Up until a few months before her first grandchild was born, my mother-in-law was a teacher in the public school system. The grandchild’s birth didn’t really have any influence on the timing of her retirement, but it all worked out pretty nicely.
Especially throughout the last several years in the schools, there were many inducements to retirement, from the benefits of being done with full-time work (from freedom to travel at any time to no longer having to deal with “opportunities” at school) to the negatives of continuing on (from the minor annoyances of every day to the much more serious issues with the leadership). And yet, with all those nudges toward retiring, topped off with the anticipation of a grandchild expected to arrive shortly after start of the new school year, she was torn, even brought to tears at the thought of leaving. She loved to teach and knew she would miss working with the children.
At the same time, she knew there were many things she would not miss, especially all the reports. As a reading specialist, she had more reports required of her than a standard classroom teacher, and those reports were, at times, the very bane of her existence. I often wondered why the school district didn’t make it easier for her and her colleagues. It seems as though some of today’s technological gadgets could have made life a little easier for everyone involved. For example, along with the standard issue I.D. badge and lanyards, each teacher could be given a school flash drive—a custom USB drive personalized appropriately for the school—to be used for transferring school-related files, as necessary. It could even be pre-loaded with general information that would be useful (or even necessary) for all faculty and staff…information like the snow chain, if they still use such things, or the class schedules for the year.
A laptop for each faculty member would probably be far beyond the budget for most school districts, although it would definitely make life a whole lot easier! Of course, the only drawback would be the training and technical support required to help get everybody started and keep everybody going. Therefore, something more complicated like a computer for each teacher would require much more investment, although the big-picture benefits just may make it worthwhile for some school districts.
Much more practical for quick, easy, and affordable technology to help the teachers would be the bulk flash drives to be handed out during Teacher Orientation, at the beginning of the school year. If handled that way, they could even be explained, en masse, and there would be very little technical support required.
In the grand scheme of things, my guess is that a little bit of technology update, though requiring a bit of up-front investment, would return chartable dividends in employee productivity (not to mention heightened morale). After all, if you make it easier—pleasurable, even—to work, people are more likely to work and to work better…. That’s just human nature!