When I was meeting with a teacher earlier this week, the teacher said to me, “I’m just having a hard time letting go”. This was in reference to a current method of instruction because of a new piece of instructional technology I was supporting her use of. I honestly don’t remember what the technology was because this past week was a crazy one. This teacher’s comment resonated with me though. By the way, my response to her comment was something along the lines of, “That’s OK. Change is hard but doesn’t have to be instant”. In my efforts to support this teacher in a new endeavor of instructional technology, it would be unfair of me to push too hard. Don’t you agree? Should there be a speed limit on the change process?
Teachers need a continual support system in place with any instructional strategy, technology or not. They need the initial formal PD upfront, classroom visits if necessary, ongoing communication to “check in”, and then more formal PD to build upon existing skills. More specifically to technology, however, if a financial investment is made and a plan is not in place to support it (continually), then we have not only failed our teachers but we are also failing our students. When I say “we”, I don’t mean there is a finger-pointing at any one leader (principal or other administrator), I mean “we” as a collective body of leaders that want what’s best for students.
I think sometimes we try too hard to exceed the speed limit in the change process. We get excited and want to buy everything and we want everyone to change right now. We’re at a point in education where change is inevitable, and necessary. We shouldn’t forget the old adage, “Talk is cheap”. However, how fast is too fast to expect change? Teachers are going to have a hard time “letting go”. Do they need to eventually “let go” 100%? I think they do.
Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
— John F. Kennedy
Let’s be ready to support teachers appropriately but also remind them in their effort to try something new, change doesn’t have to happen overnight. However, it does need to happen.
Just some thoughts on the matter. Thanks for reading.
First off I’d like to say thank you to Jason T. Bedell for inviting me to write a guest post on his site. I’m honored to have been invited and have my writing included with so many talented people. Please visit his site and follow him on Twitter if you aren’t already.
Change is hard. No doubt about it. We get into an established routine, get “set in our ways” so to speak, and we like it there. It’s the old, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” motto. Am I right? So what’s a good way to help encourage change in the long-term? I believe that the “human element” is very important.
I work with teachers every day. Sometimes it’s one on one during their plan time, before or after school, or a grade level or department might get some collaboration time for half of a day. It can come in various formats and I like that. However, no matter how small or large the group is I’m working with, I strive to not let the “human element” go by the waste side.
What do I mean by this? The concept really is pretty simple: Take the time to learn about the teachers you are working with! I know, what a crazy concept right? I mean, taking the time to make some kind of a connection with them. This could be something you have in common with them or it could be using your “spidey senses” to pick up on the fact that they had a really bad day and meeting with you after school is probably the last thing they want to be doing right now.
Or it could be that you’re meeting with the head volleyball coach and there’s a big match coming up, the band director who has a marching competition coming up, or the teacher that’s brand new to your district and has that look that says, “If I get one more thing to do I’m going to shoot fireballs out of my eyes!”.
This doesn’t even have to be directly related to changing pedagogy in regards to instructional technology. If you consider yourself a “change agent” in any educational area, this should be a practice you’re proficient at. Don’t forget the “human element”! Make connections, have normal conversations; it’s ok to talk about things unrelated to work once and a while!
You would be amazed at how bringing in the “human element” once and a while can have a long-term impact on change; for the better.
Thank you for reading and I certainly welcome your comments.