Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Change Can Be Good

In My (Unfinished) Dissertation, Feijoo talks about the University of Salamanca which was one of Europe’s premier universities in the sixteenth century. Unfortunately over time, it lost its status and never regained its prominence. He states that “The University became irrelevant. Caught up in its own version of an old boy network, Salamanca ignored developments in science, philosophy, and math….The University was faced with an enormous revolution in human thought and it blinked.”

When I first read this I started to think of the teachers and the schools in my area that are resistant to change. They want to keep thinking and doing things the way they used to be done. Older teachers talk about the good old days and how the school system used to be. They are resistant to trying new things and learning about new technology tools that can be used in their classrooms. Their attitudes can infect a whole faculty in a negative way. Change is hard because when we try change, we risk failure. Yet without change, we become stagnant and stuck in a rut.

When I started teaching at a new school I knew that the current program was not meeting our students’ needs and met with administrators to ask them if I could change the program. Since we had been in school for 2 months already the administrators were not thrilled about changing my program and student’s schedules. My principal, who I will always think of as a wise man, decided to approve the change. He felt that the results could only be positive since we were already not finding success. He said that if it didn’t work, we would try something different. I was thrilled to be given this chance and it motivated me to work even harder to make the new program succeed. Seven years later, my special education program was one of the most successful in the district. Over the seven years we tried different things and I had to keep reminding myself not to be afraid to try new things because of the possible successes that could happen.

I do not know how to change the old attitudes other than to keep teaching new ones. I think the new teachers entering the field need to be taught and encouraged to look for ways to improve their teaching. By teaching new attitudes, these new teachers will replace older teachers when they retire. We have come a long way from the slate board and the one room school house but at the time, those things were the state of the art. Older teachers like I need to embrace the new and possibly better things in store for the educational system.

I hope to continue to look for new strategies and tools to try in classrooms and share them with others. I do not want to use excuses like not having time, or I’m too tired which keeps me in a rut. In fact, finding new strategies and tools may help me work more efficiently and motivate me with new energy. I need to keep reminding myself and others that “Change can be good!”

Photo credit: Stuck in a rut by broc7

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