Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shell Shock in the Trenches (part 2)

Shell Shock (Part 2 of 3 - " Year in Review from the Trenches")

I'm not the first teacher to suffer from shell shock, and during my adventures with tech, I've sometimes wandered the classroom battlefield, dazed and confused.

Most numbing is the continual collision with school culture. Despite operating in a 1:1 school and having put nearly every shred of instruction and material online for my bookless course, a sizable number of my students don't readily tap into the pipeline. As I've remarked before, developing online projects has not sparked intellectual curiosity to the degree I might have hoped for (see The Digital Natives Aren't that Restless). But at our school, there is something else going on. 1:1 has not meant fewer P.A. announcements or less paper. And since students know announcements will be made redundantly (and deadlines nearly always extended), they have little incentive to attend closely to email, web sites, etc. Ironically, in class when the P.A. is squawking, the kids are glued into their screens, ignoring it (My temples are starting to throb). Why can't we all support technology in this area at least?

2) My fellow faculty members may be pardoned if they are suffering from Larry-fatigue. I've been honking on about the wonders of Web 2.0. But some of what I've encountered within the building and even in my own departments is passive-aggressive. I make a presentation, no comment. I win a tech distinction, no reaction (that's cold). I guess I have betrayed some unspoken loyalty to chalk and board. In a detailed, staff development proposal for administration I warned of the obstruction of naysayers. Well, the report got lost in the shuffle, but not the nay-saying. Sort of grinds one down.

3) It was tough to see tech integration cut in our building. I understand that the budget is tight, but without vision and planning we will not truly engage in online learning. This speaks to priorities. We have the hardware, but despite popular mythology, the kids will not teach themselves with them, simply because they are keen on Facebook.

4) I have only myself to blame for this one. It's the blog. I've tried to encourage comments, and I haven't really succeeded. Clearly I am operating at cross-purposes by journaling, sharing, and trying to provoke conversation all at the same time.

5) I loved doing the in-services in my building last Fall. That's history. I aiming seeking new audiences, so good will come of it in the long run. But I've been in No Man's Land for the last few months.

6) This spring I taught AP Government and Film, But the three classes of 87 sophomores in American Government were the ones that put me into full shell shock mode. Foolishly, I targeted them for my most innovative methods. But I became overwhelmed with their 87 web sites. This like the other setbacks chronicled here was largely due to my unrealistic expectations banging into reality.

There are some valuable lessons here, so I will gather my forces and close the school year with -- part 3, "Over the Top! and into the Future"

Thank you, Mark Berry - Photographer & Graphic Designer for permission to use your fabulous photo, "Crop Circle Maker-- Matthew Williams"


Rick said...

No comments? Did you ever consider that we are reading your blogs, Mr. Baker, but may not have anything to say?

Larry Baker said...

Sure. Not scolding the readers at all. Just know from experience that some of the best "stuff" in a blog comes from comment exchange and was particularly hoping to provide this for school staff.

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