As much as the personal computer has become the predominant medium for any communication in the real world, my school is a few steps behind in letting this become a high school reality. I realize public schools have certain legal obligations regarding what students are exposed to, but shouldn’t using a computer with word processing and internet access be a given in today’s world? We don’t send home permission slips warning parents about the potential contents of the textbooks. We don’t warn them about the potential dangers of the electric pencil sharpener. Why, then, should half my students be unable to log in to the school’s computers to simply type out a quick paper because they don’t have their parents’ permission to do so?
Friday was my first day where I went in having no clue what I would teach to the ninth graders. Luckily, the writing textbooks have plenty of semi-helpful exercises, but still, not having a game plan–especially on the day of–is one of the more upsetting feelings in teaching. I can spend all week on a day’s lesson, and if the kids hate it or don’t get it, that’s fine–at least I put in the effort. But pretending you can teach without a specific plan of where you’re taking the students’ learning is absolutely what’s wrong with the whole system.*
Lesson learned, though. I’m going in Monday with a pretty clear idea of what I’m doing all week (10th grade’s reviewing for and taking a test on Lord of the Flies; 9th grade’s learning about characterization in nonfiction through The King of Kong: a Fistful of Quarters).