Professional Development Opinion

“Wait! What? We Still Use Chalk?”

By Starr Sackstein — September 08, 2016 2 min read
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So it turns out in some ways I was quite spoiled in my old school.

Becuase of the program I ran, my students had access to relatively new laptops every day. And I wasn’t the only one. Aside from the computer lab in the school, every student was equipped with a Google account and most of the school was paperless.

Classes were equipped with smartboards if teachers were inclined to use them and the science labs had projects installed in the ceiling with other new technology to make labs more efficient.

Since I was in an inside room, my walls had no windows or chalk boards and instead, I used white boards and chart paper to communicate with classes if I wasn’t sending documents to student emails and allowing them to use either the class chromebooks or their phones to access the documents.

After you spend so much time in one place where these resources are readily available, it’s easy to complain about things like wifi access or bandwidth or slow processing, but at the end of the day, if the school’s wifi went dark for a day, although annoying, not the end of the world. We used to joke about kicking it old school.

Small schools have the benefit of technology because they don’t have the people resources. Bigger schools in the city have the benefit of amazing teacher resources and therefore technology isn’t as important.

When I arrived at my new school, I was shocked by how different things are. I’m still kind of in some kind of technology shock, knowing that students don’t have access and the wifi isn’t even set up yet on my computer. I fear that I came off a little insensitive when I actually stared agape when I heard that students weren’t using Google docs in the school, having taken it for granted that most schools in the city have made this shift.

So it’s time to pause.

Rather than complain about what my school doesn’t have, it’s time to focus on what it does and really consider the possibilities of keeping students focusing on the learning with or without technology.

The people I have met so far have been amazing. From the second I’ve walked in the door, each person has gone above and beyond to help me feel welcomed and become acquainted with the school culture. From the secretarial staff and the custodians to the administration and my colleagues, it has been a great start to this new adventure.

Although I haven’t used chalk in over a decade and will likely stick to the chart paper, really being intentional with students about what is happening instructionally is and always will be the most important thing. Learning doesn’t have to be about the bells and whistles for it to be effective, it has to be about what the kids need.

Since technology is limited in my new school, I will have to rethink my practice and really be purposeful and connected to what students have access to both in and out of school. Although tech is a big part of the world, the skills behind the learning doesn’t have to be associated with tech.

It’s time for me to reconsider and get creative. Chalk, no chalk. Computers, no computers. Cell phones or not, kids can learn and the more we recognize that, the more likely we are to move them forward in the ways we can.

What is your best non-tech tip for teaching kids and keeping learning fun? Please share

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