Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Day In The Life of a 21st Century Teacher

I had one of those "THAT'S what I'm talking about!" days yesterday. We have all heard about how using technology in our teaching transforms our lives; well, my day yesterday exemplified that to me in a big way.

7:00AM; Wake up groggy, check my school email and private email on my iPhone, get up, and get ready for work
7:30AM: Arrive at work, plug my iPhone into my desktop charger, check my school email again, and respond to a colleague who had a problem accessing a file from his workstation when he got to work. Forward the message to our crack ETS team so solve it electronically in minutes.
7:35AM: Start prepping for a Games Development class I teach at 9:20. I need a project that ties together what we have been learning about strategies, so I google 'games course strategy projects' and get about a million hits with some excellent ideas. I browse the first dozen or so hits until an idea formulates.
7:50-8:15AM: Using Word, I create a document outlining the project for my students, save and upload it to our online resource files on our school teaching management system, and share the document with the class via the class web page.
8:15-8:30AM: I send an email to the HS faculty who are leading trips for groups of kids in 2 weeks, to be sure their trip webpages are updated and that their kids and parents know the URLs. Moments later, an email comes in from a basic-user colleague who forgot how to make changes to her site but whose flight information has changed. I email her a link to a file I created last year in our school management system that gives the basic steps for wiki management.
8:30-8:45AM: A student emails me that he will miss the Games class today, so I reply with the link to the project I will be handing out in an hour to the class. He replies with his thanks, and his promise to get an early start on it. I go to my online calendar and start blocking out time slots for our online parent conference signups that will be happening next week. Meanwhile, the colleague who had trouble with her Trip page emails me an enthusiastic message relaying her success.
8:45-9:00AM: I make an important phone call on Skype to the colleague who will be co-leading my student trip, as she is currently out of the country. Then I create a google.doc with a timeline of tasks and share it electronically with her. (Since I will be gone for the ASB Unplugged conference in Mumbai this week and for some Apple professional development training next week, we need to share our ideas and work collaboratively over the wires)
9:00-9:15AM: Put the final touches on my lesson plan for the Games class, finish my cooling cup of coffee, and go to class.
9:20-12:00: Teach my two classes. I tell the kids that I will be gone for the next 3 class periods for conferences and workshops, but I open the link on our class webpage to the 4-day project that I have created, and preview the task for them. They have to submit different components to their Blog sites on given deadlines, and they know that I do not accept any late work as there is no excuse for missing electronic deadlines. Laptops come out, and the kids get right on task. I work at my own workstation updating the online attendance and grades, the send each kids updated grade to theirs and their parent's email addresses. I notice another student absent, so I email him the class assignment. Minutes later, I see from the log that he receives and opens my email.
12:00-1:00 After lunch, I log on to check my seat for my flight to Mumbai tomorrow, as well as the flight status of a friend who is flying back to the US after visiting me for the past week. Then I start checking the students blogs to see who has started working on the project, and provide some encouraging comments to the kids who have tangible progress.
1:00-1:30 I start preparing for a meeting after school. I lead a group of enthusiastic kids who are crafting the Student Digital Use Guidelines for our 1:1 rollout next year. I create a google.doc with the agenda and put it in the shared folder, then email the 40 kids with the link and remind them of the meeting after school.
1:30-2:00 Spend some more time online arranging travel plans to the airport tomorrow and ensuring that all the games kids have accessed and read the document with their class project. Two students email me to claim that they had made certain blog posts before the deadlines last month, and I use the Page History tool to show them that they had actually done those assignments late. I them spent some time talking to colleagues on video chat with Skype about some ideas I have for faculty professional development the week after the trips, pay some online bills that cannot wait, and show one of the office secretaries how to create and share a google.survey with the HS faculty to gather some phone information for the trips. I also email all the parents in the high school with the link to the trip webpages.
2:00-2:30 Breathe time. I take a walk around the school to do some drop ins with teachers to see if anyone needs any help with anything. Lots of little tech assistance happens; this is my favorite part of the day.
2:30-3:15 The student meeting: Kids work collaboratively on to brainstorm Tech Use guidelines, and then send the link to the kids who could not make it to the meeting. I send an email to the entire group encouraging them to continue their work for the next two weeks during my absence to meet our deadline of having a draft of these guidelines done before we leave for our student trips. I promise to monitor their progress, but to let them own the process.
3:15-4:00 Final touches on preparing for my absence. I email the full faculty to remind them that I will be gone, but will be available online for assitance. Tidy up my desk, and head home to pack for my trip.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but as I reflect on my day yesterday, I realize how it was full of collaboration across time and space with groups and individuals, how information could be updated instantly, how I could monitor students' and colleagues' progress with different tasks, how I could productively multitask, how the school saved on 2 weeks of sub pay while I will be able to teach my classes remotely and stay caught up with grading....and how none of this would be possible without the tools and techniques available to me.

Its been said that 21st Century tools transform education...I can not imagine how the tasks that I did yesterday could have been done any other way.