To be Cool
Before school began, a colleague and I were discussing the fact that, due to the requirements of the subjects we teach, we have often been called “tough” or “mean”. Others we know, however, are “cool”. We decided that this was going to be our year to be the “cool teachers”. As we laughed at ourselves we agreed that in reality we knew that we could never be truly cool. Our days of “coolness” have long departed amidst the tough curriculum we face, the state testing, and simply holding students accountable.
As most of you know I love using technology in my classroom. I am constantly researching new web tools that are free and simple and will be interesting for the kids while helping them to learn. For the past two weeks, I have had the laptops checked out and we’ve been using them in my classroom. I set them all up in Edmodo, a social networking site for kids that also allows them to turn in work and take quizzes. I set them all up in the ebook for our 6th grade literature book, so if they have internet they don’t need to lug that amazingly heavy book home. We’ve been taking pictures to paste into the documents they’ve been typing. All this has been wonderful in my class – the students love it and are excited when they come into the room. Edmodo is – as always – a big hit and they are always leaving each other, or me, messages.
Through the course of learning with technology, to some of my students I became “cool”. Yes, I am “cool”! My coolness is, of course, conditional!
Student: Mrs. Moore, you are awesome!
Me: You didn’t think that yesterday, did you?
Student: Well, no. But today you are awesome!
Already the students are dreading the day I have to return the cart; especially those kids that don’t have computers or internet at home. They see the sign-up sheets on the wall in the hallway every day and they watch to see if anyone else has signed up for it and they get excited when they see nobody has, and fall into the depths of despair if they spy a teacher looking at the sign-up sheet. They are now talking about next year and getting their own laptops in 7th grade. The kids are excited to be in my class, they enjoy doing the assignments, and they love not having to turn in papers – because they can simply attach the files or type in Edmodo. I have overheard kids trying to figure out ways we can keep laptops in my room:
Student 1: We should have laptops in every class.
Student 2: Yeah, that would be awesome.
Student 1: Why don’t we? (to me)
Me: Well, we don’t have enough to go around.
Student 2: Just buy some more.
Me, not laughing out loud: They are pretty expensive. We don’t have the money.
Student 1: Ask somebody to give us money.
Student 2: Sure! Or maybe we can just KEEP the laptops!
Student 1: Yeah – just sign up for them for the whole year, Mrs. Moore!
Me: That is not fair to the other students on campus. They want a chance to use them, too.
Student 1: Nah. They don’t need them.
Me, laughing: Sorry, guys. We have to take turns.
The students walked away, still trying to come up with ways to keep laptops in class. As for me, I know my “cool” days are numbered and when the laptops leave, they will take my coolness with them. It has been nice, though, for a while. I’ve enjoyed being the “cool” teacher even if it was short lived. On a positive note, I have already signed up for next month with laptops and will be “cool” yet again! My colleague and I have been laughing at ourselves again….because we know the truth. We are just hardworking teachers – sometimes we have to be tough, sometimes we have to push the kids to do more so they can stretch and learn. We also know we won’t often be “cool”.
For now, though, allow me to bask in coolness. Ahhhhh.
Christine Moore currently holds a degree in education and psychology from Howard Payne University and has a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. She is now working on her Ph.D. in Educational Technology at Walden University. Married with four children who attend Brownwood schools, Christine teaches 6th grade reading in Brownwood and has been working in education at various levels for the past 16 years. You can read her blog, Technology in Schools, at http://edtech-school.blogspot.com/. Christine welcomes your questions and comments and would love to hear from you!