September 19, 2011

How To Ensure Your Privacy In Facebook

Some of us love our Facebook, some of us hate it, but most of us are on it.

So what do you do when one of your students sends you a Friend request? It can feel like it oversteps your professional boundary, but they're so don't want to reject them! Here's how to set up your privacy settings so that you can accept their request and still keep your privacy.

 First Create A Friend List and put your kiddos on it (their parents too if you feel like it)
(If you can't see these screenshots, just click on them...)

Go ahead and add people to the list.
  Now Change Your Security Settings To Exclude That List.

 Now whenever you post a status, this list will not see it, unless you change this setting.

You can lock down everything and make it seem like you're just never on FB, or you can leave up some pictures, etc. And the cool thing is, you can always change this on the fly...if you post a status or photo you want everyone to see, you can change it right from there. Just look for that little Custom gear!
*Do pay attention though...when you change this setting in a status update, that change becomes your new default so be SURE you change it back!

Voila. You're back to having a Professional AND a Personal life! :)

September 07, 2011

The "Worst Parent EVER!"

Ever had one of those? a Worst Parent Ever! moment?

Last night was my official inauguration into the Worst Parent Ever club. It was the night before the first day of school…correction: the night before the first day of Middle School for my brilliant, geeky, funny but sensitive and sometimes pessimistic youngest guy. He’s awesome, and his new school is going to be awesome and everything was awesome… until bedtime. The Man and I always do one last email check before bed (geeks through-and-through), so we both discovered the email at the exact same time.

And gasped at the exact same time.

It was a friendly little note from the director of Jordan’s new school:
What a great first day at school! The kids did an amazing job and it was wonderful to see our new and improved campus filled up with happy faces. Clearly we are going to have a great year.”

Yeah. Alternate reality, right? Whose life did I accidentally slip into just now? The first day of school is tomorrow. It’s tomorrow!


We missed the first day of middle school. Epic. Beautiful. Glorious. Swan-Dive-Into an empty pool-Failure!

To my credit, they did start a day earlier than the public schools this year and the rest of us are all public schoolers. But on the “ridiculous fail” side, I honestly clicked that stupid “First Day Of School” link no less than 25 times this week and apparently never actually read the message there even once. So Brilliant.

We laugh in this family. It's a dang good thing.
We decided he can use this excuse for just about everything now. Doesn’t all of life hinge on that first day of middle school?
How many job interviews could he be late for and say, “Yeah, well…my parents made me miss the first day of middle school and I’ve been catching up ever since.” Who wouldn’t have pity on that kid, right?
Card games lost: “I missed the first day of middle school.”
Girlfriends dumped: “Yeah, I missed the first day of middle school.”
Fails the math final: “It must have been what I missed that first day of middle school.”

So as it turns out, we’ve given him a great gift after all, you see.
He now has,
The freedom to fail.
(...oh, and also we bought him the large size at Cuppa Yo after school today).

That's also why I decided to go ahead and write a post about my most fantastic parenting failure to date. Giving ourselves the freedom to fail is the starting place for so many great stories, so many courageous successes! And now I bequeath that to you.

You, my dear friends, now have the freedom to make a creative and far-reaching plethora of legitimate mistakes and all the while, you'll be able to say:  "Yeah, but I had this friend once who totally spaced her kid's first day of middle school."

See that? I can be generous that way (...which probably mostly has to do with the fact that I had the large size at Cuppa Yo today too).

Go ahead. Fail. Laugh. Try again. Laugh some more.
That'll be the policy in our family. At least for as long as there is a Cuppa Yo.

And Jordan?
Jordan's been busy all afternoon coming up with reason after reason why he's the luckiest kid on the block...having not had to go to the first day of middle school.

Geez, I love him!

September 06, 2011

First Class Email Magic

My job is fun...mostly because people insist on being fun.
Really! Here's an example.
I often get asked questions about First Class email. I'm not the authority on it, but we can usually solve whatever the issue is and then after we've finished, it never fails that the person then asks me this:
"Hey, do you know how people get that cute little icon in front of their name when they send emails?"

I love how many people insist that if there is a way to make email more fun...they want it. So this is for you my fun friends. Have a penguin or a popsicle if you must. Mine's a sailboat, and maybe in January I'll find a palm tree!

But first we'll do the important one. Here's a short video on how to create your email group lists (for classroom parent lists and such) and also how to share them with your team so that they don't have to type those email addresses in too!

How to Create and Share an Email List in First Class

   ...and How to Add that List to your Contacts once you get it.

How to set your Cute little Outgoing Mail icon in First Class

How to make an automatic signature on your outgoing mail in First Class

September 02, 2011

How To Introduce Your Brand New Smartboard

Here she is, implementing New Technology with sagacity and charm
Our entire school got new SMARTboards this year. Every classroom, every teacher, whether they wanted one or not. We didn't exactly do this on purpose. I'm a big believer in letting the teacher decide how and what will be their best use of technology, but our parents got really excited about this one. And when parents get this excited about spending money on their just nod your head and say, "Rock on Bro!"

So there it is...all shiny and white and new...
 And the kids are gonna be Soooo excited!

Now if you could just figure out what to do with it.
Here are a couple of ideas that may give you a jumpstart.
There are a bunch of great "Back To School" Notebooks on the Smart Exchange website. Here are a couple I recommend:

Simple Attendance Taker for K-2

For the younger kiddos (about K-2)
This is one page of pure learning simplicity. You just change the names on the apples to your kid's names. The kids touch their apple and it disappears (with a cute little chewing sound). This way they all get to touch the board the first day (that matters if you're them! :))

Back To School Activities for K-2
Back To School Activities for 3-5
I like these next two, because they're longer and give a great overview of a bunch of SMARTboard functions.


Also, the teacher notes (little pull downs on the top left) for each page are really well done.

Just click the links, download them and start playing around. You don't have to be plugged into the board in order to get yourself oriented to the software and you can't hurt anything. No matter what you do on this first week back, if you let them touch the SMARTboard, you'll for sure be the uncontested, most awesome teacher ever.

I'm just sayin...

DOWNLOAD  Software Now
Also, If you haven't downloaded the SMART Notebook software, here is the post about how to do that. (Highland: I'll email the code out as soon as I get access to my email account, but you can download and get started without the code and add it in later)

September 01, 2011

Why I Keep Playing With Kindergartners

Photo Credit: Jessica Miller
On the first day of my first year as a Kindergarten EA, I was sent outside with the class while the teacher finished prepping for the rest of that long day. I was wearing my long white flowy skirt (I know...white and Kinders...*shrug *) and holding hands with two little girls.

"Hey you guys! Let's play Duck, Duck, Goose," I said, and the kids cheered.
Then a tiny hand tugged at mine and when I looked down, two blue eyes were gazing up at me. "We should play Duck, Duck, Swan, and you could be the swan," she said, very seriously.

I haven't needed to question my decision to go into education since that day.

It's been a long year. No, it's been a really long 6 years. I guess I'm a grown-up now, because broken friendships and mean people have finally left their mark and I'm more cynical and jaded than I ever really wanted to be. I was agonizing about this to my dear Best the other day.

"I'm a freak," I said, "why have so many people treated me this way? How do people just walk away from people they seemed to care about and never look back?" My Best is wise (which is why I married him of course).

"You're not the only one. Everyone has the kind of broken friendships that hurt and will never make sense to them. That's just human. You're not a freak. You're just acquainted with the real world now."

Both things are true. I am more cynical than I ever wanted to be, because a lot of people are meaner and more selfish than they really need to be. Bleh.  And, it's true that I'm not the only one who has been on the crummy end of selfish decisions. People everywhere know what this feels like. But I don't want to live jaded. I'm determined to live into beautiful, into kindness, into selflessness. And that's why I keep hanging out with Kindergartners.

They tell me I'm pretty. They ask me if I could teach them how to do something. They want me to swing with them. They listen if I have a story to tell. They want me to like what they like and not just because it would give them a higher number on their Facebook friends list.

Kinders are the real deal, my friends. These are the people I aspire to be like.
School starts in 5 days. Today I signed up to do the Kindergarten Tours where I show them where the bathroom is and introduce them to the nice office lady who has the band-aids.

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