When you Know That People are Listening

I have had three experiences over the past three days that drives home the fact that change is slow and that even though teachers may not let on, they are listening all of the time. These experiences are:

  1. Our Model UN club was having a training session on Saturday. During this session, they were instructing the delegates who were going to the Chicago Model UN on how to use Google Docs Word Processing to collaborate on the resolutions that they will be creating during this event. My daughter, who is one of the delegates informs me that she will need to have access to a better computer to take so she can use Google Docs to participate. The history teachers who are advising and taking the delegation have also used Google Docs extensively over the summer to plan changes to our freshman and sophomore year history offerings.
  2. Two of our seniors, each of them doing their own individual Independent Study project, have come to me asking how to construct a web site to display their project. We discuss the options relative to use a wiki or a Word Press blog to construct the site. In both cases, the students want to get feedback from people outside the school community. In each case, the adviser of the Independent Study asked them to follow up with me to have the conversation. The advisers have not yet adopted these strategies within the context of their curriculum for their larger courses.

I have spend the good part of the last two years, providing examples using Web 2.0 technologies to allow students to collaborate. We have carved out professional development time, both formal and informal, to share different tools that can be used the the strengths and weaknesses of the various tools. At times, it gets frustrating when these teachers are unwilling to make wholesale changes to adopt these tools.

However, the time and energy invested is not in vain. The teachers are listening and willing to try these tools in smaller, controlled circumstances. With the success of each of these projects, it may convince these teachers to be willing to scale these opportunities so that they will be included in a whole class project. They are taking baby steps, but for each step that they are taking, they are building up confidence and finding that this can be engaging and rewarding for all who participate.

So don’t get discouraged. Continue to spread the word, even though you may not think that people are listending and receptive. Maybe they are listening and trying to figure out the best opportunity to test out the ideas.

<< image courtesy of AV4TAr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/av4tar/373423421/>>

5 thoughts on “When you Know That People are Listening

  1. You are right on the money– this is how we see change — small ways that when they are successful, move on to bigger ways! You have a great attitude and always inspire me!

  2. This is exactly the reminder that I needed. Sometimes I feel like a really big fly buzzing around the teachers’ heads. “zzzzzzzz Look at these blogs they could improve writing zzzzzz” Some teachers let me buzz and occasionally ask a question but I have been “swatted at” a few times too. Today I’m making a point to look for the small changes!

  3. Hi Vinnie — Had a great conversation with an administrator at my school who helped me refocus on the big picture yesterday. I was feeling like there was no focus on change, and he gave me hope. I was reinvigorated. Your post reminds me that we have come a long way, yet as a person who loves to look far into the future, I find it frustrating to be happy with current progress. I guess that’s a good thing for people in our positions. Thanks for reminding us that we are making progress.


  4. Thank you for sharing this! I too have worked for the past year sharing Web 2.0 tools in staff development. I do know that we are having more teachers come to after school training than when we were offering Word Basics, PowerPoint presentations, etc.

  5. Absolutely, Vinnie. From time to time, I discover that innovation comes from what I thought was the most unlikely of teachers. They are listening carefully and even trying new ideas from time to time.

    I think it’s important for us to maintain some consistency in our message. If we keep changing our tune, then teachers are less likely to take a risk and give something new a try.


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