Why do you have no soul?

I was up at the high school today for PPTs. I noticed one of my favorite students of all time sitting in the lobby to guidance. I haven’t seen her in at least a year and sat down to chat.

ME:Hey Kelly what are you doing in here?

HER:Future stuff, career stuff.

ME:What are they going to do to you?

HER:Give me a personality test.

ME:What are they going to find?

HER:That I have no soul.

ME:Why do you have no soul?

HER:High school.

How do you convince a kid that they are an eagle?

I have a kid who is driving me crazy this year.  They are an eagle but they spend all of their time with the chickens.  I can’t quite figure out how to convince the kid that they are an eagle.

“Eagle & Chicken”

A man once found an eagle’s egg and put it in the nest of a barnyard hen. The eagle hatched and grew up with the rest of a brood of chicks and though he didn’t look at all the same. He scratched the earth for worms and bugs and played the chicken’s games. The eagle clucked and cackled, he made a chicken’s sound; He thrashed his wings, but only flew some two feet off the ground. That’s high as chickens fly, the eagle had been told. The years passed and one day when the eagle was quite old. He saw something magnificent flying very high and making great majestic circles up there in the sky. He’d never seen the likes of it. “What’s that?” he asked in awe, while he watched in wonder at the grace and power he saw. “Why that’s an eagle,” someone said, “He belongs up there, it’s clear. Just as we, since we are chickens, belong earthbound down here.” The old eagle just accepted that, most everybody does. And he lived and died a chicken, for that’s what he thought he was.

What is the soundtrack for your classroom?

I have often joked around with the kids that it would be really cool if everyone walked around with their own personal theme song playing out loud. There have been years where I have actually played music for each kid as they walked to the front of the class to make a presentation. It was very cool. The type of music you listen to really tells someone else a lot about you that they can’t tell from looking at you or even after having a conversation with you. What would you play for the class and make an entrance to?

Here is mine:

I would start off with a modified version of the announcement that KISS uses before every show. “YOU WANTED THE BEST, YOU’VE GOT THE BEST, YOU’VE COME TO THE GREATEST CLASS IN THE WORLD!!!” Why not start with high expectations! The class would go wild at this point and I would enter with choreographed moves to Alan Parsons song Sirius followed up with introductions of the students(Think Chicago Bulls opening music). I actually started the last unit by handing out the guidelines to their project to Sirius. All I needed was a roaming spotlight.

Since you have spent the last 30 seconds of your life reading this, why not take 15 more seconds and leave a comment with the music that would be the soundtrack for your life!

Am I the only one?

If you come in with 100% of your energy everyday for 100 kids, and one child each day sucks up 20% of that energy, how do you divide up your remaining 80%?

If you have 50 minutes for 25 students and one child takes up 10 minutes of your time, how do you decide who is not going to get any of your direct attention that period?

How many kids did you not have a conversation with today, last week, during the last month?

200 minutes of direct class instruction each day. 100 students each day. Don’t even come up with 2 minutes per kid per day — During the 50 minutes there’s 5 minutes to intro class, 5 minutes to wrap up, one kid gives an answer that lasts for three minutes, one kid requires five minutes of help, and the kid who was absent needs yesterday’s work explained and I ask big D why he’s so sad. The office calls the room looking for a student, the squirrels have a fight in the tree outside the window, a student going to the lav trips over the cord unplugging the projector, and little J forgot his notebook, textbook, and pencil and wants to know what he should do about it. With the remaining minutes I am suppose to get my kids ready to take on India and China, be nice to others, collaborate with their classmates, and stop to explain why we don’t use the word retard in class. If I want to use technology I have to take more time out to coach the kids in how and when to use it, prepare them to think locally, globally, abstractly, solve problems, draw conclusions, be empathetic, and there is also this Social Studies Curriculum I am supposed to be covering. It is so much easier to give the kids a textbook assignment with a worksheet follow-up, give a detention for calling a kid retard, close the blinds, not use a projector, sorry Little J you are not going to your locker, dude come back after school to get the make-up, make them work independently in rows, use only paper and pencil, just worry about getting them to memorize the facts for the test, connect learning to grades, coercively manage their behavior, and then I bet I would have no problem covering the curriculum and not have arrived home this evening totally exhausted.

Is there one person in my building, my town, my state, that feels the same way? Why do I feel so alone in my exhaustion as I experience severe growing pains as a teacher in transition from 1.0 to 2.0. This isn’t suppose to be happening 17 years into my career. Is there some Uber Freaky Teacher Anonymous group meeting at some bar that I could attend? Would I go? Am I really just alone as I feel? I should stop and go and make a multiple choice, true/false test for tomorrow instead of setting up the recording equipment to record their Pecha Kuchas( oh so cool) digital storytelling videos for our wiki. I would be so much more relaxed, sit down tonight and watch bad TV, eat something that has lots of chemicals in it, crank up some Iron Maiden, spend a minute outside listening to the second day of the Spring Creeper chorus(oh so very cool), and then maybe decide if I want my blog to continue to be some form of therapy for me, or to be a place to engage others.

Kind of funny, decided to throw on some Maiden via an internet site before I posted this — first song that came up:  “Running Free” followed by “Heaven can Wait”  There is a message in there somewhere.  Oh wait, Metallica is on…the song…not kidding…”No Remorse.”   Fine I am better off being a stressed out 2.0 wannabe stopping the class for 5 minutes and discussing why we shouldn’t call one another a retard and putting the Mexican American War on hold…I have “no remorse” for doing what I do.


There is a kimillionzillion readings on the potential impact of our kids not learning 21st Century survival skills, but what about our teachers?  I am not talking about just the veterans. I mean all teachers, all subjects.  I don’t see teachers desiring any change– how long would change even take if it was “forced.”  How long would it take for a teacher to go from putting numbers on a board to a year’s worth of conceptual authentic learning that the kids could place in context?  How long would it take for a teacher to go from making their kids memorize the capitals of all the countries they are studying to talking live with people in those countries?  Most teachers I know have zero interest in 2.0 tools.  I might be off here, but I can’t recall a single person in my building who has asked me even one question about any of the tools I use, why I use them, or the impact they have on instruction — which means there is no interest or I am just totally and completely  wrong about hopping on the bandwagon, a thought which has seriously crossed my mind several times.  A list of all of the “Teachers-of-the-year” for each of our schools was just released and I “googled” most of them and did not find one that had an online presence(only did the first two pages of google ; ).  How many years until change starts shaking the foundation of my building?  My guess….15 years.

What can you offer a student that they can’t get from google?

Last week in a conference with my student teacher I asked him what can you give the students that they can’t get from the internet. Today I can across a comment Charlie Rot left on Wesley Fryer’s blog post about “Actively opposing creativity fatigue.” I think it is perfect and would like to post it here.

Creative fatigue is what prevents schools from changing and moving away from the industrial model based on an agricultural calendar. I think one interesting way to jolt the reality home at a faculty meeting would be to do the following:

Bring in a savy 12 year old from another school. Ask each teacher to have brought a copy of their latest test with them. In most schools this will be some multiple choice or true / false bit that is easy to grade and requires memorization.

The 12 year old with google in a matter of minutes answers all the questions correctly having had no previous experience in the class. The presenter then poses the question, “Why do we need you?” “Are you relevant?” “In light of what just happened why should the district, state, school employ you?”

It would be fun and powerful.

Powerful yes. Fun? I would love to be there and see the facial expressions! Can I guess what the reaction of the teachers would be — “That’s why we don’t let the kids use the computers. They wouldn’t learn anything. They would just rely on their computers.”

In a similar post that I read the author suggested that the teachers bring in their lesson plans from the month to their faculty meeting. At the meeting their would be baskets with the different levels of Bloom’s taxonomy labeled on each. The teachers would place their lessons in the baskets that match the level of thinking in the lesson. Which basket would be overflowing?

How many times have you had a conversation like this?

As an 8th grade teacher it is sometimes difficult to get a conversation going with some of the male students. Now I do speak five different dialects of male: jock, mountain man, book worm, farm hand, and metal head. I am currently learning gamer, skater, and emo. But every once in awhile I do come across a kid whose dialect I don’t understand and our conversation go something like his…

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Am I addicted to twitter?

Hi my name is Paul Bogush, and I think I am addicted to Twitter.

When I was young there was this house on my way home from most places that my mother would make my father slow down whenever we went past it at night. At night they always had the light on in this second story window and the drapes were always left open. On the walls was the most wonderful silver and black wallpaper that made the 70’s the shaggiest decade of my life. I was always intrigued by the people in the window, and I loved getting a glimpse into their life. My dad would never slow down long enough to let us get a really good look at them or to be able to figure out exactly what they were doing. The house has changed owners, the silver and black wall paper is no longer up, the light is usually off, and the shades are now usually drawn – but I still slow done and look in.

Twitter reminds me of that window – except that the window is open and the people inside want to share what they are doing with me, and in return care about what I am doing. It is kind of scary actually. I feel like I am snooping. But for some reason I find myself really caring about a Board of Education 2000 miles away serving food, or what conference someone is attending. I feel a connection to this group of information nerds. I am addicted. What’s remarkable is that I was an outspoken critic of Twitter when it started, I did open an account early on and never liked it. What made a difference is making the information easily accessible. Ginger Lewman told me about Tweet Bin, threw it up on my Firefox, and bada-bing-bada-boom…I only follow about twenty people, and get followed by 700…opps…I mean 7 — which might be more impressive than my 2,347,195 Technorati blog rating. Luckily I have a twitter fairy that sends my tweets to her worldwide following. I wonder what kind of pressure would come with having more followers? Would I have to start wear matching socks, re-check my spelling? I’m not ready for matching spocks.

The internet has allowed me to come into contact with people that I want to be more like. Does that make sense? I can follow people who are doing things or possess qualities that I want to emulate. I have noticed that many of the people that I follow are “doers.” They are not just thinking and proposing ideas, they are taking action. Twitter has taught me not to just think, but do. The blogs, podcasts, and websites I follow represent where they land on topics, Twitter lets me know about the steps they take to get there.