Sunday, December 2, 2007

What Do Teachers Need?

What do we, as educators, require from teaching tools, resources and references?

When I began teaching children there were very few references that I could access to improve my teaching practice. There were no computers and only a few tools like calculators were available. Many times I couldn't complete lessons or projects in the way I envisioned them, because the tools or the natural abilities to fulfill what I envisioned were not available or didn't exist.

Since I grew up in a home that always embraced the future, I also did. One example is when I bought an electronic calculator as soon as I could afford it. My first one was about the size of a paperback book, and I was thrilled knowing this was high technology. All my other college friends and I were very self-congratulatory about these purchases. I would compare the social impact of these calculators, at that moment in time, with that of the iphone today.

Materials like glitter pens, fancy paper and similar technological advances were not available. Recycling was in, and that was great because I could easily cover Velveeta boxes, large manila envelopes and other stuff with a new colorful, sticky plastic, called Contac Paper. I loved Contac paper!

Living in such a special time when technology was moving faster and faster, I was still humble enough to realize that many of my older relatives, and later my older teaching colleagues, still knew way more about life and teaching than I did.

Looking back, it seems to me, I lived in a family where it was very important that children should carry on the best of the family traditions and common knowledge. To be allowed to sit with the grownups, and LISTEN was such an honor. I loved that, but if I was noisy...I had to leave. I guarantee that didn't happen very often. We lived in New Mexico, and we didn't see our family living in Oklahoma often...this was my best opportunity to learn and I couldn't blow it.

These Elders talked of our past, our present and our future with such passion that I just couldn’t wait to be one of them. They all looked forward to the future while living gracefully in the present. We can hope to be so lucky today!

In an ongoing series on teaching tools and professional resources, I will compare and contrast the development of various tools or resources and their impact on education during my career. I do this to help new teachers learn and develop their philosophy so they may effectively guide their social and technical interactions as they begin their career. Also, I do this for myself and my age peers. I want to remind us that we were young and smart and wet behind the ears at one time when older teachers befriended us and made us feel special.

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