We have come a long way in the last decade. The technological advances are simply mind boggling. Can you imagine that not so many years ago…well OK…it was a lot of years ago…that we did not have ATM’s on the corner. There was no such thing as a Debit Card. There was a time when we had to stop at a store and find a phone booth to make a call. To get to an unknown location we actually had to “read” a map…a paper map. We didn’t have GPS available to us. There was a time when listening to music meant we bought a new vinyl record and played it on our Hi-Fi…not Wi-Fi system.
There are so many advances with the Internet, with Web Tools, Wi-Fi, and Facebook. Twitter and Instagram…we connect to MORE people than ever before…but we don’t always connect to the PEOPLE. We grow our “followers” but we don’t follow the growth. We hear from people, but we don’t always listen.
I think it is inevitable, that in order for us to become better educators, we have to force ourselves out of our comfort zones. We have to invite feedback. We have to want to grow professionally in order to be able to plant the right seeds, and cultivate young minds.
Many teachers have been participating in Peer Observations for some time. Some are very open to others being in their classroom; observing, taking notes, and them making suggestions as to what they saw. Some have a problem with being observed. Not because they are doing anything wrong, but because they are nervous in front of other adults. They can speak to hundreds of students a day, but get a nervous stomach when they have to speak or be in front of other adults…their peers. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said in one of his standup routines, that the number fear in America was public speaking. He said that death, was number two…then jokingly followed up with: Meaning that people would rather be the subject of the service, than be the one who had to deliver the eulogy.
In order for us to grow professionally, we have to model what we ask our students to do: Be problem solvers, think creatively, be innovative, think outside of the box, communicate and collaborate with others. Some might say that they don’t have time. I say we have to make time. Take 10 minutes a day to look at something new, create a blog, read an article, and “follow” somebody on Twitter professionally. If we carved out some of the time we spend watching television or surfing the web or checking our Social Media sites…we could have time.
Some say they don’t know how to use technology. That they are so far behind that they don’t feel like they can ever catch up to the 21st century…that they “don’t know how to so all this new-fangled stuff.” I equate that to an analogy of traveling in a car. When you drive, you pay attention to the directions, the turns, the shortcuts, and the landmarks along the way to help you arrive at your destination. If you are a passenger in that same car, you don’t pay attention to the turns, the landmarks, or the traffic lights. If somebody else is driving, you don’t really know how to get there on your own.
It’s not as scary as it might seem. It’s the anxiety and anticipation of what “might” happen once you take the leap. So when it comes to taking charge of the technology challenge, the question is: Are you a passenger, or are you the driver?