Taking the Computer Teacher (and their lab) For Granted

Computer Science Teacher
Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

Taking the Computer Teacher (and their lab) For Granted

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Kathy Weaver reports on an all too common occurrence for school computer science teachers. In the middle of teaching a class another teacher came into the room to interrupt with a computer question. In the middle of teaching a lesson! Can you imagine interrupting a math teacher during their lesson to ask how to computer Pi or something? Or stopping a history lesson to ask what year the last election was? Of course not. When a teacher is in the middle of a lesson you let them do their job.

But not computer teachers. No sir. Teachers and administrators feel free to jump in anytime to get help with their computer/technical issues. I know one teacher who as also doing tech support who was pulled out of class so often her students were practically independent study students. That would never happen in other subjects.

Oh and then there is using (abusing) the computer labs. I remember a number of teachers who used to send their students to the computer lab to use the computers. Not during periods the lab was free but during periods when I or one of the others in my department were teaching a class. If the students were well behaved and I had free computers I didn't mind a whole lot. But still it was occasionally disruptive and a real imposition. Class room management is a fragile thing in the best of circumstances. In a computer lab it can be even more difficult as the computers themselves can provide a distraction. Adding other students not in the course can be a disaster.

There were times I was tempted to send some of my students who had finished their work to the classrooms of regular offenders. "Why don't you go to so and so's room and tell him I sent you to read the new magazines he has?" Can you imagine the reaction? I sometimes wish I had done it but frankly it seemed petty and unprofessional and I could not bring myself to do it.  The Golden Rule seems to apply here. Do until others as you would have them do unto you.

There is one other situation where I have seen this sort of thing. The library. I have seen teachers send students to the library when it was being used for a class or lecture. Or seen teachers interrupt a presentation by the librarian. Teachers who would be furious if you even entered their room will walk though a library or a computer lab, ignore the librarian/teacher, and talk to students as if there were no other adult in the room.

Why are people like this? What is it about the library and the computer lab that makes so many teachers act as if nothing important was going on there?

  • I used to allow students and teachers to work at free computers during my classes, but I don't any more.  

    I've had students answer their phones while I'm teaching.  I've had to ask two or more teachers to move their conversation out of the computer lab so that my class could continue.  

    I now put a laminated sign on the door (which I usually lock) to minimize the traffic through my lab/classroom.

    Such behaviors (from students and teachers) might be acceptable if there were no class in the lab, but I was standing at the board with a pen in my hand!  

    See Hanlon's Razor.

  • I've always attributed this behavior at my school to me being nice. Instead of shutting down the offenders - students or colleagues - I often answer their questions. I know that if I stopped, it would eventually stop happening, though I'm sure I'd get a reputation as being Not Collegial. I'm glad it isn't just me, though sad it happens to others.

    We're possibly doing some construction at my school. The principal wanted to put the computer help desk in my classroom!! I pointed out that it was not acceptable to me to have students and staff traipsing in and out of the room with problems while I teach, and the decision was made to put the help desk in the library. I know the librarian isn't thrilled either, but at least the library is an interrupt-driven space, not like a classroom!

  • I told your story to my wife the librarian. She quessed in one guess where the help desk was going. "not thrilled" would be an understatment or her reaction. :-)

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