10 things that should make you faint when visiting your child’s school

As I explained in my intro, I am a schoolteacher by day. I won’t blog much about my teaching career because I don’t have a lot to say about it. But if the mood should strike me, I’ll write it up. Anyway, part of my duties is to handle all things technology at my school. If it’s broke or disconnected, I get called.  Whether or not I can fix it is another story. Unfortunately there are a lot of outdated things in my building that make me shake my head. I dream of teaching in a school that’s truly 21st century ready. You know where practically everything is digital and paperless and I show only pictures of chalk in a slideshow about artifacts. Sadly, that day is a long way off for a lot of schools.

Parents peep this. Schools in the United States nowadays are moving towards a curriculum called Common Core. One of the goals of this nation wide curriculum is to help children prepare for college and be ready for the global workforce.  I don’t know any colleges or jobs that doesn’t use some form of technology. In order for our children to be ready to take the reigns later on in life, they must be technologically savvy, not just literate.

Now this post may not apply to Howard County Schools because they seem to keep up with the times (at least at my child’s school they do). But then again, I haven’t visited all the schools. When you visit your child’s classroom on the first day or at Back to School Night, take a good look around at the technology that is available in the classroom. If it’s anything like the things on my list here, faint clean away on the floor.  Then get back up and head straight for the board of ed. By pass the school staff this time. They do not control the purse strings.  Here are 10 things that you shouldn’t ignore in your child’s classroom.

  1. Wires!– Ugh!! Connecting to the Internet in 2012 should not involve wires. Especially since there are several computers in a small space that need to be connected to the drop or hub. Your child’s school should be wireless simply because it opens up so many doors for technical devices  to be used.
  2. Chalkboards– C’mon…really? We still have classrooms with chalk that leaves a film all over everything. For those of you who are unaware of the alternatives teachers who work in advanced school use dry erase boards (that not tech savvy but it’s modern) and Interwrite boards. Your child’s teacher could be teaching a lesson from his or her laptop while showing the entire class.
  3. Overhead projectors– You remember the bright, hot machines that displays worksheets on transparency paper? Yeah that’s outdated. We have visualizers and LCD projectors to show anything we want from worksheets to storybooks on the big screen.  No more walking read alouds. An overhead projector should be an insult to you.
  4. Worksheets galore– Everyday I hear something about going green and saving paper. Well that goes for the classrooms as well as the office.  Don’t go off on a tangent though. Worksheets still have a place in the classroom. But if your child’s school must constantly rely on paper to teach lessons effectively, that’s a problem.  This is the iPad age folks. Let’s get with it.
  5. Old microscopes-It’s past time to swap those dinosaurs for electronic ones.  They perform better and have better capabilities. I’m not a big science freak so I will leave it at that.
  6. VCRs– Go ahead…get your laugh out.  You good now? Ok. There is a reason that YouTube is so popular. You can fast forward, rewind, and save any video you want all without popping in a tape. There are also sites such as Discovery Education and Safari Montage that have the coolest and most up-to-date educational videos. And DVDs can be played on laptops while attached to an LCD projector. If you know of any other sites, please share.
  7. Microsoft 2003– It’s 2012. That’s nine years of updates missed.  We can do so much more with the current Microsoft Office Suite (although some folks haven’t figured out all the tricks to the 2003 suite yet.).  Your child’s class assignments could be typed and emailed in a snap.  It uses less paper and helps tweak their computer skills.
  8. Big headphones– Yes the ones that look like they come from the 70s and seal your ear into an oval shaped cup.  Give it up already. I don’t recommend the earbuds for sanitary reasons but smaller stereo headphones will do just fine.
  9. Old computers with box television monitors– If you see those BIG CPUs attached to a big monitor shaped like a box, you should be perturbed.  Small, flat screens take up much less space. And don’t forget about those lovely iPads or other touchpad devices.
  10. Carts– Speaking of space, look for technology devices on a cart.  This may not seem like a big deal but when teachers plan their space it matters big time.  Having wires running from this machine and the next all over the classroom is not only cumbersome but dangerous.  We are dealing with 25 or more students in a classroom that was made for 15 to 20 students.  Not to mention books, furniture, and other items. Some schools are lucky enough to have been renovated to move with the times but not everyone is that fortunate.

How can you get this for your child’s school? It’s not by raising hell with the teachers (we can’t even get decent raises let alone more technology for our classes).  I’m going to tell you an insiders’ secret. The secret is that parents have a lot of power. A WHOLE LOT of power.  School systems are like businesses  in a way. We supply what you demand.  Do me a solid. Work together and demand better technology for your kids (and do a little fundraising on your own like voting for schools with Target or Box Tops for Education). Be an advocate for an education that will truly give your child a competitive edge.

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