Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Just say "No," to the Status Quo!

Just say "No," to the Status Quo!

#IMMOOC Season 3, Episode 3 

This week as part of the IMMOOC for The Innovator's Mindset, we've been asked to blog about..."What is one thing that you used to do in education that you no longer do or believe in? Why the change?"

There are probably many technological changes over my 20 plus years in the classroom that I no longer use, like ditto machines, filmstrip projectors and VCRs.   I sometimes miss the acetone smell of freshly duplicated dittos.  But I don't miss the agony of having the page mangled by the machine, or the look of boredom on the bright little faces of my learners when faced with, {aghast} 'another worksheet'.

And in reading chapters four and five of The Innovator's Mindset this week, the words that jumped off the page for me were in the section on the Power of "No" versus a culture of "Yes."  As George Couros writes..."The problem is that when you say "no" to innovation - for any reason - people feel reluctant to attempt trying new things in the future....Sooner or later, the innovators will get tired of asking for forgiveness.  They'll move on to places where they're trusted to use their creativity and passion - or, perhaps worse, they'll settle into the status quo.  In either case, learners will be deprived of their ingenuity." (p.72-73)

I used to be that "status quo" teacher.  I was young.  I had worked hard to get that first job and I sure didn't want to do anything that would rock the boat, or even worse, cause me to look bad to the folks in the office, or jeopardize my job when still in probationary status.  But, as I looked around my classroom, I saw so many ways I could improve the learning environment for my students.  And most of them involved new technology or teaching methods, or classroom environment (like seating) that required me to look for funding outside of my meager classroom budget, or invest in my own learning through courses and workshops.  

So, I started to take some risks.  I tried some new things.  I wrote grant applications, I entered contests, I asked for additional funds from non traditional sources.  I ran fundraisers and got colleagues and parents on board to help me.  We wanted a SmartBoard and computers in the room.  So, I sold a lot of cookie dough, pizzas and bargained with my Principal to match any funds we raised.  We got that SmartBoard and each year added more desktop computers in the room.  I saw the value of 1:1 iPads, so I wrote applications for them and we got them.  I've worked a lot of Bingos.  My family cringes when they see me coming with yet another fundraiser.  I spent weekends and nights on the computer taking courses and going to workshops so I could learn how to use this technology effectively in my classroom.  I pushed my own envelope and sometimes I failed, but more often I succeeded and my students benefited from our trials and tribulations.  

So what is it that I no longer do in education because I don't believe in it?  I no longer accept the limits of my classroom budget, or the twenty year old lessons of Teacher's college.  I no longer worry about a plan that might not work, or a new method that might be a bit scary for me.  If I want to try some new technology, but I don't have the budget for it, I don't accept that as a reason to stop trying to get it.  When it comes to innovation and change, I'm an early adopter.  I'd rather beg forgiveness for a failure, than not try at all.  I just say "NO" to the status quo.

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