Twitter is the New Teachers’ Lounge.


A long, long time ago I was hired as a teacher.Twitter Is What You Make of It.

Now we aren’t here to question the good judgment of the gentleman who made this decision, but we probably should discuss it at some point.

For whatever reason, he chose me out of 3 candidates.

I may not have been the greatest teacher, but I was evidently better than the other two.

Or they may have turned the job down right before he offered it to me.

I will never know.

But lucky for me, I had a job.

When I was hired, he gave me some good advice.  After he put his cigarette out.

Yes, times have changed.  In today’s world you would never see a high school principal sitting at his desk hiring a new teacher while sucking on a cancer stick.

But two decades ago, I did.

And I remember his advice like it was yesterday.

He said "Mike, take this advice or don’t.  Doesn’t make me any difference.  But, if I was a brand new teacher, I would stay out of the teacher’s lounge."

Then he went back to smoking.  He really seemed to enjoy it.

I took his advice.  And vowed to never smoke at my desk because I didn’t want my fingers to be yellow.

He didn’t tell me why I should stay out of the lounge, but I remember thinking at the time he must know something I don’t because he had been in education forever.

And I mean forever.

His fingers were REALLY yellow.

These days, I’m starting to think Twitter has become the new Teacher’s Lounge.

Neither one is bad, but they are what you make of them.

Both can provide educators positive and upbeat experiences, but both can also suck the living life out of you.

In either place, I think it’s very easy to get caught up in complaining about schools, students, parents, and even politicians.

If I was giving advice in today’s world (and I am), I would say don’t go anywhere where the people around you make you feel bad about your profession.

This might mean the lounge.  This might also mean Twitter.

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Hands Up, not Hands Out.


Hands Up... It's What We Ask of Our Students.

When schools face financial difficulties it’s easy to get bogged down.

How?

By complaining (I mean complaining more than usual… not that this ever happens in the teacher’s lounge or at administrators’ meetings).

It’s easy to blame politicians for our troubles in education (I personally enjoy this a LOT).

Constant complaining seldom makes things better.

Our focus has to be on the students.  Our job as educators is to provide kids with the best education possible.

Sure, we may have to do this on a budget, but that’s okay.

During difficult times comes innovation (I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating… mainly because I have a garage full of bumper stickers that I need to sell).

We will have to make improvements on the cheap, but any progress is good progress.

Schools may be struggling financially, but we still have a job to do.  Busses will arrive and the first hour bell will ring, so education will continue to move forward (that is if the electric bill gets paid…).

I really believe schools will rise to the occasion as they face the biggest of challenges.

Certain types of pressure brings out the best in people.

Like the threat of losing your job.

In this age of cutbacks, I think you will see teachers, administrators, and school employees doing even more than usual.

This can only benefit students.

It may mean longer hours and more responsibilities for school employees, but it has to beat unemployment.

Educators will be quick to volunteer.  Quick to make themselves as useful as possible.  Quick to take on any and all extra duties.

We are moving from an era of people having their “Hands Out” to one where everyone will have their “Hands Up”.

It is no longer what can you do for me, but what can I do for you?

To quote Tom Brokaw… “It’s easy to make a buck.  It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.”


I hate to admit it, but the title for this blog came from all people…  a politician.  Sad, but true.

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Going to Disneyworld. And Yet, We Hate Mice.


As I slop down this blog, it occurs to me that we only have two more days until the end of our semester.

I would celebrate this fact, but exhaustion prevents me from doing anything more than breathing and blinking.

If the stars align a little later, I’m going to take blinking out of the equation during what I believe is a well-deserved nap (which I’ve noticed Buddy the Dog is doing… for the last 4 1/2 hours… straight… hasn’t moved… may be dead for all I know…).

Once school is out I won’t have time to celebrate or nap.Since When Do Humans Like Mice?

You see (or read), we are going on a Griswold Family Vacation.  But not to Walley World.

Worse.

Disneyworld.

Yeah, you heard me.  Disneyworld and I’m not happy about it.

Why my disgust?

I don’t know.  Maybe you should ask the Tech Queen.  She doesn’t want to go either.

I’m assuming after typing the last 3 sentences that we qualify for the “Worst Parents Ever Award”.  Hopefully, the trophy presentation will be held next week so I won’t have to go to Disney.

Neither of us has ever been to Disneyworld or Disneyland.

Actually, we don’t even know which is which.  As Chevy Chase as my witness, I don’t know which one is in Orlando but I’m about to find out.

“The Happiest Place on Earth”.  Really?

I don’t think so.

I think the Happiest Place on Earth is the Teacher’s Lounge 45 seconds after the bell rings the day Winter or Summer Vacation begins.

All of those stale left-over treats (why can’t teachers put the lid back on the Tupperware container???) and no kids within 500 feet.

I’ve noticed people come out of the woodwork when I say we don’t want to go to Disney.

It’s the same people who bugged me about “When are you getting married?” and “When are  you starting a family?” and “When are you going to take some anger management classes?”

I hate those people.

I’m not overly enthusiastic about spending Christmas standing in line for a ride on which I could die.  I get enough experience with vomiting at work.

Plus, I’m assuming these rides are run and maintained by disillusioned carnie workers.

Don’t misunderstand me.  The carnie workers are my people.

I’m a big fan of anyone with a combined total of 17 tattoos and piercings (there goes my readership from county fair employees and tattoo shops…).

I just don’t want them double-checking (or not) all of the bolts on a thrill ride seconds before my untimely death.

I want to go out like Buddy.  In my sleep (he’s not really dead… just tired from… all of his previous naps).

As an added bonus, I’m assuming there will be other children at Disney.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like kids.

I love mine.

I just don’t like other people’s kids when I’m on vacation.

I only like other kids when I’m at school.

Maybe that’s because I can’t control them when I’m not working at school.

Or more likely, it’s because their parents can’t control them.

We will have to make sure we pack our “Teacher’s Looks”.  I love firing those off in public when parents aren’t looking.

I guess it doesn’t matter.  I will be spending 7 days getting my picture taken with Mickey, dining with princesses, and purchasing $14 dollar bottled-waters.

Maybe we will like it.  And if we don’t, at least I’ll have something to blog about.

So next Wednesday we will be flying to Disneyworld (I think that’s the one in Florida).

Unless of course, the park is closed when we arrive.

And just like Clark Griswold, that would make me angry.

I mean angrier.


“Sorry folks, park’s closed. Moose (or Mouse) out front shoulda told ya.”

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Student Teaching: “You’ll Be Fine, I’ll Be in the Lounge.”


I’ve almost hit the mid-point of my career in education.  At least I hope it’s the mid-point.

It could be nearing the end, but time will tell (as always, if you hear anything let me know… resumes don’t update themselves).

A few days ago it occurred to me it’s been over 15 years since I student taught.

To a young person that probably seems like forever.Teacher's Lounge.

But not to me.  It seems like it was only yesterday.  Then I look in the mirror and realize it wasn’t.

My path towards teaching wasn’t a straight one.  I had a couple of careers (i.e. jobs) before I stumbled upon my love of teaching (i.e. summers off).

As I look back it was a big step to return to college and obtain a teaching certificate.

I found the class work easy compared to my first trip through higher education (i.e. no longer a complete idiot).

After two semesters it was time to student teach.

I can distinctly remember filing out the form to apply.  They gave you a choice of 3 geographic areas.  You had to rank them in the order of preference and then they placed you in a school district.

My choices: anywhere but a large school, anywhere but a large school, and anywhere but a large school (in no particular order… after all, I didn’t want to be demanding or high maintenance).

As I awaited for my student teaching assignment, I must admit I was a little nervous.

By a little, I mean a lot.

I was hoping (and praying) for a small school.

You can probably guess where they put me.

A large school.

It was 5 times bigger than the one I attended as a student.  So naturally, I assumed I would be stabbed.

This provided me with a bit of nervousness as I reported to work on my first day.

My student teacher coordinator was old school, so I knew he wouldn’t be happy if I bled out in the middle of the hallway (that would have caused him to do a ton of paperwork).

Basically, I was scared to death.  It was a combination of teaching, a large school, and getting shanked while writing on the chalkboard (yes, chalkboard… I told you it was over a decade and a half ago).

I was absolutely positive that getting stabbed with a homemade knife was not a good way to begin (or end) my career.

As I arrived in my new cell block, I mean classroom, the teacher with whom I was working was very excited.

He said he loved having student teachers.

He was almost giddy.

I assumed he was excited because he loved sharing his knowledge.

Nope.

He was excited because his workload was about to decrease by 100%.

The first thing he did was give me a tour of the classroom.  He did this while sitting at his desk with his feet up.

He showed me the plan book, grade book, and the phone.  He said to call the Assistant Principal if I had any trouble (i.e. knife wound).

Then he said he would teach 1st hour so I could get the feel of the class.  This should have been a clue, but I didn’t pick up on it because I was too busy trying not to cry.

I sat in the back of the room as he taught.  Everything went pretty well.  The students were relatively well-behaved and no one died, so I had that going for me.

He even had me participate by handing out papers and explaining the students’ homework for the following day.

The bell rang at the end of the period and he called me up to the front of the room.

He handed me the plan book and said, “You are going to be fine.  If you need anything, I’ll be in the lounge.”

Call me crazy, but I sensed a problem.

One, I had no idea what I was doing.  Two, I had no idea where the lounge was located.  And three, I didn’t want to die alone.

Then he walked out of the classroom.

That was it.

I had been in his room for less than an hour and he was leaving (for good… I only saw him a few times after that).

I was on my own. 

Now I was beyond nervous.

Petrified was more like it.

As I look back it was a challenging way to learn how to teach (The Thrown to the Wolves and Pray You Don’t Get Killed Method), but I survived and learned a lot (and didn’t die… which pleased me greatly). 

My cooperating teacher retired from the profession a couple of years later, so that was a good thing.

I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to experience student teaching in the way I did, but I’m glad I did.

By the second day, I was no longer focused on being in a large school or dreading getting stabbed because I had other things to worry about.

Like teaching.

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Schools Can’t Change.


Change is hard.

That’s why I’m not interested.

When you work in a school there is always a lot of talk about changing things (by talk, I mean it rhymes with witching).  As educators we are faced with the choice of jumping on board with the latest fad or sticking with the tried and true method that we’ve used for the last 20 years.

For me it’s a no brainer.

If it was good enough when I was in school, it’s good enough for the students in 2009.What I Would Look Like If I Taught in the 1950's.

When the word change is even casually mentioned, it can provoke a strong reaction.

In some cases anger.

Luckily, the bad feelings are never directed towards administrators (for the last time… sarcasm is the lifeblood of this blog).

After much thought, I have chosen my final answer on change (I do love Regis Philbin but rest assured not in the same way I love Kelly…actually in the EXACT same way I love Kelly). 

I’m against it.

Don’t even think about trying to talk me out of it.

I don’t like change.

Why?

Because I don’t like it.

You need a reason?  I gave you one.  I don’t like it.

In my estimation, progress is way overrated.

Schools were good enough for my grandparents (if they attended… and some did… at least until the 6th grade), so they should be good enough for today’s students.

Progress is for the next generation.  It’s for the person who takes my job (I know you’re out there…).

As for me, I’m going to stick with what works.

I’m way too busy to worry about the latest fads.  My career is on borrowed time.  I just don’t see the point in making a lot of unnecessary changes because I’ve only got 20 years left until retirement (like I’m going to make it…).

I’m going to focus on the present.

In the next week or so I need to do the following:

Run off copies on the ditto machine.

Take a quick smoke break in the Teacher’s Lounge.

Use some corporal punishment on a student in the hallway because he was talking in study hall.

Finish a report on a typewriter (I hope I don’t make a mistake; I am all out of correction tape).

Hand write some memos.

Use the phone tree to contact teachers.

Drive students in my car without seatbelts.

Take some pictures for the yearbook and send the film off to be developed (I should be getting them back in a couple of weeks).

Write grades in my red spiral grade book.

Show a movie on the 16mm projector.

Or possibly a slide show (don’t forget to turn to the next slide when it beeps).

Finally, I need to not exercise (all the studies say it’s bad for you).

I think I’ve made my point.

Schools don’t need to change.  Things are just fine the way they are.

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Someone Put Cake in the Lounge.


I Like Cake.I have noticed something as I go through my life in education. Almost all of us are passionate about certain things. As educators we have a lot of the same characteristics.

Most of us care deeply about some of the following; children, dogs, movies, hamburgers, sports (settle down, you can’t count soccer), vacations, movies, politics (mental note: in the future, blog about the political train wreck called the Clintons) and bad news about Britney Spears (how did Kevin Federline become the good one? – discuss among yourselves).

But as educators we can all agree on the one thing that we love (in an attempt to make this blog more interactive I must ask you to play a drum roll in your head) ……………… the answer is …….……….. Free Stuff.

Everyone loves the free stuff. No matter how old we are, if you give us free stuff- we couldn’t be happier.

It starts when we are young. Our parents force us to attend noisy parades and scary people on floats pass by and throw mediocre candy at us (if your community leaders allow this).

We are then encouraged to risk our lives by running into the street to retrieve this free candy. From this point forward, we are hooked on anything we don’t have to pay for with no regard for its quality or purpose.

Halloween candy, Christmas presents, and cheap toys from McDonald’s are also used to train us into loving the free stuff.

As we get older, coaches give us a free t-shirt to wear as a uniform in whichever sport we are playing at the time. Usually it is the cheapest shirt known to man that shrinks from a medium to an extra extra small the first time it is washed (just for the record, liquor stores should not sponsor summer baseball teams).

All through life people hand us free stuff whether we need it or not (usually not).

Companies give us calendars and pens, politicians give us buttons and bumper stickers, stores advertise buy one- get one free, and if the high school football coach likes you, you might just get a free jacket (I’m waiting).

Teachers will literally trample small children if they hear the following phrase… “Someone put cake in the lounge” (you may substitute candy, brownies, soup, leftovers, donuts, popcorn, snacks, etc. for cake).

My point (like I actually have one) is that educators are highly educated people who are respected in the community and make a fairly good living. But don’t kid yourself, we can be bought.

The next time the local school board is in negotiations for a new teacher’s contract, instead of offering higher wages or better benefits, they should just put some cinnamon rolls in the lounge.

But don’t think regular cinnamon rolls will close the deal. It has to be the ones that are the size of a large child’s head. Then you have got yourself a deal.

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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.