Sunday, August 7, 2011

Know your audience

Somewhere between a Minneapolis school assignment letter and a 6 hour death by powerpoint, you'll find the ideal school welcome / parent orientation. We'll let you know if we ever attend one. Actually, that is a little unfair, Dara's school did a good job.

Toby's new school, Indus, has many great qualities, they really love their IB focus and do a good job of explaining the philosophy of this program to families experiencing it for the first time. In fact it was reassuringly similar to the way we heard it in Mpls. I was also pleasantly surprised to know that even though classes are limited to max 25 students there are two full teachers in each room. Not teaching assistants, but two teachers. The food is good, buildings are light and airy, the extra-curriculars are varied, specialist staff are numerous and and the uniform is rather smart.

A few highlights from the group session in the Sports Hall:
- 20 slides on school safety policies. I had not been concerned about Toby's safety, and the longer it went on the less confident I felt. I think I peaked about slide 12.
- Show & Tell of nearly every member of the Parent Advisory Council, several repetitions of how to get involved, raise issues and clarification that they are not the school governors.
- About 8 esoteric references to the OLPC policy before it was revealed that this stands for One Laptop Per Child [grades 5 + up]. I'll let you figure out OLPT yourselves.
- 10 minute apology for the brand of laptop they had picked with reassurances that it really is powerful enough for what the kids need and no need to worry, and sorry they don't support mac platforms and... do you think they get feedback from all the IT parents???

I felt a bit sorry for the IT Director. Actually his presentation had some fine moments. His first slide was a 10 digit number, no text, and it flashed for 3 seconds. After it had gone, he informed us that we should all make a note of that number... it flashed back at various intervals and I managed to get it all down - we are assuming it is his phone number, but this was not confirmed, could be a nuclear code, so I'm not sharing. Then, there was a powercut; not unusual in these parts, so we all sat patiently. Then the power came back and we watched IT guy reactivate the projector and reload his presentation, just so he could say. "and this is my final slide, thank you" before handing over to a group that did not have tech needs.

The repetition and reading of ppt slides was a good display of differentiation. I found it excessive, but as the majority of the audience was not listening in their first language, it was actually a useful tactic.

Final result, I am super excited for Toby to start school, and it has taken me less than a week to identify a useful volunteer task for July next year :) I'm a proud Indus parent.

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