One of the fine gents in my running group, Paul Slovic, was interviewed for the NPR Podcast “Shortwave.” Paul is a psychologist who studies the phenomenon known as “psychic numbing.” Paul is a great guy and one (of many) who welcomed me into the UO Noon Runners a few years ago when I found them. This is worth the listen:
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So our water heater has been showing signs of failure lately: changing water temperatures, water not getting as warm as it used to, etc. I did some digging and found that (at least this brand) the serial number can be decoded to determine the age of the water heater. Who knew? Not me, anyways. The decoder was found on the website, complete with an example (which is always helpful for decoders):
Here is the label that is on our heater, which puts ours as being manufactured in October of 2006 (which is kinda old, apparently – again, who knew? Not me!):
So, work is changing for me. I began working in technology as a K-12 educator, specifically 4th and 5th grade. I was always the guy who people came to in order to â€œfix the printer,â€ or some other item that they were using. Eventually, I left the classroom and took a position as a Technology Coordinator at the private school where I was teaching and continued to do that for two years.
I went back to school and ended up moving into higher education as a person who helps faculty use technology in their teaching and research. This led me to my current place, the College of Design at the University of Oregon and into my current role as the manager of our service desk. In this role we fix computers, set up new ones, apply licenses to our software and help faculty, staff and students navigate the systems that are set up for access to servers, wireless, and other technology related services. I also help instructors use our online learning management system and work in classrooms with technology. Thereâ€™s a lot of variety and the work is quite fulfilling.
At the College of Design we also have a large-format print shop, in which there are 4 large-format printers. This space is known as the Output Room and gets used by a variety of people to print their large drawings, posters, and the like. Two weeks ago the person who runs that shop took a new job across campus and I have now been placed in charge of the Output Room along with our Technology Service Desk. So itâ€™s more responsibility and itâ€™s more learning for me in an area where I know only a little. The past two weeks have been a time of training for me to gain knowledge of how this place operates.
Fortunately I am inheriting 8 student employees who work in the Output Room. This will bring a total of 16 student employees that I supervise on a daily basis. It is this aspect of my work that I enjoy the most as I get to educate and work with some wonderful young adults. I canâ€™t say enough about them, really. We have a variety of students majoring in different subjects, from architecture to human physiology, to economics to digital arts. All of them are open to learning and do a very good job at understanding the computer systems we support and how to interact with our customers. There are times when I must remind myself that theyâ€™ve only been on the planet for 18, 19, 20 or 21 years, which isnâ€™t all that long. Still, helping them understand technology, customer relationships, how to communicate clearly and work as a team is something I greatly enjoy.
As for the Output Room student employees, I will be leaning on them to teach me the ropes starting on Monday. They know the workflows and the demands of the place and it is time for me to watch, observe, take notes, help out and learn. There is new software to understand and new hardware, too. Thereâ€™ll be new scheduling to be done and eventually new student employees to hire as these all graduate and move on in their lives.
Iâ€™m fortunate to really enjoy coming to work each day and this will only make it that much better. Thereâ€™ll be a learning curve for me, and some bumps along this road, but I trust that I can do this and make it happen.
Settling for Scores
Why are schools still judged by the results of standardized tests?
The link above takes you to a review of a book, â€œThe Testing Charade: Pretending To Make Schools Better,â€ by Daniel Koretz written by Diane Ravitch in The New Republic. I found this worth reading and it reminded me of the testing frenzy that existed when I taught in K-12 in Virginia between 2004 and 2009.
This quote, near the end of the article is what spoke to me:
Education is a developmental process, a deliberate cultivation of knowledge and skills, a recognition of each childâ€™s unique talents, not a race.
I found this today, in an essay by Sean Michael Morris. Itâ€™s worth the long read but the piece that really resonates for me is this:
But maybe instead we should tip large. And give Aâ€™s. Believe reasons for missing a deadline. Refuse to get to know students through the window of a rubric. We are not dealing with students, but people with dreams, people who will fail and people who will succeed, people who may end up alone and people whose high point of the day may be a conversation with us. Being kind may seem counterintuitive to the academic ethosâ€”especially when being kind can sometimes mean being wrongâ€”but we owe it to ourselves to think outside our setting, to see past the artificial boundaries of generation, expertise, and authority. And while weâ€™re at it: race, gender, sexuality, religion.