Change – is it a clear choice between floundering or thriving?

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Change – do we descend into a ‘pit’ or do we open our arms to opportunity?

When something changes with little warning,  which in turn impacts on a state where elements appear to be flourishing, it’s almost natural to regard that change with a certain degree of disappointment and dismay.   A feeling of being slightly shell-shocked can remain with you for days or much longer.   You view the short-term future as something that you must endure and something which is bound to descend into negative territory before it improves or indeed even gets on a steady footing resembling what it was before.

Essential however, at times like these, is to remind oneself that,  hidden beneath the layers of disappointment there may be, as yet, some unrealised opportunities for growth, clarity, progress and further evolution.

You may start to see the need to define your key steps and direction as an opportunity rather than a hinderance and the chance to gain clarity with the existing team as a time for a meeting of minds which will strengthen the way forward rather than as a time where things threaten to fall into disarray.

And even if one does flounder, there’s nothing to say that this state isn’t beneficial.   Floundering as a metaphor paints a picture of splashing desperately or being unable to gain a foothold or perhaps a less extreme one like being slightly unsteady in the shallows.  And being slightly unsteady may simply mean that you aren’t taking things for granted and that questioning is part of your mindset.

I just came across this description whilst reading about ‘Pause 2018’ – Australia’s Premier Innovation Festival.

This years theme is: Journey = Destination

A great idea doesn’t just come from thin air. It takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and even some failures along the way. We want a no-holds-bar-warts-and-all story that will inspire our attendees to pursue their own journeys, take risks and be the changemakers of tomorrow. The only mandatory request that we have is that your address be: ‘Content You Can’t Google’, so keep that in mind when you are preparing your submission.

Is it a clear choice?  Of course it is…….

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EdTech, Pedagogy and the Vision

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I’ve sat back and reflected a few times lately after discussions with teachers and after visits where they have popped in to show me things or ask questions – and I’ve gone on to articulate my thoughts to some of my leadership team members.   What I’ve attempted to articulate is that there seems to be evidence of the tide turning.

I’ve been providing leadership in the area of educational technology for about 17 years and it has often felt like 3 steps forward, 2 steps back and it’s often felt like I’m dragging people to a place they don’t understand and essentially don’t see as important.  Looking back I see  now that there were elements missing from the culture or the approach or the teacher’s skill-set, toolset or mindset.  In different situations it’s probably been a combination of elements.

And it’s never been about the technology.   And I guess that’s where the the lack of alignment can lie – that it does sometimes appear to about the technology, the flashy new toys or the gimmicky tools.   For me it’s never about that – technology, quite simply,  opens up opportunities. It can provide a voice for the quietest child.  It can allow another to fly.   It connects people to each other and others to the world.  In the right hands, in the hands of a skilled teacher who has superb pedagogical skills and deep content knowledge and understanding, technology can be used to bring content alive, to put creation tools into the hands of students, to empower the youngest in the school and to bring dreams alive.  Will technology ever replace good teachers – no. But a good teacher who also uses technology and combines this with inquiry and challenging, problem based learning = they are the teachers that will change the world for themselves and their students.

So, sometimes you have to just stop pushing.  Just stop.   Because people won’t be dragged. They are too smart.   Teachers have noble motives and they will make decisions based on their own sphere of reality or paradigm.   So change is tough and good change takes time.

What is necessary for change in a school environment is many elements coming together:

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Lately, teachers and others have come to me in a quest for more edtech or higher ratios of 1-1 devices …….and I’m the one resistant.  Why?  Because I’m sick of pushing ideas or technology onto people and then it being blamed for failure or dashed hopes.   Additionally, I won’t stand up in front of a group of parents and advocate for something that I am not 100% passionate about.   I now feel the need for quality-control and I need evidence of  good pedagogy because if this isn’t apparent and crystal clear – there’s no point.   If the vision is missing (as in above) or the skills are missing – we are never going to get the change we want to see.

But lately, as part of the conversations I referred to in the beginning of this blog – these are the some of the reasons I’ve been given:

  • We can use this across the curriculum and it enables them to express their ideas.
  • We can differentiate for the brightest kids and allow them to spread their wings and go further than the curriculum says
  • For those struggling, it allows them to move away from the tedious repetition of the skill they just aren’t getting and do it in another more interesting way.
  • Children can document their own learning
  • Children can show me improvements through the use of a digital portfolio.
  • Feedback and goal setting can be aligned and evident through the use of a device.
  • We can show a parent improvements and it can be clear and supported by such good evidence.

And you know what – I’m feeling humbled by the people around me right now.    I’m grateful for the leaders that support change.  I’m humbled by the energy and motivation of the people who work so hard to support me and I’m humbled by teachers who won’t shift until the intent and vision is clear.