Cruise Control

21 May

I’m a cruise control driver.  With a forty-five minute drive, I like to get on the freeway, set my speed and go.  It’s a these time my mind tends to wander, I can prepare for the day on the way to work or reflect on my day as I drive home.  It’s a great time for me to decompress, relax, or get ready for what lies ahead.  However, I’m often impeded as I have to share the road with many other drivers.  The most frustrating, the drivers in the passing lane who are not passing anyone.  Remember, I’m using my cruise control, so I’m not speeding up or slowing down, slamming on brakes or randomly accelerating.  So, when I begin to come up on a car that does not yield, and I’m forced to slow down, or in some cases go around, I get a little frustrated as I have to engage my brake.  I feel the same way about education.  When I get in my room I can teach some amazing things and am able to go a long way to motivate and inspire my students.  Unfortunately, bureaucracy and outdated policy are often my roadblocks on the passing lane to properly prepare my students for the world beyond high school.

This past year I took it on myself to really educate my students on blogging and other online tools to help facilitate their own learning.  It was a process, but after a few months my kids really started picking up the techniques and nuances of the online writing world (you can read that blog here).   About three months into school, I went in to open up my blog, it was blocked.  I had to modify my lesson on feedback quick.  When I asked why it had changed, I was told I need to log in to the site  before 7:30 or after 4:00 as most content is blocked at that time.  So, I would have to get to school more than an hour early to log in to my blog in order to teach a lesson on it to my students.  Even better, the kids were now blocked from the site entirely.  The reason, students may get access to inappropriate content, thanks CIPA.

Many of the current social media tools I use – and most of the professional world uses: Twitter, Facebook, WordPress/Blogger, Tumblr, QR generators, or YouTube – are all blocked at school.  Now, if my students are expected to know what these are or to have these advanced online social skills, it’s tough to teach how they work if I get the read screen of shame on my computer.  The policies in place in many districts inhibit teacher access, and teachers who know how to use these resources and teach others how to use them are relegated to the LCD projector and stale power points.  Remember the old motto, lead, follow, or get out of the way; this is one car I would love to pass by so I can get down to the business of teaching.

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