When I was going through my files from teaching in order to sell them, I ran across a document entitled “goals for summer” dated 6-6-2011. I just had to open it in order to see where I am now, several years after the goals were written down, and a year after losing that teaching job that forced me to put all goals off until summer. I know you might not be interested in my personal goals, but maybe it will help you assess your own goals, especially if you are a teacher, writer, or father.
The first item on my list was my idea to create a documentary about baseball, but not of what you might expect. I wanted to figure out a way to showcase the aging ballplayer who continues to play into the 28 and over league and maybe beyond, well after most of his friends have moved on to golf. I had filmed a few interviews myself and had taken the camera to a few games in the preceding years, but this time was different because I had now contacted two former students who were both amateur filmmakers. I wanted to be mostly hands-off and just help by capturing some of the video, allowing professionals to decide the important parts, like who the main character would be. The problem is that if others don’t see the value in their use of time, they will apparently ignore the opportunity. No one ever showed up. No follow up was ever made, and I kind of lost interest in trying to be responsible for anyone else in making the film. Now we play in a different league, and I’ve pretty much been displaced by younger, more committed players. I could probably make the film myself at this point with the bench time I’m afforded, but we also transferred into a league at a sports complex rather than at the local parks, which means more permissions, and probably a whole new angle. Maybe I’ll get inspired again, but I’m trying to run a business this summer instead of taking time to make myself a documentarian.
Novel (Arizona and Utah)
This book has been on my to-do list for about a decade now, so it makes sense that 2011 saw it near the top of what I wanted to accomplish. I mostly worked on it during ridiculously boring teacher inservices about things like Student Learning Outcomes and Continuous Improvement, or as I waited around at Forensics meets on my Saturdays during the winter. I didn’t dedicate time over the summers of 2011-2014, and 2015 does not look any better. Actually, the best block of time I got was after my layoff notice in the spring of 2014. Instead of having to worry about proving I could be valuable to the district, like the other poor souls were still doing, I got to use my prep time to write. The problem is that I also realized the story will take place in roughly 20 locations and probably be around 1000 pages. I know I’m at least 100 pages into the book (not a whole lot for a decade of work), but I’m just not sure about how I’ll ever get even half finished. Maybe it’s three books.
Play – Philadelphia Store
Here’s one I can check off the list. I finished my musical play right around the time I was being told I would be laid off, and it was such a great feeling to have something so well-written ready to be made into a high school musical or Broadway sensation. Sort of. Then I realized that since I don’t write music and since no musicians work for free, I was going to have to shelve it until I could find the right fit. The band teacher at the school I worked at said he knew how to do it but was not interested in taking on the project. The musician from church was about to start with me, and then read some of the play and thought it was not wholesome enough to put his name to it. The neighbor kid who writes music is my best bet. I have all the tunes in my head, so if you’re looking for a hit musical, let me know.
This one is still in the early stages, which is kind of sad, since my material is now gone. I took some notes along the way, and I have a title: Mohican Falls High School. The basic premise will be all the ridiculousness in schools from a teacher’s perspective in a year that will see more budget cuts and an attempt by the government to get rid of the Redskin logo from the school. Basically, every inept principal and loud coach/teacher will appear in some form. It will be fun, but I’d need some kind of funding to hold off on other aspects of life and concentrate on this project.
Website—isf in one
Yes, Innovative School Funding and Parish Funding. The best idea and biggest time suck I had for several years. This is probably around the time it got catastrophically hacked and then left for dead. It’s now part of Educabana, and I’m hoping to resurrect the idea without the obnoxious amount of time, since I just don’t have any extra for something that literally only makes pennies a day. It’s efficient enough now that pennies a day are probably OK.
Educabana was going to be my base for consulting in the field of education. Like, if you want to train your teachers how to use free online tools or update their hideous websites or whatever. I tried to convince my business partner that post lessons was a good idea. He wanted to focus on services. Now, it has all my lessons as part of a subscription, and it’s set up to house all kinds of free lessons from all kinds of teachers if I can ever get people to join, but that’s part of the tutoring idea up next.
I already saw the market potential for a tutoring website that paired students with tutors back in 2011. However, I didn’t yet know how to do it. Now, it’s all there, but I don’t know how to market the idea. I’d love it to be a free service, provided by schools or governments, but I can’t just give the idea away, and if I make it totally free to join, I’d get all kinds of Russians and jerks trying to take money from people, so I’m stuck. However, it’s fully built and fully functional.
Wesite—educabana district sites
This has evolved into my Passive Ninja web design business. District websites suck, and they will continue to suck, since most school districts buy into a cheap, old content management system and then just slap that same template on their own main page. At least use a free tool like Google Sites if you’re going to make everything look awful. But school tech people are basically teachers who could do a little technology or nerds who couldn’t make it in business, so I guess that’s what you get when you search google for “education websites” and then take bids from the top five hits.
This ended up being THE project of 2011. I refinished all 1400 square feet of hardwood flooring in our house. I did it in two parts, moving all of the furniture out for each section, sanding, and then staining and finishing. All told, it took about a month to finish the job. Luckily, it did make the house, which has an addition, look like it was all built at one time. That meant painting all the baseboards, too, which I was still completing well after my month of labor.
I was looking in 2011, and I did get one interview at a church for a communications job. The problem was that what I was looking at for pay was probably $20,000 more than what they were willing to pay. I’m sure the church made a mistake in not at least offering me the job, even if I didn’t have specific training in the communication field. However, that was my only interview and only application, so it didn’t really prepare me for the four weekly let-downs over the six months receiving unemployment after teaching. I think I got three or four phone interviews in that time.
West allis stories with Alex
As of 2015, Alex and I are just about done with this story. Every story ever told about West Allis, Wisconsin, based on the idea that there are a mere 20 master plots. It was way more than we needed to do, but it will be the most unique collection of stories ever made, so there.
Back in 2011, I had a lot of goals that needed my attention. Luckily, I was employed so that when I didn't get to all of the goals, I was still bringing in money. Now, I need as many of these goals to help me make money, even if it's getting a new job, or discovering new goals from the ones I've already completed.