We Should All Play Checkers On the Sidewalk

We found him!

My sister (from Ohio) called and said that she decided enough was enough. If nobody else was going to do it, she was. Somebody had to start. And, as my mother always said, you never know if you don’t ask. The worst that could happen was either a “no,” or the sound in her ears of a phone being hung up. The task? Was our cousin still in Columbus? The only way was to look in the phone book and see if that name was his. And, the last 40 some years of no communication was now over–it was our long lost family member. They are planning to get together, share old family pictures, and catch up on news from the last four decades. What if my sister had said, “I’m just too busy?”

What’s the purpose of being so busy? Is it for survival, or getting ahead? Is it to put food on the table, or have a new car every three years?

I’m reminded of my work in China in a small rural farming town. Survival is the main economic need in this town. Work would begin at sunup and continue to dark. For example, on my way to school in the early morning, I’d walk past an old two story building. One particular day I stopped and witnessed scores of gentlemen with sledgehammers on the second floor beating the walls to bits. “Odd,” I thought, “is this anger management?”

On the way home for lunch that day, I noticed the walls were slowly disappearing. The heat was oppressive and the humidity was extreme, and the workmen kept pounding away. In about a week, the two story building was completely gone: blow-by-blow, the work never ceased until the task was done. What once was a building was now dust.

The whole town worked liked this. However, in the evenings, the community gathered on the sidewalk to play chess, socialize, and visit. The laughter, joy, and atmosphere was infectious. Even though I couldn’t understand the Mandarin, I realized these townspeople had a gift: they made time for each other in spite of the work to be done. The biggest thing I noticed? The happiness! As back breaking as the work was, these people were so peaceful!

Do we need to take time to play chess on our sidewalks? Do you remember Hurricane Isabel and the fun of meeting neigbors as we shared food at neighborhood cook outs?

Maybe the stress of testing, grading papers, pacing with the curriculum guide would be easier to tackle if we made time to play and relax. Who cares if we don’t have the newest car? Who cares if we have to duct tape a cabinet?

I don’t know about you, but I’m now going to quit blogging, not worry about VSTE, and go sit with my family.

How Does a TRT/Tech Resource Specialist Best Meet the Needs of Teachers?

VSTE is looming on the horizon. The Movie Maker workshop for the art teachers is getting close. Am I ready to work on a Masters through Va. Tech? How’s Internet Safety coming along? Time to schedule meetings with the primary teachers about the Gradebook report card roll out. Orchard training on Tuesday–need to review that one more time. When’s your next morning Starbucks session? I need to prepare for Kerry D’s visit to sixth grade and prepare for the luncheon. The Promethean Board punch list needs to be completed. The QX3 microscope is being ugly–could you come upstairs and take a look at it? I better update my weekly log. Get the COW cart to first grade early so in case there’s a problem, it can get fixed before class starts. Spring workshops need to be prepared.

The life of a TRT! And, my colleagues and I still will get that nagging feeling in the back of our minds, “How can I better serve my staff?” It’s a constant struggle of wondering how to better meet the needs of teachers of encouraging, serving, and assisting.

One way is by empowering through training.

This can be done in small groups, before school (i.e. Starbucks Sessions), after school, and city-wide workshops. We (I.T.) are preparing for workshops in the spring that will address needs listed in the assessment survey that teachers filled out in the fall. The most requested workshops were Movie Maker (and it will be improved even more for those who have taken it before), PhotoStory, and PowerPoint strategies.

Even though I want to be all things to all teachers, I realize that the best way for me to meet the needs of my 71 teachers and 1,000 students is to remember what I went through in my 20 years in the classroom and roll up my sleeves.

Huzzah to my wonderful staff members! Thanks for being the kind of wonderful teachers that make it fun to come to work and come into your classrooms! If you ever need help in the classroom, don’t hesitate to shadow my office threshold!