The $64,000 question?

I have been spending a lot of time Tweeting and reading blogs this past week (oh the luxury of holidays) and it seems to me that a recurrent theme is ‘teachers who are and teachers who aren’t' embracing technology.

So this week I am attempting to reflect on why I have chosen to push myself to the limits of my technological abilities, to spend my holidays, tweeting and blogging, to wake at 5.00am writing comments in my head, oh yes and still try to find time for a much needed break.

To my mind there are two schools of thought here. A dominant one being that if you can’t keep up then get out of the classroom. Stuhasic’s recent blog calls for 2010 to be the year of the connected teacher. I agree but why do many others not?

Personally, for me it is definitely boredom, I cannot for the life of me understand how any teacher can just keep on repeating the same program year after year. This will be my fifth year teaching year 5 at my current school and every year I have updated, re-written or generally tweaked parts of my program every term. I find that by doing that I become reinvigorated and interested in what I am teaching. I become a learner too. Even the dreaded marking becomes interesting when it’s something new. Perhaps I am lucky? I work in a private school and as long as my program fits certain guidelines and is approved by my head then I can pretty much follow any path I want. Am I alone in this?

So by deliberately choosing to follow this path my interest in and thus the integration of technology into my daily routine has grown without my even trying to make it.

My other reason is engagement, again this seems so logical to me, a student who is interested and engaged in their own learning does not cause problems in the classroom. Interested students = good students = happy teacher.

So perhaps that’s it. I work hard, planning, sourcing, devising and programming units which I think will interest and engage my students and in return I have a classroom generally full of motivated, happy well-behaved students. Naturally I am integrating more and more technology into my lessons as I know how effective this is in creating interest.

Result – I go to work happy every day. I love my job. I love my students (well most of them, most of the time). I may be exhausted but I am always happy.

I just need to work out  the $64 000 question as posed by Ianinsheffield How do we persuade those teachers who are reluctant to take up the challenge?

8 Comments

  1. “I cannot for the life of me understand how any teacher can just keep on repeating the same program year after year.” Yes, yes, yes, I agree.
    We are meant to be life-long learners, why are so many teachers not embracing new digital technologies? Yes it takes time and effort to learn and to plan but in the long run, as you say, happy, engaged students = a happy, satisfied teacher. I think the only way we can persuade reluctant teachers to try new methods is to lead by example.
    Louise

  2. As I said in my post… shame them. :)

    Imagine if your doctor refused to keep up with new medical trends and medicines? Or your accountant who failed to keep up with changing tax laws? Yet the individual teacher has been able to get away with it for decades.

    Do you know how hard it is to sack a non-performing teacher? Yet they are still there “teaching” our kids.

  3. Yes exactly but unfortunately the classroom is quite an isolating place and so many can just keep going without fear of repercussions because essentially ‘the powers that be’ really have no idea just what is going on in there. Just how we classroom face to face teachers can be made more accountable without ‘testing’ is still I think, a conundrum

  4. pruthomas:

    I don’t think shaming is the answer because I have seen it all too often have no effect on the teacher in question. I have taught ICT to students and staff in both public and private systems and seen a large percentage of students engaged in my lessons and a very small percentage of staff. I have tried a whole host of ways to encourage teachers to try new things but really consider the uptake of these ideas to be insignificant.
    I think the difference is in the attitude of the teacher. Henrietta is a life long learner, as are the others interested in this $64000 question. We learn new things because that is how we approach life. How on earth can teachers who do not embrace change possibly hope to be relevant to students?? It is scary when you think about it.
    The saddest thing is that this is not age related. There are unfortunately a lot of young teachers who are as boring as the old ones.
    I was talking to a group of teenagers last night who told horror stories of teachers in Y11 and 12 who ask them to summarise pages from the text book!
    Until the teaching profession is elevated to the status that is deserves and attracts and keeps the best teachers (who are those who are life long learners themselves) I am fearful that nothing will change.
    I am lucky enough to share my working life with Henrietta and I am encouraged that we do indeed make a difference in our little patch and occasionally may influence a colleague or two. The old adage “don’t let the turkeys get you down’ is relevant here.
    Pru

  5. Hi Pru, I agree with you. There was a smiley next to my “shame them” comment – but he reality of the “softly-softly approach” taken over the past 12 years has been dismal failure. So much money spent on technology in the hope that teachers will use it. Clearly, they didn’t. So we need to ramp it up a little. And we already know that hands-on formal training courses (eg TiLT) do not work either (and they are very expensive).

  6. hrmason:

    I have been teaching for 14 years now and I feel the exact same way you do. If teachers aren’t enjoying what they teach, how can they expect their kids to. Just as I don’t read the same book over and over again, I can’t teach the same lesson over and over again. And more so since I don’t get the same kids over and over again. (Well, sometimes I do, but that’s not the issue we’re talking about here. )

  7. pruthomas:

    Thanks Stu. I was a big fan of your Eduweb when I was technology teacher at Dural Public for a number of years. My boss and I and all the kids loved it but it was like pulling teeth trying to get any teachers remotely interested and all they needed to do was tell the kids to link their latest work etc etc. – it didn’t seem that hard to me. I cannot begin to imagine how much money was wasted on TiLT even in one school let alone statewide! I’ve been out of the DET for a few years now and I don’t whether it is heartening or disappointing to realise that there is very little difference in the private school in terms of teacher interest in technology. The big difference, for me, is that I have discarded my computer coordinator/network admin hat, can concentrate on my teaching and have lovely technicians to fix all the problems.
    Pru

  8. I too have the luxury of changing up my own curriculum, trying something new each year. I don’t think that what I teach has been the same in the 6 years I have been in this classroom. I love what I do, the kids love what I do and I think I can chalk it up to engaged learning. When I am excited about a project, the kids get excited to. When I ask fellow teachers why they aren’t trying something new, the normal response is, “I just don’t know how you find the time. I don’t have time to try something new. This works.” I’m like you are, I don’t know how they can do that without boring themselves!

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