newsletter from purpos/ed. Two weeks after its launch this movement, to encourage debate about the purpose of education, is growing. I am really enjoying reading all the 500 word challenges and with the current newsletter there were links to posters that could perhaps stimulate the debate. The image to the left is one of these.
We all know whingers, those teachers who complain persistently and yet never go on to actually DO anything to bring about change in the area they are complaining about. A couple of weeks ago I was whinging myself about something and a colleague said to me: "If you can't change it you have to let it go. Focus on the areas where you can make a difference, give up the rest." I've thought about this a lot and I'm not entirely sure it's true (I don't like just giving up on something when it is obviously wrong). However I think there is a point to what she is saying. You can try and change things by increasing your support system. You can try and change yourself to fit in with the system. Or you can say enough, you can give up, you can go and find another mountain to climb. This is the hard thing. There are some people who whinge constantly, yet I know they will still be in the same situation 5 years from now because they don't care enough to do something to bring about change - in the system, in themselves - or to leave and start again somewhere else.
What do I whinge about? What can I actually DO about these things?
Last year I think I whinged a lot about the fact that our technology didn't work, that students couldn't connect to the network easily to save/access their work. Some of this was caused by the way students logged in - this has now changed. Some of this was caused by the software we were using - this has changed too as we have moved more into the cloud. This year I don't whinge about the technology not working because we have done something to put it right.
This year I have whinged about access to technology - for example some of our classes don't have enough access to computers or to a technology teacher or someone to support them. What can I do about this? I have raised the issue of time, support and access with those further up the food chain on a number of different occasions. I have no power myself to make these changes. This is something I have had to give up and just work with what I have. Of course it irritates me that these students are not getting the same as others in the school, but again it is a matter of perspective. For example I was talking to a teacher who works in Africa a few months ago who told me the only technology she had access to was tape recorders. Compared with that we are a world away!
Another thing I have whinged about is how people with knowledge and experience are sometimes seen not as an asset but as a threat. Combined with this I know I have whinged about how the salary system works against those with experience. What can I do about this? Very little in my current job I think as I cannot change the system or the people. This year I have constantly questioned whether I can change myself to live with this, to accept the status quo. I'm still not sure of the answer but I know what I can do if I decide I can't live with it: I can find another school where knowledge and experience are valued.
For now I'm trying to focus on what can be changed. I'm developing the IT to enhance teaching and learning and trying to keep abreast of new developments in IT and the emerging research about best practices and their impact on student learning. I'm working hard on planning, teaching and assessing with our teachers so that the IT is embedded in a way that transforms the learning. I'm working hard on differentiation and choice for both students and teachers. I'm working on professional development and giving the teachers the skills they need to be confident in leading the S and A parts of the SAMR model. Through the use of class, unit of inquiry and grade level blogs I'm trying to empower teachers and students to use technology more for communication, both inside and outside the classroom.
But is this actually enough? It's a question I ask myself on an almost daily basis and so far I haven't come up with the answer, just a vague feeling that I could be doing so much more to make a real impact, to get to the heart of, the purpose of, education.