Sunday, November 20, 2005
posted by Q6 at 4:44 PM
Last week's school play, "Rumors" by Neil Simon, was an amazing production with a very large and talented student cast. The set design was, by far, the best I've seen in our theater, and the director (and drama advisor) has done a wonderful job putting it together.

Basically a dinner party gone bad, "Rumors" presents the humorous situation of about ten people trying to make sense of the evening with only about half the information--but each person knows a different half. Each character steals the show in his or her own way: Chris (Ashley C.) tries--and fails--to hold it together in true comedic fashion; Ken (Drew M.) turns temporary hearing loss into an art form; Claire (Maggie D.) manages to hold herself above it all while being right in the thick of it; Leonard (Jacob T.) handles the mayhem as only Neil Simon could hope (and plays his character by channeling Lewis Black and Matt LeBlanc); Ernie (Robby D.) goes from psychiatrist to psychotic in short and hilarious order; Cookie (Amy H.) shines as partially air-headed and all-the-way funny; Glen (Kenneth C.) tries to protect his political campaign right up until the part where he blows it; and Cassie (Kathryn C.) brings the hilarity to a new level just when you expect it the least. Even the police officers (Kelly A. and David A.) bring something extra to this party as they try (and fail?) to make sense out of a complete evening of nonsense.

As I told the cast in my "thank you for a wonderful evening" letter, if the school's faculty ever manages to finally put together a show of their own, we could all learn a thing or two from this group.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
posted by Q6 at 11:09 PM
I recently had the pleasure of locking thirty-five teachers in a computer lab at 7 in the morning to do nothing more than fill out an online survey on technology use in the classroom. They found it tedious and a little offensive--the other two thirds of the faculty were learning website design and providing input on a multimedia academy proposal--but only one of the teachers subjected to my techno-torture complained to the administration (the rest complained about it to each other in the lunch room, I guess).

Their argument was simply this: staff development time did not need to be wasted on this survey. This survey could have been done online from anywhere at anytime. They could have done it from their classrooms on their conference periods. They could have done it from an Internet Cafe. They could have done it at home, at midnight, in their underwear. Our response to this argument was equally simple: they don't. In the two online surveys previous to this one, teachers were asked to complete the surveys at their leisure. They were given both the responsibility and the benefit of the doubt. They failed spectacularly. For survey number two, we literally had to hunt them down and drag them to the lab one at a time to get them to complete it.

So next week I will conduct an experiment. I've been given another survey to dole out (not about technology, but about student behavior as it pertains to health issues), and I'm going to use it for two purposes: the first, obviously, is to collect the required data; the second is to find out if the teachers can put their time where their mouths are. The survey is optional this time around (the last several have not been), so if they blow chunks on this task I won't lose any sleep. Moreover, I fully intend to disclose everything. This survey instruction sheet will have a big note from me on it saying, "If the faculty can't complete this survey on their own time, as they say they can, I promise I will lord it over them for the rest of their lives." This way, I win if they complete it, and I win if they don't. We'll see what happens.
posted by Q6 at 10:42 PM
(To best understand this entry you must know this background fact: our school has four administrators, two Principals and two Assistant Principals, three of whom are new to the school this year. I am the only administrator not voted off the island, the only returning member of the last four years' administrative team.)

We (the administration) sat down for 90 minutes today with a bunch of students in what was to be a "forum discussion" about the state of the school. Our new principal has held such discussions at her previous schools and found them very enlightening. Me, I think it was a subtle attempt to gauge the teachers' behavior toward the upcoming WASC visitation through the students' eyes, but in either case the meeting was going to be productive.

Here's where it got a little wonky for me, though: on certain topics--things like dress code enforcement, administrative visits to the classrooms, discipline procedures, and other administrative interferences in the their lives--the students repeated the same comment a few times: "The old administration didn't do that, but the new administration does." How do I take that? I'm a member of both groups, and I'm having a hard time reconciling the comment in my particular situation. Truth be told, it's a little disconcerting to be dissed and praised in the same sentence.

And it's not just the students. Parents have made the comment. Teachers have made the comment. Even the local newspaper, which recently ran an article about how our dress code enforcement has become rewardingly Draconian this year, made it sound like the outgoing administration sat on its hands for four years. Does this mean that because the names changed on three doors I am now better at my job? Does it mean that the three former door names were holding me back? Or is it just that I was not then--and am not now--a dominant force in either equation?

Given my professional life over the last decade, it's amazing that I don't have a raging alcoholism problem by now.