In which it is time to be done now

I need y’all to understand that, with five days of school and only three days of instruction left, I am doing literally third grade material with my students right now. We’re doing area of 2-dimensional shapes, something my son, who is in third grade, was doing earlier this year. And they can’t do it, and I’m well beyond the point where I’m particularly concerned about whether it’s an issue of ability or volition, because this shit is too fucking simple for you to be failing even if you don’t give a shit any longer.

Those are actually the first five questions on my assignment for tomorrow. The last, if you don’t recognize it, is a TikTok reference. It is a meme referencing someone who has had something simple explained to them and they somehow still do not understand it. They’ll get it.

Welp

Ended my day by breaking up a fight today, in the closing minutes of the school day, when either of the two idiots involved could simply have gone home and not had to see the other kid until Thursday, but then I guess we don’t expect good decisions out of people who are still, after all, children. That said, I pointed out to one of them after breaking them up that it was the second time in the not-quite-two-years I’ve known her that I’ve had to put my hands on her to pull her off of somebody.

…and I just sort of greyed out for a few minutes, and found a recording on TikTok of a teacher trying to enforce a dress code over Z0om, and now I kind of just hate everybody and I’m going to go play video games. I may need a day away from idiots myself.

Music

The highlight of my day was trying to find a Lauryn Hill album in my music collection and then after several minutes of angrily insisting to myself that I owned it and I wanted to listen to it and god damn it did I lose files when I switched over to this computer??? I realized that the reason that I couldn’t find the album is that Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu are two whole-ass different people and somehow my brain thought “search for Lauryn Hill” and my fingers searched for Erykah Badu.

At any rate, Lauryn’s Unplugged album remains a Goddamned masterpiece. Erykah Badu’s is not a masterpiece, because Erykah Badu is a different person and she never recorded an Unplugged album.

Dumb-ass brain.

INCOHERENT SCREAMING

I remembered what the extra thing I wanted to include in yesterday’s “Today’s Nonsense” post was– that I had been teaching my kids about the Pythagorean theorem, and all day the phrase Hypogean Gaol was interfering with it and making the words come out wrong. The Hypogean Gaol is an area in Bloodborne. I am an idiot.


I’ve realized something today, which is that I don’t actually think I would be able to graduate from college if I were to attend today. There is something that happens to my brain each and every time I am forced to access Canvas for any sort of training, and I am completely unable to pay attention to any prerecorded or even live talk through a computer screen for more than fifteen to twenty minutes. I have never in my life shown any other signs of ADHD; it’s not that I can’t focus in general, but something short-circuits in my brain whenever I have to listen to someone talk through a computer screen and I cannot do it. And unfortunately right now I have put myself into three different situations at once that are requiring me to do either or both. Again: I am an idiot.

Featured in the above image: I am currently enrolled in a program to build online courses through Indiana University. That launched this week, with a horrifying two-and-a-half-hour Zoom meeting last night, and is supposed to be 10-15 hours of work a week on my end, with a $2500 reward if I make it through nine weeks and actually manage to collaborate with other humans to build this class. Unfortunately, the first thing we need to do is make it through this week’s work, which is an “eight to ten hour” Canvas class called Responsive Engagement and Virtual Learner Assessment. I did a few early bits of it today, including a request that we read the article above and “socially annotate” it, and, well, you can see my response to the bit I highlighted in purple on the right.

There are around 200 people involved in this thing, we’re all supposed to do this course this week, and as of right now there are no comments whatsoever past the second page of the article, which is 17 pages long. The yellow highlighted comments at the top there are one person writing “test comment” three times.


The other thing that’s driving me nuts is that we have been in a world where we have done everything online for a solid year and there are still people out there on the “I don’t know how to rotate a PDF” level of understanding of technology. How are you a teacher in April of 2021 and you don’t know how Zoom works? Look at this:

Now, part of this is IU’s fault, because I am a tech guy and even I’ve been kind of blindsided by the sheer number of digital tools that they want us using to be able to do this, and there have been some clear “wait, we sorta fucked up the roll-out here” signs from the people running the program, so I imagine people who aren’t as savvy are probably drowning. But how the hell do you log into Canvas, open a course, navigate through a third of the first module of that course, follow the instructions to open and register for another web service, then use that web service to complete your assignment by saying you don’t have access to Canvas?

Aaaaaauuuuugggghhhhhhh. It reminds me of this:


One more thing, and then I’ll draw this embarrassing bout of whining to a close: part of the 2 1/2 hour zoom-a-thon yesterday was a talk by a retired History professor at IU, of tenuous connection to the course, about what he called bottlenecks to understanding class material. A bottleneck is not an especially complicated concept, and in fact it’s something that’s a known problem by every teacher with more than about ten minutes of experience: that sometimes our students have trouble with our material because of other things that are interfering with their ability to learn said material. Now, he seemed to be limiting himself to academic roadblocks, such as, to stick with the Pythagoras example, if you think “squared” means “multiplied by two,” you’re going to have a hard time figuring out the length of a missing hypotenuse. I asked at one point if he considered economic or family or even motivational factors to be bottlenecks and unfortunately didn’t get an answer. And the lecture was over an hour long, which wouldn’t have been an issue in-person, but over Zoom was absolute torture, because I can’t pay attention to people talking at me on Zoom. It was made worse by the competing factors that 1) I thought the material was a classic example of academics thinking they’ve discovered something that is, forgive the pun, elementary to the people doing the work, and 2) no one else seemed to get what he was talking about. Like, he asked us a couple of times to talk about bottlenecks that we’ve seen from our students in our classes and people just started listing topics. Like, “finding a main idea” is not a bottleneck! Not by itself! “Integers” is not a bottleneck, but brain development issues that make the abstract concept of subtracting a negative to be difficult to understand might be!

tl;dr I am tired and quite possibly an asshole.

Today’s nonsense

I thought I had a Zoom meeting tomorrow from 5:00-7:30 for this course design thing I’m doing with IU. NO! It was today.

They apparently think I’m going to be going to meetings for this thing at 6:30 PM every Friday night for the next nine weeks, and I am discovering that while, as a teacher, I am more than used to working outside contract hours, and more than willing to pull additional duties for extra money, you cannot have my Friday nights, and I’m ready to walk based on that alone. It’s a $2500 stipend for this thing, and my Friday nights may be worth more than that to me. You can have Saturday 9-5, Sunday 9-5, and 5-8 Monday through Thursday if you like. You do not get Friday night.

I just got an email from a student– an in-person student, mind you– asking if she was in class today. Lemme say that again, in case you think it was a typo: she was asking me if she was in class today.

There’s a story here.

There was another one, but fuck, I’m tired. Today was easier than yesterday, but this is effectively First Week of School brutal, and it’s with a Goddamn mask on, so my memory is not what it should be right now.