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Change? ... What Change?

Posted by on in Education Policy
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I like to chat on Twitter and seems we are always talking about the same thing ...

"How things need to change."

Ever since I started teaching 13 years ago there was always this discussion happening about change. "Teachers need to get with it and change!" ... "The system is flawed and we need to fix it!” … or my favorite “It is not as good as it used to be!”

Why does it seem that people in education do an awful lot of talking about change, but is anything really changing? As educators we strive to adapt ... change ... evolve into better educators, but are we actually changing? We say we are, but if we were you would think we would have metamorphosed into a butterfly by now. Why are we still stuck in our cocoon? Almost 20 years ago a bunch of politicians stated that if we tested the kids and collect data and held teachers accountable our kids would be better … but alas, the United States have made no great gains when compared to the rest of the world. How is that change working out for us? Or, maybe it was not a real change?

What if during all our talk about change we are actually just running in circles ... adding a new layer to our cocoon ... maybe putting a new coat of paint on our walls. Think about it ... just because the textbook changes color and the school buys a new set of them or we really jump into the "change" and buy the online book ... did the book actually change? Did we change? So, our kids now have access to the same textbook their parents may have used, but no it is online so that makes it 21st century? Seriously, is that how we are defining change? Look at me, I digitized my worksheet and now I am filling it out with the kids on the interactive whiteboard ... "I am 21st Century”! Dude, you are still using the same fill in the blank worksheet my dad used when he was in school 50 years ago … it still reeks of the mimeograph!

What is the difference between what is happening on the interactive whiteboard and what happened on the old school overhead projectors ... please don't claim that now you can save your notes and upload them to the Internet. That is no different than burning a copy and giving them to the kids. What is making it special? You see 21st century teaching is not about the technology being used, but rather the attitude in which it is used. Are you making that change? Did you just look at your lesson plan and think “that is a fill in the blank worksheet” … it is ok … identifying the places you can do better is the catalyst for change.

We have all all the people at the top ... Arne Duncan ... Bill Gates ... and others trying mandate change, but what is so revolutionary about testing ... accountability. Holding people accountable through testing is not going to fix education. Writing a book about good teaching and telling everyone this is how you should be teaching ... does not save education. Change cannot happen from the top ... it cannot be mandated.

Change happens in my room. I make the change for me ... using what works for me and for my kids. Each class has a different dynamic that requires me to fluctuate from class to class. Methods used in one class may not work for another class. What does not work for you may work for me. This is why change starts at the bottom ... with me. I cannot wait for change to trickle down to me ... I have to do it myself. What are you waiting for ... permission to teach your kids?

Why am I saying this ... because change happens with YOU. Do not wait for someone else to tell you how to make the change. Change is a personal journey ... you either want to change and be a better teacher for your kids or you do not. Stop complaining about not having enough professional development! If you do not know how to use something ... Google it! The kids do it ... why can't you?


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Tagged in: Change EdReform

Dennis Dill is a Social Studies and Instructional Television teacher at Jewett School of the Arts, a STEAM PreK - 8th grade school, in Winter Haven, Florida. Dennis earned a BA in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences from the University of South Florida and an MS in Education Media Design and Technology from FullSail University. Dennis has been teaching for 14 years.

  • Guest
    Wayne A. Ceallaigh Wednesday, 27 May 2015

    Too many times have I heard about, "Changes in the system" to match trends, or perhaps the common slogan, "The system is broken." Let me posit the argument that the system is not broken, therefore it does not need to be changed. Instead, let there be a realization that it is society that has become broken as homes are falling apart, circumstances force children to be babysat by television, hard-wiring them to value entertainment over education. The entertainment industry has collectively taken on a moral objectivity that is seemingly against embracing an educated status-quo. Rather, education is seen as not being cool as it runs against the, "path of no resistance" mentality that landed many of these kids in front of a television already.

    Let us fix society, one parent at a time. Don't you think that when someone is sick, that instead of just treating the symptoms, the person themselves should be treated instead? At first glance, there seems to be little distinction between the two, yet the methods of approach are almost on the opposite ends of the spectrum when considering the target and the result. Fix what happens in home, then the system will then be open to evolution rather than a change that reflects a backpedaling from one failed policy to the next. Stop treating the symptoms, we are dealing with people!

    What I do in class is that I try to instill an intrinsic value for learning by allowing each student to invest in their own education. I do this through introducing them to what the standards are, and relating the standards to real life. I them allow them to put the standards above the line in my room called, "Raise the standards!" This is only done when mastery is achieved. Also, when I run a semi-Socratic class session, the students gain their own, "Aha moments." Now imagine this scenario where each child comes into school believing that their education can truly lead them to live a better life. When the word, "Change" rears its ugly head, we must decide if, when, and what to actually change....and if WE the teachers are the one that should be doing the changing.

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