Signs of Insanity – Musings on Standards
The building I work in. Conducive to insanity?
So now that I’m in college you’d assume I’d be happy to be away from the irritation and hassle of state standards (like the SOLs). It turns out I actually missed them. Have I lost my mind?
Probably, but I found myself arguing this morning that we should be taking advantage of the accreditation process (think NCLB for colleges only with no tests and the majority of the “proof” being created by the profs./admins- basically prove to us that you deserve to be accredited) in order to get people to change their teaching, integrate more technology etc.
That led me to realize how much I relied on the SOLs (VA’s state standards) as a lever to get into classrooms. Those standards helped me in all kinds of ways. I played good cop/bad cop and gleefully used the SOLs as the bad cop.
“Look,” I’d say “I know that the SOLs are requiring you to do blah blah blah. That’s really hard. You’ve got no time. I know. I think I have something that can help . . .” It was incredibly useful and it gave me a structure when talking to teachers who taught content I didn’t know that well.
I didn’t think I had that in college and, truth be told, it made things much more difficult. As it is college faculty have far more freedom than teachers both in terms of content and teaching styles/methodology.
I can certainly make very passionate arguments regarding the use of certain technologies in teaching but how could I start these conversations? I’m not a cold call salesman. I don’t chat people up and then suddenly say “I know I just met you but have you considered radically changing your teaching style?” I’d much rather create some content that addresses a need I know they have and then show it to them and say “If you’d like to talk about this or use it let me know.”
What I was preparing to do was sit in on a lot of classes to get the feel. I’m still going to do that but now I’ve got a framework of things these professors have to do. I can look at these major markers and then look at what will help them meet then in general and only have to tweak things based on individual classes.
Now I’m saving time and have a “big stick” that I’m not holding to motivate people. Instead, I hold the carrot of ease, engagement and ego. My way will help them meet that need easily, engage their students which improves product and makes teaching more enjoyable and finally, provides them a chance to show off the great work they’re doing in their classes.
Change often needs both a carrot and a stick.
Now my question is- do we risk eternal hatred for technology integration by associating it so closely with a process/idea that so many dislike so strongly?
Is it a disservice to the faculty and the ideas to push these changes on people who clearly don’t want to change? If so, what other options do we have to create change in any real and timely manner?