Reitz High School

Reitz High School
Evansville, IN

Thursday, December 19, 2013

You Matter!

One of my all time favorite Christmas movies is It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart.  He faces financial difficulties because of money misplaced by a careless relative.  He is driven to wish he had never been born.  He then gets the chance to see what his World would have been like if he had never been born.  What he finds is that his life has influenced many people.  His existence made his town a better place to live.  He realizes that the problem he faced was pretty small compared to difference he made in the world around him.

We are teachers, educators, and role models.  We influence young people, family members, co-workers, and strangers every single day.  Think back to your parents, friends from school, brothers and sisters, teachers you had, all the way to your spouse, your colleagues, administrators, your children, and even the person you smiled at in the checkout line.  Like it or not, you have made a difference in the lives of all of these people.  How might each of them be different if you had never been born?  Would your world be better or worse place?  I am just taking a guess, but if you are reading this blog post, then the World would probably be worse off without you.  We have one of the most important and difficult jobs in the entire world.

I know that our paychecks don’t really reflect that.  The priorities of our world are a little messed up.  You can make millions if you can act or throw a football.  But, if you influence thousands of lives and prepare young people for life each day, then you make enough to get by.  It doesn’t make much sense, but part of the reward is the satisfaction of seeing students become successful once they leave our classrooms.  I now work with several teachers that once sat in my classroom.  A principal, a team of teachers, and I had a discussion just yesterday about students that have gone on and have become a success. 

I highly recommend you click the following youtube video.  Here is the link:   It is called the Lollipop Moment.  The gist is that some of the largest impacts you have had on people, are moments you didn’t even realize.  As an educator, I am sure there are more of these moments than you will ever know.  I have had many students come back to me and say, “Mr. Tron, do you remember when you said this in class?"  I honestly don’t remember what in the world they are talking about, but that is what they remembered.  It was something they will never forget and it helped them in some way.

As you enjoy some much needed time off this Christmas season, just remember old George Bailey and the difference he made.  If you have never seen It’s a Wonderful Life, then watch it.  Reflect on your own life and realize that you matter and have made and will continue to make a difference in lives all around you!

I am going to take a break from the blog over the Holidays.  I will write my next post in January.  Thank you to all of my readers.  Merry Christmas to you and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Take a Little Digital Detox Time

I am going to keep this week’s post short and sweet.  Our school corporation has been out for snow and ice over the last few days.   I have to say that I am as bad as the kids.  I love snow days even if we have to make them up.  There is just something special about the surprise of a snow day that makes it more fun than a scheduled day off. 

Besides baking and not eating a good diet, my family and I watched some good movies and played some awesome games on our various devices.  I have to say that my favorite part of the time off was when we got out the old fashioned board game of Monopoly.  It brought back so many great memories of my childhood.  I enjoyed seeing my daughters get into the game.  We were rolling dice, buying properties, building houses, going to jail, and winning the free parking jackpot.  We simply had a ball.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a gadget and technology nut.  I love the latest video game as much as techno geek.  I would love to get my hands on a PS4 hooked up to my big screen TV with an HDMI cable in 1080p and race in a McLaren F1 sports car or play a FPS and jump off of buildings.  I enjoy all of those things.  I love to see what is happening on Facebook or tweet out a good eLearning resource I come across.  It was also very nice not to be interrupted from a chime or a buzz from my smartphone or my daughters’ phones and play a game together as a family around the kitchen table.   

So, in your time off over this holiday season, please take some time for some digital detox.  Turn off the Instagram, Facebook, Texting, Twitter, Snap chat and make some device free time.  It may also be a good idea just to take the phone off of the hook if you still have a landline.  Get your family together for a good old-fashioned board game of Life, Sorry, Clue, Battleship or Monopoly.  I think you will be glad you did!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

What Do Teachers Talk About?

Over the last three years in my position as an eLearning coach I have been to more than 1000 different teacher team meetings.  I have shared with them many tools and great ways to incorporate eLearning into their classrooms.  I absolutely love my job and am passionate about the changes that are taking place and that still need to happen in American Education.  I am dedicated to working with teachers and helping them figure out the best methods to engage their students.  In the process I have also heard thousands of conversations that teachers have every single day.   So what do they talk about?

It may be a big surprise the public, but the teachers I work with are fervent about getting their lessons across to their students and raising test scores.  They aren’t people who just put their time in during working bankers’ hours with their summers off.  Most are at school way before it starts, while others stay long after the school day ends.  Even when they go home, they are still grading papers, answering emails, planning lessons, updating websites, communicating with parents, and some even spend time with groups of students on the weekends.  Professional developments and conferences are usually attended during the summer. 

I was listening to a Talk Radio news update about how America’s top students didn’t even make the top 10 compared to other countries that took a comprehensive set of international exams.  The media rails on American Education constantly.   In fact Huffington Post put out this article and called American Education embarrassing.  I would be interested to know the details about how these tests were administered and evaluated.  Society seems to automatically take the media for their word and thinks, “Well, education in America must just be awful.  It’s them teachers’ fault!”  I will stand behind my district and say, “If it really is failing, it is not the fault of the teachers and administrators that I work with in Evansville, Indiana. “  I cannot think of a more dedicated group that wants to do well and cares about the students.  These principals, coaches, and teachers go above and beyond to create an inviting and safe environment that is conducive to learning.

I believe it is time to let educators do what they know is best and not let education be dictated by politicians with their fixed school grading systems, testing, and standards.  It is ruining education and the creativity of teachers and students.  It is narrowing the subject matter that is being taught to only what is believed to be the essential skills by the standardized test makers.   Who are these test makers?  They are nothing more than textbook companies that are trying to stay afloat because schools aren’t buying textbooks anymore due to the digital shift.

I want to conclude by saying this.  I was flipping through the channels last night and began watching the movie Cold Mountain.  Nicole Kidman’s character made a really good point.  She mentioned how she is good at some things and not others.  Renee Zelleger’s character is a rough and tough, live off the land kind of girl.  She was asking Kidman why she hadn’t fixed the roof and the fence at her place.  She went on to grill her and wanted to know why she hadn’t tended to the garden and the stables.  Kidman’s character finally gets tired of all this and tells her that she is good at playing the piano, but not mending fences.   She can sew garments, but not till the ground for the cotton that used to make them.  She can arrange beautiful bouquets of flowers, but doesn't have the green thumb to grow the flowers.  For the entire rest of the movie I couldn’t stop thinking about these statements.  Humans are not all great at the same things.  We are not all mathematicians.  We are not all brain surgeons.  We are not all car mechanics.  Plain and simple we are not standard.  It takes all kinds of jobs and people to make the world go round.  No list of standards should determine what makes one person a success and another one a failure.  Who is with me?