Today was a perfect storm of administrative tasks with GWC. It was a double witching day – or maybe a triple witching day, depending on how you count. First, it was the last day of the pay period. Second, it was Week 1, Day 1 in four of my seven classes – the first day girls show up. Thirdish – it is Week 2 Day 1 in my other three classes, but since it was a very short week last week, it is really only the fourth day the girls have been there. These three things contrived to keep me busier than a bug zapper in Maine.
One of my responsibilities is to chase down absent students, especially during the first few days of each session. A missing girl at GWC is a Big Deal, for two reasons. First, many of the girls come from difficult situations at home or from difficult neighborhoods, so we need to know they are safe. Second, if a girl does decide not to participate, we’d like to fill her seat as soon as possible from the waiting list, so the next girl does not miss too much. There is a complex procedure in place in order to address these goals.
First, between 9 and 10 am, the teaching team takes attendance in a learning management system (LMS). On Day 1, this is a little tricky, since the girls themselves register in the system. Here is a list of some things that can go um, differently than intended (all of these happened today):
- A girl mistypes her email address, and never gets a confirmation email allowing her to update her password.
- A girl registers for the wrong section – this happened three times in the double classroom.
- A girl comes late, the class has moved on, so the girl doesn’t register at all.
- A girl, well several really, uses a different last name. Or first name. Or both. Yes, both.
- A member of the teaching staff registers (presumably to show a student how).
- The host site plans a tour of the building from 9-11am, so the girls don’t register until after lunch.
- Girls are absent the first day, and so are not there to register.
- An extra girl shows up and registers.
- Teachers who don’t remember how to do the attendance in the LMS.
It is my job to compare this attendance list to the official class rosters. To make this more lively and exciting, the attendance list is sorted by last name, unless a student entered their name in all lower case, in which case the alphabet starts again (A-Za-z). However, the class roster is alphabetical by first name, and can’t be readily sorted. (For some reason, “sordid” leaps to mind here.) The easiest way to compare the two is to pull them up side by side, and step down the roster one by one looking for the name in the attendance, making sure you scroll to the bottom of the list to check for lowercasifiers.
You’d think this would be easy, but I always double check my work by counting how many girls are in the attendance list and how many I think I should have from the roster, after subtracting whoever is absent. It is sometimes even hard to get the count right, since I have to remember to skip girls registered for the wrong section and teachers who registered themselves.
Especially on the first few days, once I get the count right, I send a confirmation email to each teaching team with what I think the attendance is. After an email or two back and forth, we usually (usually) agree on something, and then I move to step two. Note, the teaching team is very busy at this point, trying to coordinate lunches, laptops, fielding questions and go through their lesson plan, so the email responses are not always timely.
Timely means that I am supposed to have the attendance done by 10:30. That is very difficult on the first few days. I try to get the classrooms with no missing students in on time. Next is step two. For each missing student, I need to follow up with an email to the student and parent (sometimes these email addresses are startlingly similar (read: exactly the same), and with a phone call to the parent. I’ve reached the parent (aka emergency contact) about a quarter of the time, maybe less. It’s tricky even to get all the information in the right places to do this. In order to send the emails and make the phone calls, I have to copy and paste the student’s name and email, the parent’s email and the phone number from the roster spreadsheet into the right places. A side note: I had no cell signal in the classroom I was in today, but I did have WiFi, so I used my laptop to make phone calls. And here I spent considerable time this weekend trying to get my cell phone to provide my laptop with WiFi.
In addition to following up with the student and parent/guardian, I have to convey the information to GWC. There is a Google form to fill out for this, once for each missing or extra girl. Yes, extra. It is not uncommon for students who are not on the roster to show up in a classroom. Sometimes they are at the wrong classroom, sometimes they want to change to another classroom, sometimes it’s not clear why they’re there. I had one of those, today, too.
The form asks for the name (cut and paste again) and email (cut and paste again) of the girl, in addition to other information.
I have to track all this information for seven classrooms simultaneously for at least the first eight days the class is in session, so no one falls through the cracks. The attendance requirements will get lighter after the eighth day, since it is too late to accept new girls at that point. It literally took me all day to get this done today. Still we have to keep things lively, so today we had a girl in one class with an apparent allergic reaction to something she ate, and literally, 110 emails. I also half-observed a class for most of the afternoon while I was doing all this other stuff.
That would’ve been a notably busy day, however, that was only half the storm. Since it is the end of payroll, I sent a reminder out Saturday to my teaching teams to make sure to enter their hours in the online system by Sunday night, or they wouldn’t get paid. Now, the online system has been pretty glitchy for the last couple of weeks, so the work around, until things are straightened out, is for each person who reports to me to send me the total number of hours they worked during the period. You’d think people would want to get paid an get right on this. Well, there were a number of people I had to do everything short of calling (I don’t have all the TAs numbers – although I did text an instructor to ask her to remind the TA to get their hours in.) A couple of people took three emails, plus one to the instructor. I got the last one in by about 4 today. Even still, I received an email at 8:48 this evening about it. Plus, many people interpreted total number of hours to be this:
6/26 -> 8:30 – 4:30
6/27 -> 8:30 – 4:30
6/28 -> 8:30 – 4:30
6/29 -> 8:30 – 4:30
6/30 -> 8:30 – 4:30
7/5 -> 7:30 – 5:00
7/6 -> 8:15 – 8:15
7/7 -> 8:11 – 4:50
7/10 -> 8:20 – 4:30
Oh my gosh. Make me have to do hard math. And I haven’t even had my coffee yet 😉
So that was my day. I did get a new keyboard, so typing is a lot better now – I’m down to about a tenth of the errors I was making with the laptop keyboard. Mostl yspacesi nthe wron gplaces.