Thursday, January 10, 2008

If you want things to improve, get out of there!

Whether you are a teacher, administrator or consultant, the key to improvement is for you to disappear. That's right, get out of there! This might seem like a crazy or even provocative or accusatory notion, but I've given this plenty of thought and a little bit of practice.

I complete about 75% of my consulting work online, and many people were a tad skeptical about how this could be effective. I guess I had to convince myself as well.

However, what has become apparent is that when you are physically removed from the equation (be that classroom or school), you are forced to capitalize on other modes of gathering and disseminating information.

It challenges you, it threatens to bring you undone, but more than anything else, it evokes tremendous growth for yourself and those with whom you work.

In order to provide online, personalized professional development, I have had to draw upon applications that I would probably only have tinkered with if I were still presenting myself daily in the school building.

My advice to teachers and administrators then, is to imagine yourself robbed of physical presence in the classroom or school. How would you get your job done then? How would you find out what you needed to know? How would you pass on what others need to know?

I'm sure that most people won't really give serious thought to this proposition, but until you put yourself in this situation - either imagined or real - you'll continue to fall back on the spoken delivery that has seemed to serve you so well in the past.

After all, explaining things from the front of the room or over the intercom has been the preferred mode of communication for eons now, hasn't it? And everyone listens and everyone understands, right?

If you need a change, take an imagined break from the room and see what wonderful new teaching (with technology) methods you develop. And please share. Good luck.

P.S. I also like Will Richardson's post on Learning Like Kids, which describes a mindset that would complement my proposal.

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