Why teachers should take the first step

I have spoken before about the opposition to web 2.0 that I have encountered amongst teachers that I deal with in my position as a mathematics consultant.

Today I was delighted to receive an e-mail from my line manager in which he asked me to look at an Elluminate video that had been created by a forward looking teacher in our area. I was over the moon. My line manager wanted to know if I felt there was any mileage in contacting other secondary maths teachers and seeing if they would be helped by using “this new technology”.

It was as if the future was rushing towards me and here was an agent of change. I have come across a few, a Primary colleague who is very interested in blogging and also using “Scratch” with his children and a local school that uses a closed Twitter account as a means of communication with the parents.

It made me think that it is the first uncertain steps that are required. I have been blogging now for almost a year. I have been a fairly inactive member, though strong supporter, of the “Educator’s PLN”, I have now got over 750 Twitter followers and I have made a significant group of my PLN “Friends” on Facebook which has opened up even more avenues of information. I attempted, although miserably failed, in getting to a local Teachmeet a few weeks ago in Basildon, but was able to get back in time to follow the proceedings on the internet.

The more I have tried, and read and written and communicated, the more confident I have become in using the technology, applying the technology and understanding how the technology is now a major revolution in the way we live and will eventually transform the school system that I have been a small part of for over thirty years as a teacher and for a very short time as a headteacher.

But it takes the courage of taking a step into the unknown which I see so many teachers as being fearful of. They are happy with the world that they have grown up in and are afraid to explore this new world. If they enter it though they will see that it is one (to quote Ben Zander) of “endless possibility”. They are stuck in the closed world that creates only problems and not solutions.

Today it was snowing and I was working from home. I managed to follow a Tweet that led to a wonderful experiment that didn’t quite work. The link was to an interview with Dr Tom King by one of my favourite PLN influencers Shelley Terrell about “Saturn School” which was set up in the late 80’s to embrace technology and personalised learning.

What I liked about the whole “Saturn” experiment was that it happened. Someone took a step into the unknown and others followed him. The result was a school that was in many many ways ahead of its time. The step into possibility is the thing that teachers need to do. The result may be failure (whatever that is) but it is the only way that things really get to change.

So imagine my delight about this teacher who wants to take a step forward into the new communicative age and take other colleagues with her. I e-mailed back that I would be delighted to assist in whatever way I could. After all, to quote Chairman Mao “The longest journey starts with one small step”.



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