Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Random Thoughts

I wasn't going to write until after Christmas break but after finishing our Christmas shopping yesterday I just can't resist.

I detest shopping-don't mind buying but don't want to waste anytime looking. I usually go to the first store employee I see and ask if they have the item, if not out I go.

When I go with my wife, of which I did yesterday, the mere thought of going to JoAnn's or Hancock Fabrics almost makes me physically ill. Then you throw in Wal-Mart and my patience level and aimlessly walking around is more than I can take.

We had to go to Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, Ks. yesterday which is a suburb of Kansas City, and guess what we weren't the only ones there. Now I am realist about myself I'm a short, fat, middle-aged man that will never make People magazine list of 100 sexiest men alive. Hell, if they have a 100,000,000 list I would be questionable in making that. But good gracious, do some of these people not own a mirror, there were some strange looking cats hangin' at the mall. Maybe I just need to get out more, refer to earlier paragraphs.

Just a few things I noticed-your drawers should come over your butt cheeks, the bill of a hat goes in front, exactly how long does it take to put your hair in the 12 inch spikes or to dangle in front of your face so you can't see a thing? Is the middle of December really tank top and short weather?

The other thing I enjoy is going into the stores where they want to see your bank statement prior to entering. I really have fun with these employees, I usually get away from my wife, then ask a meaningless question, and wipe my nose with my sleeve, just to let them know what us common folks are like.

Sometimes I annoy my wife when she takes me out in public, but if I'm going to waste a day shopping I'm going to have fun. Have a great Christmas and Happy New Year and its a year before I have to go back to the mall.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Educational Philosophy

Most of the time when someone mentions philosophy to me, or asks me about mine, I tell them if you want to know about philosophy go read Aristotle or Socrates. They know philosophy, I don't and when you want to know in depth about something you need to consult an expert in that field. If I wanted to know about ladies to have a good time with I'd try to contact Charlie Sheen. I never knew my thoughts or beliefs would impact a school district, but the day I became a superintendent that changed. I have found, also, that as I learn more my philosophy has become a revolving door, it changes with gained knowledge.

I do hate walking in schools, at least in this part of Kansas, and seeing their mission statement and no one knows what it is. The thing I have noticed is they all say the same flowery things to which the meaning gets lost. I believe our mission at Pleasanton is to prepare our students to be adequately prepared for their next step in life. That may be going from 3rd to 4th grade, junior high to high school, or high school to college/work. Thats it.

But here are some other things that I feel we need to examine at my school and I have the many contributors to twitter to thank for opening my eyes and brain, and it didn't even hurt to much.

Learning content to learning how to learn-Spewing facts back at me is not going to make it in the world we are now living. A student had better prepare to open up to new learning to be successful. This is why some veteran teachers struggle, just be a life-long learner.

Going in that same direction the instruction needs to shift to life skills-be able to work in groups, where to locate and determine relevant information, and students will take more ownership in learning as we shift from data-driven instruction.

The one size fits all teaching will go away-As well it should differentiating learning should have been done so long ago, no one can imagine that all students learn at the same rate, so why do we teach them that way.

Assess what they have learned-I think we will eventually learn that so much standardized testing means nothing about learning. I think semester type testing will go away and shorter more frequent measures will guide our instruction.

"We've never done it like that before." If a teacher says this-they will be fired on the spot whether they have tenure or not.

There you have my educational philosophy for December 2010, I guarantee you it is different from December 2009, and hope its different in December 2011. Did you think of Aristotle or Socrates when you read this?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Random Thoughts

Well winter has hit, even if it hasn't officially started on the calendar. It was very cold in Kansas this weekend, but at least we didn't have the problems they suffered in the upper midwest. Guess there is a reason we don't have a domed stadium in our state, the roof can't collapse.

Its hard to believe its Christmas season since I've yet to see one chia pet commercial on TV, just can't get in the mood until I hear ch-ch-ch chia. I have seen that they are doing chia's of the presidents on Mount Rushmore. I'm sure those four historic gentlemen and leaders would be proud to see themselves with green hair.

I also see that Oprah has gone to Australia. I only can hope she will do as much for them as she has for us, wonder if she could take Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, and Guggenheim with her. Change the locks on America now.

The first weekend without a full slate of college football games, but I love the Army-Navy game. Those kids really understand commitment, sacrifice, and courage. They are also playing for the joy of the game with no aspirations of the NFL. You can also include Air Force in all these comments, I admire all three institutions greatly, no jaw-jacking amongst players just playing the game as hard as they can. They are the meaning of class.

Speaking of class, how about the assistant coach of the Jets tripping the Dolphin player as he was heading downfield to cover a punt. Are you kidding me? That doesn't happen in high school games. How about a little class, Jets, instead of being two letters short of class.

My goodness could John Boehner cry any more on his 60 Minutes interview last night?

Have a great week and a good Christmas Season.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Do What You Can Do

Last Friday we visited Van Meter, Ia. schools I was accompanied by our High School Principal and IT person on the trip, our Elementary Principal was ill and unable to attend. We are thankful to John Carver and Shannon Miller for spending the time with us. It dawned on me after the visit that we never once mentioned state standards, test scores, or AYP, we discussed the future of education, the future of our nation, and student learning. The ride home we probably had the most engaging conversation we've had since I have been superintendent here.

We talked about what we can do for our students at Pleasanton to improve our schools. I told the two others that no excuses will be tolerated, we are all college graduates with advanced degrees and we need to figure this out with what we have available to us.

We cannot afford to be a 1:1 school at this time no matter. That may limit us on some things we can do but we can make different class offerings to access what we do have. It is not about computers its about engaging kids and a different mindset. We can provide staff development to insure success for what we want to do.

We talked about how to change the people on our staff and board resistant to change who consistently say "We've never done it like that before." A saying that makes me cringe. We developed strategies to combat the "yeah but" resistance we will meet. You know who I'm talking about the people that when confronted with change always respond with "yeah but". Thats another saying that makes my hair stand up on end.

We are going to do what we can do and it benefit our kids at Pleasanton, it may not be be what some districts can do but its what we can do. We are going to take a combative approach if necessary because its what we believe and its what is best for our students and making excuses will keep us in the same rut.

We know we are instructing kids not subjects and/or disciplines an are willing to fight for them. We are making our stand to Do What We Can Do.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Random Thoughts

Maybe I should wait until Monday to write these instead of Friday, that way I can comment on the weekend happenings and games.

The wikileaks fiasco has sure topped the news items. I just wonder why we put a Private First Class in charge of so many classified documents? And if he hacked to gain the information why isn't our system a little more secure? Seems like someone higher up should be answering some questions.

I heard a government official last week commenting on counterterrorism, he stated that they were trying to be 100% accurate but will never be 100%. Thats funny since they are requiring schools to be 100% proficient in the standardized testing world, pretty tough to do isn't it.

Congress is once again going to cut social security benefits to the elderly in order to bring the deficit down. Since they receive a pension in excess $10,000 a month I really think this is a fine gesture on their part. Then you add in that (as of this writing) they are also not going to give tax cuts to us. I wonder how they look at themselves in the mirror.

Well the bowl games are set and in the national championship is Auburn vs. Oregon, two well deserving teams. I am pulling for Auburn and the reason is stupid, but its still my reason. Oregon this week wore gray, white, and black trim uniforms. According to their website their colors are green and yellow. I can't back a team that won't wear their own school colors, Auburn wore their normal road uniforms which sport their school colors. Told you it was stupid.

Brett Favre got hurt Sunday and had to leave the game early. The Vikings went ahead and scored 38 points, really missed you, Brett. He has already stated he doesn't know if he'll be able to start next week, which means he most certainly will. Funny how he has already drawn the attention to himself instead of the team and we will be fortunate to hear the drama all week long. Wonder what the Vegas odds are on him starting?

Have a great week.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Perspective on 21st Century Learning

As I was reading some twitter posts yesterday it suddenly came to me what the term 21st Century learning means to me and the school reform that goes with it. I believe that we are looking at traditional education and questioning the phase "we've always done it like that before" and trying to prepare our students for their world. We consistently hear the same terms and my thoughts are we have finally put adult meaning to them in an effort to make education more meaningful to the world outside of school.

Collaboration-We have always said and believed two heads are better than one, and its true. If you have a problem and one person in the room can solve it, you no longer have a problem. As adults if someone is doing something that you are interested in then the logical thing to do is to visit them to see the ins and outs of what they are doing. Our administration team will be visiting VanMeter, Iowa, schools to see what they are doing for example. So does it not make sense for our students to work together instead of the age old system of doing all your work independently? Why we insist if students work together its cheating I don't know.

Mobile Devices-Why do so many schools view these as the devil is a mystery to me. We all carry them and we might as well face it they are a part of life in this day and age. We need to teach responsible use in that they shouldn't go off during class, but to ban them is a losing battle. I can only imagine the reaction if we confiscated our faculty's cell phones prior to starting a professional development session.

Filtering-Once again we need to teach responsibility instead of blocking all things, which is a hinderance to staff as well as students. When students leave our hallowed halls they will have access to everything, and the only way to teach appropriate use on the job or elsewhere is to have them learn it in school.

Making Learning Meaningful for Every Student-Why we have taken the cookie cutter approach to teaching for so long no doubt has increased our dropout rate. Differentiated Instruction means that teachers should spend more time on their lesson preparation instead of grading worthless worksheets.

Homework-I've written about this before so not much time here, teacher guided homework is so much more meaningful, and if you have enough friends you will get your homework done. We are paranoid about cheating and yet assign things daily that screams for students to cheat. Teacher guided practice would also serve as step one to learning to collaborate.

Assessments-The conversation always comes around to meaningful assessments. Okay, how many tests do you take after leaving school? Your driver license exam. So how much sense do these make?

Technology-I have a confession I fought technology for quite some time. I was wrong. As many have said before me its not about the computer, its about learning and being prepared once again for the world. When you can have conversations world wide, do away with textbooks, work smarter instead of harder, then why is it not embraced more? The vast amount of information also is a work in responsibility, so one can learn good information from bad.

Life-Long Learner-What college told us that the day we graduated we had all the knowledge we would ever possess? None. For heaven's sake we are in the learning business, keep learning. We owe that to our clients.

I realize this is long today but when an epiphany strikes you have get the thoughts down at my age or you'll forget them.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Random Thoughts

I know I said last Friday that it would be the last post until the Friday of December 3rd but there is to much going on to let it slide by.

Dancing with the Stars has proven that talent has 0 to do with who wins their competition. I am by no means a dance critic, but how Brandy could be voted off is certainly a mystery to me, when the consensus opinion was she and Jennifer Grey were by far the best. Just my opinion but I've seen scarecrows more limber than Bristol Palin, how could she make the final? I'm not so upset that I'll blow up my TV though, to many football games I'd miss.

Josh Selby, basketball player at the University of Kansas and the nation's #1 rated recruit received a 9 game suspension from the NCAA. His crime was losing his amateur status. Question, isn't that like losing your virginity, once its gone you can't get it back. So if guilty why is he allowed to play? If innocent why is he suspended? I guess he "sort of" lost his amateur status, kind of like a girl that once told me when I was a high school principal, Mr. Gorman I"m "sort of" pregnant, could have sworn that was an either/or.

The body scanners and pat downs at airports have dominated the news of late especially with Thanksgiving coming up. News people we have almost 10% unemployment and kids are dying in two wars we are waging. I wonder which is most important? If you don't like the security measures take the train, bus, or drive yourself. I am curious to the job interview and selection process for an ATS position, my mind really wanders on this one, thoughts better off left unsaid.

Charles Rangel feels bad about his ethics violations-if I didn't pay taxes for 17 years I would feel joy. Oh that's against the law? Never mind.

To Brett Favre: You got him fired happy now? A Thanksgiving day gift to the Vikings, have Favre go the same way as Brad Childress.

Miami Heat you still stink! Especially since you are the self-acclaimed best team in NBA history.

A joyful Thanksgiving to one and all.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Random Thoughts

Drumroll please its time for my Friday Random Thoughts. I will not be posting next week so I would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and I hope everyone's holiday is a good one.

Cam Newton's saga continues and for the life of me I can't figure out what the question is with him playing. He has not been found guilty of anything, yet. If he is found guilty and Auburn has to forfeit the games he played in, what difference does it make if they have to forfeit 10 or 12 games. What does he supposedly did have anything to do with his Heisman chances, is he not the best player? That is what the award stands for, sort of like stripping Reggie Bush, he would been less a player had his parents not gotten a house? Once again, O.J. Simpson still has his unless he has pawned it.

Well it appears the Chiefs are back to normal as much as I hate to say it. Hopefully they will get the ship corrected this weekend at home.

I am a Republican and conservative by nature, but the new reality show gets my goat. Sarah Palin's Alaska, I could be wrong but I think Alaska existed before Sarah Palin. Is this the same Alaska that she loves so much she quit on the people that elected her? I know she would never say this but do you suppose she had book writing and lecturing that was more pressing than her job as governor? I know money had nothing to do with that decision. I just have a problem with people that put themselves above the larger organization i.e. like saying they are Peyton Manning's Colts, Kobe Bryant's Lakers-fortunately neither one of those has ever referred to their teams that way, at least to my knowledge.

Todd Haley not shaking hands after the Broncos game created quite the stir. I think at the professional level sportsmanship is not the lesson they are trying to get across like in high school and college. They are grown men if he doesn't want to shake hands so be it.

You have to love the newly crowned NBA champions the Miami Heat, oh yeah the playoffs haven't started yet, nor won't until this summer. Chris Bosh stated that the coach wanted them to work and they just wanted to chill. And you guys wonder why you're 7-4?

Have a great Thanksgiving over and out.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Play to Your Strengths

I think all of us need to know ourselves better than anyone else knows us, which means we know what our strengths are and what our weaknesses are. Now lets examine why that is so. Being a simplistic individual I think it is because we enjoy doing what we are good at and we don't enjoy what our weaknesses are.

The common error we make is to work on an area of weakness until it becomes a strength. The reason I think this is an error is because we can work at something forever and if we don't enjoy it we will never get good at it, proficient, but not necessarily good. Because we don't enjoy what we're doing.

I am a school superintendent, but the budget is not the strongest area for me. I know it is very important and I give it full attention when working with it. But it is not my favorite aspect of the job and never will be, that is why I think it will remain my weakness. If I worked with figures all day everyday, I think I would find a new line of work.

I enjoy people, laughing (although some don't like a satirical sense of humor), organization, finding best practices for our teachers, and sharing information. I throughly enjoy doing any of the above activities all day long, and thus feel those are my strengths.

I would rather have someone going from good to great, than from poor to average, simply because they will love what they are doing. Thats why I think as educators we need to play to our strengths, because we love doing those, rather than focusing on having people work on weaknesses and have them dislike their job, which in the long run will effect the kids.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Random Thoughts

Ah its Friday again and I get to write about Random Thoughts and I have more this week and it makes my head hurt, to have thoughts. Heading for God's country tomorrow, aka Norman, Oklahoma, for the Texas Tech game, really looking forward to it.

The BCS which is quite the controversial subject, even though many don't like it the one thing I can't figure out is why don't they match 1 vs. 2- 3 vs. 4- 5 vs. 6 etc. in their bowls and forget the conference affiliations for BCS bowl ties. We won't get a playoff until the megaconferences are formed then they will no longer need the NCAA which is not such a bad thing.

The Big 12 (which has 10 teams) extended the contract of Commissioner Beebe. What a wise move, he virtually allowed the conference to be raided last summer and almost disbanded what was arguably the 2nd best football conference, and top RPI rated basketball conference. I guess the presidents were happy with that, allowing the Big Ten (which has 12 teams) and Pac-10 (which now has 12) to pluck members away. Good job, commish, in two years the conference won't exist with your leadership.

I'm sure Republicans were pleased after the mid-term elections. What they need to be more pleased about is Nancy Pelosi being minority leader, there may not be a Democrat left in the Senate after the next elections.

I hate to agree with the LA Times, since anything from California is to liberal for my taste, but they proposed we move the clocks back 1/2 hour and then leave the time alone. Please lets do one or the other, or what they proposed seems a reasonable compromise.

No toy in a Happy Meal? That is the first step to communism, come on San Fran, what are you doing. Doesn't the city have more important things going on other than the nutritional value of fast food? We know its crap, but thats why it tastes good, loaded with fat. By the way your state is broke, maybe you should worry about that, and I will no longer support Happy Meals, when Wal-Mart pulls pork rinds off the shelves.

I hope Congress has gridlock, at least they won't be spending money and making the deficit go higher.

Royals fans (of which I am one) have been outraged of the trade of David DeJesus. He is a good guy, but how good have we been with him? Have you forgotten the 100 loss seasons already? I say put them all on the trading block how much worse can we get?

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The People Business

Last Saturday I attended the edcampkc in Lee's Summit, Missouri. I had reservations about it since my Saturday's are devoted to watching as much and as many college football games as possible. I am so thankful I went I can't explain it in this short blog. The connection with people is the most valuable thing we have in education, and to finally meet the VanMeter, Iowa, crew was so rewarding, in fact our administration is going to visit them later in the year.

It really renewed my feelings that we are in the people business in education. I know test scores seem to dominate the conversation, or budget issues can definitely come into play. But our focus is our students, staff, support personnel and parents and all those are people. When one thinks of their positive school experiences they think of the people that influenced them, not content matter.

Last night on Dancing with the Stars (please don't make fun of me for watching that show) Kurt Warner, whom I have great respect for, got eliminated, but its what he said that really impacted me. By the way if you haven't read how he and his wife met, you should. His quote was "Life is not about winning and losing, it is about impacting people and building relationships." What a class act, and thanks Kurt for reminding me why I chose education as my life's profession.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Random Thoughts

Chilly Friday in east central Kansas, but its November guess its to be expected. So here go with another edition of my random thoughts.

In an interview with Diane Sawyer Nancy Pelosi claimed to be a professional, which she is, but thats the problem in Washington. No one should be a professional politician, enact term limits for Congress.

As I hear Dallas Cowboy fans boohoo over the loss of Tony Romo, hey you were 1-5 with him how much worse are you going to be without him? You were going nowhere with him so get over it. Just another example of good individuals don't make a good team.

I am so thankful that Brett Favre got to keep his starting streak in tact last weekend, I mean I worried for an entire week, I thought maybe they would put cleats on his protective boot. Then the Randy Moss thing is to ridiculous to even comment on. How about handing the ball off to Adrian Peterson more (I know I'm not objective since he went to OU). To much coverage on Vikings who are 2-5 and not enough on teams that really deserve it. Same with the Cowboys.

TCU going to the Big East? I know when I think of east Fort Worth comes to mind immediately. Why? The Mountain West is much better in football and TCU would get killed in basketball. Oh yeah they are an automatic qualifier in the BCS (which I will talk about next week), which is also ridiculous. They are not deserving plain and simple of an automatic bid.

I never thought I would say this but I welcomed back regular commercials this week and get the political commercials off the air.

Have a great weekend and hope your teams win unless you are a Texas A & M fan.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What are We Doing?

Last Thursday we had a superintendent meeting at our education service center, and like most of our meetings it eventually came around to finances, but before it did we discussed some educational issues. We even got to visit with our state commissioner of education via distance learning network. Since most of us had never heard from her this was refreshing to get her prospective on some issues.

There is where my frustration started to build. We discussed the national core curriculum that 39 states have now adopted. Commissioner DeBacker wanted to know if we we wanted to phase it in or make the switch from our state standards to the national standards all at once. We wanted to switch all at once, but that doesn't matter.

What difference does it make if we are telling teachers to teach state or national standards, it is still the cookie cutter approach to do what, prepare for a standardized test. The only change is from being a state assessment to a national assessment. Now instead of pitting school vs. school with test scores we will be pitting state vs. state. Now that is real reform Mr. Duncan.

What are we doing? Every time education has to look at itself in the mirror we get angry because people criticize us but we need to listen a little. After we get over our mad nothing changes in education, and there lies the problem. Reform is not a standardized test, like some are trying to cram down our throats. Reform is changing the very nature of schooling and education, how much longer are we going to put up with this before we let our state and national leaders know they are off base, our job is student learning not test scores.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Random Thoughts

Sometimes I think I missed my calling, since I enjoy writing this on Fridays, my wonder is should I have been a satirical sports columnist? Not sure there is a market for that, though so guess I'll stick with education and at my age that is probably wise, to late for a career change now.

The University of Kansas football team has a curfew of 10:00 for having girls in your room. I wonder what the recruiting spill will be. Come to KU, lose lopsided games, and have no fun while you are here. I'm sure that will attract a high level of talent.

The NFL has come out with safety guidelines and want to eliminate "vicious" hits, which is not a bad idea, I for one just don't know how you will legislate that. Anyway if they are so concerned about safety why are they wanting to add 2 more games to the regular season? Oh yeah, it will make the owners more money, without sharing the profits with the players, shame on me for forgetting that minor fact.

Let's see now we have the World Series (summer sport), NBA (winter sport), NHL (winter sport), and NFL less than halfway through their schedule all going on at the same time. Does it cross their minds why the average citizen can't afford to go, could be because the seasons have a huge overlap. The answer shorten the seasons. Well for me when football starts, baseball season is over (I'm a Royals fan so my season really ends in May), and basketball starts the Monday after the Super Bowl, I don't follow hockey so they can play year round for all I care.

Do any of you get Growl updates on your computer? I do about twice a week can't they find a more permanent update so it doesn't annoy us quite so often?

Have a great weekend and a Happy Halloween.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why is Reform So Hard?

As I continue to read on Twitter and the 10-12 blogs I read daily I keep asking myself the same question, "Why is it so hard to get educated people to see that change is necessary in education?"
The answer I keep telling myself is that change is hard, but its not, as I have said before people don't mind change, they mind being changed.

So maybe we should compare what we want to have happen to yesteryear and that will make the transition a little easier. Students used to write notes-now they text. Students used to keep dairies or journals-now they blog. The encyclopedia was our resource material-now its the internet.

When you factor in that the requirements for graduation (4 yrs. English, 3 yrs. Math, 3 yrs. Social Science, etc.) were founded in the 1820's, its like saying nothing has changed in our world in that time. Which makes me more angry about educated people not saying we need to change to keep up with the world we live in.

Force feed reform it must be done and what are we waiting on? Maybe we, as educational leaders, think our teachers as a whole won't embrace what we are trying to accomplish. Don't give them a choice, we have our first elementary teacher set up a class blog and this is because she took the step and started a twitter account and can see what others are doing and its not impossible or even difficult, and the students enjoy it, there is a thought we don't discuss enough, kids having fun in school.

Why educated people fight this so much is still disturbing to me but I choose to celebrate the small accomplishments and we will win this battle, but it will be difficult, and I know this educational leader is certainly not going to quit trying.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Random Thoughts

I know I generally do this on Friday but we have had Parent-Teachers conferences two nights this week so we have Friday off. So you are treated a day early.

The Blu-Jays take on the Chetopa Hornets Friday night and the loser will have a tough time getting into the playoffs, so its a big game. The Sooners take on the Missouri Tigers at Missouri, it will definitely a tough road test. Good Luck to both teams.

I wonder when Mr. Obama and Mrs. Obama went for their children's Parent-Teacher conferences if they demanded the same excellence from their girls that he is receiving. Since his approval rating is below 50%, I bet they expect more from their girls. Of course it could be worse, they are about double the approval rating of Congress, which still demands we get 100% of our students at proficient or better.

I see New York is following California's lead in publishing teacher ratings according to their test scores. What other profession has to put up with type of scrutiny? Why don't put doctor ratings in the paper? Do they not realize that the biggest asset, at least for me, is a person in the room that cares about the kids first and understands the trials and tribulations some of these youngsters go through each day. I guess not.

Have a great weekend to one and all.

Our Values

We began this year working on our school values as an administrative team. I know we probably should have done this earlier in my tenure, but I really felt the need to get on it now. I wanted our school to have a definite direction that we could all be going at the same time.

We gathered information from a variety of sources and gathered them together. I only wanted five and the reason being is that if you have to many, in my opinion, they can be easy to forget and I wanted staff ownership. We put out a google doc to staff for their input on what is most important to them from our master list.

Our principals also used a couple of late start days to discuss these with their respective staffs. If our teachers don't have ownership then we all knew we would wasting time. I know the principals got tired of me harping on them to get responses compiled, but I felt this was important for our schools.

We now accomplished our mission and will make posters and have every teacher put them in their classrooms of our 5 particular values. I would like to commend our administrative team and staff for working on this to make our schools at Pleasanton a better place for our students to come to everyday.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Nice Surprise

Today is Bosses Day and I am not much of gift giver and am very forgetful of these types of things and didn't even know it was. I don't even know why we have such days other than to give Hallmark cards a little more business. Anyway the two ladies that work in the office gave me a gift card and brought goodies so I guess I am destined to be a round man. As good as it all was the highlight of the day came at 10:30 a.m.

Our pre-schools are located in my building and one of the teachers asked me to come outside into the gym area. The kids had made me a throne (if you use your imagination) and then they all gathered around and asked questions. Which was the best part of the day, what does a superintendent do? When I figure it out I will share it with you. Who are you boss of? Once again a trick question. Then the infamous how old do you have to be to be a boss? I loved it and couldn't think of a better way to spend part of my day.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Random Thoughts

My Friday Random Thoughts for this week:

The Pleasanton Blu-Jays travel to Yates Center to take on the Wildcats tonight, and the Sooners host the Iowa State Cyclones on Saturday night, I wish both squads lots of luck.

Congress has voted not to give a cost of living increase to social security recipients. Really. They vote themselves a raise, their retirement is about 10 times what a social security recipient receives, and they could care less about the public opinion. News flash you people are the most loathed branch of government, need you ask why?

Now for the Toy Department-Have you seen the Cleveland Cavalier calendar for this year it has Lebron James on the cover, does someone need to tell that franchise that he no longer plays for them. You need to get one early it will probably be a collector's item. Make sure you get one before O. J. Simpson or he is liable to whip you at show to get it back.

Basketball season starts at Kansas tonight with late night. I know they have football games to play but the season is over. Their last two games the combined score is 114-14, thats being competitive. K-State before you gloat to much, now you know how Nebraska felt after playing you.

Why is it life insurance when you have to die to get it?

Why in baseball is it a foul line/foul pole when if the ball hits either it is fair?

With all the technology we have available to us and I love it, the best we can come up with to measure a first down in football is a ten yard chain, that has been around since, oh the inception of the game.

Do you think Brett Favre is happy he came back this year? Their record is outstanding and now with his alleged infidelity, life can't be good. I bet Tiger Woods is saying thank you Brett for getting the media off me. I feel sorry for Adrian Peterson (former Sooner) to have to be around the circus in Minnesota. Now Brett's elbow is hurt and he will consider sitting for a couple games how about the next 12 back in Mississippi.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I am not a big reader of novels or long books of any kind. I know how important it is to learning and education, reading is the basis of learning. I do, however, love to read articles. I can read Sports Illustrated from cover to cover and get the same joy as reading a novel for someone else. My wife, Amy, on the other hand loves to read fiction books.

My love of reading is why I've enjoyed being on twitter. I have amassed so many articles that the amount I've read would equal a novel. I know I should be more paperless and do our environment a favor, but I wish to share these with our other administrators (again not very green). The information and connections I've gained have really helped me grow as both an individual and professional.

So my theory is it doesn't matter what you read as long as you read and are gaining information. I remember a teacher complaining about a student reading a mechanics magazine during SSR time at a school I was principal of. My question was do you suppose he may be a mechanic after high school? The teacher's response was probably so, then leave him alone. Learning doesn't have to be about a discipline in school.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Random Thoughts

Missed last Friday I apologize wish I had a good excuse, but lazy is the best I can come up with.

Okay we all admit that DUI is an horrendous crime especially if the drunk involves another vehicle. I am not trying to downplay the seriousness of the act but for gosh sakes how many would lose our jobs if we were charged with the crime. Braylon Edwards, wide receiver for the Jets, got picked up DUI and the people on sports talk stations are calling for his head. Suspension, for all lengths of time, okay prosecute him like everybody else and go on. Once again how many of us would lose our jobs, could a congressman please answer that question.

Excellent article on Leader Talk this morning about school reform. The three superintendents that people are talking to, and so is the article are from New York City, Washington D.C., and Chicago. WOW I sure want to model our schools after those examples. I would put our schools in Pleasanton up against their schools any day. I believe I would just as soon model our schools after successful examples.

I wonder if the guy that puts the presidential seal on his speaking podium still has his job?

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Put on More Steam

There is an old saying in the coaching profession when you have an opponent on the ropes, "don't relax and let down, put on more steam." That is exactly what we need to do now in regard to educational reform. Now we can implement changes we wanted to put in place in the name of reform. No more having our schools looking like we are preparing for the Industrial Age.

Now we can get kids out of the straight and narrow rows of desks. Grouping them with tables or at least putting their desks together.

Allowing students, even encouraging it, to collaborate with each other on work without calling it cheating.

Allowing students to utilize mobile devices to access information from sources that aren't available in books. The textbook isn't the only source of information in the classroom.

Getting rid of the cookie cutter approach to instruction and devising ways to make learning meaningful for each student.

Having meaningful staff development that actually develops your staff into being better educators.

Freeing up the filtering devices, so teachers have access to information (since most students have already figured out how to get around the filters).

When approached with "we've never done it like that before" agree and admit that we should have been doing like that, because its best for kids.

I don't know about you but thanks needs to go to the people that started this talk, I know its not going in the direction they wanted, but they want reform, they'll get it. Don't allow the thinking that this to will pass-put on more steam.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Now That the Dust has Settled-Stir it up Again

Now that the release of Waiting for Superman has come and gone, and the Washington pundits have had their say about education on the national news lets examine what has happened. The reform of our profession is in the fore front so lets take the ball and run with it. One of the things I enjoy about reading twitter is the reform other educators are doing in their schools and hope to add some of these in Pleasanton. What upsets educators is we don't need a talk show host, film maker, or business man to tell us what we need to do.

Unions are not the problem, name one union that does not protect its members. I believe thats why you pay dues to the union. Are there good and bad teachers out there, of course there are, and thats no different from any profession. I to wish tenure laws would be revised but an all out attack on teachers is without merit.

Charter schools are no better than public schools, but if they have innovative ideas for student learning lets embrace them and use them in our schools. To use the excuse that we can't do that is pure poppycock, what that tells me is you don't want to change the way you have always done things. Charters are educating kids, and so are we need to work together and not be each other's throats.

People don't mind change, they just mind being changed. We also don't base our successes on scores on a standardized test. Reforms have come and gone, true, but if we truly want to do what is best for kids we need to put in changes while reform is a hot topic. We need to find best practices for instruction, implement them, and watch our student learning improve.

I for one love that education is being talked about, keep the conversation going, and stir the dust up every chance you get.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Crisis in Education?

After the Oprah show of a week ago, the release of Waiting for Superman, NBC's Education Nation, it seems everyone is worried about the plight of public education in the United States.

To be honest it seems that many of the arguments are the same old rhetoric that we have heard for years. I certainly didn't come away with the magic bullet to fix what is wrong with our schools. Charters are no better than public schools, some are good some are bad. Teacher quality is the central argument behind how to make our schools better and teachers did get thrown under the bus in my opinion.

When someone attacks the profession that we have given our lives to, how do they think we will react? The point that seems to get overlooked is we care about every aspect of a child and not just their test scores. To evaluate anyone or anything on two days of standardized tests is ridiculous and many teachers pointed that out. To have people that have never been in the classroom on a daily basis, and profess to be experts in a field is equally ridiculous.

We do, however, need to listen to the things that are being said, both good and bad. We all want our schools to be better and we wish to have positive relations with our students. That is why we, as educators of the whole child, must get out from behind our desks and learn, via Twitter, staff development, attending conferences, and having conversations with our peers on best practices.

Who knows this may be a good thing for us, at least it is getting education in the forefront and by starting the conversations, perhaps the policy makers (politicians) will listen to us when we talk to them about education reform.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Random Thoughts

I would really like to comment on "Waiting for Superman" and Oprah but its Friday and I don't want to get in a bad mood this early in the morning. Plus its a Friday night and the Blu-Jays play at Miami, Mo. andd the Sooners hit the road for the first time as they take on Cincinnati.

Speaking of college sports a few things strike me as ironic about the NCAA. They are over the top about not treating athletes any different than the "regular" student. RIIIIGHT. Or better yet the Saturday Night Live segment of "Really". Lets see several athletes from mostly schools in the south are not eligible to play at this time because they allegedly went to a party hosted by sports agents. Okay maybe they did but then what is the punishment for the regular student to talk to prospective employer prior to his/her graduation. I wonder if Apple, Google, or Microsoft is told they can't hire someone because they talked to them their junior year of college.

Along those same lines universities can fly recruits across the country and put them up for 48 hours in a hotel and pay for their meals and lodging. However, if you give the recruit a t-shirt with your school name or logo on it that is a violation. Now I understand that completely. Maybe a little common sense should prevail in some of the rules.

Congress has the votes to pass a bill for compensation for 9/11 families and health cost for the first responders but don't want to take action until after the November elections. The Democrats are afraid of offending some of their "blue dog" members because the money will go to New York. The Republicans are mad because it is another spending bill. Shame on all of them and they wonder why the tea party movement has not gone away, could be because they act so stupidly.

Well thats it for another Friday, have a good weekend I know I certainly am.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

School Reform

The buzz on twitter yesterday was the Oprah show on education in America. What a heavy burden she has to carry, to know more about everything than everyone else in the world, must be a daunting task. I haven't watched it don't know if I will but we are in a reform movement with our schools.

Me being an old dog in this profession have seen many reforms come and go. We are a fad generated profession, however, what is happening now is not a fad its a fact and its not going away. Remember this people are not opposed to change, they are opposed to being changed. This must occur since we continue to talk about 21st century skills and we are decade into it and we are still talking. Glad to see in some places and with a growing number of educators change will occur.

My "smack in the face" moment with technology came when the high school I was principal of went 1:1. Suddenly there was a role reversal, the students were teaching the teachers and the teachers were learning from our students. It was a true learning environment for everyone, at that point, I knew change was upon us and fortunately I had a staff and student body that embraced the change.

I did learn that force feeding was the only way to get some staff members to jump on the band wagon. No longer was "we've never done it like that before" (a phrase I hate as well as thinking outside the box) going to be acceptable, and I learned that people would accept the technology when they had to. We used staff to bring other staff members along and we must realize not everyone will be on the same page.

Being a superintendent now of a rural district, in which many students don't have access at home, it is even more important that we expose them at school to the information and tools that are at their fingertips. It will take some force feeding and that is what we are doing as a leadership team, and we are to the point of refusing to allow the status quo. We have to sell our staff on this is best for kids because these are tools they will be using and we can't short sale them on their education. I know its been said its not about the computers, its about the learning, true, but we are still a people business and its about kids and their best interests.

You young educators give us a little time and compare what is happening now to the old days. When I was young, most girls kept a diary, now its called blogging. We passed notes, now they text. We had pinball now they are video games. The closer you can compare what used to go on, to what is happening now, the connection will occur. I had a board member tell me there was no cheating until there were cell phones, I can't speak for everyone but in 1969, in Howard, Kansas, I know a person that became a superintendent that did, at times resort to a cheat sheet.

We are fighting the good fight and no matter how much resistance we receive, keep fighting. This is the most exciting time I've experienced in education and my only regret I'm on the downside of my career.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Random Thoughts

I have grown to really look forward to writing on Friday because its not serious stuff and I feel that I can let loose a little and be myself. Maybe I should take that approach on the other days that I write.

Once again its football Friday. The Blu-Jays play Marais Des Cyne Valley, I don't know a thing about them but our kids, fans, and coaches sure could use a win. Wish them luck. The Sooners play Air Force and I expect a tough game even though it is in Norman. I really admire the service academies with the discipline and determination they play with, just not against the Sooners.

Much buzz in Kansas about the National Standards and I imagine the state school board will adopt them next month at their meeting. Which will mean we will replace our state assessments with some sort of national test, thanks for giving us another standardized test to administer, judge our kids by, determine in one or two days whether a teacher is effective, or a principal is an instructional leader. I'm not sure if anyone in the ivory towers has ever heard of the MAPP, ACT, or SAT, nationally normed tests that already exist. Gee thanks for all your help, and when you saddle us with these things, could you at least put someone from the education field on the committee.

Man we love to bash Wall Street executives and they deserve it. The media is on them about not passing the stimulus money on to the working man where it will actually do some good for the economy. Then why is it the when it comes to sports the general public sides with the owners? They are billionaires and the athletes are the working man, but they are the ones they get beat up in the press as being greedy. I wonder why the NFL owners won't open up their books to the players association, do you think its because they are losing money.

What an embarrassment Reggie Bush has been to USC, they removed his Heisman Trophy because of his sins against the school. Hello. Has anyone at SC heard of O.J. Simpson? Where did he go to school? Give you three guesses. His Heisman is still on display proudly with the others. Lets compare the two, no thats to ridiculous to even do. I know this if someone offers a kid a house for his parents, his family financial security he would turn it down flat, and he is the one that suffers not the ones actually supplying the money. Makes sense to me, more on the NCAA next week.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What Business is Our Business

Have you ever gone to a cafe or restaurant and ordered the special only to be told they are out of the special and you think "what business is your business"? To have plenty of food for the customer is it not? Or the one I love is the overbooking of airlines then tell the passengers we can't take everyone, once again "what business is your business"? You have x number of seats, book x number of butts to fill them, seems like a simple process to me.

In the education field our business is student learning and we must keep that focus in mind. Seems a simple concept but lets really look at a few obstacles in our way.

Higher education, are they preparing our future teachers in all the concepts, information, and tools available to our students now? It has been years since I have attended school but it must start in our teacher preparation, to use the 21st century skills with our students. We are audio-visual learners, why do I know this, because we graduated from college and I would bet that is still the learners they cater to. Since we only retain 33% of a lecture the next day that means 66% is wasted information, so lecture away for an entire class period.

Teachers who fail to recognize we are a decade into the 21st Century and we still try to prepare kids for the 1960's. These people have good hearts and care about kids, but are shorting them on all that is available to them. We don't need new ideas we just need to quit having old ones. No longer should the only teaching technique be standing in front of the class spouting knowledge. I also realize we are a trendy profession and I think some educators feel this will pass also but guess what technology is here to stay. Take advantage.

The students also have to be taught that things are changing and this will be a force feed for some, especially at the secondary level. They have been so accustomed to being spoon fed that having them take ownership in their learning or giving them choices and having them run with them will take time. Stay with it it is a battle worth fighting for their future. That is why the elementary level is the most critical, we must begin as early as possible to make sure the changes we all want to see in our field get accomplished.

Please keep in mind that people don't resist change, they resist being changed-but it has to happen so student learning at the highest level remains the business that we are in.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Random Thoughts

Just a few thoughts since it the end of the week:

Good luck to the Blu-Jays, Sooners, and whatever other team you pull for, the NFL started last night and at least it was a good game.

Why do we always look for complicated answers to problems, when most of the time The KISS Theory will work, for those of you that don't know it Keep It Simple Stupid, very popular in the coaching profession. A few examples:
With all the political commercials on now why is that to find out what candidate A stands for I have to watch candidate B's commercials. Just tell us what YOU stand for then we will decide.

All the diets that are also being advertised-something I don't subscribe to, if I were an inch shorter I'd be perfectly round-but how about this: 1. Cut calories 2. Increase workload (exercise) or 3. Do both. Bet you'll be amazed at the results.

School reform is quite the hot topic amongst the things I read and it should be, but my goodness everyone has a different take on what needs to happen. How about we try this: 1. Washington mind your own business, or at least if you're going to saddle us with more legislation get some input from educators. 2. You know what needs to be done at your school more than anyone else. 3. Formulate a plan to improve. 4. Implement the plan for improvement.
Would that work?

Speaking of Washington since you gave us NCLB how about no Congressman left behind? Since you all think its so good to fire entire teaching staffs and administrations if they don't meet your standards, how about if one congressman is found to be unethical, doesn't pay his/her taxes, or passes any law that affects us but not you, we fire the whole lot of you which I hope happens in November.

Guess thats about it, remember this-What works-Works What Doesn't Work-Doesn't Work you can work your tail off at something and if it doesn't work it still won't work. Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Now We Really Get Started

Well Labor Day has passed and hope everyone had a wonderful long weekend. The school year now really kicks off but I hate the expression "the grind of the school year starts". I think of it as anything but a grind. As I have said on many occasions I don't know what its like to work for a living since this so much fun.

I also know that I go on and on about educational technology and how we need to integrate it in our schools. Learning about what is now available to our students and teaching staff has really invigorated me and has excited me about learning, more so than anytime in my career. I also think it has given us all a chance to examine what we are doing in the education, and given us ways to improve our instructional practices (I now prefer that phrase to teaching).

So here we go for another year, and it will be anything but a grind, I hope you come along for the ride of your lives.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Random thoughts and few will be about education today so I hope you enjoy.

Congress bringing anyone up on lying charges is a joke, let alone a baseball player. Two problems with this, why would they care about steroid usage in baseball, oh I forgot thats the most pressing problem in America, and if a congressman's mouth is moving he/she is lying. Try to run our country, have you checked the approval ratings lately?

I have great admiration for strength and conditioning coaches, however, when I watch commercials I can't figure out why everyone doesn't use the Shake Weight? Why spend hours working on barbells, dumbells, or machines when you can look like that guy in 6 minutes. Our school will never purchase any more weight equipment, thanks Shake Weight for saving our district money.

The Pleasanton Blu-Jays open their season tonight against the Dexter Cardinals, I know the battle of the birds. We didn't have a great year last year, but are entering this season with high expectations and optimism. I'll be taking my mom to the game since Dexter is on the way, looking forward to that. Can't wait for kickoff, and by the way will be tweeting updates on the game.

College football opened last night and I channel hopped until my fingers got tired, no better time of year. My beloved Sooners open Saturday against Utah State, the biggest concerns are the offensive line and defensive tackles, if those two hold up then I think OU will have a good year. Next week they have Florida State really looking forward to that game. Remember to OU creed: We are trying to build a university our football team can be proud of! I for one am glad they have their priorities straight. Remember the four seasons in Oklahoma-football season, recruiting season, off season, and spring football, gosh I love this time of year.

The NFL enough said-I hope they strike next year so we can play college football on Sunday instead of trying to cram it all in one day. I do watch it because it is football and what else is on on Sunday afternoon.

Have a great Labor Day weekend.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Slide and Shuffle

Today started our school year and wouldn't you know it hasn't rained in six weeks (which is good for mowing) and we have a monsoon, the kids looked like drowned rats coming in, but parents and kids were in good moods.

Our elementary principal is having quite a battle with an illness and was physically unable to be here. Our high school principal's son is having hip surgery so he is not here either. There is an old saying in coaching "don't worry about the mice when the elephants are stampeding". Its not a big deal, all of our teachers are experienced and we'll get through the day in good shape. I will miss the principals until tomorrow but now I'll get to be in the buildings more.

Sometimes we have to slide and shuffle but we get it taken care because thats what educators do, I am so proud of my profession.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Just got done with my meeting with our staff to kick off the new school year and had to start by apologizing to them for not having the guts to follow through with my convictions.

Two years ago I told our Commissioner of Education at a conference that we needed to scrape our state assessment testing and go with the ACT or something else where we can compare apples to apples outside of Kansas. Well McPherson, Kansas, has had enough guts to tell the state they are no longer giving the state assessments since they don't have relevance. The state school board has given their blessing to doing this, McPherson is now seeing how it will effect their federal funding. They will MAPP test lower elementary, give the ACT Explore to the upper elementary, ACT Plan to junior high, and ACT to high school.

Bully for them and I guarantee I will not sit back any longer and do nothing, the subject we are talking about is to important: young people's education. We are in the student learning business, not the the teaching business and I am going to let my feelings known.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Whole New World

As I wrote in my last post I have made connections with a Principal in Canada that write blogs that are much more widely followed than mine. One of the first things he wanted to know is if I was on Twitter, I immediately responded no. The reason being was I could care less about who was going to Starbucks or WalMart and would never care about that. He agreed wholeheartedly, he didn't care about that either but he did care about kids and educational technology as do I.

I am trying to get our teachers and administrators to try new things and what type of leadership would I be displayed if I didn't give Twitter a shot? So George walked me through the sign in process and I waited. After a couple of days George asked me how things were going, and I told him if I had one more follower I'd have one, he said he do a "shout out" to get people to follow me. My goodness I thought my cell phone would vibrate off the table from people now following me.

What an educational resource this has become and I'm just getting started, the information available by people is astounding. Imagine you get a magazine once a month, read the articles of interest and then wait 25 days for the next issue. This is like getting magazines, newspapers, and blogs of the nation that educators find of interest to other educators. I used to copy articles to give to our administrative team that I thought would be of interest to them, it didn't take long to realize that would be impossible, now I just have have to remember who tweeted what. So far I really like and wish I hadn't been so narrow minded for so long. Thanks George for being persistent.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I have written before about the blogs I read and I throughly enjoy them and think they keep me current with the happenings in the education world. With the help of the internet we can now provide our students with all the benefits and resources that every other student in this state and nation have.

One of the blogs I read, Principals of Change, is written by a principal in Edmonton, Canada, he also hosts another blog, Connected Principals, which I read. He is very insightful and I decided to try to get ahold of him through Skype. We made contact last Sunday night and talked about education, technology, practices, the differences of our countries and a variety of other topics. We visited for approximately 50 minutes and I felt I had gained professionally.

Then the thought struck me that we could connect our students through the same medium. George is an elementary principal and is ahead of the curve in what his school is doing with the available technology. I offered an invitation for our grades 3, 4, and 5 to skype each other and learn about the others country. George was also excited about this and we are going to give it a shot, I am excited about this and for our students to experience this.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Teacher-Directed Learner Directed

Direct Instruction Interactive Exchange
Knowledge Skills
Content Process
Basic Skills Applied Skills
Facts and Principles Questions and Problems
Theory Practice
Curriculum Projects
Time-slotted On-demand
One-size-fits-all Personalized/customized
Competitive Collaborative
Classroom Global Community
Text-based Web-based
Summative Scores Formative Evaluations
Learning for School Learning for Life

I believe I would want my child in the class that was working on the skills to the right. Why we don't allow student collaboration I'm not sure, since they will collaborate the remainder of their adult life. We make all their decisions and then wonder why they make poor decisions on occasion, we have to let them experience in school what they will experience when they aren't in school for them to be responsible citizens.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I am an early riser, and enjoy the quiet time to watch the morning news and drink coffee. I also enjoy reading blogs about education, teaching, and technology used in education and what people are doing with the current technology available. Blogs I read on a daily basis are: new list daily of technologies that can be used in the classroom or to enhance learning. reformer that has some interesting viewpoints. blog by school administrators for school administrators. information on new technologies available for education.

educationaltechnologyguy-Updated list of tools to use to enhance learning and make a teacher's life and job easier. used to mainly build a professional learning community. principal in Canada that is full of energy and ideas on how to connect with kids and make learning relevant. Canadian that has some different ideas in regard to education-you can also find that he is a disciple of Alfie Kohn. site that deals with what people are doing with technology. is about teachers that are cutting down on the usage of paper in their classes. education reformer.

There are another 15 or so that I check on a weekly basis, several of them are magazines and since they release monthly, one really doesn't need to check on them daily. The amazing thing about reading blogs is they always lead you to another blog. If you don't read blogs in your particular area of interest you are really missing out on becoming better informed, and we are lifelong learners.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Well I've taken the summer off from blogging and the urge to write did hit a couple of times but it passed and I got on to several other things. I did find a couple of new blogs that I really enjoy and I think my next write will be the blogs and sites I do enjoy the most, not that it will have any effect on your world, but might give you some interesting reading.

I did come across an article by Alfie Kohn that I thought was excellent and wish to share with you. Mr. Kohn writes mainly on education and parenting and has some unusual ideas in some areas but if you read him with an open mind much of what he says makes sense. This article was about working with kids as opposed to doing things to them, here are the 10 suggestions he offers:

1. Reconsider your requests-Sometimes when kids don't do what we tell them, the problem isn't with the kids but with what we're telling them to do.

2. Put the relationship first-What matters most is the connection that we have, or don't have, with our children-whether they trust us and know that trust them.

3. Imagine how things look from your child's perspective-Parents and teachers who regularly switch to the child's point of view are better informed, gentler, and likely to set an example for moral development.

4. Be authentic-Your child needs a human being-flawed, caring, and vulnerable-more than he or she needs someone pretending to be Perfect.

5. Talk less, ask more-Telling is better than yelling, and explaining is better than just telling, but sometimes eliciting (the child's feeling, ideas, and preferences) is even better than explaining.

6. "Attribute to children the best possible motive consistent with the facts"-Kids live up to, or down to, our expectations, so its better to assume the best when we don't know for sure why they did what they did.

7. Try to say yes-Don't function on auto parent and deny children the chance to do unusual things.

8. Don't be rigid-Predictability can be overdone; the need for inflexible rules may vanish when we stop seeing a behavior as an infraction that must be punished--and start seeing it as a problem to be solved (together).

9. Give kids more say about their lives-Children learn to make good decisions by making decisions, not following directions.

10. Love them unconditionally-Kids should know that we care for them just because of who they are, not because of what they do, they don't have to earn our love.

There is my first post in quite some time, I hope some of these help and make sense to you, and I will try to post at least once a week.

Monday, May 24, 2010


I'm sure Alice Cooper's song is about the most popular one on the airwaves nowadays, I know when I was a principal I would sing it over the intercom the last day of classes. Even though school is out and everyone needs a break including but not limited to students, parents, and teachers. We hope to make our people Life Long Learners and that learning can occur when school is not in session.

Students: Even though school is not in session your brain does not take a break and there are valuable things to learn that don't come from textbooks. You can learn important talent and skills from a job, working with others, or even a vacation when you are seeing anything for the first time. We don't want your learning to stop just because we aren't in school.

Parents: When you see an opportunity for a "learning moment" don't pass it up. Our students will listen to you more intently than they will any of us, as well they should, so take advantage whenever you can. Point out new things and open your children up to new experiences and opportunities whenever you can.

Teachers: After a much needed mental break, begin to ask yourself what you can do to better serve student learning. How can do the best we can to reach every student and adjust to their learning styles. How can we break the one size fits all brand of instruction to better facilitate the information we are trying to get across to our students. What new resources can we use to better accomplish student learning.

Have a great summer and we look forward to seeing you next fall.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Social Media

Social media tools and platforms gives us a chance to have conversations with anyone around the world. Facebook, myspace, twitter, google buzz, and various others have made significant changes on how we communicate. If you think these are a fad please consider the following:
If facebook were a country it would now #3 in the world behind only China and India.

Over half the world's population is under 30 years old.

96% of Millennials have joined a social network.

Facebook tops Google for weekly traffic in the US.

1 out of 8 couples in the US met via social media.

80% of companies us social media for recruitment.

Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Spears have more Twitter followers than the entire populations of Sweden, Istael, Switzerlan, Ireland, Norway, and Panama combined-4.8 million each.

50% of mobile internet traffic in the UK is for Facebook.

78% of Wikipedia content is in languages other than English.

Still think its a fad and going to go away? I rather doubt it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Importance of Trust

Trust is everything.

Nothing can be done without it.

It can take years to build, but one moment to lose it.

Here are only some of the essentials that I believe in building trust:
1. Extend trust-If you want people to trust you, you must show that you trust them first.

2. Be open and honest-There are many times where tough conversations are needed to be had with the group or individuals. Trust that the people you work with can take the bad news and deal with it, and would much rather KNOW than wonder.

3. Admit mistakes-If you screw up, say it. Do not try to hide it. Not only will you build trust amongst those you work with, you will also build an environment that promotes risk taking.

4. Listen-Hear what people are saying, consider it, and act upon it. Even if you do not agree, when people see that you are legitimately listening to their thoughts, you will build upon your relationships with them. There is a difference between not listening and not agreeing. You do not have to always agree, but it is important that you always consider.

There are many other ways that you can build trust but these are just some that I work on. These qualities relate to any relationship. If you want things to get done effectively, trust is everything.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Apple Show

This past Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I was fortunate enough to attend the Apple Leadership Summit in Dallas, Texas. I am thankful to my Board of Education for allowing me to attend. The conference was very good and got some good ideas and different perspectives on using technology in education. It is marvelous what some individuals as well as school districts are doing about bringing 21st Century skills to the classroom.

We were each assigned tables, which was probably good since that does force you to meet other people, and the first person I saw was the Superintendent from Labette County in Altamont. It was refreshing to see a familiar face but it did me good not to be paired with Chuck since I did gain knowledge from different areas of the country. At my table were educators from Iowa, North Carolina, California, and Texas. At least Kansas isn't the only state with funding woes, everyone had the story as money is tight, so we choose not to discuss it. I ate one night with an Apple employee from Brisban, Australia, and that was an interesting conversation.

I think it really helps us grow as professionals when we venture out and take advantage of opportunities presented to us. To visit with educators from across our nation, and across the ocean, can benefit all we come in contact with. I am a strong believer in staff development and technology and this conference fit both areas.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Relationship Strength Key for Kids

What do schools need to teach their students? We are on the cusp of a great global educational change and the question we need to ask is not what do students need to learn, but what do we need to teach them?

Most everything students need to learn either can or will be able to be learned online. If you doubt this consider the advertising done on television for online institutions of higher learning, or take into account that the largest college, in regard to student population, is Phoenix University. Instead of students conforming to a traditional model of education they appeal to the sector that wishes to have convenience and a customized education.

We connect with others through a web of relationships with our family and friends as well as our business ones where we work in person as well as with people online we never meet.

Relationship strengths are the application of character virtues such as trustworthiness, forgiveness, loyalty, consideration, thankfulness, flexibility, and dependability. I agree with Charles Barkley that the best role models for a student is their parents, however, we can display these qualities on a daily basis and hopefully students will try to imitate these behaviors.

We rarely teach students skills to promote long-term success in their relationships. We tend to believe that experience will be the best teacher. Children should know how to choose friends, act on teams, listen, give and take, forgive and accept. Children socialize on the playground, cafeteria, and ball games and we hope they figure it out on their own. We throw kids in social situations and hope for the best, experience has shown us that most workplace failures are the result of relationship breakdowns rather than inability to master the tasks of the job.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Put On More Steam

At this time of year we can all see the light at the end of the tunnel which means school will quickly be over. With state assessments winding down and after a full year of academics the students have a tendency to hit the slack button and teachers as well feel the need for a mental break. Put as I have stated before we are in the learning business and that goes for the teachers also, so here are some points to keep the students motivated.
1. Be enthusiastic and positive about what you are doing.
2. Allow students to have some fun and discover things on their own.
3. Use visual aids, movies, demonstrations, and projects.
4. Take a field trip and make it real.
5. Let them how great it feels to succeed.
6. Give people praise for a job well done.
7. Care about each other, both students and teachers, talk to each other.
8. Reward people with different things, however, start slowing down on rewards and replace with praise.
9. Create tasks and work that students can have success with, make sure they have the resources to succeed.
10. Make sure the subject matter has personal meaning and value for the students.
11. Make sure students feel valued and special for their contributions.

Monday, March 29, 2010

I Don't Understand

I realize the legislature is in charge of my state and the educational funding but the longer they are in session the scarier it gets for all state agencies. For instance some of my concerns or I should say lack of understanding about what is occurring in Topeka:
Why does the House put a person in charge of the Education Committee that home schools their children-thats a commitment to public education.

Why would you even propose a plan to cut the state to 40 districts with at least 10,000 students per district? What other state does this?

Why would tell people the recession is what caused our financial collapse when the legislative post audit showed in 2005 (prior to recession) that we would face this deficit in 2009 because of tax rollbacks and spending levels.

Why would you pass a law where schools could not sue for adequate funding, not fund the supreme court decision to the level you were bound to do, but let one of your members be involved with suing the state as a part of his law firm.

When you run for reelection and tell the voters you did not raise taxes, will you admit that you forced the schools to raise property taxes because you took away 25% of the state aid for the local option budget? I rather doubt it.

I don't understand why we would send any of you back.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Big Schools are Better?

With all the talk of school consolidation in Topeka, I decided to do some research on quality of education as opposed to cost. I first got the KSHSAA list of school classifications then went to the KSDE website to get information on what schools did not make AYP last year. Private schools are not included in these statistics.
34 Districts in our state did not make AYP in 2009

There are 15 districts in 6A 7 did not make AYP or 47%
There are 20 districts in 5A 4 did not make AYP or 20%
There are 59 districts in 4A 12 did not make AYP or 21%

So 88% of the 34 districts come from our largest classifications

There were 172 individual schools that did not make AYP 146 of those came from districts of 1600 students or more which is 85%.

If quality of education matters to our legislative leaders maybe we should make schools smaller instead of larger.

I have sent this information to our legislative representatives.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Don't Fence Them In

This is an editorial from Saturdays KC Star:

The conventional wisdom in Kansas has been that school district consolidation doesn't save much money: Districts get so spread out that transportation costs eat up any savings.

But in these desperate budget times, auditors have suggested two scenarios that save a bit. One would decrease funding for 25 school districts with fewer than 400 students and smaller than 200 square miles. That plan would save an estimated $18 million, about 5 percent of the expected budget shortfall for 2011. Education officials say it's tantamount to closing schools, and they're not sure it reflects all the additional travel costs, ad losses of property value.

The other plan would consolidate districts with fewer than 1,600 students and could save $138 million, about a third of the budget shortfall.

But legislators should be careful. In at least one section of western Kansas, getting up to 1,600 students would mean creating a school district the size of a combined Rhode Island and Delaware.

The lesson: Stop toying about at the edges, legislators, and get to work repealing sales tax exemptions.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Fun Facts to Know and Tell

It costs us $17.1 million to run the legislature for one year, an increase of 41% since 2005, just curious if they think about this when they are whacking our budgets the way they are. Renovation to the capital building $280 million, almost as much as what our deficit will be this fiscal year.

Representative Clay Aurand, who lives in north central Kansas and a chair of one of the education committees in the legislature, is proposing mandatory consolidation of any district which has less than 400 students and is less than 200 square miles, which Pleasanton falls into that category. His home district also falls into that category, however he send his kids to Belleville which does not. That is his right, but there is also another chapter to this story, he has 4 children and only sends 2 to public school, the other two are doing virtual schooling, again that is his right. My problem is this, why is someone a chair of an education committee when he does not believe in public education? I am not a soccer fan, and if asked to chair a committee on soccer I believe I would refuse.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fighting Misinformation about Public Education Funding

This article came across the Superintendents Listserve and is very good. Darrel Stufflebeam from Rock Creek wrote it and may answer some questions.

Mark Twain said there are three kinds of lies: lie, damned lies, and statistics. You may have heard recently some lobbyists, legislators, or television commercials offering statistics claiming that spending on Kansas public schools has actually gone up over the past few years and school districts have $700 million in reserves to deal with budget cuts. The statistics they cite are, at best, partial truths.

For example, in 2005, the state legislature mandated that, instead of sending school KPERS money directly to KPERS, it would first be wired to school districts and then immediately be re-wired to KPERS. That's about $250 million that shows up on school district budgets. At the time, the majority in the legislature said they wanted to show what the actual expenses of education were. The fact that schools can't actually educate children with the money apparently makes no difference. Increases to KPERS are counted as increases to education and, since the legislature has been borrowing from KPERS and must soon pay it back, this statistical red herring will undoubtedly continue.

And, funding statistics include state-wide funding for new school buildings, which is called Bond and Interest. While it's true that the state is spending more money on recent bond issues in some school districts, it is funding for operating costs like salaries, utilities, fuel, food, and insurance that is being cut.

It would be more honest to cite statistics that relate to the General fund, which is the primary fund for operating expenses. That fund decreased 6.9% from last year to this year. According to KSDE, even when you include funding increases from KPERS, Bond and Interest, Local Option Budget, and federal funds the amount of funding to Kansas schools still decreased 3.2% from last year to this year. Meanwhile, schools have more students, more at-risk students, and higher student achievement requirements than ever before.

The other thing we hear a lot about is how school districts have $700 million sitting around in reserves. Various funds must have cash balances because, even in good economic times, money often goes out faster than it comes in. The Special Education Fund in particular must have a healthy balance (about $225 million this year) because school districts don't receive a penny of special education funding until three and half months after the fiscal year starts.

Lately many school districts have need cash balances just to make payroll due to state cash flow problems and late funding payments. Saying that these cash balances can take are of funding cuts is like saying you can absorb a pay cut from your job right after you've been paid because your mortgage and car loan haven't been deducted from your checking account yet.

The Contingency Fund (rainy day fund) is the fprimary reserve fund but that money can only be used once. For the past two years, school funding has been cut during the school year after the vast majority of school funding is contractually committed. That's why it's important to have contingency money available. For school districts, keeping no reserve and, when bad times hit, telling parents we're sorry but there isn't any money to suitably educate their children isn't an option.

Last year year, the legislature passed a law raising the limit of how much money school districts can put into their Contingency Fund to encourage school districts to cut spending ad transfer savings there. They knew more mid-year cuts were likely to come. Now, some legislators and others are pointing to that money as a reason why school districts can handle more cuts. Wow.

Are Kansans really naive enough to believe that school districts are closing schools and laying off thousands of teachers and other employees even though we have more money than ever and just want to hoard our huge reserves? Some politicians and some people paying for television commercials are hoping so. Instead of political spin, we need an honest discussion about what's going on so we can reach informed solutions.

Education is the best-perhaps only-solution to ignorance, intolerance, and poverty. It's also the only way to ensure the continued success of democracy. Without public education, the quality of a child's education would be based on the wealth of his or her parents. That's why the state's Founding Fathers made public education a required state expenditure in the Kansas Constitution. If we're going to imperil their vision and our children's education we should do so while understanding the whole truth.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Nothing from Nothing Leaves...

This is an editorial from the KC Star on Saturday February 20, 2010:
An audit released to the Kansas Legislature this week showed 47 tax credits and two tax refund programs cost the state $669 million in 2007, while 99 sales tax exemptions cost $4.2 billion in 2009.

Kansas has suffered a $1 billion revenue drop and is facing an added $400 million deficit in the next fiscal year. It can ill afford to give away $4.9 billion a year.

The Legislative Division of Post Audit recommends that lawmakers take a close look at tax exemptions and work out a consistent policy to make sure they benefit the state.

Well done to the auditors. We call for a total redo.

Just thinking out loud how many people that you know receive tax exemptions on what they buy?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tis the Season

We are about to enter, as all schools across the state of Kansas, the testing season. The state assessments are coming up and teachers across the state are working themselves into a tissy to make last minute preparations so their students are prepared. You see this is how our schools are evaluated, by both the state and feds, high stakes testing. Forget what has been learned in the classroom it all boils down to a few days of student testing.

We had a good year last year with our state assessment scores, which is a tribute to our staff and building administrators, but I still feel this system is flawed. By 2014 we must have 100% of our students meeting standards (proficient) or better. While this is an admirable goal when was the last time 100% was obtained by anyone. Students don't test well, some students take more time to attain skill levels, some don't react well to time deadlines, problems with the technology either at the state or local levels, students who are absent during testing, so they are doubled up. How about this for a goal, 100% of Congress not commit a crime, pay their taxes, not cheat on their spouses, and listen to the American people instead of carrying out their own agenda. Now that is a goal worth shooting for.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

School Shooting

The last in to long a line of school shootings has occurred in Alabama, at the university located in Huntsville. I suppose it has hit the natural progression, but for a faculty member to shoot other faculty members because she did not receive tenure seems so senseless, as all school shootings are. It seems the latest few have happened on college campuses and not K-12 public schools.

People seem to have lost all forms of manners and politeness if they don't get their way. "No" seems to be the most hated word in some folks vocabulary and it seems they treat it as a curse word if they happen to hear it. We need to teach our young people that they will not always get what they want, failure is a part of life, disappointment happens to everyone and how to react to adversity. We all will face adversity at some point in time and how we handle these situations is a learning experience also.

I mourn the three dead faculty members in Alabama, especially since we now know that she shot her brother and sent a pipe bomb to a Harvard professor. Simply because she was told "no" by her superiors certainly doesn't warrant the effect she had on innocent people's lives.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Post USA and Other Items

The USA convention had the best speakers and breakout sessions of any of the approximately 10 years that I have attended. The problem is the attendance was probably 50%of what it normally was. The keynote speaker was the worst of the bunch but our small groups really benefitted each of us that attended and gave us good ideas to bring back to school to use.

The legislative post audit has just concluded a study showing what mandatory state wide school consolidation would save the state, the $400 million hole they put us in is still there. The scenerio 2 is the one I find interesting, it makes every school have at least 1600 students. Since 5 counties in our state have about 50% of the population this should come as no surprise to me. They obviously did not attend nor have they been around small schools. I think the benefits of an education at a small school far outweigh the limited participation you have in a large school. I know in our community I am preaching to the choir, as we value small schools. At least they kept the post audit branch busy so they weren't bothering a school with their trivial quest for useless information.

If you wish to contact your state representative or senator their emails are listed below:

Monday, January 25, 2010

10 Ways to Promote Learning Lifestyle in Your School

I got this list, and you know I like lists, from David Warlick and his 2 cents worth blog. I thought it was very enlightening. As with any list use what you can and discard the rest. The preface is to make the total culture of the school a learning environment.
1. Hire Learners. Ask prospective employees, "Tell me one thing you have learned lately."
2. Open faculty meetings sharing something that you have just learned-and how you learned it. It doesn't have to be about school, either.
3. Make frequent mention of your RSS reader, blogs you read, or your social networking and once again it doesn't have to be job related.
4. Share links to TED talks and ask for reaction to what they just saw, this can occur during faculty meetings, site council, or as a casual conversation in the hallway.
5. Include in the daily announcements, something new and interesting.
6. Ask students in the hall what they have learned. Have them tell you what their teachers have learned.
7. Ask teachers and other staff to write reports on their latest vacation, sharing what they learned.
8. Ask teachers to devote one of their classroom bulletin boards to their learning, related or unrelated to the classroom.
9. Include short articles in the schools newsletter and/or website about research being coducted by the teachers-again related or unrelated to the classroom.
10. Learn what the parents of your students are passionate about learning.

Will Richardson, education author said this, and it also reflects my feelings in regard to teaching technology, and using technology across the curriculum.
"We may not feel comfortable in a world filled with technology. We may not like the way it's changing things and even more, how fast it's changing things. We may not like the way it pushes against much of what we've been doing in schools for eons. But our kids don't have a choice. And if we're going o fulfill our roles as teachers in our kids lives, neither do we.