Lesson 11: Army ants

At this time I honestly don’t know exactly what the lesson is, but I figure that as a write, the idea will come to me.

When we had finished recording high school level, it was time to upload the activities that were related to each lesson. They consisted of a Blog entry, some questions about that blog entry, interactive activities, an exam at the end of the lesson and frequently asked questions.
We had to manually upload every single letter of those activities. They hadn’t developed a way to automatically upload this information (they still haven’t). Also, we had a system that didn’t allow right-clic options. So we had to manually select a piece of text, type Ctrl-C, then go to the system window and Ctrl-V the information on to it.

This was very tedious work. Imagine having to copy and paste 25 questions, then their possible answers (3 at least) for 30 something lessons. Then frequently asked questions were about 5 per lesson (times 30 as well). In short, it was quite a lot of information to copy and paste manually.
And, as always, they wanted this done yesterday. So, their idea to get this done quickly? Everyone do it.

We divided the work. Or distributed rather. One person got 5 exams to upload and someone else got 10 exams of that same subject.
In this way, one subject was being managed by two or three people at the same time.

And it was done like that, no questions asked, just upload everything as quickly as you can. Of course, something done in haste has a high chance of resulting with poor quality.
And it did.
Files got lost and there were many mistakes made. If a physics teacher was uploading a History test, it would have been difficult for him to spot a mistake in context or an important date. The same happend with biology teachers that uploaded information for math or calculus.

It got done quickly, yes. But at the cost of quality. To this day I still don’t understand why that had to be done so quickly, since there weren’t any students enrolled. One might think that they wanted to save expenses, but the difference in doing it with more care would have been a couple of days. Maybe a week.

quality

And we ended up re-doing this a few months later, when there wasn’t much to do. Maybe this was their plan all along, to do the exact same thing two times.
So what was the point of doing everything in a hurry? Just the fact of being able to say ‘it’s done’ (even if we don’t know what the hell we uploaded because there were so many people involved in the process). Again, the lack of organization was evident.

Therefore, one more time: organize, organize, organize. That is the lesson. Even if we had to do something quickly, nothing would have happened if we had taken a couple of hours trying to figure out the best way to get the work done.
A two hour salary of three or four people is much cheaper than the salary of 15 people during three weeks. So spend some time planning and figuring out WHAT you need to get done and HOW to do it. Also consider the possible implications or consequences. This alone can save a few headaches. Then go ahead and act.

What came next could be the only outcome of this lack of vision.

Next: Dude, where’s my file?

 

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Lesson 2: Stealing

So now we know that Larry, -this guy who had no specialized training- was leading this new project.

What happened next?
When he started working over there, he made sure that everyone at school KNEW that he was working for a big-shot investor and that the project was big and would eventually, thrive. Remember he was still teaching, but working with Mr.Gestures in the afternoons. He has always been cocky and somewhat arrogant, and he doesn’t even try to hide it.
But he needed something else to make the project work: teachers.
Math teachers, history teachers, science teachers, english teachers and so on.

So, this guy started talking to some of us who were currently teaching. I was one of them. But the idea didn’t really convince me at that time. I was focused on my current job and on my newborn son. And besides, I didn’t really know him that well, so I couldn’t just quit my job without knowing what I was getting into.
There was another teacher, who I will call Matthew. He taught chemistry and math at school and he was a good friend of Larry. To me, he had a lot more common sense than Larry, was more focused and I believed he was a more honest person. Not to say that Larry wasn’t, but Matthew just seemed like a nicer guy. I also knew him a bit better than I knew Larry.

So, they started talking about the new project and, eventually Matthew quit the job at school and started working with Larry and Mr. Gestures.
Some days went by and I got a call from Larry, asking me to try out this new project. I declined, again.
A few weeks went by and I got another call. This time from Matthew. He told me they needed a math teacher. It wasn’t my specialty but I had taught the subject a couple of times and believed I could design the lessons. I would have to design and record the lessons since it was an on-line school.
Matthew said that I didn’t have to quit my current job. I could do it on my own time, as freelance work.
So, I accepted and eventually I started working with them on the new project. How did they convince me? Well, I figured it was an interesting idea, it was new, I believed that it was the future of teaching and I thought to myself ‘well, if Matthew is there and he is close to Larry, maybe he can knock some sense into him’. Therefore, I went for it.
The school year had also ended and I wasn’t getting paid a steady salary. I had to wait for two months until the new school year would begin. My child needed his formula and diapers, so I thought ‘what the heck’.

Now here is where the stealing part comes in.
Larry started calling ALL of the teachers at the school and offering them high salaries, great benefits, a cool working environment, constant raises and a load of other things so that they would go work for him. And he succeeded with a lot of teachers.
He got about 8 of us. We all believed in what he said. And we were in for the ride.
Many thought that it wasn’t right for him to bring teachers that he knew from the previous job and let the school have a hard time replacing us.

That, of course, was not something that Larry should have worried about, but the principle is the same. He took people that were already tested and trained, and brought them for his advantage. You could even say that this was clever. But, in time, he would pay for this feat in a similar way.
So, the lesson to be learned here is to be honest. In a way, he lied to us to get us where he wanted. He took advantage of the trust that most of us had for Matthew to convince us. Of course he didn’t put a gun to our heads to do as he pleased, but it’s always better to be honest, not lie and cheat to get what you want.
As a consequence, the owners of the other school, who are-to this day-some of the most influential people in the city-can’t even look at Larry. He sacrified an important contact for a project with someone who he barely knew and who didn’t have the same reputation as the other people.
So, always be honest. At your job, at home, wherever. Honesty truly is the best policy.

Next: Lesson 3- No man’s land.