Thursday, March 13, 2014

Playing School

Over the years, I have often heard people say that "students have perfected the art of playing school" or somesuch. I got to wondering, where did they get it from? Where did students learn the art of "playing school?" Then I thought if we are the models for our students are we, us, the adults, modeling that very thing? Are we ourselves playing school?

I have learned so much from so many people, but I get tired of trying to do it differently, trying to push the envelope all the time, trying to be out on the edge, constantly trying to know what is best, what is right, what will take us the direction we all know we need to go.

Then I got to thinking, is that what is taking place? Lots of people getting tired, or merely waiting until it comes back again full circle? Education has for so long be on a merry go round. "Just wait it will come back to this again. For my wife and I, after 37 years of education, we have both seen things come full circle. On occasion, I too,  have sat back, doing what was right for my students, but basically playing school.

Where are you in the mix? What is holding you back? How can I support you if no one else is supporting you? I'm done slipping in to playing school mode. No matter how tired I am it is time to move on and model what is best for our students!

So much to learn and so little time.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I got Tagged - Did you?

The other day Dean Shareski tagged me here. My first thought was what can I tell people about me that they don't already know. Here are 11 random facts about me:

1. I love road trips.
2. Both our cars have twitter accounts - thanks to @BigPurpleHat.
3. I feel I am incredibly late to the tech party.
4. I worked with the Senior golf tour for 11 years every time it came to Dallas..
5. I have worked at the same school for 37 years.
6. I also graduated from this school and those years are not counted in the number above.
7. I played baseball in college after turning down offers to play football in college.
8. I was in charge of the university kitchen on the weekends to help pay my way through college.
9. I am an ordained deacon in the Catholic Diocese of Dallas.
10. I love picking up people and safely delivering them places when they come to Texas.
11. The university I graduated from just honored me by naming a full scholarship after me that will be granted every year to a deserving student from Bishop Dunne..

Those are the random facts about me that some folks may not know. By the way the Prius also known as the Eco Ride is @PaulRWoodsPrius and the Lexus which is known simply as The Ride is @PaulRWoodsLexus. They can be uppity at times but it is fun to have those accounts.

Dean asked the following questions so here are my answers to those:

1.How do you feel about pants? Highly overrated.
2.What was the last movie you saw in a theatre? The Butler
3.Where are your car keys? Left pocket.
4.What time is it? 8:05 p.m.
5.What’s the last tweet you favorited? Joel Adkins Tweet about
6.Outside of your immediate family, which relative do you like to spend time with? My Aunt Geneva
7.Have you ever been to Saskatchewan? Yes, and even stopped in Moose Jaw and Regina.
8.How long did it take you to walk to school as a kid? Most of my schools were more than 10 miles away so we didn’t walk.
9.Besides you, which blogger should I be paying attention to? Unfortunately anyone I think is important to follow I believe you already pay attention to Dean so I don't have a recommendation.
10.Name one golf course. Dallas National. But here are some others.
11.What’s your favorite Seinfeld episode or line? Any one with Elaine trying to dance like this.

Here are the 11 folks I am tagging:

1. Scott Floyd
2. Matt Gomez
3. Toby Brown
4. Christine Voigt
5. Angelyn Cheatham
6. Zach Snow
7.  Joel Adkins
8. Phillip Cummings
9. Amber Teamann
10. Martha Lackey
11. You. (this includes all the people I didn’t name because I figured they thought  they were too cool to do this as well as those I never even thought, which could be you. Either way, I’ll read what you write)

Questions for those listed:

1. What is one thing you are proud of that you have participated in?
2. Do you follow a particular professional or college team? If yes which one?
3. What is your superstitious ritual? The one that goes with the commercial  "It's only weird if it doesn't work!"
4. What has been your favorite age so far and why?
5. If you could drive any car what would it be?
6. What is your favorite comfort food?
7. What is the holiday you enjoy the most?
8. What is your go to music when you really need a pick me up?
9. What is your favorite movie?
10. What was the last book you read for fun?
11. What is the fastest you have ever driven?

Here’s how it works:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers.
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.
Have some fun with this. I did. Let's hear from you.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

50 Years Later

It has been interesting watching all of the news, videos, documentaries, etc., surrounding the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of President Kennedy. As a fourth grade student, I remember the day very clearly in my head. Sitting in Sr. Mary Rose's class as St. James Elementary School, I believe it was a reading class, the day was interrupted by an announcement from the Principal, Sr. Jan. She asked the boys to stand and the girls to remain seated and we would all recite the rosary together.

After a while, the Principal again interrupted the rosary by telling us over the PA that President Kennedy and some others had been shot, and that President Kennedy had died. Our parents had been called and we would be going home from school. We were told that we needed to continue praying for our country.

It was a weekend of watching the black and white television at our home and what became continuous live coverage of all the activity. Then the news came in that an officer had been shot at the Texas Theatre, a theatre we went to many times to see movies. Then the next day we watched Lee Harvey Oswald get shot by Jack Ruby while being transferred and seeing Mr. Harrison, who was a police officer, member of our parish and a friend of our family right in the middle of the craziness in the basement of the jail.

The funny thing is I remember when that happened and spending time sitting around with my family and watching things on television, but I don't remember going back to school or things surrounding the return to the "new normal." A country in continual turmoil, the Vietnam War, eventually Woodstock, the sexual revolution, and on and on.

The next summer while on vacation, we were traveling in New Mexico from our home in Dallas and we stopped for some lunch and a bathroom break. We did that a lot with 5 kids, stopped a lot for bathroom breaks. While there, a man asked where we lived and I said Dallas. I remember his response was simply "Oh you people kill presidents don't you." I couldn't understand why people didn't like anyone from Dallas.

Diane and I have talked many times about what is there historic to see in Dallas, compared to places like Boston, Philadelphia and so many other cities throughout the United States and all we can come up with is the 6th Floor Museum and Dealey Plaza and South Fork Ranch where they filmed the show Dallas. After that there wasn't much to see.

Dallas continues to try and figure out it's place in the world in my opinion and once again the nation and the world focuses it's media eye here to try and figure out who, and how many actually were involved. Me, I still wonder why?

So much to learn and so little time.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Be The Difference!

Disclaimer: While most of this will be about my experience growing up in high school it is to relate to you my experience of the video link that Michelle tweeted. Do NOT feel sorry for me in any way. That is not what this post is about. Thank you.

Fun, friendship, learning and people that truly make me think. That is what twitter does for me.  Recently Michelle Baldwin, aka @michellek107 tweeted the following “Watching this--> The One Thing All Men Feel, But Never Admit” I clicked the link and sat mesmerized, but at the same time I was flooded with memories of growing up and not very good ones.
Being a middle child, bigger than most growing up I lived a life of Insecurity, inadequacy, and never being good enough, or at least that is what I thought. My size, in an all-boys middle school meant play sports or be ridiculed. I played and did my best until I broke a friends ribs near his spine. I walked away from football the next day. I also played basketball, ran track and tried out for the baseball team my freshman year. I enjoyed basketball except for the constant “don’t dribble the ball, rebound and pass.” Or walking down to the boys’ locker room to see if I made the baseball team only to be told by an upper classman “Wood, you don’t really think you made the team do you? Well you didn’t.” Be strong, don't show emotion.
My participation in sports dwindled and I was only playing basketball, at the same time my grades suffered. I felt inadequate. I wanted more but I didn’t want to open my mouth, I didn’t want to say anything that people might use against me, I didn’t feel good enough. One day in class one of my teachers asked what do you want to be when you grow up, my response was  "I want to be a psychologist." The room laughed. Be a man.
My junior year a new coach came along and had heard about my ability as a kicker, he also liked my size. He wanted me to come out and play football. I told him I would be happy to kick for him but that was it. He said fine. One week into the season I was told I was too big to just kick and they needed me to play full time. Tight end and defensive end. Maybe I could be someone playing football again.  I also made the baseball team that year and I was still playing basketball. My grades improved but I didn’t want to say anything, I didn’t want to be laughed at, I tried to do everything right so people would be OK with me. A safe life. A life that was never an adventure, I didn’t want to risk being ridiculed. Don't be a wimp.
Another new coach my senior year and I learned to hate football. I hated it enough to turn down offers. I played basketball but there were better players, I was tired of practicing and sitting. I didn’t want to be a minute man plus I knew I wasn’t going to play in college. We got new uniforms and they had to special order mine. I can still hear the ridicule from my own class mates from the bleachers. I played baseball and did OK. Stop being a wuss.

I could go on and on but this truly is not about me. However, many of you know me and the reason that I am writing this is all because of Michelle Baldwin and that tweet. With school preparing to start, we all know students, boys and girls that don’t “fit” what so very many think is the right mold. Help them to be the best students, people, individuals that they can be, please. All it takes is for you to be interested, to take a moment, show up at a game, stop and talk in the hall, sit with someone at lunch.

We say it is OK for our students to fail but what about the one’s that are fine with academics but feel they are already failing life? Are we looking out for them? Be the difference. Please be the difference that you are capable of being. I could have used a teacher that picked up on what was going on. I am thankful I never made the decision to follow through with what I had concocted in my head during my senior year. Otherwise, there are so many of you wonderful people I would have never known.

Be the difference this year.

Still so much to learn and so little time.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

I dropped out of grad school and don't know if I am going back

The following is a post that I wrote in anger one evening after dropping out of my grad school courses. I have 3 classes to go for the level I was working on and have not gone back. I am starting to get the urge again so maybe. Here is that post and hopefully if you are teaching online courses you might think about some of these things.

I dropped out of my grad school class. It was a tough decision but I had enough. I am not looking for sympathy and I am not here to throw anyone under the bus. My hope is to inform you of some of the things I felt were lacking in this program. I would like to think people I hang with would not do this if they were online teachers or even teachers in a live classroom. If this causes you to think about how you do things, then I have done my job. I felt there were mistakes on three sides of this equation, the university's, the professor's and my own.
Me - Last year I sat out of grad school for a year due to health and medical procedure reasons. I am also an ordained deacon in the Catholic Church. Along with that I am a high school director of technology, and many of you know my wife Diane. I came to the grad school table with a lot on my plate as so many of us have and yet I thought I could handle it. I was frustrated for most of this semester as I didn't feel I was doing a good job. I like to do a good job.
The University - I don't know what the situation was that brought the University to hire this professor, but I would venture a guess that they were in need of a teacher, they found someone willing to handle an online course that is a core requirement, and with little to no training they tossed the professor in to the deep end of the pool. The university also switched from an online form that they had been using and went to a new system right before the new semester and everyone was scrambling to make it work.
The Professor - With a new PhD and trying to get hired on, the professor said yes to a core course, yes to a new program, yes to an online class and in all likelihood, yes I will figure it out. The first week the recorded lecture video was off. We could only see 1/4 of the screen material. The professor sent us the slides at least so we did have those. One lesson had the same word misspelled throughout the entire slide presentation.
Over the next 8 weeks there was confusion as to where to post things, we were told either the discussion board or the dropbox. I found out later that the professor thought they were both the same thing. I looked for feedback other than from other students in the class who were doing the best they could, but only got one line of feedback in the second week of class. I kept looking for grades in the gradebook, but the only thing there were asterisks and possible points. By the end of the semester, I would have read about 1000 pages, 20 other posts from 20 classmates each week, answered 10-12 weeks of discussion questions on my own as well as written about what new insghts I had that week, listened to an average of 60-90 minutes of lecture online each week, leading up to a major paper, a major reflective essay and a cumulative final exam. I am sorry but rigor - mortis has set in my posterior.
If you are a university, I hope you give your professors all of the help, support and training that they need. If you are a professor, I hope you aren't afraid to ask for help, are willing to give feedback and can get by on fewer than 6 textbooks in a semester and especially for an online course. I also hope you are willing to help your students seek deeper and more relevant thinking. And don't forget to give feedback, feedback, feedback. If you are planning to be the student, make sure you know full well what you are getting in to, I thought I did, but there is also life to live as well.

So much to still try and learn and so little time.