Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Suit Free Staff Development

You need the map so you will know where to find me after a staff development day!

I was planning on posting this on the private blog but then realized, there is nothing I have to say there that I can't say here. The day wasn't as bad as I am making it out to be. Principal Hula did something I have never seen before--HE TALKED TO US, NOT AT US! No one yelled at us. No one told us what a crappy job we were doing and how we needed to do more.

The day began the usual staff development way--bagels and coffee in the cafeteria. There weren't enough benches down and Hula physically set up extra benches. Suit would have bellowed for someone else to do the dirty work.

Hula told us his background. For those who have been asking, our school lucked out. HE IS NOT FROM THE LEADERSHIP ACADEMY! He's a real guy who cares about kids and helping teachers help them succeed. He talked to Joe about problems he was having because I asked him to (Jimmy was really pissed about my doing this) and he volunteered to talk to Jimmy to try to help him also. I'm giving him Jimmy's real name tomorrow because Jimmy told me today he only answers to people higher than a teacher. I know he would prefer Obama, but since Obama is busy he will have to settle for Hula.
Having a principal that is a human being is a new experience for me, something I hope I can adjust to. He told us our school report card grade, which was excellent. I worry that in order to keep the grade he will give up some of his humanity. We also heard from the AP of guidance, a woman I have liked and respected once I got to know and overcame my cynicism. Then our CC spoke. He didn't say much but did make a few jokes about Suit and his self appointed Principal Emeritus status.

Next, we had short department meetings. Nothing much to report here. Then, on to E-Chalk. E-chalk is great but time consuming. Too bad the regular classroom teacher does not have access to a computer. Heck, some of us are lucky to have access to chalk. I know, I get mine from my after school job at the college. I couldn't remember my DOE e-mail address. I only use it to do my grades and have it bookmarked at home.

From E-Chalk we went to Smart Board. Smart board will not, in my opinion, make smart kids. It is just another gimmick that might or might not work. I don't see how it is worth the time it takes to set it and get running. And, it is not that easy to learn to use. I know I am not politically correct in saying this but, DUMB IS DUMB and some kids are just incapable of learning the stuff we are being forced to teach them. No smart board, or tablet (the next workshop) is going to change that. The best technique I have found is to photo copy exams and mail them home. I make no comments. The grades say it all. The kids hate this and do tend to work harder because of this.

Our last workshop was in helping ELL kids. The woman who ran it is great. (She is not an administrator.) She is knowledgeable and bright and loves her job. She helps without preaching. She probably would have been an administrator if she did not oppose Suit at times.

The shock of the day came when Mr. AP said something nice about me. He even said he will miss me when I retire. I'm glad I was sitting down when he said this.

My biggest complaints of the day: There was still no time to talk to members of my department to see what others are up to. There was no time to share. There is still no easy access to all this technology.


Anonymous said...

The teachers that have smartboards love them. They take some training, but you can put anything up there and even save them for future use. I would think for math there would be applications that would be good with the smartboard--I am thinking of graphs and such. You can even download straight from the internet. Did he say which teachers were getting the Smartboards???


17 (really 15) more years said...

I'm with you on the Smartboards. I am all for new technology and keeping the kids motivated- but I have found that sometimes, when confronted with all the bells and whistles, the kids get distracted from what they should be learning and only come away with the frills. In addition, if something goes wrong (for example, if somebody moves the projector and you have to reorient the board), you waste valuable instructional time.

It's all fancy schmancy chalk and talk, and none of this is going to make the kids smarter than their potential.

sandi said...

I teach 7th grade math and have a Promethean interactive board (like a Smartboard). I love it.

However, I am wondering how you are going to use it if you don't have a computer in your classroom.

Pissed Off said...

The problem with using smart board in my school is that no one has their own room. It is too expensive a piece of equipment to have out all the time without proper supervision. And, if you have to start warming up a computer, so much time is wasted. Elementary schools are different. Every teacher has the same room all day long.

As for moving a portable one from room to room, that is impossible for me.

A smart board would be great if I had my own room and time to set up and use it. But, it won't make my kids any smarter.

Anonymous said...

Smartboard. Could not teach without it! I have everything built in electronic format. Every homework assignment from physics has diagrams and labels. Every biology lecture includes links to three dimensional molecule models, biographies, short news videos. Chemistry demo problems and examples can be reset instantly between classes.

My Smartboard is not a tool for the students. It is a tool that alleviates me from performing a great deal of repetitive tasks. I can have physics students all working at their own pace and simply flip from problem to problem to discuss their issues. If any student has a question that is tangentional to the topic, a quick net search bags some information.

However, I am well aware of how lucky I am. I have small classes, my own classroom, a permanent, ceiling-mounted projector, and a full A-V suite (DVD and VCR). While I teach in a rural school district that struggles to make AYP because of open enrollment and rapid influx of non-english speakers, I feel well supported in my wish to use technology tools appropriately. The key is appropriateness. Some technology can be extremely helpful in supporting what you actually do, teach. Technology is never a replacement for that skill.