By: Krystal Bellamy
This year when I pondered teacher appreciation, Mr. Lambrecht came to the forefront of my mind. A dynamic and lively instructor, he didn’t buy into our drama. He didn’t let us get hung up on “why” when solving algebra problems, even when half the room was literally crying. Most importantly he taught his struggling students (my best friend) the same way he taught his advanced students. I work each day to heed and emanate Mr. Lambrecht’s lessons in my encounters with teachers.
1. Do not buy into the drama
Change is difficult, and many of us get all “worked up” when we feel our comfort zone being challenged. Start your own personal learning network, or find one to join. Shelly Terrell suggests many PLN’s for teachers in “23 Resources about Personal Learning Networks” (2010). Look for positive and constructive PLN’s. You might also try Edudemic’s “35 Ways to Build your Personal Learning Network Online” (2012). Don’t hesitate to look for PLN’s that are offline as well, through sources like Meetup.
Will you still find yourself frustrated at times? Sure. Mr. Lambrecht and I engaged in an eraser fight one day in 8th grade. It wasn’t the most appropriate response to the stressful situation, but we both shared our frustrations and emotions. Sometimes emotions are ugly, and we all know change is very emotional. Use the PLN’s to help work through the emotions of change in a healthy and constructive manner.
2. Don’t get hung up on the “why”
This was by far my favorite lesson. I can still hear Mr. Lambrecht’s voice saying “accept it and go on.” It is an unemotional response, perfect for change, especially emotional change. Just the other day I was reading Jeff Dunn’s “Online Professional Development” (2013) – where he discussed “learning in all forms is moving online”. I can hear the underlying tone of “accept it and go on” and it gives me goosebumps.
Some may say this approach is too passive – shouldn’t we ensure that the reasoning behind the change in supported by data and do more research to make sure the methods produce results? I don’t think we have time anymore, as we can see in the poem “A Letter to My Teacher” and Dennis Pierce’s “Common Core Testing Will Require Digital Literacy Skills.” The technology has been built; the students have arrived; now we have to help the students use the technology productively.
3. Everyone deserves the same opportunities
Just as students all deserve an equal education, teachers also deserve equal opportunities for training and networking. Now more than ever we need to look at skills or competencies. Tracy Immel suggested such a shift in “Time to Move to Competency-based Continuing Professional Development” (2011). Another great place to start is ISTE’s NETS for Teachers.
Watch for additional sources of professional development this year like MOOC’s, as released by Coursera last week. As well as the usual outlets like ASCD, ISTE, local/national organizations like Teachers First and EdWeb, as well as universities like Stanford.
I have to thank Mr. Lambrecht, and all of the other teachers who have impacted my life. These three edicts, reinforced daily for me from 1984-1987, are MY approach for dealing with today’s changes in learning. It will be important to provide teachers time and support so they can gain experience in disruptive training environments that emulate the classroom. Allowing teachers to experience personalized, learning focused, collaborative, community connected, adaptable, and flexible learning environments, and helping them to see how to implement with their students.
Krystal Bellamy is an Virtual Implementation Manager with CompassLearning. She supports teachers who implement CompassLearning Odyssey and RenzulliLearning through training, coaching, and virtual support. Life-long learning and educational technology are her passions.