The last week or so has been pretty hectic/stressful/tiresome for me. I haven't been able to connect with my PLN as much as I'd like, but that will hopefully soon improve. I am part of the negotiations team for my Teachers' Association that bargains our teacher contract. This year, I'm the lead person, which while I help guide the team, basically means I take all the crap that goes with it. Anyway, this past week, we came to a tentative agreement - I'm not going to go into the details, but it won't pass unanimously, as no contract does. However, the vote is not until June 11th, during our last week of school, so until that time, I won't be completely comfortable with the situation. Nonetheless, this past week presented a couple of tense days for me because we had to present this TA to building representatives. There are always a handful of people who question everything and complain a lot. These are the ones that stress me out. I should know it's coming by now, but it still bothers me. I'd like everyone to be happy, but I'm beginning to realize that it's impossible.

My new puppy has been waking me up pretty early these days, but this morning I decided to grab my laptop and sit outside with the dog and enjoy the great weather. This is my view from the bench I was sitting on. It was quite peaceful sitting out there with the only sounds being the birds chirping and my keyboard clicking. I'm catching up on Google Reader and writing this blog. This weekend is going to be pretty busy, but hopefully stress free. We have a birthday party to attend at 9:00 this morning at Pump It Up - a great place for kids, my wife's work friends coming over this evening for a cookout, a get together tomorrow at another friend's house, and finally, a birthday party for my daughter on Monday. While it may seem a bit much, I'm looking forward to unplugging, forgetting about the teacher contract, and simply enjoying friends and family.

I'll wait until Tuesday to worry again.

I've been thinking about this post for quite some time. When I first think back to my original online adventures with AOL 2.0 on an old Mac, I came up with a screen name completely unrelated to my real name. I chose an AOL name that was longer than the required 10 characters so I had to remove a vowel to make it work. I still use that user name for some accounts. Most people also came up with crazy screen names as well, things like CandyKane, 2Hot4U, and other fun/crazy/unique names that kept their identity a secret. I believe, originally, people didn't want their real name out there because the whole online chat room idea was new and people weren't sure what could happen. It was also fun coming up with something creative. I believe the idea of internet safety was completely unheard of and really didn't cross anyone's mind. They were simply keeping their identity unknown.

Flash forward about 15 years.

Are people still trying to remain anonymous online? Not to the extent they used to. When I started my blog, I chose IMC Guy as a user name because it reflected what I did and didn't reveal my identity. When I started, I wasn't sure what I was going to write, but didn't want my identity known in case I wrote about my administrators or colleagues. Yes, I know that's kind of low, but it was my thinking. I'm happy to say, however, that my thinking has changed and I have no problem with people knowing who I am. My thinking is that I do have some good stuff to share and I'd like people to know who they are getting the information from.

I first started using Twitter with the same user name - IMC Guy. I had, what I thought, was a cool caricature picture of me and used that as the icon. Most people on Twitter had an actual picture. A few days ago, Jennifer Jones switched her picture multiple times in a day and that led to others changing their pictures as well. A small chain reaction started to occur. I also put up a real picture and heard a comment that I was now human! This comment was very interesting to me - it seemed, to me, that I was going to be taken more seriously because I was real. I also saw some Tweets that commented on other people who changed pictures and found that to be fun as well.

Getting back to being anonymous online. I honestly don't think I'm worrying about that anymore. I don't think I have anything to hide. If what I write and what I do starts a conversation, it's a good thing. Hopefully, it's not anything that will hurt anyone or cost me a job! I want to learn from others and I want others to learn from me. I think that's hard to do when you're anonymous. It frustrates me when I get a comment on my blog from "Anonymous." If you have something to add to a conversation, speak up, but tell me who you are so we can continue the conversation.

Relating this to teaching contradicts some of my thinking. We tell our students to not share any personal information online. We teach them about online safety and internet etiquette. With Web 2.0 and social networking growing rapidly, should we not be teaching the students differently? Teach them that that there are people behind the work the they create and to show it off? Is it simply a safety thing with children? Are we really afraid of what might happen? I heard a quote relating something similar - "We know there are real child predators out there, but we don't lock kids inside the house all day." Certainly age impacts this quite a bit, but why do we lock kids in and not let them explore? If we've taught properly, they'll learn what's appropriate and what's not and how to handle the situation. They will be smart enough, aware enough, to get adults involved if necessary.

What do you think? I'm curious.

Now I know why The Pigeon Wanted a Puppy! Pure happiness. Although the Pigeon changed his mind, we certainly won't be.

Now, I know our level of happiness is going to change a little at 2:00 in the morning when the puppy is whining, but that's okay. How can you get mad at this face?

Don't get any ideas. Just because I'm happy I get to participate in one a meme, don't start tagging with all over the place, I'll go nuts!

Anyway, my grad school class is over, things are calming down a little at school - with just about a month left, and I'm starting to catch up on my reading. Now, it's time to write a little.

I've been blogging for about year or so and someone has finally tagged me to complete a meme. It's a not one of those where you list your favorite places to live or what kind of animal you'd be if could choose. GeekyMomma has asked me to think a little. I'm going to share what I believe. Maybe you believe some of it too, maybe not. Maybe some of the things I believe now I didn't believe 5 years ago and won't believe 5 years into the future. For now, here's what I believe:

I believe we need to keep working hard to integrate technology into the curriculum, but there will always be teachers and administrators holding us back.

I believe school district technology directors should have experience in the classroom. Too often they don't have experience in our world.

I believe that some students will always be below average. As an educator, we are told not to think that way, but it's true.

I believe teachers get too much of the blame when students fail. Things we accomplish with students in days and weeks can be trashed by parents in one evening.

I believe there are too many teachers not willing to learn new stuff.

I believe my own children will be very successful, despite the things I do.

I believe blogging and Twittering has done wonders for my learning. So many people have put ideas into my head and made my think about things I would not have done otherwise.

I believe I will go back to school for another degree or certification. I also believe I'll end up back in the classroom at some point.

I believe our educational system needs a major overhaul.

I'm supposed to tag a few people to see what they believe. I'd like to hear from:

Kate of Kate Says
Paul Bogush
John Pederson
Rookie Teacher

Do you believe any of the same stuff?

Some Great Reading

Monday, May 05, 2008 | 4 comments »

I'm catching up a little on my reading and also delaying the final piece to my grad school paper. Here are few thoughts on some things I've read lately.

Kate Olson, who I've gotten to "know" on Twitter posted this a while ago. She writes about the changes we have to make when communication with people around the country or the world. It's something one never really thinks about. When we are talking to colleagues in our building or our district, much less our neighborhood friends, we are thinking locally, not globally. In contacting teachers for my state project to schedule video chats, I really got to thinking about what Kate says. She mentions adding F when talking about temperature and also noting the time zone when scheduling chats. Has this ever crossed your mind? Of course not, but I sure got myself a close up of the time changes when scheduling my chats. Is Arizona one our behind Wisconsin or two? What about Alaska? Wow, what an eye opener. Thanks Kate, for raising my awareness of this. Do you need to start preparing our students to think this way? I think so.

If you work with kids and are looking for great websites to use, you have to subscribe to iLearn Technology. I've already come across a few sites I was unaware of just by following along.

I love reading Learn Me Good (even though he's a Duke fan). The topic of this entry happens everyday. We tell students a lot to mind their own business, to stop tattling on others, and to ignore the crappy behavior others might have. Is this what we do as grownups? Just a thought.

I just don't know how I feel about this post. Joel seems to be trying to drum up readership for his blog, which I enjoy reading, but I'm not sure if I agree with the way he's doing it. I didn't realize Joel was an expert on blogging. I took from his post (and I may be alone) that he knows a lot about blogging and what makes a great blog. Hmmmm. In this entry, he talks about how his Blog Revolution and 6 ways I would benefit from joining the revolution. He says by joining, my blog will get more exposure, my blog will be better, my readers will enjoy it better, yadi yadi yada. Really? Just by joining the revolution? Maybe I'm missing something. I'll follow along, probably gaining some good information, but is a blog successful because it has a lot of followers? Is it better? I'm not sure.

If your teaching job and outlook improve when this happens, you won't be Pissed Off! You've got to read previous posts about life in the trailer. It's unbelievable these teaching conditions exist.

That's it for now, more thoughts on other great reads to come soon - probably after Thursday when my final paper is due for my last grad class! :)

Keeping Up

Sunday, May 04, 2008 | | 5 comments »

Over the last couple of weeks, I've really immersed myself into making connections and learning. I have been on Twitter for several hours a day, worked to make contacts for my state project and set up video chats, and tried to keep up with Google Reader. This weekend was a rather busy one because my daughter had her first Eucharist today and we were preparing for the event yesterday and had the party after church today. I'm finally sitting down to write a blog entry. This is by no means the entry I've been planning on writing for a week or so now, but I really felt like I needed to put something in writing.

Due to the hectic weekend, I've gotten pretty far behind on Google Reader. I currently have 189 posts to go through. They are not all new. Among others, I've kept this (although I'm probably too late)-sorry Liz Davis and this (not sure what I really think of this yet) from So You Want to Teach and this (I'm already behind) and this from ElementaryTechTeacher because I want to go back and read them more carefully and comment. I also want to write my own blog entries about some of those. There is some great stuff that's been written lately, but I don't have the time right now to put decent effort in.

I also have a final exam for yet another grad class that is due on Thursday. I have about a third of it done, but should probably be working on it now, instead of writing this. Oh well!

I guess I've just written a bunch of excuses on why I'm not keeping up. However, whether I read the articles sitting in my reader today or in a week, they will still be there. I may miss some of the conversations, but that's the way it goes. Even though it's really bugging me that I'm behind, I'm learning to let it go and not get stressed out.

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