Social Media vs. School Administrators.


As I travel across this great country (yes, one trip to Miami counts as traveling), I get asked two questions.

The first being “Can you work me into one of your blog posts?” 

Let me think.

No.Jump On the Bandwagon.

That was kind of harsh. Please let me apologize.

I really should take some time to reconsider.

On second thought.  No. 

The only chance of getting mentioned is if your name is Buddy the Dog.

He gets special treatment because he gets over the top excited, runs in circles, and whines ever so slightly when I return home from work.  Or when I come in from the garage.  Or from getting the mail.  Or walk out of the bathroom. 

It’s the exact same reaction whether he hasn’t seen me for 2 weeks or 2 seconds (I love dogs… and don’t forget to visit his Live Webcam).

Lucky for me, Buddy the Dog doesn’t have an agent (conceivably that could cut into my profit margin).

Of course, if you do something funny or interesting (and love me unconditionally), I could change my mind.

The second question is “How am I allowed to write this blog.”  Fair enough.

I always assume this question refers to a superintendent writing a blog and not based on the actual quality of my entries (in other words, what I write stinks).

Either way, it’s an excellent question.

After more than 300 blogs, it almost seems normal to sit down and quickly type my thoughts into a blog.

Almost.

Let’s be honest, there is nothing normal about spending this much time on a blog (or anything else). 

Say it out loud… Superintendent writes a blog.  It just seems weird.

Lucky for me it’s not that difficult.

My only concern is presenting my views, experiences, or embarrassing moments without insulting someone else.

By someone else I mean teachers, other administrators, students, or with anyone I come into contact.

I have to be careful that blogging doesn’t affect my day job (the last time I glanced at our checking account… I really need my day job).

But so far, so good.

The longer I do this (blog at slightly below average level) it becomes more and more apparent to me this will be commonplace in the next few years.

I not only think most school administrators will use social media (blogs, Twitter, Plurk, Posterous… and things they haven’t invented yet), but I think it will become the norm.

Communities and school districts will have an expectation that school administrators use social media.

And use it a lot.

It will be as normal as sending out a parent letter or writing up the highlights of a school board meeting (highlights… lowlights… whatever).

Hopefully, administrators of the future (bigger, stronger, faster) will figure out more productive ways to use social media than me.

They will likely spend more time on topics related to improving education and less on their hate of soccer (I’m sorry, but the use of your hands is required if you want to call it a sport).

It’s going to take someone smarter than me (easy enough) to figure out how social media can benefit students and schools 2, 3, or 5 years down the road.

It will become an ally to schools, not the enemy.

Instead of fighting it, administrators need to figure out ways to use it that are beneficial to students and staff.

Presently, we are fighting a war to hold off the use of Twitter, YouTube, blogging, etc. and we are losing.

The sad part is most administrators have only a limited knowledge of social media.  Because they don’t fully understand it, they assume it’s silly and a waste of time (my blog is not a good example of something that isn’t silly).

We’ve fought this battle before.

It was against cell phones.

If you haven’t heard, we lost.

How did we lose? Students are carrying little computers around in their pockets and we get upset if they take them out and use them.

I would hate to see the same result from the use… or non-use of social media.

Just thinking (typing) out loud, but if you are a school administrator maybe you should start a blog, or open a Twitter account (or use any of the 1,000 other types of social media).

If you blog, then you could write about yourself.

And I wouldn’t have to.

Unless of course you do something really funny… then send it my way.

Because Buddy is starting to get “demanding”… which means I may be  out of material soon.

Comments: 4
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Golden Rule: Scream at Others and They Will Scream at You.


I can neither confirm nor deny any or all of the following is true.

Parents are crazy.

I’m not talking about all parents, just the ones who are insane.

The actual percentage of parents who suffer from this disease runs from 32.4% to 99.9%.

The parent in this story is not affiliated with my school in any way, shape, or form (and if my luck continues they will never purchase a house, rent, or visit a town where I work or reside). The Woman in Question is Not Nearly This Nice.  Or So I Heard.

In fact, as far as you know this story was told to me by a complete stranger who I inadvertently bumped into on a busy street in a city that I’ve never visited.

As the story goes, the woman gave birth to a young man who I don’t even know.

If I did know him, I can promise you I would want to thump him right upside his little head in the hope of closing that mouth which is constantly running but has yet to say anything worth hearing.

The woman, who may be the loudest most obnoxious person I have never been in contact with, is roughly 25 years old.

Did I mention she was loud?

And obnoxious?

I’m not being mean (after all I’ve never seen her… as far as you know), I’m simply passing on a story.

You might wonder how I know she’s loud if I’ve never been around her. That’s a fair question.

The answer is… trust me, she’s loud.

At least that’s what I’ve been told.

The first time I didn’t meet her she was screaming at her son. The second time I didn’t meet her, she was screaming at her son.

The third time he was standing on the hood of her car and yes… you guessed it… she was screaming at him.

In fact, every single time I haven’t seen her she has been screaming. At her son.

If you’re like me, you are starting to notice a pattern.

I’m no parenting expert, but sooner or later even the worst kids have a day when they don’t deserve to get yelled at.

I was almost starting to feel sorry for the young man (if I knew him) and then it happened.

He started screaming at her.

You might think I would experience some sort of joy from watching (or not) him stand up for himself, but that’s not the case.

It just made me want to thump them both upside their heads.

The latest screaming match took place (allegedly) during an 8 year olds soccer game.

While I had gotten used to the mother screaming at her son (if I had been present at this soccer game that didn’t take place), I was dumbfounded to hear him scream at her.

As he was playing in the game.

As he was dribbling the ball up the field.

Right in front of all the parents. Of both teams.

Right in front of all the players. On both teams.

The horror.

The language.

The decibel level.

At that very moment (if I was there), I thought the referee should have thrown them both out of the game.

Then I came to my senses.

He should have thrown them both out of society.

In her defense, I don’t think she has any idea that she is treating him in a way that isn’t productive. In fact, I’m willing to bet she thinks her actions are those of a strong disciplinarian.

On the other hand (if I knew him), he is an idiot.

He treats his mom worse than she treats him. The sad part is, his attitude will undoubtedly get worse as he gets older.

I’m afraid her troubles will be compounded (times 47) by the time he makes it to high school.

Neither one of them has any idea how to treat one another.

I’m far from perfect, but I feel pretty confident in the following statement. My daughter has never cursed me during the course of a soccer game as she was dribbling the ball up the field in front of 75 spectators, 4 coaches, 3 referees, 2 old ladies walking, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Now behind closed doors… in her room… who knows? .

Maybe I’m wrong about these two.

Maybe they have a great relationship and they will both thrive as they grow older.

Maybe she won’t be in a high school principal’s office asking for help in controlling his behaviors when he’s a sophomore.

Maybe he won’t have kids of his own and treat them just as badly as he is getting treated.

Maybe.

Comments: 1
Tags: , , ,

“Coach, Don’t Put My Kid in the Game. We are Trying to Win.”


The Agony of Defeat.Am I the only one who may yell at their child’s coach about too much playing time?

I always tell my daughter that it is up to the coach to decide who plays and how much.

I will never complain about her not starting or playing enough. I have seen these situations a 1000 times with parents and coaches. I will never ever be a part of this.

Coaches want to win, so I believe they will play whoever gives them the best chance to accomplish this.

So, you will never be able to include me in that group of pushy parents who demand their child plays more.

Now playing too much, that is a different story.

As my only child has started her athletic career, I have tried to teach her that pressure is a privilege.

It is an honor to be the one who is up to bat in the last inning with the game tied, the player shooting what could be the winning free throw, or the one playing goalie in the last minute of the game with the outcome hanging in the balance.

In these situations, maybe she succeeds, maybe she fails.

As long as she has prepared herself and tries her best, who really cares about the outcome?

Me, that’s who.

I want to win.

You play… to win… the game.

Sure, sportsmanship is nice, but it is seldom the lead story in the newspaper (or on their website… it is 2008 after all).

I want some payback for working with her in the back yard, driving her to practice, and shelling out all of this money for uniforms, shoes, participation fees, and hair bands (why can’t a girl get along with just 1, or 72… why do they have to have 643 of them in different colors with various amounts of sparkly stuff?).

With the game on the line, I don’t want to see her on the field or court.

The coach says he can count on her. He barely knows her. I have a long standing relationship with my child (began about 9 months before her birth) and I realize that she is a loose cannon.

She can’t be counted on… I have seen her room. She has failed on that simple task over and over. What makes the coach think she can perform with the game on the line?

She can’t even hang up her towel after a shower.

How can she be expected to make the winning basket, when she can’t get her dirty clothes in the hamper?

The coach wants her to play goalie and stop a soccer ball coming right at her head. She shrieks when a fly lands on her arm.

You don’t want her in the game with the pressure on.

At least I don’t.

It makes me nervous. Really nervous.

And it is not like she needs the experience. As if there is a full-ride scholarship to a Division I university in her future.

Best case, the truck driving school she attends will have some sort of intramural program.

The coach should at least be courteous enough to tell me before he has the brainstorm to send her into the game.

At least with some advance warning, I could go sit in the car or at least look away.

Turns out, I can’t take the pressure.

And it isn’t a privilege for a parent.

So coach, consider yourself officially notified. Do whatever you have to, just don’t use my kid.

Let some other parent sit there with butterflies in his or her stomach.

I want to win.

And you don’t want me yelling at you during the game about too much playing time.

Comments: 9
Tags: , , , ,

Just When I Thought I Was Out, They Drag Me Back In.


Softball... It's Better Than Soccer.Soccer is over.

Let’s all take a moment to comprehend the significance of this event. I would invite everyone over for a celebration of cake and ice cream, but I don’t have the time or the interest in having people in my house.

Plus, you don’t know where I live. And if you do, I just find that creepy (and a little sad).

While soccer has ended, I haven’t had much time off (it ended just in time; right before I went insane from watching a pack of 1st graders chase the ball… why can’t they just SPREAD OUT!?).

You see, the unemployed one’s softball season started about 12 seconds after the last soccer game ended.

My daughter literally walked off the soccer field and grabbed her softball glove (the pink one… don’t ask… something about it needs to match her outfit and her hair thingies).

I thought my coaching career had ended when I took my first job in administration.

My daughter doesn’t seem to have time to get a job, but she sure has time for soccer, softball, swimming, skiing, riding her bike, going to science camp, being a girl scout, and the 17 other things that we have to drive her to and from.

I have noticed that helping run a school district takes less time and organization than it does to schedule and provide transportation for her assorted activities.

As if being in charge of her taxi service wasn’t enough work for us, we volunteered to coach (again… won’t I ever learn?). Hopefully the Queen of Technology can whip up an Excel spreadsheet for the stats (although, now she prefers Google Spreadsheets, whatever that is).

Let’s all take another moment to ask ourselves… “Am I a glutton for punishment for coaching or just a moron?”

Don’t answer that, I think the answer came to me about 7 minutes into the first practice.

Have you ever tried to teach 1st and 2nd grade girls to hit, throw, catch, run the bases, and everything else that is involved in playing softball?

By the way, I don’t know why the 2nd baseman doesn’t stand directly on 2nd base, so I wish they would stop asking.

Coaching kids this age (or any age) can be complicated.

Plus, their hair is in constant need of being fixed. Although I must say they do look stunning in their matching pink shoes, shorts, gloves, batting helmets, and those hair thingies (when they stay in place).

Who knew NIKE made softball cleats with a pink swoosh on the side (actually the swoosh comes in many colors and it can be changed to match a certain young ladies outfit… which I have done 14 times… but never again… unless she asks and smiles at me).

I must admit that as much as I have tried to teach the girls, they are teaching me more.

The first thing I learned is that they don’t like it when the coach “accidently” hits them with a pitch. Sorry. I am doing the best that I can.

I have also noticed that hitting my own kid doesn’t really bother me. I am a horrible parent, but she needs to learn that the inside part of the plate belongs to ME!

Another thing is, while I knew this would be different than coaching junior high or high school boys, I had no idea how much.

Stay with me here. You may want to sit down.

The girls actually listen.

Yes, that’s right. Girls seem to listen better than boys.

Was I the only one who didn’t know about this?

You tell them to do something and they actually look at you and listen to what you’re saying.

And they don’t play in the dirt. Or spit. Or scratch.

Unfortunately, the girls can’t do everything we show them, but the important thing is they try.

I am astounded that I have stumbled upon this revelation of girls listening better than boys.

When does this stop? When do boys become the better listeners? What changes that makes us so attentive as husbands and fathers?

I hope someone out there knows the answer.

But if you Skype me, I probably won’t hear you.

SportsCenter is on and the louder you talk; the louder I will be forced to turn up the television… in my head.

Comments: 4
Tags: , , , ,

Kiss Your Loved Ones Goodbye; The End is Near.


I'm Guessing They Weren't in Love.  And I'm Guessing He Would Get Arrested Today if He Did That.Take my advice and in the next 24 hours make contact with all the people you love and hold dear. Call, email, drive, fly… do whatever it takes.

Don’t let this opportunity pass because you will regret it for the rest of your life.

The end is near.

So, technically the regret won’t last that long. But, I digress.

Why is the world spiraling out of control? Why are we on the cusp of total mayhem? What has happened that is so monumental that life on this planet is about to end?

Simple.

Guess who scored a goal in her soccer game?

Yes, that’s right. My jobless daughter actually kicked (remember, no hands) a ball past 14 defenders and a world class goalie to put the Orthopedic Clinic up 1-0 on our way to yet another victory (final score 3-0, but who is counting).

At least that is the way I remember it.

I have never seen another soccer team as big, as fast, and as athletic as our opponent.

Their defense was nearly impenetrable as the jobless, slightly lazy one made her way down the field.

She weaved her way in and out of defenders with amazing skill and precision. As she made her way towards the goal you could see that they were going to be no match for her talent (she gets most of her athletic skills from her mom).

Then it happened. She reared back, as only a future Olympian can and took a mighty kick at the ball.

Their team was obviously overmatched, and I don’t mind saying a little scared.

She fired the ball at the goal. As our fans yelled, and theirs screamed in horror, the soccer ball crossed the line and went into the goal at nearly 90 miles an hour.

I felt a little sad for the goalie as she fell to her knees and wept.

The jobless one looked into their section of fans and taunted them with a little move that she likes to call, “The Happy Dance.”

And then I blacked out.

My wife said as soon as she scored, I passed out and hit my head on the floor.

I don’t remember a thing.

But, the wife does. She saw what really happened.

We were playing a team that was missing 4 kids (vacation, trips to the water fountain, 2 in the potty, etc.).

The goalie was evidently distracted (and not world class, but very scrappy for a 31 pound kindergartner). The defense was confused (and a couple were sad because they missed lunch… these games that start at 12:00 pm are not for the faint of heart).

My daughter didn’t exactly weave in and out of defenders. It was more like she was in the right place at the right time.

And she didn’t exactly fire a shot at 90 miles an hour. She actually bumped the ball… by accident… with the side of her foot.

Our fans didn’t yell. Theirs didn’t scream.

But, she was very excited as the ball trickled into the goal. It was almost like the whole thing happened in slow motion.

Maybe that’s because when she runs, it looks like slow motion.

Anyways, it was a goal. And then she jumped up and down like this was the greatest moment of her life.

Then I fell and hit my head.

She has already forgotten about this athletic achievement and moved on to playing sidewalk chalk.

As for me, I will remember this as the moment when her Hall of Fame soccer career first began.

Go see your loved ones. The end is near.

I am going to take a nap. My head is killing me.

Odds are when I wake up; this will all have been a dream.

Comments: 2
Tags: , ,

Please Pass the Gravy, Soccer Guy.


I like to read, primarily the classics – golf magazines, newspapers, Sports Illustrated, internet sites, bathroom walls, and messages written on the backs of dirty semi-trucks.

Lately, all over the news (which happens every 2 or 3 years) is the fact that soccer is right on the cusp of capturing America’s attention as one of the major sports. Soccer people everywhere call into sports radio shows to declare that “Soccer is popular” and the rest of the major sports should get out the way.

Soon, the NFL and MLB, along with college football and basketball, and even golf will have to take a backseat to the world’s most popular game- the original football, aka soccer.

In the 70’s Pele was going to make every child in the United States want to grow up and play soccer. In the 80’s indoor soccer was going to be the rage. We got to the 90’s and soccer people everywhere thought that hosting a World Cup would grab our attention and make soccer the new national pastime. Soccer Guy is Handsome.

We even had a female soccer player score a goal and rip off her jersey to show us her sports bra. This was the event that would make all of our best female teenage athletes want to grow up and dominate the soccer world.

Now it is 2007 and David Beckham and his wife, Posh Spice, are going to be the catalyst for soccer’s entry into the public consciousness.

Along with soccer guy, newspapers are too blamed for starting this bandwagon that the rest of us aren’t jumping on. How long will it take for the 60 year old sports editors of major newspapers to figure out that NHL hockey isn’t a major sport, boxing is dead, and professional soccer doesn’t excite the average American who watches Sports Center.

Soccer guy will argue two points: one soccer is the world’s game, which is correct, it’s just not our game. Secondly, they say soccer is popular because 198 trillion six-year olds play it on Saturday morning.

Both of these facts are true, but there is more to it than that. In America we have what I like to call choices. There are a thousand and one things to do after work or on our weekends, fortunately most don’t involve kicking a ball into a net. As a group, Americans, like the outdoors, traditions, games that we can see the object being hit (you can’t even see a hockey puck on TV) and violence. Hence, the NFL is the most popular sport.

In small countries all around the world, people can’t waste their money on green fees for a round of golf, tickets to the movies, or a trip to Hardee’s for a Monster Burger. I am not saying this is right or fair, but we are busy people with lots of choices and we choose not to make soccer one of them. We can’t add professional soccer to our busy schedules because making room for it would mean giving something else up.

I think we like football so much, not because everyone who watches played the game, but because it looks good on TV and our favorite team only plays once a week. Who has the time to watch a professional soccer game on a Tuesday night?

The soccer pushers are correct about our six-year olds playing soccer. The kids love it, right up to the point that they can play a sport that allows them to use their hands.

Don’t get me wrong, professional soccer takes a great deal of skill, but for a small child nothing more is required than an hour on Saturday morning, a pair of tennis shoes, and a team t-shirt with Dairy Queen, Chicos Bail Bonds, or Tommy’s A-1 Mortuary on it.

More proof that soccer is the third cousin to football. When your six-year old is playing, it is usually on a football field. Has anyone ever gone to a football game held on the soccer field? I didn’t think so.

Just because a child plays it, doesn’t necessarily mean they will continue to love it when they get to be adults. Hence, there are not professional tag leagues, or hopscotch leagues, hide-and-seek leagues, or even Candyland tournaments in Las Vegas.

Our best athletes choose team sports that are backed by a traditionally strong professional league. You can go to any high school and out of the best 10 athletes, 8 play football, basketball, and baseball. If my math is correct, that leaves possibly one for golf and one for soccer.

It is not that I am anti-soccer, it serves a role in America. It certainly makes a six-year old tired and that makes them more likely to go to bed sooner, so we have that going for us.

If soccer was invited to the sports Thanksgiving dinner, it would have a seat- at the card table in the living room. Also, if you need more pumpkin pie soccer guy, you are going to have to get it yourself- the rest of us will be watching football.

Comments: 12
Tags: ,

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.