Friday, January 21, 2011

“Are we doing what is best for our students, or are we doing what is most convenient for us?” Well, are we?

As a response to the question about convenience, I can only say it depends on the person.  There are many people who are "teachers" and some that work as a teacher for a job.  A true teacher will always put the student first and do what is best for the student.  Yes I feel I do what is best for the student, but I am limited by little resources, out of date technology, and evaluators who aren't trained to educate.

There are a variety of things that we can use to integrate technology into our classrooms.  The problem is who's going to pay for it?  It seems that the taxpayers need to pay for, but it should be the private district.  They are creating new jobs, so they should be responsible for giving the public schools the funds to provide the best education, which includes paying for technology in the classroom.  With the correct funding, we can be more efficient as teachers and more effective.  The integration of technology includes software, hardware, and skills to integrate and use them.

The average tax payer doesn't directly benefit from public education that utilizes technology.  Some retired folks here in Florida never get anything from the portion of taxes they pay that funds education.  Since they are retired, their children have gone through school, and they themselves don't use technology on a regular basis, their money is wasted.  These unfortunate people are forced to pay for others to benefit from our current students education.  For them a school is a landmark rather than something that fits into their daily life.  As for our current parents, they need public schools, and just because they can't afford to pay for their child's education or help fund for technology that is now essential, the classroom suffers.  If the private district was held more accountable, we could have much better funding.  It's a cycle, a business creates a new product, we learn how to use it in school (or integrate it's use in the classroom), we buy products, and the business profits from it.

There is a huge variety of choices that school districts have to improve a classroom.  The use of technology to assist in the education process is now a key factor in allowing students to learn for their future careers.  We need computers, and not just one or two that barely work, but a mini-lab to accommodate at least 25% of a class roster at a time.  This allows for effective teaching.  We can use these computers and the vast variety of computer software to remediate, maintain and enrich students through software that instantly adjusts to the students needs.  It actually is better than what human can do, as that is one reason why computers are used.  This is, to do things faster and better than a human being can.  Today's classroom needs to have up to date and instant access to students’ performance.  Key advanced technology devices such items as "Smartboards" with student interface devices, and a centralized computer for the teacher to use is a key part of a current classroom.  Sure it's easy to use the same lesson each period, or for a few years.  Those of us that are real "teachers" constantly change what we are doing.  Using technology makes the process faster.  As the textbook talks about the differences in our current students we need make constant changes to accommodate a diverse classroom.  Using something as simple as a PowerPoint slideshow to review for a test can reach out and grab the new learners that fill the chairs of our classrooms.  Students should be using flash drives, to save their work that they do in the computer lab.  The work I think of is using word processing to help the student improve their writing when learning to write.  Also, creating presentations using PowerPoint to present a topic, instead of just standing in front of the class and reading an essay.  We need to use current devices, software, social networks, and blogs to engage students in learning.  Some students could sit at home in front of their computer, use the virtual world, and never come to school, only to perform better than those who wasted their day sitting in class.

There is a viewpoint no matter what the situation is.  I think many teachers are viewed as lazy and doing what is most convenient.  As with any profession the media glamorizes the negative "news" and creates a label of a profession.  If a doctor gets arrested for being inappropriate towards patients, all doctors are then treated as molesters and need to have a "chaperone" in the room.  Most people outside of the daily classroom see teachers as doing what is most convenient, but how many people know what the right way to teach a student is?  We have parents, not trained as teachers, politicians, who have no idea what a teacher's job is and administrators that haven't been in a classroom except the few minute to see if the teacher is doing the right thing.  Now all these people need to be in the classroom and actually teach, more than just once, and on a regular basis.  They need to see that as teachers we battle for lack of supplies, technology, support staff, time, support from parents, and motivation from students.  It is only the teacher who is motivated to show gains with "data", as this is our life and career, for a student it's just another test.

As a closing statement doing what is convenient can only be truly measured by the person teaching.  Outside observers aren't equipped to evaluate in some cases and an explanation can easily make a terrible idea look innovative.  I think the question posed on Dr. Mcleod's website is for those who may be burnt out, because I know if I had the access to current technology I could make vast leaps in student gains, and do what is best for each student.

Dr. Scott McLeod, (2007), Well? What's your answer?. Retrieved from: May 1, 2007.


  1. I have to agree with quite a few of your points that you made. I often hear from snow-birds that why should they care about the education of the young people today. I think everyone should care, you know it takes a village to raise your child! It will be my 8th grade students who will start working in the grocery store soon. I would like them to be efficient at the check out, and how to count back money. Some time soon those snow birds will have interactions with my students out in the "real" world, I hope my students will be willing to help when it gets confusing to even check out library books.
    Also, since everyone has attended some sort of school, they all seem to be experts in the subject of teaching. They forget that while I worry about data, I also have to worry about if they had breakfast this morning. I need to differentiate my classroom and help each student to learn in their own way. Then they are assessed on one test, one way. If we could incorporate the computers more, it will only help when the students are expected to take their standards test on the computers!
    Again it takes a village, I agree the private sector should realize we are producing their "apprentices" What do they feel the students should be learning? Do we really want them having so much control? I don't know that answer but we could sure use the help!

  2. I agree on many of the points that you made in your blog. While doing my undergraduate program for education I was immersed with a lot of the new technology that was provided by a national grant. Then when I graduated and took my first teaching job, I got a wake up call on the lack of technology that was available to me and the lack of funds to try to integrate the technology I had just learned in my undergraduate studies. I think that we can all relate that a first year teacher is also in survival mode and spend much of their first year just making sure they cover the material that needs to be taught. I do, however, have a different perspective on the technology issue now that I have been teaching ten years. I have a lot of the newest technology that has been provided for me via newly constructed classrooms and a pilot program with Texas Instrument. Before the pilot program, I had been at a workshop and got exposed to the technology created by Texas Instrument. I left that workshop saying to myself that I must have that for my classroom. I begun researching ways to apply for grants and asking administrators at my school for ways that I could accomplish this goal. By talking with administrators and also exposing myself to other workshops, I was selected to pilot a new program for Texas Instrument, and in turn, I received the technology I had been seeking.

    Do I believe this will work for everyone? No. But, I do think as teachers we need to be active advocates for our students and continually try to find creative ways to expose our students to the technology that they so truly deserve.

  3. As we all know funding will always be an issue in public education. So what can we do to overcome this? This is the question I constantly asked myself. Until recently, I have given up on the notion that the funding is coming. Through the technology I've been given in my classroom I have gone through a lot of searches for free software and programs that I can use with my kids. I've gotten away from worrying about the funding because it puts such a negative feeling inside me.

    I've told myself that I will no longer worry about things that are out of my control, but I will put to good use what I have and what I can find using the technology I have. I think teachers need to come together with their peers (possible PLC's) and talk about and come up with technology ideas and searches that will help to teach our students.

  4. Can anyone answer where all the states gambling money goes? I thought the whole reason we had state lottery approved was because they promised to pay for schools being built as well as upgrading them? I am just curious if anyone knows where this money is actually being spent. I feel that the state should be held accountable for every dime they spend. We have some of the worst schools and it’s not the teachers fault, the schools are falling apart and they aren’t given the proper tools to teach with.

    I think everything you said is absolutely correct; teachers can only do so much with the tools they are provided. I hope that the community will one day recognize this issue and fund the schools properly.


  5. I love that you brought up the point of having the private sector pay for technology in schools! I have thought for a while now that if companies would like students that are better prepared to enter the workforce or more specifically, work for their company, then they should chip in and help fund the education of these students. Imagine how different things would be if companies funded education and helped prepare students for successful careers in their own companies.

    I also thought it was interesting that you brought up the idea that schools simply lack the technology to do what is best for students. It's a shame really that we don't spend more money on upgrading technology to help our students and to do what is best for them.