Friday, September 2, 2016

Excitement Abound!

What a first official week of school!  After 3 weeks of working to prepare for my new role as technology coordinator & learning strategist, the work that I put in paid off!  However, it could not even begin to prepare me for what the first week was going to be!  It was a week of ups, of downs, of everything in between.  It was a week of adjustments not just for me, but for my wife heading back to school as well, my 4-year-old daughter going to full day pre-kindergarten AND competition dance team that involves 2 hours of classes on Mondays and Thursdays.  I have enjoyed my first week back to the grind, but I would by lying if I said that I wasn't looking forward to a three-day weekend coming up, and a weekend with college football starting back up as well!

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To start, the first day of school was strange for many reasons.  First was the drive.  At my previous school, my drive was 7 minutes on most days, depending on how many cars were lined up at the stop sign outside of the school.  My new commute takes me 32-40 minutes, depending on how I hit the traffic lights.  Granted, I had been coming up to the school for a couple of weeks, so I was getting used to the drive, but it still felt strange to leave the house, turn a different way out of my neighborhood, and make the longer drive.  It especially hit me when I started seeing the school buses.  Next was seeing the students.  Walking into school, I unconsciously felt like I was going to see students that I have had in the past.   For a split second, I was confused as to why I didn't recognize anybody, but I quickly came back to my senses.  The last thing, and the "now it has finally hit me" moment, was the "I do not have students in my room right now and I am not passing out schedules and going over the first day of school procedures".  I had my office door open and could see kids going by, and once the bell rang, I could hear teachers in their classroom around me going over stuff.  That was the moment that it dawned on me and it "got real".

I have mentioned in the past how awesome my new principal is and how he wants to help teachers as much as he can on the technology spectrum.  We had talked briefly over the past few weeks about getting teachers going on Pear Deck and spending some of our technology budget on a site-based license.  On Monday, I put in a request for a quote with Pear Deck, and per the email response back, expected to hear back within 24 hours.  I heard back in 5 minutes!  Nick Park, the representative from Pear Deck, informed me that he wanted to expand Pear Deck's footprint in Clark County and the State of Nevada, so he was very glad I contacted him.  He was able to get us a site license for $1500, which came with 120 accounts!  If each one of those teachers paid for it individually, it would cost $12,000!  They even provided a "training deck" so I could present it to the staff to get them started on the program.  I was only able to get to about 10 staff members so far, as there was another training on Google Classroom when I presented, but over the next couple of weeks, I will be getting the entire school on board.  I can't even begin to contain how excited I am!


As excited as I was for Pear Deck, there was plenty of issues to deal with as well.  The main issue that came up, completely out of my control, dealt with student email accounts.  Each student in the district is given a Google email address.  Right before school started, we were informed that all student passwords were reset to a default and that they would be available on day one of the new school year.  What we quickly found out was that was not the case.  Hundreds of students were getting error messages that their accounts were disabled, which meant that anything Google connected to their account was also disabled.  In the beginning, my tech partner and I thought we had narrowed it down to students new to the school and those that registered late.  As the first couple of days progressed, we realized it was much bigger.  Now we were wondering if this was a school issue or a district issue.  I will spare the details, but it turns out that it was a district server issue that knocked over 20,000 accounts out of commission.  As of today, that is still the case, but I am hoping that the long weekend gives IT the opportunity to solve the problem.  We also had some issues regarding some glitches with Chromebooks that were a bear to solve, but we were able to take care of them.

After one week, I can definitely say that even though it was stressful at times, I am very happy with my new job, school, administrative team, and teachers and staff that I get to work with daily.  My only complaint is the long ride (not so much in the morning, it's more of the afternoon commute that is not as fun), but it gives me a chance to listen to some podcasts and catch up on Voxer.  For those of you that are back to work, whether it was this week or weeks ago, I hope your experiences has been great thus far.  If you are heading back next week, here's to an amazing 2016-2017!

Until next time...