Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

To the unshifted: Shift or retire… regardless of your age and number of years experience. We have the means to teach differently, now! It doesn’t start tomorrow, it starts today. Pick one thing you don’t like about your practice and change it. Find one thing that engages your students, and has them take over the learning that happens in the room, and do it. Empower, inspire, engage and be the lead learner in your classroom or your school.

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.

To the shifting: Do not go quietly into your classroom. It is an extremely exciting time to be in education. Do not be overwhelmed. A great waterfall begins with a single drop. Information flows too quickly to absorb all that we want to. Things will not flow for you if you try to do too much. If you try a new tool, ask yourself why am I using this? Do not confuse the pointing finger with the moon. What is the learning intention? Stay true to what you want to accomplish and take advantage of tools to help you and your students find your way. Find small successes on your path, let good work and engaged students be your reward.

What we think, we become.

To the shifted: You have an obligation to serve others. The students in your room are a priority, but so too are your colleagues. You are a leader by the default of knowing the way. Nurture your colleagues like you nurture your students in your class. Be the lead learner. Learn with them. Share your enthusiasm and accept your position of leadership with grace and humility.

The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.


Behind Buddha

Photo: “Behind Buddha” photographed by me, David Truss,

at the Famine Temple near Xi’an, China

Quotes: Attributed to Buddha

This is Part I of a 3 part series.

Part II: Shifting Learning

Part III: Shifting Attitudes

Related post: Statement of Educational Philosophy

13 comments on “Shifting Education

  1. David, I can’t wait for the next two parts. Am sharing this with my principal and am curious to her response. She’s incredibly supportive of shifting teachers, so probably will share with the staff.

    Not only do we have the means to teach differently, we also have the responsibility to do so!

    Thanks, as always, for sparking my thinking!

  2. Paula,

    I love your post, (the first comment/trackback), it is a wonderful testament to the need for everyone to change. You did not require technical expertise for your sub to take your place, only a shift in expectations… and had she ‘played along’, I bet she would have been an asset to your students even if she had no expertise with the tools.


    While I totally understand your point, I guess that I was not clear in my short opening statement for the ‘unshifted’. I said nothing in that paragraph about ‘integrating technology’, I simply said, We have the means to teach differently, now! …and although technology use my be implied, it isn’t necessary.

    This educator that I know, (but not my wife as she hates when I use her as an example), 😉 she is somewhat of a technophobe, but last year she got a Smartboard and every single day she challenged herself and used it in some way to engage her students. She finds Math challenging to teach, but challenges herself to make Math relevant to students and to help them through discovery rather than ‘teaching to the textbook’.

    I’m getting ahead of myself as this is more about ‘Shifting Learning’, my next segment, but my point is that I will work with anyone willing to try, but if you think it is ok to do the same old thing in the same old way that we could have done it 15 or 25 or 125 years ago, and you don’t want to (or see a need to) change… retire.

    With respect to Rodd, I’ve written about that responsibility here: You Can’t Go Back Now. It is about mentorship and leadership.

    Perhaps where my post falls short is that we are expecting shifts without giving the appropriate professional development to see these shifts? I just hate seeing excuses when the by-product is students getting a sub-standard education. I could go on, but just read my Black and White Education post to get a sense for where I’m going with this.

    Thanks for the comments!

  3. Can’t help but feel your first statement is a cop-out. Shift or retire… Really? Is that just frustration speaking?

    I know many passionate, caring teachers who haven’t found the way yet to integrate technology. To say that they should all leave the profession pays a disservice to our children!

    As I see it, there are leaders that are breaking new ground (like you and so many of our Twitter community) and doing it differently. Then there’s everyone else who doesn’t “get it” yet. That doesn’t make you right and them wrong!

    There are so many societal beliefs and fears that stand in the way of change, and so few people that can self initiate significant and transformative personal change without support.

    That leaves an incredible responsibility on the leaders in our education system. It’s a cop out by those leaders (formal and informal) to say the unshifted should leave.

    Rodd Lucier (@thecleversheep) recently said to me “It’s a significant responsibility when you know that which others don’t know that they don’t know…” That’s really made me stop and think!

    It takes patience and strength and tolerance and kindness and an unrelenting focus on our ultimate goal. I know you’re that kind of leader, my friend!

  4. Hi David,

    I was doing some more thinking this week, dangerous as that may be, and I think I found a third reason why the ‘shift’ is having difficulty occurring (Just so you know I see it as continuation of my entry on your Aug. 3 blog). I was having a conversation with a student teacher some time ago and it dawned on me that he really had no idea how to use technology to his advantage. Don’t get me wrong he was a nice guy, and very enthusiastic, but in his four year (at least) education program, it seemed that they had taught him things that I had learned about almost a decade ago. In Alberta over the last decade we have had a large number of new teachers come into the profession, but a surprisingly small number of them seem prepared technologically. I certainly never felt driven by them to learn more. To sum up, ideas surrounding the ‘shift’ would have a chance if new teachers came into the schools believing and practicing them, but it seems that our Education Faculties are missing the boat on this.

  5. Hello gmaccoll,
    This comment does indeed seem to be a good continuation of your last comment.
    I agree and think we are missing the boat in two areas with student teachers:
    1. New teachers coming into the school system without a requisite amount of meaningful tech integration know-how.
    2. Practicums that do not require any use of technology what-so-ever.
    Other ideas are appreciated, keep that dangerous thinking going, I like it! 🙂

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