Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Leaving Public Education



I was listening to a podcast today and one of the panelists mentioned she was a former teacher. As I continued listening I realized my perception of her had changed (not for the better) and I realized it was because she is a 'former' teacher.

I started to think about all of the reasons why I would negatively judge a former teacher, and remember this a judgemental and I know it:


  1. They thought the job was easy, and then when they found out it wasn't they left. 
  2. It was something to do until they decided what they really wanted to do.
  3. They can't hack it. (Insert whatever the word 'it' means to you.)
  4. They wanted to raise a family. Ok, this one needs explaining. I don't mean they want to have children and stay with them until they are grown up or in school. What kind of monster do you think I am? What I mean is they say they want to raise a family as an excuse to quit. Remember, I already pointed out I am judging.
  5. They want to make more money.  This one is a trap in my thinking. I mean, there is nothing wrong with wanting to make more money. Also, we know what we are getting paid when we sign the contract. Also, teachers are underpaid. Also, teachers have bills. Somewhere in all that is the problem. They judge the value of the work solely in monetary terms. Again, judging!
  6. They think kids these days are horrible. I can't even...
And this is the problem I have to address with myself, it shouldn't matter to me why they left. It isn't my business. I think that the teaching profession is somehow more than just a job where people come and go. It isn't, despite my romanticism of it. And as long as I romanticize it I will keep judging the people that leave, and that isn't right. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Why Do People, or Government Agencies, Have Social Media Accounts If They Never Plan to Be Social?

I saw that the US Department of Education, @usedgov, was hosting a Twitter chat tonight so being the curious person I am I decided to go check out their Twitter page. I noticed that they followed 151 accounts so I wandered in to see who they deemed worthy of following. Can you imagine my surprise when I saw the account followed only a handful of educators, and they are ambassadors for the department. Other than that, I found they follow no educators.

While I know there is plenty of opportunity for negative tweets to be sent to the account and this might explain why there is not much community creation by this and other accounts that have high followers but few followees, I still think they are missing out on the point. There is a real opportunity for the Department of Education to have good conversations with educators and barring that there is still a real opportunity for it to read tweets from a few select educator accounts that are talking about important things.

Should the Department of Education follow more educators? I would love for your insights. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Open Up Commenting

I don't believe blogging is dead. I believe that blogging conversations are. There was a time when a new education blog post could drive a ton of traffic on Twitter. We would leave comments on the post and 'back-channel' here. Then, along came the trolls. So many of the more highly followed ed blogs started to turn off comments. They did not want to have to constantly guard against angry, inappropriate comments that did not further conversations.

Did this contribute to blogs becoming less influential, and less influential here? I would think so. There are still tons of educators writing blogs, but are we seeing those ideas being discussed here? Are they driving conversations?

I have had many, many interesting conversations around tweets lately, but only one that focused on a blog post. The post was actually written about tweets. So, what are we losing out on if we aren't reading/sharing/commenting on blog posts? 

Probably the most important thing is the freedom to time shift the conversations long enough to think critically about the post and our reply. The well thought out and unhurried conversation. Am I the only one that thinks we need to go back to this?

Let's start by opening up commenting. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Student Walk-Up Songs


I'm a rebel just for kicks, now
I been feeling it since 1966, now

Portugal. The Man

When a baseball player walks up to bat, you will often hear a song being played. Each player has a different song and that song means something to the player. This is commonly referred to as a walk-up song.

I adopted Feel It Still by Portugal. The Man as my unofficial school walk-up song last year. I was born in the 60's, my teen years were in the 80's and being a 'rebel just for kicks' seems to perfectly encompass my attitude. (And yes, I am very aware of the privilege I have to be able to say that.) 

I would occasionally ask a student what their walk-up song was last year, but that is a really hard thing to do without some serious (or maybe not so serious) thought. This year I have decided to make the question my first homework assignment of the year.

The students will be asked to pick a song that will tell me something about who they are. We will discuss what makes a song school appropriate and how we must be aware that public behavior may have to be different than private behavior. This is a very important continuous discussion with junior high students. This will also be a great time to discuss how social studies is much more than studying history and geography.

The students will share the lyrics they feel reflect themselves and we will listen to a snippet of it. My goal is to get a feel for what they think it is important I know about them as well as what kinds of music they are listening to. This will help inform some of my music choices for the class as well. Maybe we will make a class playlist too.

I would love some feedback on this idea. What would you do differently? What questions would you ask? How would you modify this lesson to work in your classroom? 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Blogging Is Dead (Nope)

I used to blog.


The Twitter thread has taken the place of the long form writing blog post. Somewhere between the end of a lot of RSS readers and the ability to link tweets together blog posts started to get fewer and fewer. Eventually, it seemed posting became relatively rare (with certain exceptions.)

I personally quit posting here, except for the occasional poem, years ago. I also quit regularly visiting other blogs that I would go to every day with my morning coffee. Maybe I was burned out, maybe I was over-busy, maybe I found something else to do I preferred. I don't believe that I am the only one.

Have conversations over complex issues become too simplified on Twitter? I suppose that depends on your own perception. I do know that I learned much more about people whose opinions I trust by reading blog posts over tweets. Respect was earned on a blog.

Is it time to rejuvenate my blog? I think so. I am planning on my students blogging this coming year, something that I have not had them do in years. That means I better get to it myself. Would you like to join me and start/continue writing on a blog? Maybe we together can make the medium an even more valuable learning space.

I would like to take this space to thank the amazing educators that have continued to blog over the years. I have learned much from you and you have challenged me over and over. If you had quit like I did, I wouldn't be doing this now. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pictures In the Hallway

In the hallway of my school
There are pictures of former students
Their graduation photos reflect the excitement
and promise for the future the must have felt
Most are gone now, graduating from this life.
And I wonder, where did their time go?
My own picture hangs in a hallway and
students must look at it and wonder about me.
What was his life like?
Just as I ponder the lives of those in my hallway.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Things He Left Behind, The Things I Leave Behind

I wouldn't choose to walk through the rooms with all the debris my dad left behind.
He had no idea he would not have the time to pick it up.
Every thing I see makes me wonder what will be out of place when I die.
What things will be too painful for my kids to notice.
I consider cleaning.
I consider getting rid of the mementos that I know will be meaningless when I am gone.
Will that make it easier for my kids when they walk through my rooms when I am gone?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Power of Other People's Words

The Power of Other People's Words


Rarely do we inspire ourselves
We don't say or write things that
make us want to do better
or be better.

But the power of other people's words
can cause us to stop and pause,
reflecting on parts of our lives
we have long forgot.

The power of other people's words
can inspire us to change our lives
or work to change the lives
of others.

The power of other people's words
can demand we take action
to vocalize our anger, or terror
or dismay.

The power of other people's words
make me want to do better,
to be better.

That is the power of other people's words!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Poem, September 8

What is a life well-lived?
Can a short life measure compare
to a longer one?
What is more valuable, excitement and adventure
or longevity and consistency?
Do you prefer the idea of celebrating
your retirement or others celebrating
at your wake?
Do the dead enjoy memories of a life gone too soon
or of a long-lived life?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Poem, September 7

What will it mean
when I hold my first grandchild?

Will I finally be able to accept I am no longer young,
That my time to be an adult is overdue?

Will I reject the feelings of age, rebelling against societies (or my own)
expectations of what a GRANDPA must necessarily be?

Will I simply quit, for a moment at least, living in my head
and finally enjoy the simple pleasure of holding a new baby?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Poem, September 6

Game Day Ritual

Turn the channel to College Gameday
I need to see what They say about the Hogs.
I wait for the phone call from dad.
The ritual of the phone call every time they play

Except
He won't be calling anymore
That ritual died when he did.

Then
comes the text.
Are you ready for the game?
A new game day ritual starts with my daughter.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Poem, September 5

Nostalgia

You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone meant
nothing to a teenager who had everything
and had lost so little

Amazing how the songs of youth
become the painful triggers of the old

You see, nostalgia isn't about recapturing joy of the past
it is instead a way to escape the painful
memories of the present

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Poem, September 4

How much time should a teacher spend
Learning more about the content
Simply to keep alive the love
and excitement
Of learning more about the content?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Poem, July 21

Words

These words are not mine
They were given to me by
all the authors and singers and speakers.
So if I use one of your words please
remember, you taught it to me

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Poem, July 20

Frozened

I would love to
comment
and state my opinion but
last time I got castigated
so
now I am

Monday, July 18, 2016

Poem, July 18

Shrinkage

The old don't shrink because of loss of bone density, or muscle mass or even the wearing away of cartilage.

They shrink from the weight pressing on their shoulders from the loved who are no longer there to shore them up.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Poem, July 17

Clothes

Why am I so surprised by the number, and the power of the memories associated with old clothes?

'This was one of my favorites," she smiled as she held up the dress, not bothering to share those memories. 

I rarely am drawn back simply by the sight of old clothes, clothes are simply too utilitarian. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Jaded Old Farts

"There's nothing worse than a bunch of jaded old farts, and that's a fact."
Robert Plant

Recently a social media friend of mine (lots of convos, no face to face yet), David Theriault posted 14 Reasons Why Pokemon Go Is the Future of Learning. A fun little post leveraging the mania of Pokemon Go. The title may imply more than the post delivers, but how quickly did #eduTwitter jump to the conclusion that this was nothing but click bait that so many of the #edurockstars drive their brand with.

I suggest that many of those who condemned the post simply read the title. I know, you are shocked! The truth is, we have been so inundated with crappy posts promising the moon, the stars and even PerfectStudentEngagment™! David has not been known to post this junk, he has written some very interesting stuff, even if some are couched in pop culture references. Don't we have an obligation to do a little more research before we condemn someone based upon one post (which you probably didn't read anyway...)

This is not a post directed outward, as I have in the past and probably will continue to make way too many assumptions based upon one or two tweets in a conversation. I would just like to remind all of us that maybe we should strive to be a little less jaded, a little less old and a whole lot less farty.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Libraries---->Library Media Centers---->Digital Media Centers---->?

When I started school back in 1975, my school had a very small library. Books were scarce. Students went to the library once a week to check books out and back in. Rarely was there time to teach anything other than the basics of card files and Dewey's Decimals. The high school library was larger in the mid 1980's but there was no scheduled time to attend and definitely no teaching in that space by our librarians.

When I came back to my hometown school to teach in the late 1990's the library was still small, books still pretty scarce but the librarians would teach students lots of different things, usually revolving around books and research. The library also had videos for teachers to check out.

At some point, due to the state's requirements and an emphasis on reading in our building, the number of books in the library grew much larger. Books became much less scarce. Computers have been added to the library, allowing students to have access to sites on the internet and for content creation.

At some point in the future, hopefully soon, students will have internet capable devices that allow them to access digital media.  The library as a place for students to access content will be much less necessary than before. This will also mean the need for the computers will be minimized as well. So, what will be the purpose of the library then?