Sarge posted on Friday about how fast the summer had passed. It’s always amazed me how relative the perception of time is. It can pass “in the blink of an eye” or “drag on forever”, yet there are still 60 seconds in each minute…
For me this past summer, I believe it is safe to say, passed “in the blink of an eye” while simultaneously “dragged on forever”.
The “Forklift” of our school district computer network is all but complete.
|Forklifting a network does not involve driving a forklift.|
All computers have been replaced. All network switches replaced also. The connected classroom equipment has been refurbished.
(A connected classroom has integrated the classroom whiteboard with a projector and the computer and, in the hands of a savvy teacher it makes for a pretty fun effective learning experience. Unfortunately, savvy teachers are somewhat rare. But…I digress.)
We've troubleshot the district wide, campus wide and classroom wide problems and are now finishing the individual connection issues. The teachers arrived back en masse last Monday and the kids will return a week from today.
So, Juvat, what does that have to do with temporal shifts?
My perception is that it seems that we let out of school the day before yesterday, but the day before yesterday was a VERY long time ago.
Opening ceremonies were held on Wednesday and we had an interesting speaker. Guy was probably in his late thirties, early forties. So…he's young!
He’d been raised in South Houston and had a terrible childhood. Actually, words like terrible fail miserably at describing his childhood. He was beaten by his
father male procreater, raped by his male procreater’s brother and
abandoned by his female procreater. He then fell in to both using and selling drugs
resulting in several arrests and finally a felony conviction for beating a
fellow student into a coma.
At that point, he attempted suicide, but his younger brother finds him and rescues him. In a psychiatric hospital, he meets up with someone who gets him started in the right direction.
You know where this is going? Right?
Long story short, he gets talked back into school, where he meets a football coach who gives him a chance and he’s successful. Meanwhile a teacher connects with him and encourages him, to the point of convincing him to try college. He’s got a football scholarship to a small Midwest school.
He manages to graduate cum laude and of course is now a successful motivational speaker. The above is a very succinct summary of the speech and, of course, not as powerful as listening to it first-hand.
But it, as intended, got me to thinking about the effect I'd had on students.
Over the years, I've had a few successes, and had a lot of former students come back and tell me they’d had fun in my class. A few have related that things they learned in my class had helped them in real life. That’s satisfying.
As I sat there, pondering, I realized that one of the recently hired teachers had had a similar effect on me. She’d been a student at the High School where I taught. She’d graduated, gone to college and gotten her degree, then taught elsewhere for a few years. Finally, she’d been hired back home at the High School.
Back when she was a student, I’d not only been a teacher, but one of the “other duties as assigned” was as the technology coordinator. (Since when did “coordinator” take on the meaning “slave”?) Anyhow, I was the person responsible for fixing whatever technology problem others had.
I’m OK with that as long as the other person has, at the very least, looked into the problem to see if they can figure out what the problem is and if possible, do some minor self-help to try and resolve it.
I’m in the middle of class and the kids are occupied with their projects. I’m walking around, answering questions, making suggestions and prodding the laggards as needed. There’s a knock at the door. I open it and one of the most pernicious teachers on the campus is there. She also happens to be a
computer teacher chronologically advanced human who
stands at the front of a computer lab babbling meaningless buzz words.
“I need you to come to my room immediately, I have a problem.”
“I’ll stop by as soon as class lets out.”
“No, I need you now!”
“What’s the problem?”
“I can’t print and my student’s projects are due at the end of the period.”
“Well, I’ll just go talk to the principal and tell her you’re not being helpful.”
I've been down this road, and got the scars to show for it. Thankfully, neither she nor the principal were around much longer.
I’m off to her room, opposite side of campus. Walk in, walk over to the printer.
And turn it on.
Paper starts to flow.
I look at her and she says “What did you do?”
I do not trust myself to speak, nor remain in the classroom, lest the students hear something inappropriate or be called to testify at the murder trial.
As I’m walking out, a student walks up to me and says “Thank you, Mr. Juvat.”
What a profound effect they had on me.
She didn't have to get up, walk over and speak them. I wouldn't have even noticed if she hadn't. But she did. I realized that someone appreciated my effort, small though it was, to make their day better.
By the time I got back to my classroom, my blood pressure was mostly normal.
My class had behaved and was still basically working on their projects, so campus life was still going on. I made sure to stop by the principal’s office after class and let her know that I’d been pulled out of class to turn on a printer. She was annoyed and wanted to know who had done that. There was a certain satisfaction in mentioning her friend’s name.
There’s a saying about it (attributed to various people, to include Henry Kissinger and Woodrow Wilson).
“Campus politics are so nasty because the stakes are so small.”
Anyhow, when the former student, now new teacher, applied for a job with the district. I happened to be working on the computer of the Personnel Director’s secretary as she was setting up the interview schedule, and noticed her name. She was very well qualified for the position and probably would have gotten it anyway, but I did relate the story to the secretary. I didn't figure it would hurt her chances.