24/7 Teacher

7.jpgOur school is going digital. Now don’t get me wrong, we don’t live in the Middle-Ages and have had computers for years. There are quite a number of IT rooms where we are encouraged to take our students to do work online. For instance, next Wednesday I have planned to take the horrible class there to make them work on J.K. Rowlling’s biography.

The digital plan is something different. I f I have understood rightly, the idea is to put online what is now done on paper. Thus, what at present I write down in my planner at the end of each lesson will soon have to be written online. The fact that we do not have a laptop in the rooms does not seem to be an obstacle, which means that I will have to write it down in my planner first and then again once I get home.

The same applies to absentees. Whenever a student is absent I write his/her name down in a big book and also on a slip of paper. The book is checked at the end of each day whereas the paper is checked almost immediately so that the school can phone the parents if they suspect foul play. It is actually quite efficient and the number of skivers has been reduced dramatically since the beginning of the year. I believe that with the new system I’ll have to go online at the end of each day to enter the names of the students who will have been away.

Another innovation is the fact that we will have to provide an email address so that the parents and students can reach us and ask us questions whenever they feel the need. Obviously it is necessary, even desirable, to meet the parents (I met a family last Monday and another one the week before), but we already have a system through which the parents can contact us. At the beginning of each school year, all student receive a small notebook which contains the school rules and where each student writes their personal schedule and then the marks they get. This notebook is filled in by families to explain a child’s absence or delay. At the end, there’s a section for correpondance between families and teachers. It works quite well most of the time and when a student “fails” to show it the school can ring the parents or the parents ring the school and decide on an appointment.

What I dislike about the new system is the feeling that the small haven that is my home will lose some of its soothing value since I will be likely to receive emails from (angry) parents – I somehow find it hard to imagine that someone will bother to write to me to thank me about the great work I do with their kids – any time and any day. Besides if we provide the email address given by the administration they will be able to check if we have anwered the parents, when and what we have written. This feels too much like Big Brother for my liking. Then what about the High Holidays when I purposely don’t use my computer, even if sometimes I have to work, to preserve some of the sanctity of the day(s)? Am I being excessive in my doubts about the new system?