Motivation to Innovation

I’ve been working on a proposal for improving professional development in my district. The blended learning trend is one I fully support, and devices are easily accessible in my building. But many of the people I work with are reluctant to create new strategies. It’s understandable. My co-workers have been presented with a new curriculum, a second SLO, and assessment data requirements that are occupying a majority of their attention. They just don’t have time to redesign their lessons, especially when it demands using technology with which they are not yet comfortable.

The first draft of my innovation plan was reviewed last week and I agreed with the feedback I received.

  • I need to model blended learning, and find 2-3 other teachers in my building to work with me in modeling it in their own classrooms.
  • I need to remove the disruptive learning references, as the word “disruptive” is unnerving to an administrator. (so true)
  • Lead in to the PD part of the proposal with my own blended learning experiences, and that of others I’m working with.

The problem is that although I am a technology instructor, I only have 30 minutes each week to work with students from any class. I’ve come from a 1:1 high school, where I’ve flipped classrooms, created online collaborative environments, and used video tutorials with my students. In my current K-5 environment, I blend learning where I can. But even logging in to O365 with my 2nd-5th graders often takes more than a third of my dedicated class time. I’ve made my open lab times available to them and their students, but they take advantage of the opportunities only to research and type reports or spelling words. I’ve made myself available to classroom teachers, with whom I’d love to “push in” and help integrate technology in with their students. Responses are typically “I don’t have time”, or something along those lines.

My literature research supports my experience. Teachers across the U.S. are spread too thin. Many are frustrated by professional development opportunities that include one-size-fits-all instruction. To some, it’s a waste of time, and time is an extremely valuable commodity among educators. In fact, time may be the one thing that a school district can offer teachers to promote a transformation in the way they teach.

Dedicating release time to teachers would go a long way in motivating them to transform the way they teach. Providing them time to collaborate with co-workers to share what’s working in their classrooms, and to develop new and innovative lessons would be more productive than telling them or showing them how to do it. For that reason, my proposal will be one for re-purposing our regular PLC and SIP meetings. One PLC meeting each month, and one SIP meeting each semester should be dedicated for teachers to work together to focus on blending technology into their lessons. Doing so would at the very least start a conversation about which strategies are working and which are not. One teacher’s experience could inspire another, and meaningful learning would take place in the discussions and collaboration between educators. Best of all, such a decision would be a great way for administrators to send the message that they are committed to improving education through the use of technology.

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