Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Making change happen

I have been running professional development for teachers for a while now and I was thinking about the four types of teachers I usually work with.
1. The excuse maker
2. The holiday maker
3. The dream maker
4. The change maker

The excuse maker is the teacher who cries, ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’! I have seen these innovations come and I have seen them go, they are just the same old thing with a different name. What I have been doing has worked well enough and I’m not about to change now.

The holiday maker is the teacher who grabs hold of any and every new idea and zealously implements it. Then after a while returns ‘home’ back to business as usual. These teachers do not embed the theory behind the practice and therefore the practice doesn’t stick.

The dream maker is the teacher who understands the theories behind new ideas but does not implement them, doesn't know how to make the dream a reality. This teacher may purport to believing in collaborative structures but this is not evident in their room. This teacher may not be aware that their actions do not back up their beliefs or they just might not know how to align the two.

The change maker is the teacher who successfully aligns their beliefs with their practice. They see the value in new ideas for the learning of their students and set about making changes to their practice based on reflection and research.

These are the teachers I come across in my travels and the ones that I try to help engage with ICT and see its value for their students’ learning. Since I have become aware of these traits within the teachers I can see how to work with teachers more effectively.

Can you see yourself in any of these categories? I know that I can see bits of each of them in myself throughout my time as a teacher. What I want to know now is how to help everyone become a change maker, to make thoughtful changes based on learning needs which embed both theory and practice.


Anonymous said...

I had a beauty this week- "I don't want to work or do anything on line because it will all change- the internet will stop working and my work will be lost- so I will save myself the bother and just not do anything."

Allanah K

skip zalneraitis said...

I think the other shoe that drops in the process of change in education is the lack of true collegiality. This is my 3rd career - an Anglican clergyperson, an engineer, and now teacher.
If you resist being collegial, how can you collaborate? How can yoou truly trust?
Thank you for listening. I enjoy reading your tweets, as well.

Marnie Thomas said...

Now that is a great description of people. The next step you should take is to make up a quiz so people can self diagnose themselves and see where they fit! (just kidding) We all have them, not sure how you more some along...

Raenette said...

Jane, you're so right! As an ICT lead teacher, I see all of the above. Sometimes it feels as if I'm so busy trying to inspire/convince/motivate everyone else, that the real change is not happening in my own classroom! And then there's always the element of 'tall poppy syndrome'. When I do try something new, I'm often stopped in my tracks, and I've been told several times in the last few weeks that I musn't 'overwhelm' the other teachers with all the whizz bang... Just can't win!

Donnady said...

Hi Jane, enjoyed your categories ;). I agree - attempting to analyse and empathise with peoples 'stages' in the change process can help us develop an understanding of the individual's perspective. I've had some fun with the idea myself in my blog -
and used these ideas as springboards for effective (and often passionate)discussion in Cluster & Facilitator PD workshops.It's important to reflect on our own personal stance - with some humour - and truly examine our practice.

A Churches said...

Its kind of scary being out on the leading edge, being a change maker, but its so much fun.

There is an old saying from sledge dog teams "If you aren't the lead dog, the view never changes". I wonder how many teachers are out there whose views never change, who are repeating verbatium the same lessons, year in year out? But I wonder to how many are out there taking chances and having great fun at it.

Nice post


The Virtual Teacher said...

I love the categories. I can see bits of each one in myself, but I like to think that I am mostly change maker.
I find the best approach to move dreamers forward is getting someone into their classrooms to support a first project. This gives them a taste of the real thing. It's hard to go back after that. I find the same is true in a different way for the holiday makers. Supporting them through an authentic project gives them a taste for the real thing (not just a skimming of the surface where they can see what it is like, but jumping right in with someone next to them to make sure they don't go under). Again, it is harder to go back to the old ways afterwards. Teaming up with a mentor they can chat with about future projects and get advice from can also help keep them going.
I find the excuse makers the most challenging. You can't create lasting, meaningful change if the will isn't there. I've had the best luck with letting them do their own thing while those around them do really exciting stuff (you can't support everyone at once, after all). They sometimes get interested when they see what others are doing, and they can see how it might enhance one of their pet topics. The students in their classes sometimes clamor to do what the other classes are doing as well. A key here, though, is to keep inviting the excuse makers to participate in new projects even if they turn them down - don't give them the new excuse that nobody told them or tried to include them.
Just what I have noticed in supporting the teachers around me. Again, loved the categories. Thanks.

Simon said...

I too can see myself, a little, in each over these. And I've been teaching only 10 years! Maybe that's a while now?!

Teachers are what they are, I guess. We do need to move them all toward being change makers. But we can't beat ourselves up about it.

You can lead a teacher to.... but you can't make them....

Jane Nicholls said...

Thanks for the comments guys, I'm enjoying considering this further.

I was wondering about the dream maker category. I was thinking about it in relation to my Sunday visits to church. Every Sunday afternoon I am filled with the passion and dream of making the world a better place and living a better life and being a better person. Come Wednesday, these ambitions are just dreams I may have made a few tentative steps but I can't be all that I know I would like to be.

I wonder if this is the same with being an effective teacher. We can have knowledge of the theories and be moving towards making them our realities but sometimes the here and now is so difficult to get through that the dreams stay dreams.

Just my musings :)

Erica Hartman said...

I am Erica from theitclassroom
I see myself as a change maker and a holiday maker. I get really excited about a tech app, I use it and get the students all excited and then sometimes I forget about it or go back to the old way. I use my blog to help me become a change maker and keep track of new tech tools I want to integrate in my curriculum. After I use it with my students I try to reflect on it in my blog.
This post really gets me thinking about how I can become a 100% change maker.

Tracey Bryant Stuckey said...

Fabulous depiction of the types of teachers... just fabulous! I have worked with many teachers through facilitating professional development in the US. I have only found one thing that ALWAYS works. What is it? I require them to read WHO MOVED MY CHEESE? before entering my classes or workshops. We spend the first hour discussing how the book has shifted our thinking and how they look at the "changes" in children differently after the reading. They love it. The book takes no longer than one hour to read (maybe two for a slow reader). I highly suggest you try it!