A Change of Mind

There was never a doubt that I would become a teacher some day. When I was in second grade our school switched textbook publishers and the teachers began to give away the old textbooks they no longer needed. I was always first in line to take home these readers and math workbooks so that I could “teach†my younger brother and sister. I made them do homework and tests, which I graded with a red pen. This is my first teaching memory and it sticks with me as I finish out my teaching credentials and look forward to really grading papers and giving tests.

I always had a vision of how my classroom would look and what I would teach. Books would line the shelves of my mini library, bulletin boards would display great works of student-made literature and art with bright borders and cut-outs, pillows would blanket the quiet area for reading or resting, and the chalkboard would never be clean or plain because my scrawled handwriting would announce homework assignments, class work, and even fieldtrip reminders. In this picture, though, I had never made room for a computer.

Computers in my school days were always in a separate room where we would type stories or play Math Blaster games, never fully understanding even how to turn on the computer and never imagining they would take over the world one classroom at a time. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties and working as a teacher’s aid in kindergarten that I saw my first computer center in a classroom. The teacher would work on newsletters and fieldtrip reminder papers to go home while I and the other teacher helped the students with their work. It never appeared to me that this was becoming a commonplace occurrence in most classrooms and that I as a teacher would have to, once again, become a student. This time I would be learning something without a book or pen but instead with a monitor and a keyboard.

Any change is scary, even the good kind of change. There is a sense of fearing what is being lost and what happens if it isn’t the same. And some personalities, mine for example, may be resistant to this change. Change, to me, was poison. I saw no need for students to work quietly, like little robots, staring at a glowing screen that one day might be found to be the cause of some cancer of the frontal lobe or another body part. I saw it as the end of the world with which I had finally come to terms after 23 years of constantly straining to find my own way. Eventually I learned that not every classroom has a computer and not every teacher has to know every in and out of a computer. This did not encourage me to learn to use one but it did help to calm my neurotic self. Once the sea of uncertainty ceased to churn, I found something that grabbed my attention: A PowerPoint presentation.

The assignment called for three pictures in a PowerPoint format to present to my classmates. After the fifth picture and the third clip art, I remembered that I didn’t like computers and that I should stop smiling. But I couldn’t. I was having fun creating this presentation that could take the place of lecture, something that I despised in the teaching profession. As the ease at which the slides appeared on the screen in the order I chose, with colors and graphics popping up, and then hearing the entertained squeal from the class washed over me, I felt powerful in my new knowledge.

Though I found a love in the idea of presenting information to students through pictures and moving graphics, I did not jump ship and land on the island for those who love and cherish their computer. I still think my classroom will have the library and the pillow blanket, the bulletin board and the bright borders. But there might have to be one change; a small table, big enough for a simple computer and maybe a projector machine, so I can make my students laugh with my cool pictures and some dancing graphics.

Katie Lawrence