By Scott Trudeau
American humorist, Josh Billings, wrote, “I hate to be a kicker, I always long for peace, But the wheel that does the squeaking is the one that gets the grease.” I don’t much care for complaining, but sometimes a little strategic “squeaking” can yield high returns.
My school director would often catch my class huddled around a small fifteen inch monitor as we took a virtual fieldtrip, participated in a digital frog dissection, or communicated with a scholarly expert located halfway around the globe. That one computer was the portal to some exciting learning opportunities…if only I had some additional portals! I knew that I had to get the technology in the hands of my students. I decided to make a list…and a plan.
A projection unit, additional computers, and updated software were tops on my technology wish list. But how could I convince the director of the school to commit to spending the necessary money? I knew that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” and my director had to have faith that I was going to actually use the technology. This was not hard, as the director had already caught my class massed around my monitor on more than one occasion. My students also managed to create a few projects using that lone computer and I made sure that their projects were prominently displayed at all the right events. However, the second plan of attack was, I believe, the most effective.
Lots of squeaking! Anytime the director was in earshot I made sure to voice how having a few additional computers and a projector could really enhance my instruction. I also enlisted the help of parents. Anytime I ran into a parent I would ask that they stop by the office and brag about the great things that their students were doing with technology. I also asked them to throw in a, “wow…imagine what those students could be doing with a classroom full of computers.”
I also made sure that the school board members knew about my plight. I was always upbeat, never negative, and focused only on the positive impact that technology was having on my classroom. The next year my classroom had 10 computers, 2 scanners, a printer, and a projection unit! Mission accomplished…now I needed some software.
The students were humming along creating all kinds of great projects using the run-of-the-mill presentation tools, but the novelty was starting to fade. I had just been introduced to some really great multimedia software called Macromedia Flash (version 5) and I had to get my hands on a copy (or ten). I made an appointment with my director and told her that I wanted to create a computer animation club that would meet twice a week after school. The club would be of particular interest to a few of the boys that were normally “problem learners.” She responded that she would think about it.
The next day I pulled the parents of the “problem learners’ aside and told them about the computer club and that their sons were not only interested but also excited about participating in the club. Again, I recruited some “squeakers.” I asked the parents if they would do me a favor and pop on over to the director’s office and mention how excited their sons were about the potential of the computer animation club. Fast forward five days and the director of the school signed a PO that provided the club with the necessary software.
Yep…the squeaky wheel gets the grease!