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Lame Excuses- Why Aren’t Teachers Integrating Technology

Creative Commons License photo credit: whizchickenonabun

Thank you to the Comment Challenge, I am discovering so many new and great blogs. One post that caught my eye today was Lame Excuses from Learning in a Flat World. Britt Watwood quotes Mitch Ditkoff on The Idea Champions Weblog’s post The Top 100 Lamest Excuses for Not Innovating

His recommendation is:

  1. Make a list of your three most bothersome excuses.
  2. Turn each excuse into a powerful question, starting with the words “How can I?” or “How can we?” (For example, if your excuse is “That’s R&D’s job,” you might ask “How can I make innovation my job?” or “How can I help my team take more responsibility for innovating?”
  3. Brainstorm each question — alone and with your team.

I am suggesting to personalize the list from Mitch’s blog to match the ones that you hear most often at your school. Then, at a faculty meeting, let each teacher pick three excuses why they are not integrating technology or want to change their current teaching practice. Let them turn those into a positive question. Here are some of the “excuses” that I have head and some that are adapted from the original list mentioned above.

  1. I don’t have the time.
  2. I don’t have the right hardware
  3. I don’t have the right software
  4. Grades are due
  5. Administration is not requiring it
  6. Administration is requiring it, but not supporting the implementation process.
  7. I’ve got too much on my plate.
  8. I’m just not not the creative type.
  9. I’m already juggling way too many projects.
  10. It is my first year teaching
  11. I’m not good with technology
  12. The lesson worked without technology before.
  13. There’s too much paperwork to do. I don’t have time for anything else.
  14. Our students’ parents aren’t complaining, why change?
  15. Teachers don’t like change. That is the way it is.
  16. I was going to, but the explanation wasn’t clear.
  17. I’ve already got enough headaches.
  18. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
  19. Now is not a good time to start a new project.
  20. If I succeed, too much will be expected of me.
  21. Nothing ever changes around here.
  22. Things are changing so fast, my head is spinning.
  23. I don’t want another thing to think about.
  24. I won’t have any time left for my family.
  25. I’ve never done anything like this before.
  26. It’s not my job.
  27. I don’t want to go to any more meetings.
  28. It will take way too long to get up to speed.
  29. Summer’s coming.
  30. I’m trying to simplify my life, not complicate it.
  31. I don’t have the patience.
  32. I’m not sure how to begin.
  33. Spring is coming.
  34. Maybe next year.
  35. I would if I could, but I can’t, so I won’t.
  36. I was going to, but the equipment was not available for check out.
  37. I was going to, but the computer lab was already reserved.

What are some of the excuses, you have heard? Please add them as a comment. What about your solution in approaching teachers who rather give an excuse than plan better, shift priorities, or as Andrea Hernadez on EdtechWorkshop in her own post of Lame Excuses and Bad Habits points out:

The only thing that can not be addressed even with the best professional development is a lack of passion for being a learner

Check out this nifty excuse generator , in case you ever need one :)

Currently there are "15 comments" on this Article:

  1. Colin Warren says:

    Hi Silvia, the comment challenge has led me to your blog.

    I also get frustrated by some of the apathy I see around me (in higher education) with regard to engaging with, let alone integrating technology. I’m intrigued by the problem of how to get more people (not necessarily everyone) to see that there’s really no excuse anymore not to use (exploit even) these new ‘tools of culture’. Are people using the ‘strangeness/unfamiliarity/difference’ of technology as an excuse? (see list above for further examples) I like the quote about being a passionate ‘learner’ – I believe that that’s what it’s all about.

    How do we reach those who may be tired, used to old habits, scared of failure & change, comfortable…

  2. Kevin says:

    I imagine this topic will be a hot one — why don’t more teachers use technology. I don’t have the answer but I do know that many teachers need patient guides and/or technology coaches and most school districts (where I am, anyway) don’t have the funds.
    I would love to see classroom teachers have a technology teacher in the room with them for an entire unit — co-teaching with technology, so that the classroom teacher feels comfortable with the integration of the tools.
    The comfort level is huge for many teachers.
    And I don’t think it always helps to to make them feel as if they are behind the curve because their kids are not blogging, or using wikis, or doing video productions. Instead, it makes them think they are being left behind.
    And they are not.
    The vast majority of teachers are NOT using technology (but I wish they would). They need support that they are not getting.
    Just an opinion from a meandering mind.

  3. Ken Allan says:

    @Kevin, you say that teachers need support that they are not getting. Let’s suppose that they were granted the support you say they need. Given the popular belief expressed in recent blogs that teachers resist change, what do you feel would be the average teacher’s reaction to this provision?

    Ka kite
    from Middle-earth

  4. Kevin says:

    I think everything is balanced on the approach of the professional development — Is it someone speaking down to teachers? Or just lecturing? Or is it professional development that allows teachers to explore, reflect, evaluate and then … use it in the classroom. The last step is back to reflection.
    And, ideally, someone is there with them on the journey. Yes, it is hand holding, but many teachers need that support to feel confidence.
    Many teachers seem resistant to change because they are tossed into the Lion’s Den and expected to adapt. That doesn’t work.

  5. Ken Allan says:

    Thanks for your swift reply to my Day 6 Challenge comment Kevin!

    I must admit that I tend to agree with you on this one. Teachers are always expected to adapt. In fact I’ve heard it said that “That’s what teachers do”.

    I always think that the idea is a bit like work hardening that occurs in some alloys when flexed too much. Eventually the alloy resists further attempts to bend it and may even snap!

    Ka kite
    from Middle-earth

  6. @Ken and Kevin,
    well, since you asked….my experience is that I am the technology coordinator (whatever THAT means) at a fairly small private school. I have many responsibilities, but what I most enjoy and believe in is to provide the kind of support you mention.
    I have had a few opportunities to work with teachers in that way, as the tech support person in the classroom as we explore a new type of project together. It has been GREAT! I think that we have all (me, the students, the classroom teacher) learned a great deal and accomplished more than either I or the classroom teacher might have been able to do alone.
    But I have met with so much resistance when trying to work like this with more teachers. That is where I encounter all the excuses that drive me nuts. Like I had one teacher tell me that she didn’t want to meet to plan with me because it was her own time. Well, doesn’t she have to plan sometime?
    I have also seen that the teachers who have worked more with me are now becoming more fluent in the use of the technology on their own and their comfort level has greatly increased. That is just one added advantage.
    I have requested from my administration that we switch over from “computer lab time” where the students come without the teacher to a project-based approach where I co-teach with the teacher while providing support, exactly as you have described, but I was told that our school is not “ready for that.” Which, to me, sounds like a lame excuse!

  7. Langwitches says:

    @Colin You write

    “How do we reach those who may be tired, used to old habits, scared of failure & change, comfortable”

    I wish I had the magic answer to this question. We have been trying for the last year to make professional development and co-teaching a priority at my school. The results have been mixed and now that we have a better picture how each individual teacher reacts to “THE CHANGE” in teaching and technology, we will try to adapt our strategy for next year. Some are coming along sloooowlyy but nicely while others are showing all the sings of fear you mention that are paralyzing them and yet others are just happy to fly under the radar, trying to get away with not having to create any more work for them.
    @Kevin You wrote:

    I would love to see classroom teachers have a technology teacher in the room with them for an entire unit — co-teaching with technology, so that the classroom teacher feels comfortable with the integration of the tools.

    Believe it or not, but that is exactly what we have been doing at our school. We plan together with the classroom teachers and they come to use the tools that are available in the lab (we call it “TechConnect”)\, such as a computer for each student, overhead projector, color printer, etc. You would think EVERY teacher would jump at the opportunity to have someone share the planning,the teaching AND hold their hand while using the equipment. That was not the case for everybody. Some were literally hiding when it came to bring their class to TechConnect.

    @Ken- I am still trying to figure out what makes some teachers STILL resist, when they are being given all the support. Some motivation of WANTING to integrate technology MUST come from within. It does not matter how much professional development opportunities and hand holding is offered.

    @Andrea- I have seen the same thing that you are describing:

    I have also seen that the teachers who have worked more with me are now becoming more fluent in the use of the technology on their own and their comfort level has greatly increased.

    Now that we can look back at an entire school year, I can say that there is a tremendous difference between the teachers who willingly followed our lead, tried and experimented and the ones that went into hiding, trying to fly under the radar. I wonder how next year will be, when it will become even more obvious of the gap between colleagues. Will peer pressure come into play among teachers?

  8. Kevin says:

    I am jealous that a few of you at least have the opportunity to work directly with teachers, in the classroom. But I am glad that the model works somewhere, even if (as noted by Andrea) there is still pockets where it doesn’t quite work.

    I think that fact that some teachers are “in hiding” is the reluctance to dance on a new stage, with an unknown partner (and the feeling that technology will step on their toes). — bad metaphor, early in the morning. Sorry.

    Or maybe it is the fear of realizing that their students know more than they do, and to give up some of the authority makes them a bit too uncomfortable for their liking. There does come a shift in who is the authority of the room when, for example, you are teaching video and you realize that Suzie in the back has not only produced 15 videos but she has her own YouTube channel, right? It’s just as important to remind teachers that these kinds of kids are great resources and potential leaders who often enjoy being showcased in the role of technology assistant to the teacher.

    Take care

  9. Colin says:

    Kevin, an interesting point about students knowing more then we (as teachers) do. I think that we sometimes make incorrect assumptions about the level of computer communication technology (CCTs) competencies that our students might have. While they may have some grasp of the use of mobile technologies and many are quite skilled at games, I’ve noticed a significant skill shortage when students come to university. I think many of them have a rudimentary skill set in using a number of software programs and when challenged to create web pages, edit images or movies, many have a lot to learn. There’s a challenge then in getting them ‘up to speed’ and helping them understand how these technology skills are important for the world of work.

    Your example is useful in understanding particular expertise and I agree with how empowering it can be for the student to teach their teacher! Anyway, in the end some of us may need to bite the bullet and own up that we may have to learn something too – go along for the ride even.

  10. Kimberly says:

    I’m teach Technology as part of specials. Just in the last 6 weeks, I’ve gotten through to some teachers. They are coming to me with projects. I help them design a Tech component to it.

    Some of the tech component is done in their classrooms, some in mine, and they can use the lab during my down time.

    The kids are your greatest ally, resource and lever/fulcrum. I had a 4th grade teacher doing a project – the kids said, “we need to add video to our project. Can we go get the flip from Ms. Herbert?”

    The teacher came to ask me about it. Most of my Tech crew is from her two classes. I told her who knew how to use the flip, and that each one of them was to teach one more person.

    By the time those two classes were done – all the kids and both homeroom teachers knew how to use the flip. Next week uploading and editing.

    The 4th graders – are begging for another writing assignment that they can film – this after have had the TAKS Writing test a few weeks ago.

  11. Kevin says:

    That’s a great example of Germination, if ever there was one. What is nice about the Flip Video is the ease of use. Click the red button and shoot away. Connect to USB and import into MovieMaker. Done.
    That ease of use is critical.

  12. Katie says:

    I too have been lucky enough to have been invited to co-teach and integrate this school year. I have mentioned for the past few years how much time could be saved if we could integrate more. I am actually a Drama Teacher and started the school year with much hesitation but loads of excitement. I worked with TechConnect and we set out to integrate both areas in to the daily curriculum. We have had the very same results. When a teacher is on board and basically uses our services it is an amazing thing. You see the amount of learning going on immediately the students are motivated and excited and just as Kimberly describes they are begging for more. There is such an almost overwhelming feeling of empowerment for these students and very soon the Teacher also. A big part of what we saw this year was that same resistance because of time constraints and having to get in the curriculum as it was originally designed. As the Teachers soon realized, although it seemed as though a project was taking longer however, we were multi-tasking. The end results far out way’d the time constraints. I could go on all day but in a nutshell – It certainly helps to have the full support of administration, Professional development, and a few open minded teachers to set a good example and so peer pressure. It is very important to show the teacher that you will not be encroaching on their area of expertise that they are still driving the project and that you are merely there to add your area of expertise and enhance their project to help reach further and teach wider than they have ever known. I am still chipping away at those teachers with all the excuses and I get sick to my stomach when I think of all the time they waste not teaching or learning! It is no secret that resources has been looked at as a babysitting service and this I feel has been a big resistance too. Presentation is a big part of what I do and the process along the way. This will play a big role in how ideas are presented to teachers and co-workers. I hope we get them all ‘on board’ soon as it is so rewarding for all areas. Technology is infinite and this is probably the scariest part as everything will keep changing!

  13. [...] explore, reflect, … Some motivation of WANTING to integrate technology MUST come from within. …http://langwitches.org/blog/2008/05/04/lame-excuses-why-arent-teachers-integrating-technology/A Rubric for Technology Professional Development… development staff, administrators, and teachers [...]

  14. Maureen says:

    I am a teacher and use quite a bit of technology in my classroom, however I understand why some teachers don’t. There is professional development but when you are only allotted so many days a year to develop your skills in a particular area, you go with what is suggested to do the development in; Math or Language Arts. Another reason many teachers avoid computers is that (quite often) they are not working. I have had this happen in my classroom numerous times and it is quite frustrating. Even though schools are given the equipment, most times the internet is slow, it takes valuable class time to set the programs up with what you want the students to do, and in my case there is no computer lab at our school so each classroom has a cluster of 4 computers. Four computers-25 students??!!! That’s a party waiting to happen. I do get frustrated with teachers that don’t try but most times the excuses are legit. Just remember, outside of using technology, we also have a curriculum to follow. If you are an elementary teacher, that includes 6 subjects and students with all different learning levels. With the amount of curriculum outcomes we have to complete, technology could easily be put on the back burner especially if you are not comfortable with it.

  15. [...] think hard here.  It really is common sense. To get past the reasons and excuses and the lack of skills by both the teachers and the students (recognizing both as learners) we as [...]

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