Does Anyone Still Blog?

My last blog post was about one year ago.  And before that post, I was barely able to add a post or two to this blog every few months.  Why?  It’s because I have spent the last four years of my life working, taking doctoral classes, and writing my doctoral dissertation.  I defended it last Friday, and I am now DONE with college forever!

So, I have been away from the edu-blogosphere for a long time – having been in school for the last four years.  I have not had the time to pay much attention to the world of blogging.

Now that Twitter is all the rage (along with lots of other social media sites) does anyone actually write blog posts anymore?  Am I still living in 2009?  Have those in my PLN stopped writing thought-provoking posts in favor of 140 characters and a cute Twitpic?

Back in the day, when lots of educators were blogging, I kept track of all the new posts via RSS feeds.  Do people still do that?  If so, what site are people using for this?  I feel like a 21st century Rip Van Winkle after waking up and re-visiting my blog.

So, what is going on out there?

Unbiased Interviewing? Check out “The Voice”

I am NOT a reality TV fan (except for live sports which are the original reality TV shows).  But, I started watching The Voice on NBC, and I have to admit that I really like it.  What makes this show different from all the other singing shows on television is that the judges face backward when each new singer comes on stage to audition.  They do not see the contestants walk on stage and perform at the onset of the song.  They only hear “The Voice.”   They can only make a judgment on the contestants’ musical abilities; not on her looks.

However, if a judge likes what he or she hears, he or she hits a button and the chair turns around.  If at least one judge turns the chair around, then that contestant is allowed to stay on the show and compete.  If more than one judge turns around, then the judges have to convince the contestant why he or she should choose a specific judge’s team.

The show is the epitome of the phrase “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

I find it quite interesting to see the judges’ reactions when they match up “The Voice” with “The Face.” Often, there is some surprise on the judges’ parts.  I love how anyone with a great singing voice can be a winner on this show.  Shallow appearances do not play a role in the judging.

This is fascinating to me, and I think this concept can (should?) be applied to how school administrators evaluate teaching candidates.  As hard as we all try, it is difficult in this shallow world in which we live to not judge candidates by their looks, their dress, their race, their haircuts, or their physical disabilities when they enter the interview room.  Un-shined shoes, messy hair, crooked teeth, or walking with a cane DO NOT determine whether a person is a good teacher.

What does make a good teacher is how she answers our questions and the experiences she brings to our schools.  Is she student-centered?  Does he understand how to differentiate the curriculum or use formative assessment to inform his instruction?  Can she give specific examples of how she  disciplines with dignity?  How will he establish a positive classroom climate?  These are the reasons we should be hiring our teachers.

So, should we always hold “blind auditions” for our new teachers?  Should interviews only take place over the phone?  I think sitting with our backs to the candidates might be perceived as rude, but are there other ways we can find the very best teachers without the superficial biases that the media has engrained in our heads?

Finally, I think we should be interviewing teacher candidates as a team of administrators like they do on The Voice instead of each of us interviewing separately.  In districts with more than one school, this is important because new teachers may need to move to another school in a subsequent year, and all of the administrators need to agree on who gets hired.

Hiring season is upon us.  These are important questions and thoughts that principals and other school administrators should be considering.

Disability Awareness Week

We just finished disability awareness week in our school.  This is a week full of activities to help all children become more sensitive to those with disabilities, and to help build a sense of empathy for people living with disabilities.  The activities are organized by parents, many of whom have children with disabilities.  The parents volunteer to spend an hour or so in each classroom conducting interesting and thought-proving activities with students in grades K-5.

So, I just came across this video on my Facebook page, and I will be sharing this with teachers and parents.  I think this is a wonderful example of someone who did not let a disability keep him from fulfilling his dream.

Enjoy!

Lance, Lies, and the Library

I posted this question on my Twitter  page and on my Facebook account:

We have a bunch of Lance Armstrong books in our school library that portray him as a champion and hero. Do we pull them off the shelves?

I have had some interesting replies and comments, most of which were to pull the books off the shelves.  But, a few people made these comments:

“I don’t think so. It’s part of history and shouldn’t be hidden. It could bring great discussions. What can we all learn from it?”

“If they relate to cycling yes, if it’s about his life with cancer then they need to be assessed if the message is a lie.”

“Maybe they just need to move from biography to fiction?”  (That was my nephew; I think he was kidding, right?)

And this one really made me think because it came from a very close friend and educator whom I highly respect:

“If a history book were outdated what would you do with it? If a map were outdated because borders change or names of countries change, what would you do? I am against the banning of books, and you don’t want to be accused of that (especially in your school community), so I think you have to approach it in a different way. What your nephew wrote, while probably meant to be funny, has some merit. Do you keep the old maps and history books as part of some record of how history has changed, but put them in a different part of the library? Just food for thought……”

… And here was my response to him:

“These are books based on lies. I would not purchase these books now for our library, but I will purchase books telling the truth about Armstrong’s life when they are published. Your point about my school community is an interesting one. I don’t think either of us can definitively say what the parents would think about this topic. Some would agree; other would disagree. Maybe I should just ask the parents what they want their kids reading instead of making assumptions. This would make for an interesting blog post to the parents, or a Twitter question once my school Twitter page is live. The analogy about maps does not fit here. Maps change because of politics and boundaries. Old maps were correct until a war or politics changed the boundaries. We do keep old maps for comparison sake. We also keep old history books with the assumption that what is written in them is true (knowing full well that truth in history is subjective relative to who is telling the history). But, if an author of a history book came clean and stated that his book was based on false info, it should be pulled from the history shelves.”

So what do YOU think?  Should school and public libraries remove biographies and other books that portray Lance Armstrong as a hero and a champion when he has admitted that he cheated and he has been stripped of all his titles?  Is this really a case of banning books from the library? What about asking parents about this?

If You Send Your Daughter To College …

… She may ask to pledge a sorority.

If she decides to go through rush, she is going to need a whole bunch of new clothes for the process.

That means her mom will have to take her to 20 different stores for at least 4 different outfits.

But the new clothes won’t look as good without accessories, so she will have to find some new bling to accent her new outfits.

And what goes with new clothes and sparkly accoutrements?  New shoes, of course!

When she realizes that she needs new shoes, she will have to do some web surfing on Zappos.com

This search for shoes will remind her that she will need to search the web for the “best looking, coolest” sorority houses on campus.

This web search will give her the idea to look up all of the sorority web sites where she will see hundreds of smiley, happy girls.

These cheerful pictures will remind her how badly she wants to join one of these exclusive groups which then will produce lots of stress and anxiety upon returning to college for the new semester.

This stress may trigger thoughts of insecurity, even though she first went off to college with a great sense of self-worth and confidence.

As she soon will learn in her psych 101 class, insecurity could lead to a bad first impression which of course will earn her many, many rejections from the “best looking, coolest” houses on campus because rushing is all about the superficial aspects of people.

This will cause much crying, weeping, sobbing and uber-drama (did I mention crying?) which will generate scores of calls and texts to her mom for advice and help.  If she is lucky she will listen to her mom who will expend every ounce of energy to build her confidence back up.

This will help her come to realize that most of the girls in most of the sorority houses just don’t get it, and there really are one or two groups of girls who want to know her as a person and not as a blingy, smiling mannequin.

Once she realizes this, all the drama will end, and she will gain back her self-assurance.   AND…

With a new, more mature attitude, she will find and join a group of nice young ladies who will help her start the next episode of her still very young life.

Meanwhile, mom and dad will have aged 20 years during this week-long process!!

Back on the Blog!

Happy 2013 to anyone who may be reading this post!

Well, it has been quite some time since I posted anything on my blog.  I have spent the last two and a half years taking two classes per semester as I have been working toward my Ed.D.  I am now finished with all of the classes and am officially an  “ABD!”

I now am going to try to get back into posting about life as an elementary school principal and father of two teenage girls – one in college and one in high school (oy).  I also will be looking for ideas and assistance regarding my dissertation topic for which I am just about finished with chapter 1.

For my dissertation, I am combining two passions – 1.  Hiring and retaining the very best new teachers and 2. The use of instructional technology in classrooms.  I am looking for new teacher induction programs in place in school districts which are also strong in the area of instructional technology.  What kinds of PD are these districts providing to their new teachers in order to get their new teachers up and running on the first day of school and throughout the entire school year?

Any ideas or resources on the following would be wonderful:

1. Examples of high quality new teacher induction programs and rubrics to evaluate them

2. Rubrics to evaluate effective instruction technology plans in schools

3. Names of elementary (K-8) school districts considered exemplary in the area of instructional technology.

Thanks, and have a great new year!

Dave