I really enjoyed the conversation in the back channel during the most recent episode What Stalls the Shift? of David Carpenter and Jeff Utecht’s On Deck Podcast. This was the first time that my commitments allowed me to do this but I am a big fan of this style of interaction and will ensure that I join in again.
I just want to pick up on one point. David and Jeff have both worked for what I would say are fairly dynamic, progressive international schools in Asia and the middle east and their network of contacts is predominantly from this style of international school. I work in Hong Kong with a range of schools including the larger internationals like the one that David was formerly from. I also work with some internationals that are very different to this.
Quite a few of these international schools are not the dynamic “Switched on to IT” style of school that seemed to be portrayed as the norm in the last episode. My reason for saying this is when the backroom conversation turned to how a teacher who is really enthused about the use of ICT to further 21st Century Learning in his or her classroom might get a slightly reluctant senior administrator to see the benefit, the comment eventually came from Andy Torris that maybe it is easier to move to a school that does “get it”. Andy went on to say how he was very keen to attract teachers that are switched on to ICT for learning.
Whilst I have to say that this is good advice and ultimately the best thing for a teacher to do, it is anything but easy to do in a lot of cases. I constantly hear stories of teachers trying to use ICT tools and either not getting the necessary support or having so many barriers to jump put in place that they become disillusioned. I am currently working with a teacher passionate about using a document camera in his school and not being able to convince the Senior Administration of the benefit in spite of demonstrating excellent classroom practice with the tool. The teacher has finally bit the bullet and decided to purchase it himself. This is in a school that prides itself as being very technologically advanced.
There are a number of schools that I have visited that pride themselves on being very forward thinking when it comes to ICT but when you look more closely, it is about every kid leaving with high competencies in Word Processing, Spreadsheets and Databases. The use of ICT for learning in core subjects is almost non-existent.
So, to clarify what I was trying to say in the back channel, I wholeheartedly agree that if a teacher finds themselves hitting their heads against a brick wall in trying to get Senior Admin to see the value in using ICT to support lifelong learning and connectedness in their students, one of the options open to them would be to find a more supportive school. Sometimes, however, due to lots of factors including financial, family responsibility, promotional opportunities etc, this can be hard to do.
One thing that is out there for teachers like this that can feel frustrated is a supportive, sharing and open online community.
I don’t know what I would do without this online community!