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Friday
Oct102008

Send your tech a compliment day


I propose that 10-10 be the official "Send Your Tech a Compliment Day."

This came in this morning's e-mail via one of our school LMSs:

I know that sometimes, good news does not travel very fast. I want to share that DJ updated my computer to Jaguar. In addition, he helped me install my backup external hard drive so that it will efficiently work with my home and school computer.

Earlier this month, he had shared with me exactly what type of external hard drive equipment would be needed to work well with MacBook. I did not follow his instructions, but INSTEAD listened to the salesperson who seemed to know what he was talking about. This created more work for DJ. He respectfully reminded me of what he had said and why. He then told me how this would effect my system and then continued to service me well. MY SYSTEM WORKS PERFECTLY, thanks to DJ.

I am telling you this in an email, because everyone deserves to have good things shared about them to their boss. You have helped him do his job better, and he in turn has made my teaching better. Thank you to you BOTH.

Yes, this is the same DJ, I wrote about a dozen years ago in The DJ Factor. It's still a pretty good column, if I do say so myself.

The problems and complaints my department hears out number the positives by probably about 1000 to 1, so comments like this are what keep us going.

So, send your tech a compliment for something she/he has done for you.

Even better, send a box of doughnuts.


Wednesday
Oct082008

My new toy - iPod Touch


While I am not in league with "Gadget Girl" Kathy Schrock, I am a sucker for new toys that blink and beep now and then. After an Apple demo at a tech meeting last week, I just happened to be in a mall's Apple store this weekend and bought my first iPod. Looks like this:

It is just the weenie 8 Gig model, I'm afraid.

After playing with the "funnest iPod ever" (the cutsie grammar nearly kept me from buying it) for a few days, here are some observations:

It really is simple to use. Even for a tech director.

Apple makes it really easy to buy little apps. Too easy maybe.

The wireless connectivity works great. (My IT guy tells me the lack of an individual MAC address will soon prohibit us from using this with our HP wireless router security system though.)

The games are actually pretty fun - especially the ones that take advantage of the device's tilt sensor. I love MonkeyBall.

The little story in e-book format I downloaded was surprisingly easy to read.

The photos display beautifully. Now I have a way to bore people with pictures of my grandsons.

The on-screen keyboard works OK. I have been typing everything with my left thumb. I'm not planning to write any novels on it soon however.

Oh, it plays music.

The biggest downside is that it has been a bugger getting my Entourage 2008 calendar to synch. Good thing I keep good back ups since somehow I managed to lose my laptops's calendar at one point. Why in God's green earth does getting things like calendars to synchronize ALWAYS have to be so darned hard?

Do I jailbreak the machine? (Crack the system so non-Apple approved software can be loaded.) I would sure be fun to be able to use Skype on this. The blogs seem to be divided about jailbreaking the 2.0 operating system.

Do we recommend this as a PDA for our school staff? Seems a better solution than the Palms and such I've used in the past.

Advice?

Wednesday
Oct082008

10 Things I Wish I Knew As A First Year Teacher

 

This is in response to (a very flattering) request by Joel on his So You Want to Teach blog. He's asking for a list the 10 Things I Wish I Knew As a First Year Teacher.

Man, that was over 30 years ago now. I started as a high school English, speech and drama teacher in a small school district in Iowa in 1976. I was also the yearbook, newspaper, class play and speech contest adviser. My first year's salary was $7,800. We lived in a house that I would not put a dog in today. And I was a terrible teacher.

If I knew then what I know now...

1. Leave your ego at the door. I think I lost my temper at least once a day before I somehow learned not to take student remarks and actions personally and to actually be more mature than the kids I taught. Man, this was really hard. Prepare to be dissed. It comes with the job.

2. Admit ignorance or uncertainty. The best questions to discuss in class are the ones for which you really don't have a good answer.

3. Let the kids teach each other. Your goal should be for your students to do more and more and for you to do less and less.

4. Don't play gotcha on tests. Let kids know exactly what you expect them to know and be able to do. That way you are an ally in their success, not the enemy.

5. Some administrators are incompetent. Be subversive when it helps kids. Make at least one really good friend on the teaching staff with whom to commiserate.

6. The majority of parent complaints will come from extra curricular decisions. Give the school board member's kid the lead in the play. It's not a hill worth dying on.

7. You'll never be able to live on a single teaching salary. Get used to a second job and/or a summer job. Or marry for money.

8. If at first you don't succeed, try a different age group to teach. I didn't like teaching high school students. I loved teaching middle schoolers. I like teaching adults even better. I found elementary children fun, but sort of annoying. Sorry.

9. Lighten up on yourself. Teaching is a hell of lot harder than it looks. Practice will make you better, but never perfect.

10. Some kids will do well because of you; some will do well despite you. You won't reach every kid, but there will always be some kids who will benefit from knowing you. Have faith that you are doing good in the world.

I still get the urge to place a full-page ad in the town paper where I first taught, apologizing to everyone who may have had me as a teacher for the two years I was employed there.

I still might.

My first year school picture. Oh, as a teacher, not a kindergartner.