Some times you need to throw out the container with the leftovers

It’s been said many times:

If you give every student a laptop but do not fundementally change the way you teach than the power of the new technoogy will never be reached

mold
by stevendepolo

OK….maybe not exactly like that but I’m sure you’ve heard quotes like it whenever talk turns to 1:1 programs. 

The real question is:

How does teaching and learning change when everyone has access to the same information?

That’s the real question that teachers need to answer. I would bet that 90% of teacher get 90% of their material (or did at some point in time) from the Internet. Which means kids have access to the same knowledge same information in a 1:1 program that the teacher use to have to spend their time finding and preparing for class. 

That’s a change…..that’s a HUGE change and it makes a lot of educators uneasy when you really have to stop and think; “What am I going to do now that we all have access to the same information?”

It’s such an overwhelming quesion…so scary that what ends up happening…..is nothing. 

We go on teaching the same way we know how to teach….because we know how it goes, we know it works, we bury our fears and we march on doing the same things we’ve always done, teaching in the same way we’ve always taught and hope that nobody really forces us to take a deep look at our own practice.

And most of the time nobody will. Schools roll out 1:1 programs because it’s a fad, because everyone else is doing it, or because they believe it’s the right thing to do. They then spend PD time on training teachers how to use the laptop, how to use the programs that are on the laptop and how you might use a program with students.

But very few schools push teachers to look deeper at their own practice. Why? Because we don’t want to upset them, we want the 1:1 program to work and because we don’t give teachers the time make it a priority to have them go deep in their own understanding of the changed leanring landscape. 

We (schools) don’t like to make people uncomfortable, because it makes us uncomfortable, because it’s hard. But if you are going to change your practice you need to get uncomfortable. 

This past weekend while running a COETAIL course in Taipei we hung out (is that what you call a pass tense Google+ hangout?) with Brian Bennett talking about Flipped Instruciton and Teaching for Mastery. Brian is a great presenter, and understands Flipped Instruction and Teaching for Mastery very well and is good at articulating it to others. As Brian was going through his presentation he was also reflecting on his practice and he let it slip that he’s in his 3rd year of teaching.

That was an odd moment I think for many in the room as all of a sudden heads popped up from laptops, teachers looked at each other and I even had a teacher wisper to me “Did he really just say 3rd as in the number 3?”

The room of educators, most of whom had between 10 – 15 years teaching experience became a little more uneasy….in a good way. They weren’t threatened, they weren’t negative about it….I think they were in awe. That here was a kid (sorry Brian gonna call you a kid) doing great stuff that was completely different then many of them had ever thought of. Partly because Brian doesn’t know any other way to teach. He has no prior history of teaching without computers. He has no prior history of there not being an Internet, a teacher computer, Google Earth, YouTube, and everything else. To him this just is the way things are and the Flipped Classroom approach works for him in this new enviornment and he’s willing to share about it.

In the end change comes down to breaking habits…and habits are the hardest things to break. My own fear is that I’ll start habits that I myself won’t be willing/able to change. Maybe that’s why I’ve made change constant in my life. New schools, new job roles, even new houses (Haven’t lived in the same house for more than 3 years since leaving my parents at 18. Here in Bangkok….3 houses in 4 years).

Teaching habits are the same…..they worked in the past I know how to do it so we’ll just do it again, and again. Maybe update some resources, change a project but the underlying pedagogical foundation for many lessons still remains the same from when teachers first created them.

And that’s the change that is neccessary

That is the training that is neccassary

The ability to completely throw out a lesson and reexam a unit or lesson in an entirely different way, with a different mind set is how you change habits….and how you change teaching practice. It’s like finding modly leftovers in the back of your fridge….sometimes you do need to throw the container out with the leftovers and just start over from scratch.

It’s hard

It’s hard work

It’s frustrating

It’s exciting

It’s neccessary

5 Comments

  1. Hi. You brought great, innovative approaches to teaching together with attitudes that teachers should consider when reflecting on how to incorporate technologies into the classroom. The benefits that students gain when teachers stretch themselves are amazing. I look forward to reading more.

  2. I am a EDM 310 and was assigned your blog to summarize and comment on it. I agree with your argument. Change is hard to do but is very necessary. I’m in college studying to become an elementary teacher and I am eager to learn new ways to teach my future students and very eager to learn in new ways myself. Thank you for your interesting opinions.

  3. I think you did a great job explaining how teachers need to learn how to use technology better. It can be frustrating when you want to learn a program and a teacher can’t help you because they don’t know it either. It will be interesting if we started a new way of teaching. Everyone will be used to using all this new technology that is being made every day. I agree with you.
    Thank you,
    -Ben

  4. If everyone has access to all the same information online, and you’re looking for information on any topic, you must be really good at reading and finding information. Learning changes based on what information you have on the topic that you can search for online. Finding information that way you can learn better is sometimes difficult because of the topic that you are trying to learn about. Not many, but very few topics that you can go to search for and there will be no response. Especially on Google because Google has so many resources that you can use for free. I think learning is so much easier when it comes to using computers. I know I already said this…but especially Google.

    TRMS Student

  5. RESPONSE TO SOME TIMES YOU HAVE TO THROW AWAY THE CONTANER
    I SOME WHAT AGREE WITH YOU.TEACHERS DO USE THE SAME STUFF EVRY YEAR BUT THEY TRY TO MAKE IT HARD EVRY YEAR THAT PASSES BUT WHAT IF A KID DOSE NOT GET ANY THING NEXT YEAR HE CAN LERN WHAT HE MISSED OR JUST DID’T GET IT WITCH IS GOOD BUT THE BAD PART IS THAT IF YOU ARE VERY SMART IN THE CLASS YOU MIGHT THINK THAT EVERT THING IS VERY SIMPLE AND THAT IS BAD TEACHERS JUST NEED TO CHANGE THERE STILL OF TECH SO I AGREE WITH YOU CASUES IT GOES ON AND ON ABOUT THE SAME THING

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