Grind to a halt…

From techie to 1800s.

I used to take some good-natured ribbing from colleagues about being a techie (their label, not mine). I use it, er, used it, in the classroom daily. I had a Smartboard, access to a computer lab, and an active, relevant Learning Management System.

My colleagues often commented that they didn’t want the tech in the classroom; some said it would be distracting, others just couldn’t be bothered. They already had a tried and true, pedagogically sound system sans technology, so why bother? What would you do, Jen, if you were suddenly thrust into a church basement, or completely dark-ages ESL classroom? Tech-less?

Here You Go...

Well, the thrust has occurred, and I am doing just that. Could I adapt my materials into a non-tech format? It turns out, my materials are not compatible with the level I’ve been given (Literacy). I need to research, and create, all of my resources that I’m about to use in my classroom.

Of course, I use tech as an aid in the classroom; I’ve come to rely on it as a useful piece of digital literacy. Without it, it just seems to me like I’ve used a tool that is efficient, practical, and time after time, yields positive results. Now I’ve got to pen the novel longhand. Doable, yes, but impractical.

I’m not the only instructor who has received an assignment that is so far off what I had been doing for years, that it is essentially beginning anew. It happens to us all from time to time. I get that. I have to get used to a different group of learners, with far more basic skills than what would normally come through my class in my former workplace preparation courses.

But to do it without technology seems to be achingly unfair. Literacy learners so need the visuals, the tactile learning of a Smartboard. Not having a Smartboard readily accessible hurts. There are smartboards in this new location, but they are in classrooms already spoken for.

Okay, so I will have to do this old-school. No pun intended. Old school, as in, step back in time 20,30, 40 years to a classroom with a BLACKboard (not even a white board, come on! they’re killing me!!) (Whiteboards can be used as writable backdrops with the old-fashioned projectors).

So I step into my new classroom, and am pleasantly surprised to see it entirely pimped out for a Literacy class. The walls are loaded with useful, stimulating visuals, with common sight words prominently displayed. I breathed a sigh of relief, because I knew I had a lot of material to read, research, etc, and this was one less thing I needed to worry about. Also, it is an important thing. The classroom environment is an important source of learning.

I set to work reading through my Bow Valley resources, and putting an introductory module together. I have two days to prepare. On the second day, there’s a knock on the door. It’s the former Literacy instructor. To make a long story short, she stripped the room.  Her materials have a new home, and I can’t say I blame her.

My walls are now bare and ugly, with bits of oily blue tac left stuck in places. My class begins in about an hour, and I have not been able to get back in to the room to try to cover the damage. I have no key to the classroom yet…

This blog will be on hold for a few months. The plan is that this is a temporary move, and I will be back in the 21st Century by the end of March. I’m on a new project now – applying PBLA to a Literacy program. I will be blogging about this experience in a different blog. Tune in…