I’ve Got My Eye on You: Cameras in the Classroom 

Education, Technology

Iowa school district asks principals to wear body cams
It’s no secret I’m a fan of technology in the classroom. I’ve even told my students that I’d love to have a camera filming my awesome and unique teaching style. I could be headed for stardom, society has made all the Kardashians celebrities, why not me? Not to mention, this would be a great way for kids who are absent to catch up on what they’ve missed, parents to become informed and involved in their child’s learning and a great excuse for me to expand my (already vast) wardrobe. But I have a problem with what Burlington, Iowa is proposing. 
The implications here are clear: We want to monitor you because we believe you will do harm simply because of the position you hold in society. You (teacher, principal, vice principal) are a bad person by default because there have been some bad people in your position before. Look at the example given, a police officer who beat a suspect. Again, is that indicative of all cops? Absolutely not. It used to be that if you wanted to be a hero you became a police officer, a fire fighter, a doctor, or a teacher. Now in order to achieve hero statis you have to change your gender. Civil servants are no longer respected but appraised with suspicion and scorn. Something is seriously wrong here. 
I’ve been on the losing side of this argument twice now. Growing up in the 80s and early 90s there was no teacher blame. If I wasn’t doing well in school it was my fault, not the teacher. 
My 5th grade teacher would have been considered abusive by today’s standards: she allowed other students to pick on me (sometimes using racial slurs), she called me stupid in front of the entire class, she really did not like me, and do you know what my parents said about the situation? “She’s the teacher”. That was the end of the discussion. My father worked at the school as a part time music teacher, he knew the woman, he’d visited the class, it didn’t matter. She’s the teacher. End of story. Same situation today and we’d have lawsuits and news coverage. Two out of three times when I encounter a parent in a parent meeting I’m there to defend myself because our culture says that the student is always right. Giving a student until the end of the semester to make up late work for full credit isn’t enough I also need to shorten and simplify the assignments, drop the lowest test score, and stay after school until it’s convenient for the child to come in because their child is “busy”. That’s the pervasive parent position. Our culture is changing. iPads failed those poor LAUSD students they deserve their money back, guns kill people not the psychopath pulling the trigger…
Go read Harrison Bergeron, Brave New World, and 1984 (think of Big Brother as political correctness). Tell me you don’t see life imitating art. 
Put a camera in my room, not on my body. Put a camera in my room because I’m awesome (most days) and you are genuinely interested in seeing the way my classroom works. Put a camera in my classroom because it could benefit student learning if they had the opportunity to hear the same lesson twice. But don’t put a camera on me because you assume I’m going to do something harmful to your child. It’s not action I have issues with it is the approach. 

I Need to Explain Everything to my Dad

My dad is a really smart guy. He’s a musician and an author. He can pick up any musical instrument and play basic songs by ear, he’s composed several piano arrangements, he can even tell you the exact key your car horn honks in (not that you need to know that information but he’ll tell you anyway). What he can’t do is use his cell phone. Part of the problem is that he has a phone with technology circa 2004…ok, maybe 2006. He assures me that, according to the AARP, his phone is the latest and greatest in mobile technology and therefore should be able to do all of the latest and greatest things that modern day technology can do. Unfortunately his latest and greatest is a flip phone with a 2 megapixel camera and what he wants to do with it is take photos and print them out (yes, print them) to share with all of his friends.
We talk about educational technology and the ways that new apps and programs can benefit our students in the classroom but what about the potential students who aren’t in our classrooms? My father actually said  “I guess there will be no more photo albums anymore.” because taking photos was just “too hard”. Too hard? Technology is supposed to make our lives easier and yet for the senior subsect of our society technology is a hinderance preventing them from enjoying the quality of life they once knew. All my dad wants is to take photos of his granddaughter when she’s born. It isn’t asking a lot.
The good news is, I can help my dad and help my students this summer by creating some simple how-to videos using an app called Explain Everything. How does this help my father? My father benefits because he’ll have a little library of tutorials he can watch whenever he needs a refresher on how to use my mother’s iPhone to take photos, print photos, edit photos (yeah, he’s probably never going to do that). Although the phone is my mother’s she can only use it to make phone calls and send texts. I can use Explain Everything to teach my mother how to scan documents and print them on her Bluetooth printer for her Bible study, add reminders, create a grocery list, and use GPS. Explain Everything allows me to use a combination of videos, photographs, documents, and natural writing to, you guessed it, Explain Everything. I can take screen shots directly from my parents’ phone, record voice overs, and draw on the screen to direct their attention or provide links to webpages. How will this benefit my students? Two words: Flipped. Classroom. I’ve tried the flipped classroom trend a few times throughout the year and I’m eager to experiment with it further. Explain Everything is the perfect app for creating flipped classroom videos, but there is a learning curve. I can experiment on my parents and hone my skills so that I’m ready when the school year begins because the app does have a learning curve and who wants to deal with that come September?
So don’t forget potential students who aren’t in your classroom. Think of the world as your classroom. As teachers you have a talent, the talent to disseminate information and make it understandable. If you’re a tech savvy teacher there is a whole population out there who needs you.