Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Swim Instructors or Swimmers?

When I was a kid, I had a very patient swim instructor at the local cricket club (country club in suburbia). I was taught everything I needed to know in order to be a successful swimmer. The swimming part was up to me however. My instructor couldn't do it for me.
I had instrument lessons too. I was taught proper technique, phrasing, all that stuff. Playing the instrument was up to me. Practicing way too many hours per day was up to me. Utilizing what I had learned was up to me.
In school, I learned languages other than English. I learned grammar, idioms, verb tenses, all sorts of things one never thinks to ask about a language. Using the languages to communicate was up to me.
My point is, how far are we to go with other educators? If we instruct on the technological skills, isn't our responsibility done? Isn't it the responsibility of individual educators to swim?
It seems that too many, I have met them too, educators lack the drive to do things for themselves. We all went to college where we had to study on our own, write papers on our own, take tests on our own.
I fail to understand the mindset. Back in 2005, I didn't know anything (I still don't). I did possess the curiosity and drive to find out. I found people willing to share. They weren't wearing "Ask me" signs either.
It seems educators aren't curious enough to find out how to engage their students with technology. It seems educators do not possess the drive to involve their students in world-class education. This makes me very sad.
When I observe the lack of curiosity, drive, and contentment with the status quo I have little hope for the educational system in this country.
I hope a conversation will ensue about this....

technorati tags:

17 comments:

Karen Janowski said...

Durff,
What I find fascinating is there ARE a number of educators curious to learn about effective teaching methods with their current students (I met many of them last week at Necc, I have them in my current grad classes). So what are the characteristics of educators who do possess the inner drive "to involve their students in world-class education?" (your words) They do exist; they try to impact the lives of their students and try to share their enthusiasm with their colleagues.
I would love to see a study done comparing early adopter educators with those reluctant to adopt change. We've got to find a way to attract flexible thinkers to the profession. We've seen too many who are easily overwhelmed or who are unable or unwilling to take the initiative to advance their own learning.

SJ Rolle said...

I also think it is very sad that many educators seem to lack the drive to learn new things. I also wonder, in the age of technology, what level of responsibility our administrators should take. We must prepare our students for the future.

mrsdurff said...

That study would be fascinating! I wish someeone would do it - Angela? Dr. Mims? Dr. Toledo? The future is calling....

mrsdurff said...

Administrators should indeed be responsible to learn new ways of imparting education to stakeholders. Admins are the educational leaders. How can we get them to lead faster?

SCMorgan said...

I have often wondered if people drawn to teaching are not risk-takers, not necessarily creative. If they were successful students themselves in a traditional model, then change for them may not come easily. I don't mean to generalize here, but just thinking.

krinhoh said...

You are right on, Durff. The excuses range from lack of time and money to outright refusal to adopt. My optimism lies in the fact that there is at least one early adopter hidden in every group of educators. By building relationships with these folks, we can help move the needle forward. I too think the study would be most revealing. Has me thinking. :)

Booktalker said...

"I would love to see a study done comparing early adopter educators with those reluctant to adopt change." I smell dissertation fodder.

I often feel that teachers just roll their eyes and tune out when I start talking about using technology with students. I hear comments that they have no time to do this which may mean they feel I have no life. But if we lose the love of learning and the desire to explore new things, what kind of life do we have? I agree that administrators must make technology a priority if we are to get teachers to "take the time" to explore new things.

David Truss said...

Too many people fear drowning and never get into the pool.
I think one thing we can do is help teachers get into the shallow end and start learning about the tools that have an easy entry.
Forget about twitter and blogging, introduce Voicethread or wikis. Let them enjoy the possibilities swimming can offer instead of drowning them with overwhelming waves of information.
What scares me is that it seems that for many Teacher Ed programs the amount of technology skill they leave the program with seems to be optional... to me that's like throwing a non-swimmer into the deep end.

mrsdurff said...

I wrote on Twitter: "teachers don't want to change period.Remember the disinterest in OBE?Each "new thing"gets same reaction=I don't have the time."
My point is taking the time is our job. There is no option. Simply put, if we fail to provide an education that prepares youth to be successful citizens in the future, we are not doing our job. Integrating technology is part of that education.

PNaugle said...

Hi Durff,
I have spent a great deal of my time this past year learning to swim in the floodwaters of Web 2.0tools. I have been overwhelmed at times and felt as if I were drowning but I kept splashing away. Now I have a working base knowledge of how to use some of these tools to embed technology into my lessons. Since so many of the teachers in my building have not yet entered these waters what am I going to do to help them learn how to swim? I am a regular classroom teacher, not a tech integration specialist, but I feel that I have to do my part to get them started.

I am hosting informal Saturday morning get togethers at a local coffee shop (with free wifi) to introduce those who come to some tools I find helpful at our level. I have also persuaded my principal to put "Wired Wednesdays" on our school calendar next year. During these one hour informal gatherings I hope that much sharing and learning occurs. I'll keep you updated.

I will use the analogy of starting them the shallow end to teach them how to become swimmers in the tech waters. Wish me luck.

mrsdurff said...

I do wish you luck! I guarantee that you swim in the deep end better than I do and I have been at it for 4 years!
But is it our responsibility? We didn't get these people through college nor get them teaching positions. Why lead them into the water?
I jumped in on my own and so did you.

mrsdurff said...

I do wish you luck! I guarantee that you swim in the deep end better than I do and I have been at it for 4 years!
But is it our responsibility? We didn't get these people through college nor get them teaching positions. Why lead them into the water?
I jumped in on my own and so did you.

krinhoh said...

I have approached my child's principal and offered to work with them on baby steps. Start with the simple technologies. Make the reams of paperwork they send home optional. Let parents with computers opt out of receiving paperwork. Let the teachers who DO embrace the technology lead the way on this. Let the kids help, be a part of it. Let the groundswell on the inside start while we work on the bureaucracy outside.

Art Gelwicks said...

As many others I have struggled with this idea as well. I have come to the realization that I am responsible to the teachers to provide them the resources and information to succeed, but not responsible for their implementation and resulting success of failure.

Only by taking this approach can I remain positive that the seeds will fall on fertile ground and not fret over the ones that land on rocks.

mrsdurff said...

@Art in other words, exactly what was given us during our formal education. A good approach...

@krinhoh And what did the principal say?

Andrew Forgrave said...

I have been wrestling with this question for some time. I do subscribe to the belief that the Principal/Administrator plays a key role in supporting and encouraging ongoing inquiry on the part of teachers, and by extension, the supporting the inclusion of new technologies within the school environment. The recent re-release of the NETS-A standards (in the words of the releasing committee) "set a high bar" for administrators -- but I do believe that this is a necessary requisite in encouraging administrator towards moving our systems of education forward.

At the same time, I am also conscious that it can be far too easy for classroom educators to become oversubscribed in terms of ongoing assessment-driven reforms -- reforms which may or may not be complementary with ongoing reflection and adoption of technology. As a characteristic of our teacher culture, it can become too easy to unintentionally relinquish responsibility for our own professional practice when faced with continued demands and externally-defined priorities . So mrsdurff's question, "How can we get them to lead faster," (perhaps adding, "and from a position of greater information,") must, in part, reflect a conscious attention from both teacher and administrator of their respective roles in collaborating to understand and act to make a more effective use of technology. Perhaps we need more regular and more open dialogue about the issue, and how we, collectively, can best respond to it.

Kristin Hokanson said...

David T is so right...folks are PETRIFIED of drowning. So what happens in that instance where you don't have a strong swimmer? What do you do when there is no instructor to guide you?

The more I do summer professional development, the more I worry about this. Am I teaching folks to swim...giving them the waterwings, and my support...and then sending them back to school in September and then just throwing them into the pool to fend for themselves. I know there has been much talk that we need to stop talking about the tools, we need to stop integrating technology...do we stop then giving swim lessons and just expect folks to "pick it up as they go"? In your original post Durff, you mentioned your teacher, the one who stood side by side with you as you learned the things you practice on your own. Until there are those folks in every school...the ones who don't fear the water...who can learn AND THEN...take folks slowly into the pool I fear that we are going to have folks who come close to drowning...so they no longer want to go to the pool :(

Art-I use that rock analogy all the time...plant the seeds, but only tend to those ones in fertile soil and let them chip away at the rocks around them. Teach them to swim...but then be there to guide and support them