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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School Should Be More Like Children’s Museums.


The trip (free by the way… have I mentioned that?) continues.

The NECC Conference is going great… so I hear.

Although I do see a lot of people with convention badges not actually attending the convention. Which means they are where I am. And I am most definitely not at NECC. Could they be taking a vacation on their school district’s money (again, I am merely sharing what I see… I am not here to judge)?

My spawn, the mooch, (it’s genetic) and I had the big decision of spending today at Sea World or the Children’s Museum. San Antonio Children's Museum.

We went with the Children’s Museum. Sure, it was a risky choice, but since they have air conditioning we took a chance and rolled the dice.

I made sure we arrived early (after a nutritional McDonald’s breakfast… I am such a good parent), in order to beat the crowds of evil snot-nosed children.

Why is it that you can’t find a peaceful children’s museum that isn’t packed with kids?

Life continues to be a mystery.

While at the museum, I noticed that all of the children were running around, being enthusiastic, asking questions, and racing from one display to another. They couldn’t have been more excited or engaged.

It was almost like they were afraid that they would miss out on something. Imagine that, there was more knowledge being dispensed than they could shove in their little brains.

They had displays on computer animation, instant messaging, magnets, fresh water fish, agriculture, electricity, the arts, geology, archeology, another ology that I didn’t understand, and birds… just to name a few.

It was exactly like school.

Well, not exactly like school. Did I mention the kids were excited?

Then it occurred to me as I entered the giant train engine (actually it occurred to me when I slammed my head into the top of the doorway while going into the engine… Note to museum staff: spend 2 bucks on a sign that says “Small Door You Need to Duck; Don’t Enter If You Are an Idiot”).

My thought was that schools should be more like children’s museums.

Interactive, exciting, learn at your own pace, learn from others, move around, ask questions, try, fail and then try again, and have so much fun that you don’t realize that you have been there for 6 hours and that the McDonald’s Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit … while tasty, has long ago worn off.

And on top of that, every school should have a life size cow that you can milk and water comes out of its udder.

It was cool.

The water I mean. How do they keep the water inside the fake cow cool?

Since humans can invent a fake milking cow (with what appears to be a very advanced refrigeration system), shouldn’t we be able to make school more exciting?

Society has come so far with technology, space travel, medicine, and fake cows. Can’t we move beyond worksheets, chalkboards, and being forced to sit in a desk every minute of the school day?

Again, life and our educational system continue to be a mystery to me.

I am glad my wife, the queen of technology, is attending NECC so she can answer all of these questions for me!

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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.