The scary looking box in the corner of the room….

I’m a Teaching Luddite.
Not one of those ‘oh-I’m-useless-at-computers-me’ Luddites who harbour a secret love of all things technological. You know the type: the ones that get their classes to produce spectacularly interactive online resources whilst all the time sighing winsomely about how it’s all a bit beyond them but “aren’t the children AMAZING!”
I’m not even a half-Luddite that will only switch on the interactive whiteboard when they’re being observed and, if pushed, know their way around Youtube in one of those ‘someone’s-borrowed-the-Of-Mice-And-Men-DVD-and-it’s-last-period’ emergencies.
No, I’m the real deal.
A genuine, card-carrying, using the disk drive as a coffee-holder, Luddite.
IT don’t ask me if I’ve tried “switching it off and on again” when I have one of my many problems with the malevolent thing that squats on my desk and pesters me with its incessant beeping – they ask me if I’ve actually switched it on. Or if I’m leaning on the keyboard. Or what I’ve spilt on it this time.
But my New Term (well, Half-Term) resolution is that this is going to change.
And it’s going to change because, not only am I a Luddite, but I’m a Paperite as well.
My desk is a mound of books, files, essays, notes, posters, leaflets and planners – and it’s starting to freak me out.
I was having an argument – sorry, a full and frank discussion – with a Year 11 in the last week of term about whether their homework had come in. This was all going swimmingly until she uttered those immortal words: “I put it on your desk” and we both turned to look at the creaking, toppling, horrendous fire-hazard at the front of the classroom.
And I had to let her off.
Because I had no idea whether it was true.
It was at that moment that I knew something had to change in the way I run my classes.
I think we all know that as teachers – let alone English teachers – paper dominates our lives. Whether we’re filling it in, reading it, marking it,signing it,or taking piles of it home for the weekend to sit, like Banquo at the feast, in the corner of the living room until we pick it up – untouched – and return it to our desks Monday morning, we certainly have lots of it.
Looking at my marking load this half-term, it occurred to me that every single essay, all of the notes I was checking,and each of the revision mindmaps that had been created,were computerised.
Each pupil had printed off their work, handed it in for me to write on by hand, and to then file with all the other paperwork they had completed where they’d gone through the same procedure.
And this seemed a little bit crazy.
So, I’m – tentatively – embracing the scary looking box in the corner of the room.
I’m going to try to make use of some of the technology that’s out there to help teachers in engaging their pupils and, crucially, I’m going to try to move as much of my paperwork online as possible.
In making this ‘journey’ (ug!), I am very much indebted to the excellent digital work of A colleague introduced me to her superb blog and patiently took me through some of things she was looking to achieve with her classes. I would encourage everyone with a similar fear of technology as me to read through her writing and then deny that there is a place for technology in their classroom.
I’ll be taking, very little, very tentative baby steps in the coming months and will keep track of my progress towards computer literacy here.
If I can even remember how to log into this thing again . . .

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