Mom Guilt - Blog survey

I recently participated in a survey about "who's coming to dinner." A survey about who is out there in the educational bloggoshpere. I believe the results came back with more men than women participating in the discussion. There has been discussion about the scarcity of women bloggers.

Blogging has been a tremendous experience for me. Good and bad. The good is all the great people I have been introduced to and having conversations with. I also feel I have grown in my writing and professionally. I now have a new tool to find ideas outside of my own district, state, and most surprisingly country!

Now for the bad.............MOM GUILT! I have a 20 month old daughter and I have to draw the line sometimes. You may be thinking, "Where exactly is she drawing the line? She is podcasting and blogging all the time." But that is not true. Okay, maybe a little. I have to budget my time a little more carefully. When I am with my daughter and husband I am truly with them. Currently my daughter is napping. For the 15 min. it took her to fall asleep I was listening to a podcast on my iPod.

It has also been refreshing to see all the family pictures on male bloggers sites and hearing them discuss them in their podcasts. Our kids are the motivation behind our passion for what we do. I want my daughter to look up to me and respect me rather than Britney Spears or Paris Hilton. Good grief! Can you imagine? I am not naive, I know we will go through the eye rolling, I hate my mom stage but this stage is great! I want to enjoy every minute!

I have about one hour to do laundry, pick up toys, prepare for wake-up snack and dinner. You all know the routine. Anyone else feeling some MOM GUILT? How do you cope? What are your organizational strategies? Dad guilt stories are welcome as well. I know being an administrator keeps everyone away from their family at times.

Tech Tools for Administrators Part 1

I just finished posting my latest podcast. Using technology has improved my professional life and is currently taking over my personal life! I don't say that to be negative but this has become my summer hobby in a good way.
I wasn't able to get through all of the technology that I use because I was running out of time so I will have to break this podcast up into parts. We will just see how it goes.
Below are some links to some of the things I mention in my podcast: (I am going to start working on a wiki for all my podcast notes, I think.)

You can see the difference between my Daily Bulletin Blog and my Professional/Personal blog.
Weekly district blog.
Google calendar page of my daily bulletin blog
Example of a post I used Zoho Polls
My video ipod
Podomatic
iTunes

Let me know if I left anything out and I will post a link. Please share tools you think might help my teachers and other administrators! Thanks for reading and listening!

Help with Student Blogging?

I am very interested in how you all are using blogging with your students. Obviously a lot of student blogs are protected so that strangers like me cannot peek in. But please, oh please if you would let me take a look at some student blogging that would be great!

I started at this website and just listened to podcast about 2nd graders blogging but I still have these questions:

Does each student have their OWN blog?
Or is it one blog and all the students are administrators and can post?
Do students create actual posts or comment on a teacher prompt?
What are your different categories?
Do the students have specific titles they always post under or do they make up titles?

I am sure I can figure all this out once I see a couple real examples. Please!!!!

If you can't beat 'em join 'em

Last night our school board had the discussion about cell phones. Let me preface this post by saying these are only my personal opinions and thoughts and not those of my district. Duh, administrators do have minds of their own. Apparently the HS students are getting pretty carried away. They even talked about how they looked for cell phone jamming devices to build into the new HS so kids couldn't use them. This is a violation of some law so that didn't happen.

Isn't texting on cell phones the same thing as writing notes? Oh I bet that comment will stir some emotions. The other features of the cell phone are obviously different. I don't agree with kids taking pictures in locker rooms and then posting them on the internet. Not sure how to win that battle other than just making them aware of the permanence of posting to the web.

I really don't feel like they are using these to be bad so to speak. Great teachers never forget what it was like to be a student and great principals never forget what it was like to be a teacher, and heaven forbid great superintendents forget what it was like to be a principal or in the school all day.

Our district also discussed drug testing which another post/topic for another day. But the point was made to have teachers/staff tested if we are going to require students to be tested. Well, if we are going to limit/ban cell phone usage for the children then shouldn't it be banned/limited for teachers? I do not like my teachers to wear their cell phones. That is a personal preference of mine because if you are wearing your phone you are obviously planning to use it or make a call. During school hours the children are my teacher's number one priority. Yes, they can use it on their planning times, lunch times, and breaks. (Not that teachers get breaks. Don't kid yourself. Teachers work just about every minute of every day.) But there is also a phone in every classroom. So why can't the kids use them on their breaks, planning periods, etc.?

I am not familiar with what the kids are using cell phones for other than keeping in touch with each other because that is what kids do. When I was a kid I talked on the phone all the time. Most of my friends had their own phone in their own room and some even had their own phone line. My parents never went for this. I was so deprived as a child! :)

Ideas for kids with cell phones:
  • I told my teachers they are NOT the cell phone police. It would be very niave of me to think my elementary students do not have cell phones in their backpacks. Most are turned off. Most of the phones elementary kids have are old cell phones their parents have quit using and the kids just play the games on them. Maybe the kids are going to a sleepover after school on Friday night and parents want to be able to contact their kids. Great! Leave the phone in the backpack turned off. No problem. If they do ring or they do have them out. Teachers are to take them and send them to my office and the parents can come pick them up. Only two have come to pick them up because most are old cell phones used for games.
  • Give a designated time for kids to use their phones.
  • Have a cell phone "check in" box in every room. As students come in class put their cell phone in and pick it up on the way out. Maybe to elementary of an idea.
  • Have the kids turn in their cell phone numbers to the teacher or the school. Text your students! Wouldn't they just die?
  • The day of the 'sage on the stage' is over. Walk around the classroom so you can monitor what your kids are doing. I watched a student text with his phone under his leg and not even looking at it. I, of course have to hold my phone up to my face and text one letter at a time and spell every word correctly. I don't know all the text 'short hand.'
If you can't beat 'em join 'em. My hairdresser gets ring tones from the HS kids he does hair for and then bluetooths (is that a word) them to me when I get my hair done. Next school event I am at I will see if any kids will share their ring tones. Choose your battles.

What other suggestions are our there for kids with cell phones, other than to BAN from everything?

Podcast - Advice to Teachers/Book Review

Oh my gosh! The summer just gets so busy with family time and summer projects. I was able to post another podcast today and added a new 'section' if you can call it that. There are so many great books out there that we don't hear about because we don't necessarily have conversations about them. Well I think the blog is the perfect place to have these discussions!

The book review in my podcast is for The Way of the Shepherd by William Pentak and Kevin Leman. This was an assignment in one of my Specialist classes and it is great, short read. I read this book in a couple of hours one Sunday afternoon. I presented on Chapter Four - Make your pasture a safe place. Great read!

Listening to a podcast at Moving at the Speed of Creativity gave me a topic for this podcast. Wes Fryer asked a group of administrators to do the following activity at a workshop he hosted:

"As a campus principal or assistant principal, compose several sentences of ADVICE for a new teacher on your campus which relates to your expectations for their teaching. (Do this with a partner.) How do you want to see them teach and lead students, that may be different from a "traditional" lecture-based or primarily teacher-directed instructional model? How will technology fit into this recipe?"

I won't tell everything I said in my podcast so you have to go listen to it but here are some bullet points:
  • 1st year teachers - SURVIVE - It gets better! Your second year is a breeze compared to the first.
  • It's about the kids. Kids come first! Make decisions in the best interest of the students at hand.
  • Be yourself and let the kids get to know you! You will spend more time with them during the school year per day, than their parents spend with them.
  • Use technology to make your job easier and prepare the kids for a world that we will not see. Kids are already using it so you better catch up.
  • Over plan!
  • Teaching isn't a job, it's a calling. You have been called to change the lives of children and our future.
After thought: Since I am committed to this blog I feel my writing is getting better. That's a good thing because I am working on my paper for my Specialist and will start my Doctorate in the fall and need all the practice I can get!!!

Transparency in Administration

Over the past few months I have blogged about blogging and podcasting. Not really "discussion" but just excitement fueled blogging about new tools I have found. It's about time I get down to the nitty gritty about what this blogging thing is really all about and get in the conversations. I think I have done a good job modeling and I have actually got some teachers and students blogging and podcasting now.

Let's start with the topic of being 'transparent' in schools and in a blog. As an administrator I find it very challenging to be transparent in real life let alone on a blog. But I also believe that 'people', whoever that entails, need to know about schools and what goes on in schools.

There was a great blog discussion about being too transparent or crossing the line so to speak. I have also read blog posts about administrators who have taken the plunge into blogging, only to pull the plug because of the 'consequences' of their posts. Or comments are left open and inappropriate comments are submitted. I too was a victim of inappropriate feedback when I had an anonymous feedback link on my school website. I too removed anonymous feedback. It became a forum for teachers to complain and parents to rant about things that I have no control over. My secretary offered to screen the feedback since it was causing unnecessary stress above and beyond the stress I already feel in my job. For me, feedback is requested to provide input that will improve our school for our students and community. Just as teachers don't enjoy criticism, administration doesn't enjoy more than they are used to.:) Having said all of that, I want people to be open and honest and come to me, just don't check your professionalism at the door.

I am on the fence about starting controversial discussions. Blogging has been a very positive experience for me. There is enough negative in my profession that I have found this to be a nice vacation from the complaining/venting arena of my job. I like good discussion that can lead to something positive for children. There is a time and place for complaining and venting. You have to vent sometimes. However Internet posts are permanent and accessible by anyone. When it was brought to my attention that some teachers in my district were reading this blog, at first I panicked. What did I write? How did it sound? Teachers, students, parents, my Superintendent and school board can find this blog. People who know me know that I am very honest and what you see is what you get. Therefore I didn't panic very long.

What do teachers what administrators to be more open/'transparent' about?

Podcast help???

For those of you who have journeyed with me through the excitement of podcasting.........I've almost got it! But I still need some help. What do teachers want to hear from principals and/or what do principals want to hear from other principals? As valuable as my time is I have gained so much from the professional development of podcasting that I want to bring those benefits to others.

To the left is a link to my podcasting page on Podomatic. I have gotten used to Podomatic so I am going to stick with it for the summer at least if not longer. Here is a direct link to my Podcast Page. One of my previous posts talks about my equipment and this podcast is about how I put it together using Windows Movie Maker for the lack of knowing how to use any other equipment yet.

I would really like to thank Wes Fryer for helping me find the music and sound bites. Just by commenting on his blog he commented back to give me some links. Very helpful! I will always have to give credit to The Women of the Web for all their help and inspiration. I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy! I try to listen to their live web cast every Tuesday night.

Derek Miller for the music.
Laughter sound bite
Mr. Gann's Class website, class blog, and Champ Cast (podcast)
Mrs. Sechler's website
WillardWebTV
Smartboard Lessons Podcast at pdtogo.com

If you could have discussions with your principal, what would you want to know?
Melinda

Bubbleshare!

I have been playing around with Bubbleshare for a while now. Edublogs didn't allow bubble share and now it might so I will have to try it there too.

I am always trying to think of ways my technology can help my teachers. I carry my digital camera with me everywhere and happened to have it at this workshop. This was a workshop on Literacy stations sponsored by BER. There were so many great artifacts that I could take pictures for my teachers that did not attend. They could use the pictures to create the items themselves. I am still evaluating how my tech interest can help my teachers. It sure could make their jobs easier and my feeling is that this could really engage students.

This album is powered by BubbleShare - Add to my blog

Just about every tool has a way to add it to your blogs now. I need to do better explaining how I do these things. That is one way I could help my teachers. As I have said before, I just kind of take things on and try it. Not a whole lot of thought the first time I dive into something. I have always wanted a better way to share pictures because I have TONS of pictures to upload and share. Please share other ways I could use bubbleshare to benefit my teachers. Oh, I just thought of one! Tune in next time.
Melinda

The Podcasting Principal!

To the left you should see a 'badge' from Podomatic that should direct you to my podcast.

Yesterday I purchased the Olympus WS-100 digital voice recorder mentioned in one of David Warlick's posts. Of course I am like a kid with a new toy and couldn't wait to get it out of the package to try it. So I recorded my 1st podcast in my car driving back to school after lunch. I have to admit that wasn't the smartest idea but whatever works in our busy career.

Keep in mind this in an unedited and VERY 1ST podcast. (I actually added another between starting this post and actually posting it. So there are two episodes for you to listen to.) I went ahead and uploaded it and posted it because I wanted to model that you have to start somewhere. You might get a kick out of listening:
The Podcasting Principal

I used Podomatic because that is what I was introduced first and signed up for an account a few weeks ago. I read about LougBlog yesterday and I am sure there are some others I have read about. Here are the steps in how easy this was:

1. Buy digital voice recorder - I am sure there is a cheaper way but this seemed easy to me and I had the money. Okay, school had the money. I have to be an honest blogger! :):):)
2. Put the battery in it. (It came with a battery.)
3. Record your voice/podcast/topic etc.
4. Plug into your USB drive and save to computer in folder labeled "podcasts."
5. Upload to Podomatic
6. Bada bing bada boom!!! There it is!!!

If you do choose to listen, especially to episode two, I do not know how to pause my recorder and you hear my cell phone ring a few times. I guess that is the disadvantage to working in my car. I have submitted this podcast to iTunes and the pop-up says that it is under review. That just cracked me up because if it doesn't get 'accepted' after some of the podcasts I have seen, I will just get a kick out of that.

This is a HUGE risk for me because I am putting myself 'out there' so to speak! I am so nervous. Just like a kid going to school for the first day: "Will they like me? Is my 'artwork' cool? Does my voice sound fat? Do I have a dorky avatar?"

See................even administrators are human!!!

Virtual Family Connections

As I have said before, my main reason for a lot of the Web2.0 tools is to stay in contact with my family. Our closest relatives live 4 hours away and we visited them this weekend. I downloaded Skype for my mother-in-law and hopefully we can get it working and she can see Alyson. Alyson is so intrigued by my laptop when it 'rings' for her.

The rest of my family is in NY right now visiting my Aunt and cousins for a baby shower. Now that we are going to have 2 more babies in the family it is more important for me than ever to stay in contact. I remember writing letters or always wanting to write letters to stay in touch. Now we 'write letters' every day.

I want my teachers to be proficient in Web2.0 tools for both reasons. To become better teachers and to stay in touch with their families and relatives. Gone are the days living next door to your family as families are strung out all over the world now. When all is said and done your family is the most important part of your lives no matter how far away they are. Here are some of the tools I have used to keep in touch with my family:
  • Kodakgallery.com - we upload and share photos all the time. My have to start using flickr and picnik more often for this. I don't want to upload to so many places
  • Walmart.com photo center - Yes, I still love the paper photos. I am an avid scrap-booker so I have to have my 'hard copies.' So many people I know still take their memory cards to walmart and use the machine and stand and wait in line. I can upload my photos and pick them up while I do my grocery shopping. I try to tell my teachers about this but some of them don't have the time to figure out the online photo store. Little do they know! I can also send the photos to a store in IA where my mom can go pick up hard copies of her own. She hasn't figured out how to do this for me yet tho!
  • Skype - okay so none of my family has figured out how to work this and I haven't been home since Christmas to show my mom and dad. Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!
Please feel free to share any of your virtual family connections with me!

Artsonia.com

Artsonia.com is a website that art teachers can upload digital photos of student work for the world to view. Described on it's homepage as "world's largest kids museum online."

We visited my in-laws this weekend and my niece shared her artwork with me 'virtually.' I can visit this site a buy a variety of things decorated with her artwork. I haven't really browsed the site other than her work but I can't wait to share this with my art teacher. I have the most creative and hardworking art teacher that I think she will really like this.

Snap.com

I can't even remember the 1st blog I came across with 'snapshots' but I just loved it. A few readers have asked me to comment on my 'pop-ups' as they call them. It took me a while to figure it out but I just read the directions on the site and it worked. Every time you drag your mouse over a link a 'snapshot' will pop up showing you that sight without having to leave my sight to see what it is all about. Very cool!

The annoying thing is the clicking sound it makes as I scroll through my blog. I am sure that there is a way to turn that off, other than muting my computer. I just haven't taken the time to figure that out. I am sure it will walk me right through that. Keep in mine there are other things I have not adjusted on my blog since it's creation. I will have a few weeks this summer to tweak it!

There you have it! Now you can have 'snapshots' of your very own!