There are so many different examples of things taking place in education and many teachers are not doing much, not because they don’t care or don’t want to but because they are busy and there is so much being introduced and pushed that they just don’t know what to do.
I know if I started introducing all the neat tools I found I would be overwhelmed and so would my students and as a result we wouldn’t get to use the tools to their full potential.
I want to read, learn and use it all but I get bogged down in the enormously of it all and then don’t do anything because where does one start..wheww?
Wading and Sifting
Being overwhelmed leads to many different things but making good decisions and being productive usually aren’t two of them. At a time when technology isn’t the only change agent in schools – RTI, PBIS, SBG, FA/SA, BYOD, 1to1, UbD, SLIP, PGP, SLC, ECERs – to list a few of the acronyms that I have worked with in the past 3 years – illustrates the enormous amount of systemic changes that are taking place all during a time of seemingly constant curriculum renewal and revamping and a plethora of new ideas for how classrooms should be evolving including using Design Thinking and other such strategies. With each one of these there is a learning and implementation phase and upkeep that needs to be done continuously – each of these requiring teachers to continue to learn as new terms, techniques, strategies, pyramids, documents and reporting procedures are renewed and changed each year. Is it a problem? Maybe – depending on your classroom make-up and a variety of other factors. So when teachers ask, “How do you decide what makes the cut when it comes to new and cool things to try out?” my response:
First, cool isn’t a criteria for selection. It doesn’t matter how “cool” it might be. For myself and the teachers with whom I have worked, these helped us to wade and sift.
1. Will it replace something you are doing and improve learning?
2. Who will own it? How will you know?
3. Is there infrastructure? Is there support within the building? Who? How?
4. How will you implement? Assess? Match to outcomes? Report?
5. Is there upkeep/training that needs to be considered? Who? Cost? How? Individual/staff?
For anyone who thinks that I’m being too impeding or too “narrow”, my experience as a teacher and administrator is to think through these things, plan and implement. There are all sorts of philosophical/pedagogical/ontological/epistemological discussions we can have into wee hours of the morning BUT for teachers there are specific requirements that need to be met. I rarely said “No” to an idea and there were a tremendous amount of things happening BUT we were also aware of the expectations and requirements that needed to be met. Part of being a professional is due diligence, doing research, being prepared and, as a teacher, focusing on what’s best for students. So, if a teacher thought that there was something that would be best for students but something wasn’t in place or support was needed, the discussion focused on how to make it happen and how to support.