Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Bureaucracy 1.0

I've been thinking a lot about the future lately. It all started after a discussion with the new leaders for the Academy next year, Mike and Taja. We got together to make plans for who would run the academy next year. Everyone agreed to Taja as Department Chair, Mike as Mentor Coordinator and Me as Steering Committee Chair. This was all as I had hoped and planned. What got me thinking about the future is we all shared our plans for the next few years. Taja said she would be around for one year and then assess whether she would stay. Mike will be around until the department breaks up. And Jack, our current department chair, is looking to get into private industry ASAP on account of the child he and Lynn are expecting this December. I had hoped to stay around for 6 years atleast. Put in my decade of public service and then go back to school with a clear conscience. Unlike all those cowards who I've run in the ivory tower of education. Three years in the trenches and they think they're an expert on teaching. I'm nearly half way through my fourth year and though I've been steadily improving as a teacher, I still feel like I've leagues to go before I'm anywhere near being a great teacher. But I digress. The possibility of our department parting ways has me reconsidering my timeline, or atleast where I fit into my school without my team. I don't know if I'll end up going to grad school earlier than I planned. Or trying to make something of high tech high. Whatever happens, I have responsibilities in the district I can't abandon, like managing the perkins grants or trying to keep the steering committee running. It will be a while before I get the procedures in place and find the right person to take over for me. What I want to get out of going back to school is the knowledge of Ed code and the workings of administration that I need to build a better student information system. All the pieces are out there to create a centralized system for grades, attendance and discipline information. All that needs to be done is for someone to put them all together and produce a user interface that simplifies the information for daily teacher, counselor and administrative tasks. For example, most student information systems collect attendance information, but you have to right click on a student, pull up their attendance window, click on their summary tag and then the information is still listed in columns of numbers that you have to read through to figures out which of 4 types of absences each one represents. That is way to inaccessible, especially for data, the gist of which could easily be expressed on the seating chart by changing the color of the border around each students picture. I'm hoping the LSTD (Learning Sciences and Technology Design) PhD program at Stanford could give me the chance to develop such a system.

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