Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Are we avoiding best practice simply because change is inevitable?

Last week I had a brief conversation with a colleague from a different department at my university. The conversation went something like this:

Him: "You know, my theory was right."

Me: "What theory is that?"

Him: "I predicted that by the time I learned how to use the new management system, we would switch to a new one." (By the way, the "new" LMS he's referring to has been in place for several years now.)

Me: "Yeah, I know the task force is working to select a new LMS this year."

Him: "That's why I didn't bother to figure out how to use that one. I knew that by the time I learned it, we would move on to something new."

Me: (like a coward) "It can be hard to keep up sometimes."

Since that conversation, I've thought of so many better things I could've said instead. Here are a few of them, beginning with helpful responses followed by some snarky ones.

"When I was new here, I attended some workshops so I could learn how to use the LMS well. Did you participate in any of those?"

"How do your students feel about all of the paper you use in class? My students don't particularly like our LMS, but they like having access to course resources online."

"It might have taken you a semester or two to become familiar with it, but then you could have been pretty efficient with it for the past 4 years."

"I would love to help you transition to the new LMS once the task force selects one."

"That's why I never attend mandatory faculty meetings. I figure that once I get used to the meeting schedule, they'll change the date on me. Why bother?"

"Wow. I wasn't aware of your psychic powers."

"That sounds like a cop-out."

I hear conversations like this all too often in education. Let's face it, things do change. And often, the change is just some reiteration of a previous initiative. Educators who've been in the field for a while are quick to let you know that they've seen things come and go. They proudly state that they're going to "wait it out" because "this too shall pass".

While there's some truth to these comments, I wonder if that perspective is in the best interest of our students. Our students are the ones who suffer when we choose to dig our heels in and wait for the next big thing. Is it your students' fault that your district is implementing a curricular change that looks, at first glance, similar to something you did 15 years ago? And is it their fault that it's difficult to keep up with changes in technology? Our students deserve our best. Every. Single. Day. Even when it's not easy. Even when it takes more of our time. Even if it means we have to ask for help.

The next time you overhear or participate in a conversation like this one, I hope you'll be brave enough to encourage / challenge your colleagues to embrace change in order to better serve our students.

1 comment:

  1. I like this choice, (although I realize it is somewhat Pollyanish) because it offers a hand of assistance, like we hopefully do with our reluctant and resistant learners!

    ""I would love to help you transition to the new LMS once the task force selects one."