#IMMOOC, SAMR, and Change…Oh My!

Posted on March 6, 2017

While reading the introduction to The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, by George Couros, one thought just keep jumping out at me…

The intro mentions districts and schools who have loads of technology, but use it to do the same lessons and activities (albeit digital) that they have always done. Thus, turning their technology into incredibly expensive pencils. “School will continue to look the same as it did when we attended, only in a digital format.” (Couros 2015)

After rolling out 1:1 Chromebooks, I’m finding that a lot of teachers who started the year with high hopes have settled into this rut. We’re using SAMR in my district now to help these teachers start having conversations about when this type of substitution is appropriate and when it’s just a waste of technology. We are already worried about kids getting too much screen time…so WHY would we trade time in front of the screen for such a low-level activity? Make your screen time COUNT!!! Challenge them, engage them, frustrate them! Trade their time for something that makes them think! While I don’t think SAMR is a ‘silver bullet’, I think it definitely encourages discussion, reflection, and teaching with intent that seems to be lacking as the day-to-day stresses settle on our teachers’ shoulders.

On another note…

I work as a Learning Technologies Coach. It’s my job to help teachers use technology in the classroom to further student understanding. But I often find myself stymied by the attitude that technology has no place in a teachers classroom, it’s bothersome, or the current method (quite often drill and kill) works great for test scores, so don’t fix what’s not broken.

I’m not asking that a teacher ditch other instructional models and modes of learning…I’m just looking for a little balance. I’m looking for teachers to maximize their productivity, increase student accountability and creativity, and just TRY IT BEFORE YOU DIS IT!

“When students graduate, many of them are good at one thing: school…[b]ut the world is not a series of rubrics! To succeed, they will need to know how to think for themselves and adapt to constantly changing situations. And although we say we want kids to think for themselves, what we teach them is compliance.” (Couros 2015)

So, herein lies my struggle. I love my teacher peeps. They work hard and love their kids. But I can’t get past such a short-sighted attitude. You are NOT preparing your students for COLLEGE…let alone the world by drilling and killing, worksheeting, and sage-on-the-staging it all the time. Your blatant refusal to not only learn technology yourself, but to use your fear/dislike to prevent students from using it in your class is just wrong. You are refusing to learn…and when you stop learning, you stop growing…and when you stop growing, you start dying. You’re missing out on the same amazing possibilities that you’re robbing your students of experiencing! 

AGAIN…I don’t want them on computers 24/7 and you don’t have to change EVERYTHING. It’s about balance…it’s about giving kids the skills they REALLY NEED, not just the teacher-filtered information from your content area. It’s about being flexible with your content, classroom, and your vice-like grip on the control.

This leads to another quote in a graphic (God Bless the Internet)…

Sigh….we have to keep learning…stepping out of our comfort zones. And it’s my team’s job to get people to do that. We work hard (I have the best team EVUH). And we are often successful at helping teachers realize that they could do it all along. But LAWD, do I get frustrated sometimes…not at the lack of skill (I was there once), not at the fear (I’ve been there too), but at the sheer refusal to even try. PLEASE don’t teach THAT to your students!

Perhaps, upon reflection, my greatest frustration is that I know that every one of my teachers is awesome…amazing…and could ROCK OUT their classrooms with the opportunities that technology can offer (read this caveat in that annoying announcer voice from the insurance commercial disclaimers – “when used in moderation and applied effectively with rigor”). I KNOW they can do it…I haven’t given up hope…I just wish THEY knew it too! I wish they’d climb on board so that when it comes to engaging, innovating, and educating…we’d have “…all hands on deck.” (Couros 2015)

Couros, George. The innovator’s mindset: empower learning, unleash talent, and lead a culture of creativity. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc., 2015. Print.

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