While doing this manual importing of old blog posts to Blogger project, I got to read quite a few posts that I really enjoyed or they brought back memories for me.  Here are 12 that I think were the ones I liked the best – but not necessarily the most read:

  11. Final Reflection on Learning from a Master Teacher
  12. Social media for Everyman? Not so sure…

The project to bring my old blog posts to One Foot In Reality, resulted in me reading all of my old posts and seeing how my thoughts have evolved over the past three years.  If I hadn’t been blogging I would have lost a great deal of what I was thinking about during this time and how I have come to some of the beliefs that I hold today.

I might have called this project a pain in the butt, but in reality it was a good thing and I recommend that everyone go through their old blog posts and re-read what you have written…it might you surprise you.

What have you done to make a difference today?

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I just finished a very onerous project, one that I had not looked forward to starting or doing.  When I created One Foot in Reality back on August 21, 2010 – I consciously and quite purposely made the decision to not bring all of my blog entries to it at that time for a reason.

Why?  Why wouldn’t I want to have all of my blog posts in my primary blog, so that it would be easier to find them?  Simple – it is a pain in the butt to bring non-Blogger posts to a Blogger blog.  I knew how much work reviewing, deciding which of the 820 bog posts that were in my WordPress blog to bring forward, edit, and re-link.  I also have several blog posts in other blogs and while I have archived this information in several places, that was the problem, it was scattered and not easily accessible in one place to review.

I started this project after I renewed my old WordPress blog and decided that it would be my last renewal of that site for me.  Over the past few days, I have combed through over a 1,000 blog posts, trying to decide which ones I really wanted to have in One Foot in Reality.  I decided that the 100 or so that focused on political issues didn’t fit, so I left them in archive status (if I have a really slow weekend, I might post them someday), the weekly or monthly reviews were not brought forward and some others for various reasons were not included.

I knew it would take quite a bit of time to get it done – it ended up being over 22 hours of work (and I still have some re-linking to do), but now I have the blog posts that I want in one place, I feel a lot better.  I also feel a pretty good sense of accomplishment that I finished this project and didn’t let it just linger on and on.

My advice to anyone thinking about leaving Blogger, make sure that you export your posts to someplace where you can find it again – just in case you later decide to come back to Blogger – it will make the return so much easier.  For those of you with other blog hosts who are thinking about changing to Blogger, realize that you will probably have to manually import your posts, if you want to bring them with you.  In the long run it is worth it, but if you have a lot of posts, it will require more time than you think it will.  The good thing is that it forces you to look at what you have done in the past.

I know that I enjoyed the trip down memory lane.

I like Blogger and don’t anticipate changing blog hosts again.  I kept coming back to it, because it allows me the ability to do what I want with it without too many restrictions or having to do more backend management than I want.  Maybe it is time that I just stay here.

What have you done to make a difference today?

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I can’t believe that October is over and that we are 1/4 of the way through the school year.  It has gone by in such a blur.  I hope things can now get back to normal and I can focus on teaching and some good blog posts.

Below are my top 10 posts for the month of October 2010.

Oct 17, 2010
Oct 2, 2010
3.  Looking at Behaviors in the Classroom – Differentl…
Oct 22, 2010
Sep 4, 2010
Oct 17, 2010
Sep 28, 2010
Oct 23, 2010
Oct 16, 2010
Oct 6, 2010
Oct 26, 2010

Thank you everyone who took the time to read my blog and were patient with some of the changes I have been working on to improve its quality.


What have you done to make a difference today?

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April Vacatiom Mary Harold Overlook
Image by hshawjr via Flickr

Isn’t that the goal of many of us — to live forever?

I know that the idea being immortal has a certain amount of appeal, but I also know that I will not live forever.

Sooner or later I will die (hopefully much later), that is just the way it is – we have a limited lifespan.  So how will I become immortal or better yet how will people know who Harold L. Shaw, Jr was?

  • Have children?
  • Be famous?
  • Write?

Having children – I have two of my own and two step-daughters, so bits of my genetic code, memories or photographs will live on.  But really other than passing on my genetic code to my children, is this immortality – No I don’t believe so.  How many generations of family can you name when you go through the family photo album or when you try to remember your family?  I can reliably remember a couple of generations, perhaps an occasional 3rd or 4th generation back, but that is about it.  I really don’t know all that much about those individuals and what they actually thought or believed.  So while having children may achieve a certain amount of immortality, is not the same as having people in the future know who I was.

Being Famous – unfortunately, I wasn’t born rich or will be a great leader, who turns around and does great things.  I am just an average guy who plugs diligently along his life’s journey.  So I will not become immortal this way.  NOT A CHANCE – No one will write multiple biographies about my life build or monuments to honor me and I don’t believe that I will be in any history books.  When I die I will simply be a footnote in some census note and a memory that will fade away.

Write – Am I ever going to write the “Great American Novel” probably not.  But when I write down my thoughts, feelings, and observations in my blogs, those writings are my version of immortality.  Everything that you or I write and publish to the internet is saved somewhere.  While I was on vacation this week I was away from technology a bit, did a lot of thinking and finally figured out that this is the real reason that I write in my blog – to achieve a measure of personal immortality.

This ability to individually write down our thoughts and publish them to a world-wide audience has never happened before in the history of our species. There is no one else telling us what we can or can not write and that what we write is published instantaneously for anyone to read is a powerful thing. As long as there is a an internet, my own words will be available to others to read and learn something about what I thought, believed and a measure of who I was beyond a picture in some photo album in a trunk somewhere. If that is not a measure of immortality – what is?

Think about the legacy your writing leaves to future readers of your blog…not the ones who’s statistics we all track so fervently today or this year, but the one’s who could be reading this decades, centuries or a millennium from today.

That is the paradigm shift in how I viewed my blogging this week – looking at the audience I am writing to today and the audiences I could be writing to tomorrow and beyond.  Many will say that those readers in the future do not matter, but you know something I think they do and may be much more important than the handful who read my blog today.  Those future readers who are our eventual audience, will be able to see the results of our positions and discussions from a different perspective in time.

Maybe only a few people will ever read my blog today, but maybe someday my words may be important to someone attempting to look at the past.  Who knows, maybe even one of my descendants might choose to read my blog and get to know a bit more about one of their fore-bearers through his own writings instead of what the family histories says or does not say about that person.

All the other reasons that we blog in my opinion, are secondary to the real one – achieving a measure of immortality.

What legacy will you leave?  What words do you give to future generations to read?

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Logo for the independent film Self Helpless

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I have been surprised at how easily many of my students (not all), get frustrated with attempting something new, even if it is a something similar to what they have used in the past.

It was almost as if they can’t just start “playing” or “doing” with what they are working on and use it easily/quickly – they just get frustrated and start saying “this is stupid”, “this is boring”, “why do we have to learn this”, (then the farting noises start, the loud voices – outdoor vs indoor), the rude behaviors, “I’m going to the bathroom” and other avoidance tactics that students use to delay or avoid learning.

I also have noted when many students got stuck on how to do something, instead of trying to figure it out themselves and working persistently to get through the problem or  by trying different things themselves, they just start yelling “Mr. Shaw I need help”.  If I don’t drop everything and immediately go to help them theyeither use other techniques to get my attention or just sit there until my teaching assistant or I help them.

It is almost as if they have learned to not try something that appears new, unless someone is right with them to walk them through the process step-by-step and make all the decisions for them.  This is what I believe is known as “learned helplessness” that we see in students.

What is learned helplessness?  A tendency to be a passive learner who depends on others for decisions and guidance.  www.siena.edu/level3col.aspx

uscg-surf boat 12-16-09Hold on tightly sometimes if you attempt to “rock the boat” by actually attempting to teach or expect certain students (especially those deep in the learned helplessness cycle) how to do something independently.  If you do, “the student” the student might shut-down or worse explode and the waves will impact everything in their way AND all the other students in the room.

I have watched this happen way too often in Special Education classrooms and listen to parents discuss this same thing happening at home (ADMISSION:  I used to as a parent – to avoid a bad night at home – do the work for my daughter – so homework many times became my homework not hers).  I know why adults do this, they are trying to just get through the evening or class without a complete blowout ruining things for everyone.

However, are we doing our students any favors by allowing and continuing to enable students to use “learned helplessness” and other learned negative responses as a way for them to control what they have to do and lessen their learning in our classrooms?  I think not!

I know that I don’t enjoy it when a student blows-up in my room, especially if it is an learned response that they have used successfully in the past, because they don’t want to do the work or participate in the lesson/activity the class is doing.  At the same time am I doing that student, their family or their peers any favors if I continue to contribute to their “learned helplessness”.  I believe that if I go down that road, I am simply not doing my job as a teacher.

What am I going to do?

Keep working at pushing my students kicking and screaming towards working as independently as they are capable.  Scaffold as much information as I can, so that they can use previously learned knowledge to connect to what we will be learning in the classroom. Reteach, Reteach, Reteach – Using different methods to teach the same concepts –  just because I taught it yesterday means that they remember it today .

Differentiate between attitude and aptitude in the classroom and use the student’s strengths while learning/understanding their weaknesses whenever possible. While at the same time not giving in to the temper tantrum or “I won’t” or “don’t have to” attitudes.

But I do believe that I will add three vocabulary words to this week:

  1. Frustration,
  2. Persistence,
  3. Learned helplessness

I guess the first two apply to me as well as the students :).

I feel better now and need to go re-plan how I will finish this Unit and figure out ways to also teach/reach as many as I can. 🙂

Remember – it isn’t about you or I – it is about the kids.

Coast Guard Photograph:

THIS IS REPOSTED From 12/17/09 even though this is a re-post, I believe it is important enough to put into my stream for this year with modification and updating.


WEEK IN REVIEW – October 30, 2010

This has been a very good week and I have gotten a lot done. I got my renewal notice for my Resource Room 220 blog and got thinking about it, how long will I want to actually keep paying for a website that I do not use?  I decided to renew this year, but after that, I do not believe that I will doing it again.  That means I have to think about where I want all of those old blog posts.  Yes I have them backed up and somewhere I have a PDF book that I created of them all. However, I wanted a place online where they are still available.  Therefore, I decided bring most of my blog posts from other blogs that I created and have them located here on One Foot In Reality.

This doesn’t mean that I am going to bring forward the ones that really don’t have any pertinent information or opinions that I no longer maintain.  I don’t feel like manually importing 1,000 plus blog posts, so I will filter what I actually do bring forward. That still means I have to manually import between 300 and 400 blog posts over the course of this project.  The good news is that I have gotten up to October 6, 2009, so I am making decent progress, but going back and re-doing the links to the new URL is a pain in the butt.  The biggest thing I have to remember is changing the post date, otherwise it gets posted to the date I copy and paste it in, which caused a couple of interesting comments 🙂
Oh well that is what having been a blog butterfly does for you when you finally decide to land.  A lot of extra work. 🙂
Enough whining, below are my top 5 blog posts for the week.
Oct 23, 2010
Oct 26, 2010
Sep 4, 2010
4.  Three Year Blogging Anniversary Reflection
Oct 24, 2010
5.  Looking at Behaviors in the Classroom – Differentl…
Oct 22, 2010

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read the little bit that I have written this week, while I have tried to get everything re-posted to my blog.


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As a person and teacher I have several things that are important to me.  Below are some of my personal philosophies and things that I attempt to live by – am I always successful – no I am not perfect, but they remind to continuously make the effort to improve myself.

1.  “Give me a reason so I can say Yes”. What do I mean by that? I usually am juggling multiple projects simultaneously, plus my teaching responsibilities and which means my time is rather limited. If someone calls or e-mails with a question, it really helps if the person making the request, gives me some help in getting to yes. That sometimes means them doing a little research before calling or e-mailing, having/listing references, so I don’t have to hunt it down or looking it up and providing a good reason or justification for what they want to do. If they do these things getting to “Yes” is much easier.

2.  What is the actual question?  This is really important in my job and for me. Sometimes (often) the person doesn’t actually know what they are asking for or just how to put what they really want or need into words. So I need to think about what they actually are asking for or about versus the initial or obvious question/comment. I also try to look at the underlying factors for the question, before trying to give an answer which is not related to what they are really looking for.

3.  Let others finish what they have to say – completely (orally or written).  I sometimes have a bad habit of not letting someone finish their entire question/comment or stop reading carefully before finishing something because I think I know what they are going to ask or what is being asked of me. Then I sometimes attempt to answer the question or do what they are asking for based on something less than all the information that I have available to me. This has caused me several headaches throughout my life, but I have worked hard at not doing this and am a lot better at waiting until someone is finished or completely reading something. This little phrase does remind me to listen until the person is finished or read all of what they have written carefully, and think about what they actually are asking or why before acting or commenting/replying

4.  Do the right thing for the right reason. My personal motto, just because you can do something, doesn’t make it the right thing. A reminder to maintain my ethical standards.

5. Honor: I believe that honor is honesty and integrity in my beliefs, actions and what I do when I know no one else is looking or when what I believe or know that I am right is unpopular or difficult for others or myself.

6.  Truth: Is hard to define, but the closest I could find to my belief is was stated by John Dewey, …, held that inquiry, whether scientific, technical, sociological, philosophical or cultural, is self-corrective over time if openly submitted for testing by a community of inquirers in order to clarify, justify, refine and/or refute proposed truths. But truth is and can be a difficult concept and what was the truth one day, may not be the next, so I go back to my definition of honor.

7.  Loyalty: That I owe loyalty to the organization that I am a part of and to those who are above and below me there. Does this mean I will have unswerving loyalty…no that ties directly to my definition of honor.

8.  Consistency: That my choices and behaviors are such that what I do in one situation is what I will in the same or similar situation the next time if possible. I try very hard to treat people and situations equitably.

9.  Compassion: It’s pretty simple to me at least use the Golden Rule “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” It is part of that “doing the right thing for the right reasons. Look at the situation others are in and act in ways that you would want to be treated if you were in that situation. It works.

10.  Be flexible – I think that one speaks for itself. When I am not flexible it is then that stress seems to become overwhelming.

These sayings and words could be looked at as just a bunch of words, but I believe in them and attempt to use them daily at my work and my personal life. I guess that I am a bit old-fashioned about some of these “values”

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Blogger (service)

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When I first created One Foot In Reality, I made a conscious decision to not bring forward my older posts.

It has been more than 3 months and as part of my quarterly review, I have decided to re-post all the older posts.  Unfortunately, going from WordPress to Blogger is not always a simple process and I have to manually re-post the ones that I decide to bring over.  I completely deleted my other Blogger blog and can’t find the back-up that I made.

So if I accidentally forget to change the post date please bear with me, until I go back in and give it’s proper post date.

Example – I forgot to change the date on my:

No I am not leaving teaching right now, but it did post to today’s date, so I apologize to anyone who does follow my RSS feeds and received this inadvertently.
Putting your old posts back into Blogger is such a pain in the butt.  But after this year, I don’t believe that I will renew my Resource220 website and want to ensure that I get the posts from there and put them on my primary blog.
Thank you for your patience.


Ray Bolger as Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz ...

Image by mharrsch via Flickr

WHO ACTUALLY ARE THE ONES IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP POSITIONS TODAY?  Answer:  They are the ones that were successful in school.
Why is this important?  They see their personal academic successes as something that everyone should either be able to do also or as something that everyone else should aspire to.
Our present leadership continues to view that preparing all students for going to college and/or a career is the answer to our educational issues and improving our country’s ability to compete globally.  After all that is how they became successful and that is how they see today’s students should do it too.  Go to school, do well academically, go to college get a degree, find a job and live the American dream of a big house, 2 cars, a dog, a cat and lots of expensive toys.
It might be, but what happens to those who are being and will be left behind, who do not plan or want to attend college – no matter how much we say it is a good thing? They just want to get out of  high school and away from a system that destroys their self-esteem and forces them to do things they do not see any reason to learn or do – most of what they do in school today are simply hoops that have to be jumped through to get that diploma, so many give up before they even get that.
Unfortunately, those who do not have that piece of sheepskin, are mostly silent, because they have been taught that unless they are college educated that their voice is not as important or valued as those that do – there is a lot of “academic intimidation”.  It is the “Scarecrow” from the “Wizard of Oz mentality.   Most don’t speak up too loudly for fear that someone will point out that they don’t “have a brain” i.e. the sheepskin and be publicly embarrassed when they start talking on issues that are “beyond their ability to understand”.  Instead they grumble to their neighbors and relatives about how bad things are going for their kids at school, but most just hope that life will be better for their children.
Those who are not college educated  would provide a different perspective than the “we speak” that is happening in educational leadership today. Those without college degrees see things differently, but simply are not hired as staff members. Being included in surveys and interviews are not the same as being on the staff and being there to advise important people on education related issues when policies are being developed, (they don’t have the necessary qualifications – a college degree)
To me leadership does not look at “the real world or educational needs” of all students.  They are insulated in their ivory towers and don’t understand that photo-ops are very different than the day-to-day classroom.  They are seeing education reform and policy only through the filter or rose tinted glasses of their college educated staff, who are so deep in “we speak” that they do not really see or understand the need for other alternatives.
Maybe it would be a novel and great idea to find and actually hire “real” people for some of those staff positions, to provide differing backgrounds and views on what education truly needs for all students i.e. the trades, retail, manufacturing, etc.   They could provide a voice for those that don’t have the “college experience” but instead have had success in the world outside of academia.  But you would have to do it in equal numbers to the “we speak” crowd, so they couldn’t be ganged up on and intimidated by the lack of a sheepskin.  It would be interesting to see what kind of different ideas would come out of that kind of staff.
I believe the plans from that type of staff might be more realistic than our current ivory tower college only and data driven management approach to education policy and reform, that currently leaves so many of our students behind.
So who speaks today for those who are not successful in the present and proposed educational system?  As it stands right now, pretty much just those who have been successful in that system – those with a college degree.  Seems pretty self-perpetuating to me and no real positive change will be accomplished, just more standards and standardized tests to manage their data driven system more easily from the top.


5 Don’ts When Blogging

Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food...Image via Wikipedia

Last week I had the three year anniversary of my first blog post, back on October 21, 2007.  I have learned a lot about blogging over that time, and no I do not consider myself an expert at blogging, just someone who has done most of the “don’t do’s” and some of the do’s over the past three years.  Here are my reflections of some of the things I have learned about blogging during those three years.
First Don’t – Don’t make too many changes.  I have had at least ten different bloghosts and thirteen primary blog names, since I started blogging in 2007.  What has been the result of all this changing around? I have learned a lot about how to setup a blog and use different themes, but it has meant was that as soon as I started to get some followers and people were reading and commenting on my blog regularly, I moved and hoped that they would follow me.  Some did, but most got tired of the constant moving around and perpetual changes to the themes, widgets or other eye candy on my blogs and stopped reading my blog regularly.  Why did I make so many change?  Many times, I was frustrated about not being able to do something (like adding a specific widget for the sidebar) or was bored and wanted to see what else was out there, which were not good reasons to make all those wholesale changes that negatively affected readers.
Before making any changes to your blog take the time to think critically about the impact your changes will have on the people who actually read your blog and the impression you will  be giving them when you are constantly changing where you are or what your appearance is.  After all isn’t that why most of us blog – to have someone read what we write.
I recently changed my blog’s theme for the first time, since I created it in August, but it was not a decision that I just did or took lightly like I have done in the past.  I took my time and thought it out over the course of a couple of weeks.  I went through and looked at the reasons that I wanted to change the theme objectively and to see if what I wanted to do would be beneficial to the readers.  The most recent changes to my blog were actually thought out and hopefully they made reading my blog easier.
Second “don’t” – publishing posts that are not ready for others to read.  I have posted far too many blogs that have had incomplete thoughts, the content was not clear or ordered logically, proofreading is not at a high level or the post was so long that no one would read it anyway.
In reality I have tried too hard sometimes to get the thoughts out of my head and out to the blogosphere.  Which resulted in blog posts that were poorly written and the poor writing undermined the credibility of my content or ideas.  Going back to do major editing or completely revise a post after you have published it is not acceptable and that is what I have had to do far too many times.  That is why this post is four days after the anniversary date – I have let it sit a couple of days.  This is and will continue to be the most difficult challenge for my blogging, slowing down and really looking at what I write. I have to remember quality over quantity.  Blogging is not a peer reviewed article, but your posts are a reflection of you, unfortunately while I might have some good ideas, the main impression that I leave with many readers is that I am not a very polished writer.
“Third don’t” – don’t forget to participate in the online communities.  If you want others to read your blog, read other blogs, leave comments on posts you find interesting or informative, be on Twitter, use Facebook, they are the major community applications right now.  As you use those tools and participate in those online communities, you will be exposed to other people and online communities with similar interests or different perspectives of the same issues.  Don’t be a troll or a lurker who only writes about what they see happening online.  Jump in and put your thoughts out there in those communities, you might be surprised at how much others will listen to your ideas and how much some of your deeply held beliefs will be challenged.  Both are good things.
“Fourth don’t – don’t go long periods without posting to your blog. It does not mean you have to write something everyday, but do post on a regular schedule for your readers, so they will know that you are still around and that your blog hasn’t died the death of many a forgotten blog.  We all are extremely busy in our lives, but finding the time to write a post once a week is pretty reasonable.
“Fifth don’t – don’t take yourself too seriously.  Laugh at yourself, when reflecting on something you did, it is okay to point out things you could have done better, discuss changes of perspective or opinion you have had.  Everyone has different opinions, perspectives and ideas to change the universe and make it better, don’t think that your way is the only way or the only solution to the problem.  Look for blogs, websites and other information sources for opinions different than your own.  I know that this is very hard for us to do, we prefer to read or hear from people who have similar views as our own, but if you stay in the “echo chamber” you do not get to hear what the other side is actually saying or proposing be done.  Which has a couple of affects, you know their strategy and can have appropriate counter-arguments or perhaps change your view on a subject.  Please remember blogging isn’t all about you, give credit where credit is do.
Remember that anyone can read what you post in your blog when you publish publicly to the Internet.  Therefore, be very careful when writing about where you work, disagreeing with policies, making negative statements about other people or stating controversial opinions. Know that when you do these things, you do so with the intention of those people you were talking about or those who implement the policies will probably be reading your post eventually – is that what you want to happen.  If it isn’t then don’t publish it.  If you do – you own the consequences for what you wrote.
This post was written mostly for the edublogging audience and for me to see where I have been and what direction I need to be going. But I believe some of the lessons I have learned could be applied to anyone who blogs in whatever field.  As an educator I love that over the past three years that I have been challenged, listened to, pushed to know more about what I write about, which in turn has made me a better teacher than I was when I first started Blogging.
Isn’t that what Blogging is all about – starting conversations and learning from each other.
I want to thank everyone who has or is reading my blog, has been patient with me while I have explored, how to setup a blog. If you happen to be one of those who read my blog back in 2007, please let me know and tell me how you felt about all my changes from your perspective.
My goals over the next year is to learn how to write better blog posts and only make changes that are necessary to make it better for the people who take the time to read my blog.
This post is also an experiment on how much difference a title makes to the number of people who view a blog.  It is a duplicate post of Three Year Blogging Anniversary Reflection with the only change is the title and the image.