Sigh. I suppose I ought to be ashamed of myself. Damned if I am, though.
A bit of news – school started back to what I’ve fondly termed a “complete and total cluster fuck”. This past Monday was the first day back to school for our students. They were herded into the three sites on campus where they were to all pick up their new schedules for the year. Because our school district adopted a new software package that encompasses our scheduling, our gradebook, and our attendance, we our assistant principal in charge of the counseling center expected about 55-60 students with scheduling issues. We figured out pretty damned quickly that this number was wrong… wayyyyy wrong.
- students who didn’t have a schedule at all,
- students who didn’t have a total of eight classes on their schedules,
- students who had more than one lunch,
- students who didn’t have a lunch,
- students who were scheduled to take classes they’d already taken and had passed,
- sophomores who were scheduled to take senior-level classes without ever taking the prerequisites,
- students who weren’t scheduled in their dual credit courses and were missing valuable class time in those college-level classes,
- students who were supposed to be in AP (honors) classes who were in regular ed classes with kids who beat up students like them,
- students who were wondering around in regular English classes when they couldn’t speak a lick of English,
- students who were registered to take classes with teachers who hadn’t been faculty members at the school in over a year,
- students whose schedules sent them to rooms that their teacher had moved out of several semesters ago…
Like I said, a definite cluster fuck.
Before second period, the principal came on the PA system and said in her singsong, not-ready-for-high-school-kids voice, “Students, if you do not have a class for a certain period, please go back to the room where you were to originally receive a schedule. We will try to get this resolved as quickly as possible.” Um… yeah. I think about one fourth of our 1700 students showed. They were to repeat this practice throughout the day, showing in the room for each period that they didn’t have a class on their schedule. Not very efficient. Soon, it got to where the administrators weren’t even trying to get the schedules fixed; they were just trying (unsuccessfully, I might add) to corral the kids who didn’t have a class. Add to this situation those kids who may or may not have had an actual class (or two, or eight) missing, but smelled the blood in the water, and took this opportunity to just wander all over the damned place without so much as a by-your-leave. Soon, the kids who were leaving the corral to supposedly go to a legitimate class on their schedule were following the examples set by the other skipping kids, and just wandering the halls, hanging around all over the bloody place, (rightfully) claiming that “it was too boring to just sit in there for hours… the APs wouldn’t let us talk or move around at all”.
The next day, Tuesday, we were told that things would be improved. Every student was again to go back and get a new schedule. We teachers waited for 90 minutes in front of our doors, eagerly awaiting our classes of students to show up with their corrected schedules. This time, the students showed up with schedules printed on colored paper… gee, they’ve got to be right – they’re printed on colored paper, after all. Wrong again, Gunga Din. Many students had the identical schedule, only printed on snazzy colored paper. Other students received a nice piece of colored paper with their name on it – and nothing else whatsoever. On the whole, the schedules were just as screwed up as before, and was even more so for several. This time, when the principal came onto the PA system, she announced that they would again address the incorrect schedules during those periods that were done incorrectly on the students’ schedules. Students were to show up and get things resolved during those times. Again, students went, only to find that there were several hundred folks there waiting right along with them. It simply seemed to be a waste of 45 minutes that could be better spent wandering the halls and hanging around, texting their buddies on banned cell phones, and generally doing nothing even remotely resembling educational.
On Wednesday, guess what – same frickin’ thing. By now, the kids that actually give a damn about their educations are shaking their heads in disbelief, right along with the faculty. Those students who aren’t exactly model students are not-so silently rejoicing that the chaos continues… all the better for them to wander in roving cliques of mischief. By the time Wednesday’s emergency after school meeting rolled around, there were very many disheartened teachers around the campus. That’s when the principal told us of a new plan of attack regarding the schedule fiasco. For Thursday morning, teachers were instructed to collect a classroom full of students to take into their first period classroom, and keep them there. The students would be called into the gym hall-by-hall to correct, where the schedules would be corrected, once and for all. The principal assured all of us that it should take no later than by first lunch, which occurs at 10AM.
So, armed with a few PG-rated movies, i.e., The Lord of The Rings trilogy, I snagged a collection of random students to keep in place until our hall was called. Right at the start of Thursday morning, the principal called for the 700 hall and ROTC room… and hasn’t called for another hall since.
Not. a. single. one. None. Nunca.
So… we watch the first of the LOTR movies while waiting to either be called for schedule adjustments, or lunch. Then, we start the second LOTR movie, The Two Towers. Lunch is announced by halls, and we’re fed at about 12:30. Not surprisingly, I lose some of these random students over lunch, in search of better entertainment. I also manage to gain a couple of kids who were bored with whatever form of entertainment their teacher babysitter jailer had provided. Every teacher on campus misses their conference period, which is one of the fastest ways I know to get an entire staff of teachers annoyed with you.
When Friday comes, repeat Thursday’s process, with a different batch of kids. This time, we watched Twister, Armageddon, and began to watch my all-time fave, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
We were informed on Friday afternoon that all of the scheduling issues would be resolved by Tuesday. I somehow have my doubts.
In the meantime, we’ve been tracking Hurricane Gustav, hoping and praying that it wouldn’t knock on Houston’s door over the Labor Day weekend. We’ve all been told to keep watching our school’s website and our local news, so that we will know whether or not school’s been closed due to inclement weather. The way things were this past week at school, with all of our classroom instruction delayed by a week (so far), another week of delayed instruction due to hurricane evacuation would be simply dreadful.
When hurricane evacuations are called for, there’s generally a half-day of hurried preparation of the house and packing, a day of uncomfortable and worried travel, another day or two of exile, followed by nervous return trips to homes that are (hopefully) intact once you’re given the all-clear by the city officials of your evacuated town. If an evacuation did happen, it’s almost a certainty that you’ll be out of school at least four days. Add to that at least another day where many, many of your students still haven’t returned, plus a day or two where you as a teacher have to talk with your students about the elephant in the room (the storm and its aftermath). There you have it – you’re another week behind in your curriculum. Just like that.
Of course, that’s for the lucky individuals who still have homes and schools to return to. I shudder to think of a Cat 3 or better hitting just west of Galveston. We in the Houston-Galveston area would be beyond screwed. Big time. The worst-case scenario would involve a nasty storm surge heading up the Ship Channel during high tide.