’ station wagon (with the fake wood paneling on the side… don’t kid yourself, it was sweet), me always having to sit on the hump in the back seat of the hot station wagon, no cable TV (or Dish Network, just an antenna that pulled in 3 stations… one of which was PBS, so it didn’t even count), no watching movies in the car (or ever: see crappy TV), no internet, no vacations, no ice cream, no pizza delivery, no electricity, 18 hours of chores every morning, Christmas got cancelled twice… so again you get the point… no anything fun, ever.

When I was a kid we walked 87 miles uphill to school (both ways… usually in the snow), slept on the floor, ate dirt for dinner, went to bed at 6:30 p.m. (because our parents were sick of us by then), sweat all night in the summer, and froze to death in the winter.

And worst of all, I had to wear clothes that were hand-me-downs. That isn’t even the worst part. The worst part is I don’t have brothers. Only 2 sisters. Try explaining the frilling jeans with sequin purple flowers on the back pockets to your buddies (I do miss the fashions of the 70’s, but maybe this partially explains the “frightened and disgusted” reaction I so often received from the ladies).

Today’s kids grow up in a world that I barely recognize. And I try to stay somewhat current.

Sure, they don’t play outside as much, do as many chores, or ride their bikes 20 miles a day. But this isn’t laziness, it’s because they have more exciting things to do.

If my generation was so smart, why did we follow the truck on Saturday night that was spraying for mosquitoes in the summer? And I mean right behind, where we could breathe in as much of the chemicals as possible (any chance that explains my frequent blackouts and night terrors?).

We did things like that because we were trying to amuse ourselves. And trust me, after speaking to my doctor, a Nintendo Wii or laptop computer is much safer.

We shouldn’t try to convince students that computers, cell phones, texting, video games, Google, YouTube, etc. are bad. It is just different.

It is called choices. And they have lots of them. So when they are given these opportunities to make a choice, naturally they choose whatever is the most fun and exciting.

Don’t kid yourself. If we had the chance to play video games for 5 hours straight rather than skip rocks across a pond, we would have chosen the video games every time.

We played Cowboys and Indians outside in the heat. This generation plays computer games where they get to shoot things without leaving their air conditioned family rooms. Who do you think is smarter?

As educators we need to stop fighting progress and embrace it.

Kids aren’t lazy; they are just simply used to instant gratification. They aren’t dumb because they don’t read newspapers. They are smarter because they get their information online, immediately as events happen.

Sure they choose to stare at a computer instead of going outside. But they are learning, just in a different way.

We can’t expect them to come to school and go backwards. So we can’t be surprised when they find a whiteboard or an overhead projector painfully boring. They need to be fed information at a faster pace than we were taught. It is the way we are raising them and all of the caffeine they drink (trust me, if we could have bought a 64 ounce Big Gulp for 79 cents… we would have).

How would we feel when attending a workshop where the speaker wrote their speech on a chalkboard…in longhand…and we had to take notes?

Our reaction would probably indicate the presenter needing to catch up with the times.

And that is how kids view us.

Progress is good. And inevitable.

As old people, we need to jump aboard with technology or get out of the way.

Students are coming to school smarter. And they want to learn. And they want technology. And lots of it.

The next time I hear a student complain about a SMARTBoard, a computer assignment, or anything related to technology being boring… it will be the first time.

In a perfect world, education would be out front leading the changes. In the real world, education has to change because the students already have.

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I Will Always Cherish Our Time Together, Snow Day.


Love the Snow Day.  Not a Big Fan of Shoveling.The SNOW DAY has come and gone. This most special of all school days comes so infrequently, and the thrill is enormous. Yet, I come crashing down when it is all over (I may need rehab; only time will tell).

SNOW DAYS are indeed extraordinary and should be treated with the greatest respect.

They are on the same level as Christmas morning, the Super Bowl, the birth of my first child, and the return of Paige Davis to Trading Spaces (simply put, WOW!).

Does it make me a terrible father if I say the actual birth of my child was a little disturbing? Oh, it does? Then it was the most amazing moment of my life, and I will always cherish that wonderful experience.

Moving on.

The first SNOW DAY of the year had an unexpected benefit. And I am not talking about me being able to sleep in, do what I want all day, and nap several times during and in between me doing what I wanted all day.

The most surprising part of the day came when The Best School Day of the Year easily became my most read blog (to date, I am sure there are hundreds of lonely, dysfunctional, evidently extremely bored educators who will stumble upon my blog in the months to come).

Because so many people took the time to read the blog, I can only assume a couple of things.

One, educators love SNOW DAYS more than prep periods or pay days, and two, people across the country continue to amaze me with their commitment to wasting time on the internet (i.e. reading blogs; more specifically… mine).

My email was overflowing (not really, just play along… it is called creative license), with readers commenting and asking questions about my SNOW DAY.

The #1 question (okay, only one) was,” What did I do on my SNOW DAY?” If you have to ask, you don’t truly understand the power of the SNOW DAY.

A SNOW DAY specialness lies in not what you do, but more significantly in what you don’t do.

My day was special because I didn’t do any of the following; get up at 5:00 a.m., iron my clothes, wear a tie, take phone calls from salespeople, read 147 emails with “Just Wanted to Give You a Heads Up” in the subject line, ask every student in the hallway if they have a pass, tell junior high boys to keep their hands to themselves, pick up trash, close lockers, or the 98 other things that need to be done 10 minutes ago.

That is the true beauty of the SNOW DAY. It comes out of nowhere and forces you to take a day off and slow down.

No meetings. No schedule. No anything. Just the entire day to do whatever you want.

It is exactly like being a kid on one of those never ending summer days. When you are so busy playing that you didn’t even want to take time to stop and eat.

That is exactly what a SNOW DAY is like, except now I am old and, of course, it is not summer, and I didn’t forget to eat.

In fact, I ate a lot. This may explain the marathon of naps.

But now the SNOW DAY has come and gone. I am not going to lie, a big part of me feels overwhelmed by sadness. I will soon be facing another school day.

Back to the day-to-day grind. It makes me think that maybe I should find another career.

I just need to find a job where I have the same schedule every day, get summers off, not have to come in on holidays, receive a raise every year, can be home by 4:30 several times a week, not have to work in the heat or cold, and get to sleep in a couple of times a year because there is too much SNOW on the roads.

On second thought, I do love my job. Thanks SNOW DAY. Hopefully, we will meet again.

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Throwing Rocks is Never the Answer.


As we approach the Christmas season, I am once again amazed by the craziness that infests our schools like rats on an ocean liner.

The kids are jumpy. The teachers are getting tired of the jumpy kids. The parents are tired of their jumpy kid and any other jumpy student that looks at, speaks to, or heaven forbid touches their kid.

It is time for everyone to take a two week time out.

I will be thankful if my luck continues to hold and it doesn’t start to snow really hard one of these mornings. Students and teachers looking out the window and seeing falling snow is like throwing gas on a fire.

The jumpiness will go to the next level (if that is possible). Don't Throw Rocks!

The cure for this is for all of us to spend some time cooped up in our own house with our relatives. School won’t seem so bad after about 48 hours of your creepy brother-in-law (if you don’t have a creepy brother-in-law, please feel free to insert uncle, ex-husband/wife, mother, boss, or guy down the street that always stares when you walk by).

This blog wasn’t meant to be about pre-Christmas craziness, but thanks for listening (at least I feel a littler better; it is good to vent).

My intention when I sat down at the computer was to address why teachers are not paid more.

I have a fascination with the on-going complaint by people in education about how we don’t get paid enough.

This could be because I was a business major in college. I don’t care what you have heard, business majors are cool. If you don’t believe me, ask another business major.

The amazing thing is that some people seem shocked and surprised they don’t make more money. Did everyone they ever came in contact with keep it a secret that teachers don’t become millionaires?

Everyone in education seems to be obsessed with the idea that they should make more money. I believe there is a logical explanation to this never ending question (complaint; whatever).

The reason educators don’t get paid more is quite simple.

The answer lies in the textbook for Intro to Business 101 (I got an A- by the way).

It is supply and demand. Lots of people want to be teachers, so school districts don’t have to raise salaries more than a few percent each year.

I can almost hear my email inbox filling up with people telling me about the lack of Latin teachers in the inner city of Helena, Montana.

Sure, there are always going to be shortages in certain academic areas in different parts of the country, but overall lots of people want to teach and there are a limited number of positions.

Therefore, prices (salaries) stay down. Somewhere, my college Intro to Business professor is smiling (or creeping out his neighbors as they walk by his house- hard to tell at this point, but I am almost positive he couldn’t have gotten less creepy in the last twenty years).

So there you have it. Too many teachers and not enough jobs. Salaries aren’t going to rise dramatically any time soon.

No need to complain, or make the argument about how we are touching the future, or even that baby sitters make more per hour than educators.

I could walk outside right now and throw a rock and hit 14 recent college graduates who are looking for their first teaching position.

But like we teach our students; throwing rocks is never the answer.

Plus, I am afraid to leave the house because it might be snowing. And during this time of year the thought of that makes me jumpy.

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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.