Yesterday, likely in my excitement to escape the office before Mrs. Lopez called me back for the third time, I did the inexplicable. I left my iPhone on my desk at work. I was half way home (and live a pretty good haul from my school) and had an obligation that prevented me from turning around. This was set to be the first time in at least 10 years that I was without my phone.
I should probably share at this point that I consider myself an addict (likely in the clinical sense) to this technology. It started with my move into administration. I wanted to use phones that got e-mails to show my superintendents and teachers that I was totally accessible. It's grown into something I barely can control anymore. Responding to e-mails in as short a time as possible is something I've created for myself regardless of when they come in, who they're from, or what the issue is. I estimate it's affected my ability to sleep through the night. I'm ashamed to admit I once responded to a work e-mail while on a run. I wouldn't share this if I felt I was the only person facing circumstances like these. As I look around any room that has other humans in it (especially educators...), I'm pretty sure I'm not.
Well, I'm here to tell you that I survived! The sun did rise again. I ate dinner without the ding of e-mails and texts tempting me to check them. I watched Monday Night Football without the interruptions without wondering what issues might be waiting in my inbox. I drove to work this morning without the boneheaded temptation to respond to the vibrations in my pocket while driving. I'm alive, healthy, and I do believe school will open as regularly scheduled.
I love my iPhone and all it's wonderful capabilities, and I don't believe it is particularly practical in this day and age for a school administrator to not have a smart phone. However, last night was another reminder of a really bad habit that I've created and need to adjust. Smart phones have off buttons which can be used during family dinners (while driving?). E-mails should be addressed in a timely manner. The next day is timely for messages sent well after school closes for the day. My phone can charge just as well somewhere other than my night stand and I'd still be able to hear it if an emergency occurred in the middle of the night. Family, friends, and colleagues can adapt to a world where my accessibility is less that 24 hour a day by phone (several numbers), e-mail, text, Facebook, Twitter, or Skype.
The same goes for just about everyone else. My goal is to begin, today, to start restoring some balance in my life when it comes to web based technology. I challenge each of you to reflect on your own use and ask yourself if your use is balanced. I challenge each of you to reflect on whether you would want your students to grow to use technology the way you currently do.