I've been back to school now for three weeks and have been trying to implement what I learned over the summer about change from @willrich45 @angelamaiers and Chip Heath. The number one message that I received from these thinkers in change is that you need to change the situation if you want anything inspiring to happen.
So, from the beginning of the year I've been changing how we do professional development (which I am now moving toward using professional learning) opportunities. The change has been small but I'm reflecting now on if it has been effective after 6 months. I implemented small group learning, personal learning networks and choice in which small group to attend for professional development sessions. While I haven't had any negative feedback, I haven't really had any. While I saw lots of people taking notes, I haven't really seen any implementation. While I have decreased the amount of information meetings, I haven't seen any increase in people using the new information sites provided. Okay, it's early days still, but why are the roots of change not taking hold yet?
I got to thinking that maybe they are afraid. Afraid of change; afraid of the possibilities that are out there. But as the video above explains, its happening all over the world and it cannot be stopped. So, what do we do, those of us who are asked to be at the helm of the professional learning boat, when none of the people on board want to know what the direction is that you are going? At times I feel like there are so many anchors holding us down that we will never set free into the wide open ocean of amazing education opportunities that are out there in the world.
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So, what's the mashup? I'm writing this letter below as a note to those who are out there on the professional learning boat but not interested in finding out where they are headed...
Dear Teacher who is afraid of Change,
I know you have limited time in your day to accomplish all of the curricular goals that you have to address. I know that you feel like you have no more time to improve or develop your professional practice. I know that outside of school you are also a wife or husband, mother or father, friend and family member. I know those things, but what I want you to know is who your students are as well.
Your students are the future for our community. They are the ones who are going to innovate, create and promote those ideas that you will be using in the future. They are the ones who are missing the passion for learning that is required to make those innovations and connections with the rest of the world happen in the future. They are the ones that are sitting every day wondering why they are seen only as a cog in the wheel of the group, learning information that doesn't seem to be relevant to their future and wondering why they are not allowed to chose the path they want to travel for their personal growth. They are the ones who will be lacking the experience of how the real world works when they graduate high school and will have to somehow "catch up" when they get to university. They are the ones who are trying to teach themselves the skills they need outside of school forging ahead in the digital world fearlessly when you are not watching.
Think of your days as a professional educator and all the times you sat through professional development sessions that you didn't think were relevant, at a time that wasn't convenient, in a group that you didn't relate to for a purpose that you didn't understand. Now think of the changes that are happening in your professional learning situation. Think of how it felt to have a choice, to have a voice, to make a decision that best met your needs, to be part of a group that was like minded and to discuss with others who are also engaged in the topic. Reflect. Which one inspired you to come to work and make a change in your practice, in the way you view your profession, in how you can connect with your students? If you feel the change and you recognise that it makes a difference in how you feel and approach your daily situation, then I challenge you to commit to making those same changes in your teaching practice for your students.
Don't worry, those of you who are afraid to see the new destination on the horizon. There is still a place for you alongside your students helping and guiding them as you always have. They need your guidance and expertise in manging learning situations, which you are an expert at from all your years of lesson planning. They need your assitance with how best to follow their grand plans to achieve a goal, which you are an expert at from all your years of strategic year long planning. They need your help in learning how to stop and reflect to ensure they are going in the right direction, which you are an expert at from all your years of assessment work. They need you, but they need you in a new way. Yes, you will need to give some time and some thinking in redirecting your teaching approach, but it is not necessarily new skills that you need to learn. You need to invest your time during and outside of school to see the situation in a new way, through the eyes of the students and be willing to change your perspective, to see the destination on the horizon and help guide the professional learning boat safely to its new goal- 21st century learning. When we all begin working together to change our perspective in education, begin working on helping one another develop our skills and perspective, we will reach our goal alongside our students full of passion and hope.
What do you think? Will the message be heard? Are you experiencing this at your school? What are some ways that you have implemented to help your teachers see the vision out on the horizon and help you get there?
Source: RSA Animate