Midwest Education Technology Conference.


I had the chance to present with my wife, Shannon at the 2014 Midwest Education Technology Conference.METC 2014.

This is what I learned (not shared… learned).

METC is without question, one of the best (if not the best) conferences in the country.

The good people who run it are the most helpful and organized I’ve had the pleasure of working with.

Sure, every hotel conference looks the same.  Of course, except for the carpet.

And the lobbies.  And the lights.  Actually, they all look alike.

But METC is different.

It’s worth your time and money.

If you are in the Midwest, please consider adding their February date to your schedule.

The other thing I learned is my wife is good.

Very good.

But I already knew that, so maybe this doesn’t count as learning something new.

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Kids These Days Are Weird. I Mean Wired.


I’ve noticed something about The Evil Spawn lately.Rockin It!

She is growing up (sad, I know).

With this comes the inevitable.  She will spend more time with her peers and less time with her parents (this part isn’t completely sad… but we try not to tell her as to not hurt her feelings).

She’s at the age where she wants to be around her friends all the time.  Sleepovers, parties, movies,  etc.

She even likes to arrive at her games early so she can spend more time with her teammates.

But, I’ve noticed something.

The girls she plays with like to be in the same general area, but they don’t spend much time talking to each other.

Everyone has an iPod.  Or iPad.  Or iSomething.

While they are in the same general area, they aren’t really together.

They all have their own apps.  Or music.  Or TV show to watch.

This is fine by me because they are quiet.  Which is a huge bonus if you have ever lived with an 11 year old girl.

But what will they be like in the future?

Will they continue to be around people but not directly communicate?

Will they go off to college and never speak to their roommates.

Instead of meeting new people as they get older, will they continue to text or contact their friends from home while ignoring people who are 3 feet away from them?

How will they act as adults?  Will they know their neighbors?  Will they interact with other parents?

Even more confusing to me, how will they be when they are old?

Are we raising a group of children who will become the first generation of nursing home residents who sit together but never speak to one other?

It’s possible they may be way too busy downloading apps to talk to their grandchildren.

Of course, by then, there may not be apps.

Or grandchildren.

Because they really don’t interact.

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Apple Has What You Need. Even Before You Know It.


Apple Has It Figured Out.The Evil Spawn gets my technology hand me downs.

This is good for both of us.  She gets something new and I get something brand-new.

She is generally very appreciative but she would prefer the newest and latest Apple products.

She has my old iPad.  She has a very early version of the iPod (squirrels run it).

Evidently, these are no longer cutting it.

She wants to upgrade. 

Why?

Because she says she’s the proud owner of iCrap.

iCrap?

Yes, she says old is iCrap.

She is the perfect age to be Apple’s perfect customer.

She’s grown up on Apple.  She doesn’t remember Dell, Commodore, or Mattel (classics my friends… classics).

She’s a loyal customer.

Very loyal.  She drinks the Apple Kool-Aide.

She doesn’t question them.  If they make it, she needs it.

They have the perfect business model.  Apple doesn’t make products to fill demand.

They create products to fill needs we didn’t even know we had.

Who knew we couldn’t live a productive civilized life without iPads, iPods, and Mini iThings?

They did.  And now she does.

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Searching for Sanity? Turn Off Your Technology.


It is my hope that through this blog someone at some point actually learns something.Take One Day Off. The World Will Survive.

I know it’s not likely, but hope is all I’ve got.

Many times, I know the advice I’m giving is directed squarely at me.

So lets hope today, someone learns something. 

This is my plan.

Technology is great.

It’s also suffocating.

When you are a new principal or superintendent, you are constantly told to communicate, be active in the community, be seen at school, and respond to questions and concerns as quickly as possible.

In this day and age, you can literally be "at" work 24 hours a day.

You can receive and send messages/information all day, every day.

You can check your email while eating, mowing, walking, and seconds before you fall asleep or within moments of waking up.

It’s great.

And it can literally suck the life out of you (I apologize for the language, but sometimes it’s nice to work blue).

That’s why I have this new plan.

No technology.

At least one day a week.  Or more likely, at least part of one day during the week.

I’m thinking Sundays may work best for me.

No emails.  No blogs.  No Facebook.  No Twitter.  No phone calls.

No school.

I’m going underground.  Off the radar.  Incognito.

Surely these same school buildings that have been standing for 100 years will survive one more day if I turn off my phone.

And if they don’t, there probably won’t be school on Monday anyway.

It’s easy to be needed. 

It’s much harder to realize everyone else will be just fine without you.

I’m officially copyrighting "No Technology Day for Administrators."  From now on, my speeches in front of literally thousands and thousands of people will include not only a push for administrators using technology, but also a push not to use technolgy.

At least one day a week.

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The Scariest Feeling You Can Experience in School.


Working in a school is more fun than a real job.Shock and Horror.

But there are times that can be unsettling.

1.) The sad day that is July 5, when you realize summer is almost over (downhill from there).

2.) The morning you wake up expecting a snow day and it’s 52 degrees and sunny.

3.) Anytime the government gets involved in education.

But all of these pale in comparison to the worst feeling an educator sitting at his or her desk can experience.

It happens every year.

I know this because people email me within seconds of this tragic event.

The tone of the email is always the same.  Shame mixed with fear wrapped in an apology.

5.) It’s when an employee using a school computer goes to one website and ends up on another.

The unexpected site rhymes with born, thorn, sworn, torn, and worn.

It’s always the same series of events.  They type in an innocent web address and they end up someplace entirely different.

Usually, the site is only on the computer for seconds, but it can seem like hours when they are frantically hitting the Escape or Delete button.  Some have even pulled the power cord.

This stress and shame is compounded if there are children within 100 feet.

I always get the sense they are sweating profusely when they send the email pleading their innocence.

First, I’m not the computer police.  I know it was accident.

And second, why do innocent people always feel so guilty?

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Society Has Gotten Too Fast.


I have a theory.Ferris is Cool.

Not because I’m smart, but because I’m old (two of the benefits of being old are you can say whatever you want… and eat dinner at 3:30 pm).

I think life is getting easier, but less enjoyable.

The interweb is great.  Stores being open 24/7 is wonderful.  Getting our news and weather whenever we want is nice.

Every day more and more things come along to make our existence more pleasant.

In theory.

Apps are nice.  Movies on demand are great.  Central air certainly has it perks.  Smartphones are cool.

There is no arguing technology is great.

But on the other side of the coin, everything happens all the time.

We’ve lost something.

And I think it’s free time.

Boredom is good because it makes you appreciate other experiences.

And in this day in age, I’m never bored.

Who has the time?

Between work and weekends that are busier than ever, there is no down time.

This weekend I ran (jogged… whatever) a half marathon.

I hadn’t trained nearly enough.  I had a bad foot (worse now).

Yet, I didn’t want to miss running (jogging… whatever… I get it).

Why?

Because I was so looking forward to the 2 hours with no phone.  Or email.  Or resposibilities.

Just running along with thousands of complete strangers who wouldn’t ask me a single question about anything important.

No responsibities other than putting one foot in front of the other (and not wetting myself… runners will understand).

This doesn’t happen often enough.

No, not running a half marathon.

Slowing down for two hours.  Or two minutes.

Maybe I need a skip day like Ferris.  Anyone want to go… Bueller, Bueller, Bueller… anyone?

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Technology in Schools Is a Fad. Trust Me.


Why are we still talking about this?  The constant conversation about the need for technology in schools. Schools Need Less Technology (Work With Me... I'm Making a Point).

Why are we still trying to convince teachers and administrators this is needed?

Some might even say it’s the wave of the future?  Crazy talk if you ask me.

Technology is the "next big thing".

Like automobiles.  Fire.  Batteries.  Movable type.  Bottled water.  Daily showers.

Trust me, these never caught on and neither will technology.

I think the naysayers are right.

Technology is a fad that will never last (like ballpoint pens, air conditioning, laser beams, and Subway… because who in their right mind would pay some  17-year old kid to make them a sandwich?).

There are educators out there who understand this.

They’ve seen this same type of thing happen time and again in education.   This too shall pass.

They are the ones leading the real charge.  They are the ones mumbling and looking at their watches during professional development.

They gather in the hallways (often during class time) and point out what’s wrong with this technology scenario.

Technology isn’t here for the long haul.

Sure, it’s caught our fancy for the moment, but it will disappear.  Trust them.

It’s time we stopped preaching to these people in our schools.  It’s time we followed them.

They are the visionaries.  They are the leaders.

They are the ones we should be following.

These forerunners will no longer hear me trying to bring them over to the side of technology.

From now on, I am all about paper and pencil.

It may not be what the kids want, but it’s what they need (and who knows better what the future needs than the past).

I owe so many people apologies.  I’m sending them all an email apology.

Now, if someone in their buildings would just help them check… because they are also the ones constantly telling me their email machine is broken.

And I for one, would hate for them to be left out.

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Why Has This Blog Been on Vacation? Ask My Computer.


This is one of those blogs only I care about (but this works out well because it is my blog).

Let’s just get this out in the open.

No need to sugarcoat things.

We‘re big boys and girls after all. (if you are under 18 and reading this… get a life).

I can no longer coexist under the present circumstances in which I am forced to live.

Sure, I can put on a happy face.broken-laptop1

I can act like everything is okay.

In fact, I don’t mind saying I feel some pressure to do just that.

Pretend like things are great.  Pretend like things are wonderful.

Act like we are the happiest couple in town.

Well, we’re not.

And I’m tired of living a lie.

Sorry, you had to read it here but you’ll eventually get over it.

After the tears.

And the sleepless nights.

And of course, the self-loathing.

All stages I’ve had to work through.

Well, here it is.

I hate my computer.

Hate it.  Hate it.  Hate it.

I know you aren’t supposed to hate things (except for Hitler, door-to-door salesmen,  stubbing your toes, people who tailgate you on the interstate, and diarrhea).

Well, I hate my computer.

And all of those things listed above (especially the last one… which is incredibly funny if someone else has it).

My whole life is on my computer and yet it fails me at every turn.

Have a big report due?  Computer isn’t working.

Leave the computer on the bed for 2 short days and what happens?  Buddy the Dog eats the N and the M keys.

Have a PowerPoint presentation to give to 200 people?  Computer ate it.

Need to write another low-level mindless blog?  Computer won’t hook up to the internet.

I’m in the habit of writing(?) a bad blog every 3 days.  If I don’t, I get jumpy.

And you don’t want to see me jumpy.

Now, you might be asking yourself, why do I need the internet to write a mildly amusing (only to me) blog?

I don’t.

I just like to check out www.espn.com a couple thousand times instead of doing something productive (by the way, you’re welcome for the free plug ESPN).

The point is, my computer is only broken when I need it the most.

I don’t like this.

I don’t like it one bit.

My iPad never lets me down.  It always works.

So consider this a warning laptop computer.

You are officially on notice.  Get your crap together, or else I just might start using a Mac.

My love for technology is turning to hate.  Luckily for me, I realize the first step to recovery is admitting I have a problem.

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Outdated World.


Technology does change fast.  Really fast.

I mean really really really fast.

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Email Stress.


Teachers and administrator have stress all around them.

The beginning of school stress.

Report card stress.Ever Feel Buried?

Parent-Teacher Conference stress.

Holiday stress.

Testing stress.

Way too much free food in the lounge stress.

School Board stress.

Overwhelmed with constantly changing new technology stress.

Contract stress.

Other employee stress.

Senseless meeting stress.

Teacher stress on administrators.

Administrator stress on teachers.

Discipline stress.

Kids with runny noses stress.

Lack of enough snow days stress (the official season of woo-hoo! is about to begin).

End of school stress.

And the list goes on and on.

But #1 on the list comes from an unexpected source.

Email stress.

Electronic mail was supposed to make our lives simpler.  But like with so many things, it has made it more complicated (hello, spam).

Emails are great but they never stop.  Ding.  Ding.  Ding.  Ding.

My inbox makes more noise than junior high boys in the restroom (take my advice… do not go in there)

If you walk away from your computer for 10 minutes you can return to 20 emails.

During the course of writing this blog, I’ve received 12 emails… only 1 was almost important (and it’s Sunday).

Emails multiply like rabbits.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed.

The good news is I think our friends, the tech people, can help (let me… I mean them… help you).

While most people know the basics of email, most don’t go beyond that.

The easiest way to reduce the amount of time you spend on incoming emails is to filter them automatically as they arrive.

This is where you need tech help.

To not only set up your email folders, but to help relieve your stress.

Or some of your stress.

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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.