Fixing the Flash Issue in Chrome

Have you been wondering why sites just show up blank when you try to open them in Chrome? With the development of HTML 5 and the vulnerability of Flash, this has become a real problem.

So what’s the solution?

Click on the favicon in the URL search bar and “allow flash” for that site! Simple fix!

Allow flash in Chrome

 

 

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Beyond the Edge

I admit it. I feel as if I am struggling to keep up. After 4 weeks of the start of the school year, I am only now beginning to feel as if I can surface for air. My desk is still a mess, there are laptops that need to be assigned, iPads that need formatting and lots of emails and phone calls to return.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this feeling. Every teacher in a traditional model school feels like this as the new year starts. There are new names of staff and students. There are new challenges with curriculum changes, policy changes, room changes. What worked last year either doesn’t work with this year’s group of students or staff, or it just needs to be freshened up to engage the learner.

So, why is it like this every year? Why does it seem particularly more difficult THIS year?

Age is one reason. The older I get, the less energy I feel I have for change. Demands of those above me affect it too. The new software, new hardware, new curriculum, new initiatives, new email, new… just fill in the blank. Change gets harder every year. So why do I feel the need to change what I’m doing or how I’m doing it? Because I am beginning to realize that no matter how much I do, there will always be more to do.

There. I said it. I’m not keeping up. I have been on the cutting edge of things for the last few years. But now I believe I may have gone beyond the edge. Past that point of wanting to know the latest and greatest. Mostly because the technology changes so fast. Probably because I’m realizing that I want to enjoy things outside of work.

So what do I do?

I reinvent myself again. We all need to do that. We need to realize that what might have been important last year is not quite as important this year. Or that what was important then, but was not addressed, has become most important now. Heavy stuff.

I am not going to do less at my job. I’m just not going to take it home quite so much. I’m going to find those things that I used to do that brought me joy while still doing my job well. I’m going to try to multitask less and focus on what matters more. Simple to say, but not so easy to do.

If you’re struggling as I am, take heart that you’re not alone. There is no one final solution for anyone. We are ever evolving and ever reinventing ourselves. Thankfully.

Let me know how you plan to reinvent yourself this year. And most certainly let me know if you have ideas for how I can reinvent myself to be more productive and stay on the right side of the edge!

Is it Teacher Burnout?

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
“superwoman” by hans van den berg is licensed under CC BY 2.0

While I like to think that I am superhuman and can go on little sleep, work multiple jobs and manage to tend adequately to my family, that just isn’t so. I TRY to make that so. But in reality, I find myself frazzled and stressed. Yes, I believe it might be Teacher Burnout.

It’s easy to write this during my summer break, even though my calendar reminds me to “Do a Blog Post” every Monday year round. (Thanks, George Couros @gcouros for the challenge!) Writing during the school year when my double full-time job, multiple piano students, and online teaching are in full swing and the reality is definitely different.

Dr. Jenny Rankin’s First Aid for Teacher Burnout: How You Can Find Peace and Success. Taylor & Francis, 2016, provides strategies for dealing with burnout. In her book, Dr. Rankin provides some Teacher Burnout Statistics.

Teacher Burnout Statistics

The statistics listed are not current, but I can’t help but imagine that with the increased demands on teachers and administrators, that those numbers might actually be higher than Dr. Grant has communicated.

Attitude is a huge part of our burnout rate. It is a huge part of our overall health. A perfect example is my 89-year-old father. He has an incredible attitude. He rarely complains about anything, he is helpful and easy to get along with. He does things for others with a smile. But if you read his medical history and what he has “wrong” with him, you’d think he should be shouting at little children in the street and shaking his cane at every passerby! Not only does he treat everyone with respect, but he doesn’t even need a cane to go on his 3 or 4 mile walk every day!

So, how can we strive to keep ourselves sane in the ever burdened education world we live in? I believe starting with a simple, positive goal each day is helpful. The following are a few of my strategies:

  • Take a moment to reflect on why we do what we do, realizing that it’s not about the money or the fame but about lives of humans that we want to nurture and grow into productive citizens. (This includes the teachers you work with, too!)
  • Avoid the “toxic” people in your life. Find a way to remain friends, but avoid those gripe sessions that can be so prevalent especially towards the end of the year.
  • Practice your smile. Greeting people with a smile and a warm “Hello!” sets the tone for the following conversation and might even help someone change their day.

Finding time to indulge yourself, even if for a few moments at work, with something that brightens your day or lets you breathe is imperative. For me, going to bed earlier and using my lunch as a private reflection time help me. Oh, and not taking complaints and criticism personally. It’s easy to fall into that trap!

Breathe deeply. Do things purposefully. Encourage those around you to do the same things. You might be surprised at the results.

Think you might be suffering from burnout? Try taking this self-test: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTCS_08.htm

Digital Learning Gaps in Higher Ed

“Digital technology is an ally for higher education” —Professor Mary McAleese, Teaching and Learning in Irish Higher Education (2015) Most educators today possess the digital skills needed to function in academic life. There’s the basics—managing email, using the Learning Management System (LMS), uploading papers to plagiarism checkers among others. Yet some faculty still struggle with […]

via Higher Ed’s Digital Skills Gap: Faculty

Three Cheers for Google Trainer Courses!

Well, I finally did it. I jumped into working on my Google Certification. I’ve been studying and using checklists of what I should know and be able to do. Wow! Is there ever a lot of stuff that I didn’t know I could do with the G Suite! Tips and tricks. Ideas and interesting features. Who knew?!?

Through this process, I also discovered the Google Certified Trainer courses. I am blown away by the amazing information provided by Google. The templates for developing training sessions, the ideas for using tools in the G Suite and the real focus on developing the best experience is amazing! It's So Great When Technology Works

I am excited to think about moving forward with my coaching role as an ITF (Instructional Technology Facilitator) in the upcoming school year. I have a much clearer picture of how my role should look as I integrate technology working WITH my teachers. (Look out staff!)

I sometimes find myself running out of time, or neglecting to follow up with the teacher after an integration lesson. The need for immediate feedback and opportunities to expand on the initial ideas are imperative. Flexibility is key, yet sometimes my role in dual jobs makes me less flexible than I need to be. That’s okay, though. Both jobs are important and somehow I need to find a way to meld them together in a more cohesive manner.

Overall, there is such a need to listen to those I work with. There is a huge importance in encouraging them to tell me what it is they really need and then fulfilling that training mission.

So starting today, my Technology Framework for Teacher Integration – my new title – has started taking shape. Meet the staff where they are and encourage them to grow with me while we keep the students at the center. The students are ultimately the focus. We are merely the lens.

Three cheers for Lifelong Learning and Google training!

Computer Crash? Your Backup Plan is Key

Everyone needs an emergency plan. Your family knows the plan if there is a fire, such as where to meet and how to get out of the house. We set up emergency funds to cover those unexpected things that come up during the year financially. But what plan do you have in place for your computer data?

If you’ve never had your computer crash, then your turn is probably right around the corner. No, I don’t mean to scare you. It’s just the reality of electronics. We put a lot of stress on our electronics. Some of us expect them to run forever without any kind of maintenance or plan. Bad idea.

With the advent of online storage, you can feel a greater sense of comfort in thinking that your data is safe. But is it really? What if it isn’t? What’s your backup plan?

I rely on Google Drive for most of my storage. That said, however, I also sync it to my computer so that there is an offline copy in case I don’t have internet access. But, that doesn’t mean I stop there. I also have a stand alone backup device. My Drobo http://www.drobo.com/  holds 4 hard drives and once I connect it, the backup runs in the background. I do incremental backups to four 1 Tb drives. Yes – they are almost full. (I don’t get paid by Drobo, by the way. I just happen to really like their product.)

Is this necessary? Well, is my data necessary? I could recreate all of what I have – maybe. But, I’d rather not. My workflow is on demand and without it, I’d be really hard-pressed to generate it all over again. Twice I’ve had to restore my data from a backup. Twice it was a headache and took about a week to get things back in place, but at least I had it. All of it.

Also, from experience, I’ve learned that it’s important to attempt to restore a few things from your backup just to be sure it really works! If you are using a plan, be sure it’s easy to access what you need should something happen. My first plan wasn’t very efficient, and I struggled to restore what I needed. So, try it out and understand how to get your stuff back when you need to.

The moral of the story is: Have at least two ways to retrieve your data if something happens. Don’t put it off. The longer you wait to have a plan in place, the more likely you will have a data crash and wish you’d prepared for the inevitable.

Managing Multiple Devices Makes Me Tired!

My school now has over 900 devices that have to be managed, maintained and handled. While there are “simple” ways to handle this, I find that using a database has saved me. I use FileMaker exclusively because it’s what I’ve always used. It’s powerful and provides me with so many options.

Keeping my own inventory allows me to make labels, reconcile inventory, and know where any one of those 900 devices are supposed to be. (No, they aren’t always where they started out!)

The end of the school year brings a fresh set of problems with so many devices. How long do you leave them in the classroom and still efficiently get them gathered up for storage? How many should just get covered and locked in classrooms? Since they need to be re-distributed in the fall, is it easier to just collect themmultiple devices and start fresh?

While every person will choose their own method, I like control. There, I said it. I like to know where they are. I like them in my “office” – it’s really a large closet, but I still call it home – where I can put my hands on them, organize them and know what I have.

Relabeling is so much easier with my database. Printing the ERD or equipment recycling sheets is simplified by just recreating the form that my county uses. Then I just save as a PDF and I’m done. Handwrite a form? No way! Efficiency is the key.

I’ve always been a list maker, so moving to the online version of a list helps me. To Do lists with Wunderlist, lists of inventory with FileMaker and Google Sheets with checklists of beginning and end of year responsibilities help keep my sanity. What little I have left. Multitasking keeps me busy!

How do you manage your devices? Do you have a method that is tried and true? I’d love your feedback. And I promise not to take control of your school’s devices. Really. Promise.