When does a three and a half day week seem 7 days long? When it’s the first week of school. Between all the last minute prep to get ready for last Tuesday (our first day with students), open houses and BYOD orientations for parents, and all the little technology glitches that no amount of preplanning can prevent, I sit here on a Saturday morning in the customer lounge of my Honda dealer basking the the peace and quiet while my car is serviced. Exhausted.
I’ve been down this road at this same school for 10 years now. The little things that used to bug me, don’t seem to set off alarms anymore. In a way, I’ve taken on the “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs” role. The voice of reason. The one who says, “Don’t worry. It’ll all be okay. This isn’t rocket surgery.”
When parents come to me in a panic on the 2nd day of school, fuming that their child cannot login to Moodle, convinced that because they missed one day of class announcements and homework links that their child’s hopes of getting into Stanford are now ruined; I calmly reset their passwords, reassure them it will all be okay, and offer to help them research community colleges. (Okay, maybe that last part is just in my head.)
When my intercom line beeps with a call from a frustrated teacher because their computer was updated over the summer and their passwords no longer autofill, or they can’t connect to their SmartBoard, or they can’t print, or some other technical issue I try to break the tension by answering with a chipper, “Happiest Place on Earth, this is Dennis.” or “Your call is important to me, please stay on the line…” in an attempt to elicit a laugh, a chuckle, or anything to break the tension.
Maybe that’s why I’m so tired. Helping others is exhausting. It’s inconvenient. But it’s part of my job – not just to fix the problem, but to help people develop troubleshooting skills so they have the ability and confidence to solve their problems independently.
In the back of the Computer Lab I have posted my five rules. I bet you have many of the same in your classroom.
- Follow directions the first time they are given.
- Keep hands feet and other objects to yourself.
- Be prepared.
- Raise your hand if you wish to speak.
- Build others up.
This year I’m going to be adding a new rule.
6. Don’t Freak Out
Kids, teachers, and parents have too much stress in their lives – most of it self-inflicted. Technology won’t add stress to your lives if you refuse to let it. When we get frustrated and panic, we make stupid decisions. But if you remain calm while that blinking cursor on the screen taunts you, STOP, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “What else can I try?” often times a solution will present itself. And when it doesn’t, you go to plan B, plan C, plan D, and remember that the alphabet has 22 more letters.