I have a philosophical beef with “Technology Class” because I feel that technology should be used appropriately in all classes rather than as a stand alone. Truth be told I would like to get rid of all “classes” and “integrate” all classes into each other not just technology.
But I defeat this philosophical problem by trying to make my class project-based integrating all other classes into mine as much as possible. Therefore students do not spend every class in front of a screen, but also build and create things. In the process they write, calculate, research, collaborate, and present. In many ways I think this approach could be a model for how to set up a whole school. Now I do not always do all of these things with every class and I do not always go as deep as I would like either. Which leads me to the title of this post …
I do not like teaching technology class because it is a nine week class at my school. At the end of every quarter we wrap it up, ship ’em out, and bring in a new group the following week. I find it difficult to teach using many tools/methods I would like. For example blogging and Google Docs. It takes a lot of time to set up the accounts and show how to use them properly. By the time students are really getting the hang of them my class is over. Also if I want to have a long-term collaboration with another school it is not enough time to really invest in the relationships.
Last year I got to teach one 8th grade section for a whole semester and it was great. Unfortunately there were a lot of scheduling issues and my class went back to quarters this year. Which leads to the other reason I do not like my nine week class. It is hard to get to know students and build relationships with them. I feel like I am just getting to know my students and they are gone. A few drop by to say “hi” from time to time, but my classroom is isolated in one corner of the building away from almost all of their other classes so I may not even see most of them in passing for weeks.
So when I read other people post about long-term projects and building relationships with their students, I get a little jealous. The best I get is to have the same student for one quarter for three years in a row. How do other teachers with constant “shift changes” build long-term relationships with students?
I quit teaching computers last year in order to teach self-contained, tech-integrated 8th grade. I love self-contained, but here’s what I miss about my old class:
2. everything was project-based
3. more creativity
4. I could support other subjects (reading and writing with our blogs and research; math with our budget project; science with our Mythbusters project; social studies with so many of our projects)
5. I felt like I knew the whole student population. I was like a celebrity when I was on duty. It also meant that I got to be the “fun teacher” which is not currently my role 🙂
6. Classroom management was way easier
7. I had a core group of ten of them who would come before and after school and I got to know them really well.
Thanks John, your post about formative and summative assessment is what stirred up (again, because I think about this a lot) these feelings that I am missing out on really “knowing” my students.
Of course there are pluses and minuses to every position, I am curious which job you would choose now with experience in both kinds of jobs?
On my best days, it’s a no-brainer. I’ll go with self-contained. On some days, though, when lessons tank and I have no chance to redo them or when I really hurt a student’s feelings it has me second-guessing self-contained.
Our school has a similar length to related arts, which is where computers class is, though ours are 7 weeks instead of 9. Another reason that this is not conducive to really learning technology is that once they learn the skills, they leave and never practice them again. There is little to no integration in my school. But another downfall to my school’s tech class is that it is essentially keyboarding. 🙁