My advanced Language Arts students looked on in utter bewilderment as their semi-beloved teacher started to have a nervous breakdown, opening and closing his mouth like a fish out of water. Finding it difficult to speak, I stared at a desk as my assistant principal , who had just entered to speak to me in the middle of class, gave me the rundown on an issue with the new grading system known as “Skyward.” Apparently, my classes course codes were improperly entered (by a mystery man or woman whose identity still remains a bottled mystery) and I needed to enter my grades into the system all over again. A mental image of a pocket watch with wings gracefully flying out an open window crossed my mind.
But alas! Not all hope was lost! I was able to retrieve a copy of my grades, print them out, and, in the words of Larry the Cable Guy, “Get ‘r Done!” Heroically, (picture me in a Superman cape or at least having a thin sheen of sweat on my brow) I completed the re-entering of grades. This undertaking took time and two Tylenol, but mission accomplished…or so I thought.
Patting myself on the back for a job… um… done, I instinctively stashed a hard copy of the printed out grades in my teacher desk. I am old school by nature. I miss my chalkboard, remember a time in which cell phones were laughably considered pocket size (only if you were WWE’s The Big Show), and used a red book to hand-write every student’s grades. Keeping the printouts just seemed right. And it was a good thing I did.
Upon entering a Process paper assignment, I glanced casually at the first marking quarter grades. Wow, Jim had taken a nose-dive. And so had Maria. And George? Seriously, George too? No way…
My final grades, due in a week’s time, were wrong. All wrong. All significantly lower than what they should have been. Gee, I can be a tough teacher, but this was ridiculous. Immediately grabbing my printed out grades, I was able to compare and contrast, noting disparities as much as a letter grade off. Inspecting a separate screen on the program, I noticed an error I could do nothing to change: for some odd reason, all my students grades were equal to 190%. Why this caused my students’ grades to nosedive remains a mystery.
It is not for me to talk negatively in regards to technology. I am quite sure that the Skyward program, which is being used throughout a large section of Florida, will be the face of the future and a saving grace for teachers. We were told as much and it has been sung about almost chorus-like at the beginning of the school year. Besides, parents are able to access it in order to keep informed about their child’s grades. Contact information can be discovered at the click of a mouse, as opposed to asking a student for it, only to be provided with a non-working number or the one for Bruno’s pizzeria. But kindly excuse me if I do not sing just yet. I smell a Beta version here, a program that still has kinks and cogs that are maladjusted and not in perfect working order.
Ironically enough, my Advanced Language Arts students have just learned the importance of adding moral to a story. This experience contains one of its own: Sometimes it is best to do things old school and through instinct. I keep a hard copy of grades on a zip disk and one that is hand written. Why? Just in case the illustrious Skyward program falls back to Earth again.