From the perspective of instructional leadership one of the issues which I have been pondering has to do with encouraging and sustaining systemic change (either school wide or district wide). This issue has made an appearance in a variety of forms in the blogosphere over the last year. Jeff Utecht a technology coordinator in Shanghai posed an interesting question about six weeks ago. In essence he asks, given our budget for next year would it be more beneficial to buy every teacher a laptop and get them using technology or to set up a model classrooms complete with Smartboards etc and have those teachers model what can be done
Jeff explains the specific dilemma like this:
So, here’s the debate. If you are moving to a 1:1 environment which approach is better? Giving every teacher, even those who aren’t ready for one, a laptop and take a year to train your whole staff before bringing students onboard, or create these classrooms to become model classrooms, to show what the admin is expecting of the teachers. Teachers would have to ‘apply’ to receive one of the 21st Century Classrooms knowing that if they get chosen, that they will have a certain amount of PD they must attend and that at the same time they will be held to a higher standard with a new evaluation system that will come with the program.
Laptops for every teacher or model classrooms….
It is an interesting question and one that needs to be considered from all angles.
I believe that this is more than an intellectual exercise. I have become convinced that the kind of systemic change we need to mount is urgent and so finding the balance between this urgency and patience with the process requires some serious reflection on the best means of supporting and encouraging change. What would you choose and why?
As we have begun to travel down the path toward school 2.0
in our own community, I have tried to identify the necessary components of
initiating and sustaining systemic change. These experience form and inform my
The obstacles I have experienced are:
- Not understanding why we need to change
- Inertia and fear
The essential elements in activating and sustaining change became:
- Telling the story of the digital world repeatedly and from different perspectives. How is it different than the 20th century?
- Vision + Goals ( BHAGS)= Action - Understanding the story develops vision but it is not a call to action . Goals turn concepts into actions.
- Starting- Even if it means just doing old things in new ways overcomes inertia. Each success breeds new courage and overcomes fears.
- Connecting the staff with the blogosphere so they begin to see possibilities
So given Jeff’s choice I have to say I would go for laptops
for everybody. This is based on my
believe that the most important thing we
can do is overcome inertia by getting all teachers started. Generally, it takes
three years for new initiatives to show results so if we do not start everyone
now we will prolong that process having some students benefit from the changes
and others still lagging behind. I believe we have a responsibility to prepare
our students now for the digital world. That is we can not just wait for
everyone to get on board; we need to find active ways to overcome inertia and
fear for the whole staff. I think that
means putting computers in their hands.
What do you think?