Guest Blog (We are in Charge Now!) – The Secret to Better Technology in Schools.

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If You Need Technology Workshops for Your Teachers... You Need RecessTec.After editing 200 blogs of PrincipalsPage ramblings, I have decided that the Wife/Mother-In-Law Team needs a chance to speak. I mean come on…
Don’t I get a reward for constantly correcting semicolons and the incorrect use of to, too, and two?

Honestly, how can a man rise from coach/teacher to administrator in a few short years with only one opinion on the use of the English language?
I quote, “The semi-colon is by far the coolest of all punctuation!”
I mean seriously, who ranks punctuation by coolness?
Note from PrincipalsPage:
(I do not apologize for my love of the semi-colon… and I might add… I am a huge fan of the asterisk***)

Of course, we shouldn’t judge. One of us married him.

So, with that being said…

We present Recess TEC as the first official “Guest bloggers“.
(Note from PrincipalsPage… quite possibly the last

In the struggle between the TECH GEEKS VS. THE SUITS, another adversary needs to be included.
This adversary could be the one to bring peace to the land…
with an “and they all lived happily ever after” ending.
This adversary is (insert drum roll and “dah-da da da”)…

We would define “The Suits” as (in some cases add “dearly beloved, but ignorant of all things technology”) the administration.
We would define “Tech Geeks” as the teachers and students who want to include technology in the curriculum, use as much technology as possible in their everyday lives,
and see it as a highly motivating factor to enhance teaching and learning.

Enter the IT. “Dr. No” if you will.
(Notice, we did not say “Dr. Evil”.)
IT’s #1 priority is to keep the server alive and well to handle the administration’s email.
Priority #2 is to NOT lose any file stored there.
And finally, #3 – NO VIRUS…EVER!

Nobody and nothing is allowed to slow down the server.
Don’t even get us started on bandwidth.

Anything Google slows it down.
Anything Skype slows it down.
Anything that involves long distance collaboration slows it down.
Anything that includes the word “streaming” slows it down.

We believe that the more things slowing it down, the more the students benefit…which in turn means the server space and bandwidth needs to be “supersized”.
We know…now we are talking money.
We would be willing to give up the chalk and dry eraser marker budget in exchange for a little more server space.
Anyone else?

Things we hear from the IT:

“Google Earth? You don’t need it. You have maps.”
“SmartBoards? Why? You have white-boards and all you will use it for is to show movies on a big screen.”
“ (Add indignant tone.) The teacher’s desk is the first place we see it. You can’t control what is being played…a song with inappropriate content might pop-up.”
“I don’t want my teachers to have wikis/blogs/podcasts/webpages (insert any other web 2.0 tool here) because I can’t control the content.”
“It slows down the bandwidth.”
“It takes up server space.”

Enter “Recess TEC” to the rescue.
Now it is time to bring to reality “Why can’t we just all get along?”
Pull up a chair and sit down. (Coffee, anyone?)
We need all of you in the same room together. (Even if it means providing chocolate or a continental breakfast or a steak dinner with mixed cocktails ;) )
Possibly even a few tech-geeky students. (“Ixnay on the ixedmay ocktailscay…”)

It is time to watch, listen, and talk.

Google everything.

And SMARTBoards in every single classroom.
YES! Even the music and art rooms!

And tons of bandwidth.
And HUGE servers.

And finally.
Teach the teachers.
Let them do what they have been trained to do.
Teach them to teach with technology.
And let them be the filters and decide what is best for their students and their curriculum.
Help them understand that technology is not an addition to the curriculum.
It is not the time to take the students to the lab where their students log on, work individually on a website, while teachers grade papers.
Teach teachers to integrate, collaborate, and to become proactive.
After all,
that is what they were hired to do in the first place.
and finally,
trust them.
Trust them to do no harm.

Which means…

No Internet Filters on computers when TEACHERS are logged in. That’s right. No filters.

Teachers are the BEST filters (if they are engaged with students… which means stand up and walk around the room).
And if they prove NOT TO BE…
then slam that filter right back into place.
Abuse it = lose it.
Show teachers how to use sites like Flickr and You Tube SAFELY.
We are not saying, turn the kids loose on whatever site they want.
We want to protect kids, but we also want to motivate and engage them!

Communication together is the key to solving all of these issues.
We need to be in the same room to see what is out there and how it best can be used.
And it should never be Suits Vs. Geeks.
Let’s work together and put the puzzle together piece by piece.
Let the teachers show the IT department (especially the ones that may have never taught) HOW the technology is being used in the classroom.
Let the IT department show the teachers why things are structured as they are.
Most teachers know very little behind what it takes to do your job.

The dialogue should include,
“We didn’t know you wanted that.”
“I can do that for you.”
“I didn’t know that was out there.”
“Will you help me with that?”



And finally, show by example.

(Recess TEC is also known as Recess Web Design…but doing more and more Technology Educational Consulting and less and less Web Design.)

**Note: This blog was collaborated over a 60 mile distance and written using Google Docs without filters.

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19 Responses to “Guest Blog (We are in Charge Now!) – The Secret to Better Technology in Schools.”

  1. Magistra M
    on Jan 17th, 2009
    @ 12:28 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more. So often we (teachers) attend in-service with outside trainers. We get excited, motivated even. Only to find that the tools we’ve been trained in aren’t installed on our machines or the sites we need are filtered out. I work in a district that is moving in a great direction – but I have never attended a training where IT was also in attendance (at least, in any capacity other than making sure that the immediate needs were met; when the training begins they leave). We ALL need to be in the same meeting at the same time.

  2. Sexy Housewife
    on Jan 17th, 2009
    @ 1:28 pm

    I totally agree and have been pushing this type of approach for years. A couple points, teachers need to be trained by other teachers that can translate the techno-speak into edu-speak. And the biggest thing…administrators have to make it a requirement for teachers to use technology to teach. In this day and age it can no longer be optional.

  3. Jenny
    on Jan 17th, 2009
    @ 5:12 pm

    I am not trying to offend the “owner” of this blog, but I think we may need a “guest blog” more often! I agree with everything written here. I am the Technology Coordinator for a school system, not to be confused with the Director of Technology (my boss). It is frustrating trying to encourage teachers to attend training in the area of technology. I do have one school that is doing a great job!!!! The local newspaper featured R. A. Mitchell Elementary in a story this week. They will be collaborating with a school in California, a school in Chicago, and a school in New Jersey before, during and after the Inauguration. Pictures and Video will be posted on our website soon!

  4. Connie Sitterley
    on Jan 17th, 2009
    @ 5:55 pm

    This comment is really for both Geeks vs Suits and this post. You all make great points. I am the Director of Instructional Technology for a rural school district in NW PA. We filter only what we must for CIPA, we use Google Apps for Education, Smart Boards, all things web 2, blogs, wikis, Moodle, and those are available for students, staff and administration. Our Superintendent uses Google docs to work collaboratively with others and encourages technology use by all staff members. We never have enough staff development time, but we do all we can including online. We encourage and sometimes nudge our teachers to use the tools we have available. Keep an open door between the Geeks, Suits, Techs and our student clients! If we can start to make progress in rural PA, others can too. Thanks for your open-minded posts.

  5. diane
    on Jan 17th, 2009
    @ 6:53 pm

    Ah, you used the T-word: Trust. It amazes me that I am charged with the care and education of approximately 640 students in grades K-12 for a significant portion of their year yet am not permitted to determine the suitability of a site or video clip.

    I want the freedom to experiment in my library and classroom. If I’m not trustworthy, I shouldn’t have any student contact.

    Trust me. I want what’s best for our children.

  6. Pat
    on Jan 18th, 2009
    @ 5:14 am

    This was a wonderful post and I agree with everything you said! I felt like I heard the national anthem playing in the background as I read this! It amazes me that teachers can take students on field trips to other states and even countries but we can’t be trusted to use the computer appropriately! (By the way, my husband was a judge and being the teacher, I still had to proof all of his written boring legal documents! I guess it goes with the territory but I have to admit that I never was allowed to do a “guest” legal brief! LOL)

  7. Angie
    on Jan 18th, 2009
    @ 3:55 pm

    I work in a district where somethings are blocked for the reason of “blogs.” Sad to say, I can’t even read this one at work. Travesty.

  8. micsmith
    on Jan 18th, 2009
    @ 4:10 pm

    That is crazy!!!

    Who is in charge of that school of yours??? I want them on the phone ASAP.

    This is both outrageous and unconsciencable.

    How do you work in a place that has such disregard for all things

  9. campinglisa
    on Jan 19th, 2009
    @ 9:22 am

    Great Blog…Did you let principalpage out of the locked room yet?

  10. Recess
    on Jan 21st, 2009
    @ 7:08 am

    As you can see, we did in fact let him out of the locked room. After all, I had school on Monday and he didn’t. (And I was hoping if I let him out, he would do the laundry…HE DID!)

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  14. Techno Blog
    on Apr 24th, 2009
    @ 12:18 pm

    Thanks, I enjoyed reading your post. It’s nice to see someone writing something worth reading. Take care.

    - Jack

  15. Jessicathaph
    on May 10th, 2009
    @ 8:24 am

    Wow! Thank you very much! I always wanted to write on my site something like this.

  16. Ariana
    on May 13th, 2009
    @ 3:26 am

    great post hope to see some additional comments next Tuesday…

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