Keeping Connected

There’s been a lot written about the 24/7 work week, as our devices allow us unfettered access to one another. Thankfully, my students don’t email me often and the office Inbox is quiet during the weekends. As the administration catches up afterhours, I have come to expect their missives at all hours so often check email just before shutting down before bed.

What is different today from my last office job is social media. When I left Weekly World News in 2007, Twitter wasn’t here and Facebook was not the behemoth it has become. Today, though, I find myself engaging with my colleagues during school hours and later via Facebook. My department chair and I don’t have any free periods together so we wind up exchanging news and notes this way.

Yesterday, there was a series of lively threads among the faculty regarding snow days and posting the interim grades. I’m working with a generation of staff that clearly enjoys one another and doesn’t mind the bleed through from school to home, from daytime to nighttime. It’s a very different environment and one I’ve come to enjoy participating in and like when peers reach out to friend me.

In the next year or two, the county intends to ensure every student has a laptop which will allow us to alter how we teach. It will also impact how we interact with the students as I suspect there will be a lot more out-of-class conversations through Google Hangouts, Goodreads book groups or Edmodo class pages. We’re told we’re teaching the digital generation but at my school, too few kids demonstrate the digital knowledge we were led to believe they have. We find ourselves teaching rudimentary formatting for Word or PowerPoint let alone how to do proper online research.

I look forward to a somewhat more level playing field for the students and being able to do more collaborative work with them online. Getting us and them comfortable with that brave new world is the challenge between now and then.

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