Slice of Life, Chapter Six

(This is part of the Slice of Life Project)

Sigh. Today’s slice of life is all about frustration.

At my school, I am one of the two technology coordinators, which really means that if your printer goes down or your email doesn’t work, we hack into your computer and tell you the words you most want to hear: “I have no idea what’s wrong. Sorry.” And then we call in the real technology support from the school district. You can imagine, though, how busy I look while I sit at your computer and how much tech jargon can fall from my mouth when I want it too.

No, it’s not like that. Not really. We do kind of know what we are doing, some of the time.

Anyway, one of my tasks is to keep one of our carts of laptops up and running, which I don’t mind doing since having the cart housed in my room makes it SO much easier for my students to use them. But, from time to time, I do have to say goodbye and watch the rolling house of computers go out of my room to another classroom. That is good. That means more kids are using technology.

But …. I wish other teachers would take better care of the equipment. It’s bad enough reminding kids to be careful. “That costs $1,000 — if you drop it, your parents buy us a new one!” I also have to come down hard on my teaching friends and colleagues, who just don’t seem to get it. And here is one reason why there is often a great divide between teachers and technology coordinators. At our school, teachers have ripped power cords from the wall (luckily averting a power surge into the cart of laptops), lost crucial connecting wires for our video cameras (Did you know a power cord for a video camera costs almost as much as the camera itself?), dropped digital cameras, misplaced microphones and headphones, and let kids do all sorts of stuff unattended on the computers.

Yesterday morning, I opened up the computer cart — my students are part of the Many Voices for Darfur social action project — and I completely flipped out. All of the power cords from the laptops were jumbled up in a rat’s nets of wires. It was an incredible tangle that was jammed so tight together that I could barely get the laptops out of the cart. It was like trying to do a complex piece of origami with the shakes. I was furious and had to spend 15 minutes of my own precious time working all of the wires free and tucking them back in, and then I discovered that a handful of the laptops had not even been plugged in to the cart the night before and so, they were never charged up. Ahhhhh.

Luckily, there were no kids in earshot as I swore my head off, cursing and muttering to myself. I was much cooler later in the day when I confronted one of the teachers who had used the cart. She expressed ignorance and said she had seen the wires but did not know if it had been her students or if it had been like that before she got the cart from another teacher. What? I had to resist the urge to berate her (since that is very unprofessional) so I diplomatically used my words (just like we teach our kids) to let her know that SHE NEEDS TO A BETTER JOB OF TAKING CARE OF THE COMPUTERS!!!


Peace (in untangling the mess of life),

  1. Kevin,

    I do the same job that you do, only I have the luxury of it being my only job. I do it all day and do not teach a class. My challenge is how to entice teachers to try new things and how to support them when they do.

    I also have the frustration of the laptop carts. It shocks me how they are treated. I know that classes are in a hurry to put them back because they are late for class or specials or something… but still… Our school has Dell Latitude laptops and we are finding that the keys come off pretty easily and so I am finding a computer a week or so with a key missing. It is a great benefit to have laptops, but such a problem to manage them well….


  2. Oh Kevin – I so understand your frustration. I am the computer teacher at my school, and many teachers come to me to try to fix things before they call the IT guys. Also, because I teach all my classes (even non-computer ones) in the computer lab, they think that my color printer is for everyone! I often get lots of stuff printed to my computer that is wasteful; one picture on an other wise empty page, or the converse – a full page sized picture that didn’t need to be so huge! There are other color printers in the school! I also have the same complaint that teachers do not take as good care of the computers, or require their students to, that I do. One year I moved out of my room for my non-computer classes and another teacher used my room for a computer-related class. I had more damage in that one year, than in all the other years combined! Thank goodness I don’t have to move out of my room anymore!

  3. Kevin- could so see that tangled nest of unpowered power cords. I’ve been the “next” teacher to use the cart after a class didn’t leave it better than they found. it. Great slice.

  4. I feel your pain, Kevin! I have the same problem with the laptop cart at my job. I seem to be the only person who is even mildly invested in keeping it in some kind of order. It’s unendingly crazy-making!

  5. Kevin —
    What a tough task you were able to accomplish in this piece — you made me feel your frustration along with you. Wow! And I understand — I can’t believe how teachers treat copy machines let alone “high tech” stuff! Maybe I’ll print your post & hang it above our copier! 🙂 ha!

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