Monday, February 11, 2013

Who Spends the Money?

In the past, I wasn't that concerned with budget.  Most of my lessons needed paper, pencil, makers and a nice collection of books--I had those at my fingertips so I didn't think a lot about the other materials bought or not bought.  The only materials debate I remember was when I asked for clipboards, and was told they weren't worthy of budget dollars, but that was a long time ago and I have plenty of clipboards now.

Today, however, with dollars tight and education changing, I find myself thinking about the budget.  There are materials I want for my students, and materials that I find no longer that important.

I still want paper, pencils, markers, creative materials and manipulatives.

I also want comfy bean bag chairs, rugs, easels, tables and chairs (I have all of that, but I'll need to replenish the bean bag supply).

And, I want tech.  Ideally I'd like 50% lap tops (class set shared with another class) and 25% iPads (class set shared with 4 other classes).  I still like the laptops because there are so many tools available on the laptops including creation tools.  I like the iPads, but I don't like the fact that you have to pay for everything, and some of the tools don't necessarily have a lasting affect, yet some do.  Down the road I want a great device for every student, and I encourage parents to buy their children a wonderful device now such as an iPad, lap top or other Internet-connected, streamlined multi-tool device.

I want tech because it makes education accessible, targeted and engaging.  I want it for young children because childhood is the time when people are the most open minded to learning about new tools and processes. I want to help develop independent, confident learners and tech is a tool that strengthens that journey.

So, as we look to teacher voice, I think it's important that teachers understand the budget too, and that they know where the dollars are going. Understanding limitations and having a voice about how dollars are spent will lead to more thoughtful care with regard to using tools and strategies to best promote student learning. Though that will require possible shifting of roles and upfront activity, the long term benefit will make it worthwhile since teachers will be teaching with the best tools--tools that they've collectively chosen based on research, experience and intent related to teaching students well.

Update 6/2015:
This post was written a long time ago. Now I believe in one-to-one for every child in a school. Ideally schools should host class sets of a number of different tech tools as well. New testing requirements and the advantage of having technology as a "guide on the side" tool during almost all learning events has made me change my ideal in this regard.