Friday, February 14, 2014

When I Was That Age, I Was Eating Dirt...








I can't count the number of times people have commented about kids being more savvy on devices than adults.  It's true.  They pick up things extraordinarily quick, have little fear of trying new things, and realize that, if something goes wrong, said device will not spontaneously combust.  I see kids in doctors' offices showing parents how to maneuver their iPhones.  I hear kids telling their parents, "Just give it to me, I'll fix it" in too many venues to recollect.  I smile.  Why? Because I have harnessed the power of "The Kid" and used it to my advantage in our school environment.   

If you are a 1:1 school, or even have a decent amount of technology in school, then you too must harness the power of "The Kid".  They are mini geniuses waiting to learn more, and it is our duty to provide that learning.  Our school initiated the T.E.A.C.H. Team (Technology Experts and Computer Helpers) in the months prior to roll out of our school computers nearly two years ago.  We knew that there would be questions and needs beyond what our IT department could handle alone.  What better way to do this than by utilizing those who either already know or who aren't afraid to find out!

Addison gives some illustration tips to a young student
For this process, kids in grades 7-12 could apply via a Google Form application.  Within this form, questions were asked about technical interest, know-how, and ability/willingness to learn and assist others.  We had an overwhelming number apply.  Pages and pages of applicants in our small district.  However, we weeded it down to the top 35 people for year one.  (In year two, we felt a smaller number of 25 was better as the scariness of a new device has subsided for most.)

Paola guiding a student on his project
Our T.E.A.C.H. Team has a beautiful wooden desk in our library with which to operate (thanks to our handy janitor, Mike, who just happens to be a great woodworker).  They are given needed tools, batteries for handheld devices like our Smart Responders, an iPad for scheduling, and the constantly needed sanitizing wipes.






 Daily, using a Google Calendar, kids are signed up to fill slots at the desk.  This calendar is made available on our school webpage, so anyone can check at any time to see if someone is "manning" the desk.  In my office full of windows which overlooks the Help Desk, I see people flock when they know help has arrived.  It's the bomb!   And, because I'm close by (if they can catch me actually IN my office), I can provide any additional assistance for those especially pesky troubles or any needed passwords.  For the truly horrifying fix-its, we send the devices off to our IT guy for an intervention or a kick in the digital pants.

A snapshot of our Help Desk Calendar
In addition to computer help, the T.E.A.C.H. team has assisted in in-service trainings, including helping me teach 90+ Foster Grandparents how to run iPads.  This was the coolest event ever!  Each kid took a table of people, and I watched as life roles were reversed.  Instead of the grandparents providing the caring advice and instructions of life, tweens and teens were patiently showing the geriatrics how to man-handle an iPad.  Three different Foster Grandparents (at least ones that came and found me later) went out and bought either an iPad or iPhone right after the event.  EPIC!

Logan working with a table of Foster Grandparents
Every once in a while, T.E.A.C.H Team members will even accompany me to classes to work with kids if their schedule allows and the activity warrants it.  Just today, Paola and Addison joined me in first grade as we worked to finish up our digital All About Me stories for our e-Pals.  It was perfect, and their interaction and guidance with the little kids is incredible.

I'm a bit of a territorial mother bear with these kids.  We are becoming a bit of a family.  They are each tremendously talented, gifted, caring kids who just impress me daily with their willingness to give of their time for the betterment of our school and technology use.  And, if you're 1:1, may I suggest getting your own group of brag-worthy kids to show 'em how it's done.


I never dreamed of having the tools today's kids have access to.  The ability to repair and troubleshoot technology and multimedia tools was not even a flicker in my mind.  We 80's kids were too busy Aquanetting our hair or tight-rolling our jeans as we danced around to Debbie Gibson and Bon Jovi.... Oh wait..Bon Jovi...he's still around.  Well, some good things never die...  



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