Monday, April 26, 2010

Technological Quicksand

Do you ever hear people complaining that their kids know more about technology than they do? My mom can't text, and really has no desire to do so. She also can't program the VCR, and refuses to pay for Tivo. Why should she? She has a VCR.

Technology moves forward, but we stay put. I found this to be true today as I was subbing for an Elementary school music teacher.

The teacher dropped by in the morning to make sure I had everything I needed. The plans consisted of playing a CD so the classes could sing to it. While showing me how to work the CD player, she mentioned that I shouldn't ask the kids to help me. She'd asked before, and it seems the kids of today only know how to work their iPods. They have no clue how a CD player works.

Forgetting this piece of information later in the day, I asked a sixth grade student to find the place where the kids were on the CD. She couldn't do it until I showed her how to move forward through the disk. And, at one point, a student asked me to "turn it over" so we could sing a song a second time.

So, to all those confused by the fast progression of technology, I offer this: technology is quicksand. Moving forward can be as difficult as moving backward. We simply grasp the technology of our time and rely on the oldies and the younglings to pull us out.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Demon of the Day

I often think I'd like to present a "Demon of the Day" award, but I doubt that it would go over with the same tongue-in-cheek humor with which I intend.

Those of us who spend time in classrooms know that there is always one kid who just has to have been placed there by supernatural forces in order to test us. It's the kid who decides to scream out "HERE" while you're taking roll. It's the kid who asks to use the bathroom twelve times before lunch. It's the kid who sits and draws on his desk instead of doing his work. It's the kid who tattles about everything. It's the kid who wanders the room. It's the kid who slinks up to you, puts her arms around you and asks very politely to do things that she knows are against classroom rules. It's the kid who plays the entire time you're explaining something, and then says "I don't get it," when it's time for the class to do the assignment. The list goes on and on.

Even in the best behaved classes, there always seems to be at least one party very deserving of this award...and that child is probably the CEO of tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

An Adventure Every Day

Yesterday was the first day back at school after Spring Break. I didn't think I'd have work, but I was fortunate enough to find a job in Kindergarten just down the street from home.

I figured subbing for kinders on the first day back from break would be a little bit of a challenge. The fact that they were forecasting rain made me a little more tense, but lately we've had a lot of off-base weather reports, so I wasn't terribly worried.

I really do love Kindergarten. The kids can be fantastic or monstrous, and I've certainly had groups at both ends of the spectrum. This group of kids was quite good. Unfortunately, they got less "good" as the day went on and they were stuck inside. That's not their fault, but it makes for a headache by 3pm.

The rain started at about 10:00, ten minutes before recess. The classroom was large, the kids didn't fight with each other and there were only 21 of them, so it was all good. Sadly, it kept on raining.

I don't think the classroom teacher suspected that it would rain, because he didn't leave me a copy of the rainy day schedule. The office gave me a copy of the bell schedule when I checked in, but that was just for regular days. So, imagine my surprise at 11:15 when I was just getting the room cleaned up so I could line the kids up for lunch at 11:25 when an announcement came over the speaker saying that we would be on rainy day schedule and that kinders would be having lunch at 11:15. Are you kidding me?

So, I rushed them through cleaning and lining up...the poor kids...and it took me until 11:30 to get them through the lunch line and seated. Then another teacher tells me to hurry because I only get 30 minutes for my own lunch. (And that's 30 from 11:15.) So....I had 15 minutes to visit the restroom and gulp down some food. I'm a flexible person when it comes to last minute changes. I figure they're paying me to be there, so I don't really care about recess duty or how long my lunch break is, but a person needs a bio-break once in a while!

Fortunately, the sun started shining at around noon and the kids were able to play outside for their afternoon recess time.

I'd never been to this particular school before, and they had one program that I absolutely thought was a godsend. The kids who need extra help stayed after the bell for intervention and worked in a small group with the teacher. I dismissed most of the kids at 2:00 and worked with the remaining three of them until 3:00, when the older kids get dismissed. A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to another kindergarten teacher within the same district about the need for such a program. He must have known it existed at this school. His position was that not all kids need extra time in class, but for the children who do, we should offer the personal attention. It seemed reasonable to me, and seeing how calm and ready to work those three kids were during that last hour cemented my opinion on the issue.

Although there are negative things about subbing: low pay, no benefits, not working steadily, and having an extra challenge with classroom management by virtue of not being the person the kids see every day, there is an enormous advantage to traveling throughout different schools and different districts. I really get a chance to see things that work. And that may turn out to be worth it's weight in gold at some point in my career.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Documenting Life Changes

In my former life, I viewed resumes. Hours and hours of reading resumes of job seekers. Job seekers who sent me lists of former jobs with the names of employers misspelled. Job seekers who saw fit to note on their resume that they were married with X-amount of children. Job seekers who felt that a prospective employer should know to which religious belief they subscribed or how they spent their weekends. Typos, grammatical errors, spelling errors...I often had to fight the temptation to mark up their offerings with a red pen and send them back with a "better luck next time" note attached. I even considered writing a book about how to design an effective resume, and then realized that the people sending me the awful resumes probably wouldn't read the book.

Since I've changed careers, I've put off rewriting my own resume. I just added my additional education information and student teaching jobs to my Human Resources resume and that was that. It was good enough to get me hired as a substitute. Yet, I don't wish to remain a substitute, and it's time to start applying for positions for the next school year. The time has come to do some surgery.

For some reason, paring down my resume is more painful than walking out on my former career. It's harder than passing the tests to get into the credential program. It's worse than the additional year of school required for my teaching credential. It's more difficult than facing a room full of exuberant students who have just realized today is Torment the Substitute Teacher Day.


A good resume is written documentation of the accomplishments you've achieved in your career. You are showing that yes, you can and yes, you have done these things. You've passed these tests and gained these professional designations. Someone else was impressed enough with what you did while working for a former employer to give you a chance at a new opportunity. A resume is your chance at no-holds bragging and it is the only time anyone will ever really care about your professional experience.

So, to reformat my own resume and make it appeal to an entirely different career field means deleting a lot of information that is not applicable to the new field. In my own case, I highly doubt that a school district will care about my experience processing payroll, recruiting, handling employee relations issues, etc., etc., etc.... They don't need the details about every job duty I've ever been responsible to complete. They only care about what is applicable in their world. And that's where I need to adjust my own focus. I'm not wiping out my own past. I'm simply making some changes.

I guess I'd better get to it, then, instead of sitting here blogging about it!