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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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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Do You Know What Your Kids are Tweeting and Texting?


I get it, I’m old.Kids Are Good.  But Their Texts and Tweets Sometimes Aren't.

Keith Richards has better hearing than me (that would be a Rolling Stones guitar player reference kids).

My eye site gets worse by the day.  I wear contacts, but also need glasses to read anything smaller than a 24 font.

I just know my next pet will be a guide dog (sorry Buddy, but I need more than your sweet sweet love).

But old doesn’t have to mean naive.

Or just plain stupid.

If you have kids, I’m begging you to be aware.

Here is what I see and experience on a daily basis.

Technology is great.  But just like alcohol and cars, students are sometimes to young and/or immature to handle it.

The great thing about the world today is all of this new technology making the world smaller.

The bad thing for parents with teenagers is it’s making the world smaller.

Trust your kids, but don’t be a moron.

Check their Twitter accounts.

Then check their cell phone texts.

If you ask them if you can and they get mad or defensive, you’re on to something.

As a tired old school administrator, I’ve learned a few things over the years.

One, never eat food prepared by a student (figured this one out the hard way).

Two, never ever smell anything when a student says "Hey, smell this!"  Odds aren’t in your favor that it’s going to be good (if it’s food they’ve prepared, revert back to my last sentence).

Lastly, anyone between the ages of 8 and 18 is a lot smarter than you might think.

My hope is when parents check their children’s phone or social media they aren’t surprised by what they see.

But I won’t be surprised if they are.

Follow your kids on Twitter and Facebook.  It can’t hurt.

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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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College Professors and Twitter.


This is a bad sign.Actually... It's 5,330 At Last Count.

I have over 5,300 followers on Twitter.

Why?  I assume they have bad taste and not enough hobbies, but that’s another blog.

Most people seem to follow because occassionally I will comment on education topics (mostly I provide updates on Buddy the Dog, my new TV show, and express my anger that our next President may be named Newt).

My followers include college students, teachers, principals, assistant principals, superintendents, and parents.

I just about forgot… nearly 73% of my Twitter followers are hardcore gangbangers who are doing time in federal prison (and I would like to add… for crimes they didn’t commit)

What bothers me about this situation isn’t the drug trafficking across state lines, but the fact that I have exactly 0 Twitter followers who are College Education Professors.

Yes, I said 0 (typed… whatever).

Wouldn’t you think someone… somewhere…  would be a college professor with time on their hands who might want to follow other educators on Twitter?

It worries me that the people teaching the next generation of teachers and administrators may not be using technology at the same rate as other educators.

And more importantly, students.

Since there is always room for more followers, you can find me @principalspage.

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Class of 2015.


They are different than us.

By different, I mean smarter.

 

 

33% get dumped by text?  Really?

87% are dropping cable?  Really?

I’m so old.

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Why Use Twitter?


Because it’s the greatest professional development tool ever.

And the best part?

It’s free.

 

Follow me – @principalspage

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We All Get Way Too Much Information.


Snow is bad.  Ice is worse (I just cancelled school… again).

That’s the bad news.No School.  One Year.

The good news is we’ve known this pre-apocalyptic storm has been coming for about a week (if you are reading this someplace warm… please know the rest of us hate you).

That’s more bad news.

One would think receiving updated updates on the weather every 4 seconds would be a good thing.  It’s not.

Society is on overload.

We have so much information at our fingertips it’s consuming our every thought.

Ten years ago, the only weather information came from the local news station.

You watched it at 6 pm, then you had to wait until 10 o’clock to get the next update.

There was time to let things soak in.

Now, the interweb has allowed us to update ourselves.

And we do.  Every few seconds (hello, Twitter).

But this also allows us to blow regular everyday happenings completely out of proportion.

As we share information, too often over exaggeration and hyperbole take the place of common sense.

One person says they’ve heard there is 3 inches of snow on the way, and the next says it’s 4-6.

Before you know it everyone has heard 27 inches and there is only one conclusion to make.

We are all going to DIE!

After a bazillion years (approximately), life as we know it will cease to exist.

You would think the more information we receive would allow us to make more informed decisions.

I think the opposite is happening.

FOX News isn’t making us smarter politically.

MSNBC isn’t helping us elect better representatives.

The local news isn’t calming our fears about crimes and accidents.

Websites are available 24 hours a day.  Some even tell us the truth.

It’s so much that it’s becoming just noise.

It’s almost like the more we know, the dumber we get.

Lots and lots of information.  But so much noise.

I need to know it’s going to snow.

But I also need to know society is going to survive once it stops.

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Twitter is Changing Education. But Not School Desks.


In 100 years, historians will be discussing the power of Twitter (and whatever else comes along and crushes it in the next 18 minutes).

In particular, they will talk about the impact of Twitter on education reform.

Books will be written (not on paper… for the computer chip implanted behind your eye) and movies will be made (again, for the little screen in your brain… not the big screen in a theater).Follow Me on Twitter - @principalspage

Twitter will define the first part of this century, much like automobiles ruled the early 1900’s (like I have any idea what I’m talking about).

The book/chip titles will almost write themselves.

Twitter Changed Schools.  Twitter Gave a Voice to Education Reformers.  Twitter was the Greatest Invention Since the Spork.  Twitter Rocked!

Actually, the last one will be a musical about Twitter starring the great great great grandson of John Stamos.

Since many of you will be dead by then, let me sum up how history SHOULD look back on Twitter and education.

Twitter gave a voice to geeks.

That’s it.

That’s how history should remember this point in time. 

Twitter + Geeks + Opinions = Change.

At least that’s how I hope it will end.  I haven’t seen the change part just yet, but I’m hopeful.

If you are offended by my inference that geeks use Twitter, get over yourself.  You’re reading a blog about education, an evil little girl, and a dog written by a school superintendent who barely passed Composition I in junior college.

If you’re not a geek, you could have fooled me.

My only complaint with Twitter and education reform is, I think we are talking (or tweeting) about the wrong issues.

There are all kinds of discussions(tweets) on technology, tenure, class size, evaluations, and school funding but not enough on the more important issues.

Like school desks.

In case you haven’t used one in the last 30 minutes, they’re still torture devices.

This Things Stink.

If you are over 40 years old, don’t even attempt to sit in one.  Because while you may be able to sit down, you’ll never get up without the Jaws of Life.

If students could only organize themselves into a lobbying group, I truly believe the first issue they would tackle would be the inhuman sitting conditions they face every day.

Prison inmates have nicer furniture (I know this because they email me).

How can people complain about the lack of progress with teachers using technology, but they don’t address the fact kids are expected to learn on what is basically a wooden crate.

And then we yell at them when they won’t sit still.

Like it’s their fault their legs are asleep.

Have you ever seen a 9 year old play video games or watch TV?

Newsflash:  they don’t sit straight up and down with both feet on the floor.

They sit, or lie, or hang off the couch in whatever position they find comfortable.

How can we expect them to learn when we confine them to a school desk?

Buddy the Dog has more freedom, and he lives in a crate (and a lovely recliner).

The next time you tweet about education reform keep this in mind.  Adults design schools, classrooms, and school furniture.  And they all look exactly like they did 50 years ago.

You want education reform?

Let students sit on the floor.

It’s more comfortable for them and it’s at least a small step in the right direction.

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Time to Get Things Off My Desk. And Chest.


It’s summertime.

This means two things. 

The first is I finally have time to clean off my desk (I couldn’t find a paperclip all year and now I stumble across 1,714 in one drawer… who knew?).

Not Really My Desk.  It's From CartoonCrunch.com.

Secondly, I find during the summer people continue to read this blog, but the number of comments go way down (yes, I’m trolling for more comments… I have little or no pride and apparently a great deal of free time).

The lack of comments could be a sign that the quality of my blog material isn’t as strong during the summer.

Or as I like to believe, readers are just way too busy (vacations, yard work, completing court-ordered community service, etc.)

Either way, I thought this would be a good opportunity to write(?) about a few of my half-baked theories that may not qualify for a full-blog.

So here are 10 possibly comment worthy theories of mine.

 

1.  World Cup soccer is the equivalent of ice skating in the Winter Olympics.

I’ll watch because I take great pride in pummeling less fortunate countries, but in two weeks I won’t be able to name one athlete who participated.

News to soccer lovers:  It still isn’t sweeping the country.  And it never will (although who knows, because I did think horse racing and boxing were here to stay…).

Little kids like soccer because it’s easy to understand (and pretty much every 6 year old likes to kick a ball and eat snacks after the game).

The rest of us don’t love it because you aren’t allowed to use your hands.

Americans like sports we invented.  And we only invent sports if we can use our hands.

I wish it was more complicated, but sadly it isn’t.

 

2.  There are way way too many loud blowhard white guys on cable news.  The loud I can mute, but is it too much to ask that we diversify a little bit? 

It is 2010 after all.

There has to be at least one obnoxious overweight Hispanic guy/gal out there somewhere who wants to complain about government.

 

3.  President Obama misjudged the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Turns out it’s kind of a big deal.

People are either incredibly angry or sad for those people/communities directly affected (and maybe more so for the birds covered in oil).

He’s not gaining many votes this summer.

He’s becoming the neighbor who leaves their trash cans in the front yard six days after the garbage has been picked up.

Not a big deal to them, but a huge deal to everyone else (yes, I just compared a massive oil spill to my neighbor’s trash… sorry about that).

 

4.  Twitter is great.

It’s also causing people to be less productive at work.

My estimate is employees are costing their companies $4.3 trillion dollars each year by Tweeting when they should be working.

But that’s just a guess.

It could be more (feel free to follow me on Twitter… @principalspage).

 

5.  Tony Hayward (head of BP) and General McChrystal (head of Afghanistan) are on my short list for Idiot of the Year (lucky for them we have a lot more year left).

Both should speak less.

Much less.

 

6.  My desk is like my dorm room in college.  It’s a magnet for crap I think I’ll need later, but as it turns out, it’s just crap.

I’m making a personal plea on behalf of everyone who holds a meeting or a convention.

Stop giving us free stuff.

We can’t handle it.

And we definitely can’t throw it away.

 

7.  As I get older (and older) winter is too cold and summer is too hot.

I have no point here, I just want to go on the record that I’m seldom happy with the weather.

No matter how bad my day, I always look forward to watching the weatherperson with contempt.

 

8. My daughter (the Evil Spawn) wants to be older.  I want her age to be frozen in time.

This is no doubt the first of 19,767 arguments we will have between now and her 18th birthday (again, could be more… I’m just guestimating).

 

9.  Education is changing.  Fast.

And the worst part is most teachers/administrators have no idea.

In 5 years most of us won’t recognize schools, curriculum, evaluations, or the technology advances.

My only hope is all of this makes education better.

But with the government involved, it’s 50/50 (but then again, isn’t everything).

 

10.  Buddy the Dog sleeps a lot.

And by a lot I mean at least 20 hours a day.

He only awakens to eat, roll over so we can scratch his big hairy gut, bark at big trucks (garbage, FedEx, UPS, busses, etc.), wander aimlessly around the yard, and use the bathroom (also aSeriously.... Why Did You Wake Me Up? lot… and I know because I mow).

His life is exactly how I envision my retirement years (I especially look forward to the belly scratching).

 

Feel free to comment. 

More importantly, enjoy your summer (it’s going fast).

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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.