Search this site
Other stuff

Follow me on Twitter at:

@BlueSkunkBlog

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

Locations of visitors to this page

My latest book:

       Available Now

Available now 

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

 The Blue Skunk Fan Page on Facebook

 

Must-read K-12 IT Blog
EdTech's Must-Read K-12 IT Blogs 

 

Teach.com

 

 

 


Saturday
Aug092014

BFTP: Woot, W00t, - evolving language and gooseberry pie

But al the thyng I moot as now forbere,
I have, God woot, a large feeld to ere,
And wayke been the oxen in my plough,
The remenant of the tale is long ynough.
I wol nat letten eek noon of this route,
Lat every felawe telle his tale aboute,
And lat se now who shal the soper wynne;

The Knyghtes Tale, Chaucer, 14th Century England

And...

Um.........to me sorry but dis book iz horrible i dont lyk it n tew me itz jus borin sorry not trying tew be disrespectful tew da author but i mean really. But thanx 4 writin it s0e i can read it tew n0e nt tew read it again but da 1st tym i read it it wuz ok but az i keep readin it more den 2 tyms den it gtz more borin s0rry.

Quintonya, response to blog post, 21st Century cyberspace

 

Language evolves. I just wish that human thought evolved along with it.

Original post July 10, 2009.

 

 

 

 

 

------------------------------------

This is a picture of the gooseberry pie I enjoyed this week at my mom's house. Here is the recipe:

  • Locate thick woods with wild gooseberry bushes.
  • Spend at least an entire hour picking each pea-sized gooseberry individually from the thorny bushes - one pint quart* is required per pie. Humidity and voracious mosquitos are a given.
  • Spend at least another hour stemming each gooseberry.
  • Prepare the filling, make the crust, and bake.
  • Watch the whole pie being eaten in less than 10 minutes.

I had always taken the these pies my mom made for granted until I went gooseberry picking myself once. Unlike the hybrid gooseberries that are the size of a shooter marble, the wild ones are very, very small and it takes a lot of them to make a single pie.

I guess the lesson here is to never underestimate the effort others may go through on your behalf - or a mother's love for her family!

* Common knowledge according to my brother... Sorry.

Original post July 9, 2009

Friday
Aug082014

On booby prizes and new horizons

booby prize noun : a prize that is given as a joke to the person who finishes last in a competition M-W.com

Don't mistake the edge of a rut for the horizon.
~ James Patterson

25 years ago I was returning from teaching overseas and decided I wanted a job in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. After a late start in job hunting and a couple snags getting a Minnesota teaching license, the "big" schools had their library positions filled. 

As chance would have it, the St. Peter, MN, schools had a librarian's job open up late in the summer. And since they would be building an addition to their high school that included a new media center, they were so desperate to fill the position they hired me. With a family to feed, I accepted this booby prize - another small school, small town position, 75 miles from the bright lights of the big city. Until something better turned up, anyway.

While I enjoyed teaching in St. Peter and helped design a great library, I still applied for library supervisor jobs in the Cities. Without success. In the meantime, I moved into a house on a lake, started teaching as an adjunct for the local state university, and made friends. So when an "audio-visual supervisor" job opened in the Mankato schools in 1991, I applied for it even though it was 15 miles further away from my dream of living in Minneapolis.

It turned out that the Mankato job was interesting and rewarding and I was pretty good at it. The audio visual supervisor eventually became the technology director as computers and networks and the Internet entered the schools and became critical to daily operations. The town of Mankato was growing and the monthly trip to the metro area to visit Target and Barnes & Noble became unnecessary when those chains opened here. I became active in Kiwanis and the YMCA and helped the local United Way raise money. Mankato became my son's "hometown" with him having only vague memories of ever living anywhere else. Bike trails flourished. It got easier and easier to be proud of being from Mankato.

I applied and was offered a few other professional jobs over the years, but when I told the family about moving to Wisconsin or Missouri or whereever, they'd go into melt-down. So finally I promised my son that I would stay in the Mankato area until he finished school and I would stop looking for other jobs.

Thus 25 years later I'm still here.

On retrospect the booby prize turned out to be the grand prize. The Mankato Area and its schools have been a wonderful place to live and raise a family. I could not have asked for a more rewarding career - both a day job that never got boring and an employer that gave me the flexibility to be a writer and conference speaker on the side. I have had incredible superintendents to work for, always supportive school boards, and top-notch coworkers. I often wonder what would happen if I ever had to supervise a person who actually needed supervision! 

But I am moving on. I have accepted a technology director position for the suburban Burnsville-Eagan-Savage (MN) School district that will start in a couple weeks. The last question I was asked during the interview process was simply "Why do you want a new job when you already have a great situation where you are?" It was the exact question I had been asking myself since I hesitantly sent in my resume.

While there are several reasons for the move, what it really comes down to is this: I want a job that will challenge me in new ways. Simple as that. I want the work of moving mountains, not just doing landscaping until I retire. New eyes on technology will be good for Mankato's kids; and I hope my experience will be good for Burnsville's students. 

And I want to see if big city life is all I've dreamt it to be.

Wish me luck. I'll need it!

Thursday
Aug072014

12 things you need to know about me as a supervisor

I have now supervised others for about 36 years. First as a library media specialist working with library paras and then as a technology director overseeing the work of a diverse and growing bunch of technicians, coordinators, and clerical staff. I’ve personally had both good and bad supervisors and have learned from both. Having done some reflection, here are some of things you should know about me if I were your boss...

  1. I hate to supervise. My long held belief is that the secret of successful supervision is to hire people who don’t need supervision. I don’t like being micromanaged nor do I want to have to micromanage others.

  2. I want people aligned to a simple mission. When you work in my department and anyone asks you what your job is I hope you say “Educating children.” I don’t care if you are a network manager, accounts receivable clerk, media specialist, or tech integration specialist. Your primary job, the basis of all decisions you make, is simple - what's best as it applies to educating kids.

  3. I am not a mind reader. I don’t do subtle. I don’t get hints, looks, or attitudes. You have a problem with me, a coworker, a decision, or a situation, you have to tell me. I will absolutely respect you for your honesty.

  4. I'd rather steer you than spur you. I love ideas and new approaches to getting things done. Take initiatives. Suggest policies and new approaches. Seth Godin writes: "It's the boss's job to continually ask, ‘is this the most daring vision of your work?’“I have to try to remember that as well.

  5. I believe in families first. Your children will only play t-ball for so many years. Your mom may really need you as she ages. Your husband may require a ride to work. I get that. Honor being a parent, a son/daughter, or a spouse. You only get one chance really to be a good family member.

  6. Never put in unpaid overtime. ‘Nuf said. I believe in flexibility and measuring outputs not inputs. It’s never about how long you spend working, it’s about how much you accomplish.

  7. The only thing I like better than a compliment is a compliment about someone in my department. Any department I run should be noted for its friendliness and communication skills. We can’t always fix problems but we can always let people know we’ve heard their problems and are trying.

  8. Formal evaluations are bullshit. I will do my best to give you feedback on a continuous basis. (And I know I never say thank you or recognize the efforts of others enough.) Let’s figure out together how to turn the formal evals into some kind goal setting plan that actually might make sense.

  9. No surprises. I want to know the good stuff that’s happening as well as potential problems. We will meet regularly to share, but if something comes up, let me know. I don’t like looking clueless. And no end runs - you regularly go to my boss instead of me with a problem, don’t ever ask me for a recommendation.

  10. We are interdependent. If we focus on making each other successful, we will all thrive and feel satisfaction. The thing I love most about being a supervisor is being asked for help and being able to give it. I will make sure your voice is heard by my boss and will do my best to get you the necessary resources for you to be successful. All I want in return is that you make me look good. Is that too much to ask?

  11. Make me the bad guy. If somebody gets on you about a policy you didn’t make, don’t take any abuse. Just send them to me. I believe disagreement is a healthy thing in an organization, but I also believe in professionalism.

  12. Happy workers are good workers. I’ve worked for assholes and I’ve worked for decent human beings. I don’t just believe happy people are more productive, I believe workers can’t be productive at all unless they are happy. I want everyone looking forward to work every day.

Reading this might make you think I am a pushover. You’d be wrong. I have high expectations of the people in my department.