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Which Teachers Should get a T1 Laptop? 26 June, 2009

Posted by paralleldivergence in education, ICT in Education, technology.
Tags: , , , , , ,

The initial rollout of Laptop Computers as part of the New South Wales Digital Education Revolution is pretty clear-cut when it comes to students – ALL year 9 students will get one this year.  But when it comes to teachers, the T1 rollout sees high schools receiving enough to cover only one-third of their staff. This begs the question, which teachers should get a T1 Laptop?


Now I don’t run a school and I’m not even a teacher, but here’s what I’d do with the laptops and how I’d decide which teachers get them.

  1. Allocate ALL but two or three to specific teachers (i.e. exclusive individual use, NOT shared).  The two or three are the only ones shared. If you allocate most of your laptops to be shared then you are wasting a major opportunity because part-time or infrequent access is not the way to develop skills in any of your staff.
  2. At least one laptop per faculty, but depends on how many you get and staffing numbers. All departments in your school must understand they have a part to play from day one.
  3. As principal, I would email all my staff (I wouldn’t tell them I was emailing though), requesting expressions of interest for exclusive use of a laptop:
            – How would you use it?
            – What would you hope to achieve?
            – How will you commit to sharing what you’ve learned?
  4. I would judge each application on merit as well as how long it took to get back via email/follow-up.  I would want keen existing-ICT users only to apply. There is little point giving a T1 laptop to a beginner.  Sure, they might slowly develop their own skills, but they’ll offer little to the rest of their colleagues.  We need educational-technologists to blaze the trail for everyone else to follow.

By doing it this way instead of just randomly handing them out, I would avoid complaints of favouritism, seniority or any other non-merit based process.  All teachers would have the same opportunity to apply for a laptop, and getting one in the T1 round is clearly seen is a privilege that comes with expectations that:

  1. You would commit to developing your own skills with the laptop
  2. You would develop educational programs to use with the laptops in class
  3. You would share what you’ve discovered.

If you can’t guarantee these three things from the teachers you hand them out to, then you shouldn’t be handing a T1 Laptop out to them.

What do you think? How is your school handling T1? Will it work?



1. TroyMartin - 26 June, 2009

My first thoughts align with your idea about spreading and sharing the wealth. Aside- recently printed a copy of an assessment task and a quick memo for all members of my faculty and I finished with ‘imagine if we could just email this to each other??’ I received the task back and someone had written ‘not all of us have email’. MMMM, it got me thinking about who should get a laptop.
My second thoughts were that every teacher should have a laptop. At my school everyone already does. Not everyone uses them. In reality I now have two laptops, one from T1 and one from the schools’ laptops for teachers plan. Ideally, the establishment of a techno-culture is to be inclusive, perhaps not selecting staff who are up to confident, up to date. The problem will not be with educational-technologists it will be with people who don’t get involved from the start…staff who do not employ the ICT as a learning tool already.
Ideally we would have teachers, students and admin/staff involved from day dot.
Perhaps, it is a Friday and a longish term and lack of sleep, but I am a little tired to be trying to fulfil expectations such as developing my own skills with the laptop, developing educational programs to use with the laptops in class or sharing what I’ve discovered with staff members, particularly when teaching staff and executive refuse to embrace and contribute to their own professional development. Imagine a doctor refusing to use technology to increase/improve the health of her patients…
I want this to work. I think it will.

2. paralleldivergence - 26 June, 2009

Thanks Troy. Your comments highlight a clear problem we have in most schools with a proportion of our teaching staff – little or no ICT skills whatsoever. That’s another challenge that I think comes after T1. I think it would be foolish for any school to try to bring all their staff up to speed at the same rate. We need good practitioners ready for the first day the students get their laptops. The impressions from the students MUST be a positive one. We must grab them at the first opportunity if we want this to work.

That doesn’t mean all their teachers must use the laptops well. It doesn’t matter at this stage if a few teachers of “laptop students” don’t use them at all in the first stage – but SOME of their teachers should use them in class brilliantly from the get-go. That’s all it will take to secure confidence from students. If we haven’t developed these skills in the teachers in T1, then we’ll miss the boat.

3. Victor Davidson - 26 June, 2009

Librarians’s log, Stardate 9.6.26-21.30
Day 1 of T1 laptops. The list of who will get their own laptop is secret but after lunch two English teachers arrive in Library asking for help. They have a Laptop each as they teach Year 9 but as our wireless isn’t working yet they are deflated. A 40s something already has a her own at home, a 20s something has never had the internet at home. They are both looking for direction. I sit them down in front of a PC with digital projector showing a DET blog. Pointing to the laptops I say “There are your knives and forks”. Pointing to the screen which has two jpegs, two embedded links to syllabus outcomes, an MP3 and some questions addressing syllabus outcomes of the content. I say “Here is some food. Lets cook together”. Both respond positively and we start planning a script to read and record as an MP3. I have done this often with low ability learners when analysing poetry and students find this very rewarding. We mind map some directions for building blogs for their classes and when the bell rings they take their laptops off under their arms with a new look of determination in their eyes. “Make sure you keep them charged”, I say “and come back on Monday for another cooking lesson”. The smiles on their faces are my weekend pay.

paralleldivergence - 26 June, 2009

So where’s your laptop Victor? I’m sure if they gave you one, you could more effectively and efficiently show the other T1’ers exactly what can be done with these little beauties…

Victor Davidson - 26 June, 2009

Thank you Stu. You are kind and I agree. There are two wireless points in the library which had led me to believe I would be eligible. If I had received one I would undoubtedly be on it all night tonight, Twittering to my heart’s content with questions and experimenting in how to build resources for my students. But at my age when I am confronted by a wall I now turn left. I was sneaky. The Year 9s were knew something was afoot and came to me asking about their own impending machines. Rather than turn away their eager little faces I put out my 7″ eeePc and said “Look at this!” A crowd gathered to compete with each other in explaining how to make what do this and that. All were very proud navigators of Linux! It was a most ironic win against the odds.

And I must dispute a point in your introduction. You may not run a school but you are a top rate teacher.

4. Barbara Schaffer - 26 June, 2009

I find it very frustrating that high school students and high school teachers are eligible for laptops but primary school teachers miss out….especially since so much of the innovative integration of technology occurs in primary schools . How often have I talked to ex-students who were designing webpages in primary school and find there is no opportunity to develop their skills when they reach highschool . As far as develping ICT skills is concerned, it’s hard to provide training as the knowledge needed is constantly changing. Teachers need to learn how to work things out on the run …. take a few risks and have a go. Teachers also need to learn to learn alongside and from students …I believe my 16 year old son has ICT skills which would put most of his teachers to shame. Learning together is OK it’s about being part of a robust learning community. Teachers don’t have a monopoly on knowledge and skills nor should they want to.

Victor Davidson - 26 June, 2009

Barbara I have had my own deep guilts about this one myself. I speak as a Primary method teacher with a mother who teaches primary. Discontinuities between primary and secondary are an age old problem for which I have no answer except to support the Middle School Linkages. The skills I know my mother nurtures with Kinder as you do are a wonder to behold. I wish you were getting laptops too. However as you see from my own post I don’t have one either so I will limit my guilt but acknowledge the issue and assure you my voice supports you. A tiny voice in me does like the fact that 15 year olds are getting them. It is often the age when a significant proportion lose interest in formal education. Not this year though.

5. sgbulfone - 26 June, 2009

A more simple solution – reverse seniority. All of the new hires and recent new hires get a laptop with the instruction “do something great that you can show us by the end of the year or we won’t renew your contract”

That will gurantee results!

paralleldivergence - 27 June, 2009

Sounds a bit harsh sgbulfone! Meanwhile those with seniority continue doing their old ways without any threat to their future.

6. Barbara Schaffer - 26 June, 2009

My backrground is highschool visual arts and ESL with a graduate diploma in special education as an add on. I ended up in a primary school as a result of a strange twist of fate … I find the having a class for all KLA’s allows for much, much more scope for creativity and integrating curriculum …it suits my teaching style. You know I’m really happy to see the 15 year old with laptops ….although from discussions with many parents I believe that the home computers are often monopolised by adolescents and it’s the younger kids who are having trouble getting access. Ofcourse in more affluent families the computers and internet devices can outnumber the people and it’s more a question of how computers are used than getting hold of one . I just wish there was a more equitable way of distributing resources. No answers only questions. I’m not concerned for myself, my boss is benevolent enough too allocate a disgressionary laptop for my use….. It’s an interactive whiteboard I’m cruying out for! I think all teachers should have been given a laptop a long time ago …Expecting teachers to learn to use technology during working hours is an absolutely impossible proposition !

7. mark - 27 June, 2009

“if you can’t guarantee these three things from the teachers you hand them out to, then you shouldn’t be handing a T1 Laptop out to them.”

Some schools might not be handing out any then! Sad but true.

8. Dave Hounsell - 27 June, 2009

Another key is to get the school NSWTF rep onside.
I would make sure they had a laptop and support them to use it.
Might help head off increased workload issues.
And I agree with Victor about you being an excellent teacher Stu – formal qualifications are not the be all and end all.

paralleldivergence - 27 June, 2009

Yes Dave, the school’s Fed-rep is an important person to get on-side, but I’d prefer them to get on-side for progressive educational reasons, not political ones. 🙂

9. Irene Buckler - 27 June, 2009

Hi Stu,

I reply to all my email promptly, but to be honest, if I was asked to apply for a T1 laptop in the way that you suggest (How would you use it? What would you hope to achieve? How will you commit to sharing what you’ve learned?), I would either not bother or shoot off a rude reply. I have a very low tolerance for more unnecessary paperwork. Why should teachers have to compete to implement a government initiative? Forget it.

paralleldivergence - 27 June, 2009

Hi Irene, You miss the point. We are talking about T1 – 30% of teachers only. Which 30%? How would you decide? I am certain many teachers who receive such an email will say “forget it!”. And I would be happy not to hear from them for T1.

If 100% of teacher were getting laptops in T1, this article wouldn’t exist.

Irene Buckler - 27 June, 2009


Okay, so it’s asking 30% teachers to compete for the honour of implementing a government initiative.

10. Dave - 27 June, 2009

Hi Irene
I too have many concerns over the way this program is being implemented – especially the timeframes and sustainability.
But when you say, “Why should teachers have to compete to implement a government initiative?” I think you may be missing the point.
To me the intention of the model discussed is to allocate the laptops to the willing, rather than stress out the unwilling.
Surely this discussions intent is to find a workable and supportable model of implementation given the constraints of what is happening?
We are living a time of unprecedented change – as teachers we have to harness technology or become irrelevant.
The government allocates the tools, but for it to work, it has to become “our” initiative.

Irene Buckler - 27 June, 2009


You are right, of course. However, I am suffering from mid year unnecessary-paperwork-overload-aversion. Okay, so every high school teacher is not getting a T1 laptop the first roll-out (or whatever), but why, oh why, do those who are eligible (or whatever) have to sit down and write a virtual submission (How would you use it? What would you hope to achieve? How will you commit to sharing what you’ve learned?) for one?

Someone should just make the flaming decision and have done with it. If there are not enough T1 laptops to ‘go around’ then the peson making the decision is certainly going to “cop flack” from one direction or another. That’s still better than making teachers compete for them. Expecting written submissions from teachers wanting a T1 laptop is crap.

Sorry, but that’s how I see it.

paralleldivergence - 27 June, 2009

Irene, you are the only person that said “written” and “paperwork”. The expression of interest for the laptop for some teachers could be as simple as pointing to a blog post they published, evidence to show they know what they are doing and are prepared to share. Nobody wants to read a tome on the subject. You’re also the only person using the phrase “teachers compete” in these comments. It’s an expression of interest, not a competition. It’s volunteering, there are no winners or losers.

If “Someone should just make the flaming decision and have done with it”, then you’ll certainly have winners and losers and all the moans of favouritism and discrimination that will follow. My idea gives everyone the same opportunity. Your idea gives 70% of the staff no opportunity.

Irene Buckler - 27 June, 2009


With respect, providing an expression of interest is entering a competition. It alerts management to the number and quality of applicants in the field. Also, preparing an expression of interest generally involves writing it, even when it directs attention to brilliant blog posts.

If there are not enough to go around, then whichever way doling the T1 laptops is handled, there will be winners and losers. Certainly, it deflects the heat from management to make staff jump through hoops to demonstrate their worthiness, but asking for expressions of interest is a great way to cause conflict amongst hitherto amicable staff (and believe me, I have seen it happen).

Lastly, I am not responsible for the shortfall of T1 laptops, Stu – 70% or 30% or whatever the percentage is. I am simply expressing the point of view that management should do what it is being paid to do – make the decisions and wear the consequences. Asking for expressions of interest does not give everyone an equal opportunity. Some teachers have more time on their hands and others more commitments. Some are more techno-savvy and some are less articulate and so on and so on. It is much better for staff to be united in their resentment of one manager’s decision than it is to resent each other over the success of failure of their expressions of interest.


paralleldivergence - 27 June, 2009

There are different points of view on everything and there is nothing worng with that. Discussing these opposing points of view is the way the best decisions are made. If I hadn’t written this article, you may not have even considered it as an option. If you hadn’t replied with your opposing point of view, I would not have been aware of the local issues that my option might raise.

But I’m talking from a real world point of view. In business, expressions of interest are there to identify who can provide what and provide comparisons. Lenovo was chosen as the laptop provider via an expression of interest which saw over 20 companies respond, with a final tender being released to just five of those. This is done in the name of fairness and value for money. If you say “executive make all the decisions and teachers just have to abide by it”, that’s where the real resentment is built up, and that’s where resistance to change perpetuates. Exactly what we DON’T want in an “education revolution”.

Irene Buckler - 27 June, 2009


I am no advocating a autocratic leaderships, by any means. Although, the current generation is more compliant, my generation of teachers always railed against top-down management and WE STILL DO. However, what must be remembered here is that teaching is a uniquely collegial profession. Making teachers compete for scarce resources is counter-productive to teaching and learning. Also, in a profession that is snowed under with paperwork requirements, what we do not need is down tools to prepare an expression of interest to get access to what is now considered by many to be a teaching pre-requisite

paralleldivergence - 27 June, 2009

Irene, I don’t think the expression of interest needs to be anything huge. A return email saying:

“I’m interested in getting a laptop to allow me to identify ways that I and my faculty can use the laptops with students in class. I feel that my existing ICT experience will help me to maximise the benefit that this new teaching and learning resource can bring to the school in the short term.”

Not masses of paperwork, just two sentences like this will probably be enough to earn a laptop – especially considering most other teachers will say “forget it” 😉

Let’s agree to disagree. Nothing wrong with that.

Irene Buckler - 27 June, 2009


I am not sure how you answer the following questions in two sentences:

– How would you use it?
– What would you hope to achieve?
– How will you commit to sharing what you’ve learned?

Maybe on Twitter, eh?

Disagreement is the engine of a good debate. Peace 🙂

paralleldivergence - 27 June, 2009

It’s not a job interview Irene. These aren’t mandatory requirements. With my suggestion, the Principal is just after some evidence of a commitment that you’ll actually do something with the laptop that will benefit the school and its allocation to you won’t be wasted. My two sentences do that. And those two sentences are a lot more than most teachers will submit (which will be zero). The biggest tragedy here will be allocating a laptop to a teacher who in the end hardly uses it at all in the leadup to S1. Meanwhile,. there’s another teacher on the sidelines who is resentful because he/she never got the opportunity to get it. This process attempts to avoid all that. If you’re interested in a laptop, you’ll apply. If you’re not, you won’t. Simple as that. But if you don’t then you can’t complain.

Irene Buckler - 27 June, 2009

… and if you put in an expression of interest, but are rejected in favour of others who have also expressed their interest, then you won’t complain or feel resentment? Not likely. Where do you work, Stu?

paralleldivergence - 28 June, 2009

…in the real world 🙂

If you had an opportunity and it didn’t come off, and EOIs were judged on merit, then that’s fair. No opportunity=resentment.

Irene Buckler - 28 June, 2009


Anyone who lives in the real world knows that merit selection is not objective, but a subjective “can of worms”. That’s real life, Stu. If you believe it is different, that is your prerogative, but it is also naive.

11. John - 27 June, 2009

My question is: Why are laptops just being distributed to HS teachers?
Recently a small group of HS teachers were amazed when they visited our primary school to see how IWBs were used and the level of skills possessed by both primary students and teachers.
It seems that primary (year 6) students develop skills to support their learning and then when they reach HS, these skills are under utilised.
So perhaps primary teachers and HS should have these lap tops allocated, or offered a 50% subsidy i.e. a lap top at half price.

But as it stands, I think your plan is a good one, Stu.

paralleldivergence - 27 June, 2009

Barbara and John, you are both wondering why not Primary Schools for the “Digital ducation Revolution”? You’ve bot answered your own questions. There are fabulous things already happening with ICT there – not across the whole school yet, but FAR MORE than in high school. Our K-6 children right now are subjected to ICT-paradise in primary school in comparison to the ICT-desert they enter in years 7 and 8. By putting more into K-6 and ignoring 7-12, we are only going to make that problem worse and isolate high school teachers even further in their rigid, single-KLA hell.

I think the model being developed is the right one. Now we just need those High School teachers to run with it.

12. Dave - 27 June, 2009

If every HS teacher was given a laptop at this point in time, I think the acceptance of the laptop program would take longer.
I’ve always believed in working with the willing.

What you say about the year 7/8 desert is true Stu, however the skills students learn at PS are never lost.
They are just used after school.
Which is why a means tested computers for students at home program should be considered by the Feds.
I have heard they did this in the UK.

13. Barbara Schaffer - 27 June, 2009

Fair enough

14. Twitted by SimonBorgert - 27 June, 2009

[…] This post was Twitted by SimonBorgert […]

15. Simon Borgert - 27 June, 2009

A great post Stu – just a couple of days too late 🙂

An interesting discussion. We spent quite a while at Exec this week discussing this exact issue, plus an extra ordinary meeting of the technology committee was called on Thursday. It was the first point on my agenda for my faculty meeting yesterday. And the results?

We are getting 22 laptops for a staff of around 70. Clearly this is not enough, but we must deal with it. Any staff member who is allocated a laptop must be prepared to “play” with it over the holidays and present their “discoveries” at the staff development day on Day 1 Term 3. It was noted that there are 7 faculties = approx 3 per faculty…..

BUT I believe they should only go to ICT literate people (and I am not sure that we have 22 at our school 😦 ). So that would mean that the Maths faculty would get 1 only – for me, but I am not even going to put myself on the list – I already have a laptop I take to school everyday – with WIndows 7, Office 2007, GeogeBra (and soon the Adobe suite) on it. So why waste 1 of 22 giving it to me. My faculty needs others to get on board – 3 have volunteered and I have offered to mentor them.

The first issue I ran into at my faculty meeting was – “when am I going to have time to learn about this? – what will I give up?” I was just talking to my wife about this issue – surely if teachers are having to learn ICT it is more about being able to be an effective member of today’s society rather than teacher professional development. I guess that is why the TF was mentioned, and why I am not and will not ever be a member if a first response is negative. As educators we must have the students as a focus for everything we do.

I suspect when all faculties report back with their reccommended names next week there will be people mentioned who are just there to make up the numbers. Shared seems like a good way to go for the Maths faculty – Stu how does this work?

paralleldivergence - 27 June, 2009

Thanks Simon. The problem I see with “sharing” the laptops is that most teachers in the share group would expect to get their “training” during working hours – “this is my scheduled slot with the laptop. What do I do with it?”.

Even if you shared it with two or three others, there would always be the stigma of the “borrowed” device – unlike when you have perceived ownership, you aren’t going to take any extra steps to learn how to use it. When something is allocated full time to a person, they do make an extra effort. You buy a new mobile phone – you want to learn all about it – how can I make this work and what can I do with it? I’ll find out.

Same will happen with a permanently allocated laptop. But a shared laptop? The perception will be “this is more work”.

We want to promote “just in time” PD. It’s hard to do that when today is not your day with the laptop.

I suspect your T1 challenge of finding just 22 teachers with ICT skills out of 70 is a challenge most schools will face – but it’s eagerness and commitment we want to aim for.

paralleldivergence - 27 June, 2009

In further answer to Simon, if you are going to share the laptops between two or three people, make the “borrowing” period a solid length of time. Swap them with the next person every Friday. That way the teacher gets the whole weekend to familiarise/prepare and during the week to implement/practise. Seven days should be the minimum block. You could even make it a month. That way, when it comes to handing it back, maybe the teacher won’t want to -that’s a good thing!

16. John - 27 June, 2009

I have had my expectations exceeded by the increased level of student engagement since we have introduced some IWBs into our school.
The DET provided one via the connected classroom project.
We (the school and the P&C working together) have added another two this year.
The budget has restricted our aim of an IWB in every classroom, so far!
But we will gain another IWB (and connected classroom set up) through our new library, courtesy of BER, probably next year.
And we will continue to fulfil our aim of an IWB in every room.
Not only have student become more engaged, but teachers are really “taking to” this classroom resource. Those who do not yet have an IWB, jump at opportunities such as when “an IWB equipped class” is at library or on an excursion to take their own class to make use of the IWB.
Indeed our teachers have organised an after school interest group where they share ideas, lessons, resources etc that are IWB-related.
So is the lap top program the way to go, or should more IWBs be provided to both high and primary schools?

paralleldivergence - 27 June, 2009

I think IWBs definitely have their place in a school John, and I’d definitely like to see one in every primary classroom. But it’s a done deal right now with the laptops. There’s no backing out now. Mr Rudd made a pledge for laptops (the toolbox of the 21st Century) before the last election, he won the vote and he’s come good and so has NSW DET on that pledge. Now WE have to make it work.

17. Dave - 27 June, 2009

On the IWB:

A digital projector/laptop or desktop and Wii remote kit ($200) or a wireless keyboard with integrated trackpad ($70) or a wireless Graphics Pad can achieve much of what an IWB can do at a fraction of the cost.

I would have really liked to see a digital projector in every classroom – opens up all the rich web based resources.

18. Simon Borgert - 27 June, 2009

I think the majority of teachers will expect to be trained in work hours. In fact it has been said to me. I guess this is my point – we will only have ICT savvy teachers when it becomes part of their life – not just something that happens at school. Which is why I like your “not just a 9-5” job quote. And why we are commenting on a Saturday afternoon – just a matter of work/life balance – so will be away for a while – got to cook potato & leek soup for dinner!

But if the majority of staff are only ever going to approach PD from a do it at work point of view – doesn’t that mean sharing might work? Want to get on portal to see how sharing is mentioned in DERNSW

paralleldivergence - 27 June, 2009

Here’s a video to show your teachers:

How can we have an “education revolution” if education’s resistance to change is so strong?

19. Paula Madigan - 27 June, 2009

Hi Stu,

I work with Simon as Head of English and I, at least, can say that all but one of my staff members put their hand up for the 3 laptops on offer and it came down to who could do the most with them straight off the bat and who had the confidence to present to other staff and work as mentors. We spent our faculty meeting looking at all the possibilities and getting excited about what we will be able to do – not one negative was voiced except to say wish we could all have one and why will it take so long to get every teacher access. Ultimately, the three teachers getting one will also share (probably week about to coincide with access to IWBs) with the others so that when the rest get theirs they will be straight out of the blocks.

20. paralleldivergence - 27 June, 2009

That’s excellent Paula. It’s great that the enthusiasm’s there. It will certainly make a school executive’s job easier when the teachers are all wanting to get on board. I can see some amazing changes to classroom practise happening in a very short space of time. To think that up until these laptops came around, if someone had a question in English or Science class and the teacher couldn’t answer it, the students would have to wait until next lesson to have the answer passed onto them. Now it will be a race for every student in the class to independently find the answer instantly and share it with the class.

The new in-class discussions that these everyday events will generate can only enthuse students and make for more productive and engaging lessons.

Bring it on!

21. Paul Wilson - 27 June, 2009

At the start of this year our school established a Technology Teaching and Learning group. This was formed with the premise to build and foster staff skills in the use of ICT ahead of the laptop program. We purposefully did not call this group a commitee as a lot of teachers take a negative approach to yet another commitee! If you had an interest in tech then you were more than welcome. At first the sessions started small and then grew larger (through word of mouth) and soon we found that each faculty had a number of staff members attending. These sessions ran in lunch times once every couple of weeks. As this was a voluntary group it was clear that these were the teachers who genuinely had an interest in developing their own ICT skills. The decision to of who to issue the T1 laptops was made easy through this approach. We hope that the T1 teachers will be able to ‘champion’ the laptops and their use for others to follow in their path.

paralleldivergence - 27 June, 2009

A great strategy Paul. And it must be heartening to see the interest was growing rather than waning as the days progressed. It bodes well for your school I think.

Irene Buckler - 28 June, 2009

Yes, it was a generalisation, Troy – and gross at that 🙂

My experience may be unique – or may say something about the difference between primary and high school staffs. However, I rarely see young teachers speaking their minds in meetings, where they should be heard. It seems to me that this is because, as young teachers, my generation was much less accountable than yours is today, and we were given much more professional freedom. In that context, we were more relaxed, confident and willing to express our honest opinions than today’s young teachers. In case you misunderstand me, I have the greatest respect and admiration for early career teachers. As a colleague recently said – there is no other profession where a beginner is expected to do the same job on day of his/her career as his/her colleagues with years (or even decades) of experience under their belts. Teaching has been very good to me, but I would not want to be starting out today.


22. Troy - 27 June, 2009

Re: Irene “current generation is more compliant”…gross generalisation!
Generally speaking it is members of your generation who are, again, trying this top-down management style.

Paul we have just started similar management teams- Indigenous ed, literacy, numeracy, ICT, welfare. The school sees these as the areas, aside from a teachers everyday learning, as ‘everyones business’.

I’ve suggested this idea before: if a doctor or a motor mechanic refused to use/employ/embrace technology in their given profession their customers wouldn’t come back, yet teachers still assume that we don’t have to be involved in generational, social, cultural change…
I do wish this kind of insight and debate was happening at my school.

Irene Buckler - 28 June, 2009


See reply above.

Irene 🙂

Troy - 28 June, 2009

mmmm, I don’t think I misunderstood. In secondary staff it is the more experienced members of staff, generally in my 7 years teaching, who make younger or less experience (please I must not forget my mature aged graduate colleague) uneasy at speaking out. Thankfully I have not had this problem, mainly due to senior executive leadership and support of beginning teachers. ICT can be the way into things for younger teachers, yet I still maintain that ICT is core business for all teachers and to leave just to younger teachers will recreate the inequality you mention. As a member of my faculty openly states: give me a pen and poem and I can teach anyone. Well I do that and I do embrace technology as tool, as a central element of learning. I do both, yet, earn less. Essentially I don’t do the same job because I have made a choice to embrace all the great things that technology can bring to learning, while maintaining the fundamentals of learning that have been shaped in the last 100 years.

Irene Buckler - 28 June, 2009

I do not agree that ICT is core business of all teachers. The core business of teachers is teaching, using the best tools, including (but not exclusively) ICT, to enhance and facilitate learning. As a teacher-librarian, ICT is part and parcel of everything I do – even literature – but that is the nature of my speciality. If you have “made a choice to embrace all the great things that technology can bring to learning, while maintaining the fundamentals of learning that have been shaped in the last 100 years”, it sounds as if you have recognised the need for balance.

paralleldivergence - 28 June, 2009

So Troy and Irene, how do you two feel about “Performance Pay”? 😉

Irene Buckler - 29 June, 2009


You have thrown in a simple question that has no simple answer (sigh) – especially is teacher “performance” (all the world’s a stage) is to be linked to student achievement (as in national ‘Napalm’ testing). Two aspects that must be appreciated are that teaching is a co-operative profession and also that what is learnt accumulates. Consider the following:

If a student demonstrates a big leap in his/her achievement between NAPLAN tests, say between year three and year five, there are not only three classroom teachers involved in that improvement (his/her year 3, year 4 and year five teacher), but in many cases a selection of specialist teachers who have supported his/her learning. For example, there is the LBOTE teacher, who has worked with the student if he/she has a LBOTE background. There is the community language teacher, who has contributed to the student’s literacy by reinforcing his first or other language. There is the reading support teacher (known as the STLA in NSW) who concentrates on gains in literacy. There is the teacher-librarian, who has given the student a love of reading and matched him/her to booksshe/he has been unable to put down. There is often a technology teacher, who has opened a new world of learning to the student. There is the school counsellor (also a qualified teacher), who has guided the student through emotional difficulties he/she encountered when his/her parents divorced. (sigh)

Then, of course, there are the student’s kindergarten, year one and year two teachers, who did a lot of really hard work providing the foundation of the student’s basic skills.

So, which teacher gets the performance pay for improvement shown between year 3 NAPLAN and year 5 NAPLAN? By my estimation, in most cases, there would be over ten teachers eligible to claim it. One teacher may deserve it (who knows which one?). Several teachers may deserve it (who knows which ones?) and none may be responsible for the gain. The student, now living with his grandparents (after his parents’ divorce) may have found a devoted mentor in his/her grandfather or grandmother. Maybe his mother is more relaxed and able to focus on his/her child’s welfare?

Then again, who is going to take the responsibility or kudos for the achievements of the legion of children who regularly move from school to school? What if a teacher in a particular school always has a significant number of new-to-the-school students. Movement from school to school is the norm in certain areas.

What say you about that – and that’s just the tip of the performance pay iceberg.

paralleldivergence - 29 June, 2009

Irene, I’m guessing you are taking the “No” stance in this debate. 🙂 NOTE: I did have a winky smiley at the end of my question. I wasn’t really expecting a response, because that’s changing the subject of this post quite dramatically. Ultimately, I guess you have to define the term “Performance” in “Performance Pay”. You’ve made a judgement on what it means. Whether it’s right or wrong, I don’t know.

Still, my children have had to suffer a few pretty bad teachers in their 13 years each at school, and we all know there are bad teachers out there – getting the same rewards as the hardest working teachers. Is that fair?

Your argument clearly shows there is a problem with identifying “better” teachers through evidence obtained from student assessment reviews, but maybe that shouldn’t be the key indicator in the first place?

Irene Buckler - 29 June, 2009

It would be really “nice” if the further efforts made by some teachers in gaining further qualifications or taking on the many extra duties was recognised or rewarded, but I do not believe this is even mooted. What the successive government seem to want is competition between schools and teachers, rather than professional collaboration – make sense in a political way, but not educational.

Irene Buckler - 29 June, 2009


There’s not much point asking me a question (even with smiley face) if you do not expect an answer. 🙂

23. kelly - 27 June, 2009

I love the idea of lunchtime sessions for those who are interested and I’m going to start running them at my primary school. I Currently run a session on staff development day that most teachers really get a lot from at the time, but still grumble in the lead up about how they really need the time for other things.

On to high school and here I can only speak through my childrens eyes, my year 9 son is eagerly awaiting his laptop and my year 7 son is hoping his will be much better when/if he gets one in two years. When two Yr9 English classes gave speeches in the VC room, my son decided to take advantage of the equipment in the room -something he’d not seen in primary school or since but had heard about from me. He and some of his peers made great use of the whiteboard during their speeches, wowing the room and in particular his teacher who made a point of mentioning it to me during parent/teacher interviews. Sadly, when the other teacher came in and saw them at the equipment she announced that ‘no students are allowed to touch that’.

They did manage to continue to use the whiteboard (perhaps when she wasn’t there?) and through this they opened one teachers eyes. I’d like to see the laptops go to teachers who recognise that any formal training they have on something in particular will probably be superseded in less than 12 months. Give them to teachers who want to learn with their students and while they’re at it guide them on the subject they are expert at. The nuts and bolts of analysing a text for example, be it on a laptop, ipod or printed page is essentially the same, teachers that listen to their students will quickly pick up where the technology can help with the process. Give them to the teachers who are interested in finding out about the untapped world available to them and are excited about the opportunities it presents. I can’t imagine any passionate teachers not being compelled share that.

How you work out who those people are I don’t know – as yet many don’t even know themselves.

24. pixeltoy - 28 June, 2009

Wow, I missed all this today?
Meh, I agree with Simon. If you already own a laptop why bother with the netbook?
Honestly, we need to cut through the mustard. As I have said in many other posts…effective training is the key. If our teachers are NOT supported in strategic ways to engage our students using ICT in the classroom this whole project will flop. period.
This is not a question of failing to give the project a go or not.
I finally posted my experience at a parent info session recently- http://pixeltoy.edublogs.org/
I’m scared because what I saw was probably more the norm than not.
I think the strategy is a good one BUT it MUST be supported just like the blogging project currently underway. You can’t say ‘here’s a new tool, now use it’.
Teachers need to see HOW, WHERE, WHEN, WHY and WHAT.
So, if it is the blogging tool- How can it be used? Where would I use it? When could it be used? Why would I use it? What benefits will I see?

kelly - 28 June, 2009

Hi Pixeltoy

I read your post, very sobering and also in tune with my experience. It sounds like we need continuing education for teachers. If the Mr Winkle video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lm1sCsl2MQY that Stu has pointed us to, shows doctors, nurses and engineers using technology that is built into their degrees perhaps we need to take technology in education right back (or forwards to) there too. I recently had a professor from Tasmania visit my school to see how we’re using technology so he can build it into his course, a very small part of teacher training there, but perhaps more than here in NSW, why is education so far behind on this? On the other hand, people in administration who have no degrees that are in offices all over the place are, in many cases doing pretty well. I still think in the current climate and until teaching degrees ‘catch up’ the best people to learn from are those doing it well, whether they’re students or teachers or even teachers aides. Are teachers the only ones saying I can’t do this or do nurses also refuse to use equipment until they’ve been trained? I guess nurses are not allowed to use new equipment before they’re trained? but here in education we’re not talking life or death.

I also wonder if we should call these laptops/whiteboards/connected classrooms/etc a tool or a toolbox, but whatever you call it, you don’t need to be a mechanic to drive a car, or even change a tire.

paralleldivergence - 28 June, 2009

Pixeltoy – You’ve missed the point in this round too. Only 30% of the laptops are going out this time. We need to give them to people who won’t NEED a lot of support to get them going. The support will need to come in T2 when more, less-ready teachers will get one. The T1 crowd will show THEM the HOW, WHERE, WHEN, WHY and WHAT. Right now, who is there in the school that can show this to the T1 crowd apart from themselves?

25. DER Laptops for Teachers « Mel’s Manic Mutterings - 28 June, 2009

[…] and hopefully will be appreciated by the staff as a whole. I have read Stu Hasic’s post ( https://paralleldivergence.com/2009/06/26/which-teachers-should-get-a-t1-laptop/) on his opinion of which teachers should get laptops and his suggestions for making the decision […]

26. Alison Rout - 28 June, 2009

Stu, your comment…”Right now, who is there in the school that can show this to the T1 crowd apart from themselves?” struck a chord with me. I work in a primary school, so my comments don’t directly relate to the high school rollout, but I’d still like to add to the discussion in general terms, if that’s OK.

My answer to your question might be “recently trained teacher librarians”, who, I suspect, are a largely untapped resource with respect to ICT integration, and who are already in schools.

I’ve recently finished a Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) through Charles Sturt Uni and one of the emphases of my studies was to view the KLAs as an opportunity to expose students to pre-evaluated, high quality online resources in relation to the teaching of specific KLA outcomes and, to create resource-based learning opportunities for students to use ICT as a means of communicating with each other about the problems they’d solved and the new perspectives they’d gained.

I am bursting with energy to share what I’ve learned with staff and students- but if it weren’t for one key staff member – Clint White – I’d still be teaching exactly the same dated, content-based RFF that I was teaching pre-Masters degree. I must admit tht there are times I’ve asked myself ‘what’s the point of all the thinking I’ve done?’

I see rigid timetabling and inflexible staffing arrangements in primary schools as barriers to the sharing of expertise and therefore, the creation of ‘information literate school communities’ (James Henri’s term).

I’ve already started part-time teaching of ICT and information literacy at a university, because I feel pretty under-utilised by DET. This makes me sad.

Give me some reasons to stay hopeful…please!

paralleldivergence - 28 June, 2009

Alison, I personally believe that Teacher Librarians – all of them – not just the recently trained ones – have a huge role to play. The have always been the masters of the information centre of the school. Just because the information centre has mostly moved to the Internet, doesn’t mean that it still doesn’t need a master. The T-L is the key cross-KLA person to direct this information and knowledge transition for both students and staff.

I think schools exclude or ignore the T-L at their peril.

27. Irene Buckler - 28 June, 2009

Primary teacher-librarians lead the way 🙂

28. Katie Caban - 28 June, 2009

Ou Principal has sent out an expression of interest email which asked for information as to how the teacher replying would use ICT in the classroom. It will be interesting to see how many are have emailed an expression of interest and if they match up as Yr 9 teachers. May be a perfect way of dealing with a difficult situation of not enough resources or it could be a nightmare. We’ll see.

paralleldivergence - 28 June, 2009

I suspect most schools would get less replies than needed to cover the number of laptops – but that in itself is a great indicator to the principal and the school executive of exactly where their school stands on the scale of ICT-readiness for DER-NSW. Good luck Katie! 🙂

29. Jason Milnes - 28 June, 2009

Hi All,
I am the CC at Temora High, we have a great set up here due to our last CC. With 14 laptops allocated we have made some tough decisions. We have 22 odd IWB’s and most teachers have a laptop (either purchased or mostly supplied). The netbooks supplied are being veiwed with trepidation. What appeared most important when allocating was a level of interest. With all the politics aside and a limited resource available logic would dictate, make the most of it. We surveyed Y9 teachers for level of interest and willingness to participate. My only drama was I don’t teach Y9, but wish to get my hands on the new stuff (mainly to explore limitations) so I can help the others (no one else can…) Dilemma in that one laptop is removed from the pool, while I can help overcome limitations in the supplied gear. I’ve hads arguements for both sides. My own laptop that I bought is way above the spec for the der stuff. I don’t want/need one, but it’s an interesting question, seeing as there will be no TSO (trained monkey at $25k). What to do huh… Do I cut them loose and say “I’m alright Jack” or try to help. Still don’t know what a free period is yet this year…
PS. has anyone else noticed there CPC server now has Adobe CS4 on it… we do and it’s huge…

30. paralleldivergence - 29 June, 2009

Hi Jason. Thanks for your comment and I fully understand your situation. Have a read of this post: https://paralleldivergence.com/2009/05/20/what-ict-teachers-think/ – I think if you are a teacher with ICT skills, you should be encouraging your peers to take it on board and assist them to the best of your abilities. A smart edu-tech teacher would go to the principal to offer their services in this regard and negotiate an equitable agreement so you aren’t doing all of that on top of a full teaching load. These teachers have a strong bargaining chip with the fast-paced change we see happening in high schools right now. A smart Principal will take all the help he/she is offered.

Yes, CS4 Master Suite is about 30GB!

31. Digital Education Real Illusion « Parallel Divergence - 18 July, 2011

[…] wrote extensively about that promise, the challenge, the delivery and the difference – but now I ask, what the Hell was the point? In the May […]

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