June 10, 2009

What Are You Doing This Summer?

I'm starting a software business. Yes, that's all. In order for the business to have any chance of success at all, I need the entire summer uninterrupted. I've never worked on my own for an entire summer at a time, so I'm not sure how this will go. But I think these factors will be crucial to its success:
  • When you're working, work; and when you're not, don't.
  • Block out long chunks of uninterrupted time to work.
  • Treat the new business like a job. Start and stop working at the same time each day.
  • Maintain work/life balance. I'll still be going to the cabin on weekends this summer for some fishing, water skiing, and mountain biking.
  • Have a specific goal to complete each day. Actually, 90 minute blocks of time work well for mini-goals.
  • The initial enthusiasm I have for this business will eventually wane. Use motivational techniques to stay focused.

I have a few other things on my plate this summer as well:
  • Trips to the cabin and to visit friends and relatives on the weekends
  • Daily morning bike rides to stay energized and in shape
  • Eat a healthy diet and reduce the amount of money I'm spending at restaurants.
  • Read two books per month. The first couple of days this summer will probably be spent just reading.

A few things on my list are actually school-related:
  • I'll be taking a class to become certified to teach AP Computer Science. The class takes one week in June.
  • Meet with the new DECA officers at least once this summer to plan next year's Program of Work
  • Luckily, each class I teach next year is one that I've taught before. However, the curricula are in need of updates and improvements. Spend some time on this, but not until August.

It's important that teachers have purposeful summers. I don't say that because I think teachers should stay productive; I say that because if your summer isn't purposeful, I think you'd get bored really fast. Last summer was busy for me. For the first time since high school, I acted in a play. It was aweseome. I also took some classes and did a bunch of other things. But teachers definitely need to take proactive steps to stay busy during the summer.

It's doubtful that I'll be updating this blog much throughout the summer. I plan on taking a complete break from all things kids and education for a while. I haven't decided whether or not I'll keep writing next school year.

Writing this blog has been a great experience. Thanks to all of my readers and commenters. Have a restful and purposeful summer!

June 7, 2009

Year In Review

Here is a list of things I learned this year and things I'd like to improve next year:

  • Inspect what you expect. It's OK to give students responsibilities, but don't give them more than they can handle, and hold them accountable.

  • Maintain high academic expectations. If students know that they can get away with substandard work, they will. Don't let them. They won't learn anything that way.

  • Maintain a proper work/life balance. My workout routine took a major hit this year. There were some reasons for that other than work, but physical fitness needs to be a very high priority.

  • Don't get too involved. This is only a job.

  • Establish routines and stick to them. Students need predictability and clarity of expectations. This includes everything from how to request hallway passes to when to sharpen a pencil to grading and attendance policies.

  • Unfortunately, I've learned that teenagers can't be trusted. They make promises they can't keep; they cheat, lie, and steal; they don’t follow through; they bicker and complain; and they generally act like immature teenagers. I thought that my job would be teaching. It's more like 10% teaching and 90% babysitting.

June 4, 2009

Making Waves

The district has upgraded me to a full time teaching schedule for next year. I'll be teaching more programming and technology classes, which I'm excited about. I can definitely see the Business department changing direction since I replaced our previous Marketing teacher. We're moving more toward a Business focus and away from a Marketing focus:
  • Our School Store program is being reduced.
  • Our Sales and School Store Seminar classes have been cut.
  • Our OJT program has been cut.
  • We added a new Web Site Design course for 2009-2010
  • We'll be adding an AP Computer Science course for 2010-2011
  • Our DECA program continues its strong growth.
Overall, I like the new direction we're going. Almost all of these changes are a direct result of me, a more business-oriented person, being in the building instead of last year's teacher, who was much more of a marketing-oriented person. I personally advocated and/or introduced most of these changes myself.

My Last Job

I spoke to my friend who took the job I held at a rural high school last year. He informed me that his position has been reduced to a part-time gig because the district has decided to cut the OJT program there. That program was managed by the same exceptional teacher for 10 years in a row. Then I came in and took it over for a year, and now my friend is running it. He's currently looking for another job.

So I've only been a professional educator for two years, but I've already made or contributed to important and lasting changes at two separate school districts. When you enter the teaching profession, you assume large responsibilities. What you do in your school can have widespread systemic effects.