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Doug Johnson's Tech Proof

My New (School) Year's


Around the first of August, I start to miss "school." In June and July, the (relatively) empty buildings, (relatively) quiet telephones, and (relatively) low volume of e-mail are a welcome relief. But by early August, I get lonesome and excited about staff and students returning. And every year, I resolve to try a few new things that will improve my technology use, my teaching abilities and, hopefully, the lives of my students and staff.

I will learn one new piece of software or hardware so well that I can teach its use to others.
Mastering any piece of software or equipment is deceptively difficult and time consuming. But most of us can learn each year one new program or device well enough to make it useful to us and to teach it to others. This year, I'm digging deeper into Entourage (Outlook for Mac), a mail/ calendar/ address book program. I'm especially interested in how it interacts with our new Exchange server, allowing shared calendars and a global address book for all staff members. I will be the Entourage guru.

I will read at least four or five "big idea" books and try to put some ideas from them into my professional practice.
My reading list (today, anyway) includes:

  • Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things, by Donald Norman
  • The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More, by Chris Anderson
  • Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation, by Neil Howe
  • The Rise of the Creative Class, by Richard Florida

No, these are not books on technology or even education per se, but books about ideas that may well have a significant impact on education, technology, and my teachers' and students' lives. Or hey, an impact on my life!

I will identify and revise my three least satisfactory workshops.
It's pretty easy to keep teaching lessons without making significant changes. If something has been even moderately successful in the past, why take the time, effort and risk involved in changing it? But increasingly, I am discovering my best workshops are not just the ones with the best content, but the ones with the most engaging activities that allow participants to apply and practice ideas -- not just hear about them. Sure, there's a chance an activity will bomb, but there's an even better chance that it will make the workshop better.

Want More?

Want to read more about Doug and his thoughts on library media and technology? Visit his Web site or browse his new blog. Got a compliment, a complaint, or just a comment to share? E-mail Doug at [email protected]

I will try one new communications strategy.
I am excited about the potential of wikis as collaborative writing tools that might be useful in revising our long-range tech plan, writing out professional association platform, and constructing new technology policy in the district. If you want to experiment with a wiki, log on to and use world as your editing password. Add your own resolutions!

I will attempt to learn one new human relations skill.
Maybe this should have been my first resolution. This year again is a time of big changes in our district. The new mail server, a big installation of interactive white boards, greater use of data mining software, new operating systems, different supplementary software for our math textbook series and ever growing expectations of all teachers and administrators all will cause stress around here. I know my job will be to learn how to deal with others' stress. Any hints for me?

Gandhi's famous admonition, "You must be the change you want to see in the world," is especially true for educators. Better schools start with each of us improving each year. Resolve to "be the change" this year. Have a wonderful start to your school year!

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