teacher fear or teacher laziness

February 7, 2008

Okay, this is a griping blog post, so I am apologizing now. I am in a tech class on Web-CT, where we meet in a chat room once a week to discuss a chapter in the textbook(yes, the textbook). Everyone in the class is a teacher or course developer except for me (I used to teach, but now work in a law firm where training is amongst my duties). EVERY single week we have the same conversation about teachers not having time to learn about technology or use it. Why are they taking an on-line course then? I just read Liz Davis’ latest blog post about how collaboration through her social network helped her tremendously within a 10 minute span.  I have tried to point them towards the amazing Web 2.0 tools we are using and learning about in Dr. Alec CourosEC&I 831 class and great class blogs like Darren Kuropatwa’s.  However, then they come up with other reasons for not using technology – Internet safety, money, not enough PD, curriculum(that was tonight’s new excuse). No wonder education is so far behind in this area – if the teachers aren’t willing to even try it out, how is it going to happen? Thanks to those wonderful teachers out there who are willing to spend some time to make a difference!


10 Responses to “teacher fear or teacher laziness”

  1. Cory Plough Says:

    Connie- You are right and its okay to gripe a little, or a lot. We are dealing with this issue at my school where a handful of teachers are trying to make the school relevant to today’s learners by incorporating new technologies and methods of teaching. We are in the minority. Many teachers like to teach the way they were taught many years ago. What was so good about HS anyway that we revert back to teaching the same way? Anyhow, there are always excuses for trying something new, but we have to convince teachers this is not a fad and it works. Then we have to take some things off their plate so they don’t have the excuse of time. We all need to be a change agent and be a voice for these kids and keep promoting this until it catches fire underneath all teachers.

  2. Jen Says:

    I was at a retreat today and helped some folks add to a wiki. You could see the spark of excitement, and then *BAM* they just shut it all out. They said they would never have time. If you take a step back and look at them as adult learners, rather than teachers, you’ll realize there are many barriers. One of the reasons I am in adult education, rather than K-12 is because it is so exciting to get past that barrier. But, it takes time. It takes seeing many examples. It also takes a bit of love and kindness. Many adult learners have been hurt by the system. They are afraid to learn new things. There are too many stereotypes about adults in school. These are huge barriers. Here are a few suggestions:
    1. Model the tools as often as you can. Don’t just show them off, use them for the normal interactions you would have with these people.
    2. Have fun! Show them how you can use the same tool in your personal life as you do in teaching. Do they have hobbies? Find them a hobby network to practice in.
    3. It’s okay if they never get it. Really. There are a lot of ways they can make a difference without touching technology.

  3. Frank Says:

    I am a teacher trainer in Mexico. An believe me I know exactly what you are talking about, but add a multiplier. It isn’t so much about the limitations as it is the attitude that I find alarming. Recently I participated in a Cambridge University Press event here and the presenter Cathy Higham said, “Technology won’t replace teachers; but those teachers that use technology is their classrooms will replace those that don’t.”

    I waffle back and forth between wishing away these uninspired teachers to taking on the responsibility of motivating them by setting an example and seeing the benefits. I believe very few will take it on, and Cathy will be right! Technology needs to serve pedagogy; and pedagogy needs to serve the learners’ needs. In today’s world, we can not afford to let apathetic or fearful teachers hamper youth’s access to the tools that they need to succeed in a globalized world.

    As administrator and teacher trainer (and teachers) our first course of action should be training. If a teacher is capable and interested, train him. If he is already meeting the real-world technology needs of his students, acknowledge him and support him. And if he just wants to slide by and refuses to change, help to show the benefits through example .. if that fails, well … the students deserve better.

    Read this blog post at Educational Discourse, “Who you gonna call?” http://tinyurl.com/2x3e3l

  4. ccossar Says:

    I just watched a video that should inspire ALL teachers to use technology. Grab your kleenex and be inspired!! http://learningismessy.com/blog/?p=196

  5. or teacher time…..Currently my biggest challenge/barrier. I know many teachers that are observing things I’m involved with but aren’t able to carve out time. Most teachers I know I busy, busy people. Most schools are not places that value reflection and exploration but instead battle to cram in all the content and extra-curricular activities each day. I’m in a position where I have the luxury of time to explore, most teachers don’t. The few like a Darren Kuropatwa and Brian Crosby are exceptions because some where along the line they’ve discovered and found the benefits of using technology with their students.

    Too often we are guilty, of showing people the how without the why. If I’m a teacher being asked to include something new, I’d better understand and believe why it’s important for me and my students. We haven’t done a great job of that, we’re starting but we have to do better.

    While I understand and have felt your frustrations just as you’ve described, I’m more sympathetic than I used to be and am working at helping teachers see why this stuff is important. The how part is actually quite easy once you get the why.

  6. Laurie Says:

    I agree with Dean and would add one other aspect. Access. Our district gave all teachers a laptop in the past two years and this has been a good thing. Teachers now have access to the technology both at home and school and I believe we are seeing more use. We have a mobile cart with 10 computers for 300 kids. The mobile cart is a great idea but one isn’t enough. I see the use of technology in my school rising. As an administrator, I promote technology by using it with my class, modelling the use of it myself and supporting teachers as they integrate new aspects of technology in their programs. It is a slow process and I find myself frustrated. However, when I read a blog like this and stop to reflect about where we are, I have to admit that I do see progress.

  7. Shaun Loeppky Says:

    Some excellent comments above. I fall in the category of grassroots interest stated above….teachers need to see examples, especially from grade alike teachers, then receive teacher training, reinforced over periods of time, and collaborate with others throughout the process. A formula that requires time commitments, open mindedness and dedication. Is this Utopian? How are the universities involved in this process with our influx of new teachers?
    What are the costs? As Rick would point out, what other suggestions can be added for us to be effective “agents of change”…?

  8. Corey Terry Says:

    I don’t think technology will change what we teach, but rather how we teach it. There are a lot of powerful critics and research now looking at how kids brains work – growing up in the tech age. They just seem to be wired more for the multimedia age!

  9. Jeff Mason Says:

    I’m not convinced that neither fear nor laziness could account for so few adopters. (a complete post at http://openteachertalk.blogspot.com)

    1. Teachers learn early on to prioritize. With the time available; What do I need to do to meet the demands of the administration? What do I need to do to meet the demands of my students? What do I need to do to meet the demands of my professional development?
    2. The teachers /educators using technology are the ones that “get it”. This is that scattered but entrenched few that always look for a way to reach a few more students. They probably would have been the ones to embrace the “Open Classroom” and “Team Teaching” in the 1960’s and 70’s had they been teaching then.
    3. Most adoptions/integrations are teacher initiatives and as anyone who has been teaching for awhile will tell you, teacher/classroom initiatives are rarely supported. So, unless you are in one of those rare districts where an administrator or IT director is the one who “gets it”, widespread adoption of technology will more than likely be a prepackaged CBI.

    The difference between now and 40 years ago, is the ability to network. Teachers will no longer have to work in total isolation. Innovation and support won’t have to come from a University lab School. Most integration for the time being will be individual teachers, in networks, figuring out the what, the how and the why.

  10. Hey Connie,
    I certainly understand your frustration. It reminded me of a session we held in the fall with our administrators. We showed them “Shift Happens”, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMcfrLYDm2)with the intention of starting some conversations – not just about technology, but about the pedagogical shift we need to be thinking about in our classrooms given the nature of our 21st century learners. While much discussion was generated, I was somewhat disheartened when excuses began to surface about the dangers of technology,issues of support, time, etc. – similar barriers that are frequently noted.

    Interestingly enough, though, by starting those conversations, and sharing that video, I was pleased to hear that many of our administrators decided to show the video during Education Week for parents, and many planned to show it to staffs as well. I think it was a step in the right direction…We are constantly reminding ourselves of that – baby steps…baby steps.

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