Friday, April 03, 2009

classroombiz is moving...

Three years after making the move from the classroom to the administrative office and 2 school districts later, I've decided to move and rename my blog.
is now

Does this mean that I'm going to blog more often (or with greater intelligence, insight, and overall readability)?

I doubt it. But here we are, anyway.

See you at the new place!

(cross-posted at

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

No way it's only Wednesday!

Oh. My. God.
This is really the only way I can describe my day: INSANITY!
It's been busy this week, and that's fine. I work as a school administrator, and know it gets busy. Beyond that, I've chosen to work in middle school, which comes with it's own set of issues. But today was just incredible.
I'll summarize quickly:
Suspensions (out of school): 12
Suspensions (in school): 15
1 fight. 2 kids throwing stuff into traffic. 9 kids with gunpowder-based noisemakers ("poppers"). 1 kid cursed at a custodian, then accused him of grabbing him. One kid lighting matches in class. Then there's the soccer games after school, the pep rally during lunch, the evening basketball games, the call to Child Protective Services, and the metal comb with the pointed handle (in the possession of a kid who was nearly expelled earlier this year!)
And it's only Wednesday.
Friday cannot come soon enough.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Give the man a chance, please.

Tomorrow is inauguration day, and odds are you are view this event with either a) great joy or b) serious apprehension.
If you are in group b, I'll ask you one thing: give the man a chance, please.

We've all heard the reasons why people would be concerned about what's going to happen to the country under our next President (we heard them all summer during the campaign!):
  • It's the end of our capitalist system! The man's a Socialist!
  • He's a corrupt crony-ist! (What President hasn't surrounded himself with friends and allies?)
  • Taxes, taxes, taxes!
  • Inexperience: he's never been a player on the world stage.
  • He's not a born American citizen! He's a Muslim! He's a serial killer who will murder us in our sleep and eat our livers!
Ok, maybe I made up that last bit, but these political topics get kind of heavy sometimes, and I felt the need for some levity!
I'm not going to argue these points; time will tell. It wouldn't be the first time that the American people have put their faith into a political leader, only to be disappointed. (Polk, Hoover, Nixon, and Clinton come to mind as examples.)

But, no matter how you feel about President Obama, I defy you to prove to me that things should remain the same, that we are not desperately in need of changes. 8 years ago, after all, we had a similar event. Since then,
  • We've fought a (unnecessary) war resulting in thousands of deaths
  • We've seen a huge increase in the cost of living as a result of that war (Gas prices, people, impact the cost of everything, from postage to potatoes).
  • We are perhaps at the onset of next great depression
  • We are in the middle of a housing crisis brought on by both political parties, Liberals trying to allow more people to own homes, Conservatives failing to reign in run-away corporate greed.
  • Unemployment on the rise as a result of all of the above.
Not all of this is the fault of President Bush. The Constitution's authors were wise enough to create a system of government where it takes a whole bunch of people working together to really screw things up, after all. But when the ship sinks, it's generally the guy at the helm who gets the blame. I respect President Bush, and believe he's done what he's done with a genuine belief that he was doing the best for the nation, but I'm glad his time is over.

We are about to experience the peaceful transition of power from one chief executive to another for the 44th time in our nation's history. This is truly an amazing thing, and there are many places around the world where it simply doesn't happen. Sometimes the results have been good, others not-so-good, but we, as a nation, have survived them all. We have entered each presidents' administration with the same 2 outlooks, never knowing what is to come and either hoping for the best or fearing the worst. I don't know on which side you fall, dear reader, but realize one thing: we have never, in the history of this great country, made progress by working against one another. Never.

Let us keep our discourse civil, our minds open, and our focus on our common goal no matter the label we attach to ourselves, liberal or conservative, libertarian or socialist. We, all of us, want the same thing: a prosperous and secure country to call home, one we can point to with pride and say, out loud, "I am an American!" We may measure these things differently, and we may vehemently disagree on the path we take in pursuit of our goals, but it is our diversity that makes us great, and at the end of the day we are really less different than we are similar.

Give him a chance. He's got the job now, whether you like it our not. Give him a chance to prove you wrong. You may be surprised, or you may be right, but either way, he is the lawfully elected President of the United States, and deserves the opportunity.

I'd have given Senator Mc Cain the same.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A Quickie!

Just wanted to make a quick observation, one that was beyond the 140 character limits of Twitter:
I've been participating in a 365 Photo challenge, in which one takes, and posts to a blog or to Flickr, a photo per day every day of the year. This is my first time doing so, and I'm really enjoying it!
Once upon a time, back when photographers used film, I fancied myself a bit of a photographer. When I was in 7th grade, I won an Honorable Mention at the Los Angeles County Fair for a picture I'd taken. We even had photo as an elective at my middle school, and I took several years of photo classes through high school and into college.
In the end, though, it was never destined to be more than a hobby for me. And that is completely OK.
Now, though, as I participate in this project, I find myself looking at the world a little differently. I look around, at school, at home, during my commute, and wonder what would make a good picture. I've taken to snapping pictures from time to time, just for the fun of it, and look forward to time when I think there will be cool photo opportunities.
I have to admit, it's fun!
I'm not sure where this will lead, but for the moment I'm enjoying this medium of creative expression for the sake of creation, and encourage you, gentle reader, to participate yourself.

Go ahead. It's fun!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

7 Things

I've been tagged by Chris Bell with the 7 Things Meme that's circulating of late, and far be it from me to decline such an invitation!
So, here's how it goes:

The Rules:

  • Link your original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog. Or how about Tweeting them to break the rules?
  • Share seven facts about yourself in the post - some random, some weird.
  • Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs and/or Twitter and/or Plurk.
And all about me:
1. I've run 2 marathons, several 1/2 marathons, and more 5- and 10K races than I can count. I'm not fast, not by a long shot, but I do like to run. Unfortunately I don't have the time to dedicate to training (my expanding waistline can attest to that!), so I don't run nearly enough any more. Always trying to get back to it, though.

2. I am a pretty good cook. I can usually manage to create a decent meal from pretty much anything we have in the fridge, and if given time and ingredients I am even fairly creative in the kitchen. Alas, this is another thing I have too little time to do as much as I'd like.

3. My wife and I met via the Internet. Not that big a deal these days, but this was back in 1996! We met via Net Girl on AOL and have been together for 13 years, married for 11 in May. Funny thing about this? When we met we lived about 8 miles apart, but found out that 1) she had done temp work at the same company my mom worked for while in college; 2) had gone on a ski club trip with my sister in high school; and 3) we had both lived in San Diego for a time. Obviously we were destined to meet!

4. I am allergic to cats. Nothing against them, but can't be around them for too long. My wife, being a cat person, has borne this cross for me, and I admire her strength!

5. My first job out of college, once I quit my waiter/bartender job, was as manager of a coffeehouse (NOT the one with the green mermaid!). There I cultivated my tastes in expensive, fully-flavored products; good coffees, red wines, big beers, and cigars.

6. Yes, I enjoy the occasional cigar. Not my proudest vice, but not a bad as some. Between my first teaching job and the aforementioned coffeehouse job, I worked at a tobacco shop, and it's probably for the best that I don't any longer! Way too easy access to temptation!

7. I am one of 6 educators in my extended family: Myself, my wife, my sister, her husband, my sister-in-law, and my mother-in-law are all in education. Not so odd, particularly, but this is given the fact that neither of my (or my sister's) parents went much beyond a high school diploma. While they are not highly educated themselves, they produced children who between them hold 3 masters degrees and a National Board Certification. I am very proud of them!

Now, to whom do I pass along this honor?
Tom Haughton
David Feliciano
Ms Cornelius
Scott Elias
Diane Main
Ken Shelton
Mark Wagner

Ok, I've done my part! Enjoy!

Monday, December 22, 2008

What they didn't teach me in my admin program

I'm nearly 1/2 of the way through my third year as a school administrator, and still love what I do. Lately, though, I've been thinking about the details of my job and wondering where I've learned how to do what I do.
For the uninitiated, becoming a school administrator is a similar process to becoming a teacher: a specialized training program where you are taught the theories and legal specifics of school leadership, and perform fieldwork to familiarize you with the day-to-day aspects of the job. Upon completion, you are certified by the state to work in an administrative capacity, deemed fully capable to manage a school.
I assume the majority of my readers have been through teacher credentialing programs, and direct this question towards them: How ready were you, your first day in the classroom, for actual teaching?
Yeah, that's what I thought. I hope you didn't spew coffee all over your monitor while you laughed at that.
Admin programs, at least the one I went through, do an admirable job of providing the theoretical foundation for school administration, but fall short of really getting one ready for the day-to-day dirty work, in much the same way that teaching programs fail to get teachers ready to actually run a classroom.
Some of the things I wish my program could have taught me:
1) How to interview a naughty kid
This sounds like it should be easy, but it isn't. Some kids will break down in tears at the first questions, others will look you right in the eyes and lie/blame others/deny knowledge of anything related to what you're asking about. To get to the bottom of things, you need to have a variety of questioning techniques at your disposal- the "I'm just here to help you out" technique, the "in-your-face-'you'd-better-come-clean-now'" approach, the "long, uncomfortable, staring silence" approach to name just a few. None of these were taught in my admin program- I had to learn them on-the-job.
2) When to give in to a parent demand and when to hold firm
This is a tough one, and it varies from situation to situation. There are easy ones, like "Little Timmy chose Home Ec as his preferred elective, but all his friends are in Band. I want you to switch his elective, even though it will whack out his entire schedule!" (No, sorry, but electives don't drive the master schedule. I'll be happy to make that change at the semester, though.) Some are much harder, like "Timmy is having trouble with one of his teachers. I don't want to talk to the teacher about the issue, but I want him moved to another class, and if you don't I'm going to the school board!"
3) When to give into a teacher demand and when to hold firm
Same as the situation above, but substitute "I'll go to the union!" for "I'm going to the school board!"
4) Student A is having a conflict with Student B, and Students C through R all have something to say about it.
Sometimes your office is just WAY too small for everyone you need to see.

These, among others, are the challenges of the job I don't feel were really addressed during my professional preparation, despite an otherwise excellent administrative credentialing program. Over the last 2 1/2 years I've developed some proficiency in dealing with these situations, but it would have been nice to have had some advance preparation before I started the job.

Other school administrators, what do you think? School admin wanna-bes, what do you think you need to know before you join the "dark side?"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's not against the law to be old!

I'm pretty sure our students look at us like this sometimes...

School reform is... building airplanes in the sky!

Find more videos like this on The League Learning Network

I love this video, especially the orange juice part.