Today I reached an all time high level of frustration, which had nothing at all to do with my students. It is more to do with the incredible lack of resources my school and classroom have. I don’t blame my principal for this, or even my district. I blame the government.
Today I attended what was the first of a three part series of sessions by Discovery Education as a part of their STAR Ambassador program. While I understand this program to be designed to expose teachers to the various aspects of Discovery Education for use in the classroom as well as the latest web tools available to enhance student engagement and outcomes, it only served to remind me how much my students have lost in the way of technology.
I have spent my entire 14 year teaching career as a part of the Fontana Unified School District. I have worked at Maple and Cypress Elementaries and transferred to Dorothy Grant Elementary because it was the newest school at the time and had far more technology than any of my previous schools. I have always been relatively well versed in the latest technology and I was very excited to be able to teach with it and did for several years. I have been at Grant since 2005 and over the past 9 years I have witnessed and experienced our technology dwindle. When I first arrived at Grant I taught a 4/5 combination and had 4-6 classroom machines, mobile computer lab, site computer lab, digital cameras and video recorders at my disposal for students to use and create with. Over the years since my arrival I have watched this technology break or become outdated and dwindle to barely anything at all. Presently in my classroom I have one working student machine. We no longer have a mobile lab, digital cameras, or video recorders. We do have a computer lab with relatively up to date machines, but with the amount of mandatory school-wide student assessment required, I am unable to take my class to the computer lab for our allocated once a week 45 minutes due to the lab being frequently closed to class visits due to assessment.
Discovery Education is a wonderful company with much to offer teachers. I became a Discovery STAR Educator shortly after my arrival at Grant and learned a great deal from them that I employed in my classroom. I went to many summer institutes which were always fabulous, and even presented for Discovery a handful of times. A few years go I let my STAR status lapse as the realization that my access to up to date technology was rapidly dwindling and doing any further work with Discovery would only make that painfully obvious. I was not wrong in that assessment. Today’s session with Discovery reminded me of all that has been lost to me and my students the last several years as technology has died at my school.
What exacerbates this issue is the Common Core and it’s requirements. I wholeheartedly embrace what the Common Core means to do, what I do not embrace are those expectations being placed on my students, my colleagues, my school, and myself with NO FUNDS to purchase the technology we need to teach our students with so they can be successful. Lofty expectations with NO SUPPORT is will fail. How can my students pass a rigorous computer assessment if they RARELY get to use a computer for academic purposes?
I am not one to sit back and do nothing when an issue disturbs me this deeply. I have chosen to educate myself via these sessions with Discovery, and with my pursuit of my second Masters Degree in Educational Technology along with an Administrative Credential. I have chosen to be more vocal about my opinions on education, positive and negative. The issue of technology in schools and equitable disbursement of funds needed to serve ALL our students has been a long time issue for me that I have largely only voiced my dissatisfaction with among my immediate colleagues. That will no longer be the case. A life motto of mine is that we are all entitled to our opinions. I will always respectfully voice my opinion as I am not out to offend anyone, but merely have my voice heard. I am tired of teaching in silence.