Google Teacher Academy for Administrators. Time to Review.


  

I survived my trip to San Antonio.

Sadly (for blogging purposes), nothing out of the ordinary happened.

I don’t mind saying, I felt a little jipped.

No drama.  No “incidents” on the plane.  No random stranger doing something stupid.PrincipalsPage Meets Google.  Good Times.

Just a Google Conference.

I say just, but it was so much more.

A 12 hour conference (sounds long, but it’s not really that long once you figure in snack time… and I do love my snack time).

The conference was many things.  Mainly it was an overload of information.  But in a good way.

Now that I’ve had a few days to comprehend my experience, here are my thoughts (in no particular order). 

 

  • Conference hotels gouge you.  Bad.  This should be a crime, but instead it’s considered good business.

 

 

  • It came to my attention (in the first 14 seconds) that employees of Google are way smarter than me.  Way smarter.  Way way smarter (and childlike… they looked 12 years old).

 

  • Presenters with a sense of humor interest me.  Your information can be life changing, but after sitting 9 hours straight… I need a laugh.

 

  • Google employees seem to really enjoy their jobs (they seem happier than educators… maybe because, in my mind, they are allowed to take their dogs to work).

 

  • No matter how much you know about Google Docs, Google Calendar, and everything else Google… you know nothing.  Actually you know less than nothing.

 

  • A 3 hour layover doesn’t sound like a long time, but it is.  Time spent in the Atlanta airport is like prison.  Every second lasts hours (and there’s no early release program).

 

  • Ben and Jerry’s serves a fabulous lunch.  I recommend adding a brownie to whatever entree you order.

 

  • Google’s applications are free.  Microsoft’s are not.  You do the math.

 

  • Outdoor heated pools are still cold when the temperature is in the 50’s.

 

  • Google Calendar has a thousand great features.  Unfortunately none of them get me places on time.

 

  • All schools are different.  All schools are the same.

 

  • No matter where you go, there are interesting people.

 

  • Eating Mexican food while wearing a suit almost never turns out well.  Or at least for your tie.

 

  • They sell a lot of jumbo extra large margaritas on The Riverwalk in San Antonio, yet you never see someone fall in (the river).  How is this possible?

 

 

  • Did I mention Google employees are smart?  I did?  Sorry for repeating myself, but I’m stupid (or at least way less smart than them).

 

  • You can’t decide the long-term direction of your school district after a one day conference.  Even if it’s Google.

 

  • One day soon, there will be a news story about a divorce caused by too much Twittering.  One of the spouses will have had enough.

 

  • Airplane seats in the emergency row are pure gold (so that’s what it feels like to stretch my legs…).  They are First Class (or Business Class) without the free booze.

 

  • Google Docs is free magic.  I would explain it to you, but I’m still trying to process it.

 

  • Every tech nerd in America owns/wants an Android phone (sorry Blackberry… you had a good run).

 

  • If you walk up to me and say “I’ve read every blog you’ve ever written”, you might want to consider getting a job.  Or possibly a date.

 

  • If you recognize me in an elevator, I might want to get a restraining order.

 

  • Microsoft should be worried.  If Google plays their cards right, Word and Excel may eventually disappear from schools.

 

  • How do people taller than 5’10” fit into an airplane bathroom?  Even more confusing, how do they use an airplane bathroom?

 

  • All airplane stewardesses (flight attendants.. whatever) look tired.

That’s my trip.

To summarize, it was an honor and a pleasure.

I’m thrilled to be one of only 2 (?) superintendents in the country to be a Google Certified Teacher.

I now feel like I know so much.  And I feel like I have so much to learn.

Thanks Mr. and Mrs. Google.

Thanks Buddy the Dog.  Without your video, I’m just a creepy guy talking to himself.

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Flying is Cool.


As I type, I’m on my way to San Antonio, Texas.  You know it’s the home of The Alamo (which I’m sorry to say is on my ever-growing list of disappointing national landmarks).

The good news is I’m not walking.  Or taking a canoe (which is good because I’m only on swim/not drown lesson #3).  Or riding a horse.  Or going by train.  Or even driving.

I’m flying.How Do Planes Work?  Seriously?

In a giant metal tube with tiny little wheels thousands of feet above the earth (it might be Kentucky or maybe Georgia… hard to tell… all clouds look alike to me).

As a proud member of the human race, I’m always amazed by our ability to fly.

Who was the first genius to even think this was a possibility.

I can eat peanuts, read a magazine, listen to babies cry, and cruise the internet all at 10,000 feet (and don’t forget you can use the bathroom in the middle of the sky… and while it may be gross (and cramped), it still impresses me).

I’m equally amazed by how put out and angry other passengers are about flying.

In the sake of full-disclosure, it should be noted that I never flew before 9/11.  My only experience with air travel is with the new security measures that have been put in place to keep us safe… or annoy us (I’m not sure which, but I blame you Mr. Laden).

People complain about the airports, parking, the lines, security, and paying for checked baggage.

My thought is… shut up.

And if you don’t want to feel hurried, get to the airport earlier (duh).

Get over yourself and what you perceive to be a huge inconvenience.

Walk 1,500 miles one time and then you won’t mind waiting 12 minutes for your luggage at the baggage claim.

Flying is a gift.

Basically it’s just like sitting in a lawn chair.  Except you aren’t in your backyard.  You are 8,000 feet above ground.

And you are hurtling through the sky at 500 miles per hour.

Did I mention, you get free peanuts?

And internet (how does this work?).

Flying is a privilege .

Why do so many people think it’s their right?

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Google Me This.


Thanks Buddy. Buddy the Dog is man’s best friend.

Or at least Mom’s Best Friend.

On my behalf, Buddy was kind enough to put together a 1 minute video for the people at Google (which is all the more impressive when you consider he doesn’t have thumbs).

Because of his good work, I’ve been selected as 1 of 50 school administrators in the United States to attend The Google Teacher Academy for Administrators (I’m no marketing major, but shouldn’t it be “The Google Administrator’s Academy”).  This is a free professional development experience designed to help K-12 educational leaders get the most from innovative technologies.

At least that’s what I’ve heard.

Basically, I’m going to get Googlized (I hope they’re gentle).

This is a win-win.  I like Google and Buddy likes it when I’m not home.

There is only one downside.  The conference is in San Antonio.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the chance to return to the home of the Alamo.  And the mall next door to it (when visiting a national monument you may be overcome with hunger pangs and need a Mrs. Field’s Chocolate Chip Cookie ).

But come on Google, you couldn’t splurge for a city with a beach?

In the time it takes me to write (?) this blog, Google has made about 47 bazillion dollars.  At least.

When I think of that kind of money, I think waves.  And not Google Wave.

I shouldn’t complain because I’m guessing Google had several applications for this conference (although only 1 by a talking dog), so I’m honored they invited me.

I’m also willing to bet that out of the 50 administrators less than 10 are superintendents.

Out of those 10, probably 2 have rambling incoherent blogs.

And only 1 of them has a semi-famous talking, YouTube video-making, wife-stealing dog.

How many people are thinking… I could have done a better video than that stupid dog.  Well too bad, Buddy thought of it first.  And to review, he doesn’t have thumbs.

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NECC is Over; Just as My Two Worlds Came Crashing Together.


Two Worlds Colliding... an Asteroid... Whatever...If you are not an avid reader of this blog (like there are any), this entry may make more sense if you first read TRAVEL DOES STINK, BUT ALAN NOVEMBER WAS GREAT and FAMOUS PEOPLE READ THIS BLOG. OR MORE LIKELY; HE LOST A BET.

Please keep in mind that I said it may make more sense. I wouldn’t get your hopes up that any of them make complete sense.

The National Education Computing Conference, which I sort of attended, has now concluded. Our time in San Antonio, Texas has come to an end.

And I almost made it out of town before something bad happened. Almost is the operative word here.

It was a good trip other than one terribly awkward incident.

We enjoyed the city, Sea World, the zoo, the movies, the Riverwalk, and our 27 trips to and by The Alamo/Mall. Oh, I nearly forgot. The conference was great (so I have been told).

It was an enjoyable few days. The chance to visit a new city and not be at work is always appreciated.

Things were going smoothly until my two worlds clashed.

Note to self (and everyone): always, and I mean always, keep your worlds separate. This means work from home life; spouse’s family from yours; old prison friends from your kids; and especially your wife from the man who claims not to be your father.

Sadly, I was unable to do this.

You see, my wife decided it would be a good idea to walk right up to Mr. Alan November and introduce herself to the man who claims not to be my father.

She did this right before a presentation by Mr. November (as you can see, I still refuse to call him “Dad”). In the past, I have highly recommended that she (and everyone) attend one of his sessions on technology.

But, I had no idea she would make it personal.

She walked right up to him and said (and I am paraphrasing), “I am your daughter-in-law. Are you rich?” (Note from wife…I did not say that!).

Note from me: it was implied.

When she told me this story, I was mortified.

Not with her asking him if he is rich because that is a given (good speakers don’t come cheap).

It was more the fact that she made contact with a man who refuses to accept the responsibility that comes with being a parent.

Sure, he “claims” he was in junior high when I was conceived and that he has never met my mother. In addition to this web of lies, he says he was several states away in 1967 (like his 7th grade report card won’t tell a different story… your permanent record always contains a detailed list of unexcused absences).

Of course, he continues to deny any responsibility, but I am still waiting on the tests to come back from the lab.

I see this all of the time at school, especially with young men. They struggle when their fathers won’t step up and take responsibility. With proper guidance, some will put their shattered lives back together.

But worst case, they end up like me. Spending their free time writing slightly angry and incoherent blogs.

It’s sad.

The good news out of this most tragic situation is that my wife and mother-in-law thoroughly enjoyed his presentation. They said it was the best one at the entire conference.

They should know because they went to roughly 167 different ones over the course of 3 days (they are overachievers).

You would think they would be everything Mr. November would want out of a second family, but I guess not.

He was kind enough to take a picture with my wife and record a message for me on her camera.

Unfortunately, I can’t show their faces or share what he said in the message because of the possibility that this may become evidence in a future court case (the legal department at PrincipalsPage.com is top notch… especially for what I pay them).

But until then, I am going to take the high road and thank Mr. November for the excellent presentation (so I heard… I was at Sea World trying to get my daughter’s life on the right track).

I would also like to thank him for taking the time to visit with his daughter-in-law (or alleged daughter-in-law… depends which side of the courtroom you are sitting).

Although it is a shame he hasn’t met his granddaughter (next time you visit a theme park where fish are doing tricks, Mr. November, just think that it could be her training them… or more likely she was the cab driver who got you there).

I also appreciate the fact that he hasn’t filed the paperwork for that restraining order (as of yet).

Maybe one day, he and I can meet and put this ugliness behind us.

Let’s just hope it is at a technology conference and not in front of a judge.

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Guess Who I Saw at NECC?


That's One Big Fish.Today was a good day (unless you read this later… then it was another day). The NECC Conference is really hitting its stride.

When attending a big event such as NECC, I am always excited to see who I might bump into as I wander around the host city.

Today, it was a larger than life character. Just being around him, I could sense that he commands attention in his field. Being in his presence was an honor and a delight. I must admit that I could not take my eyes off of him.

You might even say that I was in awe.

I tried to soak up his every move.

Yes, that’s right.

I saw Shamu.

He (or she) was amazing. The tricks were great. And watching him (or her) splash the audience with his giant tail (or fin… whatever) was impressive.

But more importantly, he is evidently also the world’s best guidance counselor.

You see, after 7 long years, Shamu has convinced my daughter to finally get a job.

She may have found her calling. After going to Sea World for the day, she has decided that she wants to train giant fish to do tricks.

And by the way, who was the first person to look at a killer whale and say, “I bet I can teach him to do a summersault under water?” They were obviously a self starter and a bit of a fool. I wonder if they lived to see the second day of practice with that first whale.

Meanwhile, I have problems of my own.

After two years of school, my daughter is still adrift. But, today has given me hope.

I have to say that I have never been so proud of her. Although, I was close the day she accidently scored her first soccer goal (and sadly only one… so far… remember, I am the glass is half full kind of guy… or half empty, I can’t decide).

Maybe, just maybe, one day I can stop paying all of her bills (and if all goes well, maybe she will pay some of mine).

Thanks Shamu.

My daughter has a dream. Not a job, but a dream. And at this point I will settle for the mere hope of her one day being employed.

So, I will look back at NECC 2008 as the time when my daughter finally got her life on the right track.

She can now enter the 2nd grade with some long term goals. No longer is she an unfocused blight on society.

She has considered her options and made some tough decisions. She has a career path. She has picked a direction and is intent on following it through.

No, wait. Scratch that.

We just went out for ice cream and she said she thought it would be cool to drive a cab.

Oh well, maybe I put too much faith in Shamu. He does spend his days hanging around the pool, playing with his friends, and eating raw fish.

Being a good guidance counselor is harder than it looks.

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NECC, Here I Come. Sort of.


The Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas.This Sunday I will be leaving for a very important computer conference. As a school administrator it is essential that I keep abreast of the latest developments in educational technology.

On a side note. I found the word essential on my new favorite website Synonym.com. Eventually, a monkey will be able to write this blog (or as some have insinuated, maybe a monkey already is writing this blog).

Personally, I find this last comment offensive. It is insulting to writing monkeys everywhere. They obviously are not writing this blog because the content would be of a much higher quality.

But, back to my trip/educational journey (sure I could be watching TV, mowing my yard, playing Wii, or going to play golf, but am willing to put in the extra time for the kids).

Since I am attempting to stay current with technology, I will be in San Antonio, Texas next week during the National Educational Computing Conference.

For almost three decades, NECC has been the premier forum in which to learn, exchange, and survey the field of educational technology. This annual conference “presented by ISTE and keyed to the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS)” features hands-on workshops, lecture-format and interactive concurrent sessions, discussions with key industry leaders, and the largest educational technology exhibit in the nation.

I didn’t write that last paragraph. As if you hadn’t already figured that out (Synonym.com can do only so much). It was quoted (stolen… whatever) from the NECC website.

It sounds like a wonderful event.

While I will be in San Antonio, I won’t exactly be attending the conference.

But the good news is my wife and mother-in-law will be.

Actually, it is good for them and great for me. You see they will go to the conference and attend about 297 sessions and then come back and tell me everything I need to know. In addition, they will come to my school and present their newly acquired information to my teaching staff.

Then I can facilitate in the application of the technology within my school district (remember, it is always about the kids).

This may sound like I am lazy, but that’s just not the case. I am actually being quite helpful.

During the conference I will be acting as babysitter, entertainer, tour guide, and tax write off.

My job will be to keep my daughter and I entertained and more importantly, out of trouble and out of the way. Our official title “Mooches”.

It really is a win/win. We get several days in San Antonio and my wife gets a tax break for her ever growing technology workshop business.

Plus, I get more knowledge about computer related stuff (granted, through osmosis… again, whatever it takes for the kids).

So, if you are going to NECC please keep in mind that I will be there (sort of). I will be at Sea World, or the Alamo, or on the River Walk, or at the Children’s Museum, or maybe on top of the Tower of the Americas.

If you have a moment and want to visit, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

So you can pick me out of the crowd, I will be wearing a t-shirt, khaki shorts, tennis shoes, and sunglasses.

I should jump right out at you.

See you at NECC. Or around NECC.

If you are running a small business and need a tax break (or two), please don’t hesitate to contact me at micsmith@principalspage.com. I am more than willing to help. Especially, if it is for the kids.

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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.