Wow. So, I’ve always considered myself to be fairly technologically savvy. I’ve pretty much self-taught myself on any number of computer programs and until this last spring, the proof of my abilities lay in the fact that I was able to create newsletters and PowerPoint presentations with all the bells and whistles. Co-workers and friends often asked for help in producing their own presentations and brochures.
Then iPod Touches arrived in the classroom, I received a MacBook as
part of my duties as a middle school teacher, struggled endlessly to
make the transition to the world of Macs, and ultimately learned that I
knew nothing. It’s true. In the Mac world, I knew nothing! And
considering I had worked on a Mac doing desktop publishing back in the
mid-90s, I was absolutely certain I would jump right back into the game,
no problems. Right… Frustrated and overwhelmed, I decided the best
way to make my way across this terrifying bridge between Windows and the
weirdness that was Mac was to immerse myself in a huge end-of-the-year
project. And when I say huge, I mean I-must-be-insane,
The last six weeks of school, my students and I struggled with (and
were sometimes buried beneath) the challenge of transforming the
writings and artwork they had produced over the past year, all of it
detailing their lives and experiences both here and in their home
countries, into a digital format. Today, I am the proud [neurotic]
owner of a single DVD. Upon that DVD lie 35 of the most incredible
stories ever produced in any of my classrooms. It is not that the
writing of my former students was any less powerful or inspiring. It
is simply that the writing of my current students can now be heard
first-hand, read in their own voices and accompanied by breathtaking
images of my students, their families and their artwork.
It has been an incredible journey and in the process, I have learned 3 things:
1. I am not as technologically savvy as I once thought.
2. My students are even more amazing than I ever knew. And I
thought they were pretty darn amazing before we ever began this
process. In fact, they are truly brilliant. It was pretty humbling
to realize that 13-year olds who had never moved a mouse before arriving
in this country five months to two years ago are more technologically
savvy than me. Wow. Like I said. Amazing and brilliant.
3. I am truly blessed. I love teaching ESL and I love working at the middle school level.
I am so incredibly proud of my students in this moment. Every time I
watch their stories, I learn something new or notice something I
missed. Their stories truly bring tears to my eyes. Sometimes because
the stories themselves are just that moving. And sometimes simply
because I watch their stories and I remember where they were at the
beginning of the year (or whenever they arrived in my classroom for the
first time) and I am literally blown away at the growth that each and
every single student has shown. I suppose I have grown too (after all,
I produced a movie with my students!), but at the end of the day, it’s
never about me. In the end, I simply benefit from the amazing presence
of the students in my life.