Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Older and Wiser
I was recently recognized for my thirty years of teaching. They have all been in the same district and building. I started in Special Education, in a resource room and slowly worked my way to regular. I still do inclusion, so I have many of the special education students in my room. I am on second generations now. Before I left special education, I learned to embrace technology. I am not your typical "well seasoned" teacher.
I love technology...most of the time. I hate it when it doesn't work correctly, and lately that seems to be the case more often than not. Our district recently got all new workstations and teacher machines with Windows 7 and Office 13. They don't like to play well with our server, or some other programs. Another problem is our new version of Teacher Access through eSchool. It has been very finicky. The only good part is that our office has to run reports, instead of me taking time. I just sign and return. Love it!
I email parents with concerns and praise. I use a class webpage to keep parents informed and to share pictures, videos, and other evidence of our learning. I am also posting lesson plans for the principal and parents. I use Publisher and my webpage to publish a weekly newsletter to keep parents informed.
This year, I started using another program to improve communication. I use Remind101.com, a free service that allows you to send text messages. You don't need to use your own cell phone number, so there are no "after hours" calls if you don't want to share your contact information. With Remind101, you can send a text with up to 140 characters. I use my computer to set up the message, and can even schedule the text for a desired time. I have one "class" set up for my homeroom, and another for my other reading class.
I include information from the other teachers when relevant. I give a brief account of homework. Eventually, I plan to put copies of the actual assignments on my webpage so parents can get copies if they are left at school. The messages have brought many emails as well, as parents want to thank me or ask more questions. I don't mind these, as I can respond when it is convenient, usually while I watch television in the evening.
My parents that are using it love it. The students? Not so much! They cannot forget they had homework. As we strive to prepare students for jobs of the future, technology will surely be a part of it. Embracing technology now is essential. I also appreciate working smarter, not harder.