Archive for June, 2015

Teachers’ Meetings

I received this a number of years ago. It was apparently rather widespread (though I don’t know how much used) and when I shared it in a few of my classes with teachers it was received enthusiastically, though only a few said they might try it. I was reminded the other day that meetings for school personnel haven’t changed that much, so I thought I would share it.

HOW TO STAY AWAKE IN TEACHER INSERVICES: OFFERED AS A PUBLIC SERVICE… Do you keep falling asleep in teacher meetings and inservices? Here’s a way to change all of that.

1. Before (or during) your next meeting, inservice or staff development, prepare yourself by drawing a square. I find that 5″ x 5″ is a good size. Divide the card into columns-five across and five down.  That will give you 25 one-inch blocks.

2. Write one of the following words/phrases in each block: * no child left behind * test scores * core competencies *  communication *  standards *  multiple exposures *  benchmarks *  proactive *  win-win * think outside the box *  action plan *  result-driven *  assessments *  knowledge base * at the end of the day * touch base *  mindset *  differentiated *  retention *  skills *  background knowledge *  effective learning *  exemplars *  implementation * reflection .

When you hear one of those, check off the appropriate block  for these words/phrases.

4. When you get five blocks horizontally, vertically, or diagonally stand up and shout “BULLCRAP”

TESTIMONIALS from satisfied “Bullcrap Bingo” players: —

“I had been in the meeting for only five minutes when I won.” – Adam W., Atlanta —

“My attention span at inservices has improved dramatically.” –  David T., Orlando —

“What a gas! Staff development will never be the same for me after my first win.” – Dan J., New York City — “

The atmosphere was tense in the last inservice as 14 of us waited for the fifth box.” – Ben G, Denver —

“The speaker was stunned as eight of us screamed ‘BULLCRAP!’ for the third time in two hours. The Bullcrap Bingo Championship will be played at the next inservice.” -Rod H., Nashville

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Richard Nixon

Having grown up in the rural South in the 1930s to mid 40s I was well aware of poverty and some of its effects; starvation, no medical care, no permanent place to live, no work and no income. I saw directly what some activities of the New Deal, such as free food for school lunches for all hungry children, could do. I was a firm believer in government help for those who couldn’t help themselves as well as those who were cut out of participation in government.

Thus, when Richard Nixon came along and seemed to glory in being used as a hatchet man in the Eisenhower administration, I was totally opposed to him. He was in my mind as a political version of Al Capone. When he became president I couldn’t believe the American people would have voted for him. During his administrations I got my information about him from “the press” which I have come to know really was overwhelmingly liberal. I read about the programs he supported and mostly got implemented, but connecting them with him never got past my prejudice. When the Watergate mess came to occupy virtually all of TV, I was convinced that seeing him as a crook was right.

It is only recently that I have paid attention to the programs he got enacted into law. He got the Voting Rights Act extended, the Clean Air Act passed, and the creation of the Office of Consumer Affairs, the Environmental Protection Agency, Amtrak, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These among some other actions I firmly support.

He was a complicated, driven man. There are still some of his actions of which I do not approve, but I now know he was not the absolute villain I have made him out to be. And, this causes me to consider other things in my life that I may have let my emotions run away with.

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George Washington 2

One of the most recognized names from American history is George Washington. Yet, the only thing most people can say about him is that he is The Father Of Our Country. Yet, he shows up in history books through out elementary and secondary school years. However, the references are almost all to what he did – command the American army in the Revolutionary War, was our first president – never about what kind of man he was.

Back in April I was struggling to finish reading a book on the early American republic which was over 700 pages of dense prose. George Washington was a central character about whom I learned little. I went searching for a biography from which I could get a better understanding of the man. I found three which dealt with the early part of his life, his role in the Revolution and the last as a central player in the writing of the Constitution and then as president. Read in succession, they built a picture of a man who has deserved all of the praise he has gotten.

What I found was a man of great capabilities who managed to keep his essential character mostly to himself. It was in his role as President that I was most impressed. He was held in awe though he did not take himself seriously. He began his presidency trying to consult with Congress when making decisions about how the new administration should establish itself. The people’s elected representatives acted just as they do today; raising all sorts of wild questions and making demands about what he should do. That was his first and last attempt to involve Congress in setting up an administrative apparatus. Since he was struggling with what an administration should be, he brought in men such as Jefferson and Hamilton to organize Departments and make them work. Working with the men in his cabinet he established the basis of today’s sprawling federal administrative structure.

Faced with a legislative branch that fought among itself, it was he who set us on the way to a functioning national administration structure that has been able to continually adjust to changing economic and living conditions through two centuries.

All of my unsureness about George Washington’s contribution to the establishment of our nation and its government is gone. I am convinced that he was THE essential character in winning the Revolutionary war and establishing our national government.

In case you missed them the first time I posted them:

Washington’s Revolution: The Making of America’s First Leader, by Robert Middlekauff

The Return of George Washington: 1783-1789, by Edward Larson

Washington’s Circle: The Creation of the President, by David and Jeanne Heidler.

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The Longest Day

Last night, June 6, was the annual gathering of my family to watch THE LONGEST DAY, the first motion picture made about the American and British invasion of German occupied France. It has gone from watching with one daughter when the video tape first came out to a monster family blast featuring many kinds of European beer and ale with various kinds of European sausage, and buns. There is champagne to go with the exotic dessert made by one daughter. The food comes out when the break came in the original movie and from then on less serious attention is paid to what is happening on the TV.

My wife and father and I first saw this movie when it originally appeared in 1962 in a well appointed movie house. While getting together to view it now has become a food fest, it continues to remind me that approximately 10,000 men were killed and wounded that day on the allied side in getting ashore so that the Germans could be driven out of France and the rest of the western European countries they had defeated and occupied.

And that brings me to a point I have made before. I did not create the social and economic conditions in which I live. The wonderful conditions in which I and my family live were bought in large part by the sacrifice and inventiveness of people who lived before me. Last night was a great party, but it is always a reminder of obligations we owe to ancestors and millions of others yet to come.