Monday, September 20, 2021

My summer 2021

Hello! It's been a while. I hope this post finds you well. I had a very productive and fun summer this year, and I hope you did, as well.

Summer School

For starters, I worked my very first summer school. I assisted middle school students in three social studies -related courses: Geography Bee, Let's Plan a Trip, and Latin America. I love social studies. As evidence of that statement, I offer to you my college major, which was political science. I also graduated with minors in sociology and philosophy. I participated in Model United Nations for five out of my six years in college. And now, as a Ph.D. student, I'm studying China's rise to power on the international stage, as well as aspects of the Cold War and Soviet history and economics. Love social studies. Did I make myself clear on that point? If not, let me try again - I LOVE SOCIAL STUDIES!!!

But in all seriousness, and getting back on point here, helping with summer school was a very rewarding experience for me, and I hope to work summer school in my district next year.

What made it so awesome for me was that I got to learn with the students. Sure, some of the countries and topics discussed in these courses I was already familiar with. But there were also so many new things I learned. Let's Plan a Trip, in particular, was a really cool class. Students in this course were tasked with researching countries they would be interested in visiting. Each week, they gave a presentation to the class on their findings. If I remember correctly, summer school was five weeks long, so students in this course gave a total of five presentations, one new country or region each week. These presentations included details like hotels to stay at, attractions to see and experience, local cuisine and culture, interesting trivia and history, costs and budgets, and flight details.

Another wonderful aspect of my summer school experience was simply getting to meet and begin building connections with quite a few new students. Many of these students are incoming 7th graders at the middle/high school I work at (in the district I work for, middle school starts at 7th grade, and the school I work at is a combined middle and high school).


Immediately after summer school ended, I got a chance to stick around for one more week to work a STEM -themed camp that my district organized. This, too, was very enjoyable, and again, I loved learning right alongside the students. I was in two sessions - one was on rockets, and the other was about coding. Check out the paper airplane I flew in the rockets class. At the end of the week, we flew - you guessed it - rockets. That was a lot of fun, and we were very lucky to have a beautiful, calm, sunny day for it.   

My trip to Key West, Florida

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Key West for the first time back in August. Over the course of the coming days and weeks, I look forward to sharing with you my trip to Key West through recollections, photos, stories, histories of the island and some of its more well-known residents, reviews, and travel tips. There will be a number of separate blog posts coming out of these adventures, but they'll all be unified through my Key West travel series tag.

How was your summer? Did you get to go on any fun trips? Learn a new skill? Work? I'd love to hear all about your summer, so please feel free to comment below!

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Welcome back, students! - 2021-2022

Hello! It's certainly been a while. I hope you're all doing well and are off to a great start in this new school year!

I'm a little delayed in my usual welcome back to students and my recap of my summer. My apologies. It's been a very busy yet fruitful and rewarding last few weeks for me. You can read all about my summer by clicking here.

Welcome back! I hope you have an awesome year, one that is full of learning, growing, and fun. It's important to have fun, too. And never forget that learning can certainly be fun, and fun can be learning. It's exciting and uplifting when we learn something new that can help us out somehow in life and/or career, and that's why we're in school. That's why we're in sports and clubs and activities. That's why some of us may be receiving tutoring help outside of the school day. That's why some of us may have a part-time job outside of school. It's all about learning and growth, of self-improvement and self-discovery, and of exploring rewarding opportunities in the world - or even creating our own!

Here's to you and to an incredible year!

Mr. Robertson

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

COVID and job prospects for teens

Over the summer, the country witnessed a sudden, explosive need for workers to fill jobs of all kinds, due largely in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. There were, or remain, a number of factors that, when combined, have created a complex labor situation for our economy. 

With many consumers severely limiting their shopping, dining, and tourism/recreation habits - or even outright staying home altogether - during the pandemic, many businesses imposed heavy layoffs or even closed their doors for good due to the lack of demand.

When restrictions started to ease as a result of COVID numbers beginning to drop significantly, combined with a general antsyness to get out of the house more after a year-plus of this, demand naturally began to surge. But the workforce was no longer there to support all the demand, and it still isn't.

Fortunately, many teens stepped up over the summer where many adults chose to - or were forced to, due to economic circumstances or health concerns beyond their control - walk away for a while.      

A brief blurb appearing on the front page of the Business section of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on July 7, 2021, explains the rise of teenage labor during the summer:

EMPLOYMENT: Teens step up as employers struggle to fill jobs

The owners of restaurants, amusement parks and retail shops, many of them desperate for workers, are sounding a note of gratitude this summer: Thank goodness for teenagers. As the U.S. economy bounds back with unexpected speed from the pandemic recession and customer demand intensifies, high-school-age kids are filling jobs that older workers can't - or won't. The result is that teens who are willing to bus restaurant tables or serve as water-park lifeguards are commanding $15, $17 or more an hour, plus bonuses.

The uptick in teen employment has managed to temporarily help a little, but many teens have to return to school. The overall labor situation is going to take more time and effort to fully resolve itself.

In the meantime, where I'm trying to go with this post, is that, if you're a high school student, or even in college, you have an incredible opportunity right now that you can take advantage of. There are so many job vacancies all over the place, in numerous fields and industries - far more vacancies than there typically are under more "normal" economic/labor conditions. Now, more than ever, is the time to really explore what's out there in the world of work and start gaining critical job skills and experience for your resume. Having to return to school after the summer break doesn't have to get in the way of this unique opportunity, either - so many jobs these days require evening, weekend, and holiday hours. Now's the time to break into fields and industries that may otherwise not really be available to you until further down the road. And with wages (along with bonuses, perks, and benefit packages) rising due to demand for workers - that makes this an even sweeter opportunity to earn while you learn.