Friday, January 4, 2008

Walk a Mile!

As we look towards investigating, implementing and integrating new technology in our classrooms, schools and other educational public places, we must accept that some people, especially the more experienced teachers, will be reticent to join in the hoopla. You must note that I said reticent, not hesitant.

Some famous viral marketers have coined a phrase, "laggards", for those members of a group who don't virally buy into the NEW program. In this day of instantaneous, rapid fire, viral marketing of products of all kinds, it is easier for them to leave a small group behind. These marketers are selling an idea today, so they are running scared. They believe they can't afford to be concerned about the last adopters. In their line of work, they are probably correct.

IN EDUCATION, we cannot and must not be interested in that way of thinking. It is antithetical to all we know about teaching. It's not just a platitude, we believe that all people can learn if we teach them from wherever they are on the continuum of knowledge and experience. Before we can teach, we must truly understand their perspective. We must stand in the place where they are.

It seems that educators believe we should use our vast array of knowledge, technique and technology to draw the "laggards"(isn't that a horrible label?) into the group. We should NEVER think there are groups of people who will be left behind or jettisoned at the first opportunity. Often the most conservative in our groups have helped us manage more effectively because of their stable, steady as you go attitudes. Conservative actions should be directed and used as a valuable tool to contain and direct the chaos of change.

It is my premise that those teachers who will be the last adapters just haven't found a good reason to use a new technology.

Let's remember the Golden Rule. It is one of the basic tenets of education. In our modern times, it is more important. Now, in the age of "lifelong learning", we must make and take time to understand the thinking of those who are happy with the status quo.

What would happen to your educational organization if they don't change? Make lists. Use your problem solving methodologies. If they do change, what would be the costs and benefits to:

* their way of teaching AND
* the way students learn in their classes.

If we can discover the antecedents of their mindset, then we have the opportunity to help these teachers find reasons for adopting the new technology with a spirit of cooperation. We are all in this together. Please don't forget lifelong learners deserve respect and opportunities to understand and buy into change. They can and will adapt if you are good teachers and leaders.

LOL! BTW, threatening to:

* fire them,
* put them on "a improvement plan" or
* offer their colleagues subsidies

when they adapt quickly are not the types of reasons that came to mind.

Let's remember the Golden Rule (aka Ethic of Reciprococity), "Do unto others as you would wish them do unto you". It is one of the basic tenets of education. In our modern times, it becomes more important in collaboration. Now, in the age of "lifelong learning", we must make and take time to understand the thinking of those who are happy with the status quo.

Wouldn't you agree that everyone deserves to enjoy and reap the benefits that the new technologies bring to our students, teachers, parents and communities? We all have to work to achieve it.....TOGETHER!


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Carolina Paz said...


I'm completely agree with you.


kolson29 said...

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jdblack64 said...

I love ethically what you are saying in this post. Love it!! However, how do you balance this with the rapid-fire nature of technological change? I worry about our educational system and how slow we are to catch on and implement really good new tools/concepts. Because the world is so rapidly changing (exponential at times), we must resolve to forge ahead with tech innovation within the classroom. Do we have the energy and time to coax those who hold out into being less resistance? Your article has made me think about both sides of this issue, and I truly enjoy posts that make me stop and think.

jblack -

samccoy said...

Yes, there are models for schools to follow, so they can work to stay out front of the curve of new technology or advances that may help.
I should write about this at length, but the metaphors are:
Calvary model: scouts, horsemen, foot soldiers, carts and wagons carrying supplies and camp followers.

American settlement model: Mountain Men, Entrepreneurs, Rugged Pioneers, Pampered Pioneers, and City Slickers.

So, there are ways that schools, as organizations, can develop themselves to promote learning, testing, evaluating and adoption of technology among all staff, just as we do for students.

The main focus of those who participate in a school's community is a shared mission. If leaders can plan for that, parents (and the community) can support it and teachers can develop and manage it, then students will benefit throughout their learning experience.

It is a tall order, but some school systems work effectively within this model.

Thanks for the thought provoking comment, and I will continue this story.