Friday, March 1, 2013


I drafted this post on October 20, 2011. (Yes, that is over one year ago, I am well-aware. I was cleaning out the ol' blog post list and found a few drafted posts...what can you do?!)

At the risk of looking like removing any doubt that I am, in fact, a complete nerd (which I am confident is the reason this was never shared with the world in the first place), I am going to post it now. It is a fun memory of pre-baby-me, after all...goofy though it may be!

Yesterday, I fulfilled a childhood dream.
Yes, yesterday I got to teach a classroom of 1st graders, using an overhead projector.

I spent many an afternoon at home as a child "teaching" pretend students (and my not-pretend little sister), with used-bookstore textbooks and the teacher's edition of the Scholastic "Weekly Reader" that my teachers kindly allowed me to have. I had a real gradebook, with imaginary students' names, and a small whiteboard with dry-erase markers...and it got the job done.

But, what I really wanted...and had on my Christmas list for multiple years...was an overhead projector. The whiteboard, though fun, just didn't compare to the technology that the projector was. I was fascinated. The markers, the light, the hum of the motor...the phenomenon was simply irreplicable at home. Thus, my annual Christmas wish...currently, unfulfilled. (Dear Santa, just to be clear, I don't actually want an overhead this year.)

When I began my substitute teaching career, I was a bit dismayed that technology has advanced and the classrooms no longer use overhead projectors. Thus, I likely wouldn't get a chance to use one. ...sigh... My dreams dashed. Sure, the Smart Boards are great. They are an amazing, interactive, teaching innovation, and that the school district has been able to place one in every classroom is a great achievement. (Though I would imagine that it does make playing school at home much more difficult for today's aspiring educators....) Students are better for having the chance to have such a modern technology at their fingertips. (Literally, touching their fingertips. Because that's how the Smart Boards work.)

Still, there's the nostalgia of remembering the multiple minutes that it took for the teacher to get the image to focus on the screen, the chore of cleaning the marker from the transparencies with a wet paper towel, and the memory of the outline of the diamond on Mrs. Hagler's wedding ring as she wrote our sentence review. So imagine my excitement yesterday when I walked into a classroom, where there was not only an overhead projector sitting at the front of the room, but notes in the lesson plan that actually specified using it!

It was fun. And, it was one of those moments where you recognize a dream (small and relatively silly, though it was) has been realized.

I must admit, though it pains me to do so, that it wasn't as great as I thought it would be. The image (projected onto the Smart Board itself, ironically enough) would not focus, the clear pattern block pieces slid all over the place as I tried to arrange them over the transparency, and writing with the marker took a while, not to mention that I had to look down at the screen instead of looking out at the class. When I turned the machine off, I realized "wow, that motor really was making a considerable amount of noise" and "it would've been so much easier to just type". Essentially, I can see why someone invented the Smart Board and similar technologies, and why those are the projection methods of choice these days. The overhead projector is out-of-date, and it isn't the best tool for the job anymore.

But, when I was in elementary school, that wasn't the case. We had no idea what kind of impressive technology was coming years down the road. How true that is of life in general...the excitement about what we have in the present (a good thing!), with the opportunity to be surprised by the blessings that are yet to come.

I've gotten to teach from a "Weekly Reader" multiple times in real-life, and I've now used an overhead projector, too. Sometimes those childhood dreams come true, and it's a fun thing to notice when they do.

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