Wednesday, October 30, 2013

But that's not the way I've always done it and it has worked in the past!

As an instructional technologist, I adore seeing technology implemented well in the classroom. That being said, I do not feel like every single lesson can be made better with technology. As a learner, I flourish in an environment that changes. Boredom is the biggest cause for me to realize, "Oh wow, I have no idea what that speaker has been saying for the last seven minutes." Therefore, as a student, I benefit the most from a teacher that embraces the idea of Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences. If I find monotony in learning, I turn off...not on purpose, it just happens.

That being said, I feel like technology in the classroom allows teachers to vary their instruction and teaching style more easily. Therefore, I can usually find a way to help a teacher implement some bit of technology into a lesson plan; whether it be simply researching ideas with students using an iPad or creating a presentation of information using varied apps. I say all this to say, "I am a fan of technology usage in education!"

BUT, yesterday I struggled. For the past two years I have shared my files in one set way with my elementary students. They open their Google drive account on their iPads, go to "Shared with Me," find the file I've shared with them, they make a copy of it, rename it, and work on the file as their own. Yesterday, that didn't happen.

With all the new updates I realized in the middle of a lesson that students only have the ability to make a copy of a shared document using the desktop version, not the google drive app version. ARRRRGGHHH! So, like any good teacher does, I changed the plan midstream to make it work! ;) I had the students "select all" on the shared document, create a new document, and paste the original information into their new document. No big deal, right?

Well, it caused great angst for me. I was convinced this was a bad thing and we needed to contact Google. I mean, this is about collaboration and teaching kids skills for the future and heck, why would you take AWAY a beneficial thing with an update? Updates are suppose to allow me to do MORE cool things and fix all the bugs. I was struggling. Then someone that was trying to help me figure out a solution said, "Hey, copy and paste is a skill elementary kids will use for the rest of their lives. You just added 3 extra steps, that's all. But now you are teaching them how to copy and paste as well." I still grumbled about the change and said "this changes every single lesson plan I do!" I then reluctantly accepted the change as the "new normal" and headed home.

Then it hit me...I was the reluctant teacher that I'm constantly dealing with. I was the one that didn't want to accept the change even though it taught a valid skill. I was the one that didn't like the idea of messing with my lesson plans. It was an epiphany moment. We all have our "sacred cows" or our "fears" that keep us from seeing the benefit of the big picture. Sometimes something dashes our sacred cows and we have no choice. Other times, we try to protect and stand up on our soap box and scream loudly why we don't need this change.

This moment made me see myself in a new light. None of us are that different from each other in the teacher realm. We each have our comfort zones and fears that we do not want to give up or overcome. So when dealing with reluctant teachers regarding technology in the classroom, I just keep thinking "baby steps," "one lesson plan at a time," "one sense of technology accomplishment in a quarter," "one realization that this saves someone time," "one reply from a parent that they see benefits to using technology in the classroom." We don't have to bite off the whole enchilada at one time. Let the confident teachers run with it, support the non-confident ones in small tasks so that they can catch the spirit. Show them we care, listen to their concerns...more than anything- Make them realize changes aren't necessarily bad even if they aren't "the way we've always done that lesson plan" and be flexible. As a proponent of change I still need to be flexible!