Category Archives: EduNerd

Captain Obvious and the ABCs

Just to make sure, when I say the ABCs I am talking about Attendance, Behavior, and Course Performance.  Something I’ve talked about many times, and is in many ways the purpose of this website (aside from providing me a place to feel smart and important).

The above is like the video below.

I have given many presentations on the ABCs, and the most common reaction is, “Duh.”  I normally give these presentations to teachers, administrators, counselors, and other educators.  Of course showing up, acting appropriately, and doing their work will predict students are successful and who drop out.

The purpose of the ABCs is to provide an early warning indicator (EWI).  To give you a chance to DO SOMETHING about it.  When the engine thermometer in your car goes into the red, you don’t think, “Of course an over heated engine is bad, why are you telling me this?”  The purpose of the gauge is to warn you that something worse is about to happen.

The same with the EWIs.

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.

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.

The Greater Insult

A thought popped into my head about insults which resulted in a question.

Which is worse, finding someone’s weak spot and making fun or finding someone’s dreams and making fun?

As soon as I asked the question I knew my answer.  I’d rather you make fun of everything I am self conscious about rather than hitting my dreams.  It reminds me of a short poem by Yeats.



This poem was used by the great Ken Robinson to illustrate how students walk into our classrooms everyday.

Culture of Punishment – Rough Draft

As the title suggests, I am still working this thought out, so bear with me.

The first step in stopping unwanted behavior is to punish or threaten punishment for those who are committing that unwanted behavior.

This is not my belief, but what I feel our culture sees as the correct way to handle people doing bad things.  This belief has made its way into our education system as well.  I work with a lot of schools (as I’ve said in many previous posts, but wanted to make sure anyone starting with this post knew the situation) and in every single one of them there is a district wide policy that the school has to follow when dealing with problem behavior.  Suspension and Detention.  A policy that lists all of the “Incident Types” and defines what punishment will occur should a student commit those behaviors.  Its written in stone and every teacher/administrator wants it followed.

There rarely is a district wide policy for correcting the behavior.  Listing the problem behavior and defining how they will be punished is not going to improve that student’s life.  It makes us feel better, “Ha, caught another one,” but what is it really doing?

More as I figure this one out.

The Gift of Rejection

I have been on the road a lot recently.  Three straight weeks to be exact.  Aside from being a little tired the extended road trips have given me the opportunity to listen to NPR a little more than I would working from home.  As I was driving out to Columbus this past Sunday I caught a part of A Prairie Home Companion and heard the host, Garrison Keillor, make a pithy comment on success.

He said that the first time he was “given the gift of rejection” made him profoundly grateful, because that rejection became a “motor on his back” that forced him to strive for more.  For better.  For greater things.


A Good Read

If books were characters from the book.  A great piece from 22 words.

Pyramids of Awesome

This one is for where the venn diagram of Basketball and the TV Show Parks and Recreation overlap.

Pyramid of Success

I will admit, as a non-sports person, but a fan of Parks and Rec, I did not know that the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness was a direct Parody of Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.

Supporting the Youngsters

I love how he says, “Youngsters.”  How he wants the best for the youngsters.

“No written word nor spoken plea can teach young minds what they should be, not all the books on all the shelves but what the teachers are themselves.” -Elbert Hubbard