“Non-Tech” Teachers in the Computer Lab

lab2This past year, because the 4th & 5th grade teachers have more students in their classes than the lower grades, the principal made a deal with them that they didn’t need to go to the computer lab with their students. The idea was that this extra weekly block of time would help them manage the amount of paperwork they have to deal using our new language arts program. Of course, he never discussed this with me (which was within his “rights” as principal), so I was only informed after the fact. And unfortunately of the seven grade levels that I work with none were really in a position where they would not have benefited from being exposed to what I was teaching their students.

So, it’s been difficult to really be in sync with what these teachers are doing in the classroom because they drop off their students and then are no where to be seen during class time to interface with. And as bad as that can be, what really bothers me is that this “drop off” attitude tends to communicate to the students that what we’re doing in the lab isn’t as important as the rest of their day or what they’re doing in the lab isn’t as important as what they’re doing in class.

Funny thing was that it was the principal’s vision that the teachers, as they became more comfortable with the technology, would take over more of the teaching in the lab and the lab would be used as a continuation of what they were doing in the classroom, just with one-for-one access to computers. Well that’ll be a bit difficult to accomplish without having them in the computer lab to begin with. Then I ran into some research in Journal of Research on Technology in Education that ponted to this exact problem and enumerated reasons why it was important for teachers not-comfortable with technology to go with their students to the computer (JRTE 36(4), p. 334). I haven’t had the chance but I’m going to forward the information with my own rational to my principal.

This is a huge stumbling block to me. It makes it more difficult to integrate what we do in the lab with what they’re doing in the classroom. It also cuts us off from the innovations that the teachers might otherwise come up with as they’re exposed to the technology we’re using in the lab. Add to that that the district and the Feds invested more money in these specific grade levels to put two more computers into these classrooms and for the most part these computers have remained largely unused for the past year. This isn’t good and it’s not going to change as long as these teachers maintain a “drop off” attitude toward what we do in the computer lab. JBB