Technology or TeachersThe Baltimore Sun staff wrote an editorial last week about the Baltimore County School Boards plans to have cutting edge technology in all schools to improve student achievement. The Sun warned that giving each student a tablet has not been proven to improve achievement yet, and they questioned the tremendous expense of providing said tablets.
I wrote a letter to the Sunpapers applauding the Sun for their questions. As a teacher and a county taxpayer, I can tell you that regardless of how much technology is made available to students in school, there is no better way to improve student achievement than through lowering student to teacher ratios, really lowering in the classrooms rather than using formulas that include all staff in the building, and providing one to one tutoring or very small group instruction for our most needy students. As it is now, elementary classroom teachers are expected to provide meaningful language arts instruction to many small groups of students. In a perfect world this can work if there are no behavior or attention issues, and there are more hours in the day so that we can also cover math and content, as well as being nurse, counselor, and sometimes parent for some of our students!
i love teaching and children, and my most important job as a teacher, in my humble opinion, is helping each child develop a love of learning through instruction that is personal and meaningful. Computers and all manner of technology can help with this, but nothing can replace an excellent teacher. Training and retaining teachers, reducing class size, and/or providing additional classroom support personnel is a proven method for increasing student achievement. Technology has its benefits, but it won't be replacing human beings in the foreseeable future. My hope is that the school system improve and extend equal technology to all schools before any real consideration is given to system wide purchases of new technology. That money would be better spent on the people in the classrooms with our students.