Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Giving Thanks for Tech Tools in Waukesha Classrooms

For many educators across the School District of Waukesha, we can recall a time when the only way to do something meaningful with technology was to:

  • Schedule time in a computer lab (of course the most organized person in the building had already booked out the year before school even began, leaving the rest to fight for openings).
  • Plan a time in the computer lab, only to find out that your students were not quite ready to use the lab on the day you had it reserved (or an impromptu fire drill chewed up 20 minutes of your lab time).
Those missing keyboard keys on
school laptops often made it
difficult to efficiently type.
  • Waste five minutes walking to a computer lab, another seven logging in to the computers, and the last two encouraging students to save their work and log off.
  • Wait for somebody to physically arrive at your building to solve some tech problems they can now assess and fix virtually.
  • Await the use of a C.o.W (laptop cart on wheels), only for some of the computers to arrive with missing keyboard keys, interesting words spelled with re-arranged keyboard keys from a creative student, dead batteries, or entirely dead laptops, meaning some of your kids had nothing to work on.

While some of that is just a way of life with technology, the reality is that students and educators in our system are generally utilizing our devices/tech to be more efficient, more timely, to allow students to move through lessons at their own pace, and to extend learning beyond the school day.

In the past few weeks I have had several conversations in which educators have expressed their gratitude for the tools our students and staff have access to across Waukesha.

My Kids Can Literally Do Anything

A teacher shared with me that she truly feels like anything is possible for her students today, largely because of the availability of the technology in her classroom.  She was so excited that with the skills her students learn from using the technology, by having the tech in their hands, they could create anything, share their voice in a way that could be heard by the world, and solve any problem.  

"Imagine being this age [these are 4th grade students] and realizing that you can share your ideas with the whole world! Imagine what that does to your view of the world."

It Has Changed How I Teach

In an impromptu visit to one teacher's classroom, I noticed many of the students were using their iPads to document their research in science.  I asked if her students had any Book Creator projects to share with me, so I could show others the quality work they are doing. 

The teacher said, "We have so many." The teacher then went on to say, "We do such wonderful things on our iPads. I love them.  The iPads have truly changed how I teach science and social studies in my classroom."

We Don't Realize How Fortunate We Are

A few months ago I spoke with a former Waukesha teacher who had moved on to other opportunities. 

One of the points that the teacher made absolutely clear to me was that educators and students in Waukesha are truly fortunate to have such a wide range of technology/tools available to use in our classrooms. This particular teacher was in the process of encouraging his school district to adopt Google Apps for Education, as he had no way to share with students or have them collaborate with each other. He said, "You lack the perspective of what other schools really have when you are in a system like Waukesha." 

We have heard this sentiment repeatedly from former staff members who have experienced the availability of technology to students and to staff members in other districts.

Waukesha One Gratitude

As you reflect on how the tech tools Waukesha One made available have impacted you, your students, and your classroom, take a moment to share your thoughts with the world.  

If you are on Twitter, the #sdwone hashtag is a great way to express your thoughts and gratitude. That hashtag also works on Google+. Or just offer your comments in the comment box below.