My Apologies

Today I received a comment from Dr. Tim Tyson regarding my blog entry about parental involvement in digital projects. Dr. Tyson, a pioneer in integrating technology into school, defends his former students and the work they accomplished.

My response to Dr. Tyson:

1)      Thank you, Dr. Tyson, for responding to my blog entry. It is humbling (and thrilling) to correspond with someone I admire so much. It’s unfortunate that our first encounter was under these circumstances since I was taking the “devil’s advocate” position within my cohort. If you look at their blogs, each student was extremely complimentary of both your vision/leadership and the students’ work. I share many of their feelings, but as students in a Masters program, we must employ a critical eye to every educational theory and practice we encounter. I find that my own teaching is greatly improved by anticipating what might go wrong and having a solution before introducing new practice, materials, or assignments.

2)      I share your preference of parental involvement over parents “not engaging in or supporting their [student’s] educational experiences at all” (Tyson). I agree that the latter is definitely more pervasive at most schools. It was that way when I was in school. My parents, farm children who graduated with only high school diplomas, could not help me with homework because by the time I was in the eighth grade, the school work I was doing had surpassed what they had learned in high school.

3)   As I read back over my blog, I understand why you take exception to some of my comments. While I was speaking of only one project where the parent did the work while the students played outside, I did suggest that other projects might have been aided by parents who have the training and/or the means in which to help students create exemplary movies. This is not to say that I think it’s wrong for parents to help, but before a first-year teacher takes on a project like the one implemented at Mabry under your leadership, those teachers should understand the magnitude of the project, and that they should elicit help from parents who can offer technical assistance and training to enhance the learning of all students. But, I do think that the parents’ efforts and assistance should be acknowledged so that other educators, who are thinking of attempting this type program, will know that projects of this caliber need some assistance (at least in the beginning) from technologically capable adults.

4)  Since I clearly offended you (though unintentionally), please accept my sincere apology. I was not suggesting that only parents worked on all the projects while their children were playing outside, nor was I dismissing the extraordinary capacity of your students. I certainly intended no disrespect towards you, your students, or the fantastic film project you implemented. Again, my apologies.

5) As a parent of four successful students, I know that children are capable of extraordinary things, both inside and outside the classroom. As a student, I have achieved great things, including being inducted into Phi Kappa Phi, the honor society that reserves membership to the top seven percent of university students. As a student teacher, I have had great success in motivating students other teachers have given up on. Please don’t assume that I set low expectations for myself, my children, or my students, or that I don’t push myself or them to achieve their personal best. I prove to myself every day that I will settle for nothing less than excellence.

Thank you, again, Dr. Tyson, for taking the time to comment on my blog entry. I appreciate the trail you have blazed for those of us lucky enough to follow in your footsteps to implement technology in school. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to correspond with you, and I wish you all the best. As I begin my career in teaching, I look forward to challenging my students to achieve more than they have ever dreamed possible.

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