Letting Go…Eventually

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.

2 thoughts on “Letting Go…Eventually”

  1. I dig it.
    Can we also add to the conversation the importance of instructional technology folks supporting the change that teachers are pushing? I’m in higher ed, where many of the issues are the same as in K-12, except that higher ed faculty expect a greater degree of autonomy and therefore the pace of technological change can be glacial.
    But some of us are working very hard to think about how new technology can support teaching. It is not always the case that our efforts are supported.
    Quick story that exemplifies the kinds of interactions I have often had (at three institutions now) with IT colleagues.
    I saw our campus IMS (instructional management system) coordinator in the parking lot at the beginning of the school year. I had mentioned to her that I was going to be trying out Canvas this year as an alternative to our system’s adopted IMS, which I had been kvetching about for 5 years. So I mentioned to her that all systems were go, that everything had been set up and that it looked like a much, much better system for doing what I want to do in my courses.
    The first response?
    “Have you warned your students about their FERPA rights; that by using Canvas in your courses, they’re giving you permission to post their grades outside the system?”
    Now I understand that she had probably just come from a FERPA training. And I get that it’s important (and yes, I did have plans to inform students of this). But that’s the first thing we discuss? No questions about why I’m fired up about it, what seems better, what I’m cautious about? Nothing but FERPA?
    My point is that I appreciate your call here to IT folks to be sensitive to the pace of change you impose on teachers. That’s a really healthy reminder. But let’s also put out the call to be aware of what those teachers who are ready to lead the way are doing, and what kinds of support they may need.

  2. Funny, I have been formulating a blog post in my head with this same theme. I am dedicated to making some instructional changes in my classroom but still found myself reverting back to the “old ways”. I also saw the blank stares I got when my lesson turned…well, ugly.

    Change can be gradual, but for me and my students I think it needs to be pretty quick. When the “old way” doesn’t work, we have to get to the “new way” swiftly.

    Thanks for your post.

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