Monthly Archives: November 2014


There’s a part of me that is always reaching out to make connections with people.  I come up with a scheme, either money making or just for fun, and I immediately imagine my family, my friends, and now my old 6th grade teacher in that spot.

Just to give you two examples.

The first involves my brothers and the idea of starting an educational technology business.  I’m a former teacher turned ed consultant.  My older brother is an accountant for a local Credit Union.  And, my little brother is an artist turned computer programmer.  So naturally, my ed tech firm would be the perfect business to pull us all in.  Mike does the books, I develop the programs we need and work with schools.  Thomas makes the programs.  Its perfect, don’t ya see.

The second has to do with a recent lunch I had with my former 6th grade teacher and mentor, Mr. Powers.  As we are telling each other the stories of when we both dropped out of college, me in the 90s and him . . . before that, I imagine this blog that we could write that is similar to the Julie/Julia Movie.  We would each tell the story of how we went from college dropouts to teachers.  It would end with us telling the story of our first years as teachers.

There’s something about being the middle child that wants everyone to play with you.

No One Told Me Not To

“No one told me not to.”  When dropping out of school to get a job to help support his then girlfriend and their new baby, no one told him not to.

I was sitting in a car, one that I had recently rented for a work visit to Columbus, Ohio.  “Enterprise, we’ll pick you up.”  They also drop you off, and I was getting dropped off.   I’m sitting in the passenger seat, while the guy who cleans the cars after they’re dropped off, is in the driver’s seat.  After a minute or so of silence, he asks the one question that you ask when you have nothing to talk about with a guy you just met, “So, what do you do?”

I answer the way I always answer, “I’m a data nerd for schools.  I work for a company that goes into schools that have high dropout rates and tries to get them not to drop out.  My job is to find the data that will point to which kids are in danger of dropping out and then work with the schools to figure out how not to let them drop out.”  I’ve told that bit a hundred times.

He responds with his story, “I got great grades all through high school.  My senior year, half a year from graduating, my girlfriend gets pregnant.  I drop out to support her and my son.”  This gentlemen is one of those that would not be identified by the Early Warning Indicators.  Instead, a life event suddenly occurred, and he reacted.

As he was dis-enrolling from school, getting a job that would pay the bills and support his family, no one tried to stop him.  As he put it . . .

No One Told Me Not To

This does not mean that no one cared about him, his future, or that of his now growing family, but what he was doing was what was expected.  Granted this was more than 16 years ago.  His son is now a senior.  Expectations were different then.  Of course, your girlfriend is pregnant, you drop out of school, marry her, and start your family a bit early.  

But no one, at least no one that he can remember, told him to stay in school and get his diploma.  

As a side note, he went to the same high school that I graduated from.  A part of the class that followed mine (1997 if you must know).  He knew one of my old friends from high school, who was also in his year.  His children go to the high school that my mother recently retired from as an art teacher.  His son, the 17 year old one, took a couple art classes from her.

Middle Child in the Middle Generation

I know my family is going to find it funny that I am a part of the “middle” generation.

From Generation X: America’s Neglected ‘Middle Child’, an article from the Pew Research Center

When compared to the generation before (baby boomers) and the generation after (millennials), my generation, the Gen Xers are more pessimistic about their futures (see the graph to the left).

However, we are more “savvy, skeptical and self-reliant; they’re not into preening or pampering, and they just might not give much of a hoot what others think of them. Or whether others think of them at all.”

Not sure how many of those traits I have, but as a Gen Xer I am supposed to say that I don’t care.

We Think We Know You

Somehow we all end up feeling like no one understands us.  No one really gets us.

Bo Burnham provides us with a great anthem for kids that feel that way and how he turns that into strength.  At least that’s how I interpret this.  He doesn’t say a word for 6 minutes, nor does he explain it when he is done.

For those of you like me, way past your teenage angst years, look fondly back on those days with this video, and give those still in the angst years a break.

PhotoMath. Scary Brilliant!!

I love this app.  I am a teacher, not a math teacher I grant you, but a teacher none the less, and I love this app.  It challenges what we think the purpose of math education is, where technology fits in that education, and how we should teach math.

PhotoMath from MicroBLINK on Vimeo.

There have always been ways for students to cheat.  There will always be ways for them to cheat.  This can be the latest, but it can also be a tool to help those who are afraid to ask for help.  Or for those who just want to figure it out on their own.  It can be a tool for parents to help their kids.  It can be a lot of things, but first, it will scare most traditional math teachers.

Like Wikipedia scares some English teachers.