Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cell Phones?

I had an interesting question and experience today. I was in the middle of busting a cell phone ring (students texting each other during school, which is against school board policy) when I stopped to talk to a teacher about the policy. I was asked what I thought the policy for cell phones should be. I ended up saying that I didn't really know but that I didn't think the current policy was working as well as it should. It's not really a bad policy, but I do think it may be a little dated. By this I mean that it stands in the way of technological progress. At the same time that I was collecting cell phones, I received an e-mail from another teacher friend that told me about the website www.pollanywhere.com. That site allows students to text answers to questions that can be viewed by the class in real time. Under our current board policy on cell phones, this would mean that we couldn't use this clearly instructional website. The site allows students to actively engage in the lesson with their cell phones--something that obviously is a hook for students. I completely understand why the policy says that phones may not be used during instructional time, and I agree with the reasoning because, let's face it, in most cases the use is not of an instructional nature. I just wonder if we shouldn't embrace the fact that students are going to use their phones in class and we need to learn how to guide them to use them appropriately.

Second Shift

Many of our students come from families who work factory jobs or who work 2nd and 3rd shift.  What if schools ran a 2nd or 3rd shift for students?  That would allow schools to maximize the use of facilities and provide more family time for their students.  We need to look for ways to flex our thinking to allow for creative uses of time, facilities, and schedules.  This would allow families to have the time together and to provide the structure and support that help students to be successful in school.  It wouldn't be a cure-all, but it would be one step schools could take to show the community that the life outside the school walls has a definite impact on what goes on within them.  Your thoughts?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Musings and Random Thoughts

OK, so I now realize that until I get more followers, this is just going to be like a diary for me and not so much of a dialogue.  That's fine.  I can cope.  Here goes...

One of the sad truths I've learned about teachers (and probably people in any other profession as well...) is that there are really three kinds of teachers:  Those who can but won't, those who try but can't, and those who simply do.  I realize that there are shades of gray in between these, but for the most part, as far as doing what is right by students is concerned, we really need to give our all or go home.  We all have an occasional bad day, but we need to understand that it is a privilege to work in schools and serve our students.  What we do IS a job.  We can't whine or complain because we have to stay late one evening to meet with parents.  We can't let "good enough" be good enough. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!!

Thank you for checking out my newest New Year's resolution!  I've decided that I should practice what I preach every day at school/work.  People should embrace technology and learn to use it.  It's not going away anytime soon, so we might as well get used to it.  Therefore, I've asked my daughter to help me set up a blog so I can at least air my thoughts and, hopefully, discuss some topics about which I'm very passionate.  I work for a school district, and this is by no means meant to be a knock on any particular entity or institution.  Instead, it is simply a means to promote healthy dialogue about what can be done to improve education for students, in general.  I hope you'll feel free to offer your thoughts, but please be considerate of others' positions, situations, beliefs, and feelings.  I would like for these discussions to be professional, thought-provoking, and...civilized.

As for the name of the blog, my wife and daughter think I should explain what is meant by "Hawk and Mouse".  A few years ago, I worked in another district where my supervisor was interested in Native American culture.  At a leadership seminar, he talked about how many Native Americans believed that leadership should consider the roles of the hawk and the mouse.  The hawk flies high in the sky, sees the upcoming terrain, looks for opportunities, and anticipates problems.  Meanwhile, the mouse runs along the ground, tending to minute details, but also looks for opportunities and anticipates problems.  The two creatures are natural enemies and yet have the same goals, but they go about achieving them in very different ways. My blog would like to help people understand that within the field of education, we have both hawks and mice.  We have people who see the way things should be and the way things actually are.  I hope to see the two come together to make a difference for our students. 

I hope that you will join me on this journey and wish you all the best in the New Year!