Sunday, April 23, 2006


Why is it whenever I take a class, I get the one person who comes in late and doesn't get what's going on sitting next to me? Whhyyyyy?

I took my first of two MS Project 2003 classes yesterday. I got there early (as always -- thanks mom for making me an early person and not a late person), so I got my pick of computer station. I somehow managed to sit next to a station that didn't work, which was fine with me because I don't like sharing small spaces. I told everyone who tried to sit at that station that it wasn't working. One lady thanked me profusely for telling her before she sat down, and then she sat down on the other side of me.

Of course, this is the late/doesn't know what's going on lady.

In her defense, she seemed like a really nice lady, but no one wants to sit next to someone who expects you to reteach them while the teacher goes on to the next subject. At some point that's a lose-lose situation for both of you. And when you can no longer help this person because you're just as behind as this person is, this person will drop you like a hot potato and move on to someone else for help.

Luckily for me, the lady decided to bother the guy sitting next to her more than me. So I got a break every so often.

However, there was one tense moment for all of us. Our teacher Oliver was moving on to the next segment after a fun-filled round of trying to do some manual mapping of a project that everyone was pretty much lost on except me (I only did a 6-step project while everyone else made theirs as complicated as possible --- show-offs). Oliver is a very soft-spoken man, and being a project manager from the beginning of such a thing (so says he), he was sticking to his class timeline, a project, if you will. Which meant that while half of the class was still confused, including said late/don't know what's going on lady, he was going to move on regardless.

Oliver was the type of teacher who could care less if half the class was missing after a break, that cell phones rang while class was in session, or if the confused lady was talking in a normal voice to the man next to her because she was lost and confused and didn't know what to do. Since her voice was louder than soft-spoken Oliver's, and since Oliver didn't care if his class was being interrupted on any level, he was still going to stick to his timeline, darnit, the remainder of the class couldn't hear what Oliver had to say.

The people in front of us turned around and stared at the lady, but she was oblivious to what was going on. Luckily she wasn't asking me because my blood would have boiled right out of my nose. Finally a lady sitting in the row in front of us turned around and said, "Excuse me! Can you please be quiet!!!!"

The lady said, "Oh! Sorry."

The guy next to her was probably very relieved to be rid of her for the moment. Oliver still didn't seem to care about what was going on.

Again, Oliver didn't help the situation because of his precious timeline (and I figured out why he had to follow his precious timeline at the end of the class). First, let me say that Oliver shouldn't be teaching. Just because you've been a project manager for 50 bazillion years and used MS Project since its version 4 (soon it will version 12 with the 2007 release -- I simply cannot wait! The excitement is too much for me!), and you somehow convinced San Jose State University that you are an expert on this application, does not mean that you can teach. If what comes out of your mouth vs. what's in your teaching materials (a pathetic PowerPoint presentation printed out and bound while also being shown on a screen) vs. the classroom exercises that do not match, then you really need to sit back, get some sort of teaching degree, and then come back and try to teach a bunch of confused adults. Second, Oliver's teaching materials are horrendous. If you're giving a class on an application, don't you think you should at least do "live" examples instead of showing screen shot after screen shot that does not help students when they're trying to do exercises? At least give us something we can go back to! Third, Oliver just didn't care about us. He only cared about his precious timeline. He would talk, show a screen, move on, and then force us to do what he sorta just talked about, but not really. When someone finally told him that he was going too fast and most people were lost on what to do, Oliver responded, "Okay. I hear you," and DID NOTHING ABOUT IT. At least he acknowledged that he heard it. He never promised to do anything about it.

Actually, he did do something. He waited a few minutes and told us all to go to lunch.

It became increasingly clear why Oliver wouldn't stray from his fabulous timeline as we got closer to 4pm. See, our class was supposed to end at 5pm. So when we got to 4pm exactly, Oliver announced, "Well, we've kept great time today, which means we've finished an hour early! For all of those who feel they understand everything, you can leave. For those who have questions, stay and I'll answer them."

If I learned one thing that day, it was always allow for a buffer. That's the key to any project. And don't tell anyone you have a buffer - just allow for it. And if you're early, then that's great! You look great, you've saved your company money, and you'll get a raise. (Yes, he really said that.) So being an hour early was Oliver's buffer -- much to our dismay. Now it all made sense why he wouldn't slow down or repeat things or show us "live" examples. He had it perfectly timed with an hour buffer.

Only a few people left at 4pm. Me being one of them because my brain hurt to much to try to sit there and comprehend anything anymore. Darn that Oliver and his crafty project management stylings!

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