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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School Administrators Need to Limit Access. Huh?


Embrace Technology or Get Left Behind.

At the District Administration Magazine conference this week in Phoenix (yes, I said Phoenix), there was a discussion on social media and its use in schools.

I’m never shocked when school administrators talk about limiting access for students (I’m not happy, but not shocked).

I was surprised when several superintendents talked about why they don’t personally use it.

Their reason?  They don’t want to give parents and community members any more access to school business than they already have.

Huh?

Color me dumbfounded.  And tan (yes, I said Phoenix).

I assumed everyone knew it was 2011 (although I know what happens when I assume).

Everything is accessible.

The world’s a big place and it’s getting smaller.

Parents are demanding schools be more open.  They want to know and see what their children (and teachers) are doing.  They want information, and they want it immediately.

If you don’t believe me, Google it.

Our lives are no longer just our lives.

People have access to us whether we like it or not.

I think we have two choices:  use and understand social media or stick our head in the sand and hope it goes away.

And I’m pretty sure it’s not going away.

If you don’t believe me, Google it.

Just so you know, I’m typing this on my resort balcony.  Sure it sounds fun, but there is a slight glare on my computer screen as I enjoy the 94 degree sunshine.  And if that wasn’t enough, the ice cubes in my drink are melting ever so slightly.

It’s not easy being me.

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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.

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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.