More Thoughts on Technology

I have spent an incredibly frustrating few days, and most of those have to do with technology.

I’m teaching a Trigonometry unit in my Geometry classes. As I mentioned in my previous post, not all students have calculators. I’ve given them each a trig table, but the inequity is heartbreaking. Those that have a calculator – even if it can’t do Trig functions – have a clear advantage over those that don’t. Those that don’t own a calculator have to do long division for each problem, and that takes time. I’m giving the unit test tomorrow, and I anticipate that many students won’t finish in the given hour because of their lack of technology. Even more dishearteningly, many will just skip the problems that require long division.

As I went to make copies of tomorrow’s test, I was confronted with three broken photocopiers. Our controller, a wonderful woman who makes our budget stretch and stretch, reassured me that the contract on these chronically malfunctioning copiers is ending at the end of this school year, and we should have new ones next year. That’s great, but in the meantime, as we gear up for finals, we don’t have reliable photocopiers.

The cherry on top of my frustration sundae is our new student information software. Unlike our old software, the new software doesn’t allow me access to student attendance records. I have two students that are cutting class. I’ve referred both of them to my lead teacher and counselor in the past, but noting has been done. Now the ball has been volleyed back in to my court – I’ve been asked to call home on both students. But I don’t have the information to have a productive conversation. If their parent (or guardian, in this case) asks, “What days did they attend last week?” I don’t have that information. “Are they attending their other classes?” I don’t have that information. The people who have access to that info (lead teachers and counselors) are too swamped to make the call. I’m happy to make the calls, but I don’t have the information.

I love my job. But today I’ve had to remind myself that I CHOSE this job. I chose to work in a job that has notoriously few resources, where everyone is stretched to the limit. I need to accept that.

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2 thoughts on “More Thoughts on Technology

  1. I relate to this post. A lot. I teach in a small, rural district that greatly lacks technology. I am lucky enough to have a classroom set of calculators for students to use, but I don’t have enough to let students take them home to use on homework. I see so many cool activities online that just can’t be done with the resources my school has. We have no computer lab that we can take our students to. There are no laptops to bring into our classrooms. Many of our students don’t have computers or Internet access at home. We have one copy machine in the building, and when it breaks we are copy machine-less until a repairman comes.

    It’s a tough environment to work in. There are definitely the days when I question why I stay here. I could move forty minutes away, get a two thousand dollar a year raise, and teach in a school where every single student has a school-issued laptop. Yet, I’ve chosen to stay. I stay because these students need me. I stay because I’m making a difference.

    Just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone in this battle! We are making a difference. We are changing the world.

  2. Sarah, thank you for your encouragement! I love my students and it makes me mad that they can’t have what other students at other schools in other districts have. But I also feel very privileged to work at my school. And thank you for your wonderful blog! I’m actually working on my next post about websites I keep coming back to and yours tops the list. Interactive Student Notebooks have completely changed my classroom!

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