I’d Like to See You Try That in My Classroom
Ican easily get all fired up by the likes of Will Richardson and other impassioned ed tech bloggers—the ones who like to cajole, inspire, persuade, and demand, sometimes
with righteous indignation, that readers bring forth radical
change in education. But I wonder if these bloggers might
unwittingly discourage the very educators who are in the
trenches fighting the good fight, often unsuccessfully.
In his post “A Summer Rant: What’s Up with Parents”
with-parents), Richardson chastises teachers who are also
parents for not rising up and insisting that their children’s
schools focus on all those progressive, nontraditional skills
such as problem solving, collaboration, information sifting, and using technology to foster lifelong learning.
“They seem powerless, even resistant to change,”
Generally I applaud these posts and often e-mail the
links to friends and colleagues. But I am not in the classroom, and neither is Richardson.
That’s why the poignant post “Where Do I Fit In” by Lee
Kolbert on A Geeky Momma’s Blog (http://macmomma.
blogspot.com/2010/06/where-do-i-fit-in.html) gave me pause.
Kolbert is a former district technology program specialist who ditched her admin job to get back in the classroom
last year. It was a tough transition and an eye-opening
experience for her. In her last post of the school year,
she cataloged her frustrations with swimming against
the tide—the tide being colleagues, parents, leaders—
in her quest to integrate technology in the classroom.
As I brainstormed every creative idea this year and
rolled through implementation, there were always those
sticking points. The sticking points of reality when you
realize you’re not just teaching kids, you’re also providing new and sometimes unusual experiences for them
and their families. The sticking points that not everyone
thinks using technology is so great and you’re forced to
defend what you’re doing almost daily. The sticking
points when even the teacher next door calls you the
“fun teacher” with a snarky attitude. Or when you show
your principal some incredibly cool videos your kids
made on science lessons, and his comment says something about them doing well on the state test because of
all they learned. Do they get it? Maybe. Do they get ME?
No. We just live in different worlds, that’s all.
Kolbert’s post drew comments from 25 supporters:
“The fun teacher next door” I consider to be the
ultimate compliment! —Richard Cantrell
Leaders, pretty much by definition, don’t fit in.
It’s not always comfortable, and you’re not always
right, but your students are in a better place because
you’re pushing into uncharted territory. While it’s
tiring, we should all be forced
to defend what we do every day—
it makes us better, and it’s better for
our students. —Karl Fisch
I think it is important to remember that students and
parents have been conditioned
to define learning very narrowly
and achievement even more narrowly by both our society and
by our schools. —Joseph J. Bires
It’s all fine and good to make arguments filled with passion and hyperbole about the need for reform and
change, and yet these voices (which
include mine) must temper our
well-intentioned zeal against the
reality of day-to-day life in the
I think you’ve helped bridge a gap
that exists between us, the foot soldiers, and the dreamers/presenters
who, while inspiring us at conferences, also excoriate our failings for
not pushing the envelope enough.
I love these folks dearly, but I’m
sometimes left with the feeling of
“I’d like to see you try that in my
classroom.” —Derrall Garrison
Are you listening, Will Richardson?