The readings and blog posts for Week 10 forced me into a "back to the future" mode. Posts about transistor radios, "remember when" reminiscing about my colleagues' (and my own) first experiences with tech tools, and trying to wrap my brain around what technology might be like in the years to come caused me to pause...really pause...and contemplate what is happening in education right now.
I sat in a primary grades classroom last week where a highly skilled young teacher attempted to instruct 20 rambunctious boys and girls about end marks and editing. She did her best, and it looked very much like what I remember from my own elementary grades classroom (and that was a LONG time ago)! Yes, there were some differences: instead of a chalkboard, there was an interactive white board; instead of ruled manuscript paper (with slivers of wood scattered throughout), there were small dry-erase white boards for each student; instead of desks in rows, there was a u-shaped classroom configuration...but the teacher was still at the center, and the students, no matter how much they knew about the subject at hand, were expected to follow along with the teacher. Whether or not they got it (or already knew it) didn't matter, because the lesson was the lesson. In the hallway, a cart full of laptops sat unused. Following the lesson, I asked the teacher why she chose to use the instructional approach she used, instead of using an online editing activity that would allow students to practice more with the skills they were learning. Her response: She chose a traditional direct instruction approach because she was being formally observed and believed that is what her principal would want to see.
We have so much work to do in educating not just those on the front lines (classroom teachers) but, perhaps more importantly, we must educate and lead the building and district-level leaders. Using technology to provide more appropriate, individualized instruction is not cutting edge anymore; it should be the norm. We have the devices; we have subscriptions to online and digital tools; we have access to an abundance of research that proves how much more effective combinations of these devices and tools can be for individual students (when compared to traditional one-size-fits-all instruction). So...what are waiting for? Why aren't we moving more quickly in making dramatic changes in the classroom? Why don't we sense the urgency, recognize the ways we can leverage the technology right there in front of us, and help students to learn more, and to learn faster, and to knowthey have learned, than what we have been doing for far too long?
My posts are beginning to sound like the proverbial broken records (or damaged digital files?!). I recognize a trend in my own thinking over the last several weeks. The big question at the end of all of this reading and thinking and blogging and talking and imagining is this: What am I going to do about it? How will I change what I'm doing in my district to support the change I know is best for students? Think fast, I hear myself whispering; the time is now, and change continues to happen all around us.