So why can't the other teachers I work with see the same things I do?
Sometimes I get so caught up in my own excitement I can't see the other teacher's perspective. When I take a minute to step back and really try to put myself in their shoes, to try to remember a time when I was told to change things and I wasn't ready to, that's when I can see their side of things. Many teachers will teach they only way they know how and that is how they themselves were taught. So how do we reach out to them to help break out of their comfort zone and make small changes to reach today's students?
1. What causes you to use different styles to reach different students?We can sometimes forget that they other teachers around us are really just students. We need to teach them where they are. For people that have been teaching a certain way for many years, comfort zone is where they think they teach best. We can't just walk into their classroom and rip out their podium, move their desks around and throw out their seating charts. That could send the most dedicated teacher straight over the edge. Depending on your position within your school, help them take 1 step - put the desks into a circle, invite the teacher into your room on a day when what you are doing ins't so far out of their comfort zone, co-teach a lesson with them and have each of you use your strong points to put together a lesson that can show your fellow teacher a few small ways to make some changes.
2. Human beings, by nature, tend to be resistant to change.At one time or another, we have all been in a position in which the thought of change was so scary that we resisted. I can recall being asked to fill in as a pre-k aide for a year in the school that I would teach 7th grade. At the time I was driving school bus (a job to fill the time while my son was still little and didn't require me to get child care). For me, the idea of being in a room with a bunch of 4 year olds was scarier than the most difficult run while driving bus. I actually asked the bus company if I could return if it didn't work out with the pre-k!
We need to remember how we felt in those times and gather up a little sympathy for those fellow teachers that are scared beyond belief at the thought of giving up control. As we all know, once we work through that change we find things on the other side can be be better and not quite as scary as we thought. We just need to help our fellow teachers get there.
3. PD, PD, PDWe need to model our professional development to be what we want our teachers to use in their classroom. There is nothing better than actually seeing what we want to happen in action. Giving teachers that aren't ready for major change small, bite sized bits of change that they can walk into their classroom and use right away can be the best way to open that door for more change. Breaking up professional development into tiers so that those teachers that feel too scared to move beyond the very basics can still bring something back to their classroom and those that are ready to dig deeper can have that opportunity. But be very clear to your teachers when something is moving beyond the basics. But make sure that the basics are usable immediately in the classroom!
The biggest complaint I hear is that teachers aren't prepared for the changes that the school wants to see. We are all together in this and we need everyone to be successful.
We have a responsibility, regardless of our position, to help our fellow teachers succeed! When our fellow teachers succeed, then we succeed and our students succeed!