By Nina A.
This week is National Teacher Appreciation week
in which we honor and thank those who have answered the call to educate others. It’s an essential role made even more apparent this year with the COVID-19 pandemic shuttering schools across the globe.
Over the last eight weeks, teachers have been rising to the challenge of supporting their student’s learning and well-being even while being at a distance. Taking the classroom virtual is not an easy task, and it’s certainly not ideal – even for those of us who teach with computers on a daily basis. We’d know. We too are rapidly taking Living Computers and all of its programs online.
It may surprise you but for a state that has nearly 16,000 open computing jobs every year, Washington’s biggest city is not a community known for its tech access (1
). Despite the ubiquity of smartphones among today’s youth, it’s still a struggle to provide K-12 students with access to laptops or even high-speed internet in 2020. Computers in the classroom are a costly expense, especially for big districts like Seattle – often requiring millions of levy dollars and significant fiscal donations to tip the number of computers to students up to an equitable 1:1 ratio (2
It’s not just about paying for technology either. Training teachers well enough to integrate tech into the classroom effectively requires resources too – both in time and in dollars (3
). Teachers are exposed to a lot of changing software systems – not just for learning, but for things like recording grades and attendance, communicating with families, payroll, and expenses. Procedures to protect student data and privacy make things even more frustrating; district licenses expire and increase their prices, procurement requests have to go through long board-sanctioned approvals, and basic IT support can be fleeting if not impossible when you really need it. Top it off with parental concerns about screen time and cyberbullying and it’s just not worth it. With all this, it’s no wonder why schools across the nation struggled at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Few districts were prepared to move completely virtual (4
And yet our teachers try.
Worldwide, thousands upon thousands of teachers are rising to the challenge of using technology to teach in ways they never have before, but not without their own fears or frustrations. For many, “going online” is a major shift in practice that can feel daunting and overwhelming and even impossible (6
). A chatroom just doesn’t compare to the impact of just being there, together – in table groups with paper worksheets and the noise of the bell ringing. But whether they had ever picked up the computer or not, teachers across the world are logging on and finding a way to connect with their students. Because in teaching, community is vital. It is within a community that you know you are supported – and that you can emerge from something difficult having learned and improved.
It’s with this same philosophy that we started the Educator Membership
at Living Computers. Keeping up with computing can be hard enough but having the responsibility to educate our youth with computers, about computers, alone is a tough and isolating road. Since starting the program in October 2019, we have accumulated over 500 members from around the State – offering free year-long admission
and training on-site in everything from digital literacy to K-12 coding.
We are so incredibly proud of our teachers. When this is over, and computers go back to being just one of the tools in the teaching toolkit, we will continue to be here as a resource. Until then -- thank you for having the patience and the determination to log on and keep going.