A common practice for mentoring teachers today is to video record a new teacher’s lesson and then reflect with that teacher after watching the video. I have often said that I would not want to watch a recording of myself teaching from my first couple of years. Why am I fearful of seeing this video? Poor instruction? Bad classroom management? No closure or assessing what my students learned? Probably all of the above and why is that, because I’ve grown and changed since 2002 and that’s a good thing. Most people view change as a bad thing and I understand. When someone is asking you to change (planning, assessing, instruction, technology), we have a habit of hearing all of the things we are doing wrong instead of tips/feedback on things we could do better. I was upset as a young teacher when an administrator gave me an area for growth in my seating arrangement (I had the tried and true rows of desks). I was frustrated because I thought my classroom was fine and heck that is how all of the classrooms I had ever been in were set up. I changed my room to clusters of desks where students could face each other and have conversation and collaboration. What I heard when I first received the feedback was that my classroom set up was wrong and that I was failing my students, but once I made the change, I never used rows again and this small change improved my classroom.
Can you imagine still teaching like it was 2002? I cringe when I think about it, but that would mean I would be standing by my overhead and going over problems with my students. Problems would not be in a real world context (think more drill and kill) and my mindset at that time was “I taught it, it’s up to the student to learn it” because I was so focused on what I was doing and not what the students were learning. In the sports world, I was focused on the name on the back of the jersey and not the name on the front. I was not worried about different learning styles, differentiation, or even relevance- I just wanted to get through my curriculum. Luckily (for myself and my students) I changed. We are at a critical spot in education- do we continue teaching like we always have or do we embrace the changes that are needed? I understand that I was bias in the way that I framed that question, but I always want to do what is best for students and I fully believe that implementing technology into our everyday practice is what is best for all students. Yes this change is scary and can be intimidating but shouldn’t educators model continuous learning? Part of growing is being able to learn and improve in your practice. Are you an educator that has 5, 10, 15 years of experience or are you an educator that has had 5, 10, 15 one year experiences where every year is the same just the students are different? We know change is needed and that jobs are requiring new and different skills then the jobs we prepared students for even ten years ago. We cannot fight this change or we will become Blockbuster. As George Couros wrote in his blog post How Quickly Things Change and his book Innovators Mindset (cheap plug- I love this book, a must read for educators):
“It was only a few years ago that video rental stores like Blockbuster were the best way
for people to watch movies in the comfort of their own home. In some places around the world, these stores still exist. But in the Western world, cheaper and more convenient options (no travel required) have put most neighborhood video stores out of business.
The Internet completely changed the movie rental industry. Companies that took advantage of new technology, like Netflix with its DVD-by-mail and online streaming options, are thriving. Meanwhile, companies, like Blockbuster, that refuse to let go of outdated business models experience a slow, painful death.
Blockbuster had the opportunity to buy Netflix a few times, but declined. And by the time it attempted to start its own DVD-by-mail program, the company had lost its place as an industry leader. The hard lesson that Blockbuster and its fellow neighborhood movie rental businesses failed to heed is this: innovate or die.”
We have the opportunity now engage our students that was not possible before. Please do not decline this opportunity. Change is hard at first, but it can be gorgeous by the end.