Choosing the Right School (for teachers)

mark tuminello choosing a schoolYou’ve met teachers who love their job. They don’t mind the challenges of student-wrangling, of grading, of ever-changing job requirements. These teachers also appreciate their schedule, complete with plenty of vacation time, and don’t mind picking up other work for the longer periods of break.

But you’ve also met teachers who didn’t enjoy their work. Many of them are probably ex-teachers. They seem perpetually unhappy with their professional life. Unruly students, unrealistic expectations, and political clashes prevent them from ever feeling at ease in their classrooms.

The benefits and challenges of a teaching job varies a lot from institution to institution, and it’s important that you take time to make a decision that will pay off for you (not just financially) in the long-run. The school where you work will also help to shape you as a teacher, which makes the decision of where to work even more important.

It can be difficult to wade through the shiny marketing language you’ll find about on school websites, but it’s the best place to start learning about a school. And after all, having an understanding of the school is paramount to figuring out whether it will be a good fit. Look beyond the language designed to attract parents. Does it seem that the school has a human element? Is the site presenting modern and professional information?

Next stop is the Department of Education, where information is listed for many schools. Here you might be able to find data like performance, absence rates, etc. Just remember that this data applies to your job indirectly. For instance, schools that work with less-than-stellar performing students might have a group of teachers working very hard, which could be an inspiration to you.

Visiting the school in person is the big moment. It’s important not to get caught up on the little things, like the layout of classrooms and hallways or particular interactions between students and teachers. Don’t worry about that kind of stuff…you’d adapt to that quickly.

Instead, look at the general atmosphere, including the way you’re greeted. Are people rushed and stressed? Are there a lot of new teachers, indicating high turnover? Are students generally polite to one another in the hallways? Do they seem eager to get to class? What’s the general feeling of the social environment between teachers?

More than anything, trust your instincts. After you’ve asked yourself plenty of hard questions, you may already know whether or not you would thrive at a particular school.

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Eurozone Struggles

Mark Tuminello eurozoneThe economic outlook for the Eurozone isn’t pretty. Growth isn’t growing, deflation looms, and economists once on the fence about the future of the region are now deeming the initiative as a failure. That said, there are still a lot of economists and politicians keeping their fingers crossed that the Eurozone could still become an optimal currency area.

The euro was born during a major transition of global currency. When the IMF was first established, they established exchange rates more or less based off the value of the US dollar. US currency was in turn based on gold reserves, with direct convertibility. Nixon changed all this when he led the charge for the US to abandon the gold standard. Now world currencies free-floated against one another.

Part of the hope of the euro was that it would boost the economies of Europe by expanding their local market past each nation’s borders. Costs would go down, and trade and information would flow more freely. Sure, they were giving up monetary independence, but it felt like a good trade back then. After all, the dollar was doing so well back then that the currencies of Europe just couldn’t keep up.

Now, with some countries struggling much more than others, the lack of independent financial instruments have made it difficult to respond to negative economic shocks. Recovery from the tumult of the last decade hasn’t been smooth.

The fact of the matter is that the eurozone is now part of the global community. It isn’t likely to be disassembled, and so we need to learn how to optimize it to meet new challenges. It seems that countries that are struggling right now, like Greece, ought to develop some kind of financial instruments to prevent a continual state of crisis. Countries in better economic shape, like Germany, need to encourage this bit of independence, as they will also face the consequences if something should go terribly awry.

And then, the next step is probably for the economies of Europe to consolidate politically. The only way a union thrives is for it to be truly unified. Otherwise the citizens of Europe may be stuck with an economic environment whose benefits don’t outweigh the costs.

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Paul Krugman’s Blog

Mark Tuminello’s latest blog post –

Mark Tuminello Paul KrugmanIf you’re not a reader of Paul Krugman’s blog on the New York Times, I highly recommend you take a look at it. Krugman is a celebrated and awarded economist whose specialties include international economics and currencies. Outside of his areas of expertise, he’s just a very sharp guy with lots of valuable insight on a variety of topics. His blog is a terrific mix of economic theory, political analysis, and fun – yes, he even posts music videos occasionally. His recent posts on the recovering economies of the western world and income inequality contain perhaps the most rational discussion points on each topic. However you subscribe to blogs, check out Krugman’s for a few weeks. I think you’ll find a lot there!

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Here’s a tour of movie-inspired hotels you can stay in

Originally posted on Quartz:

Muggles lamenting the end of the Harry Potter era have something to keep their spirits up: Harry Potter hotel rooms. You probably won’t find Emma Watson roaming the halls of this themed boutique hotel in London, but there are replica Hogwarts rooms equipped with potion bottles, cauldrons and spell books for die-hard fans. The hotel is one of many trying to capitalize on the desire of cult movie followers to escape their reality. Boutique hotels—characterized by a unique, often theatrical experience— have been a bright spot for the hotel industry in the US and globally. These aim for the extreme escape:

The Georgian House, London

The website of this 163-year-old hotel near London’s Victoria Station crashed on Oct. 27 thanks to ravenous fans clamoring to book its new Harry Potter-themed rooms (the hotel had unveiled them the previous day). The rooms come replete with four-poster beds, wooden trunks, and Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans, according to the hotel’s website.

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The information lifecycle for the Internet of Things

Originally posted on Gigaom:

In the IoT, the ability for newer, smarter devices to communicate with each other, with back-end datacenters and with related systems requires data to be processed into information in different ways and in more than one location and direction.

RH0056_Lifecycle_IoT_DiagramThe IoT pushes data processing to the edge
As the figure illustrates, tactical data processing can occur at the controller tier with data analyzed near field to allow immediate action to be taken. This field level information analysis prompts action based on pre-defined business rules. Once those actions occur, summary information is relayed to the back-office for deep analysis. Knowledge gained from that analysis determines how best to optimize the system and can result in new rules being set to improve process flow.

The IoT pushes decision making to the edge
The constant feedback loop between tactical field operation and strategic information analysis allows decisions to be made as close as…

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Crunchbase

When Crunchbase essentially restarted their site a few months back, it was a little scary. They simply deleted all of the accounts on the site and made users start from scratch. Now, that’s not as big a deal as it might seem – there was really not much you could do on the old version of the site. It was really just a way to crowdsource information about businesses and professionals. So when I wanted to update some information about my listing, I had to create a new profile again. I was surprised to see that there still was nothing else I could do with the site other than basic edits to a public profile.

But when I logged in today, I saw that there were some changes…hopefully a sign that the site is planning even more additions, which would be a welcome change!

Now you can follow the profiles of businesses and professionals that are catalogued throughout the site. What does ‘follow’ mean on Crunchbase? I don’t quite know yet, but I’ll be keeping my eye on my email after following a few people and companies as a test.

In the meantime, I’d love it if you would follow me on Crunchbase. I hope to have exciting professional news coming out over the next few months and years, and this would be a great way to keep up with all of it!

Looking forward to more additions to Crunchbase functionality soon…

 

Mark Tuminello Crunchbase

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Students Want More

What happens when a brilliant person, a leader in their field, just isn’t a great teacher? It’s a problem if they’re teaching an important university-level class. Students in England have been complaining about just this situation, and it seems like academic institutions are making changes to deal with it.

One of the more common reasons students believe teachers aren’t doing their best is their work outside of the classroom. When a teacher is writing a book, conducting major research, or managing some other important project, they cut back on attention to students. Feeling that their tuition is the source of teacher wages, students are dismayed.

PhD students, who make up a large portion of one-day teachers, usually participate in a mandatory three-day training program. There they learn about different learning styles, how to manage a classroom, and general education. More recently, PhD students are presented material pertaining to their particular subject. It is generally believed, in academic circles, that teacher training gets better and better with each passing year.

But the students have a perception that the teaching isn’t all that great. While they need to develop as learners, their perception is ultimately very important for academic institutions to survive. It’s ultimately an issue of consumer needs – when students pay so much for their education, their expectations are high. One wonders how sustainable that is.

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What it will take to convince Americans to embrace more free trade

Originally posted on Quartz:

Today, the US trade deficit shrunk unexpectedly as a new record in oil sales abroad boosted American exports. Though exports have helped boost the economic recovery since the 2008 financial crisis, American elites worry that growing populism, driven by fears of lost wages exploited by opportunistic politicians, is a major barrier for the US effort to ink major international trade deals.

“Most Americans believe trade is going to hurt them,” John Veihmeyer, the chairman of the auditors KPMG International, said. “Joe Public on the street has heard the soundbite,” Irene Dorner, the CEO of HSBC USA, said. “People are running for cover,” Jon Huntsman, the former US Ambassador to China, added. “If we were to take any kind of vote on Capital Hill, I’m not sure it’ll pass. I’m not sure we’d be able to do what we’d done in the past, where there was kind of a bipartisan consensus. I’m not sure that exists.”

These leaders in business and politics…

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