Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Use It or Lose It

In Is internet connectivity everything? from Kobus van Wyk, Kobus states,

“The internet is only of value to teachers and learners if it is used…Many a gym contract is not used because the members do not understand how to use it, how it can improve your health, and why regularity is important. Could it be that similar reasons are underlying the non-use of the internet in some schools?”

This had me thinking about how many times have teachers attended professional development and found things that they believe will work in their classrooms and spent time learning how to use it but then never touch it again. This is what is frustrating to me when I am teaching teachers to use certain programs that will enhance their lessons and increase student achievement. They come to my sessions and seem gung ho about what I’m sharing and then they go home, never to touch this or think about it again. To me, that is such a waste of valuable time. If they really like something, then they need to actually use it or they will forget about how it works, the value of it, and go back to doing things the same old way. But how can I motivate these people to not forget about what they learned and encourage them to use it? It almost feels like they are caught in this wave of excitement but once they get home away from these feelings, all is lost.

I think when giving presentations in the future I will do the following things:

• At the session I am giving, I will ask everyone to give me their email addresses so I can follow up on whether they are using what they learned in the classroom. Sometimes people need a little nudge or reminder once they get home. After getting back into their regular routines, they might like to know that they still have someone to support them while they try something new.

• I will ask people to try it at least three times and share with me the results. Sometimes by having a goal to work towards, it will motivate people to actually do something.

• Ask that people agree to share their results with the entire group by allowing me to compile all the links and send them out to everyone. Sometimes if we see how others have used something, it helps stimulate our creative process so we can use it in similar ways.

• Ask them to share this with someone else who was not at the session and try to get them to try it too. Sometimes if you have a colleague working alongside you with something new, it makes the learning easier.

Do you have any suggestions on how to get people to “use it or lose it” without antagonizing them or turning them off by being too zealous? Please share them here because I would love more ideas!

Original image: 'Lost'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/34526613@N02/3374590123 by: Indrid Cold


stoneTeacher said...

Hi Pat, you've expressed my sentiments - it is frustrating trying to get people to 'buy in.' If only you could get some success stories to share? People need to see a reason to change. Does the investment in time in return make their job easier? Does it benefit their students? We know that it does, but the connection needs to be made for others who only see more work, and something that is a chore to learn.

Edie said...

Hi Pat,
As an educator that has attended many of these seminars, I found that the ones I am most successful in implementing are those that have a follow-up as well as very specific guidelines to follow once you get back to the classroom. Those that are posted to a site are the best. I really like the idea of linking the seminar attendees, the best classroom ideas are usually the ones you get from others, then tweak them to your particular standards and lessons.