Monday, 24 October 2016

What Really Happened at My School with the OSSLT

*This blog post probably won’t make me that popular, but it’s been bubbling to come out ever since I read the reactions to last week’s fail of EQAOs online OSSLT.*

I was one of the teachers on the team at my school to get everything ready. My jobs were to make sure the SDC was accurate, with all accommodations listed for all those writing and to set up the groupings (ie rooms) for everyone. I also had to get out the letters to parents telling them which accommodations their child was receiving. Getting the AT (assistive technology) checked out and running was another item on my To Do List. When the test is written in March, I have 7 weeks to complete these tasks. This time I had 4. What could go wrong?

Most of the teachers at my school pitched in to help our students be as successful as possible. This looked like specific skill lessons and paper practices within the various curriculum areas. Teachers also had students go online to practice the Sample test, both on the public site and, once it was up, through the kiosk. Countless hours were spent by our entire school community in prepping for this test – kinesthetically and psychologically. We encouraged, reassured, pushed and explained. REPEAT.

On the Monday, three days before the test, I had students go online to practice, through the kiosk, with tickets (passwords). I went into one class per period, for the first three periods of the day. Students were in different rooms and were using different devices – hardwired PCs, wireless laptops, and Chromebooks. There were various issues even then. Students were getting frozen out, their timing was counting down and then, for no discernible reason, they’d get back into the test. It was obvious that it wasn’t our school or Board bandwidth. We were fully prepared for this test not to work!

And guess what – it didn’t!!! No matter the reason HACKED?!  – and here’s where I’ve been inspired to write this post. This was an authentic example of the need to be adaptable and resilient. STUFF happens in life that may not be according to our plans and beyond our control. You’re leaving for a trip on March Break – the ONLY time you can travel and there’s a snowstorm that grounds your flight. You’re on your way to a theatre production or to work and your (car) (subway) (train) breaks down or you get behind a massive accident. You’re buying groceries or filling up your car and you go to pay with debit and the machines are all down.  I suppose you can curl up in a ball and sob uncontrollably, or you can yell and scream and then get on with it.  Of course disappointment is to be expected, but vitriolic outbursts and disgust is not very progressive. Our kids experienced disappointment, the aftermath of being anxious and nervous to have it all for naught and – they were not mortally wounded.  Teachers played a large role in keeping things in perspective and were living, breathing examples of #resilience, with a measure of #adaptability. There’s so much else in the world that could happen that would be deemed a devastating catastrophe. If this is the worst thing our students ever experience, I’m thinking they’re very lucky and blessed.