Bullying Victim or Hero. Thoughts?


I’m a little behind on this topic, but as it often happens, school got in the way (it was a very special full-moon week).

In the last few days an Australian boy has rocketed to YouTube fame after a classmate recorded a cell phone video of him body-slamming a smaller boy who’d been picking on him at school.

The clip which was hard for me to watch shows the altercation (although neither boy was hurt in the confrontation).

Both boys got suspended.  The smaller student for 21 days and the young man who fought back, 4 days.

Public support seems to be overwhelmingly on the side of the original victim, whose father said he’d been bullied for years without fighting back (hopefully he won’t have this problem going forward).

This incident seems to have drawn more attention to the problem of childhood bullying.

As an educator, bullying can be one of the most challenging issues we face.

Take a look and share your thoughts on the video or bullying in general.

 

 

If this issue wasn’t complex enough, an added layer is a student videotaping the incident on his cell phone.  If the bullying issue was challenging enough, think about dealing with it once it goes viral on YouTube.

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Facebook Told Me.


Once again it’s become apparent the world has changed.Just For The Record... I'm Not THAT Bad.

The good old days are gone forever (at least to us old people).

When I was a kid we were free to mumble insults about our school administrators and no one was any the wiser (especially the principal or superintendent… thank goodness… or we might all still be in detention).

We lived in a much smaller world.  The second after you said something, it was gone forever.

Or at least if you were caught you could deny, deny, deny.

Not that I ever did (see… I’m still denying).

In today’s world, kids have to deal with an entirely different set of rules.

Their lives are more open and way more complicated (bad news for those of us who own 9 year olds).

When they have a slightly mean or angry thought it’s not just shared with their buddy.

It’s not even just shared with the kids in their own school.

It’s blogged about, texted, posted on YouTube, and as it turns out possibly even ends up on Facebook (I had no idea I was such a terrible person).

What students don’t always consider is people over the age of 21 also own computers.

And have the interweb.

And some of us even know how to use it.

So as educators, we need to make sure we continue to spend lots of time teaching technology.

But we also need to spend time teaching good judgment.

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Conference Speakers: I Can Read. Now Make Me Laugh.


When I was a teacher, I often found myself wondering what superintendents did for a living (of course, this happened only after I had completed my lesson plans).

I was pretty sure they worked in education, but the specifics of the job were lost on me.  They looked busy, but I noticed they spent a lot of time out of the school district.

How could they run a school and not be in school?He Seems Like He's Enjoying the Conference.

Where did they go?

What were they doing?

Then I became a principal.  I assumed this would allow me to understand the inner sanctum of a superintendent (this sentence just sounds weird and borderline obscene… mainly because it is).

But no.  After a few years as principal, I still wasn’t 100% sure what superintendents did for a living.

But they seemed happy.

They seemed to enjoy their jobs.

So I became one (not the only reason, so easy on the angry emails).  And I found out what they already knew.

The superintendent’s position is the odd duck of a school district (insert your joke here). 

The job is as different from a teacher’s position, as a custodian’s or a coach’s.

The superintendent is in education, but just barely.  The primary focus of the job is no primary focus at all.

It’s people.  Students. Staff.  Money (or lack thereof).  Insurance.  Architects.  And meetings.

Lots and lots of meetings.

Meetings about stuff.  Meetings about nothing.  Meetings about meetings.

Most aren’t earth shattering.  If the truth be told one meeting isn’t much different than the previous 174 (but my anger at wasting time causes me to digress).

Another item on the superintendent’s to-do list is attending conferences. 

They are meetings on steroids.

I’ve found conferences always mean the same things.

Uncomfortable chairs.

Bad carpet.

People who want to shake your hand.

Rooms that are too hot.  Or too cold.  And dry.  Like desert dry (why is that?).

There are overheads.  PowerPoint slides.   And handouts. 

And more podiums than I can count.  Is it a law that you have to stand behind a big wooden box with the hotel logo on it when you speak?

And for every podium there are 5 people with giant name tags.

Each conference has at least 100 people listed as presenters.  Which means, by the law of averages, one will be great and one will be good.

That leaves 98 other presenters (check my math).

98 people who want to have a conference presentation on their resume.  Why they want this, I will never know.

As far as resumes go, is speaking at a conference a deal breaker on getting a new job?

Does it boost your income?

Provide better health insurance?

Increase your retirement package?

Whatever benefits presenting provides, I have a simple request (I’ve made it before and I’ll make it again).

Is it too much to ask when I (or a school district) pay hundreds of dollars in conference fees that someone with a microphone makes me smile.

I’m not asking for Carrot Top quality entertainment here, just a giggle.  Or a grin.  Or a split-second of happiness.

Anything, but someone standing behind the sacred podium reading a PowerPoint in a monotone voice (I know this comes as a shock, but I can read).

Why do I have to be held captive just so they can improve their job prospects?

The best conference speakers aren’t the ones with a ground-breaking message.

The ones you remember are funny.

It might be a joke.  Could be a video (YouTube has them for free you know).  Maybe even a self-deprecating story.

There are parts of being a superintendent that continue to be a mystery, but after 8,000 meetings/conferences I think I’ve discovered the formula for a memorable presentation.

A simple message + at least one laugh.

Try it. Your audience will like it.

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1 in 2 Americans Will Own a Smartphone by Christmas 2011. In Other News, Schools Wonder “What’s a Smartphone?”.


From Nielsen.com:It's a Graph.

“The iPhone, Blackberry, Droid and smartphones in general dominate the buzz in the mobile market, but only 21% of American wireless subscribers are using a smartphone as of the fourth quarter 2009 compared to 19% in Q3 2009 and 14% at the end of 2008.

We are just at the beginning of a new wireless era where smartphones will become the standard device consumers will use to connect to friends, the internet and the world at large.

The share of smartphones as a proportion of overall device sales has increased to 29% for phone purchasers in the last six months and 45% of respondents to a Nielsen survey indicated that their device will be a smartphone.

If we combine these intentional data points with falling prices and increasing capabilities of these devices along with an explosion of applications for devices, we are seeing the beginning of a groundswell.

This increase will be so rapid, that by the end of 2011, Nielsen expects more smartphones in the U.S. market than feature phones.”

 

Meanwhile, schools continued to be confused by this whole “smartphone” thing.

If you ask me, it’s just a fad.

Like email.

And the whole internet thingy.

As educators, we know smartphones are just another way for students to cheat.

All that information at their disposal.

It’s not right.

Why should we allow kids to bring their own “computer” to school, when it’s easier for us to pay thousands of dollars for desktops that will be obsolete in a couple of years?

If we rollover and allow students to use this type of advanced technology, what’s next?

Video?

We are going down a slippery slope when kids are allowed to know more than teachers.

They need to understand that we were taught a certain way 30 years ago and that should be good enough for them.

Worksheets never break down.  That’s all I’m saying.

We have to nip this in the bud (oh how I love Deputy Barney Fife).

Before you know it they will expect us to unblock YouTube and Twitter.

I don’t think so.   There’s no way young people should be on websites that frighten and confuse old people.

I say we put a stop to this now.

I say we get rid of the email machines and go back to paper memos.

As educators our battle cry should be “Bring Back the Typewriters and the Rotary Phones!”

And I mean manual typewriters, not those fancy electric ones.

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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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Students Love Computers at School. I Blame Caffeine.


I Sometimes Feel Like This at 2 o'clock in the Morning.As we start back to school, I would like to take a moment to mourn… I mean cry… I mean reflect on our students and the expectations we have for them.

Pay attention because this may be the only time that I take the students’ side.

Of course that’s not true because I am extremely pro-student. But I will be watching them. And their friends. Especially during the lunch hour… and between classes… and before school… and at dances… and during games (I think you get the point).

It is relatively common to hear older generations (that would be us) say kids these days are lazy, unmotivated, and not as interested in school (or anything else) as we were.

I am here to make the case that this isn’t true. In fact, they may be more ambitious and open to obtaining knowledge than we were as kids.

I believe this to be true because during my teenage years I was completely uninterested in work, waking up, breathing, reading, school, and anything else that required effort (other than sports… I loved sports… and girls, but unfortunately they were something called “frightened and disgusted” by me).

I think kids in 2008 are so far advanced of our generation that it makes us nervous. Consequently, we label them as lazy or worthless just because they have different interests than we did.

It is important for us old folks to keep in mind that the “good old days” weren’t all that great.

No computers, no video games, no air conditioning in my parents’ station wagon (with the fake wood paneling on the side… don’t kid yourself, it was sweet), me always having to sit on the hump in the back seat of the hot station wagon, no cable TV (or Dish Network, just an antenna that pulled in 3 stations… one of which was PBS, so it didn’t even count), no watching movies in the car (or ever: see crappy TV), no internet, no vacations, no ice cream, no pizza delivery, no electricity, 18 hours of chores every morning, Christmas got cancelled twice… so again you get the point… no anything fun, ever.

When I was a kid we walked 87 miles uphill to school (both ways… usually in the snow), slept on the floor, ate dirt for dinner, went to bed at 6:30 p.m. (because our parents were sick of us by then), sweat all night in the summer, and froze to death in the winter.

And worst of all, I had to wear clothes that were hand-me-downs. That isn’t even the worst part. The worst part is I don’t have brothers. Only 2 sisters. Try explaining the frilling jeans with sequin purple flowers on the back pockets to your buddies (I do miss the fashions of the 70’s, but maybe this partially explains the “frightened and disgusted” reaction I so often received from the ladies).

Today’s kids grow up in a world that I barely recognize. And I try to stay somewhat current.

Sure, they don’t play outside as much, do as many chores, or ride their bikes 20 miles a day. But this isn’t laziness, it’s because they have more exciting things to do.

If my generation was so smart, why did we follow the truck on Saturday night that was spraying for mosquitoes in the summer? And I mean right behind, where we could breathe in as much of the chemicals as possible (any chance that explains my frequent blackouts and night terrors?).

We did things like that because we were trying to amuse ourselves. And trust me, after speaking to my doctor, a Nintendo Wii or laptop computer is much safer.

We shouldn’t try to convince students that computers, cell phones, texting, video games, Google, YouTube, etc. are bad. It is just different.

It is called choices. And they have lots of them. So when they are given these opportunities to make a choice, naturally they choose whatever is the most fun and exciting.

Don’t kid yourself. If we had the chance to play video games for 5 hours straight rather than skip rocks across a pond, we would have chosen the video games every time.

We played Cowboys and Indians outside in the heat. This generation plays computer games where they get to shoot things without leaving their air conditioned family rooms. Who do you think is smarter?

As educators we need to stop fighting progress and embrace it.

Kids aren’t lazy; they are just simply used to instant gratification. They aren’t dumb because they don’t read newspapers. They are smarter because they get their information online, immediately as events happen.

Sure they choose to stare at a computer instead of going outside. But they are learning, just in a different way.

We can’t expect them to come to school and go backwards. So we can’t be surprised when they find a whiteboard or an overhead projector painfully boring. They need to be fed information at a faster pace than we were taught. It is the way we are raising them and all of the caffeine they drink (trust me, if we could have bought a 64 ounce Big Gulp for 79 cents… we would have).

How would we feel when attending a workshop where the speaker wrote their speech on a chalkboard…in longhand…and we had to take notes?

Our reaction would probably indicate the presenter needing to catch up with the times.

And that is how kids view us.

Progress is good. And inevitable.

As old people, we need to jump aboard with technology or get out of the way.

Students are coming to school smarter. And they want to learn. And they want technology. And lots of it.

The next time I hear a student complain about a SMARTBoard, a computer assignment, or anything related to technology being boring… it will be the first time.

In a perfect world, education would be out front leading the changes. In the real world, education has to change because the students already have.

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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.