Life in the 21st century

I like to think that when my kids leave my classroom, the are prepared to face whatever life may throw at them. Each and every day I do my utmost to help them become better readers, writers, communicators, thinkers and human beings. I’m not always sure I succeed. Some days I definitely shut my door and drop my head on my desk in frustration. I think some days they go home and do the same.

Education has changed. It is not the same profession I got into 14 years ago, and there are days I want to climb to the roof of the building and yell, “THIS IS NOT WHAT I SIGNED ON FOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!” But, I know it would do no good. I tried life in the corporate world. I tried life in the retail world. Both nearly sucked a vital part of my soul out. I’m not cut out for cubicles, customer service or the same routine day in and day out. It stifles my creativity and my mind. Let’s face it, I’m a teacher. And every summer, when the school supplies start filling the shelf, I find my mind begin to wander back toward novels and 6 + 1 writing traits.

I think one of the reasons I love teaching is that it is never the same. I am constantly adapting what I did in the past to help meet the needs of my students. When I started, I was fairly pen and paper. That just doesn’t work anymore. I mean, I never want to see pen and paper go the way of the dodo, but technology is here to stay, and I’m ok with that.

I was kind of slow to jump on board. I’ve been using the internet for research since the moment I stepped into my first classroom, but that was really where it ended. Sure, I helped my kids design newspapers during my student teaching, but since my first real teaching gig didn’t include journalism, I kind of let those skills fall to the wayside. When I got hired at my latest school, I had to polish those skills and get back in the tech game. I think that was crucial for me to really embrace tech as more than a research tool. Once I did, I couldn’t stop.

I feel really comfy using tech in my classroom. I’m always on the look out for new and fun ways to use the computers in my classroom. Last year I got a bunch of Flip cameras as part of a grant and I’ve been working on incorporating those as well. My kids have used them for some pretty fun video projects. This year they used them to make propaganda commercials for Big Brother (after reading 1984), and I’m hoping to use them tomorrow as part of a lesson another lesson on propaganda (for a different class, in relation to All Quiet on the Western Front). I have a fun idea for video diaries and possibly using the cameras to do video blogs as well. I would love to have them use the cameras to take on the persona of a character from lit and do a Real World style confessional scene. My kids are so in love with reality TV, I think they’d find this fun.

My strength with technology definitely is in the way I’ve embraced it and try to find creative ways for my kids to use it. I am constantly asking for their feedback on ways to utilize it which have real meaning to them. They’ve done mock Facebook pages, transformed famous works of art, created digital poetry and one group even made a DML page (darn my life, based on a much more risqué internet site they love). I love letting them have a stake in their projects and having them come up with new and interesting ways to use it in my classroom. I am flexible and often adapt project ideas students have come up with and use them in other classes. I’m not afraid of having kids do collaborative work (wikis, forums, chats) and also realize the benefit of making all my resources available to them 24/7.

What I really struggle with in relation to technology is finding the time for it. I have no problem using it in my classroom every day. Where I fall down is actually find the time to go out and read up on what other people are doing successfully. I find it next to impossible to make time to put new activities on Moodle. I would love to use the Mobi my school gave me, but we had training on it before we had computers to use with it and I have honestly forgotten how to use it. I don’t have time to train myself, so it sits in a box, just gather dust. My prep is taken up with lesson planning, grading, babysitting study hall and emailing parents. My evenings are spent with family (which I refuse to give up). So, really, I have about two hours between my kids’ bedtime and mine to finish grading, do work for my masters classes and spend time with my husband. There is simply no time to investigate new technology.

But I want to. And that should count for something.

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1 Comment

Filed under life as a teacher, ramblings, what makes me me

One response to “Life in the 21st century

  1. Tom Everett

    You’re right, education is changing. I sometimes ask myself if I want to do this until I’m close to sixty. Right now everything is great, my students are learning and having fun. Down the road in the next couple of years, what will the environment be like? My school is talking about eliminating worksheets or simply paper copies. Our superintendent want’s to go completely paperless. Another concept that’s going around is to eliminate the use of textbooks. I’m not completely against these ideas, but will it work? Sometimes administrators have ideas but they never think them through to see the long-term effects of their ideas.

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