Thursday, February 1, 2007

Schedules and Limited Resources

Teachers lives are governed by schedules. There are lunch schedules, recess duty schedules, and bus duty schedules. There are schedules for each subject including library, art, music, and phys. ed. Then there are schedules for staff meetings, parent meetings, and professional development meetings. Consequently, many of us organize our classrooms with schedules. Schedules help us ensure that our students complete a variety of school work and have equitable access to classroom resources.

There are many ways to create classroom schedules for computer use. I'm not going to tell you how to set up a schedule for your classroom because the specifics of your classroom life are different from my classroom life. However, I do want to tell you a few things about the use of computer schedules.

Computer schedules should be equitable in time for ALL students. You wouldn't deny a student the use of a schoolbook (unless vandalism was involved) because they hadn't finished their work or because they were too smart. Computer use should not be just for the ones who have finished their work or only for those who need extra drill work.

Computer schedules should provide a balance of specific assignments and free exploration. Both experiences are valuable educational activities. Assignments should also be an integration of teaching new technology skills as well as demonstrating content area knowledge.

Computers schedules should be flexible. Students are absent, move in, move out, and have different needs. The schedule needs to allow for variables in students and in days filled with fire drills, inside recesses due to weather, and surprise classroom visits by the principal. The schedules also need to be flexible enough to deal with non-functioning workstations. This is a big issue for classroom teachers because so few of us have the technical skills to do much trouble shooting for ourselves. We have to wait for the TechGuru
to come and fix things for us. This is frustrating! Some teachers opt for the "I won't use it unless I have enough for everyone and everything is 100% reliable." This is not the solution. Every classroom has limited reources of every kind. We don't stop teaching because we have only 12 rulers. We have the students share. We need to apply the same mindset to using computers in our classrooms.

1 comment:

Joe Makley said...

I agree that teachers should be resourceful with technology, but leaders need to understand that in 2007, systems really should work 99% of the time. It is up to the administration to ensure this (and to know whether or not it is the case.) Don't be so resourceful you let them off the hook!