Brian Crosby, a sixth grade teacher in Nevada, posted Have Too Many Lost The Passion? - talking about how one of the casualties of "programmed teaching" and testing - is the passion teachers have for their work. Another byproduct is that technology innovation, even real basic web 1.0 stuff, gets swept under the rug and forgotten. I couldn't agree more, and I encourage the reading of his complete post. Here's a bit...
This lack of passion means teachers are having fewer discussions about teaching and learning - and the programs so many of us have to follow leave zero time and resources to promote the kind of teaching we would like to be doing so sharing the new teaching tools becomes irrelevant to all but the few.
This struck a chord with me, so I left this lengthy response:
Brian, nice post. I do agree with you about what is sucking the passion out of the profession. I’m glad you see some cracks in the wall, because I don’t. The demon I’ve been struggling with this year was a schoolwide writing curriculum (built on the “writer’s workshop” idea) that had no technology component - pencil and paper, Mead notebooks, right out of the 19th and 20th centuries. I did it, but I also got my kids blogging - and that experience was just incredible.
Give teachers maybe just a little chance to change on their own, do their own thing, research and try out new things - and then let’s see if the passion is gone.
Yesterday, I brought my colleagues up to our computer lab - I promised them 20 minutes. Last day of work. End of a long day of meetings. I just wanted to show them what the lab would look like next year, since we just upgraded it. Imagine the energy. Imagine the enthusiasm… the drooped shoulders, the exhausted faces.
I talked for about 15 minutes about the lab, upgrades happening this summer, and so on. Then I thought I’d throw in just a bit about blogging. Why not? Nothing to lose, I had talked about it before, shown them my class blog during the year, etc.
I suggested they all get a personal blog going this summer. Just to try it out, I said. I worked myself up to some pretty passionate stuff in about 60 seconds - ending with something like, “if we as teachers don’t embrace and use these incredible new tools, and teach our kids how to use them safely, then I think we will be failing our kids, and I think ultimately, we will be negligent. Nobody else is going to do it. It’s up to us….” etc.
Somebody asked how they could start a blog. I showed them edublogs.org - within 10 minutes, over six teachers had a blog set up. I don’t know how many were successful, everybody was trying at once, getting a username, blog title, etc - I felt like I was back in the classroom again - yikes! It was great.
Now I don’t expect that they will all continue this - but I bet a couple will. I send this story along as an example of what teachers can do when the other stuff is out of the way - the tests, the rigid curricula, the endless meetings, the expectations that they be mindless implementers of the “perfect program”, etc.
I put a little passion out there for my colleagues, and many grabbed at it, even in their exhausted state. They were taking a chance to learn something new, to grow on their own, to experiment, to play. The spark is still there, it just needs to be lit - and given a little room to breathe.
I’ll get back to you on my “rant” later. - Mark