Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Is technology really that scary?

I've been back in school now for almost a month and I continue to turn to technology to make my own work easier and to find ways of sharing with my 100+ colleagues. So far this year, I've used Wordpress to build a site dedicated to the Northern Lights Jr. Games that my school was chosen to host in March 2010. I've been contributing interesting items to a school Ning site that I help administer, I've been posting items including my schedule to a wiki site I built last year, and I've been sending weekly memos by e-mail to the staff. I even had a Technology Thursday session with staff to visit the idea of classroom blogs like Mrs. Cassidy's Classroom Blog.

And I've seen some progress, baby steps I guess. I have a teacher who has embraced technology and is busy incorporating our Smart Board into his teaching; this is taking off as other teachers now want a board in their room. I also have staff who have started blogs and are beginning to share; for example, there is a new teacher blogging about her experiences and an intern invited me into her digital world a couple of nights ago. Nevertheless, I am feeling somewhat disappointed; it seems like some are choosing to ignore the powerful medium that the internet offers preferring to do things the way they've always done them. Is the technology really that scary?

How many of us reluctantly gave in to the cell phone craze and now cannot live without them? What is so different about picking up a new computer application and embracing it as a new way of doing business.

Today, a teacher shared with me that people see communication as a problem within the school and feel that we need to stick to one way of sharing information. I am not so sure. I believe we need to put the information that needs to be shared in multiple places in hopes that one actually works for each individual. I know I've tried the paper memo thing in the past and failed to communicate a message, I've called meetings and failed to get everyone I needed in place, I've published newsletters that not everyone read, and I've even tried the old intercom thing but was not listened to. All methods have a place, and all in way, rely on technology in one way or another (some newer than others). I really see today's technology as offering many novel solutions; we can now seek information when we want it not just when someone is presenting it. However, we are at the mercy of the individual receivers of information and their interest in learning something new. Unfortunately, some teachers are resisting learning something new; some are modelling what frustrates them about their students (they are reluctant learners). Ironic!!!

There is hope though; the cell phone thing was not embraced enthusiastically at first by all, but when people saw a use for them, they became widely accepted. I even know retiring teachers who have learned to text; if a teacher on the way out of the business can learn new techological skills then surely there is hope for the teacher who thinks he/she does not have time to learn "another" thing! I look forward to the day when we do not have to work to peruade staff about the powerful network tools that exist; I look forward to the day when people accept that technology provides us with tools that make doing business easier!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Dreams versus Reality

I took the principalship of LLCS because I believe that I can have a positive impact on the the staff and students of the school. I dream about the students doing very well in school, I hope the teachers who come here love their experience teaching here as much as I did when I first came, and I want to strive to build positive relationships with our parents and the community in general. The realities are still there though and we, the staff, have so much work to do.

I have to be realistic about what is in my control and what is not though. I felt things started off fairly well for me, but change has allowed me to do some new things and see some new things. I have managed to spend a few hours at the Ducharme Building and see the K-6 end of things; the differences I have seen have been an eye opener. At the k-6 level I am seeing students anxious to please adults, students who are curious and want to learn (one grade 5 boy taught me that Dandy long legs have venom), and I am seeing students who are quite cooperative. On the other end of the spectrum, I am seeing high school students who seem disconnected with the purpose of school. They challenge authority and rules, and some appear to have little interest in attending classes although they do want to be in school. What causes this change? It is too simplistic to just blame it on adolscence because there are teens who remain focused and who do want to pursue a good education. I wonder what kills the dreams of childhood of those who get lost on the journey? I wonder how do we rebuild those dreams? I wonder ... I wonder....

I approached one class in the high school on Friday afternoon after I witnessed some of the students from the class arriving excessively late. I went in to talk to them about what they want from school. I tried to reason with them that to get educated you need to work at it. They have a very hard working and enthusiastic teacher in their class; I could see her frustration though as she was struggling with them to meet their responsibilities. I felt at least for a few minutes some of them were understanding that we, the staff, are not the enemy, but I have a feeling it is a lesson that will need to be re-taught and in more than one room. I really hope the staff are willing to adjust their expectations for what a student should be and learn to meet the students from where they are coming from. I dream that the staff will see the strenghts of their students, will see their humanity, and do their very best to take them in a positive direction. I know after the first week of wandering two buildings with nearly 1000 students, I am seeing many staff working very hard to make it happen. That has to be regarded as a good thing! A new week is coming with new challenges; we have to realize we won't always make the progress we dream of, but we also must realize that we have to dream or we have already failed.