Thursday, April 18, 2013

NOT Optional

John Spencer listed 11 Reasons Why Teachers Aren't Using Technology on his blog last July.  Forgive my lack of timeliness, I just came across it today thanks to my PLN on Plurk.  I took a screenshot of number 9 because I'd like to talk about it: (click image to enlarge)

The fact of the matter is that we are in a climate of compliance.  If we weren't, we wouldn't be putting aside everything we love about teaching, everything that made us choose this noble profession, in lieu of teaching to some stupid test imposed on us by people who know nothing about what we do every day (not to mention the fact that stupid test doesn't even do a good job of measuring what it is supposed to measure).  So, yes, compliance.

Compliance or not, I want to go back to that other part:  that we chose this profession for the love of learning.  To make a difference.  To inspire.  To create opportunity where there was only doubt before we came along.  Am I right?

If the standardization of people who are as unique as can be, negative media, politics, and lack of a decent and respectable pay grade haven't already squeezed that love of teaching out of you, congratulations!  Teachers are leaving the profession at nearly the same rate as divorce in this country.  If you're still in your classroom trudging away, there is very little incentive NOT to use technology.

Let me explain.  I assume that if you have put up with all of that stuff, you DO care about teaching and learning, and you care deeply about every student who enters your room leaving with a life-long love of learning that will serve them well for as long as they have a brain in their head and feet in their shoes.  If that is true, your comfort level hasn't ever mattered when it came to what your students really needed.  You have always put aside your own needs for your students.  You have sacrificed:  time, money, sanity, sleep...the list goes on-for your students.

You see why I'm having a hard time with this?  Just because it isn't required doesn't explain why good teachers still aren't using technology.  I think we are well beyond the argument that today's students need to know more about using technology for learning and creating than we did.  Yet, we still teach them the way we were taught.

There is a gigantic chasm between what we know our students need and what we are doing to prepare them for it.  The only thing I can think of is that maybe we are scared to venture away from test prep and "accountability", forcing us to "cover" as much as we can.

Why are you scared?  If you're a good teacher, what is the worst that can happen?  You'd never get fired.  It's very rare that a terrible teacher gets fired.  You're not going to get the boot because you're doing what you, the professionally trained educator, feel in your heart is best for your students.  Besides, if you're a good teacher, you'll get results.

It's beyond time that teachers take back their classrooms.  Take it back from the test development companies.  Take it back from the politicians who think they know how to do what you do, while having no clue what actually goes on inside a classroom today.  Take it back from the media, who would lambast you for belonging to a union or for thinking you shouldn't have to carry a gun to protect yourself in a place of learning.  Take it back from parents who show up only to yell at you for asking their kids to be responsible for their own learning.  Take it back from the businesses who want you to do things like Wall Street does them, as if that's a great model to follow.

It's your room.  It's your class.  It's your profession.  It's your passion.  They are your students.  You are the professional.

Now get out there and do what you already know your students need you to do.  Learn, grow, and change.  We model what we want from them.  Show your students how it's done.

Oh, and it's OK to ask them for help along the way.  ;)

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