I may not be an educator, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Well, OK - so maybe I didn't, but that's not going to stop me:).
Rodd Lucier (awesome blog name The Clever Sheep) wrote last Thursday about a conference he attended on the use of tools (ostensibly ICT tools) to ensure learning is relevant to the students of this century. A great thing. While there, he overheard some interesting conversationlets:
"My superintendent doesn't get it."
"We don't have enough money."
"Our computers are too old."
"The school networks are out of date."
"We still ban cell phones in school!"
"I've never even heard of RSS."
"The kids know more than we do."
"I don't have the time!"
Every one of these statements is an excuse. How many of these same educators would accept these excuses from their students???
David Warlick was generous enough to offer his suggestions on how to overcome each of these objections. I think David went over and above on this. His ideas are great, but I believe giving their words this much credence may not be the best approach. From the season 7 opener of West Wing:
Or in this case, don't accept the premise of the response. While I think David's responses are apt, I'm pretty convinced that he'd be tilting at windmills if he went to the authors of these excuses and offered to help. They would find other excuses. "That'll never work at my school," "my situation is different," "you just don't understand the people I have to deal with," or whatever.
When I was growing up, one of the defining movies about taking control of your life, finding your power, and of course, getting the girl was Risky Business. It was ground breaking on many fronts, and there was this one quote that struck a chord:
These words should be tattooed on the foreheads of all the educators who made all those excuses that Rodd overheard so they can read them in the mirror every morning.
OK - so that might not set the right example for their students, but the principle is sound. Every great teacher I've ever met shares among others, the following traits: integrity, a passion for their students' success, a commitment to doing great things.
Saying the magical phrase above "gives you freedom, freedom brings opportunity. Opportunity makes your future."
Every one of the excuses above can be overcome with enough ...chutzpah to do what's needed to get to better learning outcomes. I went to a fantastic event celebrating Innovative Teachers a few weeks ago where I met many, many educators from around the world who exhibited this kind of strength and guts and ingenuity, and are getting results despite these and many other obstacles.
In conversations with them, not one knew all the answers up-front, none had all the approvals or funding or resources to get it done once they found some answers or approaches. They undertook a process something like this:
- Understand the real problem
- Figure out what you know and what you have at hand
- Do the gap analysis to know what you still need
- Get help (from students, staff, faculty, the community, wherever)
- Be creative and ingenious if funding is required
- Give it a go
- Evaluate and tweak
- Return to Step 6 until it's good
Sometimes, you just gotta say... it "gives you freedom, freedom brings opportunity. Opportunity makes your future."