18 February 2020

Don't Drink and Data


I have often used this tweet in presentations, including last week when I taught my first-ever college class. It always gets a chuckle, and it is useful for starting a conversation about data-driven vs. data-informed. I am a proponent of the latter. Data are useful for shining a light in dark corners, for supporting or persuading (for better or worse), but letting them "drive" puts them as the arbiters of decisions...and I can't accept that. I know that many would point out the automated, invisible, data-driven decisions made on my behalf (and for my convenience) on an ongoing basis. It is true that I am not immune. But in education, where we are supporting the very best development we can of the next generation, the human element—in all of its glorious imperfection—is a welcome companion as we make choices.

Just a reminder that I am selecting a tweet from a list provided each day by On This Day as a prompt to get back into blogging.  You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

17 February 2020

Time and Time Again

In a couple of weeks, it will be 21 years since my adopted father passed away. His death was sudden and unexpected. Grief was sharp and cruel. It has dulled over the years, of course, but there have been many times when I wished I could ask him questions or tell him news.

My birthmother's passing was different. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor in January2009 and slipped away slowly until the end in November of that year.


Grief was different this time. For the first almost-30 years of my life, I didn't know her...and there was a different sort of grief in that. Then, we reunited (a mere week after my adopted father died) and for 10 years, we got to be together. Losing her a second time was not as hard. Not because it wasn't awful or that I don't miss her, but because I got to have the one thing everyone wishes for: More time. I had lost her once and then I got more time. I got to have nearly a decade...when most people would be happy with just one day more with a loved one they've lost. I understand what a tremendous gift that was.

The tweet from today references the trip I made after her first surgery. I had not been to Canada in a bit. My passport was expired. I knew that being a Canadian citizen, they would have to let me into the country...but I wasn't sure I would be allowed back into the US. (Spoiler alert: I was!) While I was staying with my stepsister and her family in Calgary, I got the passport renewal process started.

Even in February, my birthmother was starting to lose herself. A lifelong elementary teacher and principal...and one of the most honest people you'd ever meet...started telling the most wild tales. She told her doctors about the baby bats that would come sit on her fingers and how she would wrap them in little pink and blue blankets. She told the surgeon that when she had last visited me, we had gone to Grace Hospital in Seattle and had some bone marrow preserved. She was so earnest about this that the surgeon believed her. He was excited, because since we had some genetic similarity, there might be something there that would be useful in treating her. I had to burst everyone's bubble after I arrived and tell them that not only was that not true, but Grace Hospital only exists on the tv show Grey's Anatomy.

But regardless of how hard any of that was, I wouldn't change a thing if it meant that I hadn't had that second chance and gift of time with her.

16 February 2020


Today is one of those days where there's nothing super-special on the list of tweets from this date. But I picked this one just because it's a reminder that as much as I detest diplomacy, I have to admit that my years working for the state education agency helped hone that skill to a sharp point.


Is it a function of adulthood? One of leadership? Or just something we start in Kindergarten in terms of what it means to get along with others?

I have to admit that as I get older, I am getting a lot more clarity on which hills I am willing to die on and what (and who) are not worth fighting for. Diplomacy is still a tool that gets regular use by me, but I also feel like my current job has developed an even broader range of skills toward getting goals accomplished. Will be interesting to see what I add to the toolbelt in my 50s.

15 February 2020

Freud Would Be So Proud

I do so love a good pencil.



Specifically, I love a Blackwing pencil that has been sharpened to a long point. I have used all sorts of pencils over the years. When I was a classroom teacher, I always kept one tucked behind my ear. I have given them away to several people over the years, creating a little wave of pencil addicts. This includes the first tweet from this date that is shown above. After finding another pencil nerd, I not only gave him a Blackwing, but at the next meeting he brought his favourite pencil to share with me. In terms of the second tweet, all I can say is that I am still a paper and pencil planner. Even this week, I had some scratch paper for capturing all the ideas from a brain dump about getting ready for an upcoming school board meeting. Some people are "oral processors," but I just need a quiet space and a place to write down and look at mine.

14 February 2020

Love at First Bite

Valentine's Day must not have cast much spell over me in the past...at least as far as my public Twitter feed goes. I can think of some private exchanges and celebrations through the years, but nothing that was particularly visible to others.

So, this is the best I can do as my pick of the litter for tweets from this date:


My mouth is spending this Valentine's Day alone, too, and I have not made nearly as good of a meal. I have to admit that I enjoy cooking and used to do so much more frequently. I really should get back to doing so.

And maybe I need to tuck away a good tweet or two in my feed for this date so it doesn't feel so desperate in future years!

13 February 2020

It's 100 Day Somewhere

If you have not recently been around a kindergarten classroom, you may not know (or have forgotten) that the 100th day of school is cause for celebration. Counting to 100 is an important skill students learn during their first year and being 100 days smarter is a big milestone.

Today's tweet from this date is timely because our kinders are celebrating today:


And yes, there will be 100 Day parties tomorrow followed by Valentine's Day the day after.

If you haven't been involved with 100 Day, then I urge you to find a way to volunteer in a local elementary school where this takes place. I always go and help with center time, when kids are busy counting, colouring, and otherwise demonstrating they can count to 100. It is a joyous time for them. As for me, it's a good reminder that we are most definitely on the downhill slide to summer break. We got this.

12 February 2020

The Song Is You

While I suspect I will devote far more virtual ink this year to blogging about films and their impact on me as opposed to the effects of other art forms, today's tweet is brought to you from the aural realm.


I like a wide variety of music, but I have to admit that over the last few years, I found myself listening almost exclusively to the '40s Junction on Sirius XM. I have it in the car and on at work. In some ways, it feels a little incongruous to be in my newish car, with its heated seats and navigation screen, while the Andrews Sisters tear one up over the airwaves. But with all the craziness at work and in the world at large, there is something comforting in the familiar. It's nice to have Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra keep me company. Fred Astaire is the perfect accompaniment to have on while typing a document. And the Mills Brothers or Ink Spots provide the best possible soundtrack for unwinding on the drive home.

My current favourite song? Stardust. I love the Harry James version, but the one by Hoagy Carmichael (who also wrote the song) is also much appreciated. Have a listen for yourself: