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Not Very Good

It’s quite commonly accepted that being able to use a computer is an important part of many professional jobs these days, including being a teacher at a modern school.

It’s certainly important at our school.

So when you walk in to your first day’s IT induction and declare “I’m not very good with computers,” you’re basically walking in on your first day and proclaiming to your new employer “I’m not very good at an important part of the job you’ve hired me for.”

Do not be surprised if this adversely affects my opinion of you.

Top tip for your interview as a Teacher

Here’s a little piece of advice when going to your interview for a teaching position: if you’re going to bring digital resources with you (such as a PowerPoint to support your lesson), don’t bring them on a USB stick that also contains the following:

  • 50+ MP3s of clearly dubious provenance.
  • Fake antivirus malware (that attempts to autorun, naturally).
  • Folders named Sexy, Porn, and xxx

If you do, virus victim or not, I will end up dumping a list of these files to the Terminal when I plug your USB stick into my Ubuntu laptop to rescue the PowerPoint file you need, and I will have a bloody good laugh about it with some colleagues later.

Only you could have done this

Nothing puts me in a good mood first thing on a Monday like having to traipse over to another building in the pouring rain because a teacher forgot that YouTube has its own mute, and that they pressed it last time they watched a video.

Unsecured

I walked into an unlocked classroom yesterday to diagnose a reported printer problem, and sat for 15 minutes at a teacher’s unattended, logged-in workstation, with their car keys and iPhone 5 sitting cheerfully on the desk next to the mouse.

Now, last time I encountered this level of wilful ignorance of security, I emailed the Head from their account to resign, drove their car out to the nearest clifftop, and left it there with the door open and engine running after sending a text to their spouse reading “GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD”. However, my parole officer has been discouraging me from this sort of behaviour, so this time I just locked their workstation and left them a post-it note.

I think I might be going soft in my old age.

Diplomatic Immunity

Recently I wrote some code for our Intranet that issues somewhat blunt reminders to teachers who don’t have their attendance registers done on time (or in some cases, at all).

This has historically been a problem for us, and despite marked improvement in the last year since we changed our electronic registration system, I was keen to finally eradicate the problem forever. However, aware that my usual tone does not always meet with universal approval, I consulted senior management as to whether I should word the reminders more… diplomatically.

Their response could best be summarised as: “f*** diplomacy”.

I’m thinking of having the email framed.

How to confuse your cover teachers

I recently installed these into the languages classrooms of our school:

Dell KB212-B QuietKey AZERTY Keyboard

This makes it a lot easier to produce accents, cédilles, and other diacritics. Our languages teachers, who are both French, love them.

The cover teachers… not so much.

How many teachers does it take to turn on a projector?

Question: How many teachers does it take to turn on a projector?

Answer: Three.

  • One to claim it’s broken when they try to get their presentation working 2 minutes after assembly starts,
  • one to send a student to fetch the technician, and
  • one to tell the technician that they’ve now found the remote as soon as he arrives.

How to make an 80mm CD disappear

Recently I was informed that the DVD drive in our geography teacher’s computer had stopped working. Specifically, it had stopped reading DVDs and started making horrible clunking noises whenever a disc was inserted.

Our geography teacher is quite technology friendly, a trait I’ve noticed in a disproportionate number of geography teachers, so I had no reason to doubt him; even less so once I’d heard the noise for myself.

Assuming mechanical failure, I dutifully swapped the drive with that from the identical computer in the next room, confirming that the problem followed the drive in order to expedite the replacement process with Dell. It still made the horrible noise, but when opened the tray to confirm it still wouldn’t read a disc, this is what I saw:

Yes, this DVD drive had an acute case of “That Shouldn’t Be There”.

Read More…

Glad I Could Help

The office phone rings.

“Hello?”

“Hi, I’m in the IT lab and I’ve got the projector on, but it says ‘no signal’, is there something I need to do on the computer?”

“Look to your right. What do you see?”

“The wall?”

“And on the wall?”

“There’s a bit of paper that says How to switch the computer onto the proj… oh. Right. Oops.”

“Glad I could help.”

Easiest. Install. EVER.

I have a policy that any software purchase by anyone in the school has to be done through the IT department. There are several stated reasons for this:

  1. To check that the software actually works on a domain with a non-admin logon.
  2. To check it doesn’t have ridiculous copy protection measures such as having to have the CD in the drive (our lab machines don’t have CD drives).
  3. To ensure we shop around for the best price (instead of being suckered by a single overpriced supplier who happened to send a mailshot to a teacher).
  4. To make sure we actually buy the right number of licenses (we’ve all had requests to install single user editions on an entire lab – or more – and refusal often offends).

However, there are also some unofficial reasons. One of these is to make sure we’re not wasting the school’s money on utter junk. Another reason is to prevent the situation we had this week:

  • I was passed some new software for install that had just been bought by a department head.
  • I looked at the CD case and realised I’d installed software from this manufacturer before so it would probably be nice and easy.
  • I looked a bit harder and realised it was in fact the same software I installed before, that we had owned a site licence for since before I worked at the school, and that was installed on the department head’s computer in 2010.

A quick visit to the teacher in question revealed that the software was in fact on the Start Menu under their department folder, and was working just fine.

They had just forgotten it existed, and never actually used it. Still, it made for an easy install.