Mr. Tech Director, Tear Down This Wall*

I hate being absent.

I don’t hate taking time off from work, I just hate being absent. It’s far more work for me to put together sub plans and develop some sort of meaningful activity for the kids than it is to just come in sick and spread whatever disease I’ve got.

In an effort to make learning about grammar a lot more palatable to me my sophomores, I concocted a little research/creative project. Without boring you with details, we spent an hour or so today going over the assignment, talking about objectives, and critiquing models, with an eye to spending the entire block Tuesday researching and designing these projects. Naturally, my kids will have further questions, but I have to be absent; believe me, it’s not my preference.

As I’m writing my sub plans this afternoon, I get a flash of inspiration, and include the following:

I will be available during class time to answer questions. Students may email me at [redacted], or AOL IM me at MrBariexca. I will be online between 7:30 and 9 am, and will be able to answer student questions in realtime.

Oh, yeah. The filter.

I will be available during class time to answer questions. Students may email me at [redacted], or, if they can figure out how to get AOL IM working on the school computers, they can IM me at MrBariexca. I will be online between 7:30 and 9 am, so I should be able to respond in realtime, even by email.

I contemplated providing the sub with a list of proxies students could try to circumvent the filters, or suggesting that they try Meebo (I don’t know if our filter blocks that or not), but ultimately decided against it. After all, I wouldn’t want to put anything incriminating in writing.

I really shouldn’t complain; our filtering system is extremely progressive compared to what other folks deal with, and I have a great deal of respect for the job our IT team does, especially with regard to Internet access/content. I just feel that allowing kids to use these tools appropriately would a) allow my class to run a lot more smoothly in my absence, and b) be another chance to model non-recreational applications for our kids.

I shoulda just left them Christmas Vacation and been done with it.

*Lest anyone accuse me of sexism in my title, I’m just riffing on The Gipper.


  • I’d say more, but there’s nothing more to say. Amen, and amen.

  • Besides, if they ever figure out you’re talking crap about them, they’ll come over and do really bad and aweful things to your blog. I should know; I graduated Comp. Sci.

    Thanks for linking me, sir. Always appreciate the love. Peace.

  • Being able to interact with your students outside the classroom is pretty amazing (when the powers that be let you do it), but turning grammar study into an interesting, creative research and design project is damn near miraculous. Care to share?

  • Speaking of playing with language:

    1. It’s The Great Filter, Charlie Brown
    2. Star Wars: The Filter Strikes Back
    3. Filter, a film by Michael Mann

    You’re doing what all great teachers think to do: stay connected and available to their students.

    Oh, and your Tech Director is doing what s/he should be doing: making arbitrary decisions behind a locked door.

    Just like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups…perfect together.

  • @Taylor: Thanks for the support. Nice to know I’m not alone in my insanity in wanting to stretch myself even thinner than I currently do!

    @Jose/@Ken: Nah, they’re good folks, seriously. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t even mention them here – I know better than to bite the hands that feed me!

    @Audrey: Check your email, and try not to be too disappointed (it is still grammar, after all)

    Turns out everything ran smoothly in my absence after all. Who’da thunk it?

  • Followup: Tried a little test while sitting here on hall duty. School does not block Meebo, which means kids here can use Yahoo, Jabber, Google Talk, MSN, ICQ, or AIM via the web. Hmmmm…

    Also, when I returned, I gave my students explicit permission to use AIM on their cell phones to contact me during class time should a similar situation ever arise. I’ll have to remember to put it in future sub plans.

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