Last week, in all the excitement of being a brand new blog owner, I started having a look through my old waste books; a stunning variety of notebooks, few with anything interesting inside, even fewer anywhere near full… nothing at all like Lichtenberg’s, despite having stolen the name from his wonderful pocket idea machine.
After scouring them for what started life as old journal article ideas, I ended up with an array of posts sitting happily in WordPress’s admin control panel, including this one.
I started out by saying that thanks to handy tools like Etherpad & Google Docs for brainstorming & collaborating on curriculum developments, Moodle for giving feedback to students, Twitter for talking to other teachers both in and out of my school, as well as more conventional techy applications like email and word processing, I’d almost eliminated paper from my classroom. Back in for the first day of the summer term today, I honestly don’t know what I was smoking. I, like everyone else, had charged out of my classroom on the last Friday of last term at full speed, leaving a stack of papers on my desk – some useful, most decidedly not.
I was in school for three days over Easter for year 11 coursework catchup, of course, but with two of my students bringing in their toddling cousins for the day it just meant the papers ended up covered in chunks of plastecine and felt tip pen marks. I never got the chance to tidy up, so the first free period of my new term was spent cleaning up last term’s crap. During this time, I realised that none of the scraps I was picking up were mine. In my school, we have hugely irritating sheets sent around on an all too regular basis entitled “How’s he/she doing?”, which for me at least is a much easier question to answer via email, rather than having to send a student with it down to the pastoral office. Same for the SEN version.
I’ve never been a technophile, really… I spent longer deciding on a nice fountain pen than I did on my last computer, and as I’ve already mentioned I have a bewildering array of notebooks that I either like the look or feel of. I never thought I’d see the day when I became a digital convert, but it slowly seems to have happened as the technology got to the point where it could replace the more traditional ways of working. Combining Delicious bookmarks or even the newest addition to my “that’s bloody brilliant” list, OneNote, to write down snippets of goodness means I no longer need the notebooks, or the dozen lever arch files of articles I collected together when I found a way around the print monitor at university. I actually felt a pang of guilt about that when I heard that my alma mater was in financial trouble.
I still have my old notes, and I can’t see me ever getting rid of them, but even my trusty yellow legal pads are going unused now. I can’t imagine trading my excessive book collection for a Kindle, no matter how crisp the screen… I’m in love with my iPod Touch, but wouldn’t want to read a book on it. Some things won’t – shouldn’t – change, but in terms of day to day working I’m pretty much paperless – now I just need to spread the word.