My school, which at 500 or so students isn’t so big to begin with, in September will start its third year in an evolution that has seen us break down into smaller and smaller, increasingly semiautonomous academies.
The first three academies were started by the then brand new principal who was looking for a way to turn around what had become an unruly school on a downward path. This year there were four academies; next year there will be at least six. All beyond the first three were started by teachers who bonded around some common idea: the arts; science; or citizenship and community.
My academy for next year is made up of teachers who were not asked to join one of the other groups or who, like me, teach students from different academies. No matter. We sat down together and I was able to convince my colleagues that the thrust of our academy should be collaboration on learning projects using technology.
Our school is so far from the cutting edge in technology that we’re not part of the knife. Our first in-class computers — two Dells and a printer for each classroom — were installed just two years ago. Most of the teachers have mastered receiving and sending basic email, but not all have managed adding or downloading attachments. This spring we got some Interactive White Boards (IWBs) but we haven’t been able to use them yet.
The idea of project-based learning excited my colleagues, but when I talked about podcasts, blogs, wikis, and all the other technologies we could harness, I could see fear in their eyes. I know that look; I see it every day in my students’ faces.
Teachers are overwhelmed by the subject of technology; there is too much to learn, and it needs to be done so quickly. They are afraid that they wont remember what they’re taught. They are afraid of being wrong, of making mistakes, afraid of failing. They are afraid of not being in control, of showing weakness, of cracking the image. They are afraid of not seeming competent, capable and confident. They are afraid of being made fun of.
They are afraid of being stupid.
Afraid of being like their students.
Developing awareness of the similarity of their reactions to what happens when a student faces a challenge might be the most important thing they learn in their careers.
I know its been that in mine.