Image : Wikipedia
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t
have to see the whole staircase.
Just take the first step.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.
I lead a life of privilege. I am in a profession which allows me to witness magical moments in the lives of others. This week provided moments like that for me again and it is a privilege to be a part of it. Wednesday night I helped with the laptop roll out for 2013. I set up two classes of laptops with students and their parents. For me, it is the best evening of the year when I see the joy and excitement of those first moments when the students and their parents see the Lion screen for the first time on their laptop. The logistics of it this year were excellent and the technical support first class. It was such a great night. It creates a buzz in the school and teachers were talking about what they would be doing for their first year 9 laptop lesson this year. A lot of thought had been going in and numerous professional discussions because there was a need to get it just right for the students. I had planned to do timelines as I had posted earlier. I could not have planned a better lesson but I did not anticipate the reverence with which my lively year 9s would approach their first laptop lesson. I became more and more touched the further we got into the double lesson. Normally I work hard to keep them on task. They have diverse personalities, great brains and big personalities. They are very spirited. Friday they walked in hugging their laptops and placed them carefully on the desks and did not open them until I said. I first had to get them to bookmark the sites useful for French. We then looked at the Mac Dashboard and how that could be used for French. We went into the settings and leaned how to change the language. To these students, who have been immersed in technology all their lives, this was a serious and wondrous business and they wanted to get it perfect. Not right. Perfect. They had taken it so seriously some of them had forgotten their workbooks. They knew I was ready to abandon paper and pens. They have heard me banging on all year about carbon emissions, deforestation, save the planet and let’s get on with the laptops. What we had done was set up some assignments in their exercise books so we could easily transfer them onto their laptops as soon as they got them. Most had realised we would need a couple of lessons of transition but half a dozen had left all books in their lockers because they knew how glad I was they had laptops. First time I have ever let students out of class to run and get books. And they did run. They were back in a jiffy. I also had 2 students who hadn’t been able to be there on Wednesday night and would have to wait until lunch time to get their laptop via the technicians. They were so fidgety and restless and could not concentrate at all. I made them write everything we were doing to help settle them. One was counting the hours and minutes and kept telling me. The other one was just immobilised and I had to keep the focus for them. It was very moving to see how much they cared about technology. So then we got on to the timeline exercise and I said they could use a doc or an Excel spreadsheet and showed them some of the other options but we all decided on doc or spreadsheet so they could learn how to load it up onto our LMS. Bring on the bedazzled teacher. They typed away and wanted to know how to make their French accents, how to get the margins right, how to crop their pictures. I wasn’t prepared for the first class, professional approach and attention to detail. Most typed up their sentences and then suddenly there was all this creative and artistic endeavour and their final sheets were extraordinarily well presented. I then had to stop and introduce the Powerpoint to Movie assignment ,which we had also been preparing during the term.I have 32 students – some had finished, some needed a bit more time. As they learned to load up their files onto the LMS they wanted me to show them on the whiteboard that their work had arrived on the LMS for me to mark. This meant a lot to them. I have never seen students with books and pens this keen to get everything right and so prepared to take risks to learn something even bigger and better. The wonder never wears off . My year 11s and 12s in the next lesson were just as keen to get their technical skills right and use them to further their French. It’s the possibility of connecting, engaging and sharing which drives them. A laptops drives powerful, independent learning for them and the teacher can show them how to put it all together.