Education

Thinking about paperwork

I get it, paperwork is important, but come on, how many times can you file the same forms before you’re just killing trees? Not to mention the ‘we’re going 21st century, no more killing trees!’ plan which switched everything into pdf versions of the papers I used to be able to fill out on a clipboard as I had a minute here or there. Granted, it was usually as I stood over the copy machine during lunch making copies (aka killing trees) of…you guessed it, MORE paperwork. My forms and evaluations are now digital. They are also about to be printed out to be put into my employment file or a kid’s IEP file or their ESL file, or their portfolio. Of course, that makes perfect sense, I fill out forms online in my own time because I cannot sit at a computer and type a form while there are children in the room and while I technically shouldn’t have been writing on the paper versions while there were kids in the room either at least you could keep it on a clipboard and write a few lines while you were standing at the door waiting for the announcements to finish or while the students were doing a quick write for five minutes to warm up…and even if you only wrote two lines, it was ok because it would be there later. Now I use internet forms which will refresh and delete my information unless I sit and do the entire thing at one time.

I can’t imagine how this is multiple times worse as a doctor or a lawyer or police person or store manager or relay any job that requires timesheets, tracking, ordering, inventory, etc. I recognize that there are certain ways things get done, but when do we stop and think about finding new ways?

Contrary to how it may sound, I do not hate paperwork. I understand its value and the purpose it serves, but at what point do we acknowledge that paper forms are worthless because we can’t access the information unless they are right in front of us and electronic forms are ludicrous because you can only fill them out when you have extended time to sit and fill them out all at once?

Now that I’m teaching online it’s worse because I can’t do anything without two computers or at least a second screen because every time I navigate away from Zoom to do attendance or check a child’s work in Google Classroom someone leaves an important message in the chat and is then frustrated when I don’t answer. So the amount of work I have to do has stayed the same, but I can’t do any of it at the same time, so I’m working later and on weekends when I shouldn’t be. But how else do you correct 80 essays when you can’t look at them in class? Nevermind the valuable lessons kids are missing from getting feedback as they’re working.

Maybe it’s just me. Is it just me? Because I really believe it’s time to stop and think about how we function in 21st century spaces with 20th century expectations. Clearly, it’s not just the kids who are frustrated.

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