IT Babble Response
This is a response to a post that Matt LaBarge wrote on his blog that was later reposted on Free Tech for Teachers. In the post Matt expresses some frustration on teachers and how they use technology in their lives, but not in their teaching. I tried to post this on Matt’s blog but was met with an error (no fault of his own, I think Blogger is still working out some problems). You can find his blog and all his fine writing here and to find the post in question click on here on its title What’s Up With That. I give a possible deeper reason why teachers are resistant to integration. I maybe right or I maybe wrong, but the only way to know for sure is to read my reply past the break and find out. Oh yeah, leave a comment while you’re at it. Omar and I love those things!
PS. That is not Matt in the picture-I don’t know what Matt looks like, but I’m sure he is a handsome fella.
Matt, I feel your pain my man. I have heard those excuses, I have seen the rolling eyes (in their head type, not on the floor type), and I have had people leave my workshops with their smiles and thank you’s, only to have this deep feeling that they’ll never really implement what we’ve been discussing. I’m there with you brother, but my response to your post is this: understanding and patience.
You are not merely asking these people to flip on a Promethean or take the kids to a computer lab. You’re not simply asking the teachers to set up a a simple blog/website or utilize collaborative document sharing. What you’re really asking these teachers to do is change, and change my friend is hard. In some cases it can be hard as hell (not that I’ve experienced how hard that could be, but I’m sure it’s no picnic). I mean think about when you first started teaching or when you first became a parent. It may have been exciting and enjoyable, but easy is not an adjective I’d toss into the pile (working on only two hours sleep ain’t fun).
Instead of just taking your colleagues reasons as lame excuses, exercise a little understanding. Why are these people so afraid or unwilling to change? Psychologist have asked this same question for years now and here are a couple of articles that may shed some light on the matter.
Why Habits Are Hard to Change (And Printers are Hard to Buy) – by Dr. Kelly McGonigal (that’s a cool last name)
Why Change Is So Hard: Self-Control Is Exhaustible – by Dan Heath (not a bad last name but no McGonigal)
Four ideas why teachers don’t integrate – by Patrick Cauley (hey that’s me!)
The first two articles give a better, deeper answer to why people resist change. It helps explain what the real meaning is of a lame excuse like “I don’t get technology.” So before you go home and chalk this year up as an “epic failure,” try to consider and understand the monumental task you have undertaken and cut yourself and your colleagues a little slack.
Now onto the second recommendation: patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day (unless you’re playing Civilization) and this monumental shift we’re experiencing in won’t happen in a year. It’ll take time and diligence, so stick with it. We (us techies) suffer frustrations that make us want to crawl into a Himalayan cave. I once had a teacher mistake his computer going to sleep for shutting off and wondered why updates never took affect on his machine because he “…restarted it several times each day!” We need to fight through those difficult times and misunderstandings. For people who are looking for tech leadership we must be extremely patient and offer continual support as often as we can. It, like change, can be exhausting, but worth it.
One thing that I’ve found very effective is to try and make broad changes. Get everyone on a blog, or on Edmodo, or using Prezi, but get everyone on board with it. This will create discussions and talking among your colleagues. Even if some people are mad at you, at least they’ll be talking about it. You know who else will be talking about it? Students and they’ll probably like it. You know who else will be talking about it? Parents, and THEY’LL probably like it too. Either way there will be an ongoing discussions and when people have successes or failures, at least they can talk about it with LOTS of people. This open discussion can help others better understand something new and can help to quickly spot problems and solutions to those problems.
Keep up the good work Matt,