I saw this on 2 sites - Learn Me Good and Rookie Teacher so I thought I'd give it a try.

Earlier tonight, my brain was orange. A little while later, it was yellow. Now, it's red. I wonder if there is a rainbow brain for someone indecisive???

Your Brain is Red

Of all the brain types, yours is the most impulsive.
If you think it, you do it. And you can get the bug to pursue almost any passion.
Your thoughts are big and bold. Your mind has no inhibitions.

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about love, your dreams, and distant places.

What is hindering school reform? Filing cabinets? While I would have never thought that a four drawer file cabinet could be hurting students more than helping them, I find that the teacher's inability to change might be more of a factor. In the file cabinet, there often exists lessons and ideas that have worked through the years. While the author of the blog mentioned above feels that those ideas need to be tossed out with the trash, I would argue that those lessons and ideas simply need to be updated. When I started teaching, I inherited a file cabinet full of stuff that the teacher I was replacing left. Was she doing me a favor or was she simply trying not to take that stuff with her. Who knows? After my first three years of teaching, I finally took the time to throw most of it away. Was there good stuff in there? Probably, but I never had the time to sort through it all. I would bet that most teachers have a ton of stuff in their cabinets and drawers that they don't even use any more. Perhaps getting that four drawer cabinet down to a two drawer, a cd-rom, or a flash drive would be more appropriate than finding the nearest hand truck and getting rid of it completely.

The next topic mentioned in the blog, is MANDATORY professional learning. Now, I agree that teachers need to be constantly learning. We are trying to get the students to become life long learners and if we don't practice what we preach, then something is wrong. However, forcing teachers is not the way to go. When you tell someone they have to do something, they often head into that activity with a bad taste in their mouth. However, improving on the current inservice time that teachers have, perhaps given them choices on what to work on, could be a better alternative. Teachers' time is valuable and they certainly don't want it wasted. The author mentions that given a choice between learning and working in their rooms, they choose the second. I completely disagree. There simply isn't enough time in the day for the record keeping, parent communication, and other paperwork districts and NCLB are piling on. Teachers need the time and using that time effectively doesn't translate into a lack of wanting to learn. Most teachers are very willing to learn new techniques and strategies. As many of us know, districts are not very willing to pay for grad classes and workshops like businesses are. Businesses want their employees to learn more and are willing to provide the time and the money to train them. Schools are not willing or perhaps not able financially, to make that same commitment and it's unfortunate.

I'm not sure how many of my "readers" are actively involved in their Teachers' Union, or if they even teach in public schools. Regardless, I'm involved in bargaining our next contract and recently began looking at some comments some staff members have listed on a recent survey that was given. I'm not going to list a bunch of them, but one of the thing that baffles me is the lack of understanding some people have about the real world. In my state, where health care extremely expensive and taxpayers are all over our benefits, many teachers still feel they are "entitled" to great benefits, even though the costs are outrageous. Some also believe that in order to "get what we want" in negotiations, we shouldn't have a collaborative, working relationship with our administration. I guess these people don't understand that the positive relationship is a benefit to us. In addition, there are some complaints that we teach too long into June. Well, since a state law requires us to start with students no earlier than September 1st, and we have to put in X number of days, the math forces us to work into June. Some would like us to get out of school earlier and yet add some record keeping days to work on reports cards. Is that even possible? This entry has turned into a little venting session, a rather calm one nonetheless, but I think I'm going to stop your misery for now.

In an earlier post, I stated that I hoped more people would find my blogging interesting. Well, after rereading what I've just written, I'll probably lose the readers who recently stopped by. I hope to provide a much better read soon.

After spending too many hours over the previous few days reading familiar blogs and discovering new ones, I've come to the conclusion that I think I have a problem. Now, I'm not admitting it yet, and that's usually the first step to getting help, but I think I'm headed down the wrong path.

I started a blog a month or so ago just to give it a try and learn more about Web 2.0 technology. Being the technology "guru" in my building and the man in charge of using technology with the students, I figured I better know how to use it. Man, was that a mistake, in a good way. My blog started as a way of just writing about some of my thoughts, mostly useless information for whoever or nobody to read. I have a couple of people who I think read my stuff on a regular basis, and perhaps it will grow into something more. To me, that would be a double edged sword. While becoming more "known" in the educational blog world would be extremely cool and flattering, I wonder if the result would also mean more time spent blogging. At this point, I'm not sure if I have the time, but I think I might give it a go and see what happens. I guess I better start writing entertaining/thoughtful/valuable stuff.

I started out reading mainly with education-related blogs, which I have found very entertaining, relaxing, and thought provoking (congrats to the "Thinking Blog" winners out there). While there are thousands of blogs (many of which I'm sure are great) that I haven't discovered yet, I have found a few that I enjoy and will continue to visit on a regular basis. Over the past few days, I've discovered several more and have added them to my list of fairly regular reads. Today, I've discovered a whole to world of blogs that is going to be both very valuable and of course, time consuming.....library blogs. Being a librarian, I suppose I should keep up with the books part of my job. I'm sure the sites I've discovered today will lead me to more good blogs, which again, will be good and bad.

Here's the question for the serious bloggers out there - How do you find the time to keep up on your reading and blogging? Do you have more than 24 hours in your day? Do you not do anything else to do? Are you kidless outside of the school day? I would appreciate any suggestions as to how to balance the blog world with the rest of the real world!

I don't know about the rest of you, but in the process of taking another class for yet another teaching certification, I'm starting to believe that some courses are completely useless. I realize that it's hard to narrow down some programs to be specific enough for each individual, but I wonder by Teacher Prep University, or in my case, Library U., doesn't eliminate certain courses that are meaningless to some. Now, I must say that I was told one future class I thought I was going to have to take is not going to be required. The advisor said the class had the least to do with school libraries so she is waving the course! Now, if they could just do that a little more.

I'm working in a school library and am in the middle of taking a course on Library Management. While this course is required for those in the Masters of Information Science program, I see no reason why it's required for a teaching certification. In most school libraries, especially these days due to budget cuts, there is no staff to manage. I have an educational assistant who comes in for two hours a week to shelve books. In addition to discussing management, we talk about accounting in libraries. Anyone who knows a thing or two about school districts, knows that the business manager, building principal, or sometimes the secretary, is the one in control of the budget. All I have to do is take the budget amounts given to me, and spend them. It doesn't take rocket science to know that you can't spend more than you get. I don't have to deal with assets and liabilities, or any of the other stuff our instructor discussed last night. Sure, people working in charge of public libraries or other libraries may have to do that, but in my case, it's not something I have to deal with. I am sure that there will be future topics where I feel the same, but I bet many other people have sat in a grad class and wondered "What am I doing here? This doesn't apply to me at all!"

Since I'm at home with my sick three year old, I've decided to change the color scheme on my blog, add more of my favorite reads, and add a somewhat thoughtful entry later today. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you actually have some solid time to work.

California Teacher Guy wrote about Flash Drive Frustration - the bad feeling about not having access to a file you need. I had a similar feeling today when I was trying to email my lesson plans back to school. The problem was that they are on the district server, which I can't access from home. Why aren't they at home with me? Well, last year's format is, but not the new one and I don't want to reinvent the wheel. I'm in the process of trying to get in touch with a teacher I trust who can log in as me to the network, select the files I need and email them back to me at home. Of course she has all kinds of free time to do this. If all else fails, I'll talk to the sub on the phone and just tell her what to do.

William and Mary Blogs

Monday, February 19, 2007 | 2 comments »

While on vacation, I was reading some interesting material by students from William and Mary who were studying to be teachers. For one of their classes, they had to create blogs. Like an idiot, I didn't make a note of the site name and since I wasn't on my computer, can't go back and look at my history. I tried searching for the blogs, but was unsuccessful. If anyone can help me out, I'd appreciate it.

A Feel Good Story

Monday, February 19, 2007 | , , | 0 comments »

Before I get into my feel good story, I must say I've been a complete slacker lately as far as blogging goes. I've been reading a bunch of cool stuff and commenting a little, but haven't actually written anything. I'm going to try and change that and write more frequently.

On to the story. In my school we have a fifth grader with a special ed label of TBI - if you aren't aware of that, it's Traumatic Brain Injury. When this boy was somewhere around 5, he was riding without a seatbelt in his drunk uncle's car on the freeway and somehow fell out of the car. He was then run over by another vehicle. It's pretty amazing he's alive and functioning rather normally. Anyway, he has some issues working in the regular education class and is pulled out for most academic work. His attitude isn't always the greatest and he's not always respectful to others. When his class would come in the library for their weekly time with me, he was always interested in checking out the books to his classmates. At the time, I let him because it kept him out of trouble. He figured out the checkout system rather quickly and kind of took over when he came in. With this working well and keeping him out of trouble, I decided to ask his Special Ed teachers if he could come down when I have kindergarten and first grade students and run the checkout computers. We set this up as a reward for decent behavior with him. He would come in for an hour twice a week to run the computer while I was helping the little students find books. Well, this worked wonders. He quickly learned the names of the younger students and did a great job with them while I was providing "crowd control." He was often a problem everywhere else throughout the day except when he was with me. I ranted and raved about his success and other teachers along with the principal would pop in to see if I was serious. We have since decided to have him come in an hour everyday, to not only help the younger students during checkout, but also help those students in the computer lab. It's been fantastic for me and more importantly for him. We have recently started working on academic work during the down time to make sure he's not losing out. In addition, he has even read stories to the younger students. They love having him there, and so do I.

Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 14, 2007 | , , | 1 comments »

I'm pretty sure that the person who invented Valentine's Day was not an elementary school teacher. In fact, I be the person who invented Halloween wasn't an elementary school teacher either. Regardless, days like today are really not that fun. The day is often a waste because all the kids are looking forward to the party - which is usually held towards the end of the day so the kids can get all sugared up from the onslaught of treats and then go home! Teachers like the end of the day because they can eat the "safe" treats - you know, the wrapped treats or the ones made by parents you trust - and toss the rest, leaving little chance the students will find out that you didn't eat them all.

As a specialist, I get treats from a bunch of students at various grades. Some seem to search me out in order to give me a treat or a little Spiderman Valentine. Others are wandering the halls with one cupcake left and happen to stroll by the library when it hits them - hey, I'll give this last crappy cupcake that no one else wants to the IMC Guy so I can get back to my party. Wow, I'm flattered. However, what I really get a kick out of is those cheap, little Valentine's that the kids hand out. Of course, my own children hand out those same cheap Valentine's at their school. Anyway, I get a kick out of these cards because of what is written on them. In some cases, there isn't a single thing on the cards - including who the card is from. On others, my name is actually written correctly. Then, there are the children who have absolutely no idea how to spell my name. Now, I don't have a simple name like Smith, but it's also not that difficult to spell. This is a list of what showed up on my Valentine's Day cards today - all of them wrong:

Misster L.

My favorite, and one that made my laugh, was the one with 3 simple letters in the little box marked "To:" One student simply wrote "You."

Back to reality

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 | | 1 comments »

As the very few (if any) of you may have noticed, I've been a big slacker the last several days as far as blogging. However, I have good reason - I've been on vacation. Actually, I'm still here (or is it there)! I have about 6 hours before I leave sunny 75 degree weather to return home to 15 degree weather and at least 6 inches of new snow in the last couple of days. Too bad my in-laws, who are watching our kids, have to take care of the snow!

Over the last 5 days, I've thought very little about school, my students, and surprisingly most of the other daily routines I have when I'm in the real world. Perhaps when I go back to school tomorrow, I'll be refreshed, but then again, maybe I'll just be thinking about what I wasn't doing when I was away from school. On a normal day, I get up early, spend time with my children, stress out about something at school, get mad as some of the students, ask why their library books are overdue, sit at some sort of meeting, watch TV, read some blogs, maybe write one, make lunches for the next day, and probably a few other things. What has been so great about this vacation, and the sign of a good vacation, is that I barely did any of those things. Usually, my kids are with us on a vacation, but this time, we decided to go with some friends for a long weekend instead. It was great. Instead of the things I usually do, I slept in, played golf, went shopping, went out to dinner, hung with friends having "grown up time", and relaxed! Sure, we talked to the kids on the phone daily, but I felt so far out of the daily grind, it didn't seem the same. A big part of me wants to stay longer, but that will only delay my trip back to reality in the morning and I know it can't happen because I used up all of my personal days!

I hope in the next several days to get caught up on the entertaining writing I've been reading from some of you, comment a little, and write about some of the things that have made me wonder, think, question, and laugh.

No School Today!

Monday, February 05, 2007 | 1 comments »

It's -9 degrees F today and school has been cancelled.

I guess I won't hear any questions like I did last week when a third grader asked me "If aliens were real, would they abduct people at night or during the day?"

This student obviously thought hard about this question. Now there's a concept - a student who actually thinks and comes up with a thought provoking question.

In Wisconsin, talk of teacher salaries is often a hot topic. On one side of the debate (often the right side - notice I didn't say "correct") are people who think teachers don't work the hours that everyone else does, have "Cadillac" benefit plans, and have 3 months off. On the other side (often the left) are the people in the classrooms and also the Teachers' Union. All over the country, the debate about merit pay exists. It does exist in some form in some parts of the country. Is it working? I think it's probably too early to tell. Now, regardless of this debate, many teachers feel they are underpaid. Are we?

An interesting article in the paper seems to think we are not underpaid. Read the article and take note of the comparison between Mechanical Engineers and teachers. Who do you think makes more?

Also, there's a comment that teachers trade earnings for time off. I don't know about you, but I was never offered that trade. To me, it's called part of the job.

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