Smoke & Mirrors…

There are times in the classroom when I feel like everything I’m doing is an illusion; an elaborate act that makes it appear to my colleagues that I’m doing a wonderful job imparting my knowledge of all things technical to the students. It’s as if the smoke and mirror show that I put on deceives most, but not all of the teachers, as I stumble through trying to make a meaningful impact on the students I teach.

In reality, I know that I’m just being overly harsh of myself, and in fact there are small examples everyday of students telling me that they’ve been venturing more onto the internet or starting up their own wikis about Hippos (I’m really proud of that one). Some students have even convinced their parents to purchase the typing software we use so that they can practice their touch typing at home. Every so often, teachers will thank me for showing their kids a nifty trick in a word processing program or a helpful website that they can use with their students.

But I still find myself striving to impress the few truly tech-savvy teachers that are in my building, and quite often feel as though I’ve let them down. I’m not sure if it’s the lack of handouts I give the kids (I refuse to go through 2 reams of paper a week for my 800+ students), the limited time that I have with them (only 45 minutes a week), or if I’m just not connected with the students as their homeroom teachers are. Whatever the reason, I’ve noticed that this time of year happens to be my “downtime”; the period of the year when I’m most critical of what I’m doing, despite the impending launch of my Kidpedia project (more on that later), and the 4th graders completing their highly successful Wiki Word Wall project.

So maybe the sense that I’m just just an illusionist is all in my head, but when an 11 year old performs a card trick for you so flawlessly that you honestly have no clue how it was done, it makes you question how effective your own instruction has become versus how well the students are teaching themselves.


  1. I feel totally the same, I am glad I am not alone. I teach K-6 kids 30 some classes a week for 45 minutes each.
    I do have a question about your wikis. I want to do a wiki with one of our teachers and I wanted to know why you chose wikispaces. Can a bunch of kids add new pages to the same main page at the same time, seems to be a problem with what I am testing on pbwiki. Any advice would be great.
    Thank you

  2. If you don’t get down on yourself every so often you’re either not thinking or don’t care.

    So have faith, depression means you’re one of the good guys! Just one the benefits of caring. 🙂


  3. I teach special education and have the same kids day in and day out 30 hours a week, 180 days a year often for five or more years and I feel the same way this time of year. I try to use technology as much as possible with high school students with multiple special needs. This is just the January doldrums. Not enough light, too much time indoors working on paper work, etc. I just blogged about feeling this way myself. Hang in there. kate

  4. Judy: I choose Wikispaces because they were the first to have the advertisement-free sites for education AND because I could have different logins for each kid. I’ve heard that PBWiki is working on having separate login accounts, but when I originally got the project working PBWiki only had one password for the entire wiki, so I didn’t know who was editing what. With wikispaces I can see who is editing what, and catch any students that might be defacing a page. So far, no problems with creating multiple pages (we have over 400 pages on our wiki).

    Kate: I’ll hang in there with the help of the snow day we had today! Hopefully February brings with it a renewed spirit!

    Tom: As always, thanks for the kind words.

  5. WoW! My sentiments exactly. I totally know what you are feeling, I feel it too. There I times I envy the connection the classroom teachers have with their students but then I walk down the hall and everyone in the building says hi, now that’s a nice feeling. I also relish the thought that the teachers get only one year with the kids, then they move on and we, as “specials teachers” get to see them through their elementary careers and watch and participate in their growth. Since I am only in my second year, I haven’t gotten that far yet but it sounds. good. 🙂

  6. Some of what you’re experiencing is what alot of special area teacher’s experience. I remember when I was teaching music, how envious I was of the classroom teachers for the amount of time they got with the students.

    Now that I’m a technology coordinator I’m envious of the tech teachers and how much time they get with students. 🙂

  7. You’re not alone, as you can see! Just the fact that you feel this way proves how very much you care! And the toughest part of our job (as a fellow tech teacher and coordinator) is that there is always something new to learn, something new to show…a constant show of your knowledge. It’s an endless race. That makes it impossible to feel like you’ve always got your game on. And in reality, do you always have to? You’re a human, not a machine. Rest on your new wiki laurels. Most folks still haven’t even heard of a wiki!

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