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Friday
Nov112005

Leaving on a jet plane

When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable. Clifton Fadiman

My flight to Singapore leaves about noon today. I’m heading to give two short presentations at the National Library Board’s Celebrating Knowledge conference. I’m excited.

I have to admit, that I am not a good airline traveler, despite my NWA Frequent Flyer account saying I’ve accumulated 843,575 miles since my enrollment in 1997. Boys and girls, that is a whole lot of stale peanuts. Of course being 6’ 3” tall getting on the plane and being 5’ 10” when I get off the plane doesn’t help.

Conference participation for me has always been as much or more about my own learning than my teaching others. I can’t remember a single event, whether in the district next door or across the world, in which at least one discussion during a session, in a hallway or at a social event has not informed by professional practice. Bless those souls who are willing to share their ideas and experiences with me. I am slow learner, but I am a learner.

I love foreign travel. For me, it is always first a study in differences that then turns into an appreciation of similarities. Wow, strange clothing, strange plants, strange speech, strange food, strange beliefs. But soon, one quickly realizes that humans all share many common concerns and values. I’ve yet to travel to a place where people do not love their children and place a high value on education. I’ve yet to meet people who are not proud of their culture and accomplishments. Technology is impacting lives though out the world. Governments never seem to be doing as much good as they could do for all their citizens. Nobody likes the current US administration. Everybody thinks his own taxes are too high. You can always find a souvenir shop and an Internet cafe.

I’ll try to relay the good stuff I learn at the conference without boring you with a travelogue.

Gotta go make sure a cat isn’t shut in a closet before I leave the house…

Friday
Nov112005

Are you contributing to the general discussion?

A while back, Will Richardson on Webblogg-ed quoted Alan Levin as saying "So how much commenting are you doing [on others blogs]? If you feel you are not getting enough comments [on your blog], are you giving?"

I'm neither satisfied nor disatisfied with number of comments coming to the Blue Skunk (I enjoy the ones that come in, but don't worry about it when they don't). But I have been thinking about Levin's statement in relationship to a unique characteristic of blogging - that it can be more dialog than sermon.

Lately, I've been trying to hold up my end of the conversation by being more diligent about taking the time to comment and react to the ideas of other bloggers.

Should we all have sort of a mental ledger going with our own blog entries in one column and our external posting in another?

Thursday
Nov102005

Teachers behaving badly

In Tom Hoffman’s Ed-Tech Insider’s Best Practices blog, he writes:

A Little Tip
If you're a teacher and you want to keep your blogging identity anonymous, don't quote your school website, even if it seems like an innocuous snippet.
I replied
Hi Tom,
I'm looking for an example in which it would be professional/ethical (even necessary) for a teacher to blog anonymously. I can't think of a circumstance.

I can think of lots of circumstances in which anonymous blogging by a teacher would certainly be unprofessional or unethical.

By offering such a "tip," are you enabling unprofessional behaviors?

All the best,
Doug Johnson, MANKATO AREA PUBLIC SCHOOLS
...and who had never published anything anonymously in his life.
I admit that my imagination is limited (at least in some areas) and would welcome any readers of the Blue Skunk to also come up with circumstances under which anonymous blogging is professional or ethical. (I promise to share them with Tom, too, and eat my crow with relish.)

I am coming to the conclusion that any revision of my ethics book will need to contain scenarios of teachers, as well as kids,  behaving badly. Like it or not, my position’s job description, under "other duties as assigned")  includes “ethics and copyright police” – not a job I relish nor always feel very comfortable performing. Among the never-ending and seemingly fruitless practices I try to curb in my district are:
  • The use of copyrighted characters painted on walls.
  • The use of videos for entertainment/reward purposes without obtaining public performance rights.
  • The use of school e-mail accounts for conducting personal business (especially when obtaining a personal account is free and easy.)
Trust me, I don’t go out running around looking for these sorts of things. When I do see them, I am kind and try to explain, in writing, why the bad behaviors are indeed bad, and emphasize that setting a bad example for kids is even worse than being caught and fined. (I keep a copy of the message for what I call my “due diligence” files.)

So what bad teacher behavior bothers you – and how do you try to curb it?
______________
A side note… The LWW has a family in her school who have named their sons Hunter, Trapper and Fisher, which I think is pretty cute. I wonder if they named their daughter Shopper?