The adage goes that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, so some local schools are issuing back to school lists for their students that might defy conventional wisdom. Students have long tried to get away with as much as they can, and when they are reprimanded, parents often step in and claim their child has the right to use that for which the child has been punished.

Cell phones are the best example of this, with many schools trying to impose bans on phones, mainly because they are used to text others during class. However, parents insist that cell phones should be allowed for safety’s sake, and schools must abide by the will of the parents. Also, since students are being trained to be the working masses, they should be allowed the same opportunities to avoid work that they will utilize while working someday.

Here are some of the items and rationale for those items on back to school lists:

  1. Cell phones—safety is an issue in schools. Besides, students should learn how to multitask, and someone who is not able to carry on a text conversation and take notes in history class is lacking a very important skill set.

There are ten more surprising items here:

 

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New Jax Witty

Articles, reviews, advice, and legitimate research to go along with some back-handed comments. Think of us as Jacksonville's mother-in-law.
  • Satan to Pay Rick Scott For Connect Reemployment System
    When I read that Rick Scott spent $77.9 million for the Connect system, I wanted to know how one goes about procuring a contract like that. In its current form, no state would pay $77.90 for such a system. I wish the state would pay me for the hours I spent trying to submit my unemployment, but I guess the whole point of the system to prevent any payments from ever being made. Since the horrendous experience is fresh in my mind, I'll go through a few of the intricacies that made the Connect system worthy of the Prince of Darkness.

    I imagine it like this: you get to hell for swindling sick people as a health care worker or for insider trading. Something evil. But Beelzebub offers you a way to escape. All you have to do is use this great website that's worth $77.9 million in order to submit your request to leave. God has even offered a $600 bonus to anyone who can get out of hell, so there's extra incentive. The fun part (for Satan, not for you) is that the website won't work. Worse, you are required to start over from the beginning each time you attempt your escape, filling out the exact same information over and over, waiting for pages to load, over and over. But you're in hell, so you keep going back to try again. 

    That's the MyFlorida Connect system in a nutshell. Specifically, you wait 1 to 5 minutes for EACH page to load. Then you fill out a page, and it logs you out. In fact, I needed about 10 attempts just to get to the point where I could even create an account to login. But even after I had an account, I had to start over each time from before the login screen, agreeing to all kinds of documents, like that I was using a Florida system and that I would not defraud the state. Every time. Then I'd fill in a page, hit Next, and then be logged out. Sometimes, I could fill in two pages in a row, but I'd inevitably be logged out and forced to restart. 

    Some information was remembered from the last time you went through the torture, but you have to remember the obstacles, like having to re-enter your email address on one page, and having to re-find your profession. But I only got through to my profession three times in about 100 tries. It was playing a really tough video game, but one without checkpoints, so you have to replay the entire game and defeat all the levels and bosses every time you die. In this game, however, there was no secret to getting past the levels. There was seemingly a 50/50 chance of restart every time the Next button was pressed. 

    Other dumb elements of the Connect system included having to match employer names to a database (an extra step) and having to leave out hyphens in FEID codes and your license #. Sometimes, the pages would reload onto the same page you were just on, seemingly asking you to refill the same information, as if there was an error. Usually, however, it either restarts completely or else bumps you over to another previous page for no reason. But there's no way to quickly navigate to what is still missing from your profile. Maybe that option exists in Internet Explorer 7, but not in the modern world. The Connect system also tries to get you to use its debit card with all kinds of hidden fees that are probably owed directly to Rick Scott.

    The website also constantly told me that if I didn't finish filling the forms out within a day, all of the information would be deleted so that I could start over completely. Others had issues with being locked out with no way to recover PINs. I followed advice to try the system at odd hours, still unable to move forward at 12am, 2am, 4am, and 7am. But at around noon, it just boots you off without a second thought, so you feel like you have to be online when you should be sleeping. 

    Eventually, when the paper version was made available, I downloaded it and filled it out in about 30 minutes. Of course, Satan would never offer a paper version. Florida didn't do it until enough rich people complained. I expect that, if I get any unemployment benefits, they will be sent to me on my stupid debit card sometime in November, probably when people without direct deposit get their government checks. 

    I am sure Florida will pay another $100 million for a new UI system next year, but Satan will be able to use Connect to torment the souls of the damned for all of eternity.







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  • Coronavirus Family Activity: Filing For Unemployment Like it's 1999
    If you want to see a time machine, head on over to Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity website, and the Connect pages you need to use to file for unemployment. I assume the website was developed back around the time Al Gore invented the internet, and that was the case well before the Covid-19 crisis.

    I've been building mobile-friendly websites that can be used in any browser since 2008 or so with my Joomla 1.5 sites. That's more than a decade ago. I suppose I didn't really design for mobile devices until maybe 2010, but I have been building websites capable of being used on a mobile device for at least ten years. 

    I was also unemployed for a few months back in 2014, and I had to work hard to look for five jobs a week as I also tried to set myself up to become a full-time web designer. It's ironic that people who are receiving unemployment benefits need to work hard in order to show that they deserve those benefits, but the entities that run the website that collects the unemployment information allow the website to become so outdated that it's practically unusable. 

    In an interview, a communications person for Florida DEO said that an app was on the way and that lots of assets were being moved to do something or other. She mentioned the cloud, probably assuming most of us are stupid enough to think that someone who has a ten-year-old asp.net website has a solution that involves the cloud. I am pretty sure an IT guy just told her to mention the cloud because that's what he does whenever anyone has a question for him he can't answer. 

    The news also reported that you need to use Internet Explorer rather than Chrome because the website, even on desktop, won't work on Chrome. You probably need to have your Flash player enabled and Windows Defender turned off on your Windows XP machine, too. No mention of Safari, so sorry Mac. I pretty much gave up filing for unemployment to concentrate on writing this article because nothing was happening when I clicked buttons on the site. Maybe the website and awesome new app will be working by fall sometime, after most of us are broke and some of us are dead.

    I assume that back in 2008, the last time the website was really used by a lot of people, it probably worked. Most people using it were likely thinking it kind of sucked, but it got the job done, and that's kind of the point of a website. Especially a website that's supposed to help people get reemployed.
    Even at 2AM, the Florida UI website was broken


    When I really tried to work on my unemployment claim after midnight, I started to make some progress, finally able to establish a pin. But when the site crashes, it makes you start the claim all over again. From question one, even if it's all auto-filled from that point. So bad. I mean, really, really bad. I surprised to read Rick Scott's assessment that the system he put in place in 2013 would be useful in the end. It was probably outdated in 2013 and something a friend of his cooked up to bilk the state out of money. As a web designer (not even a developer), I can see all kinds of flaws in the system, and the most glaring is that you have to start over if you log back in. I can't even remember the last time I was on a website that did this.

    I can think of two solutions I've created that would work better than this system, and I built them for about $1,000 for clients. Both on Joomla, I could use Community Builder to create profiles or even just Breezing Forms to make a simple form that gets submitted. If I wanted to be bad-ass, I'd have both Community Builder AND Breezing Forms on the same site.

    The fact that the Florida unemployment site tries to push you into its debit card with lots of fees means that there's certainly a corrupt corporate tie-in here. Again, probably some friends of Rick Scott. In fact, the payments defaulting to the stupid debit card is a sure sign of corporate stoogery, and also not the option you want to take right now, since I am sure the debit card company is also not prepared to issue enough cards when unemployment increases ten-fold in a week.

    Here's the paper application for Florida unemployment in case you need it.

    If your company is looking to reinvent itself after this all ends, check out my web design sites below.



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  • Did DeSantis Just Reopen Churches?
    Buried in all the Safer at Home orders today was a nugget that I almost couldn't believe. First, Jacksonville jumped the gun to issue a local order that apparently kept ammo shops open as an essential business, though I did not see the local Jax order on churches, most of which had already gone totally online.

    The article I found about the Jacksonville order was updated to follow the national list of essential businesses, since the state order was said to follow the national list. Sorry, gun shops (I think). But there was still the first DeSantis Safer at Home order I saw that appeared to keep open or reopen churches, as long as people practice social distancing.
    Churches are totally and completely non-essential, especially when we can get our services online. Yes, people are worried and scared, and maybe pastors could spend their free time calling members, but allowing church services to go on is the wrong decision. Plagues over the years never stopped at church doors, and this virus will not be kept out of services in Florida. 
    I'm hoping the opening of churches was a typo. If not, just don't go. It's probably one of the best places to spread disease, especially to older people. You can read the Bible and watch the services at home.

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  • Coronavirus Family Activity: Decorate for Easter / Puzzles
    This is a dual activity for your family during the Covid-19 outbreak. Since no one should be visiting your house, this is your chance to decorate it however you want. This might include the most ridiculous Easter decorations, but it might also include setting up a puzzle or activity table right there in the living room. No one cares. The Queen of England is not coming over to inspect your house, so take this chance to live like it.


    We had these crazy foam Easter decorations that might be a little too much if we had the family over for Easter. However, with no one to entertain, they are perfect decorations to brighten up the house and remind us of the importance of procreation. Bunnies, ducks, a lamb, more bunnies, and some baskets with a bunny and a duck. Pink, yellow, orange, powder blue, white, and green. Everywhere. 

    If you don't have a container full of crafty Easter items to set out, then go ahead and spend an afternoon creating some of your own. Even if you don't have little kids in the house. Just like facemask templates, you can find templates for bunnies and ducks online, and then add some color. Even if you don't really like Easter. Even if you're a Jehovah's Witness or a Budhist. The Pagan traditions of bright colors and fertile animals should resonate with all of us, especially at a time when we can't use Tinder to find a date. 

    You can also use some of that pent up energy on puzzles. I personally don't enjoy puzzling, but my wife and kids seem to enjoy it about as much as binge-watching the Golden Girls. A family member even created some kind of lesson plan to go along with the kids' current puzzles, which makes them annoying and educational. Or fun and educational, if you like that sort of thing. 

    Go ahead and set your puzzle table in the middle of any room. No one will come in and see it. Sure, you might decide to have it in the background of a Zoom conference meeting, but all of your co-workers houses look just as trashed by this point. I had put the puzzle table on lifts on one side, making it more of a drafting table, since my wife can sit there long enough to get neck pains. As a public service announcement, if you are working on puzzles enough to get neck pains, you need to go back onto Tinder.

    There you have it: two ways you can be entertained and make a mess of your house this Coronavirus/Easter Season.

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  • Coronavirus Family Activity: Camping Out
    I'll begin this with my usual diatribe about why I hate camping. The human race has spent ions perfecting our dominion over nature, so why would I want to be sweaty/dirty/freezing/smelly/buggy/sleepless? I wouldn't, but I camped out for several years because my son wanted to be in Cub Scouts. Covid-19 and staying at home has provided our family with the perfect opportunity to use our camping equipment, even if not all of us actually spend the night in the tent. 

    We started off with setting up the tent, which I'd only done zero times alone. I had the help of a scout leader in Kansas and then two other parents another time. When someone borrowed the tent, he accused me of having lost the instructions, which are attached to the carrying case (not that I knew that). Anyhow, it was nice to be able to take my time in the middle of the day to set up the tent, as anyone who has ever stumbled into a campground at sunset with a complicated tent will attest to. Also, it seems a similar Coleman tent might be better than the Wenzel I have, but mine was a Menard's special for about have the price elsewhere. If you are a pro at camping, you probably aren't doing it in the backyard. 

    We used the very nice Intex Mattress that we finally bought after years of trying to make thin airbeds work. Even for houseguests (unless you want them to leave), this mattress is worth owning. In about half an hour, the tent was ready for the kids and dog, as they moved in all the stuff they would need. 

    This being Jacksonville, I got a baseball bat ready, and my wife said something about having owned pepper spray at some point, but I used my imagination and decided the kids should not have access to pepper spray. However, next time I'll remember to give the kids each a personal alarm, especially since the worst they could do to each other is toss one in the tent and run out, hopefully without permanent hearing loss. I eventually forgot the bat, mace, personal alarm, and we even (seemingly for their own good) confiscated their phones. But they had a dog with a big bark, so whatevs. And I slept in the living room with the door open to the screen. OK, I know it sounds excessive, but even a big city like Milwaukee simply doesn't have the number of roving teenagers looking for open car or house windows, so you probably need to be prepared for the wildlife in town if you're going to camp out. 

    I made a fire in the backyard fire pit. Ours is similar to the one linked, only rustier. In Jax, it's always a good idea to know if there's a risk of fire. You wouldn't want you yard camping experience to burn down the neighborhood. We made Smores, which my son couldn't even do his last year of Cub Scouts because some kids were chucking hot marshmallows at each other, which does not even sound like fun to me. 

    If you really want to go nuts with the bug spray and sunscreen, go ahead and plan an outdoor meal with those plastic plates you never use, sitting on that patio picnic table you never use. We ate inside and then went out after dark, but it was still easier than setting up in the twilight. 

    Luckily, the dog was OK with sleeping in the tent, and the kids quieted down after about an hour. Because there was no chance of rain, I left the weather guard covering off the tent, so it was probably an amazing view while falling asleep. And 70 degrees overnight, so better than the 30 degrees I was forced to camp in with my son for Cub Scouts. 

    I hope this article reminds you of the camping equipment you have in the garage and that it could be a back yard adventure for your family this Coronavirus season. Oh, and if you have a dead tree in the yard, avoid sticking the tent close to it if you don't want to worry about wind all night. And make sure your fire is extinguished. And no throwing hot marshmallows. 

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  • Coronavirus Family Activity: Walk a New Neighborhood
    Even if you are being forced to shelter in place, you have to get outside. Eventually, you might not venture any further than your own yard, but if there aren't strict rules, you can at least take a walk through your neighborhood. The only problem with having a dog who loves long walks is that you might get bored not having parks or beaches available. Our family decided to venture out to a new neighborhood for a walk before (and in case) the shelter in place order comes to Jax. 

    For our first neighborhood walk, I found a small area with sidewalks in the Miramar part of Jacksonville. It was sort of wedge-shaped area along the river, just off of San Jose Blvd before that street becomes a major thoroughfare. Point La Vista Rd N, in case you're looking for it. We went about 4,000 ft or 3/4 of a mile in 90 degree weather, so plenty far. 

    The nice part about this neighborhood, besides the sidewalks, included interesting homes. Many sprawling ranches with unique characteristics. Of course, the $1 million+ homes along the river also were part of the community. One of these homes had a huge window to the road with another one through to the river, while another had at least four very large round windows. A few homes looked ultra-modern, while other hearkened back to classical styles. Some had more of a Mediterranean style, complete with tile roofs. Two houses looked to be out of Ferris Bueller's Chicago suburb. There was even a ranch that looked a bit like a church with a high, atrium-like roof. The neighborhood also had a lot of construction happening, which is usually a good sign, meaning people are fixing up homes they love rather than moving away. 

    As for whether or not I'd live here, I have to say it appears to be a great, if expensive, place to reside. Zillow values most homes at or above $500,000. Two of the houses along the river were Zestimated at over $2 million on the high end. The houses are roughly the same size of the ones where we live, which means Miramar gets nearly double the price. I am also not sure about the local public school situation in this neighborhood, and that would likely be a factor. If I was going to sell my house and go way into debt for a house, even in a cool little neighborhood, I'd have to be certain I could avoid sending the kids to Bolles. The other, and more important, problem is that it's a half hour away from my wife's job, which would be at least 45 minutes to an hour at rush hour. I'd rather be in urban sprawl and five minutes away than spending 1.5 hours a day in traffic. 300 days of work would mean 450 hours of driving, or 19 DAYS behind the wheel. However, if you work in San Marco, Southbank, or downtown, it's probably a nice little jaunt.

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  • Bulk Commercial Toilet Paper Solution
    Maybe we weren't totally out of toilet paper, and maybe the stores were going to catch up with all the hoarding. But we were running somewhat low, and I sure didn't want to have to use alternative solutions that might clog up the plumbing, so I got to searching online. Plus, if we could get TP delivered, then we would not have to worry about hanging out at the store with hundreds of people in order to find one item.


    Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Office Depot were sold out of all the kinds of toilet paper. Even the fast-dissolving RV paper. And the Extra-large gas station paper. And the single-ply business sandpaper. Finally, I found a website that had some large rolls of TP in bulk quantities still available. About a quarter mile of the two-ply stuff, delivered in two days as everyone else waited for four-packs of the name brand stuff.

    Ordering unconventionally does not always work, but when everyone else is showing up in large groups to empty grocery stores, I'll go underground to get my goods. The main problem in this particular case was the fact that these giant rolls (about 4 times the size of a megaroll) would need a commercial dispenser. Even though I run my own business, I do not have a commercial dispenser like you might find at a wayside. I have never even had a client ask to use the restroom. But now I had 1200' of toilet paper to mount somewhere in the bathroom.

    Running out to the store to get a TP holder would have defeated the purpose of buying online, and it also would have cost actual money. It's not like this virus and the shortages will last forever. I racked my brain for some time on this one, since I would need a TP holder that would not mess up the wall paint or fall over because of the giant rolls of toilet paper being dispensed.

    Mainly, I knew I had a few dowels that might work, but I was not sure how to mount them with any stability, with enough room for the paper, and without having to repaint after I was done. I initially thought of a chair or table turned upside-down. Then I looked in the closet and saw some TV trays. These small, foldable tables were perfect for my TP stand, when turned upside-down. The tabletop created a stable base, and the criss-cross legs made a perfect X for the dowel.

    I could have made two of these TP holders by using a second table and cutting the dowel in half, but the result was a bit large for the kids' bathroom. The facts that we never use the tub in the downstairs bathroom and that we're not having any guests over right now make that most-used toilet the one that gets the commercial TP refurb.

    This type of TP is not as wide across as residential TP. I never realized that while trying to hurry through my business at a stadium or truck stop. This toilet paper also does not come in individual sheets: it's one continuous sheet, which means parents of young children or really old people might end up with a clogged toilet or weirdly-ripped TP all over the WC. However, I think I've done enough to get this huge commercial TP roll installed, and I don't plan on creating some kind of sheet-ripper.

    I hope you are able to find toilet paper. If you find the industrial-sized rolls, maybe my experience will help you. Another tip is to call the stores in order to find out when the truck comes in, which is an awesome idea if all of your neighbors aren't doing the same thing.

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  • Online Church ... Now What?
    Your church has transitioned to being online. Maybe you drove people away in the first week with a shrill-sounding Facebook Live service. Maybe you don't even have a Facebook or (better) YouTube account for video. Maybe you'd prepared by delving into online technology and presented yourself in a professional manner. But the money problem still exists. Even if SOME of your church members have been paying online for several years, not everyone pays online. And those who do pay online might like another option. Let's take a look at some of your online church options for keeping the money coming in.


    E-donation Sites
    Websites exist that you sign up to use and take a monthly fee (generally) as well as a per-transaction fee in order to process money for your church. If you look for these in Google Search, you'll find them. Online giving does not seem to have taken off as much as most people thought it might, and that's more than likely because churches still pass the basket around, and it's not very showy for my family when we never put a donation in the basket. Sure, it's not supposed to be about us, and God knows we're giving money, but that Janelle lady always looks at you funny and then puts her check in the basket with lots of fanfare, so you know it matters. Covid-19 might give us a reset in churches. Maybe stop passing the basket when people come back if enough peopel sign up online. 

    Paypal
    Paypal lets people donate for a percentage and a flat fee. $.50 and 2% or thereabouts. I think it might be better if you only have a few church members or are hoping for people from all around the country to donate, like for a mission. That said, it's easy enough to set up. 

    Zelle
    When I was asked about online giving websites, I thought a little outside the box and checked out Zelle. While there are warnings to make sure you only use this with close friends, family, and others you can trust, there's also no fee, and some banks seem to allow recurring payments. The big issue here is that not every bank has Zelle, and it seems like a church would have to create some kind of business account. I would say that it's worth looking into, since you'd save the percentages, transaction fees, and monthly charges. Or an extra $20,000 on your church's yearly $1,000,000 donations. 

    Gift Cards
    Some churches have signed up with Amazon Smile for a little extra, but why not also ask for donations as gift cards? In all honesty, very few people donate enough to church for them to bother with itemizing their taxes because the standard deduction is so high, so take advantage of that with asking for non-monetary donations. Just be sure to specify that your church doesn't need an LL Bean gift card, favoring ones that might help with a current need, like Best Buy for some electronic equipment or Office Depot for office supplies. People can order gift cards online, so it's Covid-19-safe. 

    Your Synod
    I told someone affiliated with a church that he should go right to the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod in order to ask why the synod never made the system it uses for online donations (appears to be in-house) available to all churches in the synod. I might not be understanding something with taxes or timing of the funds, but the technology is probably available to all the major synods or affiliations. Or maybe a bank that has tie-ins with your church, like LCEF with LCMS. Or just a member who runs a website that accepts payments and is willing to work with your church. 

    Write Content
    The best way to drive people to your church website with the time you have right now is to write content. On the website, not on Facebook. And not controversial statements like how we need to get back to work. Just encouragement. Then record videos AHEAD OF TIME and add them to YouTube, embedding them on your website, as well. Of course, you'll also want to add the donation link. 

    And if you need a church website so that your church doesn't lose even more members, then I'm your guy. Just contact me. And check out my website.



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  • So All These Folks Who Can't Cook or Bake Need to Hoard Flour?
    I understand the toilet paper. Everyone wants two weeks worth of TP to make sure that they can survive a quarantine or shelter-in-place order. Or an apocalyptic zombie attack. Even guns I get, since you obviously need to protect your toilet paper and canned food stash with an assault rifle. Other Covid-19 hoarding I don't get. Like water and flour.

    First, water. There is nothing wrong with the water supply, at least not until hurricane season. You don't need bottled water during a Coronavirus outbreak. There's a much better chance to spread the virus via packaged items from the grocery store than via a public utility. In fact, I believe there is a 0% chance of your house water or electricity giving you this virus. Bacteria infections can sometimes survive in public water, which is why you might want a fridge water filter. I guess these filter companies could say you have a 0% chance of catching Covid-19 from filtered water. Or from unfiltered water, probably. Like I said, there's no reason to fill your garage with bottled water. 

    Flour is the most odd hoarded item, assuming people are hoarding rather than just buying something they don't normally buy. And they don't normally buy it. Or use those bread makers that are still in the box since the wedding, five years ago. Or ten. or twenty. I wonder if there's a shortage of yeast, too. More than likely, people who have never made bread or baked much of anything, rushed out to get the one ingredient they know probably is needed in baking and cooking. Only to find out they might need yeast and baking powder and spices and all kinds of other items no one needs when you eat at Chick-fil-A or Panera four times a week. 

    For those of you who do eat out or buy frozen all of the time when the world is normal, flour is one of many ingredients in what you eat. For example, the breading on KFC's fried chicken would include flour along with 11 herbs and spices. Flour doesn't magically turn into bread or breading or cookies, my Millennial friends. And since it's not magical and does take effort and the use of a real oven rather than an air fryer, why did you bother to buy the last three pounds of flour from Family Dollar when you couldn't find it at Publix. Next year, you'll just have to throw it all away when you discover mealworms or flour beetles. 

    Based on social functions we've been to in Jacksonville, it seems that the only place around here where people actually bake is at the Publix bakery. I am optimistic that some old family recipes will be resurrected as more people are at home right now. Here are some pointers for you from a family that does a lot of cooking and baking. 
    1. Flour might look like sugar, but it's not. 
    2. Dark pans are terrible for baking cookies. 
    3. Bread in bread makers will often not rise. It's a problem a lot of men (and women) have, and you should not be embarrassed by it. You might need to change things up to get the rise to happen naturally, but don't give up and don't blame yourself. 
    4. Cooking and baking create a lot of dishes. You might need to learn how to use the dishwasher as more than just a drying rack
    5. Teach your kids to cook and bake so that they are not as helpless as you when they grow up.

    Happy Homemaking!

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  • Online School Day One
    It's not even noon in my house, and it's nearly complete insanity. Day 1 of online school. Both kids are currently in school-sponsored group discussions, so I am hearing them and all of their friends all at once. My wife, who teaches at the school, is trying to troubleshoot problems in communication with her own students. And either it will all work out eventually or else devolve into something of a scheduled daily chaos session as the world deteriorates around us. 

    Let's just start with the obvious: schools built to be buildings filled with students and teachers accustomed to being in the building are not meant to be entirely online and remote. The teachers, in this particular case, were not trained. The mandated apps to be used were not tested over a summer. Assignments were not created to be easily done online. The school felt the need, understandably so, to get back to work. 

    It started fairly early here, with students not being able to get the email with the link to the video that would take attendance. So the link had to be sent via email. And the video app didn't take actual attendance, only saying how many views happened. Google's own solutions, which are mostly abandoned, aren't any better. There's a will, but the way is complicated. My wife ended up with dozens of emails before noon, just to get a version of attendance taken. 

    Wealthier school districts might have something more robust than Google Suite and a bunch of free tools 75% of the nation is trying to use for free. Microsoft Teams, maybe, which is still trash, but fancier trash. And textbook student access pages. And online test prep tools. I tried Teams when I was teaching with it, and it's really more of a business tool that no one really uses in business. So now it's just another business tool not made for education that gets adopted by schools to do things it can't do all that well. But it's as good or better than Google Classroom, anyhow. 

    By 11:40, my wife had made the decree that our kids needed to head into their rooms rather than disturb the general peace of the house with their online chat. I figure the group meetings will calm down, especially as the teachers get used to using the mute button on the kids. And my daughter will eventually also get sick of trying to work on assignments with other kids who seem to have more technical difficulties than actual answers to questions. 

    Then again, these are kids. They might figure out that it's fun to annoy each other and the teacher at all times during group discussion time, holding up props if muted to get others to laugh. I am not sure where it might go from here, especially if the kids are in need of social interaction and attention, cooped up in houses with scared and tired parents. 

    I am sorry to say that I don't have any perfect suggestions to teachers or parents with students about to go completely online. I suggested to my wife that the attendance be taken in a single shared Google Document each day. Write your name and an answer to an open-ended question. I also helped her with some resources, and she's adept at using Google Drive to collect assignments, so that should be fine. In fact, she created a Google Doc with links to assignments that works a lot like Google Classroom. 

    Probably the worst thing any teacher to do in a suddenly-online situation is to think he or she knows everything. You're going to have to adjust. Students will adjust with you. Some tools will fail you, while others might emerge as useful. It might be individual to the class you are teaching. The main point is that you need to keep on trying to teach, since you are one of the few segments of life that is mostly immune to layoffs at this second. If parents and schools realize online tools can replace you, then that might change for next school year, but for now, embrace your opportunity to be employed, even if the job is full of new stresses.

    Search New Jax Witty

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    Luthernet - Web Design for Lutheran Churches
    Sitcom Life Lessons - What we've learned from sitcoms
    Mancrush Fanclub - Why not?
    Epic Folktale - Stories of the unknown
    Wild West Allis - Every story ever told about one place
    Educabana on Teachers Pay Teachers (mostly ELA lessons)
    Real Wisconsin News - Satire from Wisconsin
    Zoo Interchange Milwaukee - Community website
    Chromebook Covers - Reviews and opinions

    Brian Jaeger - Resume (I'm always interested)

    Contact Me

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