I think the year was 1960 when I read "War & Peace" by Leo Tolstoy. Around 40 pages in he talks about his older neighbors who retire and six months later they die.
In the 70's it seemed people were saying, "Don't work too hard, take it easy." I always liked to work hard. I never liked that language. And then people were counting the years, months and sometimes days until they could retire. That was beyond my understanding.
When my Uncle Floyd turned 80 he said....about the time you get things figured out you discover you are too old to do much about it. I also remember Porter Aiken who taught in South Kitsap. He had been an amazing sixth grade teacher. Most people don't know he was a minor poet who graduated Yale and regularly met with a small group of aspiring writers that included Archibald Mcleish. Anyway, when I saw him he was a substitute teacher. The kids had no understanding of his gifts or the poetry he had published. They just saw class as a study hall.
When people asked when I might retire as I entered my seventh decade my response was always that I didn't know but when the time came, I would know.
Covid could have been a great opportunity to expand our understanding of how kids learn and what strategies might be successful with different kids. However, it turns out that most teachers were facing something new and retreated to what they had been taught and didn't know how to apply what they knew about kids to transfer it to online learning.
Talking to a computer screen is not very engaging for kids and extremely difficult for teachers. I actually missed the early start of school two years ago because I had sustained a fall and broke 3 ribs. So my year started in November. Fortunately I was teamed with an excellent artist and computer expert who worked tirelessly to build and maintain connection with her kids. For me it was an uphill climb for awhile. But as we were adjusting....we were losing some kids and it was really difficult.
Last year was mixed. I saw teachers who totally bailed on kids, I saw kids who gamed all night and couldn't sit through a class. I saw the type of short tempers we all saw when we drove our highways. It was a tough time, a tough year.
Fortunately I got to create a yearbook when we had few photos compared to ten years ago. I got to be very busy up to the end. And I got to either assist or witness kids making it who two years ago you might conclude they had no chance. I also saw a lot of kids just give up. That was hard.
So I never counted the days, I just knew it was time to get off the bus and turn the system over to others.
I have a house to rebuild, I have my health, I have a wonderful family and a new garage with lots of tools to take on anything.
Some of my freshly retired friends really miss it. I see it more as a closed chapter. I am re-designing our remodel, I am learning the new energy code. I am learning to work with clones of expensive software I had when teaching architecture. I sometimes ache in places, but each day is fresh. Each day has challenges and I hope to have the time to work more on the website here to document our progress.
So on Tuesday I attended open house and brought only the iphone. I decided to take photos with it only. As a result I learned quite a bit about live photos which I inadvertently had used as the camera setting. When I finished I decided to make a video. There, using I-movie I was able to incorporate single image photos and the live shots as mov files to create something different. I didn't have music so I decided to spice up the soundtrack with sound effects only. And, in the beginning and at the end I chose to use the mov files to put in some action (Oh yeah, I also let Brian have action and voice in the middle. Check out the link below.
The feature I worked with is called "live photo" on the iphone. Basically it pre rolls and post rolls the photo. So, instead of a single image you have a series or burst of photos and sound is attached. This lets you select exactly the shot you want and it gives you options like editing the mov file as video or turning a photo into a gif file. Here is an example of George pressing cider.
I also learned how to move files from the phone to the computer using airdrop. Basically that uses bluetooth to create a path. Once I got the permissions checked, easy peasy. I was disappointed that the gif file in the phone wasn't really a repeating forever gif like is created in photoshop so it worked as a gif on the phone but revealed it's true file type when transferred. Thanks Apple.
Using the Lively app I created a real gif file and it is the one on the right.
This week we have been trying to imitate the work of Erik Johanssen. If you are not familiar with his work it is well worth a google search.
We used a pair of jeans (mine) an ironing board and an iron. We took multiple photos with each student as star. We did do some practice cutting yesterday. On Monday we will begin assembling, cutting, distorting and combining to create our original interpretations.
I can't wait.
I was watching my students this morning who had plenty to do but not much enthusiasm to get about any of their tasks. The intrusion of the phone into classes is some days pretty daunting. Anyway I saw the article on work and thought about what it is to be a student today. It certainly is not about the thirst for information Ben Franklin writes about in his brother's apprenticeship learning to print. And I wondered if job satisfaction as well as student satisfaction might be similar.
The media tells us 40% of the jobs today will be roboticed in the next 15 years. Truck driving will be gone. Most physical jobs may just go away. Designers and folk whose tasks can't be matched by AI will be safe..... for a while. In this crazy world where do you find your satisfaction and what do you think threatens it?
Yesterday I received two important pieces of mail. One was from a bank and I was instructed to make some changes on a form and send it back in the enclosed envelop. There was no enclosed envelop. The other was from Social Security. It was to verify answers I had provided by phone last week. I had to navigate their lengthy phone hall this morning correcting two errors there. In both cases, I know a computer could do a better job.
It was difficult for workers who bought into Ford's five dollar a day salary -- traded job satisfaction in a coach crafting shop where they had responsibility for the entire build of a coach for the much higher wage of doing a repetitive, highly focused task. Now the old folk talk about the old days and complain about the high cost of labor. Youngsters, on the other hand aren't interested in doing manual, repetitive work. They want to create video games with action and a story and a quest. Never mind their primary skill/experience is that of being a user.
Yesterday I asked my newspaper students to imagine the world in 20 years. Most saw it as a continuation of the world they live in now. I hope they are right and my concerns are not. Probably we are all wrong. Any thoughts?
I decided to give my website a makeover. I wanted to add a new feature in structure that lets you bring in color for backgrounds. Because my old website had this sunset driving the background the feature wouldn't fit on it. So far I have tried several skins to find a better look. I don't exactly like the white background, but with the option of bringing in color....I think I find that acceptable. Unfortunately the theme (skin) limits button colors and some don't project well at school. We'll see if I stick with the current choice.
One downside....when you do this you lose all of your custom header photos and I had a lot. I wasn't aware that was going to happen, but I guess there is always a price to pay for progress.
The other issue is that text sizes change and sometimes can't be adjusted easily. The setting is under theme and called "headlines" which made a big difference in reducing 80 point type to 30. Sometimes it pays to poke around and not just complain.
After a great summer we are starting a new era at my High School. Prior to this academic year we were a four day a week school. This year students get access to six classes on MTTF and an elective class plus core and specific help time on Wednesdays. We also plan to take school trips on Wednesday. The one for September will be to the Puyallup Fair which provides fun for students and some pretty awesome photo opportunities for yearbook, photo, and journalism students.
It’s too early to know how the change will affect everyone here. So far I am appreciating having a daily plan period which breaks up the day. Last year we basically went all day with no break. The other advantage I see is more of an academic opportunity focus this year. I think students will get traction a bit quicker with what we are doing.
I will provide my update next month.
My website gets about 30,000 hits a year which is quite a bit of activity for a teacher site. I try to link school events and activities and have always thought the district would appreciate this type of publicity. But, as often happens, I was wrong. This past year I was told that I should focus on schoology and google docs which are much less efficient ways to communicate classroom assignments (in my opinion). However we were recently told that we had to use those options only and we could no longer have a separate website like this one. The way I can continue with this site is to not have it linked from the school website, to not mention my current high school or district. And I can't mention any students. It can be a landing site accessible from Schoology as long as we strip out district information. The rationale from the school district is that they are responsible for backing up all websites. Never mind that a Weebly site can be backed up in about five minutes. We asked, but that doesn't count. They don't want to have to deal with individual back ups.
So, I now list my school as John Riebli University which has become a school without a district. When school commences in September I will delete any blogs that mention the school and everyone official will be happy. I will use schoology to link to the this site and everyone wins. The primary losers are other teachers who are being discouraged from creating colorful, interesting pages and will be stuck on the procrustean bed dealt them by the technology choices they are given.
John Alfred Riebli