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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If You Facebook or Twitter, Please Be Reminded Other People Can Also Read.


Since I began my long and illustrious career in education, I’ve noticed a couple of subtle changes.Be Careful Out There.

First, kids look a whole lot younger now than they did eighteen years ago.

Back in the day, seniors in high school seemed old to me.

Now, they look like they’re 12.

Secondly, everything else in education has completely changed and it all makes me a little nervous.

Testing.  Evaluations.  Common Core.  Lawsuits.  Government attacks.

It’s a lot.

I try to roll with all of it, but I must admit it can be stressful.

If all of this wasn’t enough, then there is the King of Changes.

Technology.

So many changes (I guess that’s why it’s called the King of Changes… or at least it’s called that now).

When I was in high school back in the 80′s (19… not 18), my school was one of the very first to offer One-to-One Computers.

We had one school.  And one computer.

But don’t worry, progress was coming.

A few short years later when I began teaching, we had a computer lab.  With 12 computers (that was what we called…  a lot).

And a printer.

How I loved that dot matrix printer.  The sounds it made.  The constant tearing off the pieces of paper with the holes in it.

The paper jams.  Good times.  Good times.

A student could print a 5 page English paper in less than 40 minutes (it was a special time).

I don’t mean to brag, but it was state of the art.

Back then, technology changed every couple of years.  I could keep up.

Now, it’s changing every couple of minutes.  I can’t keep up.

The thing I’ve noticed lately is students understand all of this new technology a lot better than I do. 

And at the same time, they don’t seem to understand it all.

Facebook is great (follow me!).  Twitter is cool (follow me!).

Social media’s greatest attribute is it makes the world smaller.

The worst thing is it makes the world smaller.

This is the part I don’t think students understand.

What they write on Facebook and Twitter is available to everyone.

And I mean everyone.

Back in the mid-80′s (a glorious time… thank you MC Hammer), students were free to share their thoughts, comments, and criticisms amongst their friends.

Now, their every thought is published worldwide for all to see.

It most cases this is okay.

They are at the age where opinions are formed quickly and expressed loudly.

I just worry that while they are old enough to share their thoughts, they are too young to realize the consequences.  They seem to be oblivious to the fact their words often times travel outside their peer group.

Long story short.

Dot matrix printers and MC Hammer were very cool (because we didn’t know any better).

Technology changes so quickly I can’t keep up.

This is all part of being old.

Another part of being old is I can read.

So if you are going to skip school or practice…

Don’t post it online.  :)

Use your time wisely children.  Google MC Hammer.

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Facebook Me.


Join me: Michael Smith, PrincipalsPage, Tuscola, Illinois

PrincipalsPage's Facebook.

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Facebook is Bad News for Schools.


no-facebook1

If you are employed by a school you probably have some challenges.

The goofy kids.

Test scores.

Finances.

More goofy kids.

Parents.

Parents of goofy kids.

Goofy parents of goofy kids (although personally, I’ve never had any of these).

Since there have been schools, there have been administrators.  Which means there have been challenges for administrators at school.

It’s part of the job (Note to new principals:  not everyone is going to love you… sorry you had to hear it here first).

And the truth is, without problems, most of us would be without jobs.

This is why I consider the challenges at school to be job security (most days, I have a LOT of security).

But as I grow older (and I seem to every day), I’m starting to see changes for school administrators.

Yes, I’m turning into that person who pines for the good old days of 2006.

The biggest 3 changes I’ve seen since I started in this profession are:  mandated testing, finances, and decaying of good will towards teachers.

None of these are good.

The worst one is probably how our country feels about teachers (it’s sad really).

But even with these tough hills to climb, there is something I see as possibly an even bigger pain in the caboose (I think I just dated myself with my reference to train cars that no longer exist).

It’s Facebook.

I hate Facebook.

And I know less about Facebook than I do about trains. 

And I don’t really hate Facebook because we’ve never officially met.

I’m sure Facebook has good qualities.  Just like the goofy kids (they do grow out of it… eventually).

The challenge I see for school administrators isn’t with students and Facebook.  It’s with rumors and Facebook.

People like excitement.

People like rumors.

And people really like exciting rumors.

Facebook makes it easy.

When I first started working in schools, if people didn’t like you or a decision you made they had to express themselves in person.

In your office.

Or on the phone.

Maybe an angry letter in the newspaper (again… the good old days).

Now they can do it on the interweb using Facebook.

And the worst part, it doesn’t have to be true. 

People can say anything.  Or worse, they can type anything.

The more exciting and untrue, the more interesting  for others.

This isn’t good.  Especially when people are typing at 2:30 in the morning (never good…never ever good).

In fact, it’s bad for school administrators.

It makes a difficult job almost impossible.

Maybe I will see the day where people type nice things on Facebook in the middle of the night.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Because the goofy kids of today will probably be the Facebookers of tomorrow.

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Class of 2015.


They are different than us.

By different, I mean smarter.

 

 

33% get dumped by text?  Really?

87% are dropping cable?  Really?

I’m so old.

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Online Privacy: A New Approach.


Maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe this guy is right.

Maybe we should be doing more online; not less.

Maybe.

 

 

Just for the record:  I’m scared to death of Russian Identity Thieves.

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Facebook Told Me.


Once again it’s become apparent the world has changed.Just For The Record... I'm Not THAT Bad.

The good old days are gone forever (at least to us old people).

When I was a kid we were free to mumble insults about our school administrators and no one was any the wiser (especially the principal or superintendent… thank goodness… or we might all still be in detention).

We lived in a much smaller world.  The second after you said something, it was gone forever.

Or at least if you were caught you could deny, deny, deny.

Not that I ever did (see… I’m still denying).

In today’s world, kids have to deal with an entirely different set of rules.

Their lives are more open and way more complicated (bad news for those of us who own 9 year olds).

When they have a slightly mean or angry thought it’s not just shared with their buddy.

It’s not even just shared with the kids in their own school.

It’s blogged about, texted, posted on YouTube, and as it turns out possibly even ends up on Facebook (I had no idea I was such a terrible person).

What students don’t always consider is people over the age of 21 also own computers.

And have the interweb.

And some of us even know how to use it.

So as educators, we need to make sure we continue to spend lots of time teaching technology.

But we also need to spend time teaching good judgment.

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Teacher Burnout. And Yet, They Still Keep Going to Work.


I give up.

I’m done discussing tenure (arguing… whatever…).

If you have a blog that revolves around education (and as luck would have it… I do) there’s one surefire way to get more readers (and angry emails).

Write about tenure (actually, there’s a second more powerful way… write about homeschooling, but I’m not going there… at least right now).

Tenure is blog gold.She Doesn't Look Burnt Out.

Writing about it is probably not worth the death threats, but luckily for me I have security (Buddy the Dog).

I’ve come to understand people who have tenure love it. 

I mean LOVE it.  Love, love, love it.

Absolutely love it.

Did I mention they love it (like Buddy loves to nap).

And what’s not to love.

You have a job.  You get to keep the job.

Forever.

And as most of you know, that’s a very long time (if you don’t believe me, Google it).

Tenure is a pretty good deal if you can get it.

Then there are the others.

People who don’t have tenure in their careers think it’s impractical and unfair.

They aren’t familiar with our world (hallways, spitballs, junior high goofiness, etc.)

The concept of educators having lifelong jobs is foreign to them.

They believe tenure should only be for Supreme Court Justices.

But that’s okay.  It wouldn’t be much of an argument if everyone agreed (and I do hate it when I want to argue and no one will join me).

No matter which side of the tenure argument you fall on, I know one thing for sure.  I’m not changing anybody’s mind.

So I’ve given up.

But I would like to ask for one exception.

If you publicly announce you’re “Burnt Out” this statement should lead to an automatic recall of your tenure rights (to clarify “publicly” can be in person, on Facebook, or over the phone).

No exceptions.

My theory is once someone says this out loud there is no going back.

If  a person establishes they are “Burnt Out” they can’t come back (at least in the same career).

So if you are in your 1st year of teaching or 30th year and the “Burnt Out” bug hits you, you’re done.

No tenure.

No job.

No nothing (except your pension and maybe parting gifts, but that’s it).

Because teaching is kind of important and once the passion has left you, so should tenure (maybe I will win this discussion… argument… whatever… but I’m not going to hold my breath).

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Facebook is Changing How Schools Deliver News.


When I was a kid if your teacher wanted to speak to parents there were two choices.

The dreaded parent-teacher conference or pin a note to your shirt.

Both simple, but effective.

The conference was the most stressful.

Not for the teacher or my parents, but for me (I get it… I’m not working up to my potential).

The note pinned to the chest wasn’t as bad.  In fact, there was at least a 50/50 chance it contained good news (class party, holiday program, possibly the teacher’s impending retirement).

The note did have a slight downside.  It was a golden opportunity for the teacher to stab you in the name of good communication.

This didn’t seem fair to me, but it was hard to argue when I had tears in my eyes and blood on my shirt (or vice versa).

Somewhere along the way, these tried and true methods weren’t good enough.

Teachers started using the telephone (back when phones were attached to the wall).

Nothing ruins dinner (or supper) like a phone call from your teacher.

Actually, that’s not true.  Nothing ruins dinner (or supper) like a spanking after a phone call from your teacher (I wouldn’t personally know, but there might have been a yardstick involved).

As times have changed, so have the communication methods of teachers and schools.

In the last ten years email has been the tool of choice.

School districts also begun to use parent notification services to contact hundreds or even thousands of people at one time (examples are Alert Now, School Reach, and School Messenger).

A well-run school has always prided itself on keeping open lines of communication with its parents and stakeholders.

Now, that’s all changed.

There is still communication, but the school no longer controls it.

A year ago, I thought Twitter was going to be how information would be passed along.

Now, I’m not so sure.

I think it may be Facebook (but this theory is only good for about 3 seconds… which is how long it will take for some punk kid to invent something better than Facebook).

In the last month I’ve been amazed how quickly news is shared on Facebook.

An incident (good or bad) can happen at school and the Facebook world knows about it before the school can contact parents.

It used to be when you called a family their response was “Thanks for letting us know.”

Now it’s “Yeah, we saw that on Facebook 20 minutes ago.”

This is going to present a whole new set of challenges to school districts.

We are no longer controlling our message/news to our communities.

Our communities are controlling it.

I’m not sure where this new type of communication will lead schools, but I know where I’m going.

Facebook.

At least until something better comes along.

Follow PrincipalsPage (or his alter ego Michael Smith) on Facebook (if you can’t beat them, join them).

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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.