Monday, March 24, 2014

The High Cost Of Hygiene

Thomas was a mess of a little boy.  Besides being 'a picker' and spending more time in the nurses office with nose bleeds than in the classroom, he also had horrible hygiene.  Over the years different teachers had tried to talk to his mother about his shabby appearance, curious body aroma, uncombed hair, his frequent nose picking (and the after effort snack), and effect this had on his ability to make friends.  These pleas fell on deaf ears.  

Now in 6th grade, with a full face of acne, and recognizing the girls (and boys...) aren't interested in him, Thomas asked his teacher how he could get rid of all the pimples on his face.

"Well let me ask you Thomas, how often do you take a shower?"

"Every two or three days."

"Don't you think you should be taking a shower every single night?"

Thomas laughed hysterically.  "Ha!  We've got better things to spend our money than water!"

Friday, February 28, 2014

One Nation Under God?

While doing my rounds, I stopped into the kindergarten room (always an adventurous visit) to see what was going on.  On that particular day, I was wearing a tie with an American Flag on it (the US Olympic hockey team had a big game that day).

One excited little girl quickly blurts out, "Oooo, I love your tie Mr. Anonymousprincipalperson!"

"Thanks! Children, does anyone know why I'm wearing an American Flag tie today?"

Every hand in the room, instantly, goes up.  Anyone who has ever been in a kindergarten classroom can confirm the previous statement.

I picked out a little boy sitting nicely with his hand raised.  "Because President's Day was a few days ago?"

I was actually pretty impressed with this answer from a 5 year old.  "Great answer!  I never thought of that!  But there's another I'm wearing an American Flag tie.  Who else has a guess?"  Every hand, including the kid who's already answered, shoots back up.

I pick another little boy sitting patiently.

"Because you belief in Jesus?!"

Um..., 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Father Would Be Rolling Over In His Tomb...

Recently one of our second graders was shocked to learn that school was indeed in session on Valentine's Day.

Student#1: We have school on Valentine's Day!?  But everybody celebrates Valentine's Day.  We get President's Day off, but have school on Valentine's Day!  Nobody celebrates President's Day. That's crazy!

Student#2:  Valentine's Day is one of those made up holidays.

Student#1: Ohhh yeah.  Like Easter.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Fahrenheit -451, The Temperature At Which Schools Close

It's been a long winter for those on the East coast, the plains, and the Midwest in the United States.  My Twitter feed has been constantly filled up with posts about temperature (or the dashboard thermometer 'selfie' proving it's real damn cold where your at) and massive snow fall.  Many schools have been cancelled due to these circumstances.  However, many have not.

This is an impossible position for superintendents.  Cancelling school creates a ripple effect of other issues- most notably day care concerns.  While the occasional unexpected day off may be welcomed by some teachers, the extension of the school year later on is rarely popular.

Still I find it odd that in a country where New York has a limit on the size of soda you can buy, where seat belts & helmets must be worn by law, where most states have enacted smoking bans/limits of some sort, where metal detectors & cops are standard in school buildings, and where school districts are held to strict dietary cafeteria regulations- all in the name of safety and health, that superintendents are left to have to arbitrarily decide at what negative wind chill it's too low for a six year old to walk to and stand at a bus stop (is -25 degrees wind chill too low?  -30?).   How many inches of snow and freezing ice are unwise to send school buses (and staff) out on?

In weather as frigid as it's been this month in many parts of the country, frost bite can set in in under 10 minutes.  Is it more likely that one of our students DOES have a gun or DOESN'T have a pair of gloves?  Do our laws and procedures reflect the answer to that question?

I know, I know- we all walked to school in much colder temperature (uphill, both ways, barefoot...), kids are soft these days, blah blah blah.  Perhaps there's some truth there as well.  But when a five year old loses her fingers because his bus is late or a bus slides off an icy road, I can assure that 'meeting the demands of the Common Core' will be a very distant afterthought.

Some winters are tougher than others.  The number of days in question can probably be counted on one hand over the course of several years.  But on those days, I would urge leaders and policy makers to show the same concern for safety as we do when it comes to so many other areas.




Thursday, January 9, 2014

Winter Break Revelations

We returned to school this week after our nondenominational winter pause.  The return of students after break reminds me of when my daughter spends the weekend at grandmas- all rules, guideline, and procedures, no matter how basic, need to be refreshed, re-modeled, and practiced.

Students are also super excited to share what they did over their respective breaks.  One of our third graders piped up right away on Monday.  "My auntie had to go to the hospital!"  The teachers showed concern and asked why (always a dangerous invitation with little ones...), and the child revealed her aunt had a baby over break.

Those who work with elementary students (particularly young ones) know that this exchange now invited 25 other children to raise their hands (or simply blurt out) anything that had to do with hospitals, doctors, babies, aunts, winter break, or anything else for that matter.

Little Xavier struck first.  "Yeah, we had to take to my sister to the hospital too."  The teacher was pretty much obligated to show the same concern and again inquire what had happened.

"Awww, she partied too hard and shook it till she broke it."

Having had all of this little boy's sisters, the teacher wisely elected to inquire no further.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Story Of Survival

Yesterday, likely in my excitement to escape the office before Mrs. Lopez called me back for the third time, I did the inexplicable.  I left my iPhone on my desk at work.  I was half way home (and live a pretty good haul from my school) and had an obligation that prevented me from turning around.  This was set to be the first time in at least 10 years that I was without my phone.

I should probably share at this point that I consider myself an addict (likely in the clinical sense) to this technology.  It started with my move into administration.  I wanted to use phones that got e-mails to show my superintendents and teachers that I was totally accessible.  It's grown into something I barely can control anymore.  Responding to e-mails in as short a time as possible is something I've created for myself regardless of when they come in, who they're from, or what the issue is.  I estimate it's affected my ability to sleep through the night.  I'm ashamed to admit I once responded to a work e-mail while on a run.  I wouldn't share this if I felt I was the only person facing circumstances like these.  As I look around any room that has other humans in it (especially educators...), I'm pretty sure I'm not.

Well, I'm here to tell you that I survived!  The sun did rise again.  I ate dinner without the ding of e-mails and texts tempting me to check them.  I watched Monday Night Football without the interruptions without wondering what issues might be waiting in my inbox.  I drove to work this morning without the boneheaded temptation to respond to the vibrations in my pocket while driving.  I'm alive, healthy, and I do believe school will open as regularly scheduled.

I love my iPhone and all it's wonderful capabilities, and I don't believe it is particularly practical in this day and age for a school administrator to not have a smart phone.  However, last night was another reminder of a really bad habit that I've created and need to adjust.  Smart phones have off buttons which can be used during family dinners (while driving?).  E-mails should be addressed in a timely manner.  The next day is timely for messages sent well after school closes for the day.  My phone can charge just as well somewhere other than my night stand and I'd still be able to hear it if an emergency occurred in the middle of the night.  Family, friends, and colleagues can adapt to a world where my accessibility is less that 24 hour a day by phone (several numbers), e-mail, text, Facebook, Twitter, or Skype.

The same goes for just about everyone else.  My goal is to begin, today, to start restoring some balance in my life when it comes to web based technology.  I challenge each of you to reflect on your own use and ask yourself if your use is balanced.  I challenge each of you to reflect on whether you would want your students to grow to use technology the way you currently do.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Was The Olive Garden Open On Thanksgiving?

Autumn is a beautiful little second grade girl in my school.  She's the type of kid that you almost need to seek out when you're having a shitty day because she reminds you how awesome it is to work with kids, and even with all the bureaucratic morons making decisions, the testaholics, and Common Core nonsense, it's ultimately a very special privilege to be an educator.

Every time I pass Autumn in the hall, she comes over and gives me a big hug.  She doesn't scream and act obnoxious like many little girls who want to give hugs to teachers, just a beautiful smile and a warm genuine hug.

The Monday following the Thanksgiving break, Autumn approached me for a morning hug just like any other day.  As I hugged her back I said, "Good morning! How was you Thanksgiving Sweetie?"

"GREAT!" she said with a giant smile, "But I had a ton of diarrhea."

Oh.  Um,...