Hiring Good People

A friend and colleague of mine recently left her technology trainer position in Public Ed for a similar position in an education-related private company.

When she announced her excitement on Facebook, I replied with a less-than-popular response. In my response I mentioned that I thought this move was good for her, good for the company she was joining, and good for all who would embrace the privatization of Ed Tech everywhere. (After all, she IS highly skilled and would finally be making the kind of money she deserves.) I then clarified that I also thought this move was bad: Bad for Public Education, bad for the organization she was leaving behind, and bad for the taxpayers in our state who had invested so heavily in her throughout her career – to ultimately make her the high quality and coveted technology trainer that she had eventually become.

Because all told, if it weren’t for the growth and experience she’d gained while working in Public Ed, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars the public had invested in her, she wouldn’t really be the “best candidate” for this new position she’s been so excited to take.

Successful Hunt

I suppose the argument I’m trying to make here is that in spite (or because) of her experience and hard-earned expertise, she still might not “the best” candidate for this private company’s open position; because when private companies choose to hire good people that once occupied critical positions in Public Education, they damage the relationships that have made their private company so great. Additionally, when private companies exploit the hard-fought investment the public has made to make its employees and system great, the entire system suffers, as newly hired and inexperienced employees require new training and lots of experience and lots of time, to finally become the high quality asset every organization hopes to employ.

But then again, what do I know?

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To the Teachers of My Children

Inspired by Pam Moran’s excellent example, I thought it would be appropriate to resurrect one of the most heartfelt posts I’ve ever written. Since sharing this open letter three years ago, my love and appreciation for great teachers – everywhere – has only grown. There is no profession more impacting.

Thank you, teachers, for all you give and do to make this world a better place!

- – -

My grandfather’s passing last week accompanied, for me, several very important lessons that rarely come in any other fashion:

  1. Life is short.
  2. Time is precious.
  3. Quite often, we don’t fully appreciate what we have until it’s gone.

As a result, I’m writing with hopes that you’ll consider carefully how precious the time is that you’re able to spend with my children. Realistically, during this time of year, you’re able to spend more time with them than I. Do you realize how lucky you are?

Like many parents, I’m not as concerned with how well you teach my kids to take tests. I’m really not. In fact, I’d rather you use each priceless minute to captivate their imaginations, guide them in deep thinking, help them to create, and cultivate a love of learning so deeply engrained that they grow to no longer need your services.

Do that, and the scores will take care of themselves.

I’ve done my best to provide an energetic learning environment in our home, but am desperately relying on you, your skills, and the time you have to spend with my child to fill in any holes I might not even know exist. Because my kids have grown comfortable using technology when they learn (and they gravitate toward anything with a screen), I think you’ll have the best luck in leveraging technology’s potential for instruction. Nevertheless, I’ll also trust your judgment in determining how best to reach my child; and hope – earnestly hope – there’s consistently constructive purpose behind the ways you choose to spend the time that you’re given.

Kids Deserve Great Teachers!

I’m counting on you like no other, and want you to know how deeply grateful I am for your meaningful efforts. Yours is a difficult job, I know, but unquestionably invaluable. If there’s ever any way I can help in your classroom, I’ll jump at the chance to work by your side. I love my children, and will do all that it takes to prepare them for their future.

All that I ask is that you do the same.

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Why the Haters Hate: CCSS Edition

The more I analyze the contentions of those advocating for no common standards, the more I’m convinced of two important truths. Those who rationally oppose typically do so because:

  1. They didn’t play a role in creating the standards and would, therefore, have them shift.
  2. They misunderstand, resist, or ignore the critical role schools play in credentialing.

Regardless of motive, many so-called haters often land at the point of irrationality, embracing theories of conspiracy, with dreams for the day when school means little more than the feel of play-doh while dancing to the aroma of old-fashioned paste.

Long live 1984?

Essential School Supply

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When Should You Buy Your Child a Smartphone?

A few days ago, I did a riff off this Dan Tynan article – When Should You Buy Your Child a Smartphone? – in a brief interview for one of our local news outlets. I was hoping they would post our segment online (like they sometimes do), but apparently different news days produce varying quantities of news output. 1

I like the advice Tynan gives in his column. Younger children should be phased in to technology access, kids don’t instinctively know how to use all phone features, and parental controls should be responsibly used. Nevertheless, there are a few items he left out of the equation.

Texting Child

The answer to the question in this post’s title varies from family to family, and from child to child. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. As parents help their children to navigate digital waters, they should bear each of these recommendations in mind:

  1. Regularly speak with your children about technology and how they use the Internet.
    - Ask specific questions about apps and the people with whom they interact.
  2. Work with your children to define the boundaries of inappropriate and appropriate conduct, content, and times and places for technology use. 2
    - Ask about how they react when they come across something inappropriate. If you’re not comfortable with their response, then they’re not ready for a smartphone.
    – Consider the example you’re setting for your child. Most children follow the example we set for them.
  3. Remember that safe and appropriate technology use is a process, not an event.
    – Kids will make mistakes and parents will make mistakes.
    – The best advice is to always work together as a family to ensure technology use strengthens family relationships.

While there may be some (in highly influential circles) who argue that kids should run wild online, the experienced parent knows that a guided and safeguarded path is often best. 3 Do many kids need more freedom than they currently have? Probably, yes. Will they best benefit from blind trust? Absolutely not.

Finding safety and balance, together as a family, is the best way to run.

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Translation: HDTV wasn’t real kind to this face.
  2. Typically, public schools focus teaching on how to keep kids safe online. Because the definition of “appropriate” can vary greatly from family to family, curriculum rarely sets such boundaries.
  3. Why put so much stock in the voice of one so inexperienced? See my comment to Ms. boyd at the end of her post.
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