‘The things we don’t know, we don’t know.’

October 12, 2008 § Leave a comment

Expected difficulties can be managed. In terms of the curriculum; new staff, a new KS2 curriculum, a new Unit of work for Year 9s, in their new sets. A revised unit of work (well, almost) for Yr 10s and finally, a new course for low ability students in Yrs 9 and 10 (with a newly associated ICT staff, a Teaching Assistant, workign with a full time member of staff) and not being able to set in Yr 11. We knew that challengeing the expectations of students with 2/3/4 years experience at Hamble College would be professionally draining. We are also expecting a PGCE student, thats another 1st for the Department, but another strain on my time.

On a positive note, our new member of staff has made a very positive start. The lesson are prepared for each class ahead of schedule and a senior member of staff has prepared hard resources where appropriate. He has made an impact on the Department immediately, his professional IT knowledge and ICT skills are very strong and his enthusiam for ICT infectous, his open classroom at lunchtimes means rearely is there not an ICT facility open. Finally, having three staff members occupying the three IT rooms has improved security and overall behaviour within the rooms. What will it be like when / if we get a fourth?

Unit 4 has been prepared and scripted for all staff (revised as it is taught for the first time), Unit 1 was in the process of being revised, more of that in the ‘things we dont know, we dont know.’

In terms of the IT Management; a new network, AUPs, classroom management software, online registration, implementing wireless through out the site, mobile simms, preparing the new IT office and projectors in all classrooms. I knew that these tasks would drain time. It was going to be a demanding terms, did I mention my wife gave birth to our fisrt Son Harry at the end of August??? At least we knew to expect him!

So to the focus of what all young managers learn, I presume the hard way. It is not what we know and plan to manage that causes the most frustration, but the ‘things we don’t know, we don’t know.’

The new term has been really challenging, despite knowing it was going to be demanding, alloting overflow time, I will try and summarise the reasons for this;

  1. network issues, we expected some issues, but we got more that we had expected. User areas dropping out led to teaching being stalled.
  2. not having the expect AUP and classroom management software meant it was more difficult to manage students classroom behaviour. With just three days of ABTUTOR being installed, we are already seeing improved productivity.
  3. College website lost and community website lost in the network upgrade
  4. wireless not fully installed, impacting on registration. This was always possible outcome, but poor cabling / patch manangement, meant a delay.
  5. network and registration took priority, this meant other smaller jobs got delayed.
  6. no IT help desk / ICT room booking – that is purely my fault. I did not know that this was essential. Let me emphase how important it is. Without order to the IT Network management, jobs we not completed with forethought or planning. In term this meant more ‘time’ spent managing following up what was, or wasnt completed on time.
  7. Science were expecting a new IT suite. This was only confirmed in the thrid week of term. Another 2 days work unaccounted for.
  8. Unit 1 was not completed as proscribed. I did not expect to have to push a second SOW through aswell as Unit 4, (I was a little disappointed). Again the infrastructure behind the teaching should a serious concern for 2008/9.

I am sure that there were other issues, some small and others more significant, but the workload has meant that I have found it almost impossible to write to this blog regularly. I am conscious that I need time to reflect and  I am committed to this blog. Unfortunately, my professional reflection time has been almost completely eroded by a task list that keeps adding to itself.

Despite the fact I gave our teacher and network teams ‘overflow time’ I doubt if I will ever experience another year in Hamble College ICT like it? Everything was push push push it through. Yes we can, we will try, we hope to be. That is not to say I will not experience something similar in another role or College. So crucially, what woudl I do differently? Well I am not sure I could have done much differently. Only to learn from the experience, I dont think within the current situation we could have taken on less?

The network faults, the lack of wireless (cabling), the need for online registration, appointments (or lack of a network manager) were constants and were outside my control. I do believe that not having a help desk and the ability to record and prioritise ‘jobs,’ negatively impacts on IT management and staff time. Also I am sure it has negatively effected the wider College staffs overall impression of the IT management with College. With two weeks to half term, we still have jobs being actioned, we are looking to half term as our first opportunity to move the IT office and improve communication, to finalise the requried tasks and start to impact on the teaching practices within the College.

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