Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Technology Update

I have been wanting to update how things are going with technology at my school since writing about my technology philosophy earlier in the year. If I were to grade the program overall, I think I would give it a C, maybe a C minus. Before I began changing the program, I might have given it a D minus so I think that is an improvement.

The grade is completely subjective and I tend to be hard on myself. Part of my problem is my own perception of reality. I tend to focus on the negatives and not the postives of the situation. I probably have unrealistic expectations of what I believe should happen, and when they don't, I overlook the good things.

Another issue that I have (I have many, but I am not going to try to list them here) is that I have the belief ingrained in me that success should be measured in a physical, or visual way. For example, building a house. When you are finished you can tell that you are successful because there is a house where before, there was none. If look at the technology program at my school in this way, it will never be a success. There is very little in the way of visual indicators to determine the technology progress at my school.

As an example of something positive, I do have quite a few teachers who have their own web page this year. Ten teachers have web pages that are available for the world to see. Not a great number, but last year there was only one. So, it is a little better than what it used to be last year, but I always want more.

Four days a week I am teaching in one of the two computer labs, and one day a week is devoted to planning and tying up all of the loose ends that I couldn't get to the rest of the rest of the week. I always feel behind, I always feel like there is more to do, and I remain unsatisfied. I want to be creative, and explore new areas and ideas. But, it seems that there are only 24 hours in a day... I thought there was more.

I do love my job. I get to work with students that value what I do. That makes me feel great. But, of course, nothing is perfect, and the teachers often seem to find ways to ignore or resist the changes I want to make. I understand where they are coming from (lack of time, other things to do, their brain is full and they can't learn anything else), but they do not see where they are going with that outlook. Unfortunately, the students lose out on a richer and more diverse education.

So here is what I will be focusing on for the rest of the year-
1) I think I need to take the good things and just try to build on that positive foundation for the next level. It is hard, especially in the blah winter months, but it is a good place to start for me.
2) It has also been shared with me that could be nicer to people. I can't argue with that, niceness is hard to measure, but I know I can always do better. Maybe exercising more would help me with this- it couldn't hurt.
3) I need to stop taking myself so seriously. It seems strange for me to say, because I never really have taken much seriously, but I need to step back and try and see things in a new way.

It is important for me to remember that there is no destination to my job, but there is a path. I need to find the best path and bring as many people with me as I can.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Personal Assistant

I have been struggling with my blog lately. There have been many things that I have wanted to share, but the time is not available when I am the most motivated, so I procrastinate. It could be that it is the winter blahs, or maybe I just need a little help.

Luckily, I think I have found a solution. I need my own private Sven. I saw it on a commercial, so it must be good. I bet that others could benefit from this personal assistant idea, too.

I would be an ideal person to work for. Every once in a while I need a good smack- who doesn't want to smack their boss? Some days I just need to be brought down a peg. On other days, a good joke and a cookie might get me back on track. If my assistant can carry around a little notebook and remind me of things, that would be the best.

Its not like I am Paula Abdul or anything. I think I would easy to work with, but there is the money issue- as in, I don't have any.

Maybe I could turn this idea into a social works project. I like the sound of, "Homeless Helper." I could just go down to the shelter and pick one up. I would want a young one so that I could mold him into the ideal assistant. Maybe I could even name him Sven. That would be cool!
Wait, there is a problem here. Who is really going to let me rename them? And I can't pay, even for Karate lessons...

Maybe I should just spend more time with my dog. She licks me and that always makes me feel better. Every once in a while she has an accident that I have to clean up-that is a great way to put me in my place. Maybe I could even get her to remind me of things- if I could just get her to wear sticky notes. Then my only remaining problem would be how could I take her everywhere with me? I could fake blindness! But then my notes would have to be in braille, and I can't read braille...

I am going to have to put more thought into this idea. Stupid commercial!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What do lawmakers really do?

I must admit that I am not a particularly political person, I have political positions, but more often than not, they really do not align with any particular party. I do not trust politicians and I often question the motives behind their actions.

I say this because Lionell Spruill, a Virginia Delegate representing Chesapeake, has proposed a bill to ban the dangling synthetic male parts (don't look if you are easily offended) that often adorn trucks. This bothers me on many levels.

I think this is a complete waste of time. Don't we have real laws that need to be proposed? Aren't there other problems that need to be solved?

I am big of the first amendment rights. Isn't this an infringement of free speech? If this accessory is banned, then what's next? The urinating picture of Calvin (once again, if you get the idea and are easily offended- don't look) over various icons (Chevy, Ford, Cowboys, etc.)? Or perhaps, curse words on bumper stickers? While I will be the first to admit that these are classless car decorations, they do add a bit of flavor to life, and give me something to talk about while I am out and about with my children. The slippery slope (I realize that this is typically not a valid argument, but legal precedence can, at the very least, take years and a lot of court time to undo) to thought crimes isn't as far as you might think.

The part that bothers me the most is that if this bill is passed and these offensive, anatomically correct, bull parts are banned from the back of trucks in the state of Virginia, I will lose a ton of my favorite comedy material. For me, there is nothing like driving down the road and hollering to the the back seat, "Hey kids, look! There's a male truck!" This is enormously funny to me because they don't get it. Sure, I borrowed the line from "The Three Amigos," but I tweaked it so that I could feel like I owed it. My wife always groans when I do it, but she appreciates good comedy, she has just heard the joke before.

Every once in a while, I will threaten to get a set for my vehicle- to the horror of my wife. I enjoy the fact that she is so opposed to it and it cracks me up to imagine something like that behind the family minivan. I would love to hook up a pair and see how long it takes her to notice.

But, all of that fun will be over if Mr. Spruill has his way. Maybe he is just mad because he got kicked off the cool House Appropriations Committee and he is trying to attract attention and feel important again.

I am just curious, but I wonder if his car could benefit from a new accessory? You know, they do come in solid metal forms and a master lock would securely attach the offending male parts to his vehicle. If only I were younger and more carefree, and hadn't given away my ninja suit...

Updated Jan. 16th- I am ahead of the local newspaper! This is obviously an important issue.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Best Christmas Present Ever

The roller coaster ride that is the 2007 Washington Redskins' season continues. I have shared some of the low points this year, but not all of them. Now that it seems we are climbing the big hill at the start of the ride, I can talk about the present with a bit more optimism.
Sean Taylor's death was by far the worst thing that has happened this year. Until now I had refused to talk about it. Sean was my favorite player. His original jersey, 36 as a rookie, is the only team jersey I own. He had speed, strength, and passion for the game. Best of all, he didn't talk to reporters.
I know that his murder affected the team far more than it did me. I did not know how they would react, but I hoped and prayed that they would make this tragedy a source of emotional strength and play up to their abilities, and they have!
The game that changed the Skins year was the game against Chicago on 12/06/07. I was there! This was 3 days after burying Sean. We, the team and fans of Washington, were at an all time low. The playoffs were a complete fantasy. There were no expectations for anything but more losses and finishing the season as quietly as possible.

This is the picture I took from my seat of the Drunk Guy capture.

Sitting in the cold stands in early December, I thought the best thing that could happen all night was the drunk guy that ran onto the field and chest bumped a Bear player before being tackled by 20 security guards. That always cracks me up. I was wrong. Blessings come in many different forms. This one appeared to be another disaster.

I had scrambled down from my seat and was standing inside the club level watching the game on the big screen TV's FedEx Field has, when I saw Jason Campbell go down. The strange thing was that he was holding his knee cap which had suddenly decided that it was time to relocate to the side of his leg. Ouch! I immediately bought another beverage. Depression was right around the corner.

Todd Collins strolls into the game and leads us to a victory. Every cloud has a ... burgundy and gold lining? Still seems weird. Expectations for the redskins still remained low. So what did they do? Win three more games- Giants, Vikings and the Cowboys -and make the playoffs. Incredible!

The only problem is now the Redskins are playing well. This doesn't seem like a problem on the surface. Todd has been nearly perfect. The Defence is playing an aggressive hard hitting style that squashed Adrian Peterson and held the Cowboys to 1 rushing yard in the last game of the season (this is the lowest rushing total in the history of the Cowboys franchise). I say that playing well is a problem because people in the media are actually saying good things about the Redskins! I wish they wouldn't do that because I am not used to it. I am used to media coverage where the Redskins are ignored or mentioned as an afterthought.

Take the Skins vs Dallas game the other day. Guess who was calling the game on TV? Troy Aikman. Isn't that wack? I mean, he spent his entire career in Dallas hating the Redskins. His career was ended by a Redskin- Lavar Arrington. Even though Troy was calling the game, by the end of the game I could swear he was saying nice things about the Redskins. It was like being transported to Bizzaro World.

But the strangest thing about the Dallas game was the difference in the score at the end of the game. 21 points. Sean Taylor's jersey number. Very symbolic for a team that is looking for something to hold onto and motivate them to the next level.

I don't know what the playoffs will bring, but I feel very good about the Redskins chance for glory. The Redskins making the playoffs was the best Christmas present that I could have received this year. I hope that Sean's memory continues to inspire greatness in the Skins and they really make some noise this year, but for right now, I am happy. I know that Sean is happy for the Redskins, too.