I have dedicated a fair amount of my life to redefining the experience in my classroom over the past 3 years. I still have a lot to do but I am proud of how far I have come. I count the following among my successes.
-Students are far more central to class activities than they ever were. I give them more choices and much more control not only in what we learn but how we will learn it.
-The products that students submit are widely varied but show a deeper understanding of learning.
-We have deeper more nuanced conversations about our subject matter (history) than we ever have before. Students find messy histories that we need to make sense of, something that did not happen very often before.
-There are different voices being heard in my classes. Students who used to get A’s are contributing great things to class and students who once sat silent find ways to share in ways that weren’t possible before.
All of the above are the results of having tools that help me redefine learning, but redefining learning is not without consequences. If you are to promote the change, you should be aware of some potential consequences.
Some changes can been seen as destructive to the prevailing archetypes of how learning should take place. Intentionally or not, people can be threatened by, resistant to and dismissive of the changes. If you are closely associated with the change, they will project these feelings on you as well. Unsettling the masses wasn’t on my to do list, but in a sense the people who feel this way aren’t exactly wrong.
What I have gained from all of this is that the best way to drive change is not to become the evangelical techie who condemns the practices of other teachers, but to respect the effective teaching they have done and show them where technology can add to what they already do so well. Accept that the transformation technology creates in the classroom is not imposed, but is rather a process that a teacher undergoes once they understand what is now possible. That is where the actual growth and the real change happens.
If you present technology as the end of what we know and love, it is natural to resent it. Beware condemning their past practice. It is a common mistake. However, if we present technology as a tool that will help teachers to more effectively accomplish the goals that they have dedicated their lives to, we have to hope they will embrace it. One thing that I am proud of is that regardless of personality, every person I work with on a given day cares deeply about helping our students. They won’t hesitate to employ tools that make that possible.