Monthly Archives: April 2009

Video Thursday

Talking about boundary pushers…check this out

I know 5 minutes of trick bike riding isn’t the typical content here, but let’s just say I felt like shaking things up today. The stuff this guy does is craZy.

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Admins should teach classes??

(yeah I know I’ve shared this LO before, but it was a good visual for this post, which is not crafty at all from here forward)

Regular readers of this blog know that I occasionally divert from the crafty realm and talk about my work life and sometimes mention a colleague that pushes my thinking. Today is one of those days. He wrote a post on his blog ‘Talking about teachers when they are not around’ In the post he had a decree ‘All district employees should teach at least one class to students at all times.’ No doubt in frustration after meeting w/admin types who seemingly don’t care about teachers or individual students.I believe it’s his first year out of the classroom and in a central role. It’s a tough transition, one I would have said I remembered well, but my gut reaction…’grr Admin work hard too and teachers don’t appreciate it’ told me told me it’s been a while since I’ve been in his place. One thing I have learned after 9 years in an administrative role is to beware of knee jerk reactions and too look at all perspectives so I didn’t shoot off an email last night, instead rested and pondered and crafted this response and sent via email this am…of course he’s a stickler for sharing and collaboration and challenged that I should share publicly. (did I mention he was pushy)

I pondered this post overnight and talked to the dog about it on our walk this am(which is where I usually process your posts/challenges/projects feel free to join me in the field at about 6:45 am to get my thoughts before the school day gets rolling), so here I am fresh from the walk with a response in hand, actually writing before I go in and it gets lost in the ‘what so’ of the day.

I think this post touches (although in a slightly biased way)of one of the inherent flaws of education…there’s always someone to blame. Teachers blame admin for just ‘not getting it’, not enough resources, etc. Admin blame teachers for not doing their job. Teachers blame other teachers…’math teacher has no idea what it’s like to spend the night grading papers’ and if those don’t work we can always blame the student.

But at the end of the day there are still 1000s of students who are not engaged learners. So it is up all of to us to use our skills sets where they are best served, and in some cases that means teaching, in others working on the bigger picture. And maybe just because I know more than a few admins who I would be scared, for the student’s sake, if they taught a class I don’t think your solution, although Utopian sounding, is the right one. What they lack in teaching skill, these same admins have an excellent ability to see the big picture, to negotiate with vendors, to handle the upper level politics also inherent to education. What I do think is that all stakeholders should have meaningful interactions with students and faculty on a regular basis and if you meet with an admin and ask when was the last time you talked with a student and they can’t answer that’s a problem.

‘I cannot wait to leave places when others are complaining about the rogue teachers who are pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in the district.’ I bet this is frustrating, would that more of my teachers push the boundaries, be solution oriented, etc. Instead the ones I complain about are those that don’t, those that cannot explain in specifics why 1/2 of their students are failing and what they plan to do about it; those that cannot tell me without looking at their notes and even then maybe not with certainty who is on track to graduate. This is what I find frustrating and keeps me awake at night. If they don’t get it, how are the students going to get it? What can I do to support the teacher who doesn’t what to/think they need support? Some days I feel like I’m surrounded by the ‘we can’t…’ and would gladly trade for boundary pushers.

Why is it that the perspective changes so drastically when kids are removed from the situation, making someone believe that they know better than someone that is with the kids? They don’t know better, but the perspective does change when your talking about all the students in a school or district. It’s my hope (and I may be living in what Tina calls my ‘lala‘ land) that at the level you are working with they’re looking at the big picture…3000s kids, 40,000 kids and as much as teachers struggle in their classrooms to find the ‘key’ for any given student think about finding the resources for all 40,000 and knowing, just as a classroom teacher does, that what works for one will not necessarily work for another, yet we’re still responsible to stakeholders for finding large scale answers and resources. I hope that those you are working with feel this weight, even if it’s not visually apparent, I know I do. And what an admin position lacks in the physically draining aspect of day to day teaching, at least for me, has 3x the emotional drain. Throw this into the mix with the teachers I referenced above and you know why I look at you with glazed eyes first thing in the morning.

Now a few hours hours later I’m still thinking, I didn’t really offer a solution. No doubt there needs to be mutual respect and admiration, but how is it gained? Administrators at all levels through superintendent should have opportunities in which they have meaningful long term relationships with students…teaching a class may not be the option, but what about mentoring, special programs, etc? I agree that it should be more than a casual tour through or a one time conversation. But what of teachers having a greater understanding of the administrative role? How do we get there? I had typed out a bunch of snarky suggestions of things I’ve had to do over the past 9 years that never crossed my mind when I was in a classroom, but snarky comments only contribute to problem and don’t help. So teacher friends/colleagues…What say you?

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How Swine Flu Spreads…

admit it…you’ve been wondering…

via @God, too good not to share with my nontwitter friends


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Monday Quote

Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine. – Anthony J. D’Angelo

Sienna is always like sunshine in a bottle to me, even when she’s sick like she was last week she can make me smile. Looking at her in these pics also helps me keep a positive attitude about the crappy weather(snow on April 27, hello!)

Patterned Paper: Making Memories(blue flower, green print), Imaginisce(yellow, orange)
Cardstock: Prism(nat. smooth) Bazzil(Red Swiss Dot)
Embellies: October Afternoon(journal card), Scenic Route (circle sticker), Making Memories(Ticket)
Alpha: Quickutz Sugarsweet love this font!

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Do you know about…

GoodSearch? I didn’t until I stumbled upon it recently, it’s a great search engine that raises money for a charity of your choice at the same time.

Check out the home page…you can set your charity of choice and download an extension that will make it the default search on your browser. Granted we’re talking pennies per search, but if you use the internet like I do all those pennies can start to add up.

There’s also the partner site, Goodshop, for all of you internet shopping junkies, if you start your search and purchase from select vendors your charity gets even more money. Bonus! Plus sometimes they have special deals, coupons, and discounts just for Goodshop users.

So what are you waiting for???

Ok PSA time over, back to work…

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after months…ok years…of saving and a little help from my tax refund…this bad boy came home with me. Hallelujah! I went back and forth and while the PC pulled close, at the end of the day I’m so happy to continue my love affair with these fantastic machines. So the rest of the weekend will be sent transferring files, downloading apps and breaking this puppy in. I hope this one lasts as long as my iBook that has served me well the past 5 years.

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Easter Pics

Yes I know Easter was 2 weeks ago…blah, blah, blah… it seems like I spend a lot of time ‘catching up’ on this blog, I suppose it’s a little like life in general…always moving at a super speed and find myself having to go back to in time to be thoughtful.

Mary had been practicing ‘egg hunts’ with Sienna for a couple of weeks so by the time the big day came she was a pro at finding and hiding.

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The joys of tele-commuting…

I just finished a teleconference and looked up to find these two angels sacked out. Poor S is supersick…pinkeye, ear infections and bronchitis. Meanwhile I’m neck deep in data…I wish I could join them.

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It’s a magic secret code for a special place downtown…

Yesterday was one of those days…a morning training on stuff I already knew and then a trek downtown to a ‘see and be seen‘ meeting. Note the afternoon meeting was not a ‘let’s chat a little after the meeting’ and as such, we planned on bolting right away lest we get caught up talking to people we don’t really want to talk to…ah educational politics there’s nothing quite like it...I made myself feel better by telling myself the other parties were probably relieved as much as we were, that we bolted.

Only one problem with the listen and run plan…I needed to go to the bathroom, I mean really, really needed to go, the meeting was so packed there was no way I could get up and out to go…I had been in a holding pattern for about 45 min. I felt an instant rush of relief when the meeting wrapped up and my bladder could feel it too, but we didn’t want to use the restrooms in the office for fear of getting caught up in previously mentioned conversations…no problem this is a big building we’ll just use the bathrooms in the lobby. Down 17 floors we go, my bladder is about to burst and guess what…no bathrooms on the lobby level. ACK! Time for plan C…

We ride the elevator up a floor get out an see a sign for women’s restrooms finally! But could it be that easy oh no…the bathroom was locked…this bathroom has a key code on it. Seriously a key code! I notice it’s just down the hall from the Colorado Offices of Public Utilities, so I pop in and ask to use the restroom. The lady says there are no public restrooms in the building. I found it funny that a building that is called the Civic Center Building and houses many state offices had no public restrooms. So I called her on it and I said I see there’s a bathroom just down the hall. ‘Well that’s only for people in this building’….’I am in this building, I had a meeting at XXX on the 17th floor, thought there would be a bathroom in the lobby’…she again tries the ‘only if you work here speech’ to which I just about completely lost it…in more ways than one given my condition… you’re the office of public utilities hello! and I am clearly not a vagrant off the street(and even if I was I think you should still let a person use the restroom)…do I need to show you my tax returns? twitter Gov. Ritter? really what does a girl need to do to use the restroom and while it’s true all these thoughts were flowing I was able to channel my ‘kill more flies with honey than vinegar smile’ and instead I implored to a sense of human decency, and perhaps a ‘not so subtle’ non verbal threat that if she didn’t give me the darn code she may have to be calling a cleaning up crew, to which she finally relented and gave me the magic code.

So if you find yourself at the end of the 16th street mall and in need of a decent(no not clean as you would think it would be since they’re so protective) restroom, go to 1560 Broadway aka Civic Center building and enter this code. 5656*

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Taxes suck

and that’s really all I have to say about that…

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