First the bad news, then the good news. I’ve been trying since August to get my District to unlock our network to allow me to use my TabletPC in my classroom. I’ve got my own WIFI router working and I even have Bluetooth connecting the Tablet to my two teacher machines. I was so excited!
However, now the Almighty Network Gatekeepers have decided I can neither hook up to the Sacred Network nor the Dangerous Web because it’s a personal machine. Mild expletive. I’m just trying to improve my practice with my own money and my own efforts, since they won’t do it with theirs. When I discuss it with the District Powers That Be, I am treated as if I am some kind of subversive criminal just begging to have my machine confiscated or get fired for violating the User Agreement to Submit To Unreasonable Network Barricades and Filters. Even my principal supports my efforts, but it hasn’t done any good. Such is the bureaucracy. Oh, by the way, I would be allowed to use my TabletPC if I donated it to the school. At least they keep me amused.
Now for the good stuff. I’m excited to announce that regardless of aforementioned setbacks, there are small signs of my school moving into the 21st Century.
My administrator has finally mandated the staff’s use of Sharepoint, a real-time collaborative program, the likes of which I’ve been suggesting for two years. Right now we are only using it to track our Academic Interventions, but maybe more will follow.
The budget has finally allowed for Smartboards in most classrooms. (Not my lab, though; that’s why I dreamed up the Tablet idea instead.) Some of the teachers are actually using them in their instruction. This is groundbreaking and I’m not being sarcastic here.
We have purchased lab management software for the student computers, which I’ve wanted for at least five years. The District guys haven’t installed it yet, but maybe sometime this year…
I’m trying to require that all my kids have an email address so we can take advantage of some awesome collaborative online tools. Some parents still won’t allow their kids to have email–even after Internet Safety lessons, but I will find a way to respect that and include their children if I can.
Rumor has it the Library Media Specialists of our District are meeting once in a while to discuss how we might meet the Information Literacy/NCLB requirements for students leaving 8th Grade. No one has mentioned the NETS standards yet except me. I am not sure why technology teachers in the actual schools are not automatically invited to that party or informed of the goings-on, but at least someone is talking about it.
Our literacy coaches are leading a charge to use some wikis (for adults, not for kids yet). They’ve even given a PD about it to the principals! This kind of leadership will hopefully nudge the District to allow lowly teachers to participate. You know, those who work directly with kids. Those who toil in the trenches. Those who cry out for permission to move into the Digital Age.
Really, this is good stuff! I feel we’re making bits of progress and it’s the first movement in this direction in several years. That encourages me. Maybe I can stay here for a while longer without losing my sanity.
Now if only my administrator would deliver the ergonomic tables, chairs, ceiling-mounted projector, and new screen for my lab that he promised me last winter, it would be even better. Maybe it will happen concurrently with the coming building remodel. And to top it off, I am supposedly getting air conditioning before next school year. No more 95-degree lab for several weeks each year. I can almost feel it.
In any event, I think I can deal with almost anything they throw at me because there are only four months left until we are required to be out of there. The contractors must come in no later than May 4. If you have been reading this blog you know we have been working an extra hour every day and we had a shorter Winter Break to earn this privilege. We are both exhausted and exhilarated. Yes, things are definitely looking up.