Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Put CAASS out on Its Posterior

Yesterday, period two, I had a very hard time taking attendance. We have this very new and glitzy system called CAASS, so you can take attendance on your laptop. I am almost married to my laptop, except I surely spend more time with my laptop than I do with my family. This is no more evident than when I'm in class.

The first thing I have to do with my laptop is take attendance. After that, I may check homework, and if I'm checking for completion I use another program to do that. After that, I almost always do a Keynote presentation, as vocabulary is key to what I do.

Yesterday, period one, everything was fine. If anything wasn't fine, it must have been my fault. Period two I tried to take attendance, and it would not populate. I sat and waited, while my kids waited as best they could. I'm not very patient at all, and the kids are less patient than I am. I waited more. Someone came in late. I hate when people come in late.

I waited until I could wait no more and went into doing whatever it was I had to do. In between classes I wrote to the principal that CAASS wasn't working. Period three it didn't work either. This grieved me deeply. However, I determined to go on with my life, attendance or not.

Nonetheless, a few short months ago I had these pink sheets that I could mark. Sure, it was a terrible waste of paper. We have 240 or so teachers and that's over a thousand pages of paper a day. I hear we have to store it for like a hundred years. Maybe the reason we have no space in our building is because we've got acres of paper sitting around in some crypt somewhere.

My understanding is that CAASS has a contract for scanning, but not for attendance. In this situation, though, they're still the only game in town. Now don't get me wrong, I like games as much as the next person, but when the game entails sitting around in front of a computer waiting for names to populate, it's not a whole lot of fun. This is particularly egregious when you have 34 kids in front of you.

I am going to go out on a limb and speculate that the people in CAASS don't have 34 kids in front of them while they work. However, if they did, it would me far easier for me and my colleagues to understand their rather spectacular ineptitude. I mean, it's great to have a program to enter attendance, and it's great to work with kids, but you really expect different things from kids and attendance.

For example, I have a girl at the third table who doesn't like to work. She's not a bad kid, but the whole work thing simply does not resonate with her. So I'll quietly remind her. I'll look over her shoulder. I'll ask how she's doing. I'll make a nuisance of myself. (That's one of the things I do best.)

I have very different expectations of computer programs. For example, when I get on this blogging platform I expect it to take what input I offer, record it, and publish when I press the appropriate icon. It does that, and that's why I continue to use it.

On the other hand, CAASS more resembles a recalcitrant high school student. I mean, sometimes it works. When it works it's fine, pretty much. I'd probably give it a B. But it isn't at all consistent. So here's the thing--I haven't got an option for days when I don't feel like taking attendance, so I take it pretty much every day.

Except I can't. CAASS presented itself to my principal as a done deal, from everything I've heard. Because of all the issues they failed to notify us about, they updated the system, and they improved it. Except when it freezes and doesn't work at all. And who knows when that's gonna happen?

Not me. Will it work today? No one knows.

I'm pretty sure, though, that if my supervisor walked in and I was doing what CAASS did yesterday, which was absolutely nothing, I'd be rated ineffective. If that happened enough times, I'd be out on my keester.

I'm not at all sure why CAASS deserves to be held to a higher standard, especially when their ineffectiveness is not even debatable.
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