Guitar Hero Is Ruining Future Garage Band Lead Guitarists

I am a fan of music. My father before me was a fan of music. He said their were two kinds… country… and… western. I like to think I’m a little more open than that. I played trombone in my middle school band. I don’t know many (if any) really good rock bands that have a trombone in them.

I like all kinds of music. My favorite genre would be music from the 80’s. We have a satellite dish and we get Sirius music stations. My wife and I love “The Big 80’s” station. It rocks. Our kids don’t like it so much… but they don’t have much taste when it comes to great/classic music. I like to say that I grew up in the 80’s. I went to high school in the 80’s. Music then was awesome. The Cars, Blondie, Hall & Oates, Duran Duran, Culture Club (yes… I like Culture Club), Billy Joel, Rick Springfield, Michael Jackson (when he looked like Michael Jackson), Van Halen, Foreigner, Pat Benatar, Men At Work, AC/DC, The Outfield, and then, all of the Hair Bands of the late 80’s.

Who hasn’t stood at the side of the gym/cafe at a dance playing air guitar and looking for a girl to dance with? Okay… really just looking for a girl because we were all too scared to dance. Well, David Gibson wasn’t. There was the dream I had of dancing with Miriam Holmes… but I digress…. on to Guitar Hero.

I think that playing Guitar Hero is ruining future garage band lead guitarists. You get to listen to some great music. You get to play along on the guitar with some great artists. Yet, you really aren’t playing along. You are pushing five colored keys on the neck of the guitar and strumming a switch on the body. It’s really not like playing a guitar. It’s like playing a video game to some rocking music. My two pre-teens (11 & 12) are pretty good at the game. Oh, how I wish they had real guitars that they would spend the time with. Real guitars to make real music. Real guitars that they can use to entertain themselves and their friends. I’m not opposed to the game… I’m just opposed to it taking away real opportunity to learn music and to play music.

I think the writers of the code for this game are pissed because they were the guys always standing on the side of the gym waiting to dance. Or wanting to dance. They never got to. They are getting even. They are getting even by ruining the future musical careers of guitarists.

Maybe I’m wrong… maybe I’m not… but I have to go… it’s my turn.

Let The Games Begin!

How do you get staff members to work in cooperative groups?

How do you get staff members to work in groups outside of their grade?

How do you get staff members to try new things?

How do you get staff members to work outside of their comfort zones?

How do you get staff members to work outside of their area of specialization?

Most of all, how do you help your staff have fun?

I think you challenge them!

I think you find a way(s) to engage them!

I don’t have the answers… but what I do have gives me better questions.

This is the end of my first year as a building principal. I have worked on large campuses with many administrators and many teachers. This is my first rodeo with a small campus and no other administrators. I have struggled to find ways to engage my staff in pursuit of doing the above.

Our school district calendar changed this year due to a new state law saying all schools must start the same week. Our fall semester in past years had ended before the Christmas break. Now it ends in January. I decided to have somewhat of a modified scavenger hunt. I divided the teachers into groups of three based on a mug they chose at our last faculty meeting. No mug on each team was alike.

 I was disappointed by a couple of my staff. They really didn’t want to participate. They said all the right things. Family comes first. Students come second. I get that. I respect that. But, there is nothing wrong with having a little fun and getting to know those you work with better. Nothing wrong witha  little competition. I digress.

Once the teams were divided I gave them a task. Then added more tasks as we went along… here they are:

Subject: Let the Games Begin – Competition #1

We all need more margin in our lives… if that doesn’t make sense I can explain later…

We are having a team competition… you have been placed on one of thirteen teams. You are   competing for the fabulous award at the end… (we are working out the details… but it is worth playing for).

Each team will earn points (each competition is will have a point value assigned to it).

Competition #1

Do the impossible… the note card that was in your mug… cut a hole in it that you can crawl through… the card must not be taped in any way. This is worth 100 points… style points can be added!

Subject: Let the Games Continue – Competition #2

I am impressed by the group for your competitive play… very impressed…

If you have not completed competition #1… fear not… it is never too late… but here is #2

A – design a team logo (I am using the term logo loosely) that includes a piece of each members name (one letter is enough)

B –  a 1953 penny

Subject: Let the Games Continue – Competition #3

Wow… it just keeps getting better…

It is still not too late for competition #1 or #2… here is #3

1 – Make a podcast of your group singing all verses of a holiday tune… you pick the tune… 

2 – save the podcast on the 107teach folder in the folder labeled “#1 Podcast Folder for Holiday Competition”

3 – e-mail me when you have posted it so I can take it out… I don’t want any other team to use your ideas… J

Subject: Let the Games Begin – Competition #4

Pick ‘em… you can choose to do three (minimum) out of the five… choose wisely…

1 – Picture of all group members with Santa… (together with the same Santa)

2 – Create a wiki for your class… (each group member would have to do it)

3 – A picture book of your team (minimum 25 photos – digital are best)

4 – Recreation of the Beatles “Abbey Road” album cover. (Submitted digitally – if you do not know what this is you really need to listen to some good music)

5 – Picture of your team (whole group or individual members) with a firefighter in full bunker gear. (All must pose with a firefighter – you just do not have to be at the same place at the same time.

I have three boys. Two of them in school. I love the days they come home from school so excited about something they learned that they do it at home. The keep working on it. Why? That should be your question? That should be what you look for in every lesson. Why do they want to continue working on it? How do I design lessons that make that happen?

 You know… only one team can win the award… but… I think everyone who is participating is a winner.

Santa, The Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny, and Zorro!

I’m not sure if I ever believed in Santa Claus.

I’m not sure if I have stopped believing in Santa Claus.

One of my administrative interns, who uses the term ‘crack smoker’ way too much, let a cat out of the bag the other day to her 6 year old. One of my kindergarten teachers has guest readers come every Friday. One Friday Zorro came in full regalia: mask ,boots, and sword. He read a great story. I have proof he was there… see my blog about Zorro. Zorro, much like Superman, can’t make a living out of fighting crime and can’t make a living out of reading stories to little kids. He has to moonlight, or in this case, daylight, as a high school assistant principal. You see, many of the same qualities that are required of a Zorro or a Superman are required of a high school assistant principal. My intern’s daughter just happens to be in that class.

I digress. My intern saw Zorro at a high school sporting event sans the Zorro attire. She tells her sweet little angelic daughter… “see that bald guy over there… that’s the Zorro that came and read to your class!” Which makes me wonder… has she already killed off the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny and Santa with her daughter?

I believe in Santa Claus. I believe in the goodness of what Santa stands for. (Truthfully, the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny freak me out.) Should we encourage our children to believe in these things as well? I think we should. We should all have wonder and amazement somewhere in our lives. We should all have that secret belief that goodness exists. We should take whatever avenue is available to make the world a better place. If believing in Santa (and the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny) are the way to do that, then so be it.

Wonder and amazement are good. Two of the reasons to love elementary school.