When the Going Gets Tough!

I recorded this podcast about a week after our Rigorous PBL training. Since then I have had more time to explore using the idea of Surface, Deep, and Transfer in actual planning. One of the things that I have noticed is that just like trying to get to the R in SAMR is difficult, trying to get to the Transfer level is also difficult. This makes me wonder if this is why teachers struggle so much to get to these levels? Is it because it is one more difficult element in a long list of difficult elements that make up education?

Is it similar to why some parents, even though they know better, do things to make their lives easier, like letting their phone be a babysitter? Michael mentions John Hattie’s Meta-Analysis and that basically having any teacher in a classroom is on some level effective. I wonder if this isn’t why education has become so stagnate. We just keep doing what we have always done because it isn’t ineffective. I think this is part of the reason why I have stayed overseas. Other than the lifestyle and travel which are personal reasons. The professional reasons are that I am not interested in spending my time in a school that is just doing the minimal effective techniques to teach students.

I do know that I don’t have to go internationally to be able to be a part of the change that I think education needs, but I do know that international schools do play a role in leading some changes. I also know that there are many international schools out there that are doing just the minimal to get students education like any other school system.

I like to think of myself as someone who is motivated to be a part of the change in education. I am actively participating in my school’s research and development teams. I am actively staying on top of trending changes in my field. Do I do this because I am a single subject teacher and I have more time? Do I do this because as part of any technology job you have to stay on top of the tech and it changes so often? Do I do this because I am self-motivated and this is just my personality? I really think that it is a combination of all of the above and I hope that the drive never changes. I do know that the drive has become more developed with the development of my digital PLN. Until I started developing my PLN through social media, I was only able to stay on top of things through face to face PD and information from other teachers. Now I am getting information nearly as soon as it happens and am part of discussions sometimes from the very beginning.

I also feel that a huge part of doing this effectively is being collaborative. Working with others either in your field, school, grade level, whoever. Find someone who can help you and work with them to bat ideas around. When I was trying to come up with how to move projects that were apart of my Course 5 project along the SAMR model it too me and my teaching partner both batting around ideas before we could figure out how to move things along. One of us was not enough, doing things in isolation for me is not enough, I need to bounce ideas around with another person so that I can think through them more thoroughly and work out all of the elements needed. That is one thing I like about the international schools that I have worked in. I have been very lucky to have always had colleagues who are willing to collaborate with me!

I think that this is a great time to be in education because of the rate of information sharing and the speed at which change can happen, there is no excuse for not being a part of change if you want to be. You only have to take the leap and challenge yourself to do the hard things. Like, try to figure out how to take lessons involving technology to Redefinition and how to move your students into a place were Transferring their knowledge is normal and just part of what they do.

Is it hard? Yes! Should we do it anyway? Absolutely!


It All Starts with the Teachers

Essential Question Week 2: How can we utilize new learning theories in our curricular areas to engage and motivate our increasingly digital students?

Two articles and a video this week have helped to solidify by thinking that everything starts with the teachers. Of course we know this in the back of our head. Sarah Woods states, that technology is sometimes thrown into classrooms with the thought that the students will drive the change and help with the understanding. This is not effective and has been proven time and time again. Giving students technology does not make them more engaged or knowledgeable. Using technology alongside good teaching engages students.

I have seen awesome technology given to students who were given no instruction, guidance or goal. The result of this was that the lesson was a complete flop. The teacher and the students were frustrated. Sometimes this was a learning lesson for the teacher on preparation for lessons and sometimes this gave the teacher the ammunition that they were looking for to say “technology is a gimmick” that I don’t want it in my classroom. The second group of teachers are the teacher missing a growth mindset around technology

Teachers without a growth mindset are opposed to change. Using technology effectively comes with being able to change. Technology in it’s nature is rapidly changing and therefore you have to be a flexible user. Teachers who struggle with technology in my experience, do so because they struggle with change.

I wrote about teacher’s stress over change in my blog post after attending a workshop by John Mikton at Learning2 in Warsaw. He stated that for many teachers, technology changes are not necessarily something that they are opposed to because they are opposed to tech changes, but they are opposed to change in general and tech changes are ones that they feel that they can safely have control over.

Sarah Woods states “Our teachers were educated at a time when there weren’t laptops in classrooms, when there weren’t even laptops. That’s a huge change in one career. A lot of people went to school thinking that they were going to have to know every single fact and remember them all. We need to help each other get to the point where we can recognize the new identity for teachers. Our teachers aren’t going to go back to the way school was.” and Peter Heslin’s quote in the article Never Too Late: Creating a Climate for Adults to Learn New Skills “Teachers may avoid new teaching strategies ‘for fear they might jeopardize their identity as an already highly skilled instructor.’ ” This identity crisis is a cause of stress for a lot of teachers. They no longer have a clear understanding of what is expected of them as educators.

This identity dilemma is something that I see daily. Teachers being afraid to use a technique or tool in their classroom that they do not feel that they have become an expert in. They hold off on teaching with technology because they want to wait until they are an expert. This gives students an unrealistic expectation of what being an adult is like. If students are surrounded by experts and never see what it takes to become one are we really teaching them how to live life?