I took part in the MEA Conference at the Abromson Center in Portland this morning. The SWAG was pretty good out front, got a lot of pens, this time of year, pens in my school are a pretty “hot” item. Down to the last of my supply and have been on the “look out” for more. Most of the students come to class without them, so I am really glad that I am doing so much more on the computer these days, but still need them once in a while.

Chris Galgay – Maine Education Association President gave the opening remarks and introduced Reg Weaver – NEA President

He stated that the last MEA conference was in 2003, he would like this to be an annual event again. Discussed the Political Action Committee, and the opportunities that are going to happen in this year’s elections. If everyone gives a little, more powerful than just a few giving a lot.

During his introduction of Reg Weaver the words that stuck with me the most were:

“Reg Weaver has flipped the dialog in this country from what is wrong with education, to what is right with education.”

I have attempted to give the spirit of Reg Weaver’s address, but what I have written is not always his exact words.

Mr. Weaver stated that he had just came back from Africa, last Thursday night and while he was there he visited a teacher college preparing 200 African women to become teachers. He discussed that he spoke with them about sometimes teachers need to be unorthodox in their methods, to get through to our students and challenged them (the teacher candidates) to do that.

He discussed that the light of hope is “flickering” in the U.S. He discussed passionately his views; that the gap between rich and poor is growing wider and wider in: health care, safety, education, and opportunity. Mr. Weaver stated that Americans are becoming worn down and disillusioned with their future, those that are in power and are starting to give up hope.

He stated that educators haven’t given up hope in in the American dream. That education is the most important battle ground in the struggle for equality and opportunity. But that we still need to do more to continue to close the achievement gap.

Mr. Weaver said that he understands that urban areas are not alone in experiencing the education gap and that rural areas such as Maine are also experiencing many of the same problems. He talked about how leaders can’t sweep the “achievement gap” problems under the rug. He discussed that there are major differences between poorer rural/urban school between rich and poor districts which lead to unequal educational opportunities for our students.

Very passionately discuss about how it is not right (my word “ethical”) to have Kids take with different educational opportunities take the same tests. How does testing close the achievement gap? We as teachers have a responsibility for every student, not just the best and brightest or richest. But without the support of the public and our political leadership this will not happen. He discussed that only by working together can we reach our children who are being left behind and change public policy to help kids.

Discussed the MEA’s Vision Statement – A great public school for every child.

He discussed that we as teachers should teach children the way that they learn, and must change the way we teach, so that they can learn.

Discussed the poor retention rates of qualified teachers and the effects of teachers leaving the profession.

  • leaving in first 3-5 years
  • poor working conditions –
  • decision making process –
  • no respect – not treated as a professional
  • low pay
  • feeling overwhelmed with workload

He strongly discussed that we need to have a mentoring program for new teachers to keep those teachers and help create continuity in the classrooms, which in turn will help with the educational progress of our students.
Discussed lack of funding in education and how politicians must match rhetoric with resources.

That politicians must provide programs and services meet the needs of the students, not just what is popular or expedient.

Mr. Weaver talked about high dropout rates – stated how it was amazing the numbers of minority students (50% in some populations) that are dropping out. Discussed the NEA initiatives and that they had developed to a 10 point drop plan to help stop the problem. So NEA recognizes the issue and working with Congress towards a resolution.

Discussed Pre-K programs and problems with funding – these programs do make a difference and told story of his own children.

Discussed that Output = test score equals progress in education today. He is very against the idea that ONE test score should not be used to determine the future of a child. Mr. Weaver talked about improving things that should be considered “input” before attempting to measure output: class size safe school, reasonable standards and accountability standards that make sense, parental involvement – focus on input as much or more than the output; that presently it is not that way, government just focusing on the output.

Discussed school funding rates have not changed significantly in over 30 years state and local taxes. The expectation is that you prepare students with the same dollars as in 1975 and the the inequalities of the current rate.

Stated that he is sick and tired of folks holding us (teachers) accountable for when supports are not in place. Discussed that we need to make sure policy makers are held accountable for their actions, that they fight for resources for our children and that due to other special interests is not going to be easy.

Be politically active, discussed TABOR, that will have an opportunity to elect new President and Congress.

Discussed that NCLB needs to be changed, that present administration had it on fast track to get it re-authorized. When given a chance to review the law and make comments — NEA discovered teacher performance was to be based on student test scores – got it stopped and it is stuck in committee right now. Was discussing that if they (Congress & Administration) didn’t want to give us the resources needed to actually improve the achievement gap, but actually wanted to base teacher performance and student performance solely on test scores. Asked where is the equity in that. Stick with devil we know versus the devil we don’t know. Discussed watching what people do versus what they say. He discussed NEA negotiation process with congress on re-authorization of NCLB.

Recognizing schools for the successes, not only the challenges.

Discussed fairness of including special needs students and Language Learning students being measured in with the general populations. If special education students could do the same work as regular education students then they wouldn’t be in special education, but we require them to take the same test. That is ridiculous.

Urged educators to speak with the legislators – they don’t know what is actually going in the classroom and are getting their information from people who have not been in the classroom for “10,000 years” or if they have ever been in the classroom.


“Kids don’t care how much you know, they want to know how much you care.”
Reg Weaver is a Good motivational speaker. He did a good job of attempting to motivate the teachers that were there.

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Finally Taking the Twitter Leap


I have been half-heartedly been “using” Twitter, for the past few months but only had 6 people that I was following.

It seems that an awful lot of blog posts that I read are always talking about how they used Twitter for this or Twitter for that…so I half-heartedly joined up, but never really found out what the big deal was?

When I responded to a post of Clay Burell at Beyond School as part of the response I said  “I am still having trouble with Twitter…I just can’t wrap my head around it…I will keep trying though and he made a suggestion about using Twitter.”

Well tonight I added Twitbin to my Firefox browser and I now I understand its power, much more!  I just wasn’t using the right tool – that would make Twitter useable, because having to go to the Website every time was inconvenient, this way it is there when I want it.

So thank you Clay for your sage advise, which will allow me to maybe sip from the Twitter waterfall.  — Harold

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What is a digital native?


I have a real question that I just can’t wrap my brain around.What is a digital native?

Is it:
a. someone who knows how to download songs to an Ipod or MP3 player?
b. someone who can use a gaming station such as Wii, Playstation, or whatever is the “hot” console?
c. someone who has accessed: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Gmail, chats, eMail, etc.
d. someone who was born after 1990 (to use a generic year, it could be 1985).
e. someone who uses: blogs, RSS feeds, wikis, podcasts, video streaming, Skype etc.

The correct answer based upon my learning in the last three months would be “d”. Is that the only requirement to be considered as a digital native, being born on or after a certain year? The answer is — as far as I have read, not based on actual experience.

My personal experience has been (with an admittedly less than academically motivated population and a small sample size), is that many at-risk youth, special education and many others come in being able to do or have done some of answers: a., b., c., and they fit d., but have never used or been exposed many or all in answer e. So does this make them digital natives that just haven’t been exposed to all of their environment or are they not digital natives?

I don’t believe that this generation as a whole, has all that many individuals that are that much more technologically savvy than some earlier generations. So how did they get the term “digital native”? Or was it given out of the hope of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Personally, I believe that this generation as discussed in Will Richardson’s latest blog and what others have called — the “lost generation” is a more appropriate name for this generation than “digital native” generation. But this term is so negative and I dislike calling a student “lost”. It just isn’t career enhancing for a teacher.

I believe that this generic term (digital natives) would be better applied to those born a bit later (maybe those who were born after 2005), they will be (I hope ) immersed in technology in and out of school on a much broader scale than the present generation.

So if we don’t call this generation “digital natives”, what should we call them? I really hate the term “lost generation” it is so negative, even if it does seem to fit in view of what they are not being allowed to learn or even how as a result of NCLB’s testing mandates. Are they the “almost digital natives”, semi-digital natives, or the “test taking” generation (in the U.S.), but many of them are not digital natives.

Finally I have attached the Wikipedia definition of Digital Native:

Digital native

“From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

digital native is a person who has grown up with digital technology such as computers, the Internet, mobile phones and MP3. A digital immigrant is an individual who grew up without digital technology and adopted it later. A digital native might refer to their new “camera”; a digital immigrant might refer to their new “digital camera”.

Marc Prensky claims to have coined the term digital native, as it pertains to a new breed of student entering educational establishments.[1] The term draws an analogy to a country’s natives, for whom the local religion, language, and folkways are natural and indigenous, over against immigrants to a country who must adapt and assimilate to their newly adopted home. Prensky refers toaccents employed by digital immigrants, such as printing documents rather than commenting on screen or printing out emails to save in hard copy form. Digital immigrants are said to have a “thick accent” when operating in the digital world in distinctly pre-digital ways, when, for instance, he might “dial” someone on the telephone to ask if his e-mail was received.

A Digital Native research project is being run jointly by the Berkman Centre for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School and the Research Center for Information Law at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.

Gartner presented on the term at their recent IT Expo (Emerging Trends) Symposium in Barcelona.

Not everyone agrees with the language and underlying assumptions of the digital native, particularly as it pertains to the concept of their differentiation. There are many reasonable arguments against this differentiation.

It suggests a fluidity with technology that not all children and young adults have, and a corresponding awkwardness with technology that not all older adults have. It entirely ignores the fact that the digital universe was conceived of and created by digital immigrants. Finally, in its application, the concept of the digital native preferences technological users as having a special status as it relates to technology because they use it, which glosses over the significant differences between technology users and technology creators.”
The term “digital native” doesn’t seem to me to be very accurate depiction of this entire generation or is it supposed to only be a generalization? I guess that is what I have to wrap my head around.

So what do you think?????? Am I way out in left field (something not unusual for me), or did I reach the “who am I” level “again”?

Technorati Tags: digital natives,richardson,skype,blog,myspace,facebook,email,digital native,lost generation,technology,teaching,test taking,NCLB,rss feeds,wikis,podcast,video streaming,wikipedia

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 (3/18/08)Just a quick “who do I think I am to write this”. I have worked with at-risk youth since 1996, in the following positions: Assistant Family Teacher, Behavior Technician, Behavior Technician Team Leader (these all in a group home), Case Manager, Education Technician III and a Special Education Teacher. So while this is not an academic study or an “expert” discussing this topic, I do have a lot of practical day-to-day experience in the subject. This blog is directed mainly at educational staff, but some things in here are universal. The opinions and observations stated in here are strictly my own.

1. LACK OF SELF-CONFIDENCE. Most of these learners/youth actually have very little self-confidence. Most come across as bigger than life or that they know everything. I have found that in many instances this is actually a lot of bravado to cover up how insecure they actually are. Just think of what some (not all) have been told they are “less than others”, abused and neglected by the very people that should love and nurture them throughout their short lives. Most do not have the “typical” family life that “we” might have had.

They are actually very needy and need to be supported as much as possible. I understand that large class sizes, their behaviors and other factors make this difficult, but sometimes we at “school” are the only stable part of their life.

2. NEGATIVE BEHAVIORS IN THE CLASSROOM: When they are acting out in class is it because they are “jerks” – especially when they are letting you know pretty emphatically — that they don’t know how to do whatever it is you are doing in class or that you are boring them. Often times it is easier for them to “look baaad in front of their peers, then dumb or stupid. Think about that kid that always acts out in your class, think about when that youth does it. Is it when you call on them or ask them to do start work, do something in front of their peers or respond to a question where their peers will see their academic difficulty? Especially after years of comments from “teachers”, “Oh come on – anyone can answer that question”; “Ah – you didn’t do your homework again!”; “I guess I need someone else to answer this question.” and all those other “put downs” that are said to students by teachers. If this is the case, the teacher is initiating the student’s negative behavior cycle and setting the teacher and youth up for behaviors in the classroom.

Teachers have to remember that at-risk youth typically have poor school attendance records and can have tremendous gaps in their education (high school students reading at 3-4th grade level or unable to do basic math functions). It doesn’t mean that they are dumb or learning disabled, they simply haven’t been in school enough to learn these basic skills, but they are embarrassed about their lack of academic ability. Where I work, we call these students curriculum deprived and attempt to fill in these basic skills. Putting or keeping these students in regular classes, is usually setting them up for failure and for the teacher to have disruptive behaviors in their classroom.

I believe that the reason at-risk students like computers so much are that computers are non-judgmental, when youth make a mistake it allows them to re-do (in most cases), goes at a pace they can follow along (slower or faster) and it holds their attention better.

Another thing just because you taught it yesterday, doesn’t mean they learned it yesterday. These student have so much on their mind and so many difficulties (emotional, learning issues, substance abuse, mental health problems, etc.) that just because they seemed to understand what you previously taught, doesn’t mean they do today. I know that this is very frustrating for us as teachers, but just think how frustrating it is for these youth (especially the ones who know that they could understand if there wasn’t so much going on). But in large classes what do we do? There isn’t any simple answer for this and I don’t claim to have the answer, but smaller classes and more individual attention really works well. But in this time of budget crunches, it isn’t a realistic solution.

In the course of teaching a class, if a teacher is purposely and repeatedly sets a child up to fail, or continually verbally demeans a student, then in my eyes the teacher is initiating the youth’s behavior cycle and is abusing that child. This may sound harsh, but it is the way I feel.

3. DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY. Many times these youth are battling multiple demons in their lives, their home life is shambles, their relationships are tumultuous, substance abuse is rampant, the police, multiple state agencies are involved and so on. These youth are stressed to the max and the last thing on their mind is “school”. When they lash out in your classroom, are they actually always lashing out at you or the other students…no I find most of the time it is everything else going in their life and you just happen to be the one they blow up at.

Sometimes, take it as a compliment when they blow up at you (am I crazy – maybe), but they feel safe enough around that person or place to let out some of their frustrations. What can you do? Maintain school standards, expectations and set appropriate boundaries (rules) and don’t let the youth intimidate you by yelling, screaming, swearing, etc. into lowering your standards. Physical aggression is a different story, but you should follow the polices in place for your school in either case.

I know how difficult this is to do — I have been called every name in the book, some that are not in the book and some were invented specifically for me, been kicked, hit, bitten at some point or another in my career with at-risk youth and have found the one thing they really respect is CONSISTENCY. They thrive on knowing what you will do in the classroom or those “bad” situations and once they know you are “safe” (you won’t hurt them), you can begin a relationship with them –slowly.

4. BUILD RELATIONSHIPS: These youth are scared to death of relationships, they will do everything they can to “push” people away, that way it is harder for them to be hurt, especially by adults – again. My best advise is be patient and take it at the youth’s speed – not yours (if you rush them, the result usually isn’t pretty), be consistent and stick around. These youth will test you in every way they can, to see if you stick around. But if you are able to stick around, you might be surprised with the results.

5. THE PAY-OFF: When you are walking around in a mall, store or other public place and the youth see you and come rushing over, and want to talk your ear off; sit down beside you when they don’t have to and talk “sports”, about their future or you see them in that cap in gown at graduation. It is then you know why you took the time to extend your hand, kept it out no matter how much they slapped it away, and stuck with them.

The same youth and adult many years later.

I could go on, but these are to me some of the most important issues to look at when working with at-risk youth. Books have been written about this subject, by people a lot smarter than me, but I thought it would be nice to get a conversation started on this subject and see where it leads.

Why did I write this – I can’t really say…but in your prayers to whatever higher spirit/power you have tonight, say an extra one for a youth that I know. Thank you. – Harold

Technorati Tags: at-risk youth,blog,education today and tomorrow,frustration,graduation,learning style,reform,shaw,Special education,teacher,teaching,technology

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While driving in to work today, I had one of those personal “aha” moments and realized something very important was changing in my life.  In my “Imagine” post I discussed how it would be nice if Maine, Department of Education had a blog site and the ability to get new information out by the way of something like a RSS feed (a subscriptions).
I realized that this morning that I am experiencing a paradigm shift in my expectations about how I get access to new information.

Instead of me having to go and find new information, I expect it to come to me.

This is a huge shift for me and I believe that many out there in cyberspace are experiencing the same thing.  The ability to utilize RSS Feeds, Google Reader, etc. have made accessing current information almost too easy, then add in the ability communicate worldwide instantaneously and  to search for information (through a multitude of search engines) and almost instantaneously be overwhelmed with what you can access.  It makes the way I used to access information, seem so obsolete and it is.

From my perspective, it is okay to have to research or look for “old” information, but new “stuff”, policies or procedures, I expect others to set it up so that the information will be delivered to me via my computer.   I am “too busy” to have to go and look for new information.   If that isn’t a paradigm change, I don’t know what is.
Now that I have experienced this paradigm shift, how do I integrate it into my teaching?  Still have to have that “aha” moment for that.

It seems as though I am having a lot of those “aha” moments lately.   Hopefully it is a good thing!!!

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In the Web2.0 class I am taking, I got off on one of my usual tangents…but looking back at it I thought it was a good idea for a blog thought.

That the Maine – Department of Education (DOE) and other government agencies should make better use of blogging and RSS feed technologies to keep us people in the trenches (the public) better informed of what is going on at the state and federal levels.   I will focus on Education, but this could be applicable to any government agency or bureaucracy.

Information is still power and some Superintendents and Principals (whether it be unintentional or intentional – don’t always get the word out).  Government has attempted to open up a lot and we can go to the Website, but they are often static, off times difficult to navigate (too much information), I call them Blivet sites (10 pounds of stuff , 5 pound bag).   I personally don’t have time and energy to check all the education websites everyday to see what is new or has changed, but if I could subscribe to a feed or blog it would:

1. Make the DOE more approachable and allow them to hear what is actually going out here if they allowed comments back.  I have seen some very promising signs of DOE wanting to hear what our thoughts are and this would be another step in opening up the lines of communication between “us and them”.

2. There is sometimes a perception of an adversarial relationship  between DOE and rank and file out here.  With the multiple requirements from Federal and State levels, there is the perception of top-down management in the implementation of many new initiatives.  Opening up the lines of communication might alleviate the perception of the DOE “We are here to help, but…   stem the tide of it seeming so adversarial and become more partners in education.

3. Make communication easier – flatten education in Maine – make it so that teachers have more of a say, instead of the administrators “knowing” what is always best for us in our own classroom.  Treat us as the professionals we are and allow us input into changes that affect our profession.

4. Having the ability to subscribe to RSS feeds would give me current information that I could use, let me know what I have to do, so that I can actually start doing what I am supposed to do, when I am supposed to do it, not a year later and get nailed during an audit. Because I didn’t know something had changed and neither did my administrator.

5.  Sometimes administrators  (and/or public servants) don’t realize (or “forget”) how small changes in policy can actually affect the classroom and attitudes of our profession greatly.  Using blogs as vehicles to announce changes or for soliciting input on proposals could remind them of this and make some in the trenches feel more empowered about  the decision making  process in teaching policy or maybe not, but at least they would have an opportunity to say something.

Well I will get off my soapbox…but imagine an official DOE blog, based on multiple contributors at the state level (something like edublogs) and maybe even some guest bloggers (highly respected teachers, students, experts Will Richardson and Dave Warlick come to mind, Federal education officials etc.) just imagine how much information could be passed in both directions to continue to improve the education process in Maine.

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This my 50th post on Hshawjr-My Thoughts.  Is is a pretty big milestone for me, when I started my blog in October, I really didn’t know how or what I would use it for, other than a glorified electronic diary.  Looking back I was originally going to use it as a weekly reflection on what I had done and to help me have “stuff” I had done during the course of the year available for my end of year evaluation  Little did I know that blogging would be my introduction to a new way of learning, new ideas, interesting individuals different teaching strategies and become the cornerstone to my own Personal Learning Network.

In my search for a good site to host my blog I went through some other sites:  starting in blogger (because that is what my tech coordinator uses), went to Classroom 2.0 Ning site,  then over to WordPress for a short while and finally back to blogger.  I didn’t intend for Blogger to be my host site, but when I was attempting to post to WordPress through Zoho Writer, it didn’t want to post to there, but would post to Blogger, so I figured it was some kind of a “sign” to use Blogger and have been here since.

My growth as a blogger has been “interesting”, I had delusions of grandeur for a short time  in January after reading too many “you too can make money blogging” blogs , thinking that I too could do that too.  Then came the time I took exception to a response to another blogger and became the “Gadfly” for a very short while (2 posts) until, I realized how that was unlike who I really am now and it really isn’t what I wanted to known for.  So I came back to reality pretty quickly.

I am what I am – a teacher from a small town in Maine, who is trying to learn new things that can help his students in the classroom and continue my own self-improvement.  I will never be rich, famous or become a famous educational consultant that travels the country and the world (it would be nice), I just want to be someone that tries to make a difference for some, I am very happy with my life and the direction I am taking with my blogging.

When I look at the world map on the side of my page, I find it fascinating that others have taken the time out of their busy life and either looked at or read this blog from many parts of the world that I will never visit.

Sometime the power that this method of communication (the web  and blogging) gives us, has given me, awes and humbles me with the thought of the immensity of what is actually happening in the world today (the flat world – for the first time in history).  This ability to communicate world-wide almost instantaneously has taught me so much, by being able to have two-way conversations with the many intelligent, talented people out here in the blogosphere, that I would never have had the chance to learn from otherwise.

So this blog will continue to focus on my journey as a teacher, things that I learn that should be passed on to others, software and applications that I actually use and find useful, an occasional rant to get things off my chest and finally as a way of communicating my thoughts to others, who might find it a bit interesting.

So thank you to everyone who reads this blog and all the “teachers” I have learned from in the blogosphere.

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I don’t know if today is the right day to do this post, because it was a tough day…but here goes.

Today was a another really tough day and I have to seriously questioning whether I should continue as a teacher or whether I should go back to being a paper pusher somewhere else. I have been looking at the want ads in the paper and online with much more diligence and interest than I have done in the past. This is a concern to me, because I haven’t felt the need, before this year, but I am feeling a bit crispy right now.

– Certainly not a 9-5 job you are expected to work evenings, weekends and on your vacations.
– Being told that you have to stay until X time on the Friday before vacation, even though everyone knows that while on the “vacation” you will be putting XX number of hours preparing for when you get back or correcting papers from before vacation. Just so other workers won’t feel slighted by you leaving a little early, especially right before you many vacations.
– The night before you had to stop correcting those papers, because the coffee drool coming down the side of your face was starting to drip on a learner’s paper and your head bounced off the table.
– For at least nine months of the year, your life revolves around “school. Others in your life either learn to live without you being available for them during the school year.
– Having to be “on” continuously while in school, relaxing or letting down your guard isn’t recommended around the students.
– Play acting wanting to be there – gotta be that good, positive role model, day-in, day-out.
– Changing how we teach by changing laws and regulations. LAS, Maine Learning Results, NCLB, overuse of standardized testing and so many other NOT IN MY CONTROL items.
– Lack of budgetary resources and issues.
– Pay or is that the lack of it.
– Dealing with “smart-mouthed” teenagers who aren’t your own.
– Inservice days where professional development isn’t worth going to.
– Education Regulations and Laws that are based on politics.
– Old technology and outdated teaching expectations/philosophies.
– Being expected to be a social worker, babysitter, father confessor, surrogate parent, aunt or uncle, teach social expectations, ensure learners bath/are clean, teach how to behave, act as targets for verbal abuse, occasionally be a target for physical aggression, and so many other things that society expects their teachers to do for them.
– FINALLY, THE BIGGEST ONE, NOT BEING CONSIDERED A PROFESSIONAL by other professionals. Teachers are well educated, for the most part well trained, caring and deeply committed to their professions and learners. Yet we are considered incompetent by many (politicians for example), who feel the need to tell us how to do our jobs by passing new laws instead of allowing us to use our professional judgement (like other professions are allowed). Or you get the comment – oh how do you like working only 9 months a year or I wouldn’t want your job for anything in the world.

– Where I work the administration is very supportive of ideas, discussion and trying to make our life easier inspite of the “conditions” we might be in.
– Working with “smart-mouthed” teenagers who aren’t your own
– Those aha moments that occur when everything suddenly clicks for a student.
– Schedule: Christmas Break, February Break, April Vacation, Summer Vacation
– The teachers that I work with, they are dedicated, fun to be around, intelligent and resourceful people that make it work in spite of the all the cons.
– Teaching is keeping me young, if you are constantly around old people, you will feel old, if you are around young people, you feel younger.
– Learning new technologies and techniques to make life easier.

I guess it comes down to my perception of a lack of respect from non-teachers. I simply ask that we be treated by other professions as professionals in our field (teaching) and let educators decide the future of education.

It appears the cons are outweighing the pros at this time, but I don’t really want to give up teaching quite yet. I still like teaching, which is a significant downgrade from loving it before this year. However, if a position comes around that I believe that I could be really passionate about…I would have to think very hard and long about whether to apply or not. So just in case, I guess I will update my resume. Until then I am a teacher.

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I was bouncing around Google reader and picking off links and while I was looking at Jim Lerner’s blog, I noticed that he had an entry Thomas Friedman . I had read “The World is Flat” in December, so I read the Mr. Lerner’s blog a little closer.
It had a link to a conference Mr. Friedman spoke at in November ’07 so I clicked it
I watched the video in its entirety, in one sitting. That is highly unusual for me, I get really antsy and have to move around a lot. He repeated a lot of information from his book and other places I have read. But this was the first time I have heard him speak. He is very, Very good.
The things that stuck out in my mind were:

  • Gross Individual Product
  • Rule 1 – Whatever can be done, will be done
  • It will done either for you or to you
  • Rule 2 – Economic Competition is between you and your own imagination.
  • Rule 3 – How well you horizontalize
  • How well you learn to collaborate on this platform
  • Green revolution vs a “green” party.

Others much more intelligent and wise than I am, have discussed Mr. Friedman’s views and books extensively, but this video stopped and made me think almost as much as the book did and that is a lot.
How do we as educators change policy, law, opinions and prejudices that will allow us to inspire, engage and empower our students to meet the challenges he discusses?

The present climate in the United States is for educators to go about teaching our students with the equivalent of handcuffs and blindfolds on us and them. Then when you attempt to take them off, you are brought to heel in the guise of needing to teach to raise student test scores. I know that I am preaching to the choir, to anyone who might read my blog, but how do we get this word out to the power brokers who actually control what happens?

I am really concerned that my Grandchildren will not have the same opportunities that we were given to advance ourselves and use our imaginations. “We” need to do something to help that next generation now — because I think it is too late for my children’s generation (generation NCLB). Ayden isn’t in school yet and hasn’t been subjected to the rigors of filling in bubbles, so “we” still have a chance to cultivate his and his generation’s imagination.

I don’t have the answers, but will continue blogging and talking to anyone that will listen to me (not that my efforts will make much of a difference, but I have to try). A little discouraged, but ever hopeful…
— Harold

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This has been a very busy week. The week after vacation is an interesting week at most schools (everyone is still on vacation mode – not wanting to be there (learners and staff)). We have been getting some new learners into our programs lately and integrating them into student body is an interesting exercise. We get learners that have had difficulties behaviorally elsewhere and getting them to understand the need for having structure in their life can sometimes be “interesting” (as defined by Sun Tzu). But that is what we do and for the most part seem to do it very well, but it can be a bit “tiring”, but worth it.

I was lucky enough to try something a bit different this week. I am in the process of attempting to teach how to do a research paper for my Fundamentals of English class, originally I thought it might take a couple of weeks to do a 3-5 page paper, in light of my previous post Maine – New Graduation Requirements. After discussing with the learners and reflecting a bit, I see in order to do it right it will take longer, so I have basically given us until April vacation (if we get it done sooner – fantastic) to take the time frame weight off their shoulders.

Thank goodness, I have been given the flexibility to change my curriculum on the basis of what the students need versus what is dictated from on high…but I guess that will be changing soon…if the new laws requiring regarding state approved Syllabi go into effect.

I got two new learners in the class mid-week. This is part of an experiment with another program on campus to transition students to a less restrictive environment, but continuing to maintain supports. If it works, it will mean some really great stuff for the learners (building self-confidence, independence, and adding another block in their education foundation). While giving our school another tool in our belt to help learners.

This experiment is also a chance for me to see the progress of one of the learners, which has been very dramatic.
The tekkie guys are looking at opening up the wireless “again”. So hopefully I can talk the Systems Administrator to allow me into the net that way.

I also worked on getting read for my Web2.0 class. I set the class up in a OneNote notebook and have started the required readings.

So I have access to the information even I don’t have an Internet connection. Now I just have to actually buckle down and do the work, no more just simply “organizing”. It’s going to be an “interesting” next 6 weeks.

I have been reading a lot posts and back posts of Clay Burrell and Wesley Fryer lately and have purposely attempted to start using the term “learner” instead of student or client. It fits much more accurately what they are in school to do. So this is something that I have to consciously attempt and am planning to use it when talking to others (gonna try anyway).

Well time to get to the household chores done and get ready to snowblow the driveway again after another expected foot of snow. It is already snowing very heavily “sigh” getting tired of driving in and cleaning up snow — but isn’t that why I moved back to Maine “The Way Life Should Be”.

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