New direction

I recently wrote about fear and doubt and how I was uncertain of my future and how that future might include retirement. I walked all the way to the edge and even jumped off into retirement only to be recalled by one of my supervisors. A week ago I was summoned to the principal’s office for what I thought would be a scolding and lo and behold the man wanted me to return to the classroom. I’m being re-invented and in September I’ll be teaching seventh and eighth grade students how to stay safe on the internet, use tools like Google Docs and use their cell phones as learning tools.

The request and the experience has left me with a beginners mind. I’m reaching out to other teachers who’ve taught at this grade level before and who have had this assignment. For the last several years I’ve been a proponent of the educational uses of cell phones. I’ve been at loggerheads with the administration on this point. I’ve come to believe that cell phones are really the present and future direction of computing. For years we’ve been talking about one to one computing and only an elite few districts could actually pull it off. Most lacked the resources. Adding to the proliferation of cell phones is the emergence of the Net Book platform. The near and far term will see a melding of the two and in a relatively short period of time I think we’ll see an almost total disappearance of the traditional desktop and even laptop computers in favor of net centric devices that connect to both traditional 802.11 wireless networks and cellular networks. Recent events in Iran prove the effectiveness of low bandwidth tools like Twitter and SMS to get the message out.

Of course these tools can be dangerous in the hands of young people who frequently lack good judgement and use them to send inappropriate messages which put them and their futures in jeopardy. My assignment includes helping to change those behaviors. It’s a tall order but it’s one that’s got me excited and energized. I hope that you will continue to pray as I need those prayers and so do the students I’ll be working with.

7 Replies to “New direction”

  1. Hey Don,
    That’s wonderful! What an interesting experience. I agree that we need to stop fighting students about their cell phones and try to use them as learning tools. I’d be interesting to hear your thoughts on incorporating them. Hope you’re enjoying the summer.


  2. We need a curriculum that literally provides students with a digital drivers license. We teach driver education and have for years. Can you imagine banning student driving? Students need to be aware of the positives and negatives of using technology including cell phones.

    Most of today’s cell phone using students are carrying what amounts to personal computers around in their pockets and for too long we’ve ignored or frustrated that development. If you want to read some interesting applications and ideas visit this link, I listened to a presentation this fellow gave at NECC 2009 in Washington, DC a couple of weeks ago.

  3. Wow. I am currently preparing to enter elementary special education in the fall and have been amazed at the assistive technology currently available. It saddens me, however, to realize that we are not currently using technology to best effect in the general educational setting (or even in the special education setting, often.) It is time we took into account the individual needs of our students in order to reach them – and current technology has so many ways to help us, but all too often, modern technology is regarded as an impediment to learning.

    We need to learn ourselves how to use that technology, and also how to teach with it. And how to teach it in safe and effective ways.

  4. Happy to see you back. I’ve really missed your blogging. Glad to hear that you will be teaching elementary special education. I was just at NECC 2009 in DC a little less than three days ago. I encourage you to visit ISTE’s website and learn what other teachers are doing around the country and the world. Here is their website, Best wishes and prayers with your assignment I am sure that you’ll do well with your compassion and heart for children.

  5. I’ve come to realize how much I use blogging as a way to center myself and reflect. And my students deserve a teacher who doesn’t feel dizzily off center.

    Best wishes and prayers yourself! I’ve learned a lot from the issues you’ve brought up around education and technology here, and I’m certain you’ll be a real resource for your students. This definitely sounds like a good path for you.

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