Monday, October 13, 2008

Do you change?

A great post for reflection came from Utech Tips this week entitled "Putting the I in change." Jeff talks about how very often we want our kids and colleagues to change with little-to-no whining. But do we do the same? Do we gracefully accept change?
One thing I vowed when I left the classroom was to never forget what it was like to be a general education teacher. I think that all too often, people in the "Administrative Offices" or "Central Office" forget about what life is like in the classroom. Maybe we don't forget what it's like, but we don't promote our desired change with the appropriate tact to let the change slowly sink in and cause the least amount of anxiety possible (see hype over Office 2007, which I'm dealing with now). Last year I anxiously and excitedly shared web 2.0 tools such as Google Docs and Twitter with my tech group. But Google Docs, while great, isn't necessary in our district (we have a Sharepoint portal set up) and Twitter, while my favorite tool OF ALL TIME, isn't as appealing to our classroom teachers for various reasons, many of which I understand. So this year I'm doing what I can to ponder, "How will this be perceived by the people listening?" Does this mean I shelve a demo of the latest technology tool? Absolutely not. But I, like you, have to make sure I'm presenting it in a way that shows teachers how it's going to improve what they are already doing in their classroom and/or make their lives easier. Their time is too valuable to waste. Our time is too valuable to waste. Yes, some tools do need to be experimented with first...I'm specifically concerned about large group rollouts. The technology has to be transparent (great point brought up again to me by Katie Morrow) with the curriculum. For our district, our main focus should be our standards. It's what's most important to us as a curriculum department. But it's also important for us to show that, within our curriculum, we can easily attain many of the ISTE Standards and give our students an education that will make them productive in the 21st Century.


Michelle said...

I'm in the same boat as you, and I constantly have to remind myself to use my empathy strengths. What I'm thinking a lot about is that maybe the curriculum needs to change more than the people do. ??

The focus has to be on the skills kids will need to survive and thrive in their world, but I'm afraid we're still preparing them for our world.

J Allen said...

I don't believe all of the curriculum needs to change. I completely understand your point, but I really don't think the basics of what students need to KNOW has changed all that much. I think that there are (sometimes) COMPLETELY different ways of learning the same material. I think there are definitely some new items that should be added, but I still would tend to argue that people need to change more than the curriculum. I still think inquiry based science is important, but who are you inquiring with? You still need to know multiplication facts, but how are they being introduced? I guess that's my point.
I also agree with your last point. But again, I think that goes back to the delivery more so, but not exclusively, than the content.

Michelle said...

Perhaps I should have been more specific when I said the curriculum should change. :-)

I agree with you... much of it is the delivery. BUT, I also think that mile-wide and inch-deep curriculum leaves teachers frantic to "cover" everything, as well as kids with overload.

What I INTENDED was that we need to look at the essential questions-- what do kids need to know, what should they learn through discovery, what problems should they be solving, what questions should they be pondering... and so on. There are the basic elements (such as multiplication facts) which they of course need to learn and achieve fluency. But beyond those areas, do we really need to teach history chronologically? Do we really need to do the evens tonight and the odds tomorrow? You know what I'm talking about, and I'm IMPATIENT. There will be a whole generation of kids who lack critical thinking skills if we don't get ourselves out of this assess-everything-teach-to-lower-order-thinking rut we're in now.

J Allen said...

Do you realize that if we ever worked together, we'd be out of a job because everything would've been done yesterday??
I wasn't confident that you wanted to scrap entire curriculum, so I'm glad that you cleared that up. In our district we are finally pursuing those essential questions and I think that we are at a point where technology activities may be incorporated more, but, you're right, it takes a lot longer than I want to admit.

bethstill said...

I think the people need to change as well as the curriculum. I am a social studies teacher. The classes I develop are based on Nebraska standards, but I go beyond the book to teach the material. Many teachers use a textbook as the sole source of information because it is what they are comfortable using.

What I would like to see is teachers being pushed to work outside of their comfort zone. Teachers fear looking incompetent so why not provide training in small groups where they are more comfortable rather than in large groups?

I have been told over and over that teachers will not use a new application until they see how it will work for them. I do not understand how teachers can fail to see the potential of Web 2.0 tools both in their classrooms and professional lives.