Digital Leading and Learning

“First we’re in a blender, now we’re saving lives? WHAT?!”

In this very moment I am listening to Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson convince a small pizza place owner, Sal, to expand his business. The Internship, in my and my husband’s opinions an extremely underrated movie, provides a perfect representation of the need for and resistance of change. The two argue that “if you fight for your limitations you get to keep them” (Levy, 2014). Education is similar; if we fight for our limitations and maintain the status quo, improvements will not exist. While I understand that many educators out there haven’t necessarily welcomed technology and change into their classrooms, from my own experience the majority of them have. From my first day of teaching in 2007 to today, I believe there have been significant changes in education.

I used to give tests asking who did what, when and why. Now I am asking my students how and why authors use specific words to maintain tone. I used to have students write on notecards on their way out the door reflecting on the day’s lesson so I could evaluate its effectiveness. Now I am having them respond to discussion questions and their peers’ responses during lessons to remediate while encouraging collaboration. I am not alone in these changes. Why haven’t there been MORE significant changes? I think it’s because of the premature push for teachers to utilize certain technologies. Teachers in my husband’s school district were forced to implement flipped classrooms. They didn’t know how to do it effectively, and now the students and teachers are frustrated with the lack of fluidity from building to building. I myself have felt this frustration when forced to use a certain platform only to be introduced to a new platform the next year. It is enough to make a tech-loving teacher feel the urge to resist more change. But no matter how much gets pushed through our classroom doors, the increase in rigor and expectations I have experienced over the past 9 years is an impressive change consistent with the stages of the “People who like this stuff…like this stuff” post.

This post perfectly sums up what I have witnessed in regard to change in every aspect of my life. I realized this when I looked at the four steps to successfully implementing change.

1- Find and identify an emotional reason/need for change to which others can relate.

2- Identify and convince influential people that the change needs to occur.

3- Take baby steps and don’t be too pushy all at once.

4- Find and enlist more supporters (Harapnuik, 2014).

I feel as though these steps are important to remember as I move forward with the plan for change my colleagues and I are working on. It is also important to remember these steps when I face frustrations with the pacing of change. I have felt that it has moved slowly in some areas, and quickly in others. This is because there have been times when my district/school/department seems to be the “influential person” meant to encourage others to make the change, and there have also been times when those baby steps truly feel like baby steps. Because this needs to be a slow process to be successful, it often seems as though things change as much as they stay the same, but things are on the move and have been for quite some time.

While the music and narration in the video Progressive Education in the 1940s is noticeably not from today, the jargon and overall message is similar to what is heard today. They discuss the previous downfalls of schools that “measure the strength of [a student’s] memory, [rather] than his understanding” (danieljbmitchell, 2007). Even the assignments highlighted in this video that reflect the application of many skills are used to this day. The biggest difference is how technology makes these learning opportunities more feasible for teachers and students. Today’s tech society (including students, teachers, administrators, parents, and politicians) is so used to instant results that we feel education isn’t changing quickly enough, when in reality it is moving forward at a steady pace.

When I think about all this change and the people who I know resist it most, what I believe they feel is overwhelming panic that causes them to dig in their heels and refuse. Vince Vaughn’s character is able to convince Sal to expand his business by saying, “If you lift your head up [and] take a breath, there are a lot of great possibilities out there” (Levy, 2014). It is important to anticipate and remind those who resist change, myself included, that it is inevitable and embracing or leading it can bring about some pretty impressive results.

References:

danieljbmitchell. (2007, July 31). Progressive education in the 1940s [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opXKmwg8VQM

Harapnuik, D. (2014, September 16). People who like this stuff…like this stuff [Blog post]. Retrieved from It’s About Learning website: http://www.harapnuik.org/?p=5198

Levy, S. (Director). (2013). The internship. United States: 20th Century Fox. (2013)

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