I was already pretty comfortable with this metaphor but reactions to my initial post (which examined a tech coordinator perplexed by her faculty’s disinterest) have essentially tossed a goose-down comforter my way and invited me to bunk down with it.
Hang with me for a second:
A teaching group is receding — retiring, in some cases — and I won’t miss them. These teachers don’t fit any specific archetype — you can find them in any school, in any content area — but they do share one characteristic: they put the burden of engagement on their students.
If their students aren’t engaged, their students should simply pay closer attention or, should the teacher accept any responsibility at all, it’s for more frequent notebook checks, parent phone calls, and tougher punishment for distraction. They’re the ones who bemoan students who “aren’t there to learn,” the ones you hate sitting next to during all-district professional development. Anecdotally, I notice them leaving the job and I know that no one but their own kind will mourn their departure.
The link between some technology coordinators and these teachers seems altogether obvious to me right now.
Some technology coordinators expect teachers to meet them halfway or farther in their efforts to integrate technology into the classroom. They expect teachers to share their passion, to carry water up this hill alongside them, and when the reality of the thing closes in — teachers equally beholden to content-standards and the clock — they tend instinctively toward punitive measures: negative evaluations, citations, administrative sanctions, notebook checks.
It never occurs to them to develop a more persuasive pitch. (ie. tech units which better streamline into a teacher’s existing standards-based curriculum.)
I don’t mean you, of course. I get that some of you people put up with recalcitrance so severe it makes my hesitations look like the freaking 2020 vision over here. But there exists a line in every teacher and tech coordinator’s head, a threshold past which they say, “I have done everything I can. They need to bring it now or reap the consequences.”
Personally, the longer I’ve stalled that declaration (which is to say, the more responsibility I have assumed for my kids’ engagement) the better my classes have become. I have done my best to reject that threshold entirely, in fact, and the result has been a desperate search for engaging approaches to centuries-old material. That desperation has inspired the hungriest work of my life. I’ve never been prouder of anything.
Given that they sit on a rickety teeter-totter between both skeptical kids and skeptical teachers (while I deal with only one group of skeptics) I reckon tech coordinators have that threshold-rejecting process even rougher. What they oughtta realize, though, is that this makes hungry, persuasive salesmanship more essential to their job description, not less.
What we need is a big stick for when they spit the carrots out.
… and all but declaring jihad on resistant teachers with this comment:
2008 is going to be different because we are taking up the fight a little more vigorously and we are not going to let them get away it [sic] any more!
Extremists: Awesome and Awesomer
- Leigh Blackall drops some knowledge at the end of his comment:
At the moment we are focusing on these technologies as tools to improve a teacher’s learning long before we ask that they be used in a classroom.
So great. Turn the teachers into users and then into pushers. So canny. Personally, and for just one example, I’m much more inclined towards blogging solutions in my classroom after such a satisfying year playing with it on my own terms.
- And then step five of Scott’s Turn Your Luddite Administrators Into Tech-Driven Pod People article:
Show RSS in Plain English. Then show the administrator the RSS aggregator you’ve created for him, with feeds already set up for woodworking, hiking, and pugs (replace with whatever the administrator’s interests are!). Show that you’ve also seeded the aggregator with some administrator-oriented blogs too, so that the aggregator can be used for both professional and personal interests.
I mean, my word, how many of you tech coordinators have ever taken such a stealthy, guerrilla approach toward your customers, ingratiating yourselves into your faculties’ lives to the point that you could tailor a feed reader to their interests in advance of your sales pitch?
I mean, I realize that kind of effort is beneath tech jihadists like Graham up there but, I promise you, if you can stomach the work, there’s only so much of that kind of persuasive salesmanship an obstinate, 20th-century educator can resist.
But I mean, regardless of these two posts, good luck. I believe in your cause — I really do — even if your sales pitch is outdated.