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
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 work