Have you made the Shift? Are you an agent of change?
Where do you fit?
This is Part III of a 3 part series. When I started this series I had an outline that I only vaguely ended up following, but I knew from the start that what I wanted to say was too much for a single post.
Part I Shifting Education
Are you unshifted, shifting, or shifted?
“To the shifted: You have an obligation to serve others.”
Part II Shifting Learning
“The shift is happening now and if we aren’t shifting the learning experience for students then what kind of education are we giving them?”
Part III Shifting Attitudes
So where do you fit? Do you offer support to others that have not shifted? Are you helpful to the shifting? Are you effective? I’m not sure that I always am? I’ve been told that my Brave New World Wide Web video, “Preaches to the converted”. I’ve been a tech evangelist that has overwhelmed the unshifted and the shifting too! It’s part of my own learning journey, but a great learning journey with mentors, inspirational – leaders, and teachers in the trenches, doing more than I ever did in the classroom. I’ve also provided support and inspiration to others, helping to guide them and provide resources, giving my time and energy (in very personally rewarding ways).
I first explored the notion that, “I CAN’T” in my presentation ‘The Rant, I Can’t, The Elephant and The Ant’. In this presentation, I had slides (#46-49) that moved from “I Can’t” to “I Can” to “I Must” to “I Will” and that is what inspired the wording for my Shifting Attitudes venn diagram (above).
One of the biggest reasons people feel they CAN’T is FEAR, which is another topic I spend time on in the presentation.
I talk about the hinderance ‘fear’ causes frequently in my blog, such as in my blog post about my POD’s presentation, (on bringing Personally Owned Devices such as iPods & cell phones to schools). In my POD’s presentation I also discuss how our Attitude can be a ‘Big Wall’ that prevents meaningful change.
These are important ideas because I think our ATTITUDE can be both the biggest impetus for meaningful change and also the biggest barrier.
As leaders we need to have the right attitude and see opportunities where others see obstacles:
“I’ve seen a real shift in my own thinking recently. Forget whining about access, disregard the slow speed of change, get over the obstacles! Go after meaningful results. Engage and empower students. Be a leader and a role model.”
I think that the two areas that we can be the greatest influence to others are:
1. Influencing educators that are stuck believing that they can’t shift, (can not use technology innovatively in the classroom, can not differentiate learning in the classroom, can not let go of who controls the learning in a classroom, etc.)
2. Influencing educators who are shifting their practice, but need support in doing so.
The needs are different, but some of the scaffolding and support we offer one of these groups can also be helpful to the other. (Note: These are not mutually exclusive groups! For example, we can be stuck simultaneously at both of these points around different strategies or tools.)
So when we offer our colleagues, our teachers, our fellow educators support, what does that mean?
The key elements of SUPPORT are: Time, Resources, and Knowledge, (as well as Inspiration and Motivation).
• Time: Professional Development, Collaboration and ‘Play’ time. (‘The Time’)
• Resources: Equipment, access, (digital/networked/collaborative) repositories. (‘The Tools’)
• Knowledge: Best (actually good) Practice, know-how, and research. (‘The How’)
• Inspiration: Examples, possibilities, and role modeling. (‘The Wow’)
• Motivation: Acknowledge the positive, and High Expectations- for teachers as well as students. (‘The Now’)
That’s just a work-in-progress list, (with a hint of a future post). At a different logical level, there is more required such as a common vision, collaboration and leadership on different levels, learning communities, responsibility and even accountability, (see my pyramid based on Andy Hargreaves 4th Way). But for the purposes of this post, I have been focussing on what we as individuals can do to help shift attitudes, and offering support in these areas is an excellent start!
In creating the Shifting Attitudes venn diagram, I realize that ‘I WILL’ only suggests future action and not de facto ACTION, but to put this final destination into the present tense, (such as ‘I AM’ rather than ‘I WILL’), would be to suggest an end-point or achievement plateau. However, I think that as leaders and as change agents, we are constantly adjusting what we will do as we (also) learn and grow.
The reality is that what I am able to learn and do now is staggering compared to 5 years ago and the educational landscape (or mediascape) is moving at an incredible speed. In the last 5 years many 1-1 programs have buckled under economic strains, but the idea of students bringing their own Personally Owned Devices was not feasible. When I did my POD’s presentation last year, I didn’t imagine that schools would be talking about netbooks and laptops as POD’s, I was thinking cell phones and iPod Touches… The landscape keeps changing. Tools are cheaper, easier to use, and my network is continually keeping me up to date on some amazing possibilities.
An ‘Open’ Attitude
Attitude can also be a reference to orientation relative to the direction of travel. I said in reference to the idea of education becoming more ‘Transparent’ in the future that,
“Teaching ‘openly’ empowers educational leaders to be educational co-learners. It isn’t about sharing lessons, its about sharing the process and the progress we are making in providing meaningful learning opportunities. Transparency is changing teaching practice into a perpetual learning practice.”
Our orientation towards open, collaborative and networked learning is critical to shifting education, and shifting learning. It isn’t the network or the tool that matters, but rather that we create meaningful connections as part of our learning practice. As George Siemens says in his TEDxNYED Talk, “The network, it’s incidental in my eyes, it’s the connection that’s critical”.
To summarize the importance of openness and networked learning compared to formerly closed learning models, it’s the difference between Wikipedia [stats] and a 5-year old Encyclopedia set sitting on a bookshelf.
… And so ends the Shifting Series
To summarize my thoughts behind this series:
a) Our educational land/mediascape has shifted;
b) We have an obligation to shift with it, and to help those that have not shifted, or that are shifting;
c) The landscape is still shifting and we have to identify the trends that are heading our way;
d) We have an obligation to our students to look ahead and continue our own learning to support them;
e) Our attitude towards the shift will determine our influence.
f) We need to be leaders that support change, as well as inspire and motivate others to change.
g) ‘We’ have the power of networked collaboration on our side to speed up the shift.
I believe that although the shift has been slow thus far, the networked learning model that we are building is the foundation for exponential rather than incremental growth… Knowing that, I can’t help but have anything less than a positive attitude!