I’m having an interesting confluence of various parts of my life this week. I’ve been prepping for the course I’ll be teaching, beginning next week. I’m teaching pre-service teachers about using technology in their classes. I’m using a textbook to provide some scaffolding for all of us, since some of the specifics of teaching in a K-12 classroom are new to me. I’ve been finding that as I’m reading the text, the ideas are not that different from the concepts I use in working with faculty or those that I presented in my dissertation. I may not have had any classes within an Education department, but I’ve read plenty of the research and have had other classes that drew on that research. So I’m not as far afield as I thought I would be. The biggest shock to me is really the way everything is so structured. Lesson plans often follow a particular format and there’s a lot of concern about objectives and assessment. It’s not that I don’t like those things or that I don’t include them in my own teaching, it’s just that I’m not that formal about it. I don’t write out my objectives. I could, but I don’t.
So, I’ve been thinking in a more detailed way about what K-12 teachers actually do, and to support that thinking, I’m attending EduCon 2.2, which takes place in Philly at the SLA, a place I’m hoping to take my students to. I feel like I’m venturing into a whole new world here. But of course, I shouldn’t feel that way, since I have been in the educational system with my own kids for nine years now. At the PTO meeting last night, we actually discussed some issues that were education related rather than fund-raiser related. We talked about the new report cards and assessment in general, about testing and other things. The conversation only lasted about ten minutes, but still. And we all kind of agreed, without really coming out and saying it, that we’re a little tired of the parties and the fairs and want to focus on getting our kids a good education. We made some plans to cut down on the fundraisers, trying to have one big one that will cover everything, so that we don’t have to spend our meetings figuring out who’s going to make the cupcakes or who’s going to line up sponsors. It seemed to me a step toward being truly involved in educating our kids and giving other parents the time for that as well.
It’s been interesting to combine my experiences as a parent and with the PTO with my work with teachers. It’s almost as if these two groups run in parallel lines. They’re both aware of that, I think, but have no idea, exactly, how to cross the chasm. The PTO seems like a good place to start, but I think also, going to School Board meetings (which I don’t do), talking to your kids, talking to their teachers, but all of that takes time, which is in scarce supply. In general, while I feel like my kids are getting a good education and that their schools and their teachers do their best, I don’t feel that great about schooling, in general. This chasm is a problem as is the rapid pace of technological change that is leaving many schools behind. I’m hoping to learn more and reflect more on these issues, because I don’t have any ready answers at this point.