Last Thursday I made the drive from Wisconsin to Indiana. I was moving my oldest “down south” so he could start law school. Indiana is also where I grew up, so I took a couple of days to see my family one last time before I moved. One thing I learned is Indiana does the DMV a whole lot better than Wisconsin. 🙂 It only took my son about 30 minutes to get a new license, transfer his vehicle registration, and get plates. The last time I tried to do this up north, it took me about 3.5 hours!
It is a busy week at school. The computers I ordered two months ago, finally showed up, We are scurrying around like little squirrels trying to get everything installed before the teachers start coming back. Winneconne is a fairly small district but we are pretty technology heavy. We are in the process of installing and configuring almost 300 desktops in three different buildings. For many IT people that doesn’t sound like much, but we have a two person IT department. Our problem is compounded by the summer cleaning that goes on. We wind up having to go back down the same hallway multiple times due to waxing or room cleaning. We have one more week before teachers really start coming in, so I think we will be OK here.
One of my favorite things to do during the summer is hand out chromebooks to new students. We believe it is very important that both the parents and students know what they are getting. We hold parent/student meetings where we cover: 1) how to physically care for the computer 2) how to use the computer 3) what and how we monitor the device and 4) simple steps that parents can take to ensure their son or daughter use the device appropriately. 🙂 Every single time I do one of these meetings I have at least one parent come up and say Thank You.
I believe it is very important that everyone hears the messages about: Here is what we want your child to get out of their education experience, Here is the level of filtering we believe in, Here is what we are watching your son/daughter do on the computer. I also believe very strongly that we need to give parents the ability to see for themselves. One of the last things I say to the parents is “My phone number is…. My email address is…. If you ever have any question or concern about what your son or daughter is doing on their computer, please call me. I am more than happy to share the logs with you, and I will also look through them, and let you know if I see any reason for concern.”
Today I am listening to my replacement give my talk to the new teachers to the district, Most of it is old boring log in information. Letting them know how to use the telephone system. Showing where the printers are and how to use them. You know, the house cleaning stuff that you need to know any time you are new to an organization. It was really hard hearing someone else talk about their technology vision, though. Not that I disagree with where Dave wants to move MY district, it was simply hard knowing that in 3 1/2 weeks it won’t be MY district any more.
I have really enjoyed watching some of the expressions from veteran teachers. Especially those who came from districts that didn’t support technology use. The look of surprise when I would tell them I will try my hardest to support any initiative they want to try always elicits raised eyebrows. When I tell them that I only block what is required by Federal Law for HS students the new teachers usually look amazed. I think my district has done an excellent job fostering the use of technology for teachers and students, and that is what I will miss more than anything. I love going into classrooms and helping a teacher. I thoroughly enjoy going into a HS english class and having a discussion about why we block certain things, and why we monitor what they do on their computers. Those are two things that will leave an empty space in my heart.