Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Maybe We Can Stack Them on the Bookshelves?

As school starts on Friday, teachers and support staff had to report to work on Tuesday. It was actually nice to get back into the swing of things. I'm one of those people who do better (especially when it comes to watching what I eat) when I have more structure in my days, and school certainly provides that.

One of the new things we're piloting this year is a web-based gradebook program. I've already been through the training and this program is going to be light-years ahead of the ones we used last year. Last year we had continual problems with uploads, files getting corrupted, servers crashing and just about anything bad you can think of. It frustrated us and it frustrated the parents. The only people who were delighted with all our problems were the kids who loved it when mom and dad couldn't check up on them. Those days are past. Now, the grades are accessible as soon as you save them, we're doing attendance electronically, and it's a much more stream-lined and user-friendly. One of my favorite features is it allows parents to request an email progress report whenever they want - daily if they so desire.


Being a pilot school means that we're going live with this program without much of a chance to test it. Instead of dumping data from an old program, (which was a dog and goodness knows what troubles that would cause) our guidance department (which is phenomenal) was going to go live with raw data. I don't know all the details, but I guess one of the biggest challenges was scheduling the students, not so much due to the software, but due to all the kids who have to been in classes that are offered only once a day - gifted classes, special education programs, and the like. It was apparently quite the nightmare.

So today the rumor went around that we could go look at our rosters as they were available. There's nothing a teacher likes more than getting his or her hands on new rosters. We all want to see if we got kids we wanted (or kids we didn't). I was particularly interested to see if some kids I'd requested (siblings of kids I loved, and one kid from gameclub who I really connected with) were on my team. It's always kind of like opening a Christmas present when you get your rosters.

Boy was I in for a surprise!

I pulled up the website, logged in, when to the gradebook section, and discovered that my homeroom class (which is also my 3rd period class as I have 1st and 2nd planning, and which is also the same group of kids I get at the end of the day for a 15 minute advisory) had 37 students enrolled.

That's 37.

That's not a typo.

I have 28 seats.

Do you see a problem here?

I could, if pushed, find room for 32 kids and that's filling up every available isolation seat. I only have 7 tables (because that's all my room can hold) for my students to sit at. That's 28 I need to find space for 9 more.

My other seventh grade science classes have 25, 25, and 27 kids, which is fine. My one eighth grade health class has 29, but that's fine as well. I knew that my science class sizes would go up as I'm teaching four, not five, sections due to volunteering to take the health class. Last year I had classes with 19 kids, and they lacked the dynamic, especially in class discussions, that a larger group of kids would possess.

But 37 kids?

I have been assured that this is temporary, that the rosters are not finalized, and that they'll try to even things out. I've also been told that a lot of kids move over them summer so hopefully they won't all show up.

We shall see.


HappyChyck said...

Ouch! That a big one! Sounds like it might be a problem with the schedule? Maybe some of those students can go to your other sections. Hope things level out!

Karen said...

Can I ask what gradebook program you are using? I'm trying out an online gradebook where parents will have access to grades as well as have reports emailed to them at their request. I'm using Snap Grades. I have a trial membership that will allow me to use it for the first couple of months before I commit to buying it. My AP is interested in getting one for the whole school, so I am kinda piloting it for him. I'm actually excited about using it, even though my biggest weakness is grading in a timely manner; I'm hoping it will help me change that : )

The Bus Driver said...

sounds like something might be wrong with the system if the other classes are showing numbers of kids in the 20's

Teacha said...


Every year my classes are overloaded, so I really understand you problem. My 2nd year teaching I had 60 students enrolled in one section of World History. 50 of the students actually showed up. It took more than 4 weeks to straighten the mess out!

Mister Teacher said...

Yikes! We have a cap at 22 students in TX for 3rd grade, but the times I've had 24 or 25, it seems like the biggest headache ever! I can't imagine 37 or even 32!!!

I think we're supposed to be using an online grade book this year called Grade Speed (always makes me think of Nicholas Cage's character from The Rock -- Stanley Goodspeed).

Oh, and your copy of Learn Me Good is in the mail and on its way. Thank you again for taking advantage of the Teacher Discount! :)

Mrs. T said...

37 is too many. Hope they fix it!