A friend of mine recently said that I was the only teacher she knew who was really looking forward to the start of the school year. While some may see this as a sign of mental disorder, I prefer to think that it has much to do with getting into technology integration-- I've felt renewed by the fun and challenge. But I'm starting to feel a bit reolded. There are crusty old features of our school routine that kind of wear me down. I'm feeling a little grumpy, so I've decided to air them out.
We have a 1:1 computing school, but some folks in my building must believe that online communication only belongs in the academic realm of a school. (I'm sure this is not unique to our school community and would love to hear from others). These are the kinds of things distractions and annoyances I'm talking about:
P.A. Messages- It's too easy to just grab the mic and broadcast a message across the building with a P.A. blast, (even though it may be during class). Often the full school announcement is directed to a couple of class officers or concerns one person's misplaced backpack. Tryouts for teams or groups are announced day after day. Never mind that everyone has their own private communication access in the form of a laptop. A couple of years ago, $50,000.00 was raised at one of our fund-raisers for a new P.A. system. Wow, in my opinion that money could have better spent on more nuanced mediums of messaging or training for individuals on how to set up a group email for their club or team.
Student email-- This piggybacks on the last one. Ironically, I recently sat in a department meeting where a request from our Curriculum Council was shared, asking that we remind the students to check their email. Could it be that the students don't check their email because they know that the messages will be redundantly communicated on the P.A., often several times? (And was this a worthy agenda item for the face-to-face meetings where the rather impotent request was made?).
Staff Meetings (large and small) where one-way communication from behind a podium is featured. Face to face communication may not needed for reports and directions that could be blogged or emailed, but those with the power to gather a captive audience, squander dozens of potentially productive hours of staff time this way. I've noticed that this kind of communication usually involves non-curricular matters.
Vote Tabulations - This "Spirit Week" we will be doing tabulations in our homerooms this week to determine how many students are showing spirit that day. OK, fine, I'm all for spirit. but then staff is required to take these required to immediately walk these paper tallies to the front desk for tabulation. What a waste of fifty professionals' time, when there are innumerable electronic alternatives. Granted this example is only a one week sideshow, but it is somewhat representative of the nondigital nature of our homeroom doings.
You are correct that if you have concluded that I am blowing off steam about pet peeves. But in a 1:1 school they need to be called out. Besides disrespecting others' time and attention these "old tech" habits erode progress toward building a school culture that nourishes 21st Century communication networks. This is about all staff modeling and embracing the new tools that we hope our students will master. The medium is sending the wrong message.
Amish Parking Sign Flickr CC photo by margotmiller
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