Teachers are often so overworked that adding something new is impossibly challenging. A colleague of mine, Richard Ognibene, once told me, “In the real world, when you put on a new coat, you take the old one off first. In education, we often just put the new coat on top of the old coat. We keep adding coats until we walk around like the Michelin Man.”
There just isn’t time in the day for teachers to keep adding new responsibilities, projects, technology, etc. Even if teachers realize that a particular tool is beneficial, they often hesitate when they realize how much time it would take to add it to their classroom experience. Time is a teacher’s most precious resource, and an effective teacher must use it to maximum advantage.
The key in situations like this is to ask the question, “What can this replace in my classroom?”
For example, I’ve seen oodles of teachers add websites or blogs to their classes. In the majority of these cases, they never get updated past October. It’s hard enough to teach full time, let alone keep a website up to date on top of it. However, a website can be used to replace a lot of the analog things that teachers do. My kids’ school sends home Weekly Updates on paper. We get notices, forms, assignments, everything, in an endless stream of paper of various colors. It’s hugely inefficient in terms of time and resources. Let alone the fact that kids and parents lose the papers all the time.
A Google Site, combined with a Google Docs account, could replace a majority of that paper. It’s faster for teachers, cheaper for schools, and no one can lose anything. With privacy levels that can be tweaked on a per page basis, teachers can restrict and permit access on a case-by-case basis. Emails can be used to inform parents of new Google Docs. More ambitious teachers could move right to a Moodle classroom, and start incorporating digital learning resources into their classroom. It’s easy to do, better than paper, and doesn’t kill as many trees.
Replace, don’t add.