I try to make a phone call to every student’s parents or guardians before school begins. It is a long process – I have 120 students on my rosters, and sometimes I have to call multiple numbers before I get through. Some lines are disconnected, other parents speak Spanish (and my Spanish is very weak), but I try my best to overcome those obstacles, and parents always appreciate the effort.
But there is one obstacle that is very difficult to overcome: LAUSD’s online student information system (MiSIS).
The way that MiSIS is set up, the system is essentially in hibernation over the summer. Teachers have no classes, and therefore have no students. From our side, we cannot access student information. While they can print some reports, many of those do not function either.
This creates several problems.
One problem is that I, as a teacher, cannot access student phone numbers. That means I can’t even get the numbers I want to call so that I can introduce myself. There is a weird way that administrators can access this through MiSIS ad hoc, but I don’t think that approach is well understood.
Another problem is that during the summer, teachers cannot access the contact log, so even if I do get through to parents, I cannot log the contact officially.
Another problem is that during the summer, teachers cannot make a seating chart on MiSIS, which would speed up the attendance process.
Another problem is that during the summer, teachers cannot access students’ data, so if I want to see my students’ data and prepare for their needs on day one, I am out of luck. That is because LAUSD’s MyData system feeds out of MiSIS.
Another problem is that during the summer, teachers cannot reset students’ MyMail email passwords. As you can imagine, many students forget their passwords to their LAUSD provided email accounts. In order to reset it, you need to use MyData, which feeds out of MiSIS.
That then means that those students cannot log into to their brand new grade book because they do not have passwords.
In fact, if those students can’t get passwords, they cannot even log in to district-owned a chromebook.
Now, of course, I have figured out work arounds for most of these things. I got a roster for my students, then used an old grade book our school had to get student phone numbers. I got student data by asking the students’ former teachers. And I have delayed introducing the grade-book until we have full password memorization.
But that is not how this is supposed to work. MiSIS is supposed to help things run smoothly and integrate everything. And it usually does. During the school year, I actually quite like the system. But in the first days of school, the system’s slow awakening from its summer slumber hampers teachers ability to start the year properly.