Monday, January 14, 2013

Flex week: to maximize your chance of survival

 Stop living in an ivory castle! –An illiterate Trustee John Williams, chastising trustee Dave Lang concerning the latter’s opposition to arming campus cops, September 14, 1998 (see)

Sharon M
     IT'S TIME ONCE AGAIN for “Faculty Professional Development Week,” aka “Flex Week”—or at least it will be time, starting tomorrow morning.
     As I’m sure you are aware, “flex” abbreviates “flexible.” The notion of a flex week reportedly originates with the practice, in Nazi Germany, of publicly (and violently) bending the persons of academics around “unwholesome and worthless” abstract sculptures and paintings. Fortunately, the term no longer refers to this, though it does retain some of its original meaning.*
     With Gary Poertner as Chancellor, the new norm comprises, among other things, an annual—as opposed to biannual—“Chancellor’s Opening Session,” which occurs in the fall; hence, there’s no Chancellor’s session this week. This is unfortunate for scribblers such as I, but it does have the advantage of reducing the potential of gatherings in which both Sherry Miller-White and Sharon Macmillan appear together, a situation risking a triggering of the apocalypse.

     1. THE "ACTIVE SHOOTER" THREAT. I observe that, on Tuesday, IVC Chief of Police Will Glen will present information regarding “classroom & office safety.” Evidently, he will focus on the “active shooter.”
     Before proceeding, I must protest: shooting necessarily is an action; hence the term “active shooter” shares the absurdity of the phrase “active actor.” On the other hand, a “shooter” will inevitably spend part of his time not shooting—e.g., while stopping for a smoke or bathroom break. I prefer to call such individuals “a shooter smoking” and “a shooter going to the bathroom.”
     The schedule describes Glen’s presentation thus:
     At any given time, the reality is an active shooter will strike somewhere in someone’s workplace. If that workplace is yours, you’ll need the proper mindset and tools to react with purpose and to maximize your chance of survival.
     Police Chief Will Glen will discuss this very important topic and help you to prepare should you face this real possibility.
     Well, yes, it is in some sense a “real” possibility. —I mean, school shootings, though extremely rare, do happen. On the other hand, being struck by lightning is considerably more likely than encountering an “active shooter” at school. I once saw a tornado while standing at the IVC bus stop. (It caused some damage to nearby homes. Luckily, no one was hurt.) My guess is that injury or death from a tornado is also more likely than injury or death from a school shooting. And so one wonders why the college has never offered flex week activities about those phenomena.
     Gosh, sometimes I think that what colleges (and other entities involving lots of people) choose to do doesn’t reflect reality so much as the public’s perception of reality. And, as you know, and as I often tell my students, if the public were a person, he’d surely be an idiot. (Don't forget that George W. Bush was reelected.)
     This whole business reminds one of a BOT meeting in 2007. As we reported previously,

     During the September 24, 2007 meeting of the SOCCCD board of trustees, San Clemente City Councilman Steve Knoblock addressed the trustees concerning the specter of school violence with its “burgeoning body count." The Republican politico ridiculed the nation’s feeble efforts in addressing violent outbreaks (he mentioned reliance on "sensitivity training," among other things).
     Knoblock's bold recommendation: reject the “strategy of duck and cover” in favor of a strategy of “self defense."
     Said he,
Tod Burnett's personal arsenal
"We may see less school slaughter if students are trained and encouraged to protect themselves. On hand in every classroom and on every school campus there are innumerable books, chairs, backpacks, laptop computers, shoes, etc., that can be used at a moment’s notice as defensive projectile weapons against armed assassins…."
     Afterward, trustee Tom Fuentes, former chair of the local Republican Party, noted that Mr. Knoblock is an “esteemed” member of the community (i.e., he's a Republican).
     You can view Knoblock’s comment here: streaming video.
     Jump to section 2.5 (public comments).
     And, no, I'm not making any of this up. [END]

     2. THE BLIND LEADING THE PISSED-AT-THE-BLIND. At 2:00 on Tuesday, Dean Cipres will present something called:
Students Acting Out in Your Classroom? What Should You Do?
     It is described thus:
     What constitutes disruptive behaviors and the teamwork needed to successfully address, correct and prevent future violations of the IVC Student Code of Conduct [sentence fragment—or question sans question mark]. In addition, a representative from the Community Service Programs will cover community resources such as their 24-hour crisis hotline, crisis response team, family counseling and various community education programs.
     In recent years, some disturbing episodes of potential violence have been mishandled at the college. And so, naturally, we will now hear about ways of handling such episodes—from the chief mishandler.
     Evidently there are those who suppose that her presentation is so damned important that it needs to be repeated Wednesday morning, for, indeed, it will be. Bring popcorn.
     For a delightful romp through our recent past re "disturbed students" and addled administrators, read
Running with Scissors - Nov 3 10
More criticism for IVC administration - Nov 5 10
Benighted and bewildered - Jan 11 11
Listening? - Feb 28 12
     3.  DELIVERING MULTIMODAL COMMUNICATIONS. This year’s winner of the “Writing to Annoy” Prize is shared by two exquisitely pestiferous Flex presentation blurbs:

The Completion Agenda: What is it and what are the implications for IVC?
"Metrics."
How do we measure completion at IVC? … Depending where you look, you may see that IVC has an ARCC “student progress and achievement rate” of 68%, and IPEDS completion rate of 38%, or a VFA completion rate of 9%. The proliferation of completion metrics are part of the increased attention on student completion that has been dubbed “the completion agenda”. Rather than a uniform movement, the completion agenda is really more of an arena for ideas and metrics that are competing for our mindshare. …[K]nowing what our target is depends on how success is defined and measured. Something as apparently simple as a graduation rate actually has a variety of different implantations and definitions….
Comment: people who use the term “mindshare” are either a**holes or business teachers or both. And “implantations”? C’mon.

Sherpa: Using a Recommendation Engine to Help IVC Students Succeed
The South Orange County Community College District has created Sherpa, an academic recommendation engine that combines human expertise and predictive analytics to provide students with the right information at the right time…. Sherpa uses time and event ‘triggers’ to deliver multimodal (email, SMS, voice, text-to-speech, MySite messages or to-do list items), personalized communications such as: helping students find acceptable alternatives when their preferred courses are full, targeting at-risk students for academic interventions, tailoring information about campus events to individual interests and pushing important tasks into students’ personal to-do lists. It’s almost complete so now we need your help to determine the best way to use this tool to help our students succeed.
Comment: “Helping students,” “targeting” students, “tailoring information,” and “pushing” tasks—these are communications? No, worse, they're “multimodal” communications! And they're "delivered"! Heimat Land!

     Winners can pick up their prizes at the faculty Café (nobody and nothing will be there, as always).

*After all, SLOs are unwholesome and worthless abstractions, and we are compelled to twist our professional lives around them, wasting vast sums of taxpayer money.

6 comments:

  1. I think they added the "active shooter" flex activity AFTER the Newtown shooting.

    I don't lack confidence in our campus cops - I lack confidence in what happens BEFORE they are needed. The person responsible for addressing student conduct and behavior doesn't give me confidence at all. Some people don't file those reports any more because it seems so useless to do so. The administrative response is tepid bordering on will disregard.

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  2. 10:12, are you referring to a dean whose last name rhymes with "feckless"?

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  3. What ever happened to ATEP?

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  4. ATEP? Well, representatives of the colleges take turns—of precisely equal duration and intensity—digging a huge money pit.

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  5. DANG, you are funny, BvT/Roy/Chunk. Thank you for the wonderful Dustin Hoffman graphic ("metrics") and the "Writing to Annoy" Prize. What the he-- happens to these people? Do you suppose they were once clear-headed souls who somehow were corrupted by the very awful writing they now engage in?..... Probably not, I guess. It's a huge shame. But thanks for the laughs!

    mah

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