At the risk of stating the obvious, I feel the urge to share some thoughts about coaxing reluctant teachers on board the tech train before it leaves the station without them (or they derail the locomotive!).
This urge comes from two sets of interactions. Early this week I sat down for mentoring session with a terrific teacher to give her some suggestions and training for setting up a small social media project with her 9th graders. This was obviously a big step for her and sitting down with me meant that she would expose some of her confusion about basic tech operations tool. (I'm happy to report that both parties left the session quite pleased). Later this week I chatted for an hour with a visiting team of administrators from Little Rock. Their school is about to take the plunge into a 1:1 program, and the subject of bringing staff on board arose.
* Teachers are inclined to feel unappreciated and undervalued if tech is thrown at them as something they must urgently do to be relevant in their students' lives.
* Conversely, when presenting to co-workers it is important to express sincere appreciation for their talents and assure them that their devotion to their students will lead them to explore powerful methods for building student learning networks.
* Teachers need good modeling from school leaders. Those espousing change need to walk the walk. It's even more important that they don't become scolds.
* Teachers are used to (and many perhaps drawn to) terrific control in their classrooms. It's understandable that would feel very uncomfortable shifting their roles and allowing the students greater control over creating their own learning networks.
*After my experience leading the MHS in-service, I am more convinced than ever that the best way to coax teachers towards giving their students more control over building their networks is to show them how to develop their own personal learning networks with technology.
*A strong staff mentoring program is a must.
* Most teachers love to share their discoveries. We must not make them feel as though they should master everything at once.Let's give them the satisfaction of becoming proficient in the tools they need for a simple project or lesson that really connects with the kids.I'm for encouraging them to take one step at a time, giving them credit for doing so in the midst of a typically harried school year. Then we should urge them to pay their knowledge forward, since that, after all, is their vocation.
"Tough Customer" Flickr Creative Commons Photo by James Jordan
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