May 28, 2009

Are We There Yet?

Nine days to go and my mind is already long gone. I remember feeling this way last year too. I'm so ready to be done with immature kids and move on to other things. I have a big goal for the summer: to start my second software company. I've already been spending a lot of time on it. When it's ready, I'll be announcing details of the business on this blog.

Plus, there's been quite a bit of forward movement in my social life lately, which I've been giving much more priority to than school. And, the temperature is rising and everyone is pretty much pent up and ready to get outside, up to the cabin, to go fishing and swimming and biking and camping.

Surprisingly, the buzz on is still all about education and pedagogy. Kudos to everyone for staying so focused so late in the year. How do you do it?

Nine more days!

Nine more days!

May 16, 2009

Smart And Gets Things Done

Which is more important: being smart or getting things done? In other words, should people be commended for coming up with really brilliant ideas, or for working really hard at turning those ideas into reality? I agree with Joel Spolsky when he says that both are important.

Being smart includes:
  • Being creative, that is, synthesizing existing concepts in novel ways in order to develop solutions to problems.
  • Thinking outside the box.
  • Developing new ideas.

Getting things done includes:
  • A strong work ethic.
  • The self-discipline and perseverance to see a task through to completion.
  • Project management skills.

Being Smart

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is smart and gets things done. His idea for a social networking site was nothing short of brilliant. But the business only exists because he did something with his idea.

Getting Things Done

When I started my first software company, I had no idea how much work it was going to be. Had I known, I probably wouldn't have even made the attempt. My business was successful because I had a smart idea and got things done. I needed both.

In The Classroom

How are we preparing our students to be smart and get things done? Which do you emphasize most in your classrooms? It seems to me that most K-12 educators focus more on the "gets things done" side of the house. We're more interested in the fact that students complete the assigned work, following our instructions to the letter, than the ideas that students come up with.

If students don't have clear instructions, they become totally lost. All but the very brightest students are unable to come up with creative ideas on their own. We're producing a generation that is really great at following instructions and copying examples.

Making the Facebooks and Googles of the world is a lot of work. But it also requires creativity. Let's not forsake one for the other.

May 9, 2009

Teaching Is Not Life

There are some days when I would be glad to never see another teenager again. I mean really. There are 24 days left of school, and summer could not come fast enough! Sometimes I'd rather just sit in a dark corner and get paid to write computer code all day. It's not just the kids. This profession draws a personality type that is quite different than my own. I miss the conversations with my old co-workers about three phrase power generation, artificial neural networks, Monty Python, and rubber chickens.

Wait – it sounds here like I'm complaining. I'm not. This is a great job and I'm extremely grateful for it – and by the way, the trip to LA was super fantastic – and this is just such a great career, and I don't think I'll ever change jobs. But still, teaching is not life.

My original plan for this article was to write a long prose about how many other great things there are in life besides teaching, and how engaging in those other things can enhance your entire life, including your professional life. What are those things for you?

Lately, I've been thinking about some other things that are much more important than this job!

I usually put some sort of judgmental moralistic declaration at the end of my posts but I think I'll skip it this time.