The Thoughtful Teacher


I’m not just talking about me…I’m talking about you, too.

Let me know if the blog name change is too much, or whether it’s more in line with what I hope to achieve, which is exploring education topics that defy universal agreement, but demonstrate a commitment to caring and professionalism.

Why didn’t I call it The Reflective Teacher? I’m thinking that the word  “reflective” is overused jargon, don’t you? The ideal reading level for understanding and being understood is around eighth grade. That’s what newspapers shoot for, and I’m thinking they have a good idea.

Taking My Medicine

I recant my intention to move lock, stock, and barrel over to Straight Talk. I was one of those ideas that seemed okay on the surface, but it didn’t survive four days of attempted implementation.

Frankly, the focus of Straight Talk is too narrow. The local folks who have it on RSS would tune out if I had too many discussions that were not directly relevant to what’s happening in Hillsboro, and other readers would tire of the local stuff. Tom Brandt was right. Two blogs it is.

My apologies for the false alarm. It’s embarrassing to have growing pains at my age! But I am significantly closer to being less bit-challenged. 😀

Big However: I did replace the stuffy links on Straight Talk with my home team. Some of those links will perk up the locals, eh? And I did unsubscribe to all “permission” Outlook emails (except the local weather) over these last four days!

I haven’t even visited my fly fishing forum recently, and I don’t feel like I’m missing much. My email’s in my profile, so I’m not unreachable to the fishing folks I know there.

So much for the personal drivel. I’m ready to take my medicine.

Stepping Back to Assess

What’s wrong with this picture?

Well, yeah, the dragon’s in a cage, but the dragon’s still breathing fire. Good for the dragon. I think I need to follow the dragon’s example.

Since I went live with my real identity, I feel like I’ve been caged and my fire has most certainly been reduced.

A number of bloggers I’ve read recently have talked about struggling with going “live” or remaining covert. Tough decision. I’ve seen how it affects my writing and I’m not real happy.

Anonymity is not a free pass to be rude or sloppy with the facts. But being out there as yourself can inhibit expression.

Lately I’ve been reviewing the internet literature on standard-based grading and marvelling about my loss of literary passion. I’ve never stooped to ad hominem attacks on adversaries, but I’ve never backed off from calling plays as I see them.

Lately, I’ve been somewhat mute. I’m not afraid of lawsuits, but don’t want to embarrass folks I associate with and care about. The fact is, though, if they’re worth caring about, they won’t be embarrassed by me. That goes for my fellow board members and my excellent superintendent.

So the first thing I’m going to tackle is the irresponsibility of print and internet publications that wear the mantle of “official and valid teacher information.” The Teacher Magazine blog board is one of those gratuitous fonts of drivel and cool stuff that enjoys the halo effect of education establishment legitimation. See if you can find some problems I have with this particular edition…

PS: Tomorrow I’m gonna wish myself Happy Independence Day for a number of different reasons. 😉

Oh Yes, I Have Been Working!

I have a favor to ask of my gentle readers…

I’ve been distracted from my usual free-roaming education discourse here on RepairKit because we have a lot going locally, in Hillsboro School District 1J.

So, as some of you may have noticed, I began a local community blog that I hope will become a nexus of school patron communication. Already one elementary school parent blogger has linked up with me, and I hope for many more.

I also hope that the blog can refer district patrons and others interested in public education to sources where they can soak up some information about the inner workings of our school district, including administration, board work, and curriculum and instruction.

My links on Straight Talk are to blogs and web sites that address national education issues, so don’t be offended if you don’t see your blog linked there. (RepairKit’s not there either.)

Back to the favor…I’d appreciate comments here on how to improve this effort as well as indications that I’m heading in the right direction.

Straight Talk from a Hillsboro School District 1J Board Member

Thanks very much!

Photo: Century High School, Hillsboro, Oregon (3rd of four high schools, opened 1999)

Technorati Recency Widget Useless

Preface: Blogger is having some problems. I just published the first iteration of this post and it went into the ether — gone. The photo uploader isn’t working at all.

Photo Uploading Unavailable

Blogger photo uploading is currently down. Our engineers are working on the situation.

I have to wonder if I’m being punished for 86ing the Technorati widget that supposedly keeps track of the “freshness” of your favorite blogs. It doesn’t work. At this moment, at least three blogs I read regularly are listed as “stale.” Or not fresh. Whatever. Those three blogs have posted in the last 24 hours and therefore the widget is useless. I’ll leave is on board until tomorrow so you can see what I’m talking about. (Scroll way down.)

In fact, keeping Technorati “fresh” is a bother too. If you’re currently on my blogroll, consider yourself a “favorite,” please. I’m no longer bothering with Technorati, unless I encounter a plea to “Fave This Blog” when I visit (then I’ll punch that button for good luck). When technology demands more time than it saves or returns in benefits, I say, “adios!”

PS: I think photo uploader just got back. I’ll post a pic.

"Can We Keep ‘er Dad?"

I began this blog as an experiment, knowing nothing of the edusphere or the amazing opportunities for collaboration that can occur on your own time. Although I used a pseudonym, a local person who knows a little about me could have (an some apparently did) follow the bread crumbs to my secret identity.

Why secret? Well, if I somehow managed to create a mess, I thought I could just vanish the blog and forget about it. But of course, the internet never forgets. So I kept it simple, sane, suitable for general audiences, and responsibly critical.

Since I’m retired (and elected), nobody can fire me, and I don’t have to put up with any bozos who might try to restrict my first amendment rights. So I asked myself, shall we keep the blog? The answer is yes. The connections, collaborations, and insights shared have been great, so Repairman becomes yours truly, Hugh O’Donnell.

For those of your with Blogger platforms, my “comments” nom de plume will automatically change. For you WordPress folks, I’ll sign in all over again.

Funny, I do feel the freedom!

Learning How to Show Appreciation

Oh man, I’m feeling guilt and peer pressure all at the same time.

Eric Turner, who writes Secondhand Thoughts, has begun a unique tradition as a highlighter of promising nascent education blogs from the point of view of a seasoned, highly trained soldier who is on his way to becoming a great history teacher.

Because I’m an inherently modest guy, I put Eric’s “badge” down near the bottom of my sidebar, just above my profile.

Now that I’ve read Matthew Tabor’s appreciation post and how Eric’s criteria parallel Matthew’s blog blueprint, I feel that I have done Eric a disservice, and I am forthwith moving my Wednesday Website Award to the top of my sidebar where it belongs, to show my appreciation for him and his work.

I owe the same kind of apology and thanks to Scott McLeod who writes Dangerously Irrelevant, and who appreciates reading coherent comments on blog posts and found a way to give an “attaboy” or “attagirl” to the blogger who holds up his or her end of a conversation.

Again, thank you Eric and Scott!

BTW, Eric, Matthew, and Scott can be found daily on my blogroll.

Weekend Diversion

For your viewing pleasure, here’s a video (just learned how to post these today!) that non-verbally sets the stage for the mission of a not-for-profit organization I helped found to combat the growing exclusion of recreationists from their rights to be on our state waters. Note the fences across the waters near the end.

While you’re watching the video and learning the variety of waters in my state, I’ll be organizing my study, straightening the house, doing the dishes, and every thing else I need to do to properly welcome my wife home from the east coast tomorrow!

The live action shots and white water stills are from the River Canyon. I love it there. Beauty and adventure, with peace of mind to boot.

The young man rowing the drift boat and wearing an orange PFD (a little past midway in the video) is the author of my featured fly fishing reports and the man behind the camera for many of the photos on the blog. Most of you have probably also figured out that he’s my son. 😉

Here goes…

Blogger Stalkers?

Let me say first that although this blog appears anonymous, it is not. Scattered throughout it are many clues to the identity of Repairman. Outing me would not take a work of genius, nor would I mind, although the time could be better used, I’m sure.

My blogging goals are focused on the improvement of public education, and any criticisms I have made have been in the spirit of helping another pilgrim avoid a screw up under my scrutiny. I have never tried to strengthen an argument by reducing other people (ad hominem). Generally, folks who make jackasses out of themselves don’t need my help to accomplish the task.

A short while ago, one of my posts drew a boorish comment from a local person who is apparently angry about the perceived inequities between boys baseball and girls softball in our district. Following good advice from a more experience blogger, I ignored the comment, although I did save a copy.

I then reflected on the purpose of the blog, which includes highlighting various education issues and engaging in discussions about them. I decided I did not want to be a lighting rod or a forum for local issues, and I would concentrate on discussing examples of positive leadership, so I removed the posts that referenced those local issues and two others that referenced leadership flubs elsewhere.

Since that time, I have been mindful of two things:

First, the local person (actually persons, because there’s more than one local IP Address showing on sitemeter) persisted in looking only at, then looking for (after removal) my posts on the local issue, “Tossing the Baby,” and “Tossing the Baby 2.” And today, in one of several exploratory sessions, he/she/they spent 28 minutes and 57 seconds on my site, finally exiting to the Google page that caches my entire blog. This person(s) has/have been at this since “Tossing the Baby” first appeared on RepairKit.

Second, I will continue to speak about all issues that are important to me whether they be local, regional, national, or world-wide. I will continue the practice of making only those observations that I would be willing to make in person, but I don’t guarantee smiles.

My local readers, if they want to talk more, can find me in the phone book. (The district won’t give out my phone number.) I’m listed and have been for 44 years.

I have reprised the deleted posts, with the most recent directly below this one. In “Tossing the Baby” I have also included, as forensic history only, the negative comment that plainly indicates that the writer, in his or her anger, chose to ignore most of what I said in the post. (I publish disagreements, not ad hominem rants. Also, I no longer accept anonymous comments. If anyone has something worth saying, they can register with Blogger or one of the other blogging services. It’s all free.)

For those of you in the edusphere who have yet to add sitemeter or some similar tracking device to your blog, I recommend that you do not wait. I have a complete record of my local visitors’ comings and goings and what they were curious about. They only live two miles away.

You’d think they could pick up the phone.