Today I decided, after much frustration, that I must find a way to bridge the two places that I am residing in together somehow.
On one hand is this world where all is cutting-edge and new and I can’t keep pace with the ideas and applications I am finding for the read/write technology and interconnectivity as I run through Web 2.0. On the other are the buildings I work in that when faced with these same ideas see them much differently, albeit from a the realistic perspective of a classroom teacher or an administrator.
I attended two faculty meetings today, as well as a smaller team meeting in my district today. The morning faculty meeting was a brief question and answer session followed by a discussion of Wallis and Steptoe’s article in Time Magazine concerning the 21st Century student. Several of the discussions I was part of centered on a rather defensive stance in that without the classrooms of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, the advancements of the 90’s and 00’s would not have occurred. I understand that, and I wanted to rebut in some fashion, but some little voice silenced me, and for good measure I tell myself now.
Later in the morning, I met with a group of 7th Grade teachers during their regulary daily meeting. I am trying to present the staff with easier ways to manage their information and also give their students lots of options for producing work. What it turned into was my subconcious doing two things: lashing out at my frustration for the morning’s article discussion, and trying to show them too much stuff that I thought was cool and fun. I threw Diigo and del.icio.us at them, tried to shove videocasting in their faces, and illustrated how a wiki works. With all them, except for diigo and del.icio.us, I was met with odd looks as if to say “whoa, buddy.”
I left that room wondering how badly I set myself back in terms of working with them in the future. Sadly, the day took an ever sharper downturn when I attended the High School faculty meeting in the afternoon. Our high school is beginning a major construction project slated to last the better part of of 4 years. During this time, teacher access to technology will be severely limited by temporary infrastructure. Today we got the skinny on the phases, and when technology was brought up, groans from across the crowd rose up. Essentially, the status of the use of technology in the high school is going to stagnate for the next four years, unless I decide to do something major.
And here is where the bridge idea comes in. The two places I inhabit intellectually must come together, and upon further reflection today, I think they can. Getting teachers to embrace technology depends on one thing: success. Success with using technology breeds confidence to continue using it and try other types. The greatest aspect of the surge of read/write technologies available on the web is the remote nature of them. Students do not need a mobile lab or constant access to a lab in order to access the documents that they need, nor do they need to be in proximity to one another to collaborate.
Find the solutions, give them to staff in situations that are well designed and ready-made to succeed, and keep it simple.