People Who’ve Found The Way

Yesterday, I talked about “The Way” which started from an idea or concept from a former superintendent.  The whole idea was about how you effect change in a school district.  But, why is it so hard?

One of the easiest answers is to blame it on the message “We’ve always done it this way.  Why do we need to change?”  As simple as that statement is, when you peel back all that goes on in a school day, it describes so much.  In a system full of rituals, there are so many sacred things that I suspect people are leery of change lest things go wrong.  After all,

And yet, there are people who are doing amazing new things.  In yesterday’s post, I made reference to the Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee’s Symposium.  If you check out the website and look at the educators who lead the breakout sessions, they’re classroom readers from classrooms throughout the western Ontario region.

So, what’s so special about them?

It may well be that, in a different setting, they may not be as innovative as they are.  But, they’ve been inspired.  They’ve listened and have seen the way.  Most importantly, their principals and superintendents have gotten out of the way and let them flourish.

Can worksheets and electronic resources co-exist in the same classroom?  Sure, it happens all the time.  More often than we’d admit, much of the use of computing resources is just a simple transition from drill on paper to drill on the computer.  Sadly, this is seen as “computer integration” by some.  This is just tinkering and I would submit, hardly worth the time or effort.

But, take a look at what else can be done and can be done so much better.  Connect a classroom in Wingham with one in Snow Lake.  Or put a pen that listens and records in the hands of a young writer.  Or take the tools and change simple story writing into digital storytelling.

As I look up and down the list of sessions, I come to a few conclusions about what make them successful.

  • support from a principal to use these technologies, knowing that not every one will be initially knocked out of the park;
  • a connection to a resource(s) outside of the classroom walls and school-supplied resources;
  • a desire to get the job done, by better motivating students, knowing that there’s a good chance of being knocked down but they’ll get up and go at it again;
  • a willingness to be open, share their stories, and to be constantly perfecting their craft.

They know that “This ain’t no dress rehearsal”.  It’s the real deal.  It needs to be at least as effective as the traditional means.

Above all, the concepts weren’t taught at a Teachers’ College.  The concepts are unique and may not be directly applicable in another situation.  They were obtained by being the consummate professional, continually listening and being inspired, and by expanding their repertoire.

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