Generation Z: Their Learning Will Never End.


I’ve got bad news.

No, it’s not school is about to start (bad news for some… good news for moms).GenZ2

The world is changing.

Yes, you heard it here first (actually, you’ve probably already heard… but amuse me).

The world is changing.

Actually, it’s already changed. 

My best guess is the end of the world I grew up with died around the year 2000 (excuse me for not noticing… I was a little preoccupied by Y2K).

This means the new world has been around for roughly a decade (feel free to check my math).

And sadly, like far too many educators, I’m just now figuring it out.

Our children have moved on without us (not like the glorious day when the Evil Spawn moves out of my house… that’s an entirely different special occasion).

Kids today no longer want to play by our rules.

They don’t understand why schools are locked up at 3:30 and on weekends.

They don’t understand why computer labs contain equipment that is inadequate compared to what they use at home (and in the car).

They don’t understand why they’re constantly told to read more, yet school libraries are inaccessible for 3 months during the summer.

They don’t understand why teachers and administrators are given the option of improving their own technology skills.

They don’t understand why so many adults in charge of their education still seem to think PowerPoint is cutting edge (and while I’ve got your attention… if you still feel the need to use PowerPoint… stop using 18,000 words per slide!).

They don’t understand tenure or salary schedules.

But they do understand learning doesn’t begin and end for them at school.

Their education isn’t tied to a bell schedule or holiday breaks.

They know their education isn’t better because of worksheets, memorization, or mandated testing.

They get it.

They know what we still seem to be confused by.

They don’t need us.

The don’t need brick buildings that are only open 7 hours a day.

They have the internet.

And curiosity.

They’re going to learn with or without our help.

And the learning process is not going to stop for them after 8th grade.  Or high school.  Or even college.

They’re smarter than us right now.

And they’re going to be a lot smarter than us in 50  years.

The future isn’t coming, it’s already arrived.

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Conference Speakers: I Can Read. Now Make Me Laugh.


When I was a teacher, I often found myself wondering what superintendents did for a living (of course, this happened only after I had completed my lesson plans).

I was pretty sure they worked in education, but the specifics of the job were lost on me.  They looked busy, but I noticed they spent a lot of time out of the school district.

How could they run a school and not be in school?He Seems Like He's Enjoying the Conference.

Where did they go?

What were they doing?

Then I became a principal.  I assumed this would allow me to understand the inner sanctum of a superintendent (this sentence just sounds weird and borderline obscene… mainly because it is).

But no.  After a few years as principal, I still wasn’t 100% sure what superintendents did for a living.

But they seemed happy.

They seemed to enjoy their jobs.

So I became one (not the only reason, so easy on the angry emails).  And I found out what they already knew.

The superintendent’s position is the odd duck of a school district (insert your joke here). 

The job is as different from a teacher’s position, as a custodian’s or a coach’s.

The superintendent is in education, but just barely.  The primary focus of the job is no primary focus at all.

It’s people.  Students. Staff.  Money (or lack thereof).  Insurance.  Architects.  And meetings.

Lots and lots of meetings.

Meetings about stuff.  Meetings about nothing.  Meetings about meetings.

Most aren’t earth shattering.  If the truth be told one meeting isn’t much different than the previous 174 (but my anger at wasting time causes me to digress).

Another item on the superintendent’s to-do list is attending conferences. 

They are meetings on steroids.

I’ve found conferences always mean the same things.

Uncomfortable chairs.

Bad carpet.

People who want to shake your hand.

Rooms that are too hot.  Or too cold.  And dry.  Like desert dry (why is that?).

There are overheads.  PowerPoint slides.   And handouts. 

And more podiums than I can count.  Is it a law that you have to stand behind a big wooden box with the hotel logo on it when you speak?

And for every podium there are 5 people with giant name tags.

Each conference has at least 100 people listed as presenters.  Which means, by the law of averages, one will be great and one will be good.

That leaves 98 other presenters (check my math).

98 people who want to have a conference presentation on their resume.  Why they want this, I will never know.

As far as resumes go, is speaking at a conference a deal breaker on getting a new job?

Does it boost your income?

Provide better health insurance?

Increase your retirement package?

Whatever benefits presenting provides, I have a simple request (I’ve made it before and I’ll make it again).

Is it too much to ask when I (or a school district) pay hundreds of dollars in conference fees that someone with a microphone makes me smile.

I’m not asking for Carrot Top quality entertainment here, just a giggle.  Or a grin.  Or a split-second of happiness.

Anything, but someone standing behind the sacred podium reading a PowerPoint in a monotone voice (I know this comes as a shock, but I can read).

Why do I have to be held captive just so they can improve their job prospects?

The best conference speakers aren’t the ones with a ground-breaking message.

The ones you remember are funny.

It might be a joke.  Could be a video (YouTube has them for free you know).  Maybe even a self-deprecating story.

There are parts of being a superintendent that continue to be a mystery, but after 8,000 meetings/conferences I think I’ve discovered the formula for a memorable presentation.

A simple message + at least one laugh.

Try it. Your audience will like it.

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I Need a Book Deal.


Consultants make a lot of money.  And by a lot, I mean a boatload.

It’s like robbery, but they use a PowerPoint instead of a gun.

This leads me to believe I need a book deal.

Each and every speaker I am forced to listen to has a book they are pushing.This is Genuis.  My Book Won't Have Actual Words Inside.

I’m not a smart man, but it’s occurred to me that these speakers aren’t giving away things for free.  Especially their “knowledge”.

And then there is me.

No book.  No t-shirts.  No CD’s (do they still make CD’s???).  No advertisements. 

No nothing.

Everything is free.

All of my “knowledge” is out there for anyone to use. 

I get the impression these speakers aren’t even concerned about selling their books.  If you want to buy their book great; if you don’t who cares (certainly not them).

Why their disinterest in selling books?

Because some organization just paid them big-money to come and speak.  And in far too many cases, waste most of my day.

They aren’t selling their book as much as using it to prop up the idea that they are an expert.

And sadly, this scam seems to be working.

I seem to be getting the short-end of the deal.

They write a book (supposedly… who actually knows because no one ever reads it).  They put together a PowerPoint presentation with way too many slides with way too many words on them.  Then they get paid to give a speech because they are an “author”.

All of this makes them an expert (as long as they go more than 100 miles from their former place of employment).

Good deal for them.

Bad deal for me because I have to sit through their speech.

Often times, they casually mention their book in the speech/PowerPoint (like a thousand times…).  I don’t buy the book (nobody buys the book).  I leave the speech angry because my day has been wasted (everyone leaves the speech angry… except them).

I drive home with high-blood pressure (not really) and they swing by the bank on the way to the airport to cash their rather large check.

It’s a crime.

I need a book.  This whole blog thing isn’t paying the bills.

Don’t get me wrong.  Needing a book and writing a book are two different things.

I’m not the least bit interested in actually writing a book.

That would take both talent and patience.  And a coherent thought.  I have none of these.

I am looking for a publishing company that will simply set up a “fake” book with my picture on the back.

If someone would be kind enough to do this (and I’m willing to pay… upwards of $43 for this service), I can get started putting together a PowerPoint.

Then I will hit the road.

Of course, I will only give speeches when I’m at least 100 miles from home.

I certainly can’t declare myself an expert where people know me.

That would just be crazy.

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You Can’t Just Hand a Microphone to Anybody.


I spent my weekend at a convention. Actually, I shouldn’t use the word weekend because that implies restful time away from my job.

But all is not lost as Thanksgiving Break is right around the corner. And I might add that it comes at a perfect time.

It was a stroke of genius when our early settlers decided that schools needed to take time off in late November.Not the Microphone from School... but This One is Pretty Cool.

As a kid, I had no idea that the Pilgrims were so well-versed on the academic calendar. I thought they were simply people who looked good in hats, enjoyed big meals, and loved their football (and by football, I don’t mean the Detroit Lions).

While I am tired, I did learn a few things at the convention.

I learned that I miss my bed, refrigerator, and shower.

In the past I have talked about the horrors of hotels, so I won’t bore you with the details of sleeping in a bed that has previously been “occupied” by thousands of strangers (I am sure some were more strange than others, but I try not to focus on that little tidbit of information).

But missing my refrigerator and shower are different. These are issues that need to be addressed.

I mean I really missed them.

It amazes me that people can eat out all the time. After a couple of days, I find myself just wanting an apple or a sandwich. Or 27 Oreos, but that discussion is for a different day.

Also, the showers in hotel rooms continue to be a riddle to me. Why do they always run out of hot water? Don’t hotels realize a large number of guests will be bathing between 6:00 and 8:00 a.m.?

It is like they are surprised. Like we snuck up on them. They must know we are all going to wake up at some point and wander into the bathroom.

But, these are minor inconveniences as I attended the convention to learn. Specifically, I was hopeful to pick up some new information about technology for my school.

It didn’t happen, but I feel like I did my part. I showed up. Which for a lot of convention attendees seems to be a challenge.

Educators always say they want to go to conventions and then once they arrive they work so hard at not attending workshops. Why is that?

Maybe they should hold these events in North Dakota instead of nicer places (let the emails from North Dakota commence…).

Actually, I wish the presenters had showed up.

Actually, that is a little harsh. They were there and they did their best.

It’s just that they presented the same information I have heard over and over for the last few years.

Our students are farther advanced in technology than adults. Educators should allow cell phones in schools because they are mini-computers. We should use Skype because it is free (we do and yes it is). Schools need to be proactive, not reactive to changes in technology.

I get it.

Enough already.

I need tips or strategies to implement technology and not the same old rehashed PowerPoint presentation with 187 slides (by the way… I can read, so you don’t have to pronounce every word on every single slide for me).

If I seem angry that is because I am (see: not sleeping in own bed and haven’t had a decent cookie in days not to mention the dodging of so many PowerPoint bullets).

I know we are falling behind with technology in schools, but now I am convinced we may be falling behind in presenters.

Just because someone is willing to talk into a microphone doesn’t mean we should allow them (see: President George Bush… let the emails from North Dakota Republicans commence…).

Not everyone talking into a microphone is an expert.

Point in case: a new principal handing the mic to a sophomore on the football team during a prep rally. Bad idea.

Really bad idea.

I would like to comment further on this, but once again a court order prevents me.

Same goes for presenters. We need to be more careful as to whom we allow to use the microphone.

Just because someone has a snappy title for the presentation, doesn’t mean their information is timely and high quality.

Could it be possible they are just there to pad their resumes? Which for the record, I am all for… just not on my time (note to self… update resume on someone else’s time).

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for their efforts because I am sure they spent a great deal of time putting their PowerPoint together (after all 187 slides just don’t just write themselves… especially if each one has 97 words in a really small font…did I mention the bullets?).

Plus, they had to spend several minutes downloading the “Did You Know” video off of YouTube.

Great video, but is there anyone involved in education who hasn’t seen it? And by seen it, I mean at least 10 times.

I think we have to be more particular to whom we listen regarding issues in education.

If we aren’t careful, soon everyone will have a platform. People will be just throwing out ideas with no rhyme or reason.

Trust me, this could get bad.

The government will start coming up with half thought ideas about testing, administrators will begin to think that their every thought is ingenious, and maybe… just maybe people will start up their own blogs just to shove their ideas down our throats.

These people will believe they are experts just because they have an audience.

I am not sure I like where this is heading.

But oh well, I have problems of my own.

I have a blog to finish, then I need to wrap up a PowerPoint.

Only 186 slides to go.

I am thinking about using lots of clip art, hundreds of bullets, and a bunch of transition sounds.

Wait a second.

It just occurred to me. I’m an expert.

I may need business cards and a manager.

And of course, I am going to need a microphone.

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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.