The Computer That Started It All

Picture of an Macintosh LC II computer from 1990.
The Macintosh LC II. Introduced October 15, 1990 with a retail price of $2500.00!

This is literally the computer that started it all for me. The very first computer that created my love for computers, technology, and helping others learn about and be more comfortable with technology. This computer came out in 1990, and it was the first computer my mom had to use in her classroom. I was in 9th grade I believe when this picture was taken which was the 91-92 school year (I’m using the picture with friends sitting on top of my desk as a reference point 😁). How about that wide assortment of cologne too?! Oh middle school and high school sure was fun…but I digress.

Since this was a computer provided to my mom for use in her classroom, which was a big deal in and of itself, teachers were allowed to take their computer home over extended breaks and during the summer. Thinking back, that was a really big deal that teachers were allowed to do this; especially now when we consider what we have in our pockets every day and how we effortlessly take our computers anywhere we want! So since the computer came to my home any chance I could get, when it was at home it became my computer.

I connected everything, fired that thing up, and I was instantly in a new world. No, not because of the internet, because I was using a technology that prior to being 14/15 years old I hadn’t had any real exposure to. I was obsessed with knowing everything there was to know about what that machine could do. There weren’t any YouTube videos to teach me; I had to explore, try, mess up, and try again. I quickly mastered the basics and was soon teaching my mom everything she needed to know for day to day productivity and also some fun things too (hello Print Shop!).

Pretty soon, my mom was loaning me out to the other teachers at school. Mind you, I went to the same middle school my mom taught at. So when mom told me she was taking me over to a teacher’s house on the weekend to help them with their computer skills, I felt pretty amazing that I was going to be teaching them something!

This one particular moment in my life is where my love for computers, technology, and teaching others about it began. Completely unplanned, unintentional, and nothing I learned about in a formal way.

I wish I would have had more opportunities to learn that way growing up. It was all so linear and locked into such traditional means. We all now have a multitude of ways to learn on our own time and in our own way, and sometimes that doesn’t have to only happen inside of a physical school building or during “normal” school hours. I’m not insinuating we should depart from “normal” education as we know it, but when we can learn in real-time or at our own speed, by ourselves or in a group, across a wide range of media, maybe it’s time to rethink some things.

A Little About a Lot or a Lot About a Little?

Is it better to know a lot about a few things or a little bit about a lot of things? Or put another way; is it better to go a mile wide or an inch deep? I wonder how many leaders, especially over the last 11 months, have struggled with this? Ahh, so many questions when I start blogging again. 😀

I think to a degree, leaders have been expected to know (and rightly needed to know) about a lot of things as we’ve navigated this school year. As a leader, there have been times where I have thought, “Should I already know how to do this?” or “I should have known how to do that!”, but then I remember that everyone is doing a lot of learning this year and having a lot of “new” to navigate. It’s a good reminder to give each other, and ourselves, a lot of grace.

Personally, I think I’d rather dig in deep on a few things and feel confident on those versus knowing about a lot of things, but not knowing any one of them particularly well. This is how we should be framing it when we work with teachers. I’d rather help them feel really good about one or two things instead of opening the firehose to full power immediately to only have them feel overwhelmed. Build a good foundation of confidence with a little bit, then add to it gradually.

As long as we remain learners first and teachers second, we’ll all get better for ourselves, our colleagues, and our kids.

Encouraging Community

Hey Google, “Define community.”.

I feel like we are at a time in education where now more than ever, we need to be encouraging each other to find belonging in a professional community. We have communities within our neighborhoods, our places of worship, book clubs, sports teams, the list can go on and on.

How much are we not only encouraging but providing time for teachers, administrators, and other staff members to participate in a professional community to learn with? It doesn’t have to be leaving the district, although it’s great if you can; it might just be letting 4th-grade teachers from around the district get together, or social studies teachers, or librarians. I love it when my staff wants to go talk with other Network Administrators, System Administrators, PowerSchool administrators, etc. I always enjoy the time I get to go bounce ideas around with other technology directors.

Communities give us fresh ideas, fresh perspective, and that great feeling we all long for, a sense of belonging. It refreshes the soul and it helps us all be better in the work we do for kids.