Clairvoy on the art of teaching & teacher productivity

April 15, 2014

To Have and Have Not

Filed under: mind_candy — Tags: — Mark @

Now I’m reading Hemingway, and Ravitch …

Hemingway wrote:   “They’ve got to get rid of us.  You can see that, can’t you?” “Why?” “Because we are the desperate ones.  The ones with nothing to lose.  We are the completely brutalized ones…we have been beaten so far that the only solace…and the only pride is in being able to take it.”  And later, the lead character take a final breath and utters life’s lesson, “No matter how, a man alone ain’t got no bloody … chance.”

February 10, 2014

Cyber-Bullying is Just Bullying

Filed under: technology — Tags: , , — Mark @

There’s a saying that the music is not in the piano and, in the same way, the learning is not in the device.

One could add, “Bullying is not in the software, app or device”.

Social Media in and of itself is not “Harmful”.  Bullying is harmful, the medium is not.  The medium does make it easier to be a bully.

Social Media is not under the control of schools or parents and there are at least a dozen social apps doing the same thing for any one app currently the rage, or a school is considering banning.

Blocking the media is an impossible task.

A pogrom of abstinence against any one app, software or device will only make it more sought after.  Over the years, abstinence has not worked well with alcohol or teen sex.

Blaming the media will not help.  It’s like calling pencils “harmful” because anonymous notes can be written with them.

“In fact, pencils don’t natively identify the user when students use them to communicate (many times without the teacher’s knowledge).  The user has to decide to write their name on a note for the user to be identified.”

Sounds ridiculous, but it’s a sentence from a school system’s memo about why a certain social media should be banned, with the word pencil inserted.

Back in the day, nobody blamed the pencil, or the bathroom wall for that matter.

Jargon like “Cyber-Bullying” and “Digital Learning” is made up by marketing people selling something. Like many people selling added security, scare tactics work best.

Imagine what type of pencil school systems would have to buy if pencils were held to the same standards as collaborative technology.  A pencil that identifies the user, keeps a draft of every draft the student writes and keeps a draft and identifies the student and what they wrote on any other student’s paper he or she might write on.  What, about $45K per writing utensil?

Just a thought, so the way we speak about this subject going forward makes sense.

It’s a matter of not bullying in any medium.

December 1, 2013

A Different Type of Student Newspaper

Filed under: technology — Tags: , , — Mark @

I’ve got a new gig as Journalism and Media Adviser at a public high school here in the same system in which I’ve been working.

We created an online newspaper. It’s interesting. The high school is what is called “Alternative” which means we have students who are just a little too grown up to put up with cheer leaders and jocks.

We have 250-some students working a 4-block schedule and no football team or other sports.

We do have 46 some parents among our student body and a host of other uber-talented folks who have a lot to say.

The new newspaper, The Mountain View Mirror, can be found at

Here’s the 101st post, which I wrote about reaching 100.

September 12, 2013

Tips for Writing Well

Filed under: instruction — Mark @

1) Remove unneeded words

2) Use simple words, and short sentences.

3) Don’t use cliches.

4) Read it out loud. Make it sound right – like someone talking.

5) Punctuate so somebody else can read it out loud and it would sound the same.

Sales and Marketing:

1) Know your audience

2) Write in a way appealing to them.

April 26, 2013

Service Request

Filed under: Memos_To_Staff — Mark @


We have about 25 systems. One of them is possessed (and by “possessed” I mean in the technical sense).  When the wall unit is turned on, it intermittently emits a wailing sound like a small child got a hold of the mic and was pulling our leg – but that is not the case.  It plays music when we want it to correctly, but when all inputs are turned off, it emits sounds like the underwater mating call of a sperm whale, or perhaps the amplified whimpering of a child ghost from the Victorian era who died tragically of diphtheria.  I’ve done all the usual stuff, rebooted it, dusted the equalizer, tried other mics and input devices (including direct wiring).  Got any ideas?

April 23, 2013

Managing & Leading

Filed under: instruction,school_politics — Mark @

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”  Less often quoted, King followed that line by uttering, “Where there is no consensus, there is no leadership.”

The ITRT’s job has grown at the exponential rate of technology.  As Moore’s law has it, doubling every two years.  The job description is intentionally left vague.  Each school is different, “custom”, so our individual jobs should be molded to the needs of the school.  So we are left to act as independent consultants without independence.

A snippet from Seth Godin on April 17:

“Part of the challenge of selling custom work is that it sometimes seems that everything is up for grabs. You should stay up all night for a week. You should rearrange the orchids in order of smell, because even though it’s not in the spec, hey, that would be good service…Promising perfect is actually not nearly as useful as promising what the rules are.  Boundaries eliminate the temptation to bully. State them early and often and don’t alter them and believe it or not, the client will be happier as well. They didn’t sign up to ruin your life. They signed up to get the most they could from you and your team, and the limits are the limits.”

Seth is talking about folks offering custom work and getting bullied by their customers.

Three ways ITRTs have dodged the bullet and are hiding:

1) 5% of us have just gone into the lab serving TTT-time so the service we are providing is clear to all.  Giving up so much opportunity in instructional technology for job clarity is something even I can understand–some bad days.

2) Some of us have hidden behind excel, using the ritual flags of “data,” “datasorter” and “datawall” as voodoo incantations, cast to obfuscate and confuse.

3) Heck, half the time we are toting around laptops for the standardized weighing of the children.

Needless to say, none of these are solutions for the tsunami of new (as yet unseen) responsibilities pushing our way over the next 24 months.  TTT-time doesn’t integrate the technology into the classroom (where it belongs), sorting data is not helping integrate technology into instruction (where it belongs) and standardized online testing is not integrating technology into instruction (where it belongs).  All of these things are our job, we’re not arguing that.  All are important to the functioning of the school, we’re not arguing that either.  And all three amount to about 8% (in today’s list of duties) of the overall duties of an ITRT in a small elementary school.

So with our job duties about to double in the next two years, how do we manage the limits without the independence to quantify them?  How do we market what we do to our client base to assure we surf the dawning tsunami of new responsibilities and not succumb to the deepness of the waters?


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