Please Mr Andrew’s, let us remote teach…

I know, it has been a long while since this blog was use. All my subscribers have left. Life got in the way, as it so often does.

I live in Melbourne. I teach at a wonderful Government school here in the Eastern Suburbs. I have been there 5 years a bit now and love my job. Not as much as I used to, because I can’t actually do my job at the moment, due to the global pandemic (you may have heard about it……..). The Job I am doing is making the best of a situation, but it is beginning to feel like I am being sacrificed and unnecessarily risked.

The news over the last few days have made me physically ill. Literally, I am so stressed and worried my stomach is playing up. The idea of returning to school, under these circumstances has made me too things; outraged and terrified.

  • The idea that the government is so willing to risk my health and those of my family, by making all schools go to remote learning, to achieve the purpose of making it “fair” for year 12s is absolute bullshit. Guess what Dan, the scores are not going to matter, as the Uni’s have already lost 50% of there enrolments due to no international students; there will be spaces if you bloody well fund them! You want to talk about fair, think of my kids who could lose a parent (as we are both teachers) or a sibling because we were forced back to work, when it was something we could do from home, like you keep saying – if you can work from home you must work from home.

 

  • Social distancing at schools is not physically possible – you built the schools that way, look at your own blueprints. Ask any damn teacher who was there last term, and it was a joke of a concept, we couldn’t truly enforce, which is why the government said, “social distancing does not apply to students while at school”.
    1. Yes, kids appear to be resilient to the virus, but teachers are not – we are adults and like other adults – we should be avoiding contact with everybody for fucks sake, as per the advice previously mentioned.

 

  • Remote teaching worked last time. It was painful. It sucked. It sucked for teachers, it sucked for parents, and it sucked for teachers who were parents (probably even more). I hated every minute of it. It was not the job I signed on to do and not something I would ever do again, unless necessary. It was hard – I worked harder than I every have. My wife and I will testify to this in court if need be; we spent 8 hours a day remote teaching, managing a 7-year old’s remote learning, providing childcare for our 18-month-old, plus normal household duties. Then after the kids were in bed, on average, we would each spend another 3 or 4 hours doing the work we could not do with our own kids under foot – marking, providing feedback, prepping lessons etc.

 

  • We tried remote teaching from onsite for two weeks before the students came back. All it did was make me depressed and worried; raised my general anxiety levels to new heights; cause me immeasurable stress; and overall made me worse at remote teaching and less productive in general.

 

Look this is a rant, but I need to express my feeling and thoughts about this. I want the world to return to what it was; I want to teach again, in the classroom, not worrying about getting sick or making my family sick. BUT that is not possible at the moment, we are in a global pandemic. That is the reality of 2020 and life for the immediate future.

What do I want moving forward? I want to do my job, without be lied to or being asked to do something that endangers my family. I work as a teacher. Not a doctor, not a nurse, not a soldier and not a cop. I am not a babysitter, though often treated like one. I am an educator. I should be able to do my job without jeopardizing my health or safety or that of my family. I want to remote teach from offsite, so that I can do the best job I can, working with the least amount of stress and fear possible; I want to keep Mickey and Lachie safe. I do not think it fair that I will have to risk them in care, when we have other options, that worked last time.

Please let us teachers go back to remote learning, Mr Andrews. Let us do the jobs you pay us for without risking our health and that of our family’s.

More like a Pigeon than a Phoenix rising

Well, I’m back working on this blog. Not that anyone noticed I was gone or my blog had gone quiet for the last few months. Life got busy; work and family.

Lots has happened since my last post in October; My family was able to join me in Melbourne, as we had been living apart for the year because of work. I became the Head of Technology KLA at Mooroolbark College. I learnt that a toddler will eventually figure out your iPhone pin if he watches you use it long enough. He will also grow tall enough or learn to move things to climb on, to access all closed doors in the hours. Lots has happened in my life.  Work got busy. Family got busy. Something had to be given up in order to find space to make things work. So, I sacrificed this blog and my hobby (well one of them anyway, sorry miniature wargaming!). And thus, balance was found. Or at least a semblance of balance that works for me.  Life is good.

This blog’s purpose is staying the same, as it my space to share my rambling thoughts on teaching and technology in the classroom. I am not going to promise regular posts; time is a resource that I have to spend wisely; time is almost more valuable than money. Especially to teachers.

A positive to taking a break for six months, is that I actually have a backlog of half completed thoughts and ideas on a range of subjects to share my thoughts on. Some would call it “content in potentia”, as that I have a lot to mull over and think about and there is a possibility of doing something with it.

Unit Planning in the Digital Age

The last 4 weeks have been hectic, with the end of a term, two weeks of holidays and now the start of the final term for 2016. I haven’t had much chance or inclination to sit and write my thoughts down, in a publishable manner, or for that matter a manner that is more than a scribble on a post it. In the last few days, I have been working on my registration project, which thankful is almost done. I have also been finalizing my lesson plans for the remainder of this year. Once these two task are done, the next project on my plate is 2017 and documenting curriculum for it.

This year has gone quickly, and will be over in just over 9 weeks. Nine weeks sounds like a lot of time, but I have a feeling I will turn around and it will be gone sooner than imagined. I have no idea want I’ll be teaching next year, not even actually sure where I will be teaching. I’m happy where I am, but I’m not ongoing, so I have to keep chasing that enigma of teaching called “ongoing”. I am by no means unhappy with where I am, but I have to work to secure the stability for my family.

Circling back to my point, I am starting to document lessons and units of work for next year. It is the first time I have prepared documentation from an essentially blank slate. IT not that resources were not left for me, it is more that the new curriculum is so different from the current curriculum, most everything is new. I have based and run a few units of work off the new curriculum this year, but these only represent maybe 20% of what will be needed. The more I think about it, the larger the task seems.

I have a framework and the basics of a plan for next year, but I keep coming back to small details and how much do I need to document? I’m not sure of I should be writing detailed overviews accompanied by lesson by lesson plans, or a broad topical overview which leaves out some of the details for whom ever is teaching it to fill in. It is not keeping me up at night, but it has me thinking at the moment.

For, me, I typically operate digital only, with no hard copy if I can avoid it. I don’t really print anything besides my class timetable and that is only printed because I like to be able to look at my pin-board and see it. My preferred means of lesson planning is in Excel. It odd, but I like using tables and Excel is essentially one big table. My planning is formatted on a grid and Excel work s for me. The issue I am running into though is that, my peers like things printed. Anyone who has worked on large spread sheets knows, they are not meant to be printed; they are ideally suited for electronic perusal not paper distribution.  This has put me into minor logger heads with my teaching peers; they want hard copy and I find myself more and more working with documents that are not meant for the print medium.

I think this is an issue that is going to become more and more apparent in years to come, as students become more digitally savvy. Think about the average informative webpage. It often has imbedded media and graphics as well as a level of interactivity through hyperlinks. For digital documents, there is really no such thing “as single page” or “static” anymore.

Battling the End of Term Burnout

For the first time, I have noticed in myself the end of term 3 exhaustion that has plagued many of my friends and colleagues over the years. I am tired. So very tired. I want to have a nap, and I am writing this at 8am, on my third cup of coffee and after a solid 8 hours of sleep. There are 3 days left, one of which I am on excursion for, before the term 3 break. Two glorious weeks of not sleeping in! I have a three-year-old, so the words “sleep in” have been removed from my personal lexicon for the foreseeable future.

But I am grumpy. So very grumpy. Yesterday may have been the longest day in history. I only taught for 2 periods and had 2 off, but it was so long. It felt like I marked forever, even though I managed to finish the last of my outstanding marking in about an hour. Time is slowing down at the moment; each minute is taking longer to pass than it predecessor. Oh, the injustice and drama of it all! (man it felt good to be over the top and dramatic about this!)

But I shouldn’t be. Life is good. My classes are running smoothly, my marking pile has been eliminated. I have all my lessons planned till the end of the term and for the first two weeks back. I have a clean house. My students also seem to be in high spirits, despite their only being 3 days left. They like what we are doing in my classes. Why the hell am I feeling burnt out?

I’m not an introvert. I never imagined teaching not being the chaotic, maelstrom of learning and teaching that it is.  I love my job, despite having those days where I don’t, which usually coincide with an illness or external stress. This is my first experience of the Term 3 Blues or Term 3 burnout, which I have heard about. Everyone, in this case defined as teachers I have spoken too or decided to write something I read about this, says that term 3 is the hardest of the year. It is when the pressure builds and the cracks start showing; everyone gets stressed. It has never hit me before though. I guess I have always had lots of other things going on; I have been chasing contracts or CRT; I didn’t work term one at one school; We had a baby in June one year. When I reflect about it, this is really my first year working for the whole school year, continuously, without there being something else major happening external to work. I guess I have been lucky.

So how do I deal with this feeling? For me it going to be a long 3 days. I’ll go to the gym and go for a swim. I’ll write some blog posts, which are becoming almost therapeutic; I actually find writing stuff like this organises my thoughts and provides me with a bit of introspection and perspective. I’ll keep clearing my plate, so that the holiday will be mine; I will only need to do what I want to do, with no pesky “needs doing” stuff for my job. I’ll focus on the positives; there are so many. I didn’t see them until I wrote this post. When the holiday gets here, I am still going to be up at 6am. But it will be on my terms (or at least the terms of a toddler). I won’t be taking off my pyjamas until I want to though.

Article: The Psychological Tricks of VR

Article: The Psychological Tricks of VR

A much better writer than me, explains the psychological tricks behind VR. I found it a really informative read, that explained most of the science behind VR.

My experiences with VR have been varied; some of the content is great, at times spectacular. Some of it is pretty crap. I have a Vive, which means much of my content comes from Steam. I have noticed 2 things;

  1. There are new games available every couple of days.
  2. There is not much content from well established studios; the majority seems to be coming from new or smaller studios. This is cool, but it means the games sometimes don’t have the polish you would expect when you pay for them.

Neither of these things are a bad thing, they are just something that is currently a trend.

The First Post

This is my very first post, so I figured I would answer the big question; Why a Blog?

The answer is pretty simple. This blog came out my increasing use of Twitter and it’s limitation of characters. months have I really started using it. I never saw the point to Twitter, as my many RSS feeds pretty much did the same thing. Then one day, I started to become involved in conversations around education, and I glimpse some of Twitter’s potential as an active means of engaging with my colleagues world wide. As the months passed I soon became an active member of Twitter and it super-succeeded my RSS feeds. I soon found I wanted to say more on topics than I can tweet, so I decided to expanded my ability to record and share my thoughts with the wider world. Thus a blog was born.

I am no expert, but I have been told that know what I am talking about, at least when it comes to using and teaching ICT. My intention is to share my ongoing journey into this field, developing a better understanding of pedagogy and how information technology is interacting, impacting and developing in the classroom.