If your boss paid you more… could you do Brain Surgery?

Filed Under (Work) by Laura Smith on 18-11-2010

A little story…
One day you walk into work, ready to start the day.  Your boss comes to you and says, “One of your colleagues has been having terrible migraine headaches.  Please perform brain surgery on them today to see if you can relieve this problem.”  You start to panic.  Brain surgery?!?!  You don’t know how to do that!  But your boss tells you that he has the latest equipment- all the scalpels and drills and tools you will need.  Even a cool lab coat to wear!
But you still don’t know how to do brain surgery!!!
Being the strong, smart, capable employee that you are, you study everything you can, looking up your own references on the internet, asking colleagues for input, maybe even skyping with a surgeon to get some advice.  But the time comes, and you just can’t do it.  You don’t want to cut open your colleague’s head- you just know you haven’t been trained to do brain surgery, and you don’t want to risk hurting them.
Then, your boss tells you he’s going to cut your pay.  Or worse, you’re fired.  Never mind the fact that HE can’t do brain surgery either!  He vows to only give bonuses to employees who agree to do the brain surgery.
Sound ridiculous?  Of course.
This is why merit pay for teachers won’t work.  It assumes that teachers will just work harder for the money.  But, good teachers are already working as hard as they can for what they make right now!  Maybe they have the latest tools, but if the system is flawed, and they haven’t been trained how to properly use these tools, it’s not going to happen by magic!  Also, this idea doesn’t take into account the HUGE diversity of student ability levels and personal situations they come to us with.  When students are fighting every day just to survive, the last thing on their mind is some un-personalized standardized test.
We need to get to the real root of the problem.  The teachers aren’t the problem.  The system is.

Powering Up With Technology!

Filed Under (Work) by Laura Smith on 16-11-2010

On Saturday I attended (and presented at!) the Powering Up With Technology conference, Prince George County Maryland’s annual conference promoting Technology in Education.

It was, as in years before, a wonderful event- well planned and organized, and immensely helpful for teachers, with tons of sessions designed to help all teachers integrate technology, from the novice to the expert.

This was my first time officially presenting, and, I’m hooked!  I was very nervous, but once my sessions got started everything went fine.  We had some technical difficulties, which I’ll mention later, but nothing major.  It also helped that I had a co-presenter (Yay, Mary!) so I didn’t feel so “on the spot” and alone.  Now I can’t wait for my next chance to present!  I’m already working on revamping the presentations I did and submitting them to the Maryland Society for Educational Technology annual conference.

What I Learned:

1. If you’re nervous about presenting for the first time, just do it!  You will feel better afterwards and be glad you did.

2. Co-present if possible.  That way, if there are technical difficulties, one can talk while the other fixes.

3. Check out the space ahead of time, if possible.  When we got into our room, we found that the projector remote was missing, so I had to climb up on a table to turn it on.  Also, the wires coming out of the wall were hanging open!  one of us had to hold the wire in place (and pray that we didn’t get electrocuted) while the other person talked!

4. Find out about the wi-fi/network situation ahead of time, if possible.  We were trying to present a workshop on Virtual Worlds, and the port to allow us access was blocked!  Luckily, Mary had an Animoto video and several screenshots, but it would have been nice to let the participants see the actual game live.

Finally, instead of handouts, I loved that the Conference Website had a Resources page, where attendees could download all the resources even after they got home.

A fun experience!  Can’t wait to do it again!

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