Too Late to Switch??!

Over a month ago during Spring Break I started the book Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.  Loved the book, but due to parenthood, teaching, and coaching I have not picked it up in a few weeks.  Today I was laying out by the pool and picked it back up.

I came to a page that was talking about change needs to happen before crisis happens. Hmmm. What is a considered crisis? What if crisis is gradual?

For the past 5 years I have had a passion for technology integration.  Not for just using technology in the classroom, but using it without it being something separate from the everyday learning in the classroom.  I have taught for 7 years now. My first three years were at a very small rural private school. I saw that school go from having one computer in an office to a full computer lab during that time.  (Computers donated to the school because a guy in Washington accidentally clicked the wrong link on google.) I then moved to public school.  Schools who have the money for the resources that could change learning. The first year I was at a school who had a tech rep with the same passions I have. She left during that year and I left at the end. Since then I have yet to see anyone push for teachers to even try to integrate technology. No passion, no caring. There are teachers who do this, but I can see their frustration of no labs, wifi not working, etc. It is heartbreaking. My thesis for my Ed S was to see if a website that held weekly contest would increase technology usage or at least get someone to think about using it.  This worked to an extent. It opened up a dialouge that was not there before. Some teachers had never thought about using a things like digital cameras in the classroom. Others were eager to share what they were already doing.  But why change? Why do anything different than what you have been doing that works?

Without leadership pushing for change, why would people change? Without someone teaching them how to change, why would we assume they know where to start? Yes I think as educators, the life-long learner mindset should be the standard.  But where do these teachers go to learn? Someone has to tell them about PLNs and blogs. They need to meet in PLCs to share ideas. But if no one shares, they can just stay doing what they have always done. We can cross our fingers and hope they take a day out of school to go to a PD. I wish I could meet with these teachers and tell them about it. Oh how I wish. But I have mandatory responsibilites and only a 1/2 of a prep period.

I hope we do not have to sit and wait for a crisis to occur for change to be made.  I hope the crisis has not already begun and we are too behind to see that. We need to make a “switch” before children suffer because of the crisis. Paul “Bear” Bryant had an ant plan he said this about it: “I told them my system was based on the “ant plan,” that I’d gotten the idea watching a colony of ants in Africa during the war. A whole bunch of ants working toward a common goal.” Through the PLN I see these ants.  I want to see the ants on a smaller scale. In schools. With leaders.

What the heck is a crisis? Kids still sitting in rows, reading texts and answering questions at end of chapter? Is the crisis gradual? Well no changes in the last few years could have a gradual result.  If you are not moving forward, you are either standing still or going backwards.

This is just me thinking aloud. I guess stating my frustration. I am just ready to see the switch…


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Cory Roush says:

    One thing I’ve noticed about the outstanding teachers and administrators I’ve found on Twitter and connected with, is that they’re so spread out. Aside from Alec Couros’ group (mostly consisting of pre-service teachers, which is still awesome), I can’t think of any other “clusters” of teachers from one school, all working together. I see someone in Florida, someone in Massachusetts, you in Alabama, me in Ohio… wouldn’t it be great to find an entire school district full of teachers and administrators and watch their collaboration?

    I am, in a way, capable of introducing the power of PLNs on the Internet to a wide range of pre-service teachers. My fear, though, is that the long-term benefits of getting to know others in the field and working through them on problems is just that: long-term, and barely recognizable on a day-to-day basis. For people like you and me who already have a passion for sharing our thoughts with others about education, we’re okay with sometimes speaking to an “echo chamber”, but I wonder if those with less passion and more “get it done quickly, correctly, and without much effort” attitude will see a reason to connect with others.

  2. Thomas Boito says:

    Doesn’t Alabama have a statewide plan for tech integration in its schools?

    Here in PA we had a 3 year program called Classrooms for the Future which provided schools with funds for laptops, interactive whiteboards, cameras, projectors, and more. They also made deals with vendors to give good prices to schools.

    But more importantly, they funded CFF coaches like myself to provide teacher PD and assistance with bringing tech into their classrooms. I know of many other states with similar sorts of programs.

    My school kept me on with other finds even after the CFF funding expired and has shown a reasonable (if not entirely whole-hearted) commitment to tech integration.

    One thing I’ve learned in three years is that without support and encouragement very little tech integration is going to happen.

  3. amandacdykes says:

    Tom,
    State of Alabama has tech standards, but its up the local school district to provide the rest. Most districts around here do have tech coaches, I just happen to be in one that does not. It just amazes me that no one in charge cares. An administrator could say, hey maybe once a year we can do a PD or two on tech, or people from the board say, hey you know we can’t compete with the 4 other systems inside this county that have tech coaches. I do not get why they do not care! Why would you want to be known as the school who does not use the tech. Our new building we will be moving into in 2 months will have all of the equipment you listed above. BUT there will not be the tech coach on staff to encourage the IWB to be used for something more than a marker board or to turn the projectors on. It is discouraging and devastating.

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