Friday, May 11, 2012

New Learning?

You're not going to believe it, but there has been a revelation in teaching. Suddenly, innovators have decided that dancing in the rain with umbrellas is the future of learning. The teachers who started this movement have been researching future learning trends and have discovered that the way of future jobs is with umbrellas. We will all need to get really proficient at dancing, then we will need the best umbrella receptacles possible. Our schools will need to accommodate this new style of learning and it must be integrated into everything that we do. We will need to make sure that every teacher becomes safe when using an umbrella and that they are competent dancers. All of the teachers who are not willing to learn the dance moves or how to safely operate an umbrella will be given training but they will ultimately be responsible for trialling and then using these new learning styles. Schools will have to consider the storage issues and whether BYOU (bring your own umbrella) is going to work for them. They will need to ensure that they can store safely all of the umbrellas, while considering all of the different dancing styles that the children will have.

Ok, so I'm being a bit silly here, but can you imagine? Imagine what it is like to be told that there is a new way, another way, a better way to teach and learn. You learnt to dance with Saturday Night Fever and the BeeGees, while the kids you are teaching are creating their own dances. You HAVE to learn. You suddenly have no choice. You are informed that all of the jobs in the future depend on students being proficient in these dance moves and umbrella twirling, yet you have never done this. This is not your strength, not your skill. And this is not even something that you are interested in. How do you adapt when your old teaching methods have worked just fine before all of these spangly umbrellas arrived in your classroom? And who says that this method works best anyway? You have been churning out perfectly well-rounded students for years without umbrellas.

You know what I am talking about.

Technology, eLearning, BYOD, iPads, laptops, Tablets, phones, digital cameras, interactive whiteboards.

We just get used to one tool and along rolls another. We think we have learnt more than enough, in fact, some is starting to fall out again, when another innovation arrives. It makes some teachers feel old and others feel inept. It makes some feel threatened and others just plain frustrated. Bored because it doesn't interest them. Fed up, because they thought they were doing just fine. Stunned and downright uncomfortable. Agitated, stressed and anxious. And that's just to name a few of the emotions that rip through classrooms and staffrooms when new innovations hit the ground running.

However, I have to admit that I have always considered embracing change and innovation as a part of the personal and professional develop that I thrive and grow with. Years ago, when computers were still a novelty, I was the first one to try things and fail horribly. I am still the one who does this. But I am also the one who can problem-solve their way through most issues online or offline! I do meet plenty of overwhelmed and stressed-out teachers though, for whom eLearning is just another fad and just another stress, or just another way for them to feel inadequate.

So I guess, in summary, what I am trying to say is to tread lightly, go gently. The disco-dancing raincoat-wearers are not keen on twirling umbrellas and dancing in the rain. They need to get used to the change in weather. And they need time to learn to dance again. Because they will...with a bit of drizzle and a few friends to dance with, they really will.

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