During dinner with friends last night, Kirsten made a point to tell me some templates I’d created for her were a hit with the other teachers in her school. I was a little surprised.
Early in the school year she’d asked for some help creating templates for different size vocabulary cards. Her need was really basic—just 8-1/2 x 11 pages divided into three, six and eight parts each with a picture and a couple of words. And she needed something she could edit herself, print and laminate.
I found Office for Mac on her school laptop and in a few minutes we’d cranked out three different layouts in PowerPoint. Having come from a graphics background where I spent a few years building grocery ads, I had no problem editing the master slide, adding some borders and popping on a piece of clip-art with some text.
The files were insanely simple but Kirsten was really happy with the results. I almost felt I wasn’t really doing her much of a favor. Yet she make a point of telling me not only did I help her but helped other teachers too.
Apart from this, I’d also been consulting for a few K-12 schools recently and noticed practically everything like these vocabulary cards was self-made down to the letters for bulletin board headlines. It has to take someone hours to think of a headline, trace letters on construction paper, cut them out and arrange them. And that doesn’t include the rest of the pictures, borders and artwork.
What I forget about my job in technology is it’s not easy for everyone and something simple for me to do can make a big impact for someone else. Clearly, a lot of heart goes into what a teacher does to prepare an environment that stimulates and educates her students. I encourage anyone with a design or technical background to adopt a teacher and do something simple to help her. Small efforts can make big impacts.