System centipede part 1

So much drama with scheduling. Let’s picture one student. This student signs up for one internship and 3 classes. The one internship requires an entry in our internship table. Then the students details gets entered on the teachers own records, on the sign in sheet, which then gets entered by another staff member into DBASE. Then the teacher also had to put the internship into another system, the drop down, which they can later refer to in another system, the output. Then the rest of the classes get put into another system. Both of those systems get entered into STARS, and now this year we have yet more systems. Once into STARS, we need to enter virtual codes into one system, and then enter the credit amounts for those codes into yet another system. Let’s go back to that student.

That Student figured out their schedule with the 3 classes and 1 internship in one day, but for that information to get accurately reflect in STARS it requires 8 different nodes of adult entry Sign-in sheet–DBASE–Drop Down–Output–Rosterlink–STARS–Interdisciplinary Codes–Credit entry.

This can be reduced rather quickly. We can excise DBASE, but then we’d need a system to keep track of internship hours, and we could similarly combine the drop down, Rosterlink and Output into one system, which could make things easier, with no added system needed. I would just need to write some JavaScript and have time to train people on it. I could also get rid of the final step to do the Interdisciplinary codes. These steps are new this year, and are supposed to make a few things easier: assigning multiple teachers to classes, and keeping track of whether kids have taken the same code before.

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21. Being wrong.

I’m wrong often and when I’m wrong I usually give myself a little negative reinforcement. “Jesus Carl, what the duck!” Something like that. It is a bad habit that probably stems from a deeper sense of self loathing our poor parenting or something that a Neuro scientist may be able to analyze. Given that I won’t actually make it to that doctor’s office, I have to deal the consequences of this reactionary approach to failure.

Where this is bad is how this affects the way I take feedback. I’m constantly responding with an aggressive tone that may or may not involve expletives, even if I agree with it. If somebody is like “Carl, this is wrong” I’m going to respond like “… Of shit, I screwed up..” which doesn’t inspire confidence. Worse, if I’m only 50 percent sure I screwed up, and I take that toner into the conversation with the person giving feedback, they will certainly take it as I’m angry at them, when I’m really angry at the failure, my part in it, and that I’m losing my yet more of my self esteem, or whatever the brain doctor’s would say.

Taking bad news, critical feedback, and my own mistakes in a different way is something that I need to get better about. It is far too easy for people to see my response in those situations and assume that is the real me. What is the me that I want to emerge in those situations?

  • Calm and steady? This may come off as ineffectual.
  • Happy? Then I look like a blissful idiot at best, or flagrantly unconcerned with the news and the person who’s bringing it.
  • Roll up your sleeves? This freaks some people out, especially when they are “just bringing it to your attention.”

There probably isn’t a good solution here, but instead a situation that involves a lot of tact. Certainly the first step is to use more love and care with my inner monologue to remove the aggression from my first response

21. Being wrong.

I’m wrong often and when I’m wrong I usually give myself a little negative reinforcement. “Jesus Carl, what the duck!” Something like that. It is a bad habit that probably stems from a deeper sense of self loathing our poor parenting or something that a Neuro scientist may be able to analyze. Given that I won’t actually make it to that doctor’s office, I have to deal the consequences of this reactionary approach to failure.

Where this is bad is how this affects the way I take feedback. I’m constantly responding with an aggressive tone that may or may not involve expletives, even if I agree with it. If somebody is like “Carl, this is wrong” I’m going to respond like “… Of shit, I screwed up..” which doesn’t inspire confidence. Worse, if I’m only 50 percent sure I screwed up, and I take that toner into the conversation with the person giving feedback, they will certainly take it as I’m angry at them, when I’m really angry at the failure, my part in it, and that I’m losing my yet more of my self esteem, or whatever the brain doctor’s would say.

Taking bad news, critical feedback, and my own mistakes in a different way is something that I need to get better about. It is far too easy for people to see my response in those situations and assume that is the real me. What is the me that I want to emerge in those situations?

  • Calm and steady? This may come off as ineffectual.
  • Happy? Then I look like a blissful idiot at best, or flagrantly unconcerned with the news and the person who’s bringing it.
  • Roll up your sleeves? This freaks some people out, especially when they are “just bringing it to your attention.”

There probably isn’t a good solution here, but instead a situation that involves a lot of tact. Certainly the first step is to use more love and care with my inner monologue to remove the aggression from my first response

19 Multi-Tasking is a Drag

I think I need to be good at multi tasking. The opposite of multi tasking never happens at work. Today I put myself in a room and tried to make it happen, and for a few hours it did. I got to work by myself on program changes for some of the staff and it helped a lot. It was weird going from that back in to my office where there are parent meetings happening, interruptions, Handouts posted on flyers around the room and other things. The reality of my job is that I’m supposed to deal with a whole bunch of stuff at once, and so I had better be good at doing that.

When kids tell me they are multi tasking I till them multi tasking is a myth. Which it is. “All you’re doing is switching back and forth between things. Poorly.” would be the usual reply. In my situation now I spend much of the day switching back and forth somewhat effectively, but big projects don’t get done. Sitting alone in a room let’s you get a big thing done, and once it’s done you can save lots of other time, but until it’s done you have to fall behind on a multitude of tasks that must get ignored.

What I think I need to better to multi task is two fold:

  1. Identify tasks that I can switch in and out of, and try to work on those during the times of day when I know that there will be interruptions and other multi-tasking.
  2. Identify the tasks that I can’t switch in and out of, the ones that require total concentration, and don’t work on them during the times of the day when there will be interruptions.
  3. Figure out how to take tasks that fall into the 2nd category and turn them into tasks that fall into the 1st category.

17. How Do You Run Decision Meetings?

Today I met with the Registration committee. This committee was formed after a number of people had problems with our registration process and wanted to think through things that could make it better. How do you run a meeting with all the strongest personalities about something we all care about exactly?

Registration is a tradition that is specific to our school. Student go through all of the teachers and choose which classes they want to take based on their interests, their credit needs, and the availability of courses. Our 600 student need to take internships, so that means they need to sit with an internship coordinator for 15 or 20 minutes to establish which internship they will get, what project they will work on, and how they can get to that place. There are about 13 internship teachers, and kids typically sit down with 2 or 3 internship teachers. It doesn’t take much math to see that it’s a time-intensive process. We invest the time in this because we really want kids to find a good fit. Last registration a lot of kids didn’t have a good fit, for a lot of reasons.

This committee met and decided to focus on how to have kids find a good fit during registration. Today’s meeting was to agree on what exactly we were going to do in order to get the that fit. While we have only met haphazardly over the cycle, and we have only met as a whole group once before this, but we don’t have time to put off any decisions any longer. So how do you run a meeting like this?

I’ll tell you how I ran this meeting. We all just sort of started talking. It wasn’t really elegant. We went down the list of things that were important, and everybody talked about it until we made an agreement about and then we moved on to the next thing. At times it seemed like an argument. At other times it seemed like a bunch of friends joking around, but it didn’t necesarily look like a well-run meeting. I am aware of the existence of countless protocols that let you have well-run seeming meetings when you are doing things like brainstorming, or helping one person with a plan, or whatever, but what do you do when you need to come to consensus on a lot of things in a short amount of time? I’m asking this as a question because I genuinely don’t know.

I do know that we will have a much different and much better registration this year, and that’s exciting.

16. Thousandaire problems.

Imagine getting everything you’ve ever wanted? What would that be for you? New car? New house? Maybe a new relationship? Would it be a job that pays you will and let’s you contribute to the world while getting to challenge your intellect with real problems? Now if all that happened right now, you’d be really really overwhelmed! Imagine all the car maintenance and house maintenance you’d have to do. Don’t forget about the long hours that fulfilling new job will demand. And how are you going to make time for that special someone in your life?

My brother once said the reason some people aren’t millionaires is that they haven’t learned how to deal with all the problems that thousandaires have to deal with.

I’m really lucky in that I have as number of these problems right now. I have a new special someone on the life, a new bathroom, and a number of new tasks at work that bring responsibility and potential. So how am I going to handle it?

Well, I guess I need to figure out my priorities. Deciding what I should be doing at any given time is often a matter of who shows up with the loudest problem. I spent most of the morning figuring out one problem, veggie being reminded that a much bigger problem still was unplanned. This meeting I was aware of, I just figured the task at hand could be finished in time. Fast forward to the hours later and I am basically having to remove an important outreach initiative from the agenda because I didn’t finish it. In retrospect, I should have made that my first priority. Or, I should have made delegating it my first priority. Either way, it looks like I’m going to have to find a way to do this tonight and knowing I can’t help with the late night needs of the tiny new person in my life. I’m really lucky that I have so many interesting things to work on that I literally can’t spend a moment doing anything without missing out something good. Maybe these are thousandaires problems?

Getting out of the office

Here’s a sampling of my current to do list:

Admit the new students

Input then into jumprope

Set up the rest of the settings for Jumprope

Set up kinvolved to sync with jumprope

Build a database to support the attendance information from jumprope

Create reports based off of the attendance databases

Build academic codes for students in STARS

Build credit database based on data from STARS

Create student profiles based on the credit database

That’s a lot of stuff that requires me to sit at my desk and do things. So much so that I need to come up with a new policy. If I don’t HAVE to do a task at a computer, I will not do it at a computer. This is currently an aspiration and not a statement of fact, but it could build a number of positive habits. If I have to do this but tasks when I’m sitting at my desk, then I won’t get to my desk and answer emails or check Twitter or look up directions for the meeting later. I’m going to have to eat the frog and get straight to work.

It could even change the way I organize my computer. I would need to put together really organized drop box/Google drive systems do everything I need is quickly accessible when I’m away from my desk.

I’d have to learn how to work on the go. I’ll have to get good at responding to email on my phone. I could also get an iPad kitted out to allow me to do all the stuff I need quickly. This would keep me in the hallways and in the pulse of the school.