Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Transparency of coursecasting comes to kindergarten

The ability of students and teachers to affordably and relatively easily create digital recordings of teacher lectures as well as other conversations which take place in the classroom represents a potentially “disruptive technology” for many reasons. Yesterday’s ABC report “Teacher Caught On Tape: Kindergartner ‘Ignorant, Pathetic, Self-Absorbed’” reveals that the potential for disruptive technologies and their effects to even influence kindergarten classrooms is real. Essentially this situation sounds like a whistleblower scenario for the five year old involved and his parents in New Albany, New York. According to the report:

Five-year-old Gabriel Ross complained over the school year that his teacher, Kristen Woodward, was being mean to him, said his mother Tabitha McMahan and stepfather J.R. Edwards. Gabriel told them other kids didn’t like him because he was “bad and stupid.” When he began acting out at home, they decided to take action and try to find out what was going on in the classroom. So in mid-April, McMahan and Edwards sent Gabriel to school with a tape recorder in the pocket of his cargo pants.

This article and video is titled (on the webpage version) “Rant Recorded: Teacher Calls Boy ‘Pathetic.’” While I do think the common trend of many U.S. parents to automatically side with their child and assume the teacher or principal at school is wrong in a given conflict is real and troubling, the apparent facts of this case seem to suggest the teacher was WAY out of line. Personally, I think it is great this five year old and his parents were able to highlight and draw attention to the inappropriate behavior of this teacher. It is unfortunate, however, it took a five year old bringing a concealed digital recorder (NOT a “tape recorder” as the article asserts) to class to bring this situation to the attention of school officials have get some action taken. The building principal should have been intimately aware of the interactions taking place in Gabriel’s classroom, and have taken corrective action to remedy the situation either by convincing Mrs. Woodward to take a more professional, caring, and appropriate tone when interacting with her 5 and 6 year old students, or to have her replaced as the classroom teacher of record.

Disruptive technologies. They are coming to a kindergarten classroom near you. Are we ready for the effects of transparency on our teaching practices and school cultures? It’s time to get ready.

Are digital audio recorders going to be declared “illegal weapons” in New Albany schools now, or will school officials embrace the appropriate uses of these potentially disruptive technology tools to facilitate learning and growth?

Concealed weapons are strictly prohibited on these premises

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5 responses to “Transparency of coursecasting comes to kindergarten”

  1. Pat Avatar

    I have talked about this in my post: Becoming Partners with Parents Just like law enforcement has cameras on their cars, I foresee cameras in the classroom. I had no problems with this because I don’t think teachers should act any differently with students whether they are alone with them or if the administrators or parents are watching. It is a shame that it has come to this but it could also help the teacher if false allegations are made.

  2. Ben A. Avatar
    Ben A.

    This is certainly a major topic in education now and needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. Although it can be disruptive if not managed properly, I believe that we should embrace rather than ban technology in the classroom. After all, it’s not going to go away anytime soon. When it comes to integrating technology in the classroom, I’ve found some great teacher resources at in the form of downloadable ebooks. Whether it’s video phones, laptops, or iPods I think they can all serve an educational purpose if we put in the effort.

  3. Jason Priem Avatar

    Pat makes an interesting point: will we soon see this kind of surveillance in classrooms as a matter of course? The idea certainly holds a lot of attraction for administrators, who would have an extra means of ensuring the ever-popular “accountability.” The growing trend toward public surveillance , especially in the UK but also in the US, makes this a timely question. I’ve seen it suggested that part of the reason behind the explosion of online learning in higher ed has been the appeal of greater accountability for instructors; there’s a record of every interaction. Maybe it’s just a mater of time before this impulse extends to the classroom.

    Of course, we may well see a spirited resistance to this sort of thing. Indeed, I know that in many states, the sort of surreptitious taping that was done in this case is illegal. People are often very wary about being observed and recorded, and I’d imagine that many teachers would balk. The question of how their right to privacy and expectations of trust balance with the important goal of protecting kids from this sort of verbal abuse is a an interesting one.

  4. Geoff Dellow Avatar

    Just dropped in from the Lake District, England – as the result of a Google alert – ‘creativity, education’ –

    I imagine that another strategy could be for a pupil to carry a mobile phone into school with it on all the time.

    Personally I would welcome all for this – and the ability to talk direct to the parents about the way their child was behaving! (which I actually did once or twice in the classroom) ” Tommy, I’ve just phoned your mom and she would like a word with you” It worked a treat!

    What I would like to see more of, is the invitation to parents to come into the classroom to observe the lesson.

    I did this regularly in my classes with ages of pupil 11 to 14.

    I can’t understand why more parents don’t come into lessons – I found them to be a great asset – we all learnt a lot from the experience!

    For my blog see