Sunday, September 08, 2019

IO Classroom Sucks

I used to write that Skedula sucks, but it became the first thing you saw when you googled Skedula. I'm not sure whether or not that's why they changed their name, but they still suck. One of the reasons they suck is they are totally unresponsive. They actually sent someone to my school a few years back, and asked us what we wanted to see improved. Of course, no improvements followed.

This year IO Classroom sucks, but it's not 100% their fault. It's also the fault of the execrable Part 154, enacted by the geniuses in Albany to make sure that English Language Learners (ELLs) don't fritter away valuable classroom time learning English. Instead, we prep them for the English Regents exam. I'd argue the English Regents exam is the second worst test I've ever seen. The worst, of course, is the NYSESLAT, which theoretically measures English ability, but actually places students very poorly (and also rates teachers very poorly).

A particularly insightful idea the geniuses in Albany had was to group ELLs by grade rather than language level. Consequently, they decreed that students may be no more than one grade apart. That might make sense with very young children. For example, 1st and 4th graders may be at very different places developmentally. The Regents applied this across the board though, and couldn't be bothered noting that 9th and 12th graders may not have that issue. In fact, as someone who's taught them for decades, I can assure you they don't.

However, because of the directive by the Regents, I now find myself teaching as many as four classes in one room. (By "room," of course, I mean room, half-room, or trailer, all of which I teach in this semester. Thankfully, unlike the room and trailer, the half-room is actually air-conditioned.) There are several issues with this, the worst of which is recording grades for four classes instead of one. Actually, so far, there are only three, as four of my sixteen classes don't yet have students in them.

An administrator helped me the other day. There is, evidently, a way to combine classes within IO classroom. I thought that would solve my issue. To an extent, it did. I was able to combine my active classes together and rename them by period, as opposed to the long and incomprehensible letter and number alphabet soup mandated by the city. So I am now able to write, say, "homework #1," and assign it to three classes at a time. That's great.

Here's the problem, though--when I try to actually grade the homework, it shows up as three classes again. This means I have to separate the assignments into groups, or jump back and forth in those letter and number groups I don't recognize. This was not so bad last year, when I had only two groups in a class. After a while, I kind of remembered who fell into which groups. Three, likley four as I get more incoming, is beyond the pale.  If I had a paper marking book, I'd simply alphabetize all the students together and mark them very quickly.

This is redundant paperwork. IO Classroom ought to fix this instantly. If they don't, they'll have to deal with a UFT paperwork complaint, because I certainly won't hesitate to file it. Like every teacher, I haven't got time to jump through hoops on a daily basis in order to satisfy their lack of foresight and flexibility.
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