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July 2015
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September 2015

August 2015

Monday Teaching Remote

So yesterday was fairly typical.

A small batch of progress reports.  One student came back from postpone.  Dealt with that, then off to the pool and off the grid.

Feedback from families that finished over the weekend.  All good.  Had to debug two students work and give suggestions.

Went to Chili's for lunch around 2:00.  Was busy working on captions for videos I'm doing in two weeks.  Student finished while I was eating lunch.  Adjusted finishing documentation and then off to Planet Fitness to work out, though had to stop for Emails before I could work out.

Researched next courses for that student, and researched next courses for students finishing up Advanced Web Design.  They are both going to JavaScript as they are too young for Java.

Evening was quiet.

Woke up today to another student going on postpone and another student coming off of postpone. 

Now I have 12 postpone students and 22 active students.

Need to make sure I have finishing documents in place for the two students that are close to finishing.

Teaching online

First, I don't think I would want to do this as a full time job.  They limit us to 28 hours a week, and the number of students are limited so we don't go over.  I've been working with this group for a little over a year now.  It was a great transition, I started when I was still working the mobile app gig.

I currently have 23 active students, and 5 scheduled to come on board over the next few weeks.  Three should finish this week, maybe more.

I currently teach Advanced Scratch, Introduction to Web Design, Advanced Web Design, Java I and Java II.

My day consists of waking up in the morning and dealing with email.  Some students will have turned in work while I'm asleep, maybe contact from a parent, usually a follow up email.  Today I even got a copy of feedback from some families whose students just finished, that was very good.  I have yet to hear that a family was unhappy with me.

I get a progress report for each student weekly, today I had 3.  Those I have to review, research any problem areas, and then forward them and my findings to my parents.  If I'm lucky, it's just a "your kid is doing well".  It might be that I haven't received any work, or that a student isn't understanding when I am sending emails out about an assignment they are struggling with.

Typically that takes up the first thirty minutes to sixty minutes of the day.

Though out the day, I will get emails.  Some are from the parents following up on the morning comments.  Most of them are notifying me that a student took a quiz.  Another group that take up most of my time are emails notifying me that a student has submitted an assignment.  I also get a lot of questions, sometimes about quiz questions, sometimes about a work that is in progress.

About once a week, maybe less, I need to make a Skype call or get on my Adobe Whiteboard and interact with a student or the whole family.  Usually to clarify something that just can't be handled over email.

My policies are to always allow a student a do over on an assignment.  I have always had that policy and I feel that the assignments are teaching tools, not punishment.  When a student first has a problem I gently steer the in the right direction.

Example: last week I had a student who couldn't get an image map to work.  I double checked his html code first -- it was correct -- by putting in an image and coordinates from a student who had gotten it right.  I then suggested that he had the wrong coordinates.  He wasn't sure I was right, so I sent him the working code.  He still didn't believe me, but finally checked himself, sure enough, he was using the wrong coordinates!

The good news is that he asked, rather than turning in an assignment that didn't work.  As any teacher will tell you, having students turn in work that obviously doesn't work is frustrating.  That's one thing I do in the weekly progress report, is to express that frustration to the parent in a nice way.

The downsides to this job, is that I don't really get a day off.  I've been afraid of the email explosion where you have more emails coming in than you can get out.  I did have that happen recently but it's the first time that's happen since I left the face-to-face classroom.

I do have my phone and my Microsoft band set up so that I can glance at them and see how many emails I have. 

And I am taking a vacation soon and getting a sub for three days.  Wonder how that works.



The latest job interview

I am going to start this out, letting everyone know, yes I have a job I really like and I would never give it up.

I teach for John Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth.  I teach 5 different subjects, Introduction to Web Design, Advanced Web Design, Advanced Scratch, Introduction to Java and Advanced Java.  I have even helped with curriculum.

I've been with them for a year and this only disadvantage is that it is part time and I am limited to 28 hours a week and so many hours a year (I don't remember that total but I haven't met it).

Last Friday I got a call from a recruiter who wanted to know if I developed Windows Phone apps.  I sent her my resume and a list of my apps.  I honestly didn't think I would hear from her again.

Instead I got a call back asking if I would consider moving to Seattle and would I interview with the hiring manager on Skype.  So I considered it.

After finding out that the place I wanted to move into was full until end of September, finding out that any place I could get right away ran around $3000 a month, AND that plane tickets ran $600 one way, I decided it didn't want to do that.

I did brush up on my rusty Windows App skills and you will soon see updated and new apps.  I have a few other priorities and I need to brush up the skills.

However, my current skills weren't good enough -- the recruiter didn't have to tell me I didn't pass the interview did she?

Besides, I don't want to give up the house, a dog, or the husband (probably in that order).  The house and dog haven't learned to email me. 

Contract Work - Does it Make Sense?

For the employer -- sure, but for the employee?

I've never thought so, and even more now that I have done it.  I am also sure it shouldn't be allowed.  It's in the same realm as interning.  While you are getting paid, the company hiring you is completely off the hook.  You don't get time off and most of the time you can't even say who you are working for.   They can even fire you without notice.

Especially since the employer has something very specific in mind.  They want someone who can start producing code immediately.  The bad part, is if you do something very specialized, the jobs can be far between.

It's even worse if you need to relocate.  I've been interviewed for a job that is 28 hours away from my house and they are expected me to pay to get there.  They aren't offering me enough money to live in the city even, much less make a few trips back and forth.

 I've been reading articles about how contractors have been cut because they need maternity leave -- I think that happened in my last office, and it was the father. 

They thing that really saved us when my husband has his brain injury was the fact that he was an employee, if the same thing had happened to me, I'm sure I would have been cut off without anything.

I think we should all hold out for real jobs.

Windows 10 Mobile

Just loaded the latest build of the Windows 10 Mobile.  I tried to use it a few months ago, and it sucked.  I just can't live without One Note, Word, etc. on my phone.

I decided to grab one of my old phones (a Lumina 1020) and load it today and am pleasantly surprised, I'm almost ready to put a SIM card in it.

It works, it looks nice and I have my favorite apps.  Next I need to update the apps I developed for it.

More as I play with it.

Windows 10 -- Loving It

I'll be honest, I liked Windows 8, though I did find it annoying.

I just finished upgrading my almost last machine to Windows 10 -- I have an older machine downstairs in the guest room that last week claimed wouldn't update because of a driver, need to check on that again.

Here's what I like best about it:  It fixed a driver on my ASUS tablet that has been a problem for a long time, to the point I didn't use that machine.  This tablet has an attached keyboard/touchpad that came with the tablet, and the touchpad would almost instantly disconnect after booting.  It's the last machine to update and the touchpad has been working well.  The keyboard still randomly disconnects/connects, but I think that's a hardware design problem.

Another part I like -- the Windows apps now run in a window rather than full screen.  I still don't understand why they did that in Windows 8.