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Monday, September 10, 2012

A New School Year Begins!

Though I have the distinct privilege of working with faculty and students in multiple grade levels, the only class I have that is truly "mine" is my weekly third grade technology class. Transitioning from the summer work of technical maintenance, to the back-to-school joy of enthusiastic kids ready to learn and get their hands on a laptop, has been as challenging as ever.  I know all teachers go through the self-admonishment of "You're starting the year at the beginning, remember? Don't expect these kids to be what you saw at the end of last year..." I've now had that conversation with myself about a dozen times.

When it comes to technology, things don't just change annually, they change DAILY. The media portrays our children as innately tech-savvy little beings because "they've never known a world without the internet and all this technology."  I agree on the level that they don't seem to have the same fear of technology that certain members of older generations do, but they weren't born knowing how to use all the gadgets and they certainly haven't been injected with an extra gene that helps them make better long-term decisions about their behavior in the digital world. I have to re-imagine my curriculum regularly to make sure it's fresh, keeping up with software advances, cloud computing, mobile technology, etc. But in dealing with 8- and 9-year olds, there are so many things to consider when it comes to their developmental levels, their learning styles, their safety and digital identity, and even their physical hand size!

About 10 days ago, on my first day of class with the new crew, my mind could not even begin to comprehend where to start with them. Last year's kids, now thriving 4th graders, accomplished a great deal, and their skills and knowledge at the end of the school year astounded me. I couldn't even remember a time when they didn't just know it all. How naive of me. Thankfully, I had one brave student on hand to point out to me in very specific fashion what I couldn't just assume. After a discussion about school accounts, usernames and passwords, logging into services (all new to 3rd graders), we tried logging into one for the very first time...

Hand in the air.

"Ms. Gerla? Where is that slash-line-thingy on the keyboard? It's in my password, but I can't find it."

I wanted to hug this child and thank him profusely for bringing me back to earth...back to the beginning. I'm so excited to start a fresh school year and see how far we can get this time. The road is open before us.

Let the learning/teaching/sharing/exploring begin!