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Tag: new year (Page 3 of 4)

Happy New Year…

…although many of us who work on an academic calendar view this as more of a half-way point than a beginning of anything, a topic on which I’ve ranted more than enough over the years.

Despite my strange way of looking at the calendar, many people in the Western world still celebrate this transition by making resolutions and setting goals for themselves in the coming year.

Not me.

Certainly I have plenty of opportunities for improvement, but I’ve always viewed change as an ongoing process, one that begins at the point you acknowledge the need, regardless of the date.

Of course some of my alterations will be visible here, on Twitter, and in other places I hang out on the web, just because I can’t imagine not doing it that way.

But whatever changes you may be considering this year, open or not, academic or otherwise, may 2011 bring you mostly good ones.

Happy New Year

Is it Labor Day already? That means kids will be returning to their classrooms tomorrow here in the overly-large school district and a new year begins.

The date is something of a surprise since the past five weeks have been one big blur for me.

August is normally a very busy month for us as we scramble the whole time to help everyone get their schools ready to open.

But this year has been particularly hectic for many reasons, not the least of which is a much-higher-than-normal turnover in the ranks of our tech trainers, combined with less money and fewer people to support them.

Even so, I’m not going to complain about my job.  I get to work with some very talented and dedicated people which makes every day an interesting, challenging, and enjoyable learning experience (ok, most days :-)

Well, maybe I have one complaint.

When the pace of things at work gets as chaotic as it’s been recently, I find myself being disconnected from my larger network and feeling very out of touch.*

The fact that I haven’t written much of anything in this space (not to mention on Twitter) in nearly three weeks is a direct result of only having the time and energy to take occasional cursory scans of my RSS, Twitter, and other streams of thought that, in my normal routine, I would be able to sample in more depth.

Writing, an activity I’ve come to enjoy (which would certainly surprise my English teachers), requires the time to read, reflect on and connect ideas drawn from that flow.

I also missing having the time to join conversations that form around the writing at other people’s blogs or to drop in on the audio discussions that seem to be proliferating online.

Anyway, August is over and it’s New Year’s Day.

And although I’ve been out of the classroom for a while, I still have a feeling of optimism and new opportunities that always came with the start of a new school year.

A chance to do a reset, try some new ideas, and figure out ways to make things a little better than they are now.

Happy New Year, everyone.

*Getting sick this weekend sure didn’t help either.

Half Time

While people in countries that use the Gregorian calendar are celebrating the start of a new year this weekend, to me it feels more like intermission.

And here in the overly-large school district, the first half of the show has been marked by a lot of chaos and change (some good, some bad, some just different).

But the really big alterations in my work life are yet to come.

The first occurs in less than a month when my friend and colleague Karen retires.


For nearly eleven years (with one notable hole), we have collaborated and conspired on a variety of projects, throwing ideas, discoveries, and toys back and forth as we tried to help our colleagues understand the place of technology in teaching and learning and adapt to all the changes it brings (or should).

Beyond that, working with Karen has been a wonderful experience since she is also someone who’s not afraid to let me know when I’m headed in the wrong direction, regularly calling BS when I’m about to go over the top and/or get myself fired and/or arrested.

While retirements often seem like funerals (mostly you never see the victim again :-), I’m pretty sure Karen is not going away completely (except for a few months in Yellowstone).

At the very least, she will remain in my back channel, continuing to let me know when I’ve screwed up.

Ok, that’s the big one, but definitely not the only major shakeup waiting in the wings.

Another goodie arrives in mid-February when our little group will be moving to an office building somewhere closer to the center of the county.

Just setting up shop in a new place is not a big deal. I’ve done that many times in my life.

However, what makes this different is that this will be the first place I’ve worked in my professional life that wasn’t a school, a former school or some other institutional space (Circle K doesn’t count).

Instead of a converted elementary classroom, with their somewhat quirky characteristics and relative privacy, we will be in what can only be described as a cube farm (just call me 2-110) straight out of Office Space.

What makes this really unique is that by the end of the second half, almost all the central office people I work with (most of three departments) will be in one building instead of spread around five or so. With many of the big, big bosses in the executive suite downstairs.

So, among other things, we will need to be careful about impromptu inter-cube discussions, not to mention where I fire the screaming monkeys.

Between the large hole that Karen will leave and the strange new work space, the dynamics of my work life will be very different. My primary goal going forward needs to be figuring out how to find the positive in that difference.

Of course, adding a continuing surreal feeling to the balance of the year will be the on-going conflict over drastic cuts to next year’s budget (with all the accompanying doomsday rumors), and the uncertainty of how they will affect the school-based trainers we work with (and us).

Unfortunately that soap opera is not likely to end in June. We’re already being told that the academic year beginning in July will likely also be a bad one.

Anyway, that’s a brief summary of how the second half of my year is shaping up.

And why January 1 is no beginning around here – just a short break in the circus.

Image: Farewell to Tai by Techmuse (Karen, who has become an excellent naturalist photographer in the time I’ve known her), used with the expectation that she won’t mind if I do.

Happy New Year

A little over a month ago I ranted about the organizational changes now going on where I work, here in a small corner of the instruction department in our overly-large school district.

In that post I also mentioned that I would also be getting a new job, something that was unrelated to the rest of the departmental churning.

So as of today, I am now the new middle school guy in the office.

Filling in the context, our little group (five people, soon to be six when the hiring process is done) is responsible for the support and training of all the school-based instructional technology trainers in our schools, just over 200 of them.*

For the past five years or so, I’ve shared responsibility for the elementary group with Karen (a creative force and animal photographer extraordinaire!) and will now be working with the middle school trainers, taking the place of Terry (also very talented!) who retired yesterday.

Ok, maybe not such a big change. The move isn’t a promotion, not “moving up” (hate the implications of that phrase!), simply a sideways shift. And I already know most of the people involved, which makes things easier.

Even so, this is hardly the end of the alterations for our office. Anytime one member of team that’s been working together for a long time is replaced, the dynamics will be different.

Not to mention our ongoing challenges of forming and maintaining working relationships with all the new people in new boxes, plus the folks we already know now in their new boxes, on the recently revised departmental org chart.

However, beyond all that reorganizational stuff going on at work, I still have that little voice in the back of my head conversing with me about other, more personal, changes that need to happen. (Yes, I talk to myself. :-)

I’m not sure what form the personal alterations will take (no tats!) but the voice keeps coming back to doing more about walking-the-walk and less talking.

Like following Gary Stager’s lead and refusing to accept excuses for the lack of progress in making great use of the powerful tools we have available.

And I’m also feeling the need to do something more/different with this space and the two others I work on irregularly. Not sure what that means either, so at this point it’s just a sense that something is not right.

Anyway, all of this increasingly incoherent rambling finally brings me back to the title.

I’ve always believed that we celebrate the new year in the wrong month.

September, the fall, feels far more like a starting point, or more appropriately a reset point, than does the first day of January.

More and more our traditional New Year’s Day seems more like the welcome termination of an incredibly long endurance contest.

So, I’m celebrating today. Happy new year everyone, and for me, welcome to my new beginnings.

*For those of you elsewhere in Virginia, you probably know them as ITRTs – Instructional Technology Resource Teachers. Our system, being the center of the known educational universe (the PR office says so :-), uses a different job title.

It’s The Wrong Day!

Today, January 1, is a poor choice to begin a new year! If you really want to the reasoning behind this pronouncement (not necessarily a given), read the post from the better choice.

I’ve ranted about this before, but considering how clouded the mind is, it’s a good day for reruns. Happy New Year. :-)

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