Technology has improved my life in so many ways—even if I have been drawn into the new technological age kicking and screaming. It has solved many of the problems I faced in my career, and it has even impacted my daily personal life. And the technology tools I originally started with, or even used ten years ago, aren’t the ones I use today at school or at home.
Technology is a great tool. I use my computer and laptop to electronically communicate instantly with my staff, parents, community members, friends, and family. I post articles, calendars, and pictures on the district website. I type and save all of my school and personal documents on discs, flash drives, or my computer’s hard drive. I take digital pictures of both school and family events. My friends, children, and school personnel have instant access to me via my cell phone. I keep my calendar on a Palm.
If you had told me twenty years ago that I would someday have to give up my flash-bulb camera, the land line phone on my kitchen wall, my manual typewriter, carbon paper that preserved a copy of what I typed, and the purple-ink ditto machine for the type of technology tools I use now, I would have laughed at you. If you would have told me that I could keep in touch with the school office or my family when down state or even out of state any time of day or night or told me that I could talk by phone without the phone being connected to the wall or without that phone being in a phone booth, I would have laughed at you. Yes, technology has changed my life. Yes, technology has made my life easier and it has made me more accessible to co-workers, friends, and family. It has ensured that my documents won’t be lost or have to be retyped. It has ensured me that my pictures won’t fade.
However, not all the changes have been positive. I think with the instant messaging we all do with our co-workers, family, and friends that we have lost some things. We have lost the skills of communicating directly with others. I remember the days when I first married and sat down each Saturday to write a letter to both sets of our parents. Those letters were thoughtfully written by hand and outlined the events of our week. When our parents passed away and I went through their things, I found packets of those letters that have been preserved by our mothers. I remember when I wanted to talk to someone on the phone, I selected a time when I thought it would be convenient for them to accept the call. If that person wasn’t home, I called back at a later time because I couldn’t leave a message. There weren’t answering machines or the voice mail options of cell phone. And I sure couldn’t send a text message. I also remember when I was first a principal and I wanted a staff member to know something that I walked down the hall, knocked on the door, and talked to that person. I didn’t just hurriedly shoot off an email, wonder if the person had read it, and know if my message had been received and understood.
So to answer the question above, I think technology has made my life better. However, I need to remember that there is nothing better than personal written or verbal communication—a personal phone call, a hand-written letter or thank you note, or a visit to a co-worker or friend. I can use these new technological tools to improve my effectiveness in the job I have, but I never need to let this technology decrease the quality of my communication with others.