Monday, September 19, 2011

Fred Orchestrates Death From the Skies

On a lucky stroke of happenstance, Thursday happens to be the official “Bring a Bloody Large Mitt or Net to Work Day.”  I wonder if work will call in a Satellite Day.  

The latest on Fred: He was spotted in Venice coating the inside of elderly citizen’s mail boxes with peanut butter.  In Sarasota, he also purportedly planted fresh bubble gum right outside the entrance to the shoe store.  Supposedly he considered doing the same in Bradenton, but lost interest after surveying the Desoto Square Mall.  Fred is considered in charge and extremely irritating.

At six o’clock, tonight, at work, my brain clicked off, and I decided that it was completely ridiculous for me to still be at work.  So I left.  I’ve spent approximately eight hours this weekend and after school today just to reach the point where I would normally START progress reports.  After eight hours of work, I was able to look at the progress report and ask myself,

“To what degree are these students meeting benchmarks?” 

After.  Eight hours.  Of work.  Luckily, this was eight-hours of unpaid work.  Or, as a friend put it, “That’s working for less than minimum wage in China.” 

Yes, friend.  Yes, it is.  And all that just to take me to my usual starting point.  Then I would normally consult work and assessments, and decide.   And write a thoughtful comment on their progress.  Instead, I spent four hours on Saturday, and four hours on Sunday, and an hour and a half after work, today, just setting up a gradebook system, and entering in grades.  And dealing with shutdowns, internal errors, and carpel tunnel from needless, meaningless clicking.  And then there’re the little things.  Like satellites falling on your head.  And not knowing how to print.  Or typing away happily on your grades, plugging things in, only to hit save and realize your page had timed-out, nothing had alerted you, and nothing had saved. Instead, the system had amiably watched you work, too polite to tell you it was on illusion mode, and then smiled proudly when nothing shows up after you hit save.  

“See!?  See what I can do?  Ha!  You thought I was on this whole time!  Fooled you!”  Thanks, pleasant yet diabolical henchman to Fred.  You two are truly made for each other. 

Or there’re the silly things, like comments that are regulated to letters to “help” you.  But instead of a drop box with the options right there, you have to click elsewhere for a key to which letter means what.  And you can’t copy and paste.  And you have to put these “helpful letters” in EACH of the six pages of subjects.  And all those grades you plugged in?  You can’t overview all of them while typing in your final grades (there’s probably a way to print them?).  And none of the comments are that helpful.  Usually I try to actually tell the parent how their child has been progressing, what specifically they might need help with, and what, going by what they’ve shown so far, their next step will be in reading, writing, and math.  Sorry parents, all my time went into clicking 120 boxes and typing letters that tell you your child is a delight in class.

Ah, Fred.  The best part is that people in the know downtown have already said that it’s expected that this program will be out in three years. I’m giving it two.  They also know that of the other counties who have used it, some have dumped it because they hate it, and the others broke down and slowed down the process.  One year they only used it for attendance. The second year they learned gradebook, and the third they combined with progress reports.  Apparently we have the advanced group. We learned all three in one week.  Good job, teachers.

I think the ranting has officially left my system.  Although Fred might appear in graphic form as soon as I master (or at least make a stab at) the technique.

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