Friday, October 26, 2012

Challenges Continue

It has been a challenging few days.  I worked diligently to create a couple of presentations only to meet debate about my words at the final hours of presentation.  I gave up on one presentation so I that I didn't have to wage a debate and ruin my energy and effort for the longer presentation, the one that was less worrisome for some.

It was just one more conflict related to my desire to implement technology in a vibrant, meaningful way in the classroom--one of many conflicts I've faced in the past few years.  While my students rarely need to be reminded to stay on task, do their work, collaborate or give it their best since they are motivated to use wonderful tech tools to write, read, create, discuss and share, others continually debate, ridicule and create barriers to this work.

I spent the past couple of days at a tech conference. The speakers affirmed my vision and work--their stats and stories demonstrated students' engagement and interest in using tech tools to learn and grow.  Their stats also demonstrated what we know, tech is everywhere; utilized by all professions and a tool that all workers will need to understand and utilize well in their future careers and lives.  Their stats also demonstrated the digital divide between life in school and life outside of school.

I believe the main conflict I face is that I'm a classroom teacher at the elementary level.  Many think of elementary school teachers as kind worker bees that carry out the curriculum programs dictated from leadership, rather than thinking, adapting, responding and creative professionals who choreograph learning each week to best meet the needs, interests and passions of the students they teach.  It's the factory model where the teachers are on the assembly line while others dictate the process and work.

I find the actual job of teaching to be wonderfully challenging.  I love to think deeply about the children in my midst and look for the best ways to teach in responsive, engaging, empowering ways that mirror the best of what exists and what they'll need in the world they live in now and in the future.  Every child brings a diverse set of skills, interests and experiences which makes the job lively and challenging at the same time.

I work with many dedicated professionals and I work in a community that has provided the schools with optimal tools and support, however mindsets continue to exist that prevent systematic growth and change--the kind of movement that can really make a difference for children.  I know this is true in school communities throughout the country--change is hard, and I'm impatient because I see what's possible.

I believe that the structure that stands in the way the most with regard to change  is the fact that teachers' voices are rarely heard due to the fact that they are spending almost every minute of the day on task with children.  It's difficult to bring teachers' voices to the table because they are simply not available--sadly, the joke is true that a teacher often doesn't even have the chance to use a bathroom or make a call because they are responsible for large groups of children throughout the day with few to no breaks.

I hope schools will embrace systematic movement towards optimal change.  I hope they will really look at the roles and responsibilities of all in a school system, ensuring that most time from most individuals is spent on thoughtful, reasonable, responsive time on task with children and time to collaborate and learn to best meet students' needs, interests and passions.

Thanks for listening.