March 22, 2007

A great conversation on next generation

Comments may be the most underrated component of a blog. For me, they breathe life into most posts and add the texture and indeed make them conversational.

Will posts about an experience speaking to new teachers. What follows are, at the time of this post, 38 insightful comments from a variety of people with various backgrounds and interests including the students who participated in the original conversation. Please read the entire set of comments but here are my favourite snippets:

When I brought up the idea of technology in my graduate course in Educational Administration, my professor exclaimed that he was a techno-phobe, and therefore, my idea about using technology in the classroom is worth nothing. Other students in my class with me complained that relationships are lessened if we communicate via the internet. If we subscribe to Will’s point that we need to wait until “the old guard retires and [we] take over” we also need to wait until the old guard that teaches teachers retires. They teach us how to teach. They teach us to be techno-phobes. My professor knows that technology is important and useful, but the only technology he uses in our classes is the VCR (and on occasion, he will use the DVD player).

See Marco Torres’ student video on Digital vs. Analog

As you well know, many of the day-to-day duties of a new teacher are completely overwhelming. How can we expect our young colleagues to learn not only new technologies, but learn pedagogical application at the same time. I am sure that I am missing the point somewhere, but I feel that all of our energies are being focused in the wrong direction. We have yet begun to recognize the need for a strategy of institutional change. Being a grateful student of your’s (Ellicotville 2006), I do not think many educators will deny the educational and intellectual value of these technologies. Why not begin to address the mechanism of change that will promote the growth of the 21st century learner, by creating the most conducive environment for our teaching professionals.

This next one is my personal favourite.

I’m completely exasperated by the collective resistance to change in every arena. Why is it so incredibly hard? Why are so many people completely comfortable residing in the status quo? I agree with Dan, the current teacher candidates probably became teachers because they’re comfortable in the system as it is. I should start trying to hire teachers who weren’t successful in school. I’ll add interview questions that ask, “what did you hate when you were in school and why?” “What do you want to do differently?” “What do you think and what are you curious about?”

Lead by example, get in the face of those who are hesitant, resistant and even oppositional and take them by the hand, kicking and screaming like 4 year olds to the dentist and make it happen.

That’s one way.

I will continue to try to learn as much as I can about this subject, but as a new teacher I know my plate will be full and it will be hard. I do believe, however, that just waiting for the old guard to leave is not the answer because some of those educators know more than me when it comes to technology. I think both old teachers and new teachers need to be educated from those, like most of you, who know what they are talking about.

I think one has to step into our shoes as the so called “technology saviors” and think about what immense pressure that puts on us as new and absolutely terrified teachers. With teacher accountability being the way it is and in an age of standardized tests many districts and administrators would not approve of us integrating many of the new and cool technologies that are available to us. No matter how cool and innovative I may think they are, are people TRULY expecting us to walk in the doors of our new schools and rock the boat? I’m sorry, but I’d like to keep my job for more than a year. I know many schools like to say that they are integrating technology into the classrooms today, but when it comes down to it, I don’t think many of the administrators really allow their teachers to use technology in the ways that may be available.