Sunday, August 16, 2009

What can we take out of Friday’s antics

Because I know that plenty of local people read my blog, I can only say that Friday included hours of my life that I will never get back.  However, we have learned a couple of lessons.

1.  Simply plopping technology in front of teachers will not help the education process.  In fact, there is a good chance that it will do the exact opposite because more often than not, those not familiar with technology will be inundated with problems when you need it to work the most.  Like any other new tool, you need to guide people into its implementation, support people at different levels of knowledge, and have a back-up plan ready if the technology fails.  I fear for the near future.

2.  The second that someone from the tech industry (Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc) says the words “Let me show you how to teach better”, I lose interest and look elsewhere.  Teachers can help me be a better teacher.  Good administrators can help me be a better teacher.  Someone programming code has no place it telling me how to teach better.  If you have a tool, show me how it works.  And when scheduling people like this, realize that the audience has different levels of understanding.  Some don’t use e-mail, while others are in the full throes of Classroom 2.0.  It is not a pretty meld for a condescending presentation about technology in teaching. 

3.  When I was back in the credential program, I graduated during the school year in December.  I was teaching five full classes of World History at Paradise High School as a long term sub for a sick colleague.  Other secondary credential program teachers were also teaching at that time.  The interesting thing about the credential graduation was the difference in reactions between elementary school teachers and secondary school teachers.  Elementary school teachers danced, sang, and cheered raucously for each other for every name announced.  High school teachers were muted in their applause, looked at their watches a lot, and headed for the exits as soon as it was over.  School was the next day and prep had to be done.  High school teachers and elementary teachers are different entities.  Maybe I shouldn’t speak for other high school teachers, but I don’t want meetings with songs and dance.  I don’t want skits and I don’t want to speeches on feelings.  I want to know the state of the district, the goals we are trying to achieve, and some words of motivation that speak about the people in this district being in this together.  Otherwise, I need to be in my classroom preparing for the year, especially if the problems of point #1 are right around the corner.

4.  I need to be in the classroom to prepare.  Being an economics teacher, I think it is fair to say that I don’t like my human capital wasted. 

5.  A school board member put up the financial status of the district last week.  Two things to note out of post.  One is that the demographer was wrong and the enrollment at the high school went up significantly this year.  The second is that 57 teacher lay-off number.  I know for a fact that there are other things that can be done within the district to save money that Dave doesn’t mention, and the post is blaming already underpaid teachers for the district’s financial condition at a time when teachers to be supported.  I would be interested on seeing how 57 teachers are laid off in conditions where classes are already overbooked.  With the exception of AP U.S. History, all my classes are at least two students over the contracted limit of 34.  Notice I said “at least”.  I would find it interesting to then remove 57 teachers. 

Well, the message coming from those up in the chain is not bright at all.  The best support I’ve had has been my colleagues, who are still excited and ready to teach.  Thank God I spend my days in that building, and not the one down the road.   

blog comments powered by Disqus