The straw breaking my professional back

Cranky Blogger Warning: From time to time here on the Radical, I feel like a ranting lunatic driven by emotion rather than a solution-oriented blogger driven by reason.  Now might just be one of those times.  Take what I write tonight with a grain of salt — or a gallon of gin.  Dealer’s choice.


Poke through my thoughts about technology’s role in public education and you’ll hear me preach over and over again about the importance of working to transform teaching REGARDLESS of the number of computers you have in your classroom.

That’s a very personal message simply because I don’t live in a 1:1 world.

Heck, I don’t even live in a 10:1 world.

Like most teachers, I’ve spent the better part of the past decade making do with limited access to labs with dozens of computers in need of Flash updates.  Sure, we’ve got a few laptop carts — but they’ve sadly become dilapidated wrecks that we can’t afford to replace.


For the most part, I’ve tried to be tolerant of that reality. More importantly, I’ve consistently encouraged anyone who bothers to listen to be tolerant of that reality, too.

“It’s not like your schools and districts don’t WANT to provide you with access to the kinds of digital tools that you need in order to change teaching and learning in your classroom,” I’ll say.  “It’s just darn near impossible to appropriately outfit classrooms given the limits of district budgets.”

There’s some truth in there, right?

Times HAVE been unusually tight.  Geez – here in North Carolina there hasn’t even been money to give teachers cost-of-living adjustments in the past 4 years.  Where ARE we supposed to get the cash to invest in classroom technology.


But I’m sick of being tolerant, y’all.

I’m sick of hearing critics hammer teachers for being resistant to change while I’m STILL sitting in cut-and-paste classrooms full of textbooks, glue sticks and safety scissors.  I’m sick of educational soothsayers conjuring up visions of 21st Century learning environments that I’ll NEVER be able to create with the three working computers plugged into the corner of my classroom.

I’m sick of telling my students that they’ll have to wait until they get home to answer the questions that they care the most about.  I’m sick of standing in line behind twelve other teachers waiting to make photocopies because handouts are the only instructional resource that we have consistent access to.


Most importantly, I’m sick of pretending that I stand a chance of convincing kids who understand just how personalized and engaging learning can be that my ridiculously quaint, completely unplugged, intellectually standardized classroom is anything OTHER than a big, fat waste of time.

The genie’s out of the bottle, y’all.

Like Scott McLeod recently argued, our kids KNOW that traditional learning environments are irrelevant — and pretty much everyone with a pulse KNOWS that our schools need to change, but NO ONE is willing to put their money where their mouths are.

You (and I don’t care if “you” are a pundit, a parent or a politician) want to see my instruction change?

Find a way to give me some new tools to experiment with.

I don’t care how you do it. Force through some ridiculously sick bond referendum earmarked for technology and technology only.  Figure out a way to make Bring Your Own Device Programs work in your communities.  Pass the hat at Chamber of Commerce meetings.

But whatever you do, quit ranting about the crappy job I’M doing until YOU’RE actually willing to pony up some cabbage or to help cut through red tape to create solutions that give me a fighting chance of actually doing my job well.

Quit crying about the dioramas my kids are making when the supply closet is chock-a-block full of crayolas.  Quit acting so surprised that my kids aren’t networking with the world when the only lenses that we have to look through are dated textbooks.  Quit asking for “timely feedback” when I’m collecting data by hand with clipboards and post-it notes.

I guess what I’m saying is quit asking me to perform instructional miracles.

My well of professional tolerance has run dry.


(Glad I got that off my chest.  I almost feel better already.  Now where’s my red checking pen? I have 130 essays to grade.)


Related Radical Reads:

How Limited Technology Budgets Failed My Students

More on the Challenges of Wondering in Schools

Your Data Dream. My Data Nightmare