Friday, October 28, 2005

Of course it's funny... it's about poop!

The Pig has an entertaining tale of kindergarten bowel control issues mixed with the always-fun parent-teacher conference. Like the title says: hey, it's poop! Of course it's funny!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

80s Child

Imagine the following scenario:
A group of 30-something adults sit around in a circle on folding chairs. Several are stirring coffee in Styrofoam cups. Nobody is speaking. Everyone looks a little embarrassed to be there.

The person wearing a name tag looks at the clock and says, “OK, folks. Let’s get started. Would anyone like to go first?”
One handsome fellow coughs, raises his hand. “Yes?”
“Hi, my name is Mr. C., and I’m a child of the 80s.”
“Hi, Mr. C!” responds the group.
“It started innocently enough. Not like I had much choice. After all, I couldn’t do much about the year I was born, could I?”
Low chuckles around the room.
"Anyway, when I was in high school I experimented a little, you know? Some Devo here, a little Tears for Fears there, usually just on weekends. Pretty soon, though, I was into the hard stuff. Duran Duran before school. Adam Ant between classes. But I knew I'd hit bottom when I started playing Murray Head's One Night in Bangkok over and over again. I needed help."
Murmurs of sympathy, nods of "Yeah, I've been there, too!"
"I got a little better around '91, thanks to Nirvana, flannel and Starbucks, but there was always a little voice in the back of my mind, calling to me with Wall of Voodoo and Bow Wow Wow. I was able to fight it off, though, and moved on with my life. I healed! I got married, had kids, started a career. I was ok... or so I thought.
"Then it was the '80's weekends on KROQ. "Hey, I'm just trying to relax, here! I can take it or leave it!" Denial, pure and simple."
"The real trouble started with VH1, and I Love the 80s! I'm only human! How could I possibly resist B-list celebs making humorous comments about the pop culture of my youth? It's not my fault!"
By this time, the group is starting to get agitated. Coffee cups are being crushed underfoot as thirty-somethings grab cellphones and BMW keys, heading towards the door in an angry mob. "Down with VH1! It's Not our Fault! It's Not our Fault! Death to Michael Ian Black!"
Nobody likes the 90s, do they?

Monday, October 24, 2005


I quite simply have nothing to say. It's been a week since I last blogged here, and I don't have a single new thing to contribute to the blogosphere.

I will, therefore, exercise a level of restraint too often missing in today's society: I'll just be quiet, and refrain from adding to the meaningless noise of the Internet.

I hope I'll have something more to say soon.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Round-about commenting

Today's Homework: If I Touch It, It Explodes. Graycie at Today's Homework posted about some bad luck she's had with the mechanical objects in her life, and I wanted to offer my condolences. Unfortunately, her commenting to her blog is currently limited to team members, and I'm not a team member. So, respectfully, I'll submit my comment here.
I would first like to offer you my condolences on the injuries and deaths of your mechanical family members. Be strong, you'll get through it.
As to your offer of long-distance voodoo on something I'd like to see "explode," I'd like to submit my school's PA system for your special treatment. The only days of peace we've had thus far this year were the two when the phone/PA system was out of order. It was truly blissful! So, if you wouldn't mind, my colleagues and I would be forever in your debt if you were to send a thought or two in its direction.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

CA Social Studies Leadership Conference

This weekend I attended the California Social Studies Leadership Conference, put on by McDougal Littell. It was kind of a cross between staff development and sales pitch, but an overall great conference.
Here's how it went: Friday afternoon I drove up to Marina del Rey (part of the LA megalopolis, right on the coast, for you non-CA folks) and checked into the hotel, then headed down to the first session, School Funding issues. Bottom line: not great, but not currently getting worse. Then it was adult beverage/networking time, and off to dinner. The keynote speaker was Tim Kanold, who gave a great talk on "leaving the harbor" leadership (don't sit back and enjoy your successes too long... go out and find new challenges. Ask, "Why not?") After dinner was more networking/adult beverages, and off to bed.
Next day started with breakfast and a great presentation on Standards and Assessment (read that as "high-stakes testing issues"). We then had some breakout sessions focusing on our concerns in areas of standards and assessment, readability and accessability of texts, and technology, followed by a ELL session. Lunch was a highligh: Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissman Klein spoke about her experiences and the possibilities available in this country.
The last two sessions were "curriculum solutions" (this was the sales pitch) and a very cool presentation by Bill McBride on brain-based and gender-based learning.
I had a great time at the conference. It was great to meet teachers and administrators (site and district level) from around the state. I usually only get to interact with teachers from my own county, so this was cool.
And McDougal Littell paid for it all. Conference registration, the hotel, parking, meals and adult beverages.
Certainly this is an important marketing event for them, building goodwill among schools for their own products, and also a market research opportunity (that "concerns" breakout I mentioned earlier). But I was very impressed with the overall quality of the conference. The speakers were excellent and avoided excessive reference to McDougal materials. The sales pitch was more of a showcase of the program they are offering (which looks good) than a "So, how many can we put you down for?" kind of thing.
Kudos to McDougal, and thanks for the opportunity.
And the food.


This is a response blog. In a previous post, I talked about some of the issues I am dealing with as I work towards my admin credential. Polski3 offered a comment, and instead of having my response follow in thread, I'm blogging it fresh.

My aspiration as I go through this process is to be the kind of administrator who works for the interests of the teachers and students. I've never been much of a political type, and kissing ass doesn't sit well with me. I've no aspirations for a superindendency, so I should be ok in that regard.
I truly believe that the right administrator can make a huge difference in a school, much the same way the wrong administrator can destroy morale and student success... Getting the admin credential doesn't have to mean selling your soul (I actually had an instructor in my credential progam describe it that way). It doesn't have to be an "US vs THEM" situation. Administrators can provide leadership without dominating, crushing creativity, or writing a script for every word spoken in the classroom.
The reality here for me, though, is that I'm looking for a key to open doors in the future. I don't see myself in the classroom 5 years from now. I already have a master's degree, so I'm as far over on the pay scale as I can get. I'm not doing this for the money. But if an opportunity arises, I want to have the papers necessary to try for it.
I think it's really unfortunate that so many teachers have had such negative experiences with their administrators that they have turned against the entire class of professionals. There are good administrators out there, and if more teachers were willing to become the type of administrator they want to work for,instead of just complaining about the one they have, the problem would go away.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

God bless the shortstops...

I was listening to ESPN Radio's The Herd this morning, and the host was telling a story about former Boston Red Sox centerfielder Nomar Garciaparra, and how he and another guy saved two women, one unconscious, who had fallen into Boston Harbor. (Read the story here.) The host, Colin Cowherd, said one of the funniest things I've heard on the radio in a long time: between New York Yankee shortstop Alex Rodriguez saving a 10-year-old boy from being hit by a car earlier this year, and Nomar's heroics, Boston now leads the nation in lives saved by shortstops.

I know, it doesn't seem funny now, but this morning I was laughing my rear end off!

It's the little things, you know?

I'm Tired.

I can't wait 'til November. I need a break!
Yesterday: work, site leadership team meeting for 1:20, then off to class for another 4 hours.
Today: work, deal with stuff from leadership meeting, deal with stuff from class. Not to mention the usual "This needs to be done NOW!!!" stuff that comes up every day. And I have 2 kids at home who deserve my attention, and a wife to maintain a relationship with.
I need November... Parent/Teacher conferences (any day without students is a break!), Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving, day after Thanksgiving. This haul from Labor Day to Veterans' Day is brutal.

Friday, October 07, 2005

How long should it take?

Here in California, teachers need to be certified CLAD (Cross Cultural Language Acquisition and Development). I finally managed to meet the requirements to apply for the CLAD certicification and in August sent the paperwork to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC).

As of 5 minutes ago, my application was "pending evaluation."

Come on! I sent in the application, a copy of my test scores, and a money order. How long should it take to evaluate that? Five minutes? Yet the CTC's web site says 75 WORKING days. That works out to some time in late November. I sent the application in mid-August. It's been a month and a half now, and I'm still waiting!

I understand that they have a limited budget and staff. But should it take this long? Geez!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Administators and unions; some musings

As I've mentioned in this space previously, I'm currently enrolled in an admininstrative credential and master's program. This is my 9th year in the classroom, and, while I'm not really ready to leave teaching, I'm looking to open doors for the future.
Unfortunately, I'm kind of conflicted. I hear, and read here in the Blogosphere, a lot of venom directed at administrators at the school, district, and county level. Much of this I can identify with; there are many in the admin ranks who would identify with several of the points I made in my last post. But I don't think that this is necessairly an occupational hazard. I believe it's possible to be an administrator who is looking out for kids and for teachers. Adminstrators can be responsive to the needs of their school community and the demands of the county, state, and federal education agencies.
Why, then, are so many apparently not?

On a somewhat related issue: Last year, our district was embroiled in a labor dispute: we wanted more money, the district said there wasn't any. Both sides dug in. We "worked to contract." We quit doing afterschool interventions. There were "crisis" meetings. Teachers pressured, and I mean really pressured, colleagues to leave campus exactly at the contracted time. Teachers would wait in their cars in the parking lots until the contracted start time, then march through the office in unison, "United and Informed," wearing red t-shirts on Wednesdays. Teachers stood outside the campuses, and sometimes on campus, on Open House night and passed out flyers to parents. There was even a letter, formatted as a certificate of appreciation, handed out on Day of the Teacher, that was one of the most childish things I'd ever read.
You can probably tell my own position on the issue, and it leads to some of the conflict I mentioned above. I support our union. I pay my dues, I was the sole site rep on our campus for 2 years, and I honestly appreciate the efforts the union takes to improve my salary, benefits, and working conditions.
But,come on.
We want to be treated like professionals, yet when we don't get our way, we sulk like babies, throw tantrums, and act in ways we would never accept in our classrooms. How is it acceptable from us, then? Relationships with the administration of the school sites were damaged, and they had no control over anything we were upset about.
In the end, we got more-or-less what we wanted. I appreciate that. I don't think, though, the methods used were justified, or even really what led to the resolution. I dread our next round of negotiations.

Quiz: are you stupid?

Ok, this isn't really a quiz, but rather a few observations I made on my drive home from work today. How many of these do you do?
Mr. C's Evidence of Stupidity
- (Men)You're over 2o years of age, yet you still wear your pants halfway down your ass
- You play your music so loud, or with the bass so high, that other drivers feel you coming before they see you coming. (If you do this in drive-thru lines, or in parking lots, you're also an asshole.)
-You really think a third party has a chance of winning a major election (Just kidding; it's not stupid, but it is naive)
-(Men again) You think the dancer in the "gentlemen's club" really is interested in you, not just your money.
-You think that yelling at service providers (waiters, clerks, etc) actually will improve the service you receive.

I know there's more. What do you think?

It's time for the Carnival!

I have truly been remiss in my civic duties as a citizen, newly naturalized, of the Blogosphere. "What is my offense?" you may ask. With hesitance, reluctance, and shame, I admit that I have not yet mentioned the Education Wonks Carnival of Education in this space. As community service, undertaken in consequence of my sin, I hereby direct your attention to this week's Carnival. I hope that you, my fellow citizens, my paisans of the 'Sphere, will forgive me my lapse.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Yeah! Meetings!

Had a staff meeting today to introduce the new assistant superindendent. She seems nice enough, and I've heard good things about her, so I'm optomistic. Our last asst. sup. was less-than-stellar, so it'll be easy for her to look good in comparison.
Then we had department meetings. My colleagues are passionate about what they do. (Read this as opinionated and vocally so). I was very tired at the end.