Thursday, September 20, 2007

Getting to know you

It has been three weeks since I started working at Wellesley High School. I am starting to get to know people, I am also starting to realize how many people I don't know. In Brookline, I was a full time technology specialist at a school with 400 students. I am now less than full time (I also teach TV/Video) at a school with 1200 students.

I worked in Brookline for three years. Over those three years, I gained the trust of the faculty and really saw some progress in their use of technology. Now I'm starting all over again. I believe in the power of Web 2.0 technologies to change the way we teach and learn. I think it is essential that we incorporate 21st century skills into our curriculum. But that is just what I think. Why should anyone listen to me?

I'm reading a book called The Human Side of School Change by Robert Evans, which was recommended to me by a friend on the ning Classroom 2.0 social network. Thanks to Pamela Livingston for the suggestion. (Ironically, it turns out Robert Evans works in Wellesley.) I'm only at the beginning of the book. So far I'm reading about why change doesn't work.
Traditional organizational change often fails because its designers, overemphasising rationality, underestimate the opposition reform generates and the power of staff members to resist....At the core of traditional approaches to change lies an arrogance that invites failure and plays a key role in the inability of those approaches to overcome resistance.... The conviction of an advocate, even a powerful one, inspires resistance if it simply dismisses the inevitable dilemmas of implementation. (Evans, p 16)

...our response to change, particularly when it is imposed upon us, is determined by how we understand it, what it does to our attachments and beliefs, and how we can fit it into the sense we make of our world. (Evans, p17)

How can I help people understand the changes I am asking them to undertake, to fit technology in to the sense they make of their world and to expand their attachments and beliefs? I'm looking forward to the part of the book where Evans tells me how to do this! I'm working on it. I would love to hear your ideas! Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Starting Small

"Education is what survives when what has been learnt has been forgotten." (fortune cookie, author unknown)

Today I helped several people solve some small problems. At least they were small to me. Everyone I helped was thrilled that I was able to figure things out. I got a lot of praise, which was nice, but in a growth mindset (see my earlier posts) kind of undeserved. Solving small technology problems is what I do. I have had a lot of practice. Solutions come to me quickly because I have encountered similar problems before. I realize to others it seems like magic.

I think I am going to work on making my problem solving process more transparent. As I work to fix something, I'm going to try to articulate my thought process. It really isn't magic. Sometimes I know what to do because I've done it before. Other times, I know what to do because I've been through the problem solving process before. And I care. And I am interested.

These little moments are sometimes called "just in time" learning. I think the key is for the learning to happen for everyone involved, not just the problem solver. As teachers we want our students to be life long learners. I want this for my teachers too.