Some time over the summer the student information system software we teachers use to take roll and enter grades, and which our counselors and administrators and secretarial staff use to do all the things they do, changed.
That's right, it's completely different, and we weren't even told.
It still has the same functionality, but it has an entirely different look and interface. We're still learning to find all the capabilities that we used to know by heart. And over 1600 kids showed up today.
From my end the day went rather smoothly. I know there's some work to do, though, because I'm over my contract limit in 2 classes. For those of you outside of California, please sit down before you read this--but that means I have over 36 students in each of those two classes.
Yes, our administration is working to level out classes within a very tight scheduling ability as the district staffed us at a bare bones level.
After school I got to meet with two other teachers and one of our vice principals, the same group that had training last week on this new computerized test our district wants us to do three times a year. We had some very lousy training last week and now we're supposed to train members of our staff who will actually give the tests this year (that would be teachers of all-freshman courses). Keep in mind, those of us at the lousy training last week went through this process exactly once and there's no "dummy database" of students we can use to walk people through the process. We watched a video.
If you think we feel unprepared to teach this, and were quite frustrated today as we met to try to plan this training, I understand the district people, who know that this is being done half-assed, are at least frustrated and as worried as we are.
After all this you might be thinking, "Dang, Darren, tech things sure seem screwed up in your district!" And you'd be correct. We're going to have to "brute force and ignorance" our way through these difficulties, then we'll know what we're doing and it'll be smooth. Until then, though...
But there is some good news. Have you heard of the new 4K tv's, which are supposed to leave 1080p hi-def tv's in the dust as far as picture resolution goes? Well, I've been asking for a flat screen for my classroom for a couple years now to replace my LED projector, and some new company is selling 4K tv's at a price about 10-20% of what Sony sells them for. Our district has a few and I get to pilot one; the only condition of getting it is that I have to give period reports on its functionality and ease of use to our district tech director.
I think I can live with that requirement!