By Claudia Felske — Ready for the understatement of understatement? There’s a lot of cynicism in education these days. And since I’ve experienced a bout of optimism this week, I shall now wax poetic on three reasons for my current happiness:
- A victorious moment for a student.
- A vivacious Thank You from a co-worker.
1. A victorious moment for a student.
One the lingering “to do’s” the last couple weeks has been trying to help a student find a piece of software that might improve his learning experience at school. He has significant dexterity issues which prevent him from writing, and so his accommodation has been typing responses on his laptop. Sounds okay if you don’t consider that while everyone else is writing directly on a handout/worksheet/study guide, he faces a blank screen instead of a detailed work space. It’s hard for him to later make sense of his answers apart from the context of the original information, and the same goes for his teachers.
One of his teachers (an amazing human being btw who somehow finds time in her inconceivably busy day to care about and follow-up on each of her students) came to me for a solution. After exploring what’s currently available to him (a monster of a program which is anything but seamless and user-friendly) and searching for a viable alternative, I finally found, demoed, purchased, installed and taught PDF Annotator to this anxious student.
When we scanned a study guide and uploaded it into this program, he could easily type on it, highlight, and a host of other functions, followed by an effortless export to his document folder and his teacher’s email. He was in awe at how easy it was – and I found myself tearing up as I witnessed something I suspect this student had so rarely experienced: something actually helping him learn instead of one more thing getting in the way of his learning. Having a hand in enabling this young man’s body to keep pace with his mind, and improve his ability to learn…well, it doesn’t get much better than that. That was a privilege.
2. A vivacious Thank You from a co-worker.
So I received an email from a co-worker yesterday telling me that the parents at Parent Teacher conferences were thrilled to know their teacher had made collaborative websites for his class instead of the usual power points. He thanked me profusely for helping him with this unit and teaching web design to his classes and asked if there was an easy way groups could now comment on each others’ websites. I stopped down by his room, taught him how to make a list page on his website linking and labeling all the student sites. When I left, he had learned another tech application and I had that crazy fulfilling “I made a difference” feeling once again.
One of my Geeks made me cake! Seriously! I believe it’s been about ten years since I’ve had carrot cake (no particular reason – I love carrot cake. I just never make it and for some reason, it rarely finds its way me-ward). So when Adam asked me what my favorite cake was, I found myself saying “carrot.” The next thing I realized, there was an “all Geeks text” inquiring whether we like raisins or not, and then: carrot cake appeared during Geek Squad on Thursday (I work with a “Geek Squad” of students to support teachers and students with technology).
It was deemed “Fel’s late Birthday Cake” (my birthday had been the previous Sunday, and while I didn’t announce that fact to the Geeks, it seems Google+ had – Geeks and their technology always get the inside scoops btw).
And so we ate cake. The Geek Squad continues to be a great source of growth for me, my Geeks and many East Troy Trojans – and so the carrot cake’s cream cheese frosting was, well, the icing on the cake.
Three pieces of indisputable happiness in two days.
So much for the cynicism in education, at least for this educator, this week.