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Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Reports are looming

Staff in detention, praying for an early release
We had to stay behind after school yesterday.  Like a bunch of naughty schoolkids, all the staff had to report to the staffroom at Nuova Lazio High at 3:10 sharp.
But we hadn't been naughty, (well nobody actually has caught me yet) but it still felt like a punishment.  We started with a presentation by Ringo regarding the procedural niceties of dealing with naughty/disturbed/evil kids. There was nothing wrong with the methodologies given to us in the handout, but then Ringo began to work his way through the handout, reading it to us. Now this may come as a shock to many people, but teachers can actually read (and in some cases, although excluding the Art and Music departments, write as well)

So reading out the FAQ handout was pointless.  It's the same as when inexperienced lecturers put up a PowerPoint presentation on a screen, and then read it out word for word. 
What's the point? It just ends up with a massive boredom overdose.

It was also suggested (by Big Braces)  that I do some 5 minute bring-and-brag (although I don't think we're allowed to call it that anymore)style vignettes on basic computer usage, tips and hints.

Many,many times I and Carrot Head are asked to help with simple computer problems.

We have been having a lot of problems with our network recently, the main one being that quite often, staff and students cannot logon to the network, or even after they've logged on, they may lose their network connection after 10 minutes of work. CH has discovered the fault (not really a fault, just a service causing problems unexpectedly) .  CH has been making a lot of changes to the system, trying to eradicate this annoying fault, but until then there's a simple work around.

  1. If you cannot logon, restart and reboot your computer
  2. Save your work every 5 minutes
  3. If you lose connection, restart and reboot your computer.

It always works, and everything can be seen (network drives etc.)
My students quickly accepted that there were problems, and they started using the work-arounds very quickly.

My colleagues however were a bit more resistant.  I cannot count the number of times I have had a discussion like this (either in person or on the phone) Please note that this is after repeated emails and reminders of what to do if this type of computer problem occurred.

Colleague: "TSB, I can't get my computer to work"
Me: "Can you describe the problem?"
Colleague: "Yes, my computer won't let me use Word"
Me: "You mean MS Word won't start after you click on the icon?"
C: "Yes, well no, I can't see the Word on my computer"
Me: "You mean there's no icon on your desktop?"
C: "No"
Me: "Have you tried to use the alternative method of going to all the Office programs via the All Programs  in the Start menu?"
C: "no"
Me: "Ok, here's what you do, you click on start on your.."
C: "But I can't see Start" "It doesn't work"
Me: Realising by now that delightful colleague has a different problem from that originally described "Does your computer start up at all?"
C: "No" "That's what I've been telling you " In tones of bewildered and injured impatience.
Me: Patiently. "OK, can you describe the problem EXACTLY"
C: "I can't get my computer to work" "It won't let me logon" [Ed. The first bit of real evidence]
Me: "OK, have you tried restarting"
C: "Yes, it never lets me logon"
Me: Thinks for 5 seconds. "Have you actually restarted the computer?" "I mean, have you switched the computer off completely, and then restarted it?"
C: Impatient and angry now "NO!" "I can't logon so I can't logoff"
Me: "You can switch it off by using the power button on the front." "All of our school computers can be shut off normally by just pushing the power button." "It;s called soft shut down." "And if that doesn't work, just keep the power button pushed in for 10- 15 seconds, and it'll shut down instantly"
C: "Oh."  "I didn't know that"
Me: "That's OK, just try what I said next time"
C: "Why do I have to do this all the time" "Why can't you get the system to work properly"
Me: "We're working on it, we'll get it eventually" Knowing that ANY sort of technical description would just cause more confusion in her tiny brain
C: "Hmmph" "It's taking long enough" and walks off, disgruntled.

I love our school. Our kids are great (mostly) I think we've got some great staff, who give each other massive support.But trying to get teachers to do something is like trying to herd cats.

Relief is another case in point.
Every teacher who is away on a planned absence is supposed to give me:

  • A class roll, plus photos (so the relieving teacher can recognise the kids) of all his/her classes (all easily produced using KAMAR, our school computerised management system)
  • A lesson plan and resources
  • All to be left in my office or my pigeonhole in the staffroom.

I cannot count the number of times I've been given:
A scribbled note on the back of an envelope, supposed to be a complete lesson plan for 5 classes for the day
Missing class rolls (Form class is a class too.  So is SSR and Assembly)
No photos
Not telling me that even though they've got a timetabled class for a particular spell, that they won't need cover for that class (remember, I've got to book my relieving teachers in advance if possible, and I have to pay them if I've booked them). I'M NOT BLOODY TELEPATHIC.  YET.  But I'm working on it.
All relief materials left in another room, a gym (major culprit), another teacher's pigeonhole, staff workroom.
I've got plenty of time to go and find the materials somewhere in the school when I've got 5 relieving teachers needing the work now, so they can get to class in time. NOT

Have a fun day.

Seemingly it's International Women's Day.

So here's an international woman.


  1. I was getting worried that you might not be able to work a scantily clad woman in there for a minute, phew!
    Sorry I did not see you at the orchestra on Sunday, but there were lots of distinguished men with beards. It would have been much easier to spot someone young like myself.

  2. Great post - or at least great picture. there was a lot of green writing or something that I had to rapidly scroll down to get to the picture but still, it was worth it.

  3. Great comment, Ungrateful Comeinyourpants!!!

  4. I've been giving the same message to my kids for a couple of weeks now (OK it took me a while to work it out). They're doing it off their own bat anyway, because they're clever, but it's become a sort of habitual mantra as we start the lesson.
    I've been delivering the same mantra to our colleagues who complain for a couple of weeks now. In this case though, it's a necessary mantra; the same people I told yesterday have forgotten today.
    Maybe the Computer People (that's you, TSB, and your minions) should work up a flashcard we could - flash, I suppose, although given the nature of the pictures on your site I'm not sure that's the word I'd like to use.

    -- Clive

  5. Ah! death by a 1,000 powerpoint favourite way to inflict pain :-)

    I too was wondering how a scantily clad woman might end up in this, but I see that your usual seamless work managed to include one :-)

    Teachers! What ARE they like?! Do you need a Uni degree to be a teacher in NZ?


  6. Fflur: Are you inferring that I'm NOT young?
    TC: Thanks, I've tried to improve on Wednesday's post
    Richard {of RBB] Don't encourage him, or he'll get even more ungrateful.
    Anonymous (Clive):The problem should be resolved by Wednesday. However I might use you idea to remind our esteemed colleagues to START THEIR BLOODY REPORTS.

    AX: One of my problems (and I have many) is that I teach the use of PowerPoint to our kids, notjust in my classes, butassist other teachers for their own class's projects. No matter how much I remind them about practice and rehearsal I still see so many with T H E L E T T E R S M O V I N G S L O W L Y A C R O S S T H E P A G E.
    Thanks about the scantily clad woman. I always try.
    I do hope you're not insulting my learned colleagues. That's my job thank you very much, and yes you do need a degree to teach in NZ, but the system is so screwed up over here that even though a teacher may have a degree in History, they might end up teaching Classics, or Music or even (God forbid) P.E.


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