Whether we want to accept it or not, technology is an important part of our lives and of education. The high school students at our school have a laptop program, and we have been given a great deal of money to set up three computer labs in the main building and wire the classrooms so that we can all be online. While this is all good and the future looks bright, there are some people who still feel that computers and those who use them are tools of evil.
I work very hard to make the work we do in my class available to my students and their parents, so they can access information they have missed or verify what they have is correct. And I make myself available in the computer lab at school. I am comfortable around computers, and I encourage their use every way that I can. This includes being online to help my students navigate my web site or answer questions about assignments.
I am sorry that other teachers don't feel like this is appropriate. I don't understand this attitude. I put in a lot of time working on and developing my curriculum to include technology. Just because some don't find the time to do this, I feel it is an integral and valuable part of who I am as an educator. I want to see my students comfortable with the computer just as they are with paper and pencil. I want to have open communication with them so I know where they are coming from. This makes me more prepared as a teacher. I know what they know, and I can use that to increase my knowledge and relate to theirs. I feel sorry for parents and teachers who don't do the same. They are missing a big part of the lives of their children and students.
I can no longer get on America On-Line because I am besieged with Instant Messages from my students. Many of their comments are related to school. Those that aren't are frequently informed that this isn't the proper avenue for other communication. Most of the students simply ask me how I am just as they would if they ran into me in the grocery store or mall, and the conversation ends there.
I spend the majority of my time there answering questions and helping clarify assignments or reinforce the importance of homework. Many times, I provide them the address of my website so they can find the information they are looking for. I wait to make sure that I have led them to the proper location before I say good-bye just as I would if I were in the library doing research. I would never say, "Oh, good, you found a book in the card catalog," and let that be it. I would help them locate that book in the stacks and help them make sure it was the book they needed. This is all part of teaching.
Another problem is that many more people have access to me than I know. I don't have control over that. I have a web site. The address is posted so that anyone who needs help can ask for it if they have access to e-mail. I have a screen name. I don't have control on who knows my name there either. The screen name is put onto a "Buddy List" by the person in charge of the "Buddy List." I have no way of knowing who has my screen name, not do I care. If someone wants to talk to me, I need to know who they are or I will terminate the conversation immediately. It has to happen like that. Likewise, if I know someone, I don't disguise who I am. That is immature, juvenile, and troublemaking.
I understand that many of you have read media reports of young people being overly involved in on-line relationships and the bad things that have occurred to these children. The frequency of these reports is very small, and the odds of this happening to someone you know or care about is very slim. Very. Almost non-existent.
Having said that, or for those of you who think this is a little much, I have a couple of things to add. I have been teaching at this school for 6 years. I am on the cutting edge of technology, and so are your daughters. I use my computer at home as a tool to teach just as though it were a chalkboard or a copy machine. I use it to make my students' lives easier. I am not using it to have inappropriate relationships with my students. I am a good person, and I work very hard to be good at my job. Take the initiative and find out what I am doing. Go visit my website or say hey to me if you know I am online. Don't be a stranger, and don't be afraid of technology or me. I am not evil, and I don't use the computer for evil It doesn't do anyone any good. Let's communicate - electronically, orally, verbally, and in print. It will help everyone.