This past week, all Montpelier Public Schools' families, along with faculty & staff were treated to an unexpected message from me: No School - Snow Day! Let me explain...
Last Monday, I was participating in a webinar to learn about the new features of the messaging system that we use in MPS. The company has recently upgraded to a 2.0 version and among the new features is an app for use with iPhones. As part of the webinar, I was learning how to utilize the app and send messages from my phone. I mistakenly thought the process would be similar to the web based program.
When using the web, I would compose my e-mail message and then the shorter text message. Once I clicked "Next" the following screen would have a pop-up window that has the 800 number to call and a PIN to enter before recording my own voice message. The app is much more efficient.
When I composed a very brief e-mail and text message, I started to click "Next," thinking I would see a pop-up window on my phone, with the 800 number and a PIN. Instead, I saw only one thing, a screen that said "Message Sent."
Frantically, I tried to cancel the message but it was too late. I scrambled to compose a quick follow-up message sharing my mistake. I then went around to each building to apologize to the teachers, but mostly to the women in our main offices who fielded many, many calls from parents unsure of what my text and e-mail messages meant. Finally, I used the web based version to write a longer follow-up e-mail, a broader text message, and recorded a message explaining what happened.
When I stopped in to share with people what had actually happened, almost everyone laughed with me when I explained how this came to pass. It was a very humanizing moment - I had no idea I would send out a fake message on one of the hottest days of the year. And when I saw the words "Message Sent," I was as surprised and shockec as every single person who received my message last Monday.
The wonderful part of this mistake is that I got to embrace it during the week, since both Main Street Middle School and Union Elementary School had their Open Houses. Several parents asked if there would be another snow day and every single one did it with a smile on their faces. Yes, some were understandably concerned when the message first went out, and most knew that it had to be an accident. As more than one parent told me in so many words, "No offense, but your messages to us are almost never that short."
What started out as an innocent practice exercise, turned into one of the biggest mistakes I've made since being appointed Superintendent of Schools in Montpelier Public Schools. Let me tell you all about it!