Almost two years ago, I wrote a post titled Collaboration Projects-Doomed to Fail? I wondered:
How much can you spoon feed other teachers? Do you write their lesson plans for them? Do you keep nagging and begging for participation? How do you find collaboration partners who are equally invested in a project? How do you motivate your teachers at your school to be those invested collaboration partners for others?
At that time, my job title was “Technology Integration Facilitator”and I was struggling to get teachers even interested in and to be open to collaborative, global and technology integrated projects. Two years later, I am the “21st Century Leaning Specialist” at a school where most teachers have welcomed support, co-teaching and projects with an open mind.
I don’t feel handicapped that I do not have my own class, but empowered that I am able to be part of theÂ learning of many individuals and I get to work with ALLÂ students and teachers. We are communicating, collaborating, and connecting through blogging, podcasting, wiki-ing, video conferencing, back-channeling, goggle-ing, AND creating…
I am already so thrilled that there are teachers who are open minded, interested and willing to open their classroom doors that I want to:
- make it as easy as possibly for them
- allow them to completely concentrate on the objectives and goals of their subject area
- keep as much “technology related problems” away from them
- protect them from Murphy’s law
I don’t want them to have to do the (often tedious) work of:
- finding and coordinating with possible collaboration partners across the world
- filming, recording and editing the footage into final audio or video products
- setting up blogs, wikis, voicethreads and google apps
- writing, editing and cleaning up blog posts or wiki entries
One part of me FEELS that it does not matter who does the prep work, the leg work or deals with the problems, as long as students are
- being engaged
- being exposed to 21st century skills: communicating collaborating, connecting and creating
- connected to a global audience
- becoming literate (basic, media, information, intercultural, network, ethical, digital citizenship)
Chris Dawson asks in his post: Are we spoon-feeding our users too much?
If we simply spoon-feed them the technology and isolate them from the bits they find challenging, then they will never have an incentive to learn or grow independent in their use of technology, both in and out of the classroom.
And the other part of me KNOWS what Chris says above is true and that its important to “teach teachers to fish” and not simply give them the fish to eat.
Where is the fine line of making it as easy as possible in order to let teachers see that the benefits will outweigh (make it worth) the time invested, hassles and learning curve? It is important, in the beginning, to ease into the transition from “the old ways” towards 21st century teaching…but when does the time come to cut the umbilical cord?
Am I enabling teachers to rely on me or someone like me too much? My colleague, Andrea, wrote about her worries regarding sustainability in a post “Seeds, Serendipity, Sustainability“.
Her words helped me remember the learning and the integration has to come from within.
My concern is that, while Silvia is truly an incredible teacher and we are extraordinarily lucky to have this time with her, I worry that we are putting all our eggs in her basket. Silvia is an agent of change, a support, someone to lead the way — but the teachers MUST begin to develop their own PLNs, we must learn to be better at collaborating, sharing, supporting and teaching each other. That is the only way for these changes to be sustainable.
Is it a natural process all teachers have to go through in order to begin integrating and then sustaining 21st century teaching, learning, skills, projects and technology?
- Being interested in and open minded towards a new approach?
- Being supported by a colleague or technology/21st century coach, facilitator, integrationist?
- Being able and willing to take the reins on their own?
How do we keep moving from one stage to the other? How long do we “allow” teachers to stay in one stage? How do we make sure we don’t enable teachers and get stuck? How do we increase the chances of sustainability? How do we prepare teachers so they are able to take the reins and enjoy the ride?