Yesterday I had a big problem contacting a student's home. A girl walked in 20 minutes late, like she owned the place, after having arrived just before the ending bell rang two days ago. She had a big smile, looking as though she was expecting to win a prize. At least two times I caught her fussing with makeup rather than paying attention. This was fairly easy for her to do as the only seat in my 34-person class was one in the back.
The girl had written a contact number on the card I gave her, but there was another one on Skedula. I went up to her and asked whether the number she gave me was her mom's number. She assured me it was. But it wasn't. And neither was the number on Skedula.
Personally, I hate when kids come late to my class. My feeling is this--if I have to be on time, so do they. So I went to her guidance counselor, hoping she might have the magic number to send this girl's behavior home with her. The counselor remembered seeing it somewhere, and opened up our old program Daedalus, where she found a note someone had written with the correct phone number.
I struggled on my iPad to make a similar note in Skedula. I clicked and prodded. After several false starts, I finally found the anecdotal, which, by default, is academic negative. I tried to change it, but it wasn't all that responsive. Is it negative to leave a current phone number? Well, it would be today. Unfortunately, no matter how many times I touched the window, my iPad keyboard would not appear. So that particular mission failed.
"It's the iPad," said the counselor. "It works better on my computer." So she made the note and then cursed herself because she'd forgotten to change the default academic negative category. Is that the most popular thing we do? Write negative things about kids? When I write about kids on venues like those I try to describe only behavior and let others decide whether it's negative or positive.
Then the counselor told me this girl has been having issues for a few years. I pushed several buttons on Skedula trying to pull up her previous report cards, but had no luck at all. It's very hard for me to fathom what is worthwhile about this program, though I will grant that one member of our faculty had nice things to say about it the other day. Still, the overwhelming number of comments I get are about time wasted trying to do things.
No one ever talked about Daedalus. I never wrote about it. We just used it. It was a handy tool. Teachers can always use handy tools. It's remarkable what we get are arcane, overblown, convoluted programs like Skedula--programs that cost schools up to 40 grand a year. To me, that's potentially the price of an additional teacher, and perhaps fewer classes of 34.