Only Disconnect: Pre-Christmas Techy Cold Turkey

Having agreed to a week of no-tech in the classroom as an experiment for the TES, I hover on the brink of my tech-free week with a precipitous sense of exhilaration and abandonment. It feels somehow deliciously irresponsible, almost rebellious to wilfully disconnect. Take that, E.M. Forster.

I did ponder whether digital connection is a sign of social conformity, whether my sense of impending liberation suggested a digital dependence or some kind of yoke of connectivity, under which I needlessly toil.  But then I remembered: pondering is for Winnie the Pooh.

Mostly I just think I use digital connection to learn more useful stuff; the things I didn’t know I didn’t know.  Anything I can’t find out from the intelligent, learned people I already know in real life, but may be able to glean from the vast, international pool of intelligent, learned edu-twitter dwellers. Knowledge is addictive, opinions are engaging – and both are available 24/7. This I will miss. Although I’m planning to replace it fairly swiftly with talking to  real friends in real life, in real places. If I can get a babysitter.

So here’s the deal: I am not allowed to use technology from Monday 00:01 to Friday 15:30, meaning no technology for teaching, planning, conversing with staff, research – in short, anything to do with school, education, teachers or teaching must be offline.

I may be in denial about how difficult it will be, but last time our IT system went down at school I rather enjoyed it, so I’m hoping this experience will be equally positive in its distilled simplicity; in a ‘walk around with a book, discuss it, write about it’ kind of way.  Overall, I anticipate that planning lessons will be simpler and teaching lessons will be more ‘live’ and invigorating. Staff communication (verrrry email-dependent) will be tricky. My out of hours addiction to edu-twitter is likely to be the hardest challenge, but I’ll just have to deal with the FOMO.  Or the FOMOKO (knowledge & opinions? I know for the hardcore that stops at FOMOK).

Being an essentially optimistic soul, these are the positive outcomes I hope the week will bring…

  1. Books, books, books – Stepping away from the smartboard (though I do love it for modelling and joint construction) and the photocopied extract (though I do love it for annotation and analysis), we will be holding books in our hands, feeling the weight of the whole text, flipping pages backwards and forwards for the precise quotation we seek, sensing textual construction between our fingers. I already have library lessons, long on the waiting list behind curriculum coverage, booked.
  2. Focus – Being blissfully unaware of the gazillion emails exploding into my inbox will focus my attention entirely on the lesson being taught and the intent, ready-to-learn faces before me, rather than the imminent admin pile-up, most of which can usually wait, and at least 15% of which can be ignored altogether (yes, all staff ‘where’s my mug’ emails, I mean you). It won’t stop the door-knockers wanting scissors, exercise books or work for errant/absent pupils, mind.
  3. Reconnection – Without email, I will be forced to leave my classroom, staffroom, office, corridor, faculty stomping ground, to find people. Walking round the school always leads to serendipitous moments and conversations, meetings and greetings with students and staff, even before you get to the person you’re looking for (I’m quite the Bob Hoskins in that respect).  One face-to-face conversation can achieve so much more than the equivalent in email tennis. And you get real smiles 🙂   I know this, but I still email people too much. But not this week.
  4. Looking up – Being banned from twitter means I will not be glued to my screen at any potentially dull moment, hoovering knowledge and opinions from the world of education. Who knows how exciting that potentially dull moment could be?I am resolved to be more present, observing the fleeting snowflakes of existence. These moments, memories and experiences with the people we love are simultaneously so transient and yet so utterly, truthfully all that remains.

Capturing transient moments in perpetuity.  Well, I said I was optimistic. Maybe the road away from technology leads to poetry (though preferably not mine).  I’ll let you know how it goes. But not for a week. Over and out 🙂    *in 8 minutes that will be a real smile*

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