During the first few weeks back to school, my friends and family tend to stay clear of me. Knowing that my anxiety level tends to skyrocket from “really relaxed” in August to “hyper stressed” in September, they wisely give me my space. And yet, this year there is a noticeable difference in my demeanor. Even my husband, who is usually caught in the wake of my school stress, says this is the most relaxed I have ever been at the start of the year. So I began to wonder what could be the cause of the new Zen version of myself? And all roads lead back to technology.
The biggest difference in my school year thus far has been my decision to be a paperless classroom. Last year when I began the pilot of Chromebooks, I tried to slowly wean myself off of paper, but I found that giving myself permission to use paper once and a while was a gateway into more paper. This stifled my ability to think outside the 20th century box. So this year, I took a radical approach to paper and went nearly cold turkey.
|Online Assessment in Forms|
Going cold turkey has forced me to really problem solve and has forced me to try a few things sooner than I might feel comfortable. A perfect example was last week when my Speech students were preparing to give an introduction speech. In the past I would evaluate students on a rubric with a checklist and writing comments. I was worried I couldn’t do this online, but my husband insisted now was the perfect time to try a new approach. So using a Google form I scored my students and they were able to get instant feedback. Evaluating them in class forced me to focus my comments and in the end saved me extra time outside of class finishing and hand scoring their assessment. This has increased my confidence to try other paperless techniques and assessments in the future.
The absence of the visual clutter that paper creates has a direct correlation to my state of mind. My classroom and my desk are cleaner and more organized than ever before. My house and car are void of the usual “homework.” And each morning and afternoon I arrive with less baggage in my school bag and my mind.
This paper/stress connection was reinforced during a phone call from one of my girlfriends this week. We were discussing the transition from summer to fall and she spoke with exasperation about the amount of paper invading her home with the start of school. My own dining room table has now become stacked with papers from fundraisers, to flyers on after school activities to spelling lists. The amount of information, without any kind of sorting system, is unnerving. Imagine how my kids must feel.
One of the reasons I blog is to reflect on my teaching and to grow as a learner. These first few weeks, I learned my mental preparation is perhaps as important as my lesson planning. I was reflecting on this mind, body, life balance Saturday morning as I ran in a local 5K. This year’s shirts used the popular saying “Keep Calm and Run On.” I realized staying calm versus being stressed actually helps move me forward, so I am embracing this new me and adopting a new motto: Keep Calm and Tech On!