ATTITUDES ARE CHANGING – 2008

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com)

Since I announced my intentions to resign after the school year is over and received the obligatory congratulatory comments from my colleagues. I have begun to notice a “slight” (actually major) shift in some of my colleague’s attitude and comments towards me. I don’t believe that it is actually all intentional, but it is interesting to note the changes.

  • Almost overnight, I have gone from an integral part of the “team” to “one of those” who are there just “putting in time”.
  • Some that I have worked closely with for several years are polite, but don’t initiate the conversations that we used to have.
  • Those that tolerated me before and were at least polite, don’t talk to me unless it is job related 
  • Lots of comments regarding “it must be nice to not worry about next year”.
  • We’ll be thinking of you this summer and other comments that are similar to that.

I understand that they are “unconsciously” and consciously attempting to separate from the professional and personal relationship that I have developed with them, as I have done this many times in the past (while in the Military). But it still is difficult — I am probably doing the same in their eyes – all the above only reversed.

But on a more positive note, my new position has several online courses that I will need to complete and I have started to take a few of them. The terminology is completely different than in the education field, but it is very similar to the military. So I have to translate from FedSpeak to Coast Guardease (which I haven’t used for 12 years) to my current vocabulary and then back again. So the courses are slower going than I would like, but I will plow through them.

They certainly are not as interesting as the Web2.0 course that I just finished up with David.

I now remember how difficult it is to “have one foot in two places” trying to finish out your time at your old job and to prepare for your next one.

But I won’t stop giving the same that I have all year and maintain a positive attitude through the last day. The toughest day will be when I announce to the students (especially my freshmen mentors) that I won’t be coming back.

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Change Back Update to Blogger – 2008

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com) on 10/27/10

The change back to blogger has had a couple of bumpy spots – such as:

  • no direct “import” ability on the part of blogger = PIA – but I only had a month of posts to copy so it only took a short time to do it, but still blogger needs to create this capability if they expect people to switch to their product from other blogs.
  • getting Feedburner to actually link to my blogger blog…some have attempted to subscribe to my change and are having issues – it instead is linking them to a Feedburner site. Don’t know what is going on, but again PIA.
  • this one is just me, I really, really like the new theme/template, but getting the widgets to all work, getting the color pattern just right (still working on this one) for me and positioning of the widgets has been a process and will still go on.
  • in blogger there is no easy way to clean up my label mess. I was able to easily edit my label list in other services, but I have not found an easy way in blogger and I don’t want to go back through and edit 130 or so posts to clean up my self-inflicted problem.
  • Tired of posting using blog writers that don’t show actual width of blog when writing it or when resizing an image making them viewable not blurry…makes putting images in my blogs an adventure.

There I believe I am done whining. I still don’t know if all the links from Edublog posts work or not, but that is one issue I am not really going to worry about this weekend, if ever :).

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SWITCHING BACK TO BLOGGER MAY 2008

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com) on 10/27/10

I have decided to switch back to Blogger as my main blog site.
No there is nothing wrong with Edublogs, it is a great blogging service, it does 90% of what I want it to do.  It is the last 10% where the ability to modify my blog to meet my individual needs without having to request it, is not available.  I understand the rationale behind why Edublogs does it this way and agree with their reasons.  But…I am getting crotchety in my old age and want to do it my way.Sue Waters is simply as the kids would say “da bomb”  Sue you are simply amazing, I wish I had half your energy, passion and drive to improve the blogosphere, education in general and the twitterverse.  The time you give for newbies and oldies is amazing.  You are one of the one that I have met online that I would love to sit down and share a “pint” with and swap stories with.  I think it would be fun time
So here is my link back to blogger

http://hshawjr007.blogspot.com/

image
Thank you to all the people at Edublog, you provide a great product, but the “something” that was “missing” I can’t put my finger on…I just never got comfortable with your service.

Thank you Harold Shaw 🙂

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FOR THREE MONTHS – BUTTERFLY WILL STAY PUT

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@edublogs.org) 10/26/10

For at least a while.  In my previous post I DON’T WANT TO BE A WEB2.0 BUTTERFLY – I discussed my frustration and feelings of being overwhelmed by the multitude of applications or software that does the same job and how I was jumping from one application/software to another.After doing a lot of research, I came up with the following criteria for applications solutions:
a.  Application must be platform independent.
b.  Have an intuitive interface and a short learning curve.
c.  Be able to access if Internet not available and then synch when “Cloud” is available.
d.  Free unless I already own it.
e.  Integrates well with Flock and/or Microsoft Office 2007

So after looking at the above criteria I have decided on the following applications/software.
Type of Application 
Application           Comment              


Web Browser 
Flock                          Simply love it

VOIP 
Skype                         What others are using

Search Engine Google Search          Google it, but looked at some of the visual search engines out there.

Blogging Tool
Edublogs                   The short time I have used it, very well done and impressive!

Web-based Email
GMail                          I really like, but would like a preview window, so I don’t have to open the email – better
security w/this.

Web-based Office Suite
Google Docs              Integrates better with Flock than Zoho or others.  The sidebar.

Photo storage 
Flikr                           Simple to use and integrates well w/Flock

Start Page
Igoogle                     I have been using and have been happy

Microblogger/Social Network
Twitter                    Have already established presence – hshawjr

Wiki tool
Wikispaces            Not crazy about Wikis, but have seen some really cool stuff done there, might have to give it
another try.

Screen Capture Tool
Snip-it                    Embedded into Windows, works for me, a little clunky but useable

Music Player
iTunes                    Own an iPod, but really looked at Songbird, might try again after 3 mos is over

Virtual Life Application Second Life           Still a newbie, but like what I see, but needs to be more stable.   Look for Therin Sideways

PDF Reader
Aodobe                  Still the standard, but Foxit was a very close second

Bookmarking Tool
Diigo                      Easy to use, it might eventually replace a few other applications also, just have to take the time
to use it.
Notebook 
Evernote               I love M/S OneNote and will keep everything I have there, but I cannot easily use it in the Cloud.

Keep track of work
Basecamp           If it only had a calendar program

Web-based Calendar
Google Calendar  I like it a lot, but can’t get synch program to work correctly :(

Email Client/Calendar/Todo
Outlook 2007        I really like the simpleness of Thunderbird, but work still uses Outlook.
Don’t like how often it crashes or doesn’t respond.

Feed Reader
RSS in Flock           I like gReader a lot but I had to choose one

Mind Mapping
Inspiration8            What we have at work, but doesn’t offer online collaboration :(.

Survey and Questionnaire Tool Survey Monkey      Easy to use, yet powerful enough to get the information you need

Blog Writing Tool
Flock Blog Writer   Embedded in Flock. I think M/S LiveWriter more powerful, but try it out.

plan to use these tools/applications exclusively on my computer for the next 3 months for their type of application.

I have written how much I like Zoho previously and I would have used the Zoho Office Suite, but it would have fragmented my attempts too much as they don’t have a public email client yet or calendar program.  If they integrate those into the mix, we will see, but it might be too late, if I like what I am using and have gotten used to it.

The other point was that I like a lot of the Google products, but they are way too fragmented.  I would like to see them put them all into an easy to use dashboard (i.e. Zoho), it would make using and finding the Google tools much easier to use.  Their present way of displaying their products does not meet my needs for an integrated office suite.  If they did this, they might even take more of Microsoft Office’s customers.

I love most of the Microsoft products, they just don’t play well with others, are not cheap and are platform dependent.  I would love it if Microsoft became easier and more intuitive in the Cloud/desktop integration, they are starting, but it still is not seamless and rather clunky.

Just doing this exercise has reduced my stress level, significantly.  I don’t feel the need to try out everything that comes out right now and hopefully it will give me the opportunity to master some of these applications to the point, I can use advanced parts of the programs, that will actually reduce my workload.

Anyone have any other opinions or suggestions

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WEB 2.0 APPLICATION BUTTERFLY

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@edublogs.org)

I feel more like a Web2.0 butterfly since October 2007 than anything else.  As I flit from software application to web application to the next new thing that I read about.  While I am learning a great deal and have seen lots and lots of great “stuff”, I am beginning to realize that I really am not all that proficient in many of the new applications.

I can almost immediately begin using most software/web applications, but that seems to be the extent of my expertise – using them at a basic overview level.  I haven’t taken the time to “master” one application from each of the major groups beyond getting them to work at a basic level.

So I am going to choose one application from each category and use that application exclusively for the next 3 months, so that I get to learn the ins and outs that application (I believe the more indepth that I learn on each application, the easier it will be to transfer that knowledge to other applications later.  So here are my basic requirements for the program that I choose:

a.  it must have a short learning curve and be fairly intuitive
b. free is always better
c. must work in Flock if web based and would be preferrable to integrate into Flock
d. if web based does it synch up with other programs that I will be using
e. if desktop does it play well with a web based counter part (synch)
f.  can collaborate with others

The basic office suite will be Microsoft Office 2007 – I own it and it is still the industry standard.  That being said, I am not a big Outlook fan – I haven’t been comfortable with it since Office’97.

I would like to select one from each of the following categories.  I will put some examples out, but if anyone has other suggestions, I am more than happy to take a closer look.

Online office suite – requirement it must integrate intuitively and easily with Office 2007.
Ex:  Google Docs, Zoho Office,  Thinkfree

Mail Manager/Calendar/Task Manager – I would prefer one synchs easily with gMail/gcal – prefer an integrated package than three separate one, but would consider 3 separate if what I am really looking for.
Ex. Outlook, Thunderbird, Spicebird, Zoho (if they ever get mail going)

Photomanager:  Must be easy to use and able to re-size pictures.
Desktop Photomanager:  Win Photo Gallery, Picassa,
Web Photomanager:  Flikr, Photobucket, Picassa,

Note taking software:  I really, really like M/S OneNote, but the inability to share with others and lack of web application (so I can use different computers and still access my information) makes it just a little less than ideal.
Ex. Zoho Notes, Evernote, Google Notes

These are defaults unless someone can convince me otherwise.

  • Web Browser – Flock – Love it – works for me.
  • Music – iTunes – don’t really like navigation, compatibility issues etc. but have an iPod
  • Video – VLC – Need to learn more about it, but it works pretty intuitively.
  • Blog – Edublogs – Just changed from Blogger – love it so far
  • Blog Editor – Flock Blog Writer – gonna give it a try
  • VOIP – Skype
  • Twitter – Twitbin – integrates well with Flock as a sidebar

Did I miss any components/applications that I absolutely need to succeed in Web2.0

So if the blogosphere can help me out here, I would appreciate your ideas, comments, suggestions and help in this matter.  I want to simplify my life in the long, but it might make it a little more difficult at first.  Thanks Harold :)

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THE LAST 6 WEEKS OF SCHOOL – SUCK

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@edublogs.org)

The hardest part of the school year is the last six weeks. The wide-eyed enthusiasm that was there when school opened in the fall, is now nothing more than a faded memory and teachers and students are simply in survival mode…trying to get to that last day of school, when they can all take a deep breath, a sigh of relief and say goodbye to another school year.

Students are burnt out on doing their assignments, having been assessed/tested/observed ad nauseum, tired of being around the same people all of the time (especially the ones they don’t want to be) and tired of having teacher telling them what is “best” for them. They are tired of being shown how “dumb” they are in front of others, how much quality work they can do on 3-5 hours sleep in order to get into the college they want, or working a job in addition to school to help make ends meet in this tight economy.

They are tired of teachers that don’t teach to how they learn, they are tired of meaningless assignments and busywork that takes time away from things they are interested, and they are tired of schools that don’t allow them to learn, but actually just teach them to “play” the game and get those good test scores.

On the other hand teachers are “tired”, they have worked many long hours and weekends to ensure that their students are ready for different levels of assessment, i.e. exit testing, grade testing, subject testing, standardized testing, college placement testing, etc. They are “tired” of matching wits with sarcastic, rude or aggressive students.  Eating adrenaline burgers in response to crisis situations and then having to go back to teaching as if nothing happened.

Teachers are tired of administrators, telling them that their students test scores are not high enough (even though “Johnny or Jenny” came from other schools right before the tests and brought the class average way down). Teachers are tired of non-supportive parents (the ones that ignore everything that you do to help their child, but complain the loudest when “Johnny” can’t read. Teachers are tired of helicopter parents that have no experience teaching, but sure know how to do your job.

Finally, teachers and students are seeing good weather after a long winter and spring. Everyone has cabin fever, but we are all cooped up in a building with too many other people, whom we may or may not want to be around, but have to. The way the schools work we have to remain sitting at the desks or tables, listening to boring lectures, old movies, reading/teaching uninteresting books that are considered classics and generally not doing things that they can get excited about. When the weather is turning beautiful it is tough being inside…for everyone.

Maybe your school is not like that from your point of view, but actually talk to the students and ask their opinion or ask the honest opinion of a fellow teacher or administrator…you might be surprised how “others” honestly view your school, it might not be such a pretty picture. Have I been a bit negative in this post — yes…but unless you are very lucky and work in an exceptional environment, much of what I have written is unfortunately true.
So here is to surviving the last 6 weeks of school, I hope that they go quickly and easily…but when planning for next year – wouldn’t it be nice to teach around things students enjoy learning about, using multiple modes (other than just drill/kill or reading & writing). Wouldn’t it be nice to have authentic assessments, more actual support from parents, administrators and politicians. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to let us be professionals in our own field of expertise. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could let students learn, instead of worrying about GPAs or test scores.

So here is to keeping our heads up, keep working for positive changes and to end this year on a high note 🙂

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ACHIEVING YOUR CHILDHOOD DREAMS

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@edublogs.or) 10/26/10

I know that many out here have probably seen this video, but I watched it for the first time today and was very affected by it.

I really, really wish that I had watched it sooner.  The message he delivers is so powerful.

Sometimes we just take our lives so seriously, think only about the “could have bens” and what is going in our daily lives that we don’t stop to look back at our childhood dreams (back when we were young and innocent and thought all things were possible), to see if we have actually accomplished them.

If you watch it here – be prepared it is over 75 minutes long, but worth every minute.

I have five childhood dreams that I can remember:

1.  Be an astronaut:  Never accomplished, but I lived  this dream vicariously through Bruce Melnick a Coast Guard aviator that I was stationed with in the late 70’s.  He was selected as an Astronaut and I followed his exploits during the Endeavor and Discovery missions.  He might not know me from Adam, but I still lived one of my dreams through him.

2.  Be a knight in shining armor.  Since watching King Arthur, Robin Hood and Ivanhoe movies I always wanted to be a hero.  I may never be that kind of hero in real life, but thanks to computer software, I can rescue princess, kill evil dragons, and do good deeds. In the real world, I simply try to do good as often as I can.

3.  Be a power forward for the Boston Celtics.  The “impossible dream” at 5’7″, (and very little talent) — but basketball has taught me perserverance, toughness, teamwork and the willingness to dive in where I probably should have stayed outside where it is safer, instead of going in amongst the “trees”.

4.  Date Ms. America.  Beautiful women have captivated men throughout time and I am no different…but I got lucky even though she doesn’t have the title, I married the most beautiful woman in the world and am very lucky to have her in my life.

5.  Become a Sailor.  I was always eavesdropping on my grandfather and his buddies when they were in their “cups” and began to tell their “sea” stories.  I was always raiding my grandfather and uncle’s “sea chests” and taking out their old Navy uniforms to wear, even though, I couldn’t sit down when they caught up with me.  Although I didn’t go in the Navy, I did go in the Coast Guard and made a career out of being in the military.

Screen capture from Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” on YouTube


I hope I am a tigger!

The best quote during the whole video for me was “When you are screwing up and nobody is saying anything to you anymore, that means they gave up”.  How true!

I wish that I had viewed this video earlier, Dr. Pausch is a very special person.

So stop –  reflect on your childhood dreams, if you haven’t fulfilled them, what can you do in your life to complete them?

Then per Dr. Pausch – what are you doing to help others’ achieve their dreams?

Thank you Dr. Pausch for sharing. http://download.srv.cs.cmu.edu/~pausch/

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Edublogger Etiquette – Twitter & Self-Promotion

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@edublogs.org) 10/27/10


I was going through my RSS feeds and read Darren Drappers  – Drape’s Takes blog and was going to originally going to post a short reply and the reply took on a life of its own.  So without properly citing Darren Drapper’s Blog , but letting the world know that I am using work from his blog – Drape’s Takes.  Darren please – I am not directing this post at you – it is directed @world using the twitter abbreviation.


“Edublogger Etiquette – Twitter & Self-Promotion Monday, May 5, 2008

David Jakes has written a post on his blog entitled Tragedy of the Commons. In it, he claims:

At its best, Twitter is a place to share a resource, a link to a new blog post, or an insight, and even a place to have a little fun. It’s a place that could be about learning. At its very worst, Twitter is a self-indulgent exercise in self-promotion and pettiness.

Right now, I think we are watching Twitter change right before our digital eyes. Be the first with the tool (Diigo, for example), be the first with a post, be the first with the wiki, be the first to uStream, stake your claim in a never-ending game of name building and recognition. Take advantage of the commons, go ahead.

While the post is definitely about more than Twitter itself – it’s also about personal growth, extending oneself beyond the echochamber, getting involved as an educator, and becoming a catalyst for change – the comments to the post have sparked an interesting discussion about etiquette that demands attention.

A few questions to consider:

When do a person’s advertisements (on various social networks) for activities they may be promoting become an undesirable display of self-promotion?

What are the rules of etiquette – if any – that might apply to the combination of educational blogging and Twitter use?The following was cross-posted on Edublogger Etiquette – Twitter & Self-Promotion Monday, May 5, 2008

Actually, I am beginning to get rather bored with this whole subject, on how we should act in the edublogosphere or edtech world.  We are all adults with the ability to think and act for ourselves.  Isn’t it time for us to act as the adults we are and make choices and decisions for ourselves regarding our conduct/content on twitter, our blogs or elsewhere on the web.  We have the ability to create our own online identities and reputations with our comments, blogs and responses to others.

What does bother me is the “push” that some out here are attempting what that appears to be an effort to “standardize”, sanitize and sterilize the Edublogosphere or the EdTech online world or mold it into something different than it is today, but more to their liking.  It seems to me all of us have enough people telling us “how to” do thing in our lives that we don’t need to have another set of rules in place to tell us how to “behave” in this Edtech/Edublog online world.

As I have said before – I really like the freedom to experiment, try new things and have others provide feedback on my efforts (both positive and “constructive”).  If someone doesn’t like how I am or someone else is advertising themselves, their respective comments, or whatever is going on it is pretty easy to either “block” or simply hit the “delete” key on the offending party and you don’t have to read “their stuff”.

If I don’t properly cite an image or comment everytime – so what – this is not a formal piece of work that needs to meet MLA or APA writing standards.  As long as I attempt to give appropriate credit where credit is do, and do not intend to claim the work as I my own, I believe that is enough.  The edublogosphere and edtech online are simply an informal method of communication that I enjoy.  This is not my classroom, school or a classroom I am a part of, it is me being around other educators in an informal learning environment, so I am not attempting to be a role model of scholarly work, each time I write on the web in these forums.

If this “Personal Learning Network” were to become very formalized with standards of conduct, writing or how we should comment to “more important” others in the hierarchy, then I don’t believe that it would be as much fun and I probably would not participate in it as often.

This is simply an issue that in my opinion has been talked about too much, taken way too seriously and needs to go away.  I believe that the edublogosphere/edtech world has spent way too much time and effort on what is essentially a non-issue.  Please don’t tell me what to do in this informal, voluntary, personal learning network that I have learned so much from already, I get that enough at work.

Finally, many/most of the tools that we “educators” appear to be “adopting” and using to promote the edublogosphere were not developed specifically for us.  They are multipurpose tools, multi-interest group tools, that are used by more than just educators — are we going to “police” the other users of these tools?  I really don’t believe so, so really this is a moot/mote point and just needs to go away.

Sorry for an originally short comment, it turned into a bit of a rant. :)

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Low ability teachers, low ability students?

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com) on 10/27/10

Cross Posted @ Dangerously Irrelevant.

This is an interesting issue to discuss, as a teacher who is leaving the profession as an active teacher in June, perhaps I have a different perspective than some others?

I guess I am the maverick in the bunch (as usual), according to my achievement test scores and the results of the studies you cite – I should never leave teaching. Back in the dark ages of the mid ’70s I didn’t even manage to score at total of 1,000 on the SATs, I believe my SAT score was around 950. So I am one of the “very” low score teachers.

I very strongly believe that test scores do not predict how well a teacher will teach. There are way too many variables in this for that kind of a broad brush statement to be accurate.

So to me personally, low scores on an achievement test or standardized test are not enough to characterize either student or teachers ability, potential or performance in the classroom or workplace. We rely far too heavily on test scores and don’t do enough to develop the well-rounded individual, we instead have developed a culture of test result elitism.

How many students do we “loose” to low test scores, and artificial pressures of high school that might otherwise develop differently if nurtured differently? That is why I am such a huge supporter of Web2.0 in the classroom and its ability to individualize instruction for students.

Many former students and present teachers go beyond the “label” that a low test score might give them. As most of us will agree statistics can be manipulated to state what the presenter wishes to emphasize to support his or her argument or that of the funding source. I haven’t read the studies and won’t before I leave the profession (too many other things going on), so I cannot comment on their validity or specifics or my perspective on their results. But from the comments in Dangerously Irrelevant they appear very biased in one direction?

Not all low scoring teachers will stay in the profession longer and not all high scoring teachers will leave in under 10 years, and low test score are not in my opinion an accurate projection who or how long they will remain teachers…there are simply too many variables that need to be taken into account for a standardized test score to accurately measure.

Using test scores in my humble opinion is another way to stereotype people or to setup self-fulfilling prophecies about those being tested, that may or may not be true.

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IT’S OFFICIAL – I WILL BE A FORMER TEACHER SOON

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com) 10/27/10

This is a day that has been filled with very mixed emotions for me.I was officially offered the AmeriCorps Grant and Program Officer (Senior Planner) at the Maine Commission for Community Service position this afternoon.  I accepted the offer and will begin on June 23.

On one hand I am extremely happy and excited about the new opportunities that this position will provide me and at the same time a bit melancholy about leaving my present position.

http://picasaweb.google.com/hshawjr/HaroldPublicAlbum/

The reasons why I chose to leave teaching after only 7 years of teaching are “many-fold” but include the following:

– I am older – I have to think of what I will be doing in 10 years. Teaching as a 60 year old is not very appealing to me.
– I find that the older I get – the less patience I have with shall we say negative attitudes or students or others.
– I am tired of the sense of “entitlement” that many (not all) students seem to have about how much, what and how little that they should, have to work for it – whatever it is.
– A perceived lack of respect regarding the teaching profession (maybe just on my part), as a profession – but one I see even at a very supportive institution.

There are other reasons, but are not for public sharing, but all told these made my decision relatively easy.

I definitely will miss most of the students, that I would have had next year, the “aha” moments a kid has when they “get it” and the conversations with the students who want to “change”, but don’t know how.  Seeing the progress students make and then seeing them at their own graduation.   Those are things I will miss – when I am no longer a teacher.

I will enjoy the remainder of what is left of this school year and all the end-of-year activities through graduation that will be my last as a teacher.

I will miss my co-workers, Troy & Anna (my bosses) and others I have met as a teacher.  Although I will attempt to remain in contact with some of the people I have met (F2F & online), as time passes these relationships will fade (I have done this too many times in the Military – so I have some experience in this).

I/we will all move on with our lives and the paths we take will change and diverge hopefully to cross at various points in the future. 

Hopefully the crossing points will be numerous.

But boy will I miss not having this summer off!

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