I didn’t absolutely have to go to school on Friday, but I went.  I didn’t have my computer because it was not waking up from sleep, as I gather they sometimes do, and Mr. Tumnus, one of the IT guys, kindly said he would look at it for me.  So I had a massage first (and got some wonderful work on the strained glute that has been bugging me for two weeks) and got to school roughly in time for lunch.

As in previous years, for the seven school days before the first day of classes, the school is providing a communal buffet lunch in the old gym for everyone who’s working on campus, and I walked over with Teacher Z and Akela.  Teacher Z was in a state of anxiety because when she got back after two months away, mostly in China, she found an unexpected new computer on her desk, but she couldn’t find any of the files she had saved on her old one.

Again: communication.

Akela and I both said that the files had surely been saved or moved for her, and as it happened, the first person we saw at lunch was the IT director, who assured her that any files saved on the local disk would have been migrated to her network folder (which is where we are supposed to save things anyway, but old habits sometimes die hard).  I should have stayed 100% out of this conversation, but unfortunately I was already percolating about the communication problem and I also couldn’t resist trying to help clarify (or “clarify,” since initially I think I mostly muddied the waters) what it was Teacher Z was trying to explain.  Bad impulse.  I could also see that the IT director was tired and harried–of course the beginning of the year is rough on them, and the communication problems cause them stress and confusion, too.  On the drive home, I found myself having an imaginary conversation with him about it, and thinking about whether I could have this conversation in real life, and also about whether I should.  He and I have a pretty good relationship–in part, I think, because I always try to appreciate what IT does and not only to tell him/them so, but also to do it in front of the GGE and other people involved in managing and coordinating with IT.

Pardon me for making this very broad characterization, but–the IT people are kind of characteristic of Myers-Briggs ST types: they like to identify problems and solve them.  They are less interested in narrating or interpreting.  So, for example, when Mr. Tumnus returned my laptop, he told me he hadn’t been able to replicate the sleep problem–he let it go to sleep and didn’t have any trouble waking it up.  I doubt he did what a non-techy person like me would do, which is to Google “thinkpad yoga sleep mode problem” and then to read through a bunch of forums filled with people fulminating and theorizing about it.  His view is probably that we should see if it keeps happening, and indeed that will be my approach as well.  From reading the forums, I now know the emergency workarounds if it just happens once in a while, and if it is a regular thing, I am pretty sure that if I take it back to Mr. Tumnus, he will take the problem-solving to the next level and follow it through to a solution of some kind. I just probably won’t get a very clear story or explanation about it.  There was someone in IT who was a good narrator and communicator, and who, unsurprisingly, everyone in the English Department liked a lot, but he was let go this summer, for reasons which remain obscure to me, although it seems very possible that he wasn’t a very good fit with the department…

By the way, except for the sleep issue, I am now quite excited about the new computer I didn’t know I was getting.  It seems like just the right machine for teachers who have to share classrooms as much as we do. (Yes, the room issue is back. Not as badly, but we’re just jammed.  Orsino will be teaching three classes in my room, and I will have just one free prep period in there.)  It’s small and light, easy to pick up and take along.  You can fold it in half and use it as a tablet; it has a touchscreen and stylus. I’m already plotting to keep all my meeting notes and teacher observation notes on it.  They gave me a full-size keyboard and mouse, and I’m keeping my big monitor (actually, they’re telling me I need a new one with better resolution and which will play better with the laptop).

I was planning to write about what it feels like to re-enter the year, especially all the conversations I am having with so many different people, and my thoughts about helping the new hires get settled, but I think this is enough for right now.  Off to work on class preparation in earnest.  More soon.


2 responses to this post.

  1. The head of our IT department is a fabulous communicator, which seems like an extraordinary and wonderful combination. Unfortunately, he really only gets to talk about technical issues. We have another person who’s our Academic Technology person, and while she is also a great speaker, there is clearly an agenda to everything she says, and asking questions that might be perceived as skeptical is frowned upon in a decided way. Ah well. That is one of the issues that I have decided just to let go this year.


    • Posted by meansomething on August 17, 2014 at 8:18 pm

      I should realize that one of the possible outcomes of hiring an academic technology person is the party line you describe! This is currently part of Penelope’s work, but so much of her time is consumed by scheduling and other things that in practice she doesn’t spend much time helping people or departments figure out what they need/can/want to do with technology, although she has been helpful to me on some specific projects.


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