Tie And Jeans

Teachers always dream of more time

Shelly Blake-Plock at Teach Paperless asked what our Ed Tech Dream was, and it got me thinking.

I made the (cowardly?) choice to move into independent schools in 2004, largely because Ed Tech was always on the April chopping block in CA public schools. I like tech, and I like having some control over whether I have a job to come back to in September. But, since that transition, I haven’t worried about materials and hardware in quite the same way.

So, looking at the start of a mac-based 1-1 program next year, and full of assurances from our IT folk that the bandwidth and wireless issues will all be sorted, what’s left to covet?

I’ve been a nerd for a long time, so it’s hard for me to recognize that the days of my “dream tech lists” are drawing to a close.

I like Macs, but I’m happy running many flavors of Ubuntu. I like 13″ laptops, but can see why a school would opt for netbooks, or handhelds, or even make a case for a dedicated lab (but it’d have to be a very good pitch).

Soon enough, the basics will be in place – ubiquitous access across campus on a student-owned (but school supported) device. A consistent blog/publication/discussion system in place so that students have easy access to teachers, materials and most importantly, each other, in a designated online “place” from anywhere they have network access. I’m less and less excited about the flavor of those components.

My budget fantasy is this – one extra prep period a week for every teacher. Staff up a bit more, spread out some classes and duties. Established a 45 minute block that’s set aside for reading, commenting and participating in discussions with students across the school’s online space. Not grading your kids’ writing, not counting participation on your wiki. Reaching out to a 4th grade class because they’re reading the Eager books you love so much, or commenting on crazy pictures posted to the physics blog. One period a week where every teacher participates as the audience for all the learning happening outside their classroom.

My dream is that we’d take the big step as an institution to say these interactions are important. We want you to participate here, across curricular and division lines. Let’s show that we’re serious when we call ourselves a community of learners.

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