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All banner artwork by Brady Johnson, college student and (semi-) starving artist.

My latest books:


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My book Machines are the easy part; people are the hard part is now available as a free download at Lulu.

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EdTech Update





Delayed rewards of public service

I became a librarian for the money. (The power and fame are just a bonus.) Adreana Scussel

In this my last week of working a full time professional job, I've been cleaning out my office. Amazing what those old files hold. Two little gems were this paystub and teaching contract from my early teaching days. And yes, this was a monthly paycheck - not semimonthly...



The pay rate above - $17,605 - included 5 days of extended contract and reflected 5 years of teaching experience and a masters degree. Let's just say, the Mercedes and mansion were a bit beyond my 31-year-old fiscal reach. My salary did improve when I started teaching for overseas schools and later when I became an administrator. But like many, if not most educators, money was something to live on, not a means of determining one's self-worth or keeping score.

As I look at what I will have to live on in retirement, I have developed a new appreciation for the deduction in that early check labeled IPERS. It stands for Iowa Public Employees Retirement System. While I will not be withdrawing from it, I will certainly be happy to take the payments by its Minnesota cousin, TRA - Teachers Retirement Association.

Public employees, not just teachers, have made a deal. We get paid less during our working years than we may have made in the private sector and in return, we will be guaranteed a pension after retirement. For those of us who have always tended to enjoy spending more than savings, that was a smart deal. 

Sadly, fixed pensions seem to be going the way of the dodo bird. My children will be far more responsible for saving independently for their retirement than I ever was. And given the poor role model of their father, this may be a challenge. 

Anyway, once again it has been dumb luck, not intelligence or good planning, that is giving me a happy life. I hope it continues into retirement. 


BFTP: Top 10 Social Media Competencies Infographic

It's always a happy day when I see something I've written improved upon by another person. Embellishment, re-mixing, re-design, whatever, it's wonderful - and Med Karbach's inforgraphic on his Educational Technology and Mobile Learning blog is no exception. (You can find my original post here.) Enjoy!


The subversive retiree

Johnson’s Moral Imperative: Subversion in the creation of a good school is not a vice.
(Johnson's Little List of Library and Technology Rules)

My favorite retirement card

Next week is my last of full-time professional work. I am still not certain about what my life starting April 1 might look like. (See Going to work every morning for 49 years.) But what I am beginning to think is that I might possibly continue to be subversive. It's a talent I've enjoyed using throughout my career - so why not after?

What might a subversive retiree do to continue to make change in education? Or to at least be a pain in the ass of former colleagues?

  • Run for school board. Or at least attend and be annoying at school board meetings. (Frankly, being on a school board looks like way too much work.)
  • Research the people after whom school facilities are named to see if they committed racial or sexual acts no longer acceptable in today's society. Lobby to have the names changed (My favorite).
  • Sit in the coffee shop every morning with other geezers complaining about education in general. 
  • Add cranky opinions to the district's official or unofficial Facebook discussion groups.
  • Write long-winded letters to the editor of the local paper about the stupidities of the current administration.

OK, the ideas above are more vindictive than constructive. While I do fantasize about real and imagined slights from a few of my colleagues, the vast majority of those with whom I work are good people. None of the actions above would help them - or the kids they serve. 

There may be some other ways, though, to stay involved and subversive in more positive ways...

  • Participate in citizen focus groups/committees sponsored by the school. There are always committees that included citizens.
  • Substitute teach and/or volunteer - especially in the library. 
  • Teach for Community Education.
  • Work on funding referendum campaigns.
  • Attend and support school events and fundraisers.

The key, for me at least, will be trying to keep a focus on helping my local schools improve. I love public education too much to tear it down, despite not always loving some of the people in it.

I'll let you know how that goes...

My partially-eaten retirement cake.