Kickin’ and screaming

agony! on Flickr – Photo Sharing!

I have a sister post to this going out on my own blog at Miz Mercer.

Lots of mostly unpleasant conversations about folks resisting the lure of technology in the classroom. This round of the conversation started on with a blogger and blog I greatly admire, Scott McLeod’s Dangerously Irrelevant. Scott questioned why teachers seemed to be able to refuse to adopt technology, when workers in other professions had to deal with “automation”. It found its way around to Larry Ferlazzo in » Teachers Who Won’t Embrace Technology on In Practice. Larry is good at focusing on the pertinent (the bottom line is making sure students are taught and technology is a tool, not an end). He linked to a great post at The Tempered Radical: Barkin’ Dawgs and Miserably Poor Policy. . . that shows there is plenty of blame to go around, that leaders cannot expect teachers to embrace these new ways if they do not support the effort with more time and resources, and that teachers have to be willing to update skills.

Next up, via Dy/Dan, comes Dina Strasser with » The Skeptic’s Seven Questions About Technology The Line, which lists the points that even a teacher with tech knowledge will likely want answered before embracing these new technologies

Here are some closing observations. Riffing from Bill Ferriter and some earlier posts from Larry about the importance of personal relationships, I once worked in a really toxic school site. The management was demeaning and cruel. One of the teachers was really being picked on and very defensive. She was a technophobe, and hated change. The Administrator’s approach was to beat her down. I built trust with this teacher, and so she was willing to go to a blog training I held. I don’t know if she will ever be 2.0 (which may be more a comment on my training than her resistance), but she was willing to take the chance because of the personal relationship we had.

I commented on Scott’s post that I am amazed at the number of co-workers I have in my technology trainings because all the technology tools in the school have been concentrated in my lab. I could NEVER tell them that they need to use technology more when there are only 3 overhead projectors in a school with 17 teachers, and they have no lap tops. My first priority is to settle into my job, then work on getting more tools to these teachers.

I think that Dina is right to say we need to stress how technology ties into core (or other subject matter) standards, and to not have the tail wagging the dog so to speak. I’ve been in PI (Program Improvement under NCLB) schools, so I MUST be standards focused.

Here are some things I do to build relationships with my peers. I am constantly working to communicate about what I’m doing, and to incorporate their requests for instruction (especially when it involves key concepts or standards they are working on). I can’t always provide a tech solution, but they know that if it’s possible I will do it. I still do some projects that are more tech, than standards based, but they appreciate my efforts to work with them and their curriculum. Frankly, I’m in a blessed position, so I would not want to get on my high horse about what other teachers should be doing.

I have a sister post going out to address a particular concern I do have with some folks questioning the efficacy of some 2.0 applications/projects because I feel that some folks are not recognizing all of the standards, and are dismissing some technologies that hit some that are critical for language learners, but that will be elsewhere as I’ve gone on long enough.

5 thoughts on “Kickin’ and screaming

  1. Hi Alice
    I taught my first class 28 years ago, so when I work with the teachers in my cluster (District) it is clear that I wasn’t born with a mouse in my hand like today’s young teachers are 🙂 I waver between empathy and frustration with the mature teachers who resisted embracing technology 10 years ago when it was relatively simpler, and now find themselves being asked to incorporate Web 2 when they never looked at Web 1.
    From what I read on blogs like this, and the teachers I meet on my annual trek to NECC, we have some things to be very thankful about in New Zealand. Every teacher in New Zealand is given a laptop to use by the govt – it is replaced every 3 years – and this has been available for a number of years now. We also have a programme of Professional Development in place across the country called ICTPD. Clusters of schools get a 3 year programme delivered to their schools by an experienced facilitator. This gives teachers release from class, best practice schools /teachers as mentors, skill based workshops, conferences, and heaps more. Oh, and we don’t have anything like as prescriptive a curriculum as I think you have – nor do we have student testing regimes driving our outcomes…
    And yet, with all this given to teachers, we still have teachers saying ‘you can’t make me do this’ about adopting technology. Admittedly a small number, but still making an impact on student learning opportunities. This is particularly significant in areas like mine where the students have so little tech at home.
    I agree with you that relationship with the individual teacher concerned makes all the difference and I have lots of examples like the one you shared where getting alongside a ‘resistor’, hearing their story over a coffee, pointing them to something in their private life where technology would be fun and helping them to achieve that, has made all the difference.
    A colleague of mine has coined a phrase “the Maternal Factor” and he swears by connecting a resistor with their grandchildren via technology as a hard-to-beat way in! I have seen it work many times; Skyping grandchildren in Britain, using Flickr with kids on their OE etc.
    The trouble is it is so time consuming and in the meantime our students are missing out….

  2. Alice wrote:
    Here are some things I do to build relationships with my peers. I am constantly working to communicate about what I’m doing, and to incorporate their requests for instruction

    You’re on to something, here, Alice—-Our efforts to drive any change in a school come down to the power of our relationships, don’t they?

    This is such a simple truth, but it’s one that I forget all too often. Instead of recognizing the importance of respecting other viewpoints and learning to hear other stories, I jump to conclusions quickly—-making snap judgments about the intentions of others.

    (I can’t be the only one, can I?)

    What Dina and Larry have me wondering is whether the digital interactions that have become a common way of doing business in schools (and in my personal life) haven’t led to a crumbling of these relationships. In a world where I know my colleagues primarily through the words they type as opposed to the moments we’ve shared, it just seems like I have very few powerful relationships.

    The crazy part—-I don’t have the time to invest in developing more meaningful relationships….and if it weren’t for digital communication, there would likely be no communication!

    I’m not sure where this leaves me…..
    Bill Ferriter

  3. Pingback: » The Skeptic Responds The Line

  4. Yes, many teachers resist integrating technology in the classroom but I also can empathize with them. As a middle school computer teacher I quickly found that many of my peers were looking for technology skills but had few or ineffective resources to help them. Our students learn how to use computers by using then, largely for personal things first then for school projects. Similarly, those of us who could be considered “educational technologists” probably started using computers for personal projects first before utilizing them professionally. Why would we then expect others to successfully start with a 3 hour long powerpoint workshop.

    Eventually I turned the many questions I received from my peers into a website instead of a workshop:
    I offer daily tech tips to over 2,500 subscribers (since making it public in August 2006).

    I definitely agree that you have to make it meaningful at the personal level first. As I say in my website’s mission statement: Number One, Teachers can’t effectively integrate computer technology into the classroom unless they can effectively integrate computer technology into their own lives. Teachers naturally teach what they know and are most comfortable with. Each of the 180 Technology Tips is designed to be meaningful to adults who want to become more familiar with computer technology on a personal level so they can better apply it to their professional duties.

  5. Dorothy, Your in a country that has made a really consistent effort to provide support, and training to teachers (New Zealand), I wish I was in that place. JMcNulty, I think your are dead on about using it personally. Even then it may take a bit before you can see the possibilities for use in education. I used tech extensively in my personal life, and and lot for admin stuff in my professional life, but I didn’t have my kids on the computers effectively until the last two or three years.

    I think your solution, JMcNulty, is a great one. I’m trying to do something with my trainings were I’m really letting the participants know that they can come back to me. I’ve started a new blog ( to support the in service trainings I’m doing. We’ll see how it works.

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