On its surface, it’s just a new computer. Maybe a bit sleeker; maybe a bit faster. But it’s just a computer. Paid for with my PD money. Nothing to see here. 

Only the keyboard is different. Included on the far right is a vertical number pad, the likes of which I haven’t seen or used in years. As a result, I’ve spent the first several days fumbling through anything I type, wearing out the backspace button, and re-positioning my hands.

Perpetually lost and frustrated, highlighted by an alarming number of inadvertent semicolons, I find myself having to relearn how to type, and, in some ways, how to think. 

Then things got weird. 

Because of the repeated mistakes I was making, I had to actually consider each keystroke mindfully. Like I was building relationships with each key, orienting myself to its new position on the keyboard, reminding my hands that while we used to interact with the keys a certain way, we just can’t anymore. Because they’re different. 

It also gave me a new, and frankly kind of bizarre, appreciation for the “modifier” keys (I had to look that term up). Shift, Alt, Ctrl: the keys that only work in concert with other keys.  Buried at the bottom of the keyboard and often forgotten, these keys make other keys different. They just need to be asked. 

Our schools, and especially mine, are made up almost entirely of modifiers. 

When hiring (6) new positions in the spring and summer, I did so with a team of dedicated teachers who wanted to help me find and hire the best people. 

When our building needed some creative problem solving to address limited space, my custodian said, “what if we do it this way.” And that’s how we did it. 

When I struggle with master scheduling (which is, like, every year), I texted our scheduling maven and she had the problem solved inside an hour. 

When a talented 5th grade teacher, who can see the light at the end of her grad school tunnel, asked me if she can help me during the summer, I handed her the keys to all things opening day, and a myriad of other administrivia, and let her run with it. 

When parents have questions throughout the summer, my secretary, who is only supposed to work a handful of days, answers them without me even knowing. 

There are modifiers everywhere, and even if there are some keys who only do one thing well (looking at you, caps lock), we still need them from time to time. 

We need only ask. 

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2 Replies to “Modifiers”

  1. Brian, You know I LOVE a good metaphor and this one is awesome! There is nothing better than taking something we all relate to and utilize on a daily basis and tie it to life and relationship. Thank you! Now I am going to try to figure out which key I don’t think I could ever manage to be, which one I usually default to being and which one I’d most like to be. Also, recently my “j” has been difficult, to the point that I really have to convince it to type at all…I can think of ways that can relate to those involved in education as well. Thank you for writing and sharing! Your thoughts are a gift!

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