The ride might be gentle but the road to change is usually a rough one!
In my role as an administrator who has been tasked a number of times with moving schools along and bringing about improvements and changes, I’ve learned a few things about the change process and working with teachers to bring about change. I see a great many people who do not fully understand the great difficulty in bringing about change on school level never mind a district level. Social media and its use is only a part of this change process. The list below comes from my experience in a number of schools where change was required – in many different ways. Without some sense of actually living through the change one is asking to have happen, I find a certain lack credibility – just ask anyone who has overcome a huge addiction if they give credence to someone who hasn’t. So many who are discussing educational reform lack this experience – the tough job of working through the change.
But before I get to my list, I’ve noticed an increasingly large number of these types of lists. My twitter feed is full of them. Here, in no particular order, are some of those that have floated through:
These are from the past 2 weeks. Now, I haven’t had the time to read all the lists that come along but I did have a look at these and many like them. So, in keeping with the lists theme, which may indeed be a prelude to the New Year’s Resolution List (which is for far too many an epic failure) I thought I’d throw these 10 signs that you are REALLY getting this whole shift in education.
1. You chuckle when you see the discussion about Klout – not because you think Klout is important/unimportant but because you know that, no matter what people think or say, without Klout in your building or your district or on twitter or …., you’re just screaming into the wind and there’s nothing more frustrating than screaming at the wind – unless you’re trying to teach your youngest to tie their shoes!
2. You understand that being socially connected is important but you don’t spend your days worrying how many times you tweet or how often or if you’re a twitter rockstar or …. because life is about balance and you sometimes need to be in the room and not worried about those who aren’t and, unless you’re heartless like me, you have a greater connection to those in the room and a greater vested interest.
3. You try new and inventive ways to mash social media and what is happening in the school – but you don’t have a list of things every school should do because every school is different and you understand that, completely. Sharing what you do is a good thing, especially for those who are struggling with a place to start. You also understand that all teachers are different and not all of them have the same views as you – that is what makes your school a great place to work! You seek people’s strengths and use them to build upon. You’ve learned that, like your students, everyone wants to contribute and you seek those ways to make that happen.
4. You actually use the technology and tools in your teaching in a K – 12 setting - you don’t just talk about how other people, even if they are in your building, are using them – you have walked the talk and have hands-on experience not just third party views. You have been able to mesh theories with actual practice.
5. You check in on the great international tech conferences virtually because you realize that, if we are telling our students that online/virtual learning is good enough for them, then you need to figure out how to make it good enough for you. You are a digital citizen and rarely, if ever, attend conferences. This type of PD hasn’t changed education, why should it changes it now just because it’s about technology. Unless, it’s not about the PD but about the connections, interactions and personal contacts – which would mean we need to rethink a few things….
6. You engage in twitter conversations using hashtags and have your lists but your world isn’t preoccupied with any one social network and you spend time elsewhere – and don’t always tweet about it. You see the possibilities of Google+ circles and social media like Plurk/Nings because of the different ways that the content is displayed, knowing that, in learning, there are times you need to be able to use these different models to help your students. You are open to change – “all my friends are here” isn’t a good enough reason for you not to go forth on your own and you actually give it a try – because that is what learning is about. You don’t worry about how it will affect your “standing” or “karma”.
7. You have been using digital technology long enough to know that, no matter what people claim, it is a tool. Yes it is a powerful tool, just like other tools that have societal implications and can be used for positive and negative but you aren’t limiting your students to just digital tools although you don’t regularly bring chainsaws into the classroom!
8. You use multiple digital tools because you see that, for you, they work but you also see that, as there are many different people around you, not all of them will have the same needs nor the same uses as you do. You make suggestions and give others assistance, period. You understand and see how students use the tools in their lives, you use them too! You try to see how these two can mesh and you plan and organize with this in mind. However, you realize that the world of youth and the world of adult are not the same so, sometimes, there is no overlap and you’re okay with being the adult – because you can’t go back.
9. You understand that learning takes place all around us and you see how you can get your students to experience learning outside the classroom – digitally and otherwise – so you see the whole school – hallways, library, stage, gym, classrooms, office, entrances – and it’s surroundings – playground, playing fields, road accesses, flower gardens, woods out back, etc – and the community in which you live – malls, stores, parks, community services – as places of exploration, wonder, excitement and learning. You sometimes use digital means to record these but other times you take along materials so students can see things through a variety of medium. And sometimes, you just take your students to go – with nothing but their minds because you know not all learning is countable or recordable.
10. As an educator and an adult, you know that you are required to do specific tasks, like assessing. Although you don’t always agree, you also know that you are an example to your students and because you choose to remain in your position, you do what is required to the best of your ability – not to spite the system.
As always, comments are welcome and appreciated.