Wednesday, November 23, 2011

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Tech

     Some teachers can't wait for the latest tech and they complain about lack of connectivity.  But, to paraphrase an old cliche', you may want to rethink what you ask for.  Once you have tech in your classroom you always have to have a backup plan for the day (or days) you don't have any tech in your classroom.

     In many of the schools I have worked in it was required to have a folder of emergency lesson plans for that unexpected day when you won't be in class and your sub needs something to do .  Well, in a high tech school you should have the same mindset.

     This past week we had an Internet outage mid-day.  Many of the classes came to a near standstill as students were unable to access the Internet.  Before the end of the day we had been told that we could expect that we would not have Internet access the following day.

     I sent out an email that night to teachers asking if the loss of Internet for the following day was going to change what they had planned.  Or were they going to have a normal day because they weren't expecting to need any Internet for the activities they had planned.

     Many of the teachers were going to alter their original plans but many were fortunate and the loss of Internet did not have any affect on their schedule.  Of those teachers changing what they had planned, all but one were making minor changes that would have been transparent to the students.  The one teacher who responded, who did plan on changing, completely, what they were doing, was going to have the students work on something that would have been accomplished later in the week.

     Our teachers, to their credit, have learned that technology can (and will) stop working at an inopportune time.  They want to know when it will be fixed and they may even get a bit cranky, but they understand that teaching doesn't stop just because the technology isn't there.

     Do you have a backup plan for that day you are going to Skype with an author?  How about for that day you are going to be researching Australia's Great Barrier Reef?  What do you do with 25 teen-agers who have brought in food and drink and were set to have an engineering design party while watching Apollo 13 only to find you can't get the movie to show?

     You are a teacher first.  You will lose the use of your technology at a time that is inconvenient.  Just relax, take a deep breath, and repeat after me - we don't need no stinkin' technology!

Monday, November 14, 2011

When You Need Insentive

     I started the night beating myself up because I had written 44 posts this year but it had been over a month since my last post.  I even stated in on Twitter: " Beating myself up for not posting on my blog in over a month. I had 44 posts this year and just ran into a buzz saw called life."   

     That's when Laron Carter (@laroncarter) called me on it with his tweet, "So you're another incredible human surfing the Twitterverse. Bravo! Now write that 300 word post bruh!"  And, here I am writing a post.

     I'm always having teachers asking "Why Twitter?"  They don't get it.  I can give them links to items titled "50 ways to use Twitter in the Classroom," or " Social Media in the Classroom"  and they aren't swayed.  I can give them links to great magazine articles or newspaper articles I read because I saw the link on twitter and they aren't swayed.  I can send them links to insightful blog posts written by people I follow on twitter and they aren't swayed.

     Well, here's an intangible reason to be active on twitter - Instant Motivator.   I have used twitter to give (or receive) encouragement while getting back in shape.  I have used twitter to give (or receive) encouragement with classroom issues.  I have used twitter to give (or receive) encouragement with the loss of a relative or pet.  You get the point.

     When you have hundreds of people who you interact with on a regular basis someone will be having a bad day.  Someone will be grieving.  Someone will be facing an uphill battle that seems insurmountable.  Your PLN will be there for you and you will be there for your PLN.  

     You may never have met some of these wonderful people.  You may never MEET these wonderful people.  But they are there.  And, it may be someone like @laroncarter who gets you off your butt to start working on something that you enjoy doing but just need that push to get back in the saddle.   Twitter isn't just for the sharing of great stuff for the classroom.  It's also for the sharing of motivation.  Now, get off your butt and start doing whatever it is you have been avoiding doing.  You can do it!

NOTE:       Well, sigh...my wife pointed out to me that I, the knucklehead, misspelled Incentive.  And, she pointed out, there might be some English teachers reading this. Well, if I change the title now I'll totally mess up the SEO and Search Crawlers.  She assures me that "everyone" has done that mistake before.  That's why I married her 22 years ago. Sigh...