Once you are at it you will probably not go back. After understanding that the user-driven web of blogs and wikis is a reality, teaching the old way simply stops making sense.
So you spend hours self-training, feeding your RSS readers and social bookmarkers of valuable information provided by other savvy web users. Then it is time to prepare your tools. You open your own blog, wiki, podcast and then plan to face your students with it.
Your own enthusiasm is something you must take care of. There is a world of reality offline and outside the classroom teachers are not used to facing. Success with it requires that you go deeper into management issues. Part of the newly acquired roles.
My colleague Jennifer in Buenos Aires writes an email to me after a meeting at her school where she presented to the authorities her new wiki for a class. The meeting had not been precisely encouraging.
This is what I answered her by mail:
Jennifer answered me in her blog. A must-read I think if you are a pioneer teacher with a blog:
To quote but a couple of remarks she had to address at that meeting:
- You must correct every blog entry
- You must support the teacher and use technology as a means of allowing the teacher to improve her students practice for the international exam
Many miles away...
In Greece, a few weeks before Jenny's meeting, Teacher Dude was Pulling his hair out!! over somewhat similar issues. Craig says:
"The more I create my own material the less satisfied I become with the teaching resources available commercially." [...] "Yet every time I mention these facts and figures and try to introduce new ideas and approaches I'm told that they won't work, they'll negatively affect exam results or that that's not what students want from their lessons. After a while there comes a time when you just shut up, keep your opinions to yourself and tow the line."
My comments to Craig:
I had noticed the low Greek passing grades from the Cambridge site and also the work of Costas Gabrielatos mentioning the problem as well. Now your post really completes the picture to me.
Down here in Buenos Aires the situation is a little more hopeful. Few teachers embrace ICT introduction in their lessons, but at least, neither teachers nor managers are desperately against it! Management is always a key defining point between adoption or rejection. That's a start.
On the students’ perspective, FCE has become a standard way of referring to a level. There is no exams craze these days; perhaps due to our 2001 economic crisis, which made the exams rather expensive for us. People value communication more than certificates. I believe no one gets a job by just exhibiting an international certificate. They will certainly be asked to speak in English at an interview. Simple.
Technology is changing faster than most minds can cope. And most teachers still love to stand in front of a classroom and know ALL. Few step into the room to learn SOMETHING. That's what postgraduate courses were made for! (I do not know whether I should laugh or cry at this!). It is not just having or reading a blog; it is a whole new frame of mind that teachers have to change to get the point. But I do believe things are getting better.
You are a pioneer in what you do, Dude. That has a price in incomprehension. I would like to tell you not to let the environment change your happy blogging mood, which makes me like reading you. Perhaps, instead of going with the crowd, try just not dealing with them. Deal with your things and always post about your ideas and your results. Some teachers might be feeling something must be changed and will not know where to start. Your blog will be there for them.
If Jenny and Craig had not met before, I think it was about time.
Borges said that history is a plot which tends to repeat itself. The protagonists, however, seldom know they are part of history's game.
If you think you are alone, check on more stories like this on Doug's blog post "I can't teach properly" and make sure you do not miss the comments.
As much as we have come to feel more than comfortable with new technologies, we must remember we are doing something new and disruptive. It's all in the changing of the rules that gets them so uneasy. Management skills cannot be far behind if we want to integrate technology and lose only a reasonable amount of hair in the process.
The teaching of management skills to prospective teachers should be introduced earlier in their studies and not just in the masters or post-grad courses. I like to think these are interesting times to be a teacher in. Yet, we cannot sail through only equipped with enthusiasm and determination.
I'll be using the tag "blogging_experience" on my del.icio.us for any relevant post I discover after publishing this.