Don’t call me; I’ll call you

I’ll bet that most of us grew up in the same scenario. The telephone was screwed to the wall and/or it might be sitting on a table within easy reach.

The moment that it rang, at least one person sprang into action. I remember many fights with my brother to see who got to it first. At my girlfriend’s at the time, you didn’t grab it immediately; they had a party line and you had to make sure that it was “your ring” before answering it. A nosey party line person could listen in or actually answer on your ring if they so wanted. Such began a trek into telephones, privacy, scammers, etc.

It wasn’t like people weren’t trying to scam us in the old days. Since you had no idea who was calling, you just picked up the phone. The response from me was usually “click” but I’ve heard of people with horns to blow into the mouthpiece or even one lady that offered to listen to them if they would accept one of her church magazines. Unknown callers have always been a hassle to deal with.

When I got my first job at the board office, I got great advice from my superintendent who was big in time management. At the time, we had an LCD display on the phones and could see the name of who was calling. He was in my office once when I answered the phone. He pointed out that I had to interrupt what I was doing, spend time doing the pleasantries that go into the first part of a phone call and then actually have the conversation. His advice, which I quickly followed, was to let everything go to voice mail and then block time into my day to return the calls. It was great advice and saved me so much time.

I follow that same routine today. If you call me, unless you’re a member of my immediate family, you’ll go to voice mail and I’ll decide if I’m going to return your call. People that know me know that there are better ways to communicate with me anyway.

This story just broke my heart.

‘They sucked me right in’: Retired Windsor firefighter scammed out of thousands

Reading the story reminds me of the depths that some of these people will go to try and scam you out of your money. I hope that the police are able to do something although it’s my understanding that these calls are pretty untraceable.

And they’re getting better at it.

It used to be when they would call with a real phone number, it would display as “unknown number”. Those were easy to ignore. Now, though, they’re able to display a legitimate business name or at least have a number identified as in your community. Even today, I have to do a gut check to restrain myself from answering.

I’m currently ignoring someone who is pretty persistent and calls with a business named but it’s always from a different number and they do go to voice mail where nothing is left. I’m pretty clear in my message that I’ll get back to you if it’s important but someone who refuses to leave a phone number is sketchy in my books.

How do they get your number? It’s a pretty slick marketing tactic to use serial and parallel dialers but the moment that you answer, you’ve told them that the number is live and that there’s someone who will answer the call.

So, if you’re calling and going to voice mail, I’m not ignoring you. In fact, I might be looking at my phone as you do it. I’ll get back to you, if needed, but I’d prefer contact through other media and we can then drop into a face-to-face chat if that sort of communication is needed.

Stay safe. It’s a jungle out there.

How do you handle unwanted phone calls?

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Not surprisingly, there is a focus on teaching in these troubled times on the posts from Ontario Edubloggers. I’ve tried to bring a bunch of them together for your Friday and weekend reading.

One Size Fits All, Even When It Doesn’t

Tim King leads off with a confession that he has a big head. I hadn’t noticed. The point of Tim’s post was that he requires a medical mask and couples that with sinus issues to make things ugly. The mask isn’t sized to accommodate him and that makes for an uncomfortable day.

Couple that with the life of a technology teacher in a warm shop area setting up and dealing with the tech and you get the picture that he’s trying to paint.

The plot thickens as the topic turns to computer technology and his need to fix things so that his students have a place to work. Renewed Computer Technology of Ontario may be part of the answer to his dilemma of getting parts these days.

Then, there’s the whole concept of the long, extended class periods and the need for a break …

I suspect that Tim speaks for hundreds of educators across the province.

I’m on the phone

Amanda Potts tells of a story that I can only interpret as loneliness in the days of school building re-opening.

So, we know that social distancing is the rule these days but this is how it plays out for an LST.

“Hello, this is Amanda Potts, calling from Canterbury High School. I’m your child’s Learning Support Teacher this year. Is this a good time to talk about their IEP?”

It’s just her and parents on these calls when she gets a request from a colleague. Of course, it’s from a distance but can’t be entertained as she’s setting the stage for her parents and the students she’ll be supporting.

Although I’m sure that it adds another level of concern, I like the fact that she’s concerned about family life as she calls to talk to parents.

I just have this vision of going into B41 and working on things in the summer all by myself. A school or a classroom without students is really a lonely place.

School Online – Journal – Day 12

Terry Whitmell has a collection of blog posts that’s documenting her experiences and observations for re-opening in her part of the world. She is one of a team of principals for online learning in Peel.

I think we’ve all read and heard about stories of teachers who didn’t have classes or timetables ready to go. Here’s a look from the other side.

However, with student timetables a priority, the entry of teachers next to courses didn’t begin until near the end of the day, and is ongoing as I write.

I used to help our principal and vice-principal with timetabling and conflicts can be maddening. Sometimes, it takes a second set of eyes to see something that was staring right at you! She also takes into consideration teacher preferences. It’s an interesting read – particularly if you think that it’s all computerized and all that’s necessary is to click on GO to make the magic happen.

Of course, there are all the technical nerdy things that students will have to learn like the choice of LMS and video conferencing software – I can’t believe that the system offers a choice. Despite that, her wish is for community building first.

Friday Two Cents: Be Grateful

Lest we think that it’s just teachers and principals that are affected with everything that’s going on, Paul Gauchi reminds us that there are others in the system too.

He’s a long term occasional teacher and has been watching the comments coming from teachers in the classroom.

However, the more I read posts on social media and hear stories from them, the more I cannot be silent.

He’s taking on those who have complained about:

  • having to wear PPE
  • having collapsed classrooms
  • teaching a new grade level

and reminds us that there are many out there still looking to get hired.

Managing virtual and in-person synchronous instruction

I’m not the only one who uses dog-walking time to do some thinking. Jennifer Casa-Todd recently did the same sort of thing. She’s collaborating with a group of teacher-librarians to provide a resource for their teachers, doing their teaching online. I’m hoping that she looks at the resource that Elizabeth Lyons created (and I shared on this blog earlier this week). It would be a nice product to replicate and provide additional local resources.

She brings into the conversation a number of technical solutions, all the while in typical Jennifer style, keeping students at the centre of the conversation.

  • Peardeck
  • Padlet
  • Jamboard

Those are leading products in their genre but certainly aren’t the only ones.

Why Do We Share As We Do?

I enjoyed reading this post from Aviva Dunsiger. It’s a question that people asked “back in the day” when social media was new as a way to justify diving in.

In her post, Aviva shares her reasons for sharing

  • We share this way because it allows kids and families to benefit from each other’s thinking and learning
  • We share this way because it encourages the social
  • We share in this way because it helps us remember and celebrate the positives!
  • We share in this way because of the implied message that it also sends
  • If all thinking and learning is just kept private, what do our actions say about our beliefs?

I actually read her post when it first came out – because she had tagged me in the announcement (I do appreciate it when that happens) – and I had written a reply that I continue to stand by.

We share because it makes us more observant to what is going on and we share so that we don’t forget.

To me, the proof lies in the actual implementation. Right now, I just picked up my MacBook Pro and I’m in search of a Twitter message that I shared this morning about the new Safari so that I can poke around. I was using a Chromebook when I read the original message.

My original share may not mean anything to others but it’s a chance to share my learning with anyone who cares to join me and now I get the benefit myself by going back and finding it.

There was a time when I would just bookmark it and go back but I’ve learned that that approach teeters on selfishness. If it’s good for me, it has the potential to be good for others.

That may have been the first time ever I’ve used the word “teeter”.

Push & Pull

Finally, from Alexandra Woods, a post that will break your heart. It’s not unique to her; I just happened to read hers first. It’s from the perspective of a mother and teacher.

She had a moment with her son that caused her to pause and focus on what’s really important.

Teaching is all-encompassing and professionals are doing their very best to make sure that it’s going to be positive for students. Kudos for that; that’s what good teachers do.

And yet, there’s another factor in all this and that’s the family at home. Those of us who are parents know that we turn over these little ones to someone else for the time spent at work teaching. In a normal world, the time spent not teaching is easier to manage but many teachers are observing that teaching and planning to teach is creeping into that time not officially devoted to working.

There’s always this sense that you should be doing more and sometimes a wakeup call to reality is needed.

Please take the time to click through and read these posts in their entirety. There’s great inspirational stories there from a number of different members involved in education.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Terry Whitmell – @TerryWhitmell
  • Paul Gauchi – @PCMalteseFalcon
  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @jcasatodd
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Alexandra Woods – @XanWoods

This post appears on:

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

Another phishing quiz

I don’t think that you can get enough of these things. You have to realize that while you may be getting smarter, those who would do nasty things are at least keeping pace.

Quizzes like this are a fun way to make sure that you’re on the top of your online game.

And, in the classroom, it shouldn’t be a matter of a “one and done” approach to online literacy and safety. It should be done regularly and constantly revisited to make sure that the lessons are learned and reinforced.

With that introduction, I turn you to a Phishing Quiz posted on the withgoogle site.

It doesn’t take too long to complete if you know what you’re looking for. There are eight examples to work your way through.

I like how the authors personalized it by asking for a name and email address which will appear in the questions so that it approximates what might happen in real life. The site claims this information never goes anywhere but I didn’t give out my real stuff just in case.

I am proud to say that I have been paying attention and got 8/8 on the quiz the first time through. I even did a screen capture to prove it. But, I decided to step back the ego just a bit and not include it in the post.

If you’re reading this on the Saturday morning that I post it, take five minutes and put yourself to the test.

A safety checkup

Sometimes, things just go along swimmingly and it’s possible to let your guard down. We all do it.

Here’s a quick check to see if your protection detector is in gear. Or, you might wish to use this in the classroom to raise the awareness of students.

The resource is call Safe Page from Google.

While this doesn’t cover every trick the bad guys use to try and hijack you into bad places, it does a pretty good job reviewing some of the things that you should be aware of.

The tutorial and facts page are interesting and, yes, there will be a test!

I challenge you! Of course, the tech savvy reader who visits this blog will ace the quiz.

Bicycling Common Sense

One of my favourite things to do on a summer day is to hop onto my bicycle and just start peddling.  I’m so fortunate to have incredible scenery to enjoy while en route.

There’s a route that takes me down the Detroit River where you can enjoy the nice houses and enjoy the smell of the fresh water.  Pulling into a marina lets you enjoy the boat traffic on the river.  You’ll see hobby boats and big transport boats.  Some of the world’s heaviest traffic goes through here.

Amidst all of this beauty is the reality that you’re sharing the road with car and truck traffic.  Now, some of them are very courteous and give you the room that you need.  While they’re travelling at a posted speed limit, ahem, of 70 km/h, I’m peddling my hardest to maintain 30.

You never really feel totally safe and much attention needs to be given to traffic coming up on you.  However, it’s not just the car drivers that need to share the road.  Cyclists need to be part of the plan too.

It would be nice if everyone paid attention and gave some love to each other.  I read about the Colorado 3-2-1 Courtesy Campaign.  It makes so much sense.

Colorado 3-2-1-Courtesy-Code

Safety needs to be of the highest concern for everyone.  Resources like this need to be understood by all cyclists.

One would think that we’re talking of the younger bikers here but not.  It’s embarrassing to see adults swerving all over the road or biking in a back 3 or 4 wide.  These actions paint all of us with the same brush.

A little courtesy would go a long way.

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