At the beginning of every school year, we are at CIS reminded of how important it is to build collaborative relationships among us. As a resource person, one of my biggest challenges this year is going to be becoming a true collaborative partner with classroom teachers, building on each others strengths and weaknesses and providing immediate support and modeling best practices for technology and 21st century literacy skills use in the classroom.
During one of our first Middle/High School meetings we had our traditional discussion on cellphones use in School. A discussion that our former Head of Security and Social Studies teacher Warren Massey gave loud and clear: The kids cannot bring cellphones and electronics to the classroom, as stated in our Parent-Student handbook.
I have been having the same discussion with my friend Warren during the last three years and we never seem to get to a common understanding.
During that meeting I counted no less than three cell phones and a Walky Talky (Warren?) ringing. Teachers who dislike having students with their cell phones on in class, are not willing to turn theirs off when they are playing the role of a student….why?….because we don’t like to feel disconnected.
I wonder how many of us actually turned off our phones before entering that meeting. I bet that no more than a 5%… probably about the same amount of students who don’t bring cellphones, iphones and other kinds of communication devices to class.
During these two first weeks of School I spent part of my time working on the renovation works at the Media Center, and working with Graham (our IT manager) helping others getting connected. Graham’s e-mail in-box and until certain extent mine, had e-mails stating messages like the following:
My computer won’t connect to the Internet and I need resources by Thursday.
I need 7 laptops with internet connection set up in my classroom by Thursday
When are you going to distribute the LCD projectors? I need one by Thursday
Please have my Internet connected by Thursday, I can’t teach without it.
I see, technology is an essential tool for learning, but only when is on the teacher’s side…for students…just a distraction!
Then I say…so if technology is a distraction for students and needs to be put away…same goes for teachers!
If we believe that we cannot teach without a computer connected to the Internet, how we dare saying that students can learn without it. How wonderful opportunities technology opens up to teaching and learning…Opportunities that only this generation has ever had access to!
This is the philosophy for the 21st century School….a connected School…
Every student should have access to a computer and the Internet, just like they have access to a pencil and paper. It’s 2010 and it’s time we start realizing that students do a Google search before they borrow a book from the library and that they feel more comfortable dealing with digital information rather than print resources. Access to content has changed, and now connections are key, and creation of new ideas is the future for the 21st century School and library/media center.
Cheers to another school year!